The Tao: Chapter VIII

The Tao Te Ching has inspired me to realise some core truths about what matters and what does not in the spiritual sense more so than the rational philosophical. Yet perhaps that’s a bit of a fluff announcement in itself considering how the two were never mutually exclusive. There is a sense of great foundation in the 8th chapter, clearer perhaps to a layman than the other musings that have come before – some interesting things about the universe being inherently female is one but that’s another discussion in itself.

“In a home it is the site that matters; In quality of mind it is depth that matters; In an ally it is benevolence that matters; In speech it is good faith that matters; In government it is order that matters; In affairs it is ability that matters; In action it is timeliness that matters.” – Tao Te Ching, VIII

It’s rather to the point and as someone who has been criticised (or envied, depending on who you ask) for their pragmatism and bluntness, I rather appreciate its straightforwardness. It’s wholly beautiful, a code that requires few words and few interpretations to be understood.

In regards to the home, in my interpretation, the “site” refers to the foundations and environment. Homes are not houses and such, here we can say either this is in regards to a physical place or the family. Foundations of equality, balance, harmony and truth are the sticking posts of this structure, its confines filled with love stronger than concrete.

The depth of mind for me is comparable to the epithet from the Jedi friends: there is no ignorance, there is knowledge. A shallow mind is a stagnant one like a puddle. Quality is found in the growth and endless vastness; the ability to learn and expand beyond its own perceived horizons with infinite potential – a potential every human has access to if we just dare to see ourselves.

When it comes to allies, I’ve spoken about the stoic discussions of friendship before, specifically from Seneca. The same rings true here, in benevolence we find an ally and friend. That is the only motivation of a companionship: benevolence outwards and inwards, any relationship made to serve or fulfil a need other than the sake of friendship itself is fickle and flawed.

Now we come to the part that is less relevant perhaps to those not in office: government. I suppose it’s true though to an extent, anyone who watched the scenes coming out of Washington DC on January 6th would agree that chaos breeds chaos. An ordered mind, an ordered government is the only way to properly govern. Sure, the separation of church and state is important to ensuring the priorities of the people but so should there be a separation of self and state, because its not a career for the individual but a vocation of the communal – a shared responsibility that’s one for the greater good of everyone not just the few or fickle.

When we speak about affairs we speak about what we chose to do in our lives. For example, in my own affairs, it would be quite dim to decide to become a maths tutor when I’m not really good at maths nor do I like doing it. Ability and affairs are what we speak about when we talk about our natures in stoicism and what is true to our individual nature and what are we doing to enable we can live according to our greatest good in alignment with the greatest good of the collective humanity.

Finally, this line reminds me of the quote of Marcus Aurelius about never acting in a way that would be cause for regret. Action, while we can be actively passive, is required and necessary. If you a believer in divine timing and Providence, no action happens outside of when it is meant to, even your own. Living every day as it is your last, without some mad panic that the terrible “live, love, laugh” wall signs would have you believe is a good start. Even perhaps today you say, not today and you stay in bed, you are choosing to take that action and that’s fair enough. But if you decide to rush out of bed to get on a plane to take yourself off into the unknown chasing love and life, no time is the wrong time.

Z3N0

What No Longer Serves You

One thing that has always bugged me about the modern spiritualism and reiki practice is that there is an emphasis on removing energies that “no longer serve you”. This phrase is where stoicism and spirituality or neo-spirituality in the globalist internet amalgamism of the different faiths and practices clash, in my opinion. So the phrase, as harmless as it seems is clear enough. It’s purpose is to demonstrate that you do not need energies or emotions or thought patterns anymore that once provided support or helped your development. Yet, in this grand oceanic experience that we all exist in, to say that anything serves us is either misplaced semantics or pure arrogance of the human condition.

What serves you? As if you are the master of fate, destiny and its energies, as if the universal Way of things serves you and not collaborates or exists in harmony. Nothing serves you, because that suggests you have agency over the universe which you do not. The only thing that truly serves you is your own virtue that you project in thought, action and voice put out into the universe.

“Whatever happens to you was being prepared for you from everlasting, and the mesh of causes was ever spinning from eternity both your own existence and the incidence of this particular happening.” – Meditations, 10.5

Perhaps, if we think about it in another sense, if we take into account the butterfly effect of the universe – Providence or Fate – everything serves us from our mistakes to the grumble we have when we get up in the morning to appease or fulfil that simplest of truths: amor fati.

