Marcus Aurelius

Stoicism – Philosophy on guidance on everything from living in the world to interacting with others

Lessons Marcus Aurelius learn from his family and friends ( Meditation – Book 1 ):

  • Character and Self-Control
  • Integrity nad manliness
  • not to waste time on nonsense
  • To hear unwelcomed truths
  • To practise philosophy
  • To read attentively
  • Epictetus’s lectures
  • To be the same in all circumstances – intense pain, loss of a child, chronic illness
  • To see clearly, that a man can show both strength and flexibility
  • Kindess
  • To show intuitive sympathy for friends, tolerance to amateurs and sloppy thinkers
  • To investigate and analyze, with understanding and logic
  • Not to display anger or other emotions
  • To be free of passion and yet full of love
  • Not to be constantly correcting people
  • Not to jump on them whenever they make an error of usage or a grammatical mistake or mispronounce something, but just answer their question
  • To show your teachers ungrudging respect and your children unfeigned love
  • To love my family, truth and justice
  • To help others and be eager to share, not to be a pessimist, and never to doubt your friends affection for you
  • Self-control nad resistance to distraction
  • Optimism in adversity – especially illness
  • Have personality in balance: dignity and grace together
  • Doing your job without whining
  • Generosity, charity, honestly
  • Sense of humor
  • Compassion
  • Indifference to superficial honors
  • Hard work
  • Persistance
  • Listening to anyone who could contribute to the public good
  • Self-reliance and cheerfulness
  • Willingness to take a responsibility and blame for both

Meditation – Book 2

When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonet, jealous and surly. The are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. – And so none of them can hurt me.

Concentrate every minute like a Roman – on doing what’s in front of you with precise and genuine seriousness, tenderly, willingly, with justice. And on freeing yourself from all other distractions. Yes, you can – if you do everything as if it were the last thing you were doing in your life, and stop being aimless, stop letting your emotions override what your mind tells you, stop being hypocritical, self-centered, irritable.

Everyone gets one life. Yours is almost used up, and instead of treating yourself with respect, you have untrusted your own happiness to the souls of others.

Stop letting yourself be pulled in all directions.. People who labor all their lives but have no purpose to direct every thought and impulse toward are wasting their time – even when hard at work.

You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.

Meditation – Book 3

Not just that every day more of our life is used up and less and less it is left, but this too: if we live longer, can we be sure our mind will still be up to understanding the world – to the contemplation that aims at divine and human knowledge ? If our mind starts to wander, we will still go on breathing, go on eating, imagining things, feeling urgues and so on. But getting the most out of ourselves, calculating where our duty lies, analyzing what we hear and see, deciding whether it’s time to call it quits – all the things you need a healthy mind for … all those are gone. So we need hurry. Not just because we move daily closer to death but also because our understanding – our grasp of the wolrd – may be gone before we get there.

Don’t waste the rest of your time here worrying about other people – unless it affects the common good. It will keep you from doing anything useful.You will be too preoccupied with what so-and-so is doing, and why, and what they are saying, and what they are thinking, and what they are up to, and all the other things that throw you off and keep you from focuing on your own mind. You need to avoid certain things in your train of thoughts: everything random, everything irrelevant. And certainly everything self-important or malicious. You need to get used to winnowing your thoughts, so that if someone says, ” What are you thinking about ?” you can respond at once (and truthfully) that you are thinking this or thinking that. And it would be obvious at once from your answer that your thoughts were straightfoward and considerate ones – the thoughts of an unselfish person, one unconcerned with pleasure and with sensual indulgence generally, with squabling, with slander and envy, or anything else you would be ashem to be caught thinking.

Meditation – Book 4

Choose not to be harmed – and you won’t feel harmed.

Don’t feel harmed – and you haven’t been.

It can ruin your life only if it ruins your character. Otherwise it cannot harm you.

People who are excited by posthumous fame forget that the people who remember them will soon die too.

Take the shortest route, the one that nature planned – to speak and act in the healthinest way. Do that, and be free of pain and stress, free of all calculation and pretension.

Meditation – Book 5

1. At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: “I have to go to work—as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for— the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm? —But it’s nicer here. . . . So you were born to feel “nice”? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands? —But we have to sleep sometime. . . . Agreed. But nature set a limit on that—as it did on eating and drinking. And you’re over the limit. You’ve had more than enough of that. But not of working. There you’re still below your quota. You don’t love yourself enough. Or you’d love your nature too, and what it demands of you. People who love what they do wear themselves down doing it, they even forget to wash or eat. Do you have less respect for your own nature than the engraver does for engraving, the dancer for the dance, the miser for money or the social climber for status? When they’re really possessed by what they do, they’d rather stop eating and sleeping than give up practicing their arts.

