“We all work to one effect, some willingly, and with a national apprehension of what we do; others without any such knowledge. As I think Heraclitus in a place speaketh of them that sleep, that even they do work in their kind, and do confer to the general operations of the world. One man therefore does cooperate after one sort, and another after another sort; but even he that doth murmur, and to his power doth resist and hinder; even he as much as any doth cooperate. For of such also doth the world stand in need. Now do thou consider among which of these thou will rank thyself. For as for him who is the Administrator of All, he will make good use of thee whether you will or no, and make thee (as a part and member of the whole) so to cooperate with him, that whatever thou does, shall turn to the furtherance of his own counsels and resolutions. But be thou not for shame such a part of the whole, as that vile and ridiculous verse (which Chrysippus in a place doth mention) is a part of the comedy.” ~Marcus Aurelius
Work to One Effect
I don’t think Aurelius is correct in saying that all of us work are working to the same effect. I think it would be accurate to say that most of us are working towards it, intentionally or not. There are some, however, who oppose that One Effect so willingly and strongly that I can’t see how they could be considered as contributing in any way. This One Effect is better known as The Divine Plan of God, or simply God’s Plan. The plan for the redemption of man and the fallen universe of matter. The desired One Effect is for the universe of matter to become spirit again, as it was before the Great Fall.
Like just about anything else, those who are intentionally working towards the accomplishment of that plan will contribute a lot more than those who are accidentally contributing and those who simply go with the flow like a piece of driftwood.
Them That Sleep
Those who sleep are those who have not awakened their spiritual selves. They function only on the level of matter and are when doing so, little better than animals. Sadly, the sleeping ones are not just those who are primitive and uneducated. We have plenty of people in the world with masters and even doctorate degrees who nonetheless remain asleep.
The worst sleepers are those who don’t even believe in the possibility of a spiritual universe or an afterlife. Yet in a limited way, even they may contribute to the One Effort. It is a lot like some laborers who don’t know what the whole project is about but still contribute to their work.
One Sort or Another
We can put those who contribute to the Great Plan unintentionally into two categories. Those who contribute in a positive or neutral way is first. This is the obvious way to contribute unintentionally. An example of this might be a website designed who designs a site for a spiritual school. Another would be a wealthy art patron who is sponsoring a spiritual artist.
Then there are those who contribute in a negative way. They can do this by slowing down those who are going too fast and in danger of burning out. Through their behavior, they contribute by getting others to become active rather than passive positive contributors. Or they may contribute simply by being bad examples that teachers of truth can point to.
Administrator of All
The Administrator of All who work on the One Effort is God. You can call it the Universe, the All, The divine Consciousness, or whatever other names you are comfortable with, but most of us use God. But like the CEO of a large corporation, God doesn’t do it all himself. He allocates tasks to Christ and to the angels. And he also wants us to use our own creative abilities to contribute. Yes, He can do it without us. But having given us limited free will, He wants us to agree with the plan and contribute to it.
Part of the Comedy
Marcus Aurelius cautions us to not be among those who contribute to the One Effort as “part of the comedy”. He is saying that our contribution should not be as one who is laughed at for his foolishness and lack of understanding. While such people contribute by being bad examples, we should all seek to contribute in a more positive and active way. We do that by first awakening our spirit and soul. Only they can follow God’s Plan, only the soul can understand what it must do to truly be a part of the one effect.
If you wish to see other posts based on quotes from Marcus Aurelius, click here.