I’m not exactly sure where the concept comes from that the universal energies serve us (which I will continue to italicize to prove a point). So The Way, in its perpetual flow and forward motion bows to serve the individual rather than enable the collective consciousness of the universe? Perhaps it’s the human element on modern or contemporary spiritualism that has led to this idea that we have a control of the energies around us rather than see them as either projections of the self or harmonious external substances. It adds a comfort to think that we have control or agency over these things rather than the truth of the matter that the only thing we can control is ourselves. It’s a kind of strange mantra that we have power over the universal building blocks to elevate ourselves to some kind of wizard-like figures, each of us Gandalfs or Dumbledores or Dr Stranges.

I’m all for identifying energies and beliefs that are not our own and making efforts to remove those pollutants from ourselves to seek the truth within and without. But should we not be doing that with an accurate outlook on what is and what is not within our control as expressions of the same Whole? We have a commonality as human beings and that is our own plainness and also brilliance. What we do not share because we do not have it is the service of the universe, it does not serve us. We are a part of it similarly to how a carbon atom is a part of you or an anemone is a part of the reef. It’s a harmonious symbiotic relationship that just is. We serve the universe in its motion and in our actions in each moment that shape the course of destiny.

“For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.” – Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back

We exist in harmony with all things and love what fate brings us. Try as we might to wrestle destiny into a headlock, to make the energies of the universe both of light and dark serve, we exist at the pleasure of providence not the other way around.

Take heart in it, don’t fear it.

Amor fati.

Z3N0

In Practice

So today I went back to work after some extended time off and as I sat on the bus on my morning commute, I put into practice something I was forgetting. I was dreading going back, the institution representing my own stagnation in life with my career, family and development. There is nothing there for me in terms of tangible movement and aspiration other than my own progress of the self. Arguably this is the most important progress however some serotonin would be nice and future that seems tangible.

There I was on the bus – the later bus as I missed the first one thanks to an unregulated sleeping pattern – and I realized I had been forgetting to practice perhaps the most fundamental of all stoic practices and a phrase that I’ve repeated to no end.

“Today I escaped from all bothering circumstances – or rather I threw them out. They were nothing external, but inside me, just my own judgements.” – Meditations, 9.13

I took advice from another source, an unlikely source, that being Darth Kreia from Knights of the Old Republic 2, and felt the moment around me. I felt the surface of the seat against my body and the feeling of my hands in my lap and the headphones in my ears playing no music. My entire focus was inward and the external rumblings drifted away as I scanned myself and acknowledged each complaining part and released it unto itself. In the aftermath, as I was stepping off the bus at my stop, I was at peace with what was to come from the day.

It was uneventful and drama free as it was always going to be unlike my worst case scenarios. It had no real challenges or difficulties other than my body demanding sleep by three o’clock. Even the foible of the new policy of not having a coffee outside of breaks was negotiated and my addiction satiated. Everything was calm and serene or perhaps it was chaotic and it was I who was calm and serene – would I have known the difference?

It’s in these moments, in reflection of when these little occurrences take place that I enjoy my own progress of philosophy. That I’m not as Seneca said just growing in age not wisdom. To think without the practice of stoicism, I’d have been on edge all day waiting for it to go wrong as my own judgements had predicted and worn myself out more than I already was just from mentality alone.

I think back and wonder how many days slipped away from me just from lack of practice or practise – I never know which. How many hours I’ve wasted murmuring and chuntering to be entirely embarrassed only with myself and to myself about the lack of imagined scenario.

How many hours have you wasted?

Z3N0

Quick Quote Post: 14

Tonight I was apart of a roleplaying event, and a quote came up from one of the players whose character is a drunkard swashbuckling space pirate. On the topic of the character killing people for profit and being judged for it, a phrase came up:

“Isn’t it ignorant to judge another’s lifestyle?” – X

I thought about this, in reflection of a stoic sense outside of the Jedi context, and I turned to Marcus Aurelius for comment where I had none.

“Whenever you are offended by someone’s lack of shame, you should immediately ask yourself: ‘So is it possible for there to be no shameless people in the world?’ It is not possible. Do not then ask for the impossible. This person is just on of the shameless inevitably existing in the world. Have the same thought ready for the rogue, the trator, every sort of offender. The recognition that this class of people must necessarily exist will immediately make you kinder to them as individuals. Another useful thought of direct application is the particular virtue nature has given us to counter a particular wrong. Gentleness is given as the antidote to cruelty, and other qualities to meet other offences. In general, you can always re-educate one who last lost his way: and anyone who does wrong has missed his proper aim and gone astray.

