“Be not discontented, be not disheartened, be not out of hope. If often it succeed not so well with thee punctually and precisely to do all things according to the right dogmata, but being once cast off, return unto them again; and as for those many and more frequent occurrences, either of worldly distractions, or human infirmities, which as a man thou canst not but is some measure be subject unto, be not thou discontented with them. …
“Is it not for that respect especially, that pleasure itself is to so many men’ hurt and overthrow, most prevalent, because esteemed commonly most kind and natural? But consider well whether magnanimity rather, and true liberty, and true simplicity, and equanimity, and holiness; whether these be not most kind and natural? And prudency itself, what more kind and amiable that it.” ~Marcus Aurelius
Be Not Discontented
Longfellow put it this way:
“Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.”
In other words, don’t let the rainy days get you down They will be followed by sunny ones. And the rainy days do good things, like clean the are and water the plants and animals.
So what Aurelius is saying is that we shouldn’t become discontent, or depressed as we are more like to say today, simply because things are not happening exactly as we want them too. Maybe you tried to manifest wealth by Tuesday, and yet on Wednesday, it still hasn’t happened. Perhaps you prayed for a cure for an illness, yet you are still sick the next day. We must have patience and not become discontent. We may ask for things, but we cannot command them to happen according to our schedule. Those who claim we can are spreading fantasies. Pleasant fantasies, yes, but fantasies nonetheless.
All Dogma is Dogma
It is both sad and funny how many spiritual people laugh at religious folk who believe things of which they have no proof. They often do the very same thing with regard to manifesting things, the evils of ego, and other dogma spread by new-age gurus. No more proof of their dogma exists than does the dogma of the churches. To be truly spiritual, you must release all dogma, and be open to truth. This is why Aurelius is gently scolding those who become depressed and discontent when things don’t happen exactly as their favorite guru said it would.
There are far more worldly distractions available now than in the time of Marcus Aurelius. There are movies, books, the internet, and move. Now virtual reality is becoming popular. Soon we may have people who constantly hide from reality in those virtual reality devices. Aurelius seems to be warning us that we should not let such things make us discontent. They are, after all, but entertainments. Getting angry and depressed because your favorite sports team lost the championship makes no sense. It is only because we have become raped up in illusion that they do seem to make sense. People have seen their children murdered in war, but we get depressed over who won a game.
Sometimes, we need to wind down. Worldly distractions can help us do that. But we should never get so attached to them that they can leave us depressed.
Respect of Pleasure
I read on many supposedly spiritual groups n social media that an awakening is all about becoming happy and avoiding all we do not find enjoyable. Having fun all day is an expected goal of small children. It is not a worthy goal for an adult. Becoming spiritual is about seeking truth and knowledge, not happiness. True happiness comes with knowing truth. That is better than the false happiness of living in fantasy.
Aurelius tells us that true liberty, simplicity, and holiness bring us true happiness, natural happiness. In other words, while seeking spiritual truth is a difficult, and sometimes lonely task, the result is true knowledge and happiness. That is better than the false happiness that comes with living lies. Much better than the happiness of embracing the trivial things like professional sports and movies as your reality. So don’t get discontented when the task is difficult. Just remember that it leads ultimately to real happiness. And we appreciate it more when we work hard to get it.