Meditations, Book II, Part IV

“Why should any of these things that happen externally distract you? Give yourself leisure to learn some good thing, and cease roving and wandering to and fro. You must also take heed of another kind of wandering, for they are idle in their actions, who toil and labour in this life, and have no certain scope to which to direct all their motions, and desires.”

(1) One shouldn’t let oneself be bothered, carried off, or caused to lose focus because of people, comments, or behaviors that are outside of one’s control.

(2) One should follow through on goals. 

Invictus

Apparently many people are familiar with this poem–except me, until last night. It may be well known, but it belongs on my blog:

Invictus

by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

****

“Invictus” means unconquered or unvanquished. 

Sujata

I just walked outside to go to the convenience store. I happened to look up, to my right, and framed between two buildings was a cloud, frontlit, as it were, by the lights from the city, and backlit, by the almost full moon. Beneath these was a little church, with a neon cross. Together it was a beautiful scene, and if I had had the foresight to have charged my phone, I would have come back to my place, grabbed my phone, and snapped a picture. 

The last couple of weeks have made it clear again–not that it was ever in doubt–how much the Internet is a place where everyone’s emotions are amplified. It’s really refreshing when there are opportunities to use the Internet (1) to acknowledge concessions by people with whom one disagrees, even if the concession is less than desirable; (2) to offer simple but sincere words of sympathy regarding victims of deadly accidents; (3) carefully to preface one’s words with respectful language; (4) to be genuine and sincere, without revealing personal information; and so on. In other words, to walk  a few steps back from hardened positions, circumstances in which everyone has their back up, and extremism.

This video was supposedly taken at the spot where Sujata offered rice milk to Siddartha Gautama, the event immediately following his giving up trying to achieve enlightenment through extreme asceticism. It’s completely gorgeous–both the temple, the surrounding landscape, the vegetation, and the birdsong. Being more than two and a half millenia removed from the event, it may or may not be the actual spot, but that’s okay. The actual spot is beside the point. 

Chilled rice milk sounds like a great treat for a hot summer day. Take a short walk with me, a walk back from extremism: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_q2Yraeoci4

Thinking Makes It So

From the second scene in the second act of Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, rewritten a little for clarity, in modern language:

Hamlet: Denmark’s a prison.

Rosencrantz: If it is, then the world’s one, too.

Hamlet: And quite a prison, in which there are many wards, dungeons, and places to be confined, one of which is Denmark.

Roscencrantz: That’s not how we think of it, your highness.

Hamlet: Well, then, for you, it isn’t. For nothing is either good or bad but thinking makes it so. But to me, it’s a prison.