And what harm have you suffered? You will find that none of these who excite your anger has done anything capable of affecting your mind for the worse: and it is only in your mind that damage or harm can be done to you – they have no other existence.

Anyway, where is the harm or surprise in the ignorant behaving as the ignorant do? Think about it. Should you rather blame yourself, for not anticipating that this man would make this error? Your reason gave you the resource to reckon this mistake likely from this man, yet you forgot and are now surprised that he went wrong.

Above all, when you complain of disloyalty or ingratitude, turn inwards on yourself. The fault is clearly your own, if you trusted that a man of that character would keep his trusts, or if your conferred a favour without making it an end in itself, your very action its own and complete reward. What more do you want, man, from a kind act? Is it not enough that you have done something consonant with your own nature – do you now put a price on it? As if the eye demanded a return for seeing, or a the feet for walking. Just as these were made for a particular purpose, and fulfil their proper nature by acting in accordance with their own constitution, so man was made to do good: and whenever he does something good or otherwise contributory to the common interest, he has done something what he was designed for and inherits his own.” – Meditations 9.42

Perhaps space piracy is not what Aurelius had in mind when he discussed this point. Yet, who knows, maybe he did or maybe applications of curing cruelty with gentleness and meeting ignorance with expectation and indifference were as relevant in the 1st Century as they are in a galaxy far, far away.

Z3N0

Undefined

I had a shower thought this morning, something that seemed to come from nowhere:

The world does not define you.

It’s not an entirely groundbreaking thought but its something that I couldn’t let go of as I was washing my hair. The world, all this stuff does not define you, it exists purely as contrast to you. Hate or love is pure contrast and the impression is leaves on us is not a thing at all just our own perception of what is and what isn’t. As human beings we make this world what it is, we define it. We define it in both our own enlightenment and ignorance. The world owes us nothing in the same sense the weather does not owe us to shine brightly when we want it to. Even the actions of other living beings, other fish in this ocean, do not define who we really are. Their actions, like all the other corporeal stuff, is simply contrast to our own being. It’s what makes us individuals, that contrast that keeps us a unique shade amongst it all.

Sure, we pick up bits of characteristics from here or there but only as far as we all allow. We are not defined by those things, are we? Are you defined by your mother’s eyes or your best friend’s temperament? No, of course not. The world has become good at making monsters, sure but the truth is more so that the world is very good at empowering darkness and drawing it to the surface. It’s like colour theory: the brightest colours makes the darkest ones pop.

We as humans shape the landscape as our collective action and attitude shapes society. Subsequently, it could be said then that has an impression on us. For example, no one is born with racial bias but it is a taught behavior and what is that but an impression that the world imprints? I say, it’s not an impression that’s forced on an individual but one accepted through adoration of the holder of the belief. A son will adopt the philosophies of the father through adoration alone, whether it be what the best football team is to the finer points of race hate.

You are not defined by anything other than yourself and what you allow yourself to be defined by, whether that be philosophy or title.

You either accept a thing such as a name or colour of your hair as defined by genetics, or you do not and you reject and take action to correct the course as best suited to your own definition of self, your own nature and highest good.

Such as bad weather does not define your day, other people do not either. There is such great freedom in knowing how free you really are from the definitions of others and the wider world if you just find the comfort in your own soul to accept that.

“Failure to read what is happening in another’s soul is not easily seen as a cause of unhappiness: but those who fail to attend to the motions of their own soul are necessarily unhappy.” – Meditations 2.8

Even when you say that you don’t want to be like someone or something – or that you do – it is not an impression that leaves you with this assertion but the contrast between you and the existence of the other thing. And, in this contrast, there is a balance of what is you and what is not you. What separates you from others, in the grand scheme, is a razor thin line of difference as we are all beings of the same biology, history, atoms and so on. What you actively embrace in those similarities and differences define you, by choice in your actions, right down to the unconscious thought.

Your past does not define you, your future does not define you. All you are and all you will ever be is what you accept yourself to be in this moment, right now as you read these words until the next moment comes.

