There is ‘road rage’ on being passed or obstructed, on a highway. But life itself is a series of obstructions and overtaking in every field and there is a smouldering life rage in the heart of nearly everyone.
We live by artificial standards which themselves are constantly changing. Emerson once wrote that for most people one of the highest pleasures is the consciousness of being really well dressed. But if someone appeared today in that well dressed look of his time, people would simply laugh.
The same is true of more central things: it was rightly said that reputation lies in the breath of the people. We have to develop inner balance and inner firm footing, and become independent of outer supports.
This does mean in the end an independence of life and death. When Socrates remarked that he need not pay attention to spiteful words, he was challenged:
“But it may not stop at words Socrates. It may go to violence, to imprisonment, to castration.”
Socrates replied “You are trying to frighten me but I am not one to be frightened” and he went on to mention the campaigns in which he had taken part as a soldier fighting with distinction.
Socrates demonstrated freedom from both rage at life and fear of death and his method of achieving this was both reasoning and mystical experience.
© 2000 Trevor Leggett