Your favourite Stoic Exercises 2) The View From Above

The second most useful Stoic Exercise averaging  a 4.2 star rating (out of five) was the View from Above

This is the description from the Stoic Booklet 

Key text: Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 7.48.

 ‘A fine reflection from Plato. One who would converse about human beings should look on all things earthly as though from some point far above, upon herds,

armies, and agriculture, marriages and divorces, births and deaths, the clamour of law courts, deserted wastes, alien peoples of every kind, festivals, lamentations, and
markets, this intermixture of everything and ordered combination of opposites.’

The Exercise:

The ‘View from Above’ is a guided visualization which is aimed at
instilling a sense of the ‘bigger picture’, and of understanding your role in wider
community of humankind. You might decide to listen to the View from Above first
thing in the morning, at a quiet point during the day (e.g. after lunch) or late in the
evening, perhaps even last thing at night. It can be listened to sitting or lying down.

You can download a free recording of the View from Above (by Donald Robertson) at this
address: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/57729041/viewfromabovestoicweek.mp3

The application below should also allow you to play the recording:

The New Year may be a particularly appropriate time to gain this cosmic perspective, so why not download and listen to the recording today?

6 thoughts on “Your favourite Stoic Exercises 2) The View From Above”

  1. There are no obvious references to this in Musonius Rufus or Epictetus, or the fragments from the early Stoics. It’s possible that it’s more of a Platonic exercise, that some Stoics assimilated. However, there’s also the argument that it’s ultimately Pythagorean, like many of the other Stoic “exercises”.

    That said, Epictetus does refer several times to Pythagoras’ famous allegory of the festival or games (also called the “Three Lives”), which is basically about the idea that true philosophers love to contemplate the cosmos and nature in a sort of detached way, whereas non-philosophers tend to either crave wealth (the merchants) or reputation (the athletes). The philosophers just spectate, taking in the whole chaotic scene of the festival, trying to understand its essential nature. Maybe that has something to do with the View from Above. (There are also interesting references to fairly similar contemplative exercises in the Hermetic and Neoplatonic literature.)

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