A Gathering of Wisdom - Meditations, Marcus Aurelius

Discussion in 'Self Improvement' started by Deleted Account, Jul 2, 2018.

  1. Greetings all,

    I have gathered here a collection of sayings, quotations and statements from the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus that I feel may be helpful to us all on our NoFap journey. May you find wisdom in his words.

    Book II
    • “Whatever it is that I am is flesh and a bit of breath and the ruling centre… Look at the matter in this way… no longer allow this part of you to act like a slave, no longer allow it to be tugged this way and that, like a puppet… no longer allow it to be discontented with its present lot or flinch from what will fall to it in the future.” (M. Aur. Med. 2.2)
    • “It is now high time that you realised what kind of universe this is of which you form a part… you exist as an emanation; and that your time here is strictly limited… unless you make use of it to clear the fog from your mind, the moment will be gone, as you are gone, and never be yours again.” (M. Aur. Med. 2.4)
    • “No one loses any life other than the one that he is living, nor does he live any life other than the one that he loses.” (M. Aur. Med. 2.14)
    • “Even the most insignificant action should be performed with reference to an end…” (M. Aur. Med. 2.16)
    • “All that belongs to the body is a stream in flow, all that belongs to the soul, mere dream and delusion, and our life is a war, a brief stay in a foreign land, and our fame thereafter, oblivion.” (M. Aur. Med. 2.17)

    Book III

    • “We must act with all urgency, then, not only because we are drawing closer to death at every moment, but also because our power to understand things and pay close attention to them gives out before the end.” (M. Aur. Med. 3.1)
    • “You must exclude from the sequence of your thoughts all that is aimless and random, and, above all, idle curiosity and malice; and you must train yourself only to think such thoughts that if somebody were to suddenly ask you, ‘What are you thinking of?’ you could reply in all honesty and without hesitation…” (M. Aur. Med. 3.4)
    • “Never prize as advantageous to yourself anything that will compel you some day to break your word…” (M. Aur. Med. 3.7)
    • "Always make a sketch or plan of whatever presents itself to your mind, so as to see what sort of thing it is when stripped down to its essence, as a whole and in its separate parts… consider… what this object is that presently makes an impression on me, and what it is composed of, and how long it will naturally persist, and what virtue is needed in the face of it…” (M. Aur. Med. 3.11)
    • “Hasten, then, towards your goal, and dismissing idle hopes, come to your own rescue, if you have any care for yourself, while it is still possible.” (M. Aur. Med. 3.14)
    • "To receive impressions by means of images is something that we share even with cattle; and to be drawn this way and that by the puppet-strings of impulse, we share with wild beasts…” (M. Aur. Med. 3.16)

    Book IV

    • “It is possible for you to retreat into yourself whenever you please; for nowhere can one retreat into greater peace or freedom from care than within one’s soul…” (M. Aur. Med. 4.3)
    • “Things of themselves have no hold on the mind, but stand motionless outside it, and all disturbances arise solely from the opinions within us…” (M. Aur. Med. 4.3)
    • “Do not act as if you had ten thousand years to live. The inescapable is hanging over your head; while you have life in you, while you still can, make yourself good.” (M. Aur. Med. 4.17)
    • “Do not wander astray in your mind, but with regard to every impulse deliver what is right, and with regard to every idea that presents itself preserve your power of judgement.” (M. Aur. Med. 4.22)
    • “You should also ask yourself on every occasion, ‘Is this something that is really necessary?’… we should dispense not only with actions that are unnecessary, but also with unnecessary ideas; for in that way the needless actions that follow in their train will no longer ensue.” (M. Aur. Med. 4.24)
    • “It is essential to remember that the care bestowed on each action should be proportionate to its worth…” (M. Aur. Med. 4.32)
    • “You are a little soul carrying a corpse around, as Epictetus used to say.” (M. Aur. Med. 4.41)
    • “Be like the headland, with wave after wave breaking against it, which yet stands firm and sees the boiling waters round it fall to rest.” (M. Aur. Med. 4.49)

