Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

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The word ‘Stoic’ has two meanings: it describes both a member of the school of philosophy Zeno founded in the Painted Stoa at the approach to the ancient Agora of Athens and a person who represses his emotions and desires, is indifferent to pleasure or pain, and is enduring. Marcus Aurelius was trained by Stoics in his early years.

To grasp the idea of wanting correction and treatment for my character.

Not to be diverted into a taste of rhetoric, so not writing up my own speculations or presenting a glorified picture of the ascetic or the philanthropist.

Not to walk around at home in ceremonial dress. No pretentious language.

Failure to read what is happening in another’s soul is not easily seen as a cause of unhappiness: but those who fail to attend to the motions of their own soul are necessarily unhappy.

If we live longer, there is no guarantee that our mind will likewise retain that power to comprehend and study the world which contributes to our experience of things divine and human.

We must have a sense of urgency, not only for the ever closer approach of death, but also because our comprehension of the world and our ability to pay proper attention will fade before we do.

Do not waste the remaining part of your life in thoughts about other people. I mean, thinking about what so-and-so is saying or doing makes you stray from the close watch on your own direct mind.

You duty is to stand straight - not to held straight.

Justice, truth, self-control, courage — the self-sufficiency of your own mind.

Nothing is so conductive to greatness of mind as the ability to subject each element of our experience in life to methodical and truthful examination.

The defining characteristic of the good person is to love and embrace whatever happens to him along his thread of fate.

Be your own master, and look at things as a man, as a human being, as a citizen, as a mortal creature.

Things cannot touch the mind: they are external and inert; anxieties can only come from your internal judgment.

Constantly bring to mind all that you yourself have already seen changed. The universe is change: life is judgment.

Either an ordered universe, or a stew of mixed ingredients, yet still coherent order. Otherwise how could a sort of private order subsist within you, if there is disorder in the Whole?

You are a soul carrying a corpse.

You should always look at human life as short and cheap. Yesterday sperm: tomorrow a mummy of ashes.

The substance of the Whole is passive and malleable, and the reason directing this substance has no cause in itself to do wrong, as there is no wrong in it. All things have their beginning and their end in accordance with it.

Vanity is the greatest seducer of reasons: when you are most convinced that your work is important, that is when you are most under its spell.

Are you afraid of change? Well, what can ever come to be without change?

Stop the puppet-strings of impulse.

A man following reason in all things combines relaxation with initiative, spark with composure.

Recognizing that in almost no time he will have to leave this behind and depart from the world of men, he has devoted his entire self to justice in his own actions and to the nature of the Whole in all things external.

You should regard as enjoyment any action you can take in accord with your own nature;

Tragedies were brought on stage to remind you of what can happen, that these happenings are determined by nature, and that what moves you in the theatre should not burden you on the larger stage of life.

Calculated honesty is a stiletto. There is nothing more degrading than the friendship of wolves: avoid that above all. The good, honest, kindly man has it in his eyes, and you cannot mistake him.

Kindness is invincible.

The salvation of life lies in seeing each object in its essence.

Robert Dumitriu