Marcus, Meditations: ‘Man is a reflective reflection of the Whole’. Assess the main strength and weaknesses of that conception.
Marcus, Meditations: ‘Man is a Reflective Reflection of The Whole.’
Putting aside, the individual character, Marcus for the time being, let us deal with man in general. Man can be the male gender or human in its general connotation. The human essence as a whole is the collective species consciousness. Here the individual man, his identities, family, ancestry, community, society, culture, traditions, etc. all are taken in, absorbed, but they transcend all barriers to forming a whole, and a core essence. It is not just a summation or totality of all parts, although that is there too, but finding a core integrity, the central and crucial essence through it. This again, is part of the whole living essence, mother earth nature essence, with the non-living in it and all creative kingdoms, cosmic to universal nature whole essence, going beyond nature itself, and then the divine whole essence, which need to go a step further, to get the whole detached omni-verse essence, so that not to be limited by any influence or pattern, however lofty or high, like God or Divinity. In fact, the end as to such a being can be the death of all progress, and nothing but a clogged destruction. Thus we see man’s essence is a mere speck in the whole ocean of creation, but no less or more important than any other. So he is a reflection, a model, in the whole ocean of space and time, a limited simulation of the creator or whole essence, a part of thinking or reflectiveness of the whole realm.
MARCUS AURELIUS THOUGHTS
Marcus Aurelius was a Roman Emperor, who wrote a series of works in Greek called Meditations, reflecting the Stoic philosophy of the Greek founders. He was no first-rate philosopher, but a king who had seen his prime, and could detach himself from worldly pleasures and powers, at least was able to uplift and elevate on this path. Stoicism was an infusion of materialism and pantheism. The material universe has an all-pervading spiritual force, displaying in many ways like the ether, fire, soul, spirit, logic, and the ruling principle. The soul of man is a product of God’s head, in which it can be absorbed after many lifetimes, cycles and ages (Mac 432-3). The divine ruling principle works for the whole essence, but it does not mean the parts are sacrificed because that would mean suppression of the core and whole essence itself. So, when man’s individuality expands and merges with the God head, that is his greatest achievement.
Reflection can said to comprise the following characteristics. It is not a mere description, but an exploration and explanation of events. It reveals both strengths and weaknesses. It is more interested in parts to begin with, and then come to the whole. It involves the past and its linkage to the present, but it also is future-oriented, although may not showing the clear picture fully. Reflection is learning and thinking, and it involves current or past experiences usage. Reflection leads to contemplation, meditation and then union with the divine, whole essence and the total detachment. Some famous quotes of Marcus would give an idea about his thoughts on reflection and reflectiveness and meditation as a whole. These are:
“an individual’s mind is God and is of God.”
“God gave each of us to lead and guide us, a fragment of himself. Which is our mind, our logos.”
ON THE TRIUNE NATURE OF SOUL
Man is three-fold, body, mind, and soul. The three-fold rule of Stoicism is logic, ethics and physics. These reflect the discipline of judgment or assent, the discipline of action or impulse and the discipline of desire and aversion, respectively. These again mean, objective judgment at this moment, unselfish action at this moment and willing acceptance of all external circumstances at present, respectively. The four cardinal virtues of Western culture are wisdom/ truth, justice/authenticity, self-control/temperance and courage/fortitude. Hence man is a reflective part or reflection of the whole existence realm. These are what make a perfect human soul, and the reflective man.
Marcus’ thoughts reflect what perfection aimed for. Thoughts create the mind-state, and therefore happiness. Happiness comes from accepting radical self-responsibility and taking the plunge. Concentration at the present moment gives power to your thoughts. Facing any unexpected danger and acting accordingly is your power inside. Judgment should not be clouded by subjectivity. Power comes from within. Anger should be managed, from within. Gratitude with what you have is an essential part of perfection. Be detached from others’ opinions, and tackle obstructive people (Harrison 70-2). Doing a job means finding your purpose. Failures are the pillars of success, should be the motto. If you accept the flow, you will get your targets. Inner peace is highly important. Every day is to be devoted as a whole, and not part of your life. Observation increases your quality, and everything has its value and beauty, and all demarcation is subjective.
THE REFLECTIVE MAN
The reflective man is the abstract man. He is the one who can visualize and break free of the chains of bondage at the mundane and concrete levels. But transcending these levels, is not separation, since it is a suppression at one level, and hence the core essence remains elusive. The higher and lower levels are so at their discriminatory levels, not in their uniqueness, being a part of the core, so neither is more or less important. It is the integration and totality, the micro divisions and levels and layers themselves, all absorbed in their uniqueness, and then detached form all, is what gives the complete abstract human soul essence. The psyche, soul and then the spirit emanate, and they eventually have the goal to merge with one another to get the core and intrinsic value. Art, science, and all culture and society product are the means to build upon the abstraction, where discrimination and separation are tools and means initially, but not the end (Murray 170-2). It’s just like separating high or classic or elite culture from the folk culture, saying that is the end and highest. But that cannot be so since it is a divided form, and essence cannot be divided. If the high culture means all absorbed, then the feeling of the division will not be there. The essence is sometimes mistaken for the division of a higher kind, but then, that is being trapped in a loop of cycle, space, time and space-time, and there is bound to be a reaction to breaking free, to get the essence.
Man is a model or part of whole existence, nature, spiritual, divinity and the universal. It is the reflective nature of this part that elevates man to the whole incorporating the higher and the lower realms.
Harrison, V. The Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius. Rosetta. 2014. Print.
Mac Suibhne, S. Wrestle to be the man philosophy wished to make you: Marcus Aurelius, reflective practitioner. Reflective Practice. 2009. Print.
Murray, Gilbert. Five Stages of Greek Religion (3rd Edition ed.). Dover Publications. 2002. Print.