    Book V

    • “How easy it is to repel and wipe away every disturbing or inappropriate thought, and recover at once a perfect calm.” (M. Aur. Med. 5.2)
    • “You should not be disgusted, or lose heart, or give up if you are not wholly successful in accomplishing every action according to correct principles, but when you are thwarted, return to the struggle, and be well contented if for the most part your actions are worthier of human nature.” (M. Aur. Med. 5.9)
    • “To what purpose, then, am I presently using my soul? Ask yourself this question at every moment, and examine yourself as follows: what is presently to be found in that part of me which is called the ruling centre? And whose soul do I have at present? That of a child? That of an adolescent? That of a woman, of a tyrant, of a domestic animal, of a wild beast?” (M. Aur. Med. 5.11)
    • “To pursue the impossible is madness…” (M. Aur. Med. 5.17)
    • “Nothing happens to anyone that he is not fitted by nature to bear.” (M. Aur. Med. 5.18)
    • “I have the power to act with reservation and turn circumstances to my own advantage. For the mind adapts and converts everything that impedes its activities into something that advances its purpose, and a hindrance to its action becomes an aid, and an obstacle on its path helps it on its way.” (M. Aur. Med. 5.20)
    • “The mind of the whole is concerned for the good of all. In any event, it has made the lower for the sake of the higher, and adapted them to one another.” (M. Aur. Med. 5.30)
    • “What is a cultivated and knowledgeable soul? That which knows the beginning and end and the reason that interpenetrates all substance…” (M. Aur. Med. 5.32)
    • “The objects of sense are constantly changing with never a stay, and our senses are dull and easily deceived by false impressions…” (M. Aur. Med. 5.33)

    Book VI

    • "When the force of circumstance causes you, in some sense, to lose your equilibrium, return to yourself with all speed, and never lose the rhythm for any longer than you must; for you will be more in control of the measure if you return to it again and again." (M. Aur. Med. 6.11
    • "Do not suppose that if you personally find that something is hard to achieve, it is therefore beyond human capacity; rather, if something is possible and appropriate for human beings, assume that it must also be within your own reach." (M. Aur. Med. 6.19)
    • "In this world there is only one thing of real value, to pass our days in truth and justice, and yet be gracious to those who are false and unjust." - (M. Aur. Med. 6.47)

    Book VII

    • "Your principles have life in them. For how can they perish, unless the ideas that correspond to them are extinguished? And it is up to you to be constantly fanning them into new flame. I am able, on this matter, to form the opinion that I ought; and if I am able to do so, why am I troubled? Things that lie outside my intellect have no hold whatever over my intellect. Learn this and you are well set up. To recover your life is within your power; simply view things again as once you viewed them, for your revival rests in that." (M. Aur. Med. 7.2)
    • "In conversation, one should attend closely to what is being said, and with regard to every impulse, attend to what arises from it; in the latter case, to see from the first what end it has in view..." (M. Aur. Med. 7.4)
    • "For a rational creature, to act according to nature and to act according to reason is one and the same." (M. Aur. Med. 7.11)
    • "Our ruling centre never causes disturbance to itself; I mean, it never arouses fear in itself, or desire... In itself the ruling centre wants for nothing, unless it creates the want for itself..." (M. Aur. Med. 7.16)
    • "Wipe out vain imagination. No longer allow your passions to pull you around like a puppet. Confine your attention to the present time. Learn to recognise what is happening to yourself or another. Divide every object into the material and the causal. Give thought the last hour. Let the wrong committed by another remain where it first arose." (M. Aur. Med. 7.29)
    • "On pain: if it is unbearable, it carries us off, if it persists, it can be endured. The mind, too, can preserve its calm by withdrawing itself, and the ruling centre comes to no harm; as for the parts that are harmed by pain, let them declare it, if they are able to." (M. Aur. Med. 7.33)