The only opinion on definition of your own self that matters is yours. In the end, it’s the only thing we can ever truly say we own. As we exhale our last, the only thing we take is our selves. And who that is, is entirely up to you.

Z3N0

Sweet Spot

I find myself in at a bit of a loose end when it comes to hobbies and career with both things seemingly rather vacuous and without any real fulfilment. Currently as it is, my hobbies of gaming and roleplaying have been a little lacklustre as well as my own visions of returning to work and the routine. This great fatigue seems rather endless and as such, I have turned to the old faithful of Marcus Aurelius:

“Live through life the best way you can. The power to do so is in a man’s own soul, if he is indifferent to things indifferent. And he will be indifferent if he looks at these things both as a whole and analysed into their parts, and remembers that none of them improses a judgement of itself or forces itself on us. The things themselves are inert: it is we who procreate judgements about them and, as it were, imprint them on our minds – but there is no need for imprinting at all, and any accidental print can immediately be erased. Remember too that our attention to these things can only last a little while, and then life will be at an end. And what, anyway is the difficulty in them? If they are in accord with nature, welcome them and you will find them easy. If they are contrary to nature, look for what accords with your own nature and go straight for that, even if it brings you no glory. Anyone can be forgiven for seeking his own proper good.” – Meditations 11.16

It’s hard not to spiral into a strange stagnant despair of things and to stop the thought process before it takes off is the challenge of us all. Which is worsened by watching the world and observing the actions of world leadership, those who ideally we are to aspire to look up to, abandon their own obligations to themselves and each other, giving up or acting with obsessive passion to achieve nothing but more mess. Yet then, like Aurelius says, it is the job of the stoic to look for what accords with your own nature, and remove the impression and judgement.

“Unhappiness, is a sign one has lost one’s balance. – Barsen’thor, Star Wars: The Old Republic

I find that more and more the true balance is much more challenging than riding a bike, which was difficult for me enough as it is. But like riding a bike, when you get it, you just get it and you never forget. You have to block it all out, all that distraction and noise and focus on what is in accordance with you, within. Because you will find it. Finding that sweet spot of time and space that allows you to breathe and seeks out both the detail and big picture in harmony and see past a thing with total understanding and unmoving eyes is something that becomes a habit.

It can be applied to any problem or impression ultimately but it is not a case of not having emotions of a thing or being blind to the emotions of others, but understanding them and not letting them overwhelm or control. In the end, the only thing you can control is yourself never circumstance, even when you feel like you have no control over the self, in fact you do, it just requires that aforementioned sweet spot.

One such experience, is finding myself dismissive of things that would once annoy the hell out of me. The root cause: ignorance, both malicious and accidental. It’s not person or people but ideas born of ignorance, which leads to fear, and …

Fear is the path to the dark side … fear leads to anger … anger leads to hate … hate leads to suffering.” – Yoda, The Phantom Menace

Et cetera.

When we learn to become dismissive of these things – by being indifferent to things indifferent – and understanding that hatred is just a key to unlocking more of our own suffering at the hands of a concept or ideology and our impressions of them, it’s like a weight being lifted. It’s something that I personally had to experience and have multiple times with my own anger towards individuals, actions and concepts ranging from the hubris of Western military intervention to the all consuming insecurities of a former friend and the destructive tools of deflection they used. Ironically, the latter was diffused with the realisation that I have been guilty of the exact same thing – it’s funny how things look in the mirror sometimes.

It’s not a simple ask but when achieved it will seem so simple all along, like riding a bike for the first time. That sweet spot, the wonderful slice of clarity where everything just slips away may come too late for comfort but it will come. It just takes a little work to find it.

Z3N0

Internet Sagas

So I am now 23 parts into a 50 part video series on the life story of Christine Westen Chandler who is thought to be one of the most scrutinized and publicly documented people on the planet. This person, who goes by Chris Chan in most circles recently came to a more public spotlight outside of the niche corners of Youtube after the revelation that this they committed coerced incestual relations with they’re dementia suffering mother.

It’s not often that that kind of headline is just the tip of the iceberg.

It seems that this person who’s grasp of reality is so loose has been on the receiving end of years of manipulation and bullying to a point where every interaction with someone outside of the elderly parents was a troll. Each troll, documenting encounters and recording them. While I’m not saying what happened to Barbara Westen Chandler is the fault of the internet – clearly her repeated assault by Chris Chan was no one’s fault but Chris Chan’s – it seems from the hours of documentary that I’ve watched that the Internet wanted a monster and so, they made themselves one.

