Meditations on Meditations – 1:3

Some rather late-night rambling here, but a post nonetheless, so that I may move forward with this exercise. I attended a talk on blogging today by @jessejiryudavis which encouraged writing as practice for writing, so I’m taking that to heart.

3. MY MOTHER
Her reverence for the divine, her generosity, her inability not only to do wrong but even conceive of doing it. And the simple way she lived – not in the least like the rich.

(Hays, 1)

Marcus demonstrates agnostic tendencies later in his Meditations, but here praises his mother for her worship. However, in the Casaubon translation, the first clause is rendered “Of my mother I have learned to be religious”, which has a wildly different meaning.

A skeptic myself, I am fond of Hays’ translation – he allows that religion has a place in some peoples lives, and even more praises it, but (in Hays’) doesn’t say that he himself needs to follow.

I’m fascinated with the idea of Marcus’ mother not even conceive of doing wrong (pregnancy puns aside). I attended quite sheltered private schools for my entire education. For me, to cheat on a test was literally unthinkable – I didn’t even consider it. I remember being shocked the first time I thought “wow, I could cheat on this and nobody would notice.”

I don’t share this story to brag, but to examine myself and wonder in what ways I’m following what I think is right without making a conscious decision away from wrong. And: more worryingly, which ways I’m committing small wrongs every day without making a conscious choice to do so.

To live simply is something that originally attracted me to Buddhism. (As an aside: I enjoy Stoicism because it echos many of the tenants of Buddhism without requiring a belief in the divine, or reincarnation, both of which bothered me). The idea that with simple living comes clarity of thought and purpose strikes me. Try to purchase only that which you will actually use.

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