    Book VIII

    • "On the occasion of every action, ask yourself this: What does this mean for me? Shall I have cause to repent of it? A short while, and I shall be dead, and all will be gone. What more need I ask for, if my present action is that of an intelligent and sociable being and of one who is subject to the same laws as God himself?” (M. Aur. Med. 8.2)
    • “First of all, be untroubled in your mind; for all things come about as universal nature would have them, and in a short while you will be no one and nowhere, as are Hadrian and Augustus. And next, keep your eyes fixed on the matter at hand and observe it well, remembering that it is your duty to be a good person, and that whatever human nature demands, you must fulfil without the slightest deviation and in the manner that seems most just to you; only do so with kindness and modesty, and without false pretences.” (M. Aur. Med. 8.5)
    • “Every nature is contented when things go well for it; and things go well for a rational creature when it never gives its assent to a false or doubtful impression, and directs its impulses only to actions that further the common food, and limits its desires and aversions only to things that are within its power...” (M. Aur. Med. 8.7)
    • “Wipe our vain impressions by continually telling yourself, ‘It now rests with me to make sure that no wickedness, or appetite, or disquiet should exist within this soul of mine; but rather, by looking to the true nature of all things, I should employ each of them according to its worth.’ Be ever mindful of this power that nature has granted to you.” (M. Aur. Med. 8.29)
    • “Accept without arrogance, relinquish without a struggle.” (M. Aur. Med. 8.33)
    • "In the constitution of a rational creature I see no virtue that pits itself against justice; but I see one that can put itself against pleasure; self-control.” (M. Aur. Med. 8.39)
    • “... If you exercised your impulse without reservation the hindrance will be detrimental to you as a rational being, but if you anticipated the obstacle, you are not yet harmed or hindered...” (M. Aur. Med. 8.41)

    Book IX

    • “One who embarks of his own accord on a course which leads him to oppose the truth does enter into such a conflict, because he has received the necessary aptitudes from nature but has neglected them that he is no longer capable of distinguishing falsehood from truth.” (M. Aur. Med. 9.1)
    • “Corruption of the mind is a far graver pestilence than any comparable disturbance and alteration in the air that surrounds us; for the one is a plague to living creatures as mere animals, and the other to human beings in their nature as human beings.” (M. Aur. Med. 9.2)
    • “Whoever does wrong, wrongs himself; whoever acts unjustly, acts unjustly towards himself because he makes himself bad.” (M. Aur. Med. 9.4)
    • “Blot out imagination; put a curb on impulse; quench desire; ensure that your ruling centre remains under its own control.” (M. Aur. Med. 9.7)
    • “Today I escaped the power of circumstance; or rather I cast all circumstance out; for it was not outside me, but within me, in my judgements.” (M. Aur. Med. 9.13)
    • “It is not in feeling but in action that the good of a rational social creature lies; just as his virtue or wickedness lies not in feeling but in action.” (M. Aur. Med. 9.16)
    • “Make haste to look into your own ruling centre, and that of the universe… Into your own, to ensure that your mind holds to justice; into that of the universe, to remind yourself of what whole you form a part…” (M. Aur. Med. 9.22)
    • “You have endured a thousand miseries because you are not content to have your ruling centre play the part that it was formed to play. Surely that should be enough!” (M. Aur. Med. 9.26)
    • “You have the power to rid yourself of many superfluous troubles which exist only in your own imagination; and you will then create ample room for yourself to embrace the whole universe…” (M. Aur. Med. 9.32)
    • “Loss is nothing other than change; and change is the delight of universal nature, according to whose will all things come to pass…” (M. Aur. Med. 9.35)
    • “How putrid is the matter which underlies everything. Water, dust, bones, stench! Again, fine marbles are calluses of the earth, and gold and silver its sediments, and our garments matted hairs, and the purple, blood from a shellfish. Even our breath is another thing of this kind and changes from this to that.” (M. Aur. Med. 9.36)
    • “Concentrate alone on what you are presently doing, and on the instrument through which you are doing it.” (M. Aur. Med. 9.41)

