Meditations

by: Marcus Aurelius, read in 2017

29 "THE HYMN OF CLEANTHES

High glory of the company of Heaven,
Lord of the manifold name,
Eternal and everlasting is thy power!
Blessed be thou,
O great Architect of Creation,
Ordering all things in the ways of thy laws!
To call upon thy name
Is meet and right for mortal kind,
For we are born of thyself;
Yea, and to us, to us alone
Of all that lives and moves upon the Earth,
Is granted a voice and an utterance.
Therefore now will I sing praises unto thee!
Therefore now and for ever glorify thy power!" Lots of TDB here

31 "George Long. His translation was published in 1862; it is admirably correct, as literal as a school crib, and to me at least utterly unreadable." from Translator's Note (Maxwell Staniforth)

47 "You will not easily find a man coming to grief through indifference to the workings of another's soul; but for those who pay no heed to the motions of their own, unhappiness is their sure reward."

50 "For a human soul, the greatest of self-inflicted wrongs is to make itself (so far as it is able to do so) a kind of tumour or abscess on the universe; for to quarrel with circumstances is always a rebellion against Nature and Nature includes the nature of each individual part. Another wrong, again, is to reject a fellow-creature or oppose him with malicious intent, as men do when they are angry." Good advice for our attitude and behavior toward political opponents whether we win or lose.

63 "1. If the inward power that rules us be true to Nature, it will always adjust itself readily to the possibilities and opportunities offered by circumstance."

63 "3. Men seek for seclusion in the wilderness, by the seashore, or in the mountains a dream you have cherished only too fondly yourself. But such fancies are wholly unworthy of a philosopher, since at any moment you choose you can retire within yourself." OK Marcus, but I found a way to do both.

64 [Footnote] "1. Life itself is but what you deem it. Hamlet (Act II, scene 2) says: "There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so." Marcus here expresses the thought more succinctly in two Greek words, meaning literally 'life [is] opinion'."

65 "As the earthy portion of me has its origins from earth, the watery from a different element, my breath from one source and my hot and fiery parts from another of their own elsewhere (for nothing comes from nothing, or can return to nothing), so too there must be an origin for the mind."

67 "21. If souls survive after death, how has the air above us found room for them all since time began?"

69 "This brings the contentment that comes of doing a few things and doing them well. Most of what we say and do is not necessary, and its omission would save both time and trouble. At every step, therefore, a man should ask himself, 'Is this one of the things that are superfluous?'"

72 "37. Very soon you will be dead; but even yet you are not single-minded, nor above disquiet; not yet unapprehensive of harm from without; not yet charitable to all men, nor persuaded that to do justly is the only wisdom"

72 "...pronounce nothing to be bad or good if it can happen to evil men and good men alike..."

72 [Footnote] "1. Clotho, one of the three Fates, is she who spins the thread of men's lives; Lachesis decides their destiny; Atropos slits the thread when they must die."

73 "40. Always think of the universe as one living organism, with a single substance and a single soul; and observe how all things are submitted to the single perceptivity of this one whole, all are moved by its single impulse, and all play their part in the causation of every event that happens. Remark the intricacy of the skein, the complexity of the web."

75 "...just, magnanimous, temperate, judicious, discreet, truthful, self-respecting, independent,..." Nice list of virtues.

82 "10. As for truth, it is so veiled in obscurity that many reputable philosophers assert the impossibility of reaching any certain knowledge."

82 "...in all this ceaseless flow of being and time, of changes imposed and changes endured, I can think of nothing that is worth prizing highly or pursuing seriously."

87 "Do unsavory armpits and bad breath make you angry? What good will it do you? Given the mouth and armpits the man has got that condition is bound to produce those odours. 'After all, though, the fellow is endowed with reason, and he is perfectly able to understand what is offensive if he gives any thought to it.' Well and good: but you yourself are also endowed with reason; so apply your reasonableness to move him to a like reasonableness; expound, admonish. If he pays attention, you will have worked a cure, and there will be no need for passion; leave that to actors and streetwalkers."

88 "30. The Mind of the universe is social. At all events, it has created the lower forms to serve the higher, and then linked together the higher in a mutual dependence on each other. Observe how some are subjected, others are connected, each and all are given their just due, and the more eminent among them are combined in mutual accord." This is explained nicely in TDB/SG Theory.

92 "10. Either the world is a mere hotch-potch of random cohesions and dispersions, or else it is a unity of order and providence. If the former, why wish to survive in such a purposeless and chaotic confusion; why care about anything, save the manner of the ultimate return to dust; why trouble my head at all; since, do what I will, dispersion must overtake me sooner or later? But if the contrary be true, then I do reverence, I stand firmly, and I put my trust in the directing Power."

94 "...the process of nutrition which is in fact no more wonderful than that of excretion."

95 "19. Because a thing is difficult for you, do not therefore suppose it to be beyond mortal power. On the contrary, if anything is possible and proper for man to do, assume that it must fall within your own capacity."

96 "21. If anyone can show me, and prove to me, that I am wrong in thought or deed, I will gladly change. I seek the truth, which never yet hurt anybody. It is only persistence in self-delusion and ignorance which does harm."

98 Marcus' advice in VI 30 to emulate Antoninus Pious reads just like the scout law.

103 "Your attempt was always subject to reservations, remember; you were not aiming at the impossible. At what, then? Simply at making the attempt itself. In this you succeeded; and with that, the object of your existence is attained."

103 "51. The man of ambition thinks to find his good in the operations of others; the man of pleasure in his own sensations; but the man of understanding in his own actions."

110 "32. Of Death. Dispersion, if the world be a concourse of atoms: extinction or transmutation, if it be a unity." Things vs. stuff.

123 "8. You cannot hope to be a scholar. But what you can do is to curb arrogance; what you can do is to rise above pleasures and pains; you can be superior to the lure of popularity; you can keep your temper with the foolish and ungrateful, yes, and even care for them."

126 "26. A man's true delight is to do the things he was made for. He was made to show goodwill to his kind, to rise above the promptings of his senses, to distinguish appearances from realities, and to pursue the study of universal Nature and her works." To help; to enjoy; to learn. I would add "to create".

129 "...what could the mourned do, when their mourners were no more? And all this for nothing more than a bagful of stench and corruption."

133 "52. Without an understanding of the nature of the universe, a man cannot know where he is; without an understanding of its purpose, he cannot know what he is, nor what the universe itself is. Let either of these discoveries be hid from him, and he will not be able so much as to give a reason for his own existence."

133 "54. As your breathing partakes of the circumfluent air, so let your thinking partake of the circumfluent Mind. For there is a mental Force which, for him who can draw it to himself, is no less ubiquitous and all-pervading than is the atmosphere for him who can breathe it."

134 "59. Men exist for each other. Then either improve them, or put up with them."

138 On death.

157 "16. Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one."

168 "7. Manifestly, no condition of life could be so well adapted for the practice of philosophy as this in which chance finds you today!"

180 "3. You are composed of three parts: body, breath, and mind."



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