Meditations by Marcus Aurelius Summary – One of the Best Book on Philosophy

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Book – Meditations

Author – Marcus Aurelius

Genre – Self- help Book

Written in between – 170- 180 A.D

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius is one of the best book on philosophy I have read. It is referred and recommended by many authors and speakers I have read and listened. Marcus Aurelius was highly influenced by Stoic Philosophy. You will gain new perspective and may reconsider things you do and say.

About The Author –

Marcus Aurelius was Roman Emperor during the 161 – 180 A.D. He was considered one of the five good Emperors and was also more important Stoic Philosopher. Because of the book Meditations he is known more as philosopher rather than emperor.

About the Book –

Meditations was written over a period of 10 years (170 A. D TO 180 A.D) more as reflection, addressed to self with no intention of publishing. Book is divided in 12 chapters, which are referred as twelve books. The book is Marcus’s interpretation of different aspect of life inspired by his experience and also stoic way of living.

Few messages from 12 books that one may consider on different areas and situation of life.

Book 1 –

  • 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 of particular expression by way of answer, confirmation, or discussion of the matter itself rather than its phrasing – or by some other such appropriate prompting.

Book 2 –

  • Offenses of lust are graver than those of anger: because it is clearly some sort of pain which drives angry man to abandon reason, whereas lust-led offender has given in to pleasure and seems somehow more abandoned and less manly in his wrongdoing.

Book 3 –

  • 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 way before we do.
  • Do not waste the remaining of part of your life in thoughts about other people, except when you are thinking with reference to some aspect of the common good. Why deprive yourself of the time for some other task? I mean, thinking about what so-and-so is doing, and why, what he is saying or contemplating or plotting, and all that line of thought, makes you stray from the close watch on your own directing mind.

Book 4 –

  • Two of the most immediately useful thoughts you will dip into. First that things cannot change the mind: they are external and inert; anxieties can only come from your internal judgment. Second, that all these things you see will change almost as you look at them, and then will be no more. Constantly bring to mind all that you yourself have already seen changed. The universe is change: life is judgment.
  • One who is all in a flutter over his subsequent fame fails to imagine that all those who remember him will very soon be dead – and he too.
  • Most of what we say and do is unnecessary: remove the excess, and you will have more time and less bother. And the removal of the unnecessary should apply not only to actions but to thoughts also: then no redundant actions either will follow.

Book 5 –

  • They cannot admire you for intellect. Granted – but there are many other qualities of which you cannot say, ‘but that is not the way I am made’. So display those virtues which are wholly in your own power – integrity, dignity, hard work, self-denial, contentment, frugality, kindness, independence, simplicity, discretion, magnanimity. Do you not see how many virtues you can already display without any excuse of lack of talent or aptitude? And yet you are still content to lag behind.
  • Your mind will take on the character of your most frequent thoughts: souls are dyed by thoughts.

Book 6 –

  • When circumstances force you to some sort of distress, quickly return to yourself. Do not stay out of rhythm for longer than you must: you will master the harmony the more by constantly going back to it.
  • The best revenge is not be like your enemy.

Book 7 –

  • Is someone afraid of change? Well, what can ever come to be without change? Or what is dearer or closer to the nature of the whole than change? Can you yourself take your bath, if the wood that heats it is not changed? Can you be fed, unless what you eat changes? Can any other of the benefits of life be achieved without change? Do you not see then that for you to be changed is equal, and equally necessary to the nature of the whole?
  • Do not dream of possession of what you don’t have: rather reflect on the blessings in what you do have, and on their account remind yourself how much they would have been missed if they were not there. But the same time you must be careful not to let your pleasure in them habituate you to dependency, to avoid distress if they are sometimes absent.
  • Imagine you were now dead or had not lived before this moment. Now view the rest of your life as a bonus and live it as nature directs.

Book 8 –

  • Life is short for the praiser and praised, for the remembering and remembered. And this, moreover, in just a cranny one continent: even here not all are attuned to each other, or even an individual to himself. And the whole earth is a mere point in space.
  • Do you want a praise of a man who curses himself three times an hour? Do you want to please a man who can’t please himself? Can a man please himself when he regrets almost everything he does?

Book 9 –

  • Today I escaped from all bothering circumstances – or rather I threw them out. They were nothing external, but inside me, just my own judgments.
  • Mere things stand isolated outside our doors, with no knowledge or report of themselves. What then reports on them? Our directing mind.

Book 10 –

  • As far as you can, get into the habit of asking yourself in relation to any action taken by another: ‘What is his point of reference here?’ but begin with yourself: examine yourself first.
  • No more roundabout discussion of what makes a good man. Be one!

Book 11 –

  • A man of forty with any understanding whatsoever has in a sense seen all the past and all the future.
  • The closer to emotions, the closer to power. Anger is as much a sign of weakness as is pain. Both have been wounded and have surrendered.

Book 12 –

  • I have often wondered how it is that everyone loves himself more than anyone else but rates his own judgment of himself below that of others. Anyway, if a Goa or some wise tutor appeared at his side and told him to entertain no internal thought or intention which he won’t immediately broadcast outside, he would not tolerate this regime for a single day. So it is that we have respect for what our neighbors will think of us than we have for ourselves.
  • If it is not right, don’t do it: if it is not true, don’t say it.

Conclusion –

The book definitely carries messages if considered at best will alter your way of thinking and inspire to make amends for better or at least will give you some good questions to ponder upon.

Two things to consider –

  • 1) Journaling can be one of the best way to understand ourselves. Putting our ideas and thoughts on paper not only to work on them but also for clarity of mind it gives.
  • 2) Meditation is another great way of knowing ourselves, which helps in putting things that matter on the pedestal. If you are new to meditation and considering where to start you may consider this 3 minutes meditation!

You may buy this book based on your location from Amazon India or Amazon UAE or listen to Audio book for free with Amazon Audible free trail. #ad

I would appreciate your suggestions/feedback in comments about this post, or any questions you have and I will be happy to answer them. Also, let me know what you pick the most from the book.

Muzammil


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