    Book X

    • “Everything that happens either happens in such a way that you are fitted by nature to bear it or in such a way that you are not. If, then, it comes about in such a way that you are fitted by nature to bear it, make no complaint, but bear it as your nature enables you to do… Remember… that you are fitted by nature to bear everything that you can render bearable and endurable through the exercise of your judgement…” (M. Aur. Med. 10.3)
    • “Direct every impulse to the common benefit and turn it away from anything that runs counter to that benefit.” (M. Aur. Med. 10.6)
    • “When you have given yourself these titles, good, modest, truthful, prudent, sympathetic, high-minded, make sure that you never exchange them for others; and if you should ever lose these titles, return to them with all speed… ‘high-mindedness’ the elevation of the thinking part of you above the smooth or violent agitations of the flesh… if you preserve the right to give yourself these titles… you will be another man and will have embarked on a new life. For to continue to be as you have been hitherto, and suffer the lacerations and defilements of such a way of life, is the part of one who is utterly insensitive and clings to mere existence, like the half-devoured beast-fighters in the arena who, covered as they are with wounds and blood, beg nonetheless to be kept alive until the morrow to be flung in just the same state to the same claws and teeth.” (M. Aur. Med. 10.8)
    • “What need is there for conjecture when it is within your power to consider what ought to be done, and, if you see the proper course, to follow it with a cheerful heart and never a backward glance?" (M. Aur. Med. 10.12)
    • “No more of all this talk about what a good man should be, but simply be one!” (M. Aur. Med. 10.16)
    • “Look carefully at every existing thing and reflect that its dissolution is already under way…” (M. Aur. Med. 10.18)
    • “This fleeting existence is the common lot of all things, and yet you pursue and flee each thing as though it will last forever.” (M. Aur. Med. 10.34)
    • “Acquire the habit with regard to every action, so far as possible… of enquiring within yourself, ‘What is his aim in performing the action?’… begin with yourself, and examine yourself first of all.” (M. Aur. Med. 10.37)

    Book XI

    • “The properties of the rational soul are these: it sees itself, it articulates itself, it shapes itself according to its will, it reaps for itself the fruit it produces…” (M. Aur. Med. 11.1)
    • “They do not come to you, the objects whose pursuit or avoidance causes you such disquiet, but in a certain sense you go to them; so if you will only let your judgement about them remain at rest, they too will remain unmoved, and you will be seen neither to pursue them nor to avoid them.” (M. Aur. Med. 11.11)
    • “The sphere of the soul remains faithful to its form when it neither reaches out towards anything outside itself nor contracts inwards, and when it is neither dispersed abroad nor sinks back into itself, but shines forth with a steady light by which it sees the truth of all things and the truth within itself.” (M. Aur. Med. 11.12)
    • "No one can rob us of our free will, said Epictetus… He said too that we ‘must find an art of assent, and in the sphere of our impulses, take good care that they are exercised subject to reservation, and that they take account of the common interest, and that they are proportionate to the worth of their object; and we should abstain wholly from immoderate desire, and not try to avoid anything that is not subject to our control’.” (M. Aur. Med. 11.36-37)