I honestly don’t think this will be the last case of something abhorrent coming out of a desire to be seen on the internet. Chris Chan was and is obsessed with fame and sex and escapism. I’m sure they’re not the first. I was watching something recently about a streamer who killed his girlfriend because the audience dared him to just like that. How many times have we seen the rise and fall of so-called makeup influencers in the past three years? Or how about the case of Nikadao Avacado, a mukbang content creator who is suffering numerous health issues due to absurd amounts of food he eats for content.

There’s a supply and demand for grotesque entertainment as if fiction writers can’t satiate the audience anymore. There needs to be a participation and a control and an illusion of control in some way. Who is to blame? The audience or the performer when the show goes horribly wrong?

In the end, is it our increasingly hardwired desire for instant gratification of sensation that creates these things? This strange desire for control and immediate relief of impulse creating bullies out of us all, trying to put the universe into a headlock and beat it into submission.

I digress.

So Part 23 of this saga with Chris Chan sees the umpteenth attempt at finding a “sweetheart” which ends up being another wind-up and him becoming angry and racist and ragey at faceless tormentors. Whole communities sprung up to prank this one individual over and over again and the question of how this person becomes so frankly fucked up seems as plain as day. Now Chris Chan is – rightfully – arrested and their mother is in care from recent reports and people are scratching their heads asking how this happened. Surely it’s a sarcastic rhetorical question.

Then I wonder, by even asking the question myself in the first place and sitting down to watch this collation of events that I am contributing to the monster and feeding the beast. Chris Chan, who believes that the dimensions are due to merge together and the DC and Marvel heroes are to come into our reality is supposedly glad to finally be truly famous. And here I am, another passive observer feeding that mentality.

Throughout this saga, several people appear to be supportive and genuinely looking to help Chris from becoming who they are today to no avail or to be revealed as another troll. It’s stranger than fiction and created a spectacle, a circus where the audience is the ringleader and quite possibly one of the most toxic, destructive and long lasting pieces of performance art the world has ever seen.

It doesn’t take much of a hop of logic to see the correlation between this monstrosity and the losses of life that’s come from Love Island. It’s anonymity that gives people power over those who are public or unequipped to be anonymous. Even in the most secure of online relationships, the one with anonymity has the high ground in the relationship. In long distance romances, people are held hostage and damaged by the emotions and actions of someone they may never meet – hell, hypothetical emotions and actions.

As a people, we have more control over ourselves than ever before in human history yet the illusion of powerlessness creates this warped need for power over another. It’s perhaps a subconscious desire in us all to create something and it falls to the individual if that thing is a thing of virtue or vice or indifferent entirely. There is no real right and wrong, only the consequences of actions that can be defined as those three factors. Yet taking the strange and well documented case of Chris Chan as an example, what kind of world are we all as individuals creating? What kind of madness are we bringing into being for our own amusement?

Not long ago I wrote a short story about madness from ambition and reckless passions and the monsters those things unleash. I think about that story and I think to myself that when we talk about responsibility for actions, we need to really be honest with ourselves and really dig deep into those recesses. Otherwise what will the next big saga be? The world is a reflection of society and society is the culmination of institution and people. We are all responsible for it.

In the end, I have no words to express the increasing disquiet of the entire story and the callous and self serving world it reflects. Now I’m not absolving Chris Chan of their sins, far from it. They acted selfishly, with warped desire and without rational cause on twisted impulses. I hold nothing but contempt for the entire situation.

Alas, what can any of us do, in reflection to prevent something else like this happening again? Because it will happen again and again, of course it will. We can only act on the individual level and to do so, it must be a call to push for virtue, control of the self and reflection of the higher good.

There’s a strange heavy cloud that hangs over, like a humid uncomfortable brewing storm of the self unsure of what to do. I look to the words of Marcus Aurelius about those being without blame and those being without judgement of action. Yet I’m failing to see here how anyone can come away from it all feeling cleaner than the rest. Even as a passive watcher after the fact, observing, listening like its just another crime documentary…

“Hey Bat, when you’re flying, what’s the city look like from on high?”

“It looks dirty.” Batman Gotham Knight, 2008

Z3N0

Remember Who You Are

Being in the rut that I’ve been in has led me to forget a number of things and to discount a number of things. While this feeling of stagnation has clearly had its triggers and root causes that I can see clearly, in those times I have forgotten the core things that make me me – the me of the now, not before.

