Out of all the great passages I’m reading of Meditations, this one passage I recently read is unique. Marcus Aurelius ponders three different ways on how to blaspheme. This is suprising, because I thought there was one way to do it. From my understanding, blasphemy is devaluing the nature of God. But Marcus explains how injustice, to lie, and to complain are a kind of blaspheme. But of course it is how Marcus wanted to view things, nevertheless I was intrigued to read to what Marcus had to say.
Injustice is a kind of blasphemy. Nature designed rational beings for each other’s sake: to help—not harm—one another, as they deserve. To transgress its will, then is to blasheme against the oldest of the gods. […]
How is injustice a kind of blasphemy? Marcus says that Nature designed human beings to help one another. And so Marcus could reason that harming another person is going against the forces of Nature, or going against God. From this reasoning, I think Marcus wanted to be as helpful as he could.
And to lie is to blaspheme against it too. […] nature is synonymous with Truth—the source of all true things. To lie deliberately is to blaspheme—the liar commits deceit, and thus injustice. […]
To lie is to go against Truth, and Marcus seems to think that Truth exists as a part of Nature. And to lie to another person is deceit and may be classified as a crime or injustice. And injustice goes against God’s will as was stated previously.
And to pursue pleasure as good, and flee from pain as evil—that too is blasphemous. Someone who does that is bound to find himself constantly reproaching nature—complaining that it doesn’t treat the good and bad as they deserve […] to fear pain is to fear something that’s bound to happen
This was really interesting to me. Linking the pursuit of pleasure and fleeing from pain is also blasphemous? Fleeing from pain is as if someone complains against Nature, and that is illogical because Nature just happens. It’s called fate. How much can one kick against the pricks? How can Nature stop doing the “bad” things? It doesn’t. So it is blasphemous to deceive oneself that pain doesn’t exist, because Nature keeps going with whatever it does.
Complaining against nature or fate also brings up another question. That which comes from natural occurences, what is really bad or good? I like how the Stoics teach that anything nature does is really just a chaotic neutral. There is nothing inherently evil or good. Stoics explian it is our perception of naturally occurring events that make things good or evil. So it doesn’t make sense to complain against Nature and argue that Nature is evil, when Nature will do what it has always done.
What I Learn
These quoted passages teach me to accept life. There may be many things to occur in this world, and I should not think that I am one to state my will over what occurs. I am apart of Nature, I live in this world experiencing what incredible forces give. I don’t have the ability to change Nature’s force. I just need to accept it.