Occupy thyself with few things if thou wouldst be tranquil, says the philosopher; for this brings not only the tranquility which comes from doing well, but also that which comes from doing few things.
For nowhere, either with more quiet or more freedom does a man retire than into his own soul, particularly when he has within him such thoughts that, by looking into them, he is immediately in perfect tranquility. —Marcus Aurelius
How busy most of us are! How many things we have to do! How much of what we do or think is necessary? If we would separate the really necessary from the unnecessary, we should not feel this continual hurry. We seldom meet a person with true repose. If one heeds what we say enough to put yes or no in the right place in replying, it is about all we expect. A good listener is rare. But how much of what we say is really worth listening to? For example, the weather (that much-abused topic), our aches and pains, discomforts, family, financial, and political. How much time is spent in talking about what neither interests the speaker nor the listener! But it has become a habit to talk, therefore we must talk something. Then the doing. Civilization brings so many complications. We must conform in a measure to prescribed modes of living. We feel that our social obligations must be observed more or less.
But still will it not be possible for us to separate the necessary from the unnecessary? Then we shall have more leisure for the necessary, and feel less hurried, more tranquil. Then we can do well a “few things.”
We go into the mountains, to the seashore. We travel. We need recreation. We think change of scene will benefit us. Still we do not find peace of mind, tranquility, because we are taking self along with us. We cannot get away from it. We find we have all our discomforts with us. Why? Because we are looking for relief from without. All relief comes from within. We may spend all our life in seeking joy in the externals. We only enjoy to the extent of the happiness in mind. A pleasant day to one is a “weather-breeder” to another. The beauty of the landscape, the grandeur of the mountains, the music of the rippling brook, the broad expanse of deep blue sky, all meaning so much to one, mean simply the country to another; and he does not like the country.
Someone has said that we only see in a fine painting that which we bring to it. If we have not awakened to a consciousness of ourselves as soul, we can see only the external. But, as we develop soul consciousness, we get the essence, the spirit of all, and not the external. We must cultivate thoughts that by returning to them we shall find tranquility. Separate the necessary from the unnecessary. Let us make a storehouse of our mind, not a lumber-room.
And I affirm that tranquility is nothing else than the good ordering of the mind. — Marcus Aurelius.
The quality of thought, not quantity, makes character. I am not accountable for the changes in your mental condition, only to the extent of arousing it to better things.
When a plant pushes itself up through the ground, there is sometimes quite an upheaval of earth. It is so with Truth: pushing itself through material sense makes a general upheaval of old thoughts of error. But the plant heeds not the upheaval, but goes on growing, reaching more and more for the light. So with spiritual progression. Truth minds not the disturbance it has created, but reaches higher and higher, always expressing greater spirituality as it unfolds to our consciousness. Agitation of thought is the beginning of wisdom. Do not be afraid of getting rid of old and unnecessary thought. Fill the mind with necessary, helpful thoughts. Cultivate a “good ordering” of the mind. There is a place of silence within each of us; and, when we retire into it, nothing can reach us but harmony, peace, tranquility. We are simply oblivious to all disturbing influences. We are beyond the reach of inharmonious vibrations.
Tranquility is within.