The Inner Struggle

Duty … Virtue … and especially Suffering …

Inner Thoughts”  Rodrigo Rodriguez, from the album “Inner Thoughts” (2006)

Marcus Aurelius – was Roman emperor from AD161 to AD180,

Marcus Aurelius – was Roman emperor from AD161 to AD180,

When searching for answers about “what constitutes right living?”, and “how does one know when one is following the right path?” one is really asking oneself “How do I know with certainty what is the will of God?”  Understanding the perfection of love, that is “love of another besides myself” consists in striving towards the perfect conformity of my will with the divine will.

I think it is sitting right in front of our face and residing in our soul of we are honest with ourselves. It is expressed  simply in a concrete and detailed way in the duties of my state and the various circumstances of my life. The “duties of my state” determine particularly how I must act on a daily basis so as to be always in conformity with the divine will.

Those duties are expressed in the commandments of God, known in “natural law” to all men, in all times, in rules and customs, commands of superiors, and tasks imposed by obedience, my duties are those required by my family life, my profession or occupation, my social activities, and by good citizenship.

And so, as is known in “natural law” to all men, in all times, Marcus Aurelius reflects on Duty: Our duty is to Begin the morning by saying to thyself, I shall meet with the busy-body, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial. All these things happen to them by reason of their ignorance of what is good and evil.

On Virtue: But I who have seen the nature of the good that it is beautiful, and of the bad that it is ugly, and the nature of him who does wrong, that it is akin to me, not only of the same blood or seed, but that it participates in the same intelligence and the same portion of the divinity, I can neither be injured by any of them, for no one can fix on me what is ugly, nor can I be angry with my kinsman, nor hate him,

On Suffering, : For we are made for co-operation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of the upper and lower teeth. To act against one another then is contrary to nature; and it is acting against one another to be vexed and to turn away.” going forward in duty by virtue regardless of the consequences and violence we might suffer whenever the all too human tendency to refuse co-operation, to insist on doing things our own way, to work against each other and to experience the suffering inherent in human relations whenever the reality of selfishness and self worship impact the smooth exchanges of daily relations.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book Two.

We understand, from reading the “ancients”, from reading the “classics”,  that “natural law” is knowable and known, to all men, in all times, since man began. And God’s will, as discerned in natural law, is also marked out for me by the circumstances of my life, whether it is important or not, down to the very smallest detail, in health or sickness, wealth or poverty, interior joy or aridity and emptiness, success or failure, struggles, misfortunes and losses.

From time to time I am presented with tasks – special tasks – of patience, generous activity, love, or renouncement, detachment, submission, and sacrifice. These tasks may come to me through the actions of my superiors, governing bodies, professional organizations, family members, or some combination of the actions and consequent fallout of such actions involving some or all of the above groups.

But everything is permitted by God, “To them that love God, all things work together unto good” (Rom 8, 28), so it remains to me to discover what the divine will may  be in each task with which I am presented. Sanctity does not consist in doing extraordinary things … sanctity is reduced to simply the fulfillment of duty … therefore it is most definitely possible for me to attain to sanctity regardless of how insignificant I may view my role in the tapestry of life.

Therefore I must be persevering and punctual in the fulfillment of my duties, diligent, being careful in my actions, accustoming myself to see the expression of God’s will in every one of my duties, no matter how trivial. I must fulfill my duties not only when I feel great fervor but also when I am sad, tired, frustrated, or in a state of spiritual aridity. I must express constancy with generosity.

It may feel small and insignificant but it takes uncommon virtue to fulfill all one’s duties without carelessness, negligence, or laziness, to avoid the pitfall of giving everything a “lick and a promise” or just going through the motions in order to “get it done”. It takes uncommon virtue to put the effort into attention, piety, and spiritual fervor, to pay attention to the details, for the whole combination of ordinary duties which make up my daily life. The details matter.

I must not be discouraged by failure, either resulting from outside forces or from my own failure of attention or lack of competence – my mistakes and forgetfulness and so on and so forth. Always acknowledge faults and failures, take ownership of them and begin again with renewed commitment.

What else is there to say about “duty”? It seems something of a truism that in our great self-regard we find it easier and more attractive to identify the duties of others than our own, and inversely, there will always be a plenitude of folks more than willing to tell us what our duty may be should we find ourselves momentarily unfocused and apparently idle.