    Book XII

    • “God views the ruling centre of each one of us stripped of its material casing and of the husk and dross that envelops it; for with his mind alone, he touches only on what has emanated and been drawn into us from himself. And if you too make it your habit to do this, you will rid yourself of the many distractions that affect you; for one who disregards the poor flesh that envelops him will surely waste no time in gaping after fine clothes and housing, and glory, and all such externals and make-believe.” (M. Aur. Med. 12.2)
    • “Look at the underlying caucuses of things, stripped of their covering; and consider what your actions are aiming at, and what pain, pleasure, death, and fame truly are, and who is really to blame if a person is disturbed within, and how no one can be obstructed by another, and that everything turns to opinion.” (M. Aur. Med. 12.8)
    • “In the application of one’s principles, one should resemble a pancratiast [an ancient sport composed of boxing and wrestling], and not a gladiator. For the gladiator lays aside the sword which he uses and then takes it up again, but the pancratiast always has his fist and simply needs to clench it.” (M. Aur. Med. 12.9)
    • “See things in their true nature, analysing them into matter, cause, and relation.” (M. Aur. Med. 12.10)
    • “If the light of a lamp shines forth without losing its radiance until it is extinguished, shall truth and justice and self-control be extinguished in you before you reach your end?” (M. Aur. Med. 12.15)
    • “If something is not right, do not do it, if something is not true, do not say it; for you should keep your impulses under your own control.” (M. Aur. Med. 12.17)
    • “Always consider exactly what it is that is creating an impression in your mind, and unfold its nature by analysing it into its cause, its matter, its relation, and its natural duration within which it must reach its cessation.” (M. Aur. Med. 12.18)
    • “Realise at last that you have something more powerful and more divine within you than the things that give rise to your passions and set you moving like a puppet. What is your mind taken up with at the present moment? Is it not fear? Suspicion? Appetite? Or something else of that kind?” (M. Aur. Med. 12.19)
    • “Firstly, never act at random and without clear reference to an end; and secondly, refer your action to no other end than the common good.” (M. Aur. Med. 12.20)
    • “All turns on judgement, and that rests with you. So when you will, pluck out the judgement, and then, as though you had passed the headland, the sea is calm, and all is still, and there is not a wave in the bay.” (M. Aur. Med. 12.22)
    • “With regard to your actions… you must never act without a definite aim, or otherwise than Justice herself would have acted…” (M. Aur. Med. 12.24)
    • “Cast out the judgement, and you are saved. So what is preventing you from casting it out?” (M. Aur. Med. 12.25)
    • “How is your ruling centre employing itself? For everything rests on that. All else, be it within your control or outside it, is merely dead matter and smoke.” (M. Aur. Med. 12.33)
  2. r8js

    r8js Fapstronaut

    very well written . i must write it dwn somewhere to keep reminding it to myself.
  3. Woodcutter74

    Woodcutter74 Fapstronaut

    For years, I have felt that Marcus Aurelius is a good read and worth reading over and over. I have bought his book on meditations for friends and even have an audio book on Itunes. But you just convince me that I should I buy another copy that I can read before going to sleep. Thanks for inspiring me, I will get a copy this afternoon.
    Soren17 and Janus321 like this.
  4. Soren17

    Soren17 New Fapstronaut

    You know a criticism often made of the Stoics is that their ethical standards are impossibly strict and sometimes unobvious...

    I don't know. You still can't help but admire how much they cared about not putting their lives to waste. The writings of Aurelius, Epictetus, and Seneca are probably the closest thing to a religion that I can go out on a limb on and say 'regardless of whether it's completely correct, I'll put some faith in this'.

    I think it's definitely a good idea to read the Meditations before bed. I used to do the same thing w/ Seneca's On the Shortness of Life-- although I've also thought maybe saying a few of these aphorisms in the morning would be a good idea too (so, in reminding yourself, you're less likely to f*ck up so badly during the day).

    In closing, I want to include a couple relevant bits from Seneca, but-- bear in mind-- this bites a bit harsher. The book as a whole, probably, is meant to give everyone who reads it an existential crisis. I figure now's as good a time as any to panic, though... so here's to a long and honest life!--

    (i.i) Most of mankind, Paulinus, complains about natures meanness,
    because our allotted span of life is so short, and because this stretch
    of time that is given to us runs its course so quickly, so rapidly — so
    much so that, with very few exceptions, life leaves the rest of us in
    the lurch just when we re getting ready to live. And its not just the
    masses and the unthinking crowd that complain at what they per-
    ceive as this universal evil; the same feeling draws complaints even
    from men of distinction. Hence that famous dictum of the greatest
    of physicians: "Life is short, art long." Hence also Aristotle's
    grievance, most unbecoming a philosopher, when he called nature
    to account for bestowing so much time on animals that they can live
    for five or ten human life spans, while so much shorter a limit is set
    for humans, even though they are born to do so many great things.

