Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. (Matt. 5:5)
Those lacking in spiritual insight can only understand this beatitude in human terms. They understand meekness as something weak, timid, and passive. In contrast, they posit the earthy man with strong appetite and passionate nature. Both of these points of view reflect an inadequate notion of man. One reflects a Marxist view of an underclass motivated by resentment; the other, a modern neo-pagan caricature. When the real constitution of man is understood, it takes on a different meaning.
Plato describes the three aspects or powers of the soul:
In the Chariot Allegory, the soul is portrayed as a charioteer (the Intellect) controlling two horses. The white one represents the thymos and the black one, the appetitive aspect. The latter is the aspect most susceptible to the influence of the passions and hence is more difficult to control. Even the former can erupt into useless anger.
Nevertheless, both lower aspects, including spiritedness, must be under the control of the intellect in order for the soul to continue its ascent. Vladimir Solovyov, in his Lectures on Divine Humanity puts it this way: “One can be considered free from passions only when one has them but has power over them, when one posseses, but is not possessed by them.”
In Matthew, the word translated as “meek” is praos, which was also used to mean the gentling of a horse. The horse is the most noble of animals, but it must be broken to be of use to the knight.
So we see that the “meek” are those whose souls are under the control and guidance of the Intellect, since the appetitive and incensive aspects of the soul have been broken and put in service to the highest aspect in man. They still retain their driving forces: the appetitive to achieve a goal, and the incensive to provide the emotional energy and motivation to persist. Far from being mousy or timid, the meek are strong willed and inner directed. This is why they shall inherit the earth.