“Concentrate on the subject or act in question, on principle or meaning. You deserve what you’re going through. You would rather become good tomorrow than be good today.” – Meditations, 8.22

Or perhaps, we should turn to a modern philosopher, Jagger, with his words arranged by the incomparable Violet Orlandi:

Make sure to subscribe for more of her work and check her Spotify, linked at the end of this post.

In the moments of a grey fuzziness, ask that question: who are you? Set yourself that task. Break down each part. Who am I? I’ve been wallowing trying to find those answers since Saturday, and tonight, I got to bed early around 8pm. Now, its nearly 11 and I’m wide awake writing as a necessity to my own peace of mind. In my head there is a new sense of clarity and when I reflect on this I have no idea this sudden burst of energy comes from or injection of, in the words of Jagger, getting what I need.

Who am I?

I’m the armchair stoic – quite literally as of this moment, in an armchair -, sat in my kimono with a coffee and a wry smile. A Taoist of sorts in the school of Shangqing, my faith in Universe affirmed with a generous splash of Jedi philosophy. The observer of my own vastness, and observer rather than follower of existence – not disconnected or above from society yet positioned rather nicely in my own headspace rather than within another. Happiness is my destination, and it’s something that I work on myself, never being a thing tangible for longer than fleeting moments. I have no scars on my body – save a few minor cat scratches – the tissue cerebral only, each mark a lesson and imprint on my DNA. I have a fashion sense of a vaguely forgotten timelord and one of those energies that people seem to need to rely on, rather inexplicably. I have my flaws and marks, a confusing relationship with my own gender and a hyper-attention to detail battling with a desire to see the bigger picture. Yin and yang, working overtime in their conflict as I work to find a balance if I’ve not already found it without realizing.

Who are you?

Remove your trappings and purple dyes and look at yourself, honestly. Be generous yet be true because often is the case where we find ourselves being our own worst critic, using judgements that are not truly our own to assess ourselves. This judgement, creating more stress and anxiety for whose benefit?

“Look within: do not allow the special quality or worth of any things to pass you by.” – Meditations, 6.3

So here I am, oddly energized at 23:20, with a level of strange catharsis coursing through me like it was some trapped animal escaping from captivity back into the wild. I recommend it, in the words of Jeremy Jahns, it’s a good time with no alcohol required.

Step into your own existence, mine looking vaguely like a less artistic Dean McCoppin from Iron Giant if not exactly – my beard is better. What does yours look like? Remember who you are in those moments; those moments where sleep is the only enjoyable activity of the day and it calls at all waking moments. If you need help, seek it. Find what works for you whether that be medications or therapies or meditations to help you along your way, your journey is your own and you will strike a deal between the internal and external remedies. Of course, anything harmful masquerading as a remedy is just another layer to the crushing weight of blankets forcing you and trapping you into an existence of sleepy stagnation where this waking world is nothing more than a meaningless, headachy dreamscape.

We’ve all been there have we not? I know I have and I still have friends who can attest to the 6 months or so of my life which to me is just a blur of poor decision making – not mistakes, as of course there is no such thing.

With that being said, with there being no mistakes, where’s the harm in digging deep? Digging deep within to find an honest mirror of the self and see all the good you are and who you are at your core with purpose and diligence. The only thing preventing any of us is fear of the unknown and fear of what we might see and fear that we have not grown in philosophy as much as we have in years.

“Only thing we have to fear is fear itself” – Franklin D. Roosevelt, Inaugural Address, 1933

Z3N0

P.S. As promised, a link to Violet Orlandi’s Spotify:

Going to Space

I have a question: what does going to space mean for the rest of the world? What does a billionaires vanity project do for the greater good? What moral goodness can be found in shooting oneself up into orbit in a phallic shaped vehicle?

I heard a fun fact today that the $5billion spent on Jeff Bezos’ afternoon activity lasted only 10 minutes. The same amount of money could have secured vaccinations for 2 billion people. What else could that have done? Solved the national debt? Put millions of homeless people into long term housing, end the water crisis?

Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, I have little admiration or respect for either of them.

So, you can go into space, what now?

Are you fulfilled? Are you happy?

What makes me happy: the thought of a home cooked meal and a snuggle on the sofa watching trash TV like millions of others at a push. Yet I suppose if I let myself, I could be miserable doing that. Who needs to go to space to feel truly content? How alone must one feel to be so intensely dedicated to insular causes.