    It's not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste
    much of it. Life is long enough, and it's been given to us in generous
    measure for accomplishing the greatest things, if the whole of it is
    well invested. But when life is squandered through soft and careless
    living, and when it's spent on no worthwhile pursuit, death finally
    presses and we realize that the life which we didn't notice passing
    has passed away. So it is: the life we are given isn't short but we
    make it so; we're not ill provided but we are wasteful of life. Just as
    impressive and princely wealth is squandered in an instant when it
    passes into the hands of a poor manager, but wealth however modest
    grows through careful deployment if it is entrusted to a responsible
    guardian, just so our lifetime offers ample scope to the person who
    maps it out well.


    ...It would be superfluous to mention more figures who, although
    they seemed to others the happiest of mortals, themselves gave true
    testimony against themselves when they expressed intense hatred for
    every act of their lives. Yet by these complaints they changed neither
    themselves nor anyone else; for after the outburst, their feelings re-
    verted to their normal state. In reality, your life, even if you live
    a thousand years and more, will be compressed into the merest span
    of time; those vices of yours will swallow up any number of lifetimes.
    To be sure, this span of time, which good management prolongs even
    though it naturally hurries on, must in your case escape you quickly;
    for you fail to seize it and hold it back, and you do nothing to delay
    that speediest of all things, but you allow it to pass as if it were some-
    thing overabundant that we can get back again.

    In fact, among the worst cases I count also those who give
    their time to nothing but drink and lust; for these are the most
    shameful preoccupations of all. Other people, even if the semblance
    of glory that grips them is false, nevertheless go astray in respectable
    fashion. You can cite for me people who are greedy, those quick to
    anger, or people who busy themselves with unjust hatreds or wars;
    but all of them sin in a more manly fashion. It is those abandoned
    to the belly and lust who bear the stain of dishonor. Scrutinize
    every moment of such people's lives, and note how much time they
    spend on their ledger-keeping, how much on setting traps or fearing
    them, how much on cultivating others or being cultivated by others,
    how much on giving or receiving bail, how much on dinner parties
    which have themselves become business: you'll see that their affairs,
    whether good or bad, allow them no time to draw breath.
    Woodcutter74 and Deleted Account like this.
  5. Woodcutter74

    Woodcutter74 Fapstronaut

    Thank you Soren17, this was worth reading full length, especially this passage here that really hit me hard. How many of us have wasted precious time on PMO ? How many of us wasted time being sexually frustrated or heartbroken for women in the past, when we could have used this time to better ourselves and accomplish great things with our time? I wish I knew more about Seneca's On the Shortness of Life-- in the past, it would have probably save me a lot of aggravation. But I will add this today as a book worth reading. Thank you again Soren17
    Soren17 and Deleted Account like this.
  6. Seneca's Selected Letters and Dialogues and Essays have some great insights and wisdom to share, as well as Epictetus' Discourses, Fragments and Handbook. I would highly recommend the Oxford World Classics editions.
    Soren17 and Woodcutter74 like this.
  7. Woodcutter74

    Woodcutter74 Fapstronaut

    Thank you Militaris Vir Luminus. Started reading Seneca today. Epictetus will soon follow :)
    Deleted Account likes this.
  8. Iv got the book, its a free kindle download, I found it starts off shit and is a very difficult read.
  9. I'd hesitate from calling it 'shit' at any point in the text. You probably have a bad translation. Book 1 is Marcus thanking everyone in his life and showing gratitude. Book 2 is where it truly begins. Pick up the OWC edition, very readable.

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