Practice the virtues you can show: honestly, gracity, endurance, austerity, resignation, abstinence, patience, sincerity, moderation, seriousness, high-mindedness.

Some people, when they do someone a favor, are always looking for a chance to call it in. And some aren’t, but they’re still aware of it—still regard it as a debt. But others don’t even do that. They’re like a vine that produces grapes without looking for anything in return. A horse at the end of the race . . . A dog when the hunt is over . . . A bee with its honey stored . . . And a human being after helping others. They don’t make a fuss about it. They just go on to something else, as the vine looks forward to bearing fruit again in season. We should be like that. Acting almost unconsciously.

25. So other people hurt me? That’s their problem. Their character and actions are not mine. What is done to me is ordained by nature, what I do by my own.

34. You can lead an untroubled life provided you can grow, can think and act systematically. Two characteristics shared by gods and men (and every rational creature):

i. Not to let others hold you back.

ii. To locate goodness in thinking and doing the right thing, and to limit your desires to that.

Meditation – Book 6

The best revenge is not to be like that

23. When you deal with irrational animals, with things and circumstances, be generous and straightforward. You are rational; they are not. When you deal with fellow human beings, behave as one. They share in the logos. And invoke the gods regardless. Don’t worry about how long you’ll go on doing this. A single afternoon would be enough.

Our lives are short. The only rewards of our existence here are an unstained character and unselfish acts

32. I am composed of a body and a soul. Things that happen to the body are meaningless. It cannot discriminate among them. Nothing has meaning to my mind except its own actions. Which are within its own control. And it’s only the immediate ones that matter. Its past and future actions too are meaningless.

Meditation – Book 7

Surrounded as we are by all of distractions, we need to practise acceptance. Without disdain (pohrdani). But remembering that our own worth is measured by what we devote our energy to.

No matter what anyone says or does, my task is to be good. Like gold or emerald or purple repeating to itself “No matter what anyone says or does, my task is to be emerald, my color undiminished.”

To feel affection for people even when they make mistakes is uniquely human. You can do it, if you simply recognize: that they’re human too, that they act out of ignorance, against their will, and that you’ll both be dead before long. And, above all, that they haven’t really hurt you. They haven’t diminished your ability to choose.

When people injure you, ask yourself what good or harm they thought would come of it. If you undestand that, you’ll feel sympathy rather than outrage or anger. Your sense of good and evil may be the same as theirs, or near it, in which case you have to excuse them. Or you sense of good and evil may differ from theirs. In which case they’re misguided and deserve your compassion. Is that so hard ?

Care for other human being.

Everywhere, at each moment, you have the option:

  • to accept this event with humility
  • to treat this person as he should be treated
  • to approach this thought with care, so that nothing irrational creeps in

Don’t pay attention to other people’s minds.

Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now take what’s left and live it properly.

“Againts our will, our souls are cut off from truth.” Truth, yes, and justice, self-control, kindness… Important to keep this in mind. It will make you more patient with other people.

Meditation – Book 8

Either pain affects the body (which is the body’s problem) or it affects the soul. But the soul can choose not to be affected, preserving its own serenity, its own tranquillity.

An individual act of evil does not harm the victim. Only one person is harmed by it – and he can stop being harmed as soon as he decides to.

Meditation – Book 9

To do harm is to do yourself harm.

Objective judgment now, at this very moment. Unselfish action, now, at this very moment. Willing acceptance – now, at this very moment – of all external events. That’s all you need.

Leave other people’s mistakes where they lie.

Meditation – Book 10

Everything that happens is either endurable or not. If it’s endurable, then endure it. Stop complaing. If it’s unendurable… then stop complaining. Your destruction will mean its end as well. Just remember: you can undure anything your mind can make endurable, by treating it as in your interest to do so. In your interest, or in your nature.

If they’ve made a mistake, correct them gently and show them where they went wrong. If you can’t do that, then the blame lies with you. Or no one.

Whatever happens to you has been waiting to happen since the beginning of time.

Does it make any difference to you if other people blame you for doing things right ? It makes no difference.

When faced with people’s bad behavior, turn around and ask when you have acted like that. When you saw money as a good, or pleasure, or social position. Your anger will suside as soon as you recognize that they acted under compulsion (what else could they do) ? Or remove the compulsion, if you can.

Meditation – Book 11

You have to know an awful lot before you can judge other people’s actions with real understanding.

When you start to lose your temper, remember: There’s nothing manly about rage. It’s courtesy and kindness that define a human being – and a man.

If you don’t have a consistent goal in life, you can’t live it in a consistent way.

“No thefts of free will reported.”

Meditation – Book 12

“It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.

To be angry at something means you’ve forgotten: That everything that happens is natural. That the responsibility is theirs, not yours.

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