If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment. ― Marcus Aurelius
The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius is a collection of personal writings by the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. The book is considered one of the greatest works of Stoic philosophy, and its contents are still relevant and impactful today.
One of the key ideas in the Meditations is the concept of “living in accordance with nature.” Aurelius believed that we should strive to live our lives in a way that is in harmony with the natural world. He wrote, “Adapt yourself to the things among which your lot has been cast and love sincerely the fellow-creatures with whom destiny has ordained that you shall live.“
Another important idea in the Meditations is the concept of “stoic joy.” Aurelius believed that true joy comes from within, and that it is not dependent on external circumstances. He wrote, “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.“
Aurelius also emphasized the importance of self-discipline and self-control. He believed that by mastering our own thoughts and emotions, we can become more rational and better able to navigate the challenges of life. He wrote, “Our actions may be impeded…but there can be no impeding our intentions or dispositions. Because we can accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting. The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.“
In general, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius is a timeless work that continues to inspire and guide readers in the pursuit of wisdom, self-improvement, and living a virtuous life. It is a reminder of the power of philosophy to provide guidance and perspective in times of uncertainty and challenge.
If you’re interested in learning more about the life and philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, one book that I highly recommend is “The Inner Citadel: The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius” by Pierre Hadot.
Hadot was a renowned philosopher and historian who wrote extensively about the Stoics and their approach to life. In “The Inner Citadel,” he provides a detailed analysis of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, exploring its key themes and ideas.
One of the things that I love about this book is that it helps to bring the Meditations to life by providing historical context and background information about the Roman Empire and Aurelius’s reign. Hadot also does an excellent job of explaining the Stoic philosophy and its relevance to modern life.
In addition to its thorough analysis of the Meditations, “The Inner Citadel” also includes translations of key passages from the original text, making it a great resource for those who want to explore the Meditations in more depth.
“The Inner Citadel” is a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to learn more about the life and philosophy of Marcus Aurelius. Whether you’re a history buff, a philosophy enthusiast, or just someone looking for guidance and inspiration, I highly recommend this book.
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