“What sort of people they wish to please! And what kind of actions are the means of their success! How quickly time will cover everything – and how much is covered already.” – Meditations 6.59

Reflecting on that, how long will it take for the history books to look back at 2021, see the suffering and turmoil and see the men who could have been injecting hope and prosperity. Instead, they see these tycoons of industry shoot themselves into the upper atmosphere to see all those below like specks not the peers, kin, fellow beings of the same Whole that they are.

Never before in human history have beings been able to accumulate such wealth and technological luxury. Has it been so easy to be so callous and tone deaf? And yes, I am fully aware of the French Revolution, I’m not suggesting we eat the rich. I’m pointing out the enormity of social responsibility that comes with such masses of power.

Unless of course, we want to live in a society where it is everyone for themselves. A kind of insular living where we build our castles and watch the world burn from the battlements, sipping champagne.

Perhaps my philosophy is skewed by my generation and politics. Yet, I accept those biases and see them for what they are which is an idealism to ensure that we live for each other harmoniously not callously for ourselves.

What would I do with such money? What would you do?

Becoming so bored and tired in our lives, clasping onto our gold like Smaug in his mountain, would we go to space?

Can I truly say that I would be any better?

I suppose a better question is, what makes you happy? Is it yourself and what you have or admiration and what you don’t have?

“Take your joy in simplicity, in integrity, in indifference to all that falls between virtue and vice. Love mankind. Follow god. Democritus says, ‘All else is subject to the law of convention: only elements are the absolute real’, but enough for you to remember that all is subject to law. Precepts reduced to the very few.” – Meditations 7.31

Z3N0

Quick Quote Post: 13

Today saw the departure of dear colleagues and I must admit, I had to refrain from hugging anyone to stop myself from crying in front of 100 people. I know, I know, not very stoic. That being said, I am an empath, so to stop myself from succumbing to a collective despair and nostalgic melancholy, measures had to be taken. I recalled a few lines of Marcus Aurelius and became rigid in composure neither falling to ecstasy or despair. What despair is there? Three valued colleagues who have mentored and befriended me are retiring and due to spent the next few decades with a well-deserved respite from years of solid graft. What’s the tragedy? There is only celebrations surely at the closing of a chapter and welcoming of a reward.

“Somethings are hurrying into being, others are hurrying to be gone, and part of that which is being born is already extinguished. Flows and changes are constantly renewing the world, just as the ceaseless passage of time makes eternity ever young. In this river, then, where can there be no foothold, what should anyone prize of all that races past him? It is as if he were to begin ro fancy one of the little sparrows that fly past – but already it is gone from his sight. Indeed this is the nature of our very lives – as transient as the exhalation of vapour from the blood or a breath drawn from the air. No different from a single breath taken in and returned to the air, something which we do every moment, no different is the giving back of your whole power of breathing – acquired at your birth just yesterday or thereabouts – to that world from which you first drew it.” – Meditations 6.15

And another, to round off the thought:

“There is nothing to value in transpiring like plants of breathing in like cattle and wild creatures; nothing in taking the stamp of sense impressions of jerking to the puppet-strings of impulse; nothing in herding together or taking food – this last is not better than voiding the wastes of that food. What, then, is to be valued? Applause? No. Not therefore the applause of tongues either: the praise of the masses is the mere rattle of tongues. So you have jettisoned trivial glory too. What remains to be valued? To my mind, it is to act or refrain from action according to our own proper constitution, something to which skills and crafts show the way. Every craft seeks to make its product suit the purpose for which it is produced: this is the aim of the gardener, the vine-dresser, the breaker of horses, the dog-trainer. And what is the end to which the training of children and their teaching strives? So this is the true value: and if this is firmly held, you will not be set on acquiring any of the other things for yourself. Will you not then cease to value much else besides? Otherwise you will not be free or self-sufficient or devoid of passion: you will need to be envious and jealous to suspect those who have the power to deprive you of these things, and to intrigue against people who poses what you value. In short, anyone who feels the need of any of these things is necessarily sullied, and what is more je will often be driven to blame the gods too. But reverence of your own mind and the value you give to it will make you acceptable to yourself, in harmony with your fellows, and consonant with the gods – that is, praising all that they assign and have dispensed.” – 6.16

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