Well, I suppose that might just be enough for one post – I will continue next post with thoughts a about virtue and how one employs virtue to carry out one’s duty and perhaps then into how this persevering way of life, constantly doing one’s duty by exercising virtue results in suffering …





Pen as Sword - Social Commentary

Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt …

FUD … is the greatest extractor of money from both private and public coffers in the entire history of the human animal, whose natural state is fear. That fearful animal, having knowingly refused to actively consider and think logically about what they think they know, their existence is compounded by uncertainty. This wonderful admixture becomes fraught with tension when the ingredients combine to create a constant state of doubt, the natural result of knowing in their soul that what they believe is really a steaming crock.

FUD … creates the conditions, the environment, in which ostensibly sensible persons will believe literally anything which offers some perceived relief from FUD. Witness the rise of Microsoft over the last four decades.  Pure FUD in all it’s myriad manifestations.

The geeks who cut their teeth on IBM assembler and writing compilers and COBOL and FORTRAN, and built their own computers from parts picked up in electronic stores or ordered out of the back of magazines, who sat up nights trying to debug a glitch somewhere in a 5 or 6 thousand card program in a lab where everyone else there was Chinese then sent it off for another run on the IBM 370 and waited a couple of days for their output to return on a wheeled dolly in 4 file boxes full of pajama paper printed on printers as big as a small car, they were NOT fooled!

aasacrificing-to-their-god-lfs-990-600x466They recognized FUD for what it was, just another slick form of snake oil to shake down the suckers. The almost Religious Anti-Microsoft animosity common in geek circles, Unix programmers, PERL scripters, and other such true believers, is a direct descendent of this animosity against a massive fraud.

It also prepared a certain subgroup of these geeks for the coming tsunami of BS surrounding the whole “Humans are Killing The Planet” power cult.  Recognizing the practice in the worshipers who deny the existence of God, the self same FUD techniques pioneered by the early snake oil salesmen and Microsoft as they prostrate themselves before the Altars of the Great Saint Rachel Carson, and the Great Saint Paul Ehrlich.

For a short course on just how incredibly wrong these Gaia worshipers have always gotten things just take a quick look at:

Now, 40 plus years on we get to this article.  Reporting on a perfect gem  of real science … no trillions of government funding for these folks. Just hard work tracking down the truth. No movies, book tours, demonstrations, media coverage, no nothing, except real science.

A new model of the Sun’s solar cycle is producing unprecedentedly accurate predictions of irregularities within the Sun’s 11-year heartbeat. The model draws on dynamo effects in two layers of the Sun, one close to the surface and one deep within its convection zone. Predictions from the model suggest that solar activity will fall by 60 per cent during the 2030s to conditions last seen during the ‘mini ice age’ that began in 1645. Results will be presented today by Prof Valentina Zharkova at the National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno“.


A spiritual note “Do not commit any sins. Practice all the virtues. Subdue your imagination. This is what the Buddha teaches.David Warren writes a wonderful piece illustrating why we so easily fall prey to the latest fad of FUD …  in part, he tells a short story about a young lady he is acquainted with:

“… Actually, I was being coy. I know it is a Tibetan temple, from a Tibetan girl who prays there. She is a nurse in the “home” where my late mother resided: Kelsang, let us call her. There are several Kelsangs in there; and even some Tibetans with other names. An enchanting girl: ridiculously young and pretty. Modest, soft-spoken, cheerful, attentive. Went to Saint Joseph’s, at “Ooty” (Udhagamandalam), where many Tibetan refugees had gone before her. It is in the Nilgiri Hills. (Some day I will tell you about the tea they grow there.) Speaks better English than I do. Also kinder, more intelligent, and harder working.

As an old Saint Anthony’s boy, from Lahore, I’d met girls like her before. They raised them, in considerable quantity, over the high brick wall, at the Saint Anthony’s girls’ school. You might see one if you went into the Cathedral. They were all so enchanting.There would be no point in trying to convert Kelsang to Romanism; no point at all. She had already been taught by Catholic nuns, back in south India. They were very strict; and she adored them.

She knows the Catechism inside out. She described it as her “second religion.” Catholic Christianity is “very wholesome,” she conceded. But Tibetan Buddhism “will remain my first.” Notice the modal verb.  “And your third religion?”  “Nursing.”

A quietly fanatic opponent of abortion, incidentally: “All Buddhists are opposed to murder, in that or any other form.” Also opposed to contraception, divorce, sodomy, … you name it. Says Canada is a beautiful country. “But full of crazy people, with no morals, no faith, no manners, no reason.” Fears young Tibetans are being corrupted by them.”

Corruption of the mind leading to corruption of the soul. Or is it not the other way around … corruption of the soul leading inexorably to the corruption of everything else in our society. Something to think about. When one discovers that one is on the wrong path, does it not make sense to turn around and go back, rather than continuing on in the hope that things might get better?