A Twitter thread by Douglas Craig.
A thread on some highlights/notes I took from the book 'Meditations' by Marcus Aurelius
1/ For context, Marcus Aurelius was Roman Emperor from 161 to 180 AD. As Roman Emperor Meditations was him recording his private notes to himself and ideas on Stoic philosophy.
2/ Meditations is 12 books, book one is Aurelius thanking the people in his life from which he learned certain things. He thanks his grandfather Verus for decency and a mild temper.
3/ From his Mother: the avoidance of wrong doing; the simplicity of living, well clear of the habits of the rich.
4/ From his Great-grandfather: for not having attended schools for the public, to have had good teachers at home and to realise that one should spend lavishly on this sort of thing
5/ From his tutor: for being able to tolerate pain and feel few needs; to work with his own hands and mind his own business; to be deaf to malicious gossip
6/ From Diognetus: to avoid empty enthusiasms, to disbelieve all that is talked by miracle-mongers, to have an affinity for philosophy + to write essays from a young age.
7/ From Rusticus: not to be diverted into a taste for rhetoric. To read carefully, not satisfied with his own superficial thoughts or quick to accept the facile view of others
8/ From Apollonius: moral freedom, the certainty to ignore the dice of fortune, and have no other perspective, even for a moment, than that of reason alone. Also to not be impatient in explanation
9/ From Sextus: An unaffected dignity and an intuitive concern for his friends
10/ From Alexander the Grammarian: not to leap on mistakes or captiously interrupt when anyone makes an error of vocabulary, syntax, or pronunciation, but neatly to introduce the correct form by way of answer, confirmation, or discussion of the matter itself rather than phrasing
11/ From Alexander the Platonist: rarely, and never without essential cause, to say or write to anyone that ‘I am too busy’
12/ From Catulus: not to spurn a friend’s criticism, even if it may be an unreasonable complaint, but to try to restore his usual feelings
13/ From Maximus: self mastery, immune to any passing whim; good cheer in all circumstances, including illness. Energy for what needs to be done + the fact no one would ever have thought himself belittled by him
14/ From his adoptive father: no vain for so-called honours, a ready ear for anyone with any proposal for the common good, the concern to keep his friends. In those things which conduce to the comfort of life, to enjoy them without pride or apology either.
16/ Remember how long you have been putting this off, there is a limit circumscribed to your time – if you do not use it to clear away the clouds, it will be gone, and you will be gone, and the opportunity will not return
17/ Every hour of the day give vigorous attention to the performance of the task in hand with precise analysis, with unaffected dignity – and to vacating your mind from all its other thoughts.
18/ Life for each of us is a mere moment
19/ Do externals tend to distract you? Then give yourself the space to learn some further good lesson, and stop your wandering.
20/ The present moment is equal for all
21/ A soul harms itself when: it gives in to pleasure or pain; whenever it dissimulates, doing or saying anything feigned or false; and whenever it fails to direct any of its own actions and impulses to a goal, but acts at random without conscious attention
22/ What can escort us on our way? One thing, and one thing only: philosophy
23/ Do not waste the remaining part of your life in thoughts about other people, when you are not thinking with reference to some aspect of the common good.
24/ You should take no action unwillingly, selfishly, uncritically, or with conflicting motives. Do not dress up your thoughts in smart finery.
25/ Be ready to depart, past the need for any loyal oath or human witness. And see that you keep a cheerful demeanour, and retain your independence of outside help and the peace which others can give. Your duty is to stand up straight – not be held up straight.
26/ Revere your power of judgement
27/ Remind yourself too that each of us lives only in the present moment
28/ Nothing is so conducive to greatness of mind as the ability to subject each element of our experience in life to methodical and truthful examination
30a/ No more wandering. You are not likely to read your own jottings, your histories of the Ancient Greeks and Romans, your extracts from their literature laid up for your old age.
30b/ Hurry then to the end, abandon vain hopes, rescue yourself, if you have any care for yourself, while the opportunity is still there.
31/ No action should be undertaken without aim, or other than in conformity with a principle affirming the art of life
32/ Men seeks retreats for themselves - in the country, by the sea, in the hills – but all this is quite unphilosophic. No retreat offers someone more quiet and relaxation than that into his own mind
33/ Tolerance is a part of justice, that wrongdoing may not be deliberate
34/ Well then, will a little fame distract you? Look at the speed of universal oblivion. // Stay humble
35/ Death, just like birth, is a mystery of nature: first a combination then a dissolution, of the same elements. Certainly no cause for shame: because nothing out of the order for an intelligent being or contrary to the principle of his constitution
36/ Remove the judgement, and you have removed the thought ‘I am hurt’: remove the thought ‘I am hurt’, and the hurt is removed
37/ What does not make a human being worse in himself cannot make his life worse either: it cannot harm him from outside or inside. // That which damages your character is the real damager
38/ When someone does you wrong, do not judge things as he interprets them or would like you to interpret them. Just see them as they are, in plain truth.
39/ No, you do not have thousands of years to live. Urgency is on you. While you live, while you can, become good.
40/ What ease of mind you gain from not looking at what your neighbour has said or done or thought, but only at your own actions, to make them just, reverential and imbued with good! Don’t derive ease of mind by following others, do what you know is right.
41/ Everything is any way beautiful has its beauty of itself, inherent and self-sufficient: praise is no part of it. At any rate, praise does not make anything better or worse.
42/ One who is all in a flutter over his subsequent fame fails to imagine all those who remember him will very soon be dead – and he too.
43/ Most of what we say and do is unnecessary: remove the superfluity, and you will have more time and less bother.
44/ Do not trouble yourself, keep yourself simple. Someone does wrong? He does wrong to himself.
45/ But what in any case is everlasting memory? Utter emptiness. //trying to get people to remember you is pointless
46/ Look into their directing minds: observe what even the wise will avoid or pursue. #vianegativa
47/ Change: nothing inherently bad in the process, nothing inherently good in the result
48/What comes after is always in affinity to what went before. // rose tinted glasses have existed for all of time, be careful of this. be thankful you had good times, not sad to miss them
49/The death of earth is the birth of water; the death of water is the birth of air; the death of air is fire, and back again. // remember - life is a big cycle, ups create downs and downs create ups.
50/ We should not be like children with their parents, simply accepting what we are told
thats all for the moment, I am 1/3rd through the book typing up my notes but got exams so shall do more a bit later, cheers!