Welcome to the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius challenge! This is a knowledge and discipline driven challenge. The aim is to combine reading, knowledge, discipline and reflection to create a challenge that leaves you with a wholesome feeling of self-improvement. First, a bit about the man, Marcus Aurelius. Marcus was the Emperor of Rome from the year 161 until the year 180 AD, giving him a lengthy reign of nearly 2 decades as the head of the most powerful, well organised and dominant state of its' time. The glory and power of Rome continues to impress historians even today. Born in a prominent family, he received a strong foundational education. Even further emphasis on his education was given after it became apparent he is next in line for the most important position in the Empire. It is important to emphasise the extent of the power that Marcus had at his disposal. If he so wished, nothing would be off limits for him. What truly sets Marcus apart is that in the face of unlimited power and temptation his head remained firmly on his shoulders. In true defiance of Machiavellian norms he did not allow absolute power to corrupt him. The historical records of the strength of his character remain a bright beacon of light symbolising what a true masculine, stoic leader can be and achieve. But this challenge is not meant to be a cult of personality. We are here to study and discuss the ideas that the man has grown to represent. In the last 10 years of his life and reign Marcus Aurelius began writing a journal, of sort. This was a personal record of his thoughts and affirmations. It was never meant to be read by anyone but himself, let alone be published. In fact, some records say there were explicit instructions for the books to be destroyed upon his death. Luckily for us, those instructions were never followed. The books were preserved and are now widely known and available as the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. It is a collection of thoughts that embody the stoic philosophy written by one of the most powerful and yet consistently virtuous people our world has ever produced. Next, a bit about the idea - Stoicism. Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in the early 3rd century BC. It is a philosophy of personal ethics informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world. The core tenets of Stoicism are the following: Courage. It is the choice and willingness to confront agony, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation. Temperance. In its modern use is defined as moderation or voluntary self-restraint. It is typically described in terms of what an individual voluntarily refrains from doing. Justice. It is the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness; to uphold the justice of a cause. Wisdom. Wisdom, sapience, or sagacity is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense and insight. Wisdom is associated with attributes such as unbiased judgement, compassion, experiential self-knowledge, self-transcendence and non-attachment, and virtues such as ethics and benevolence. Stoicism is characterised by a rejection of pleasure as the standard for human happiness and human felicity. Stoicism takes the position that the wise man, the good man, the philosopher, is a man who lives in accordance with Nature (you need to study the texts on Stoicism to understand what a Stoic means by Nature). He fears only abdicating his moral responsibility. He is not afraid of pain, he is not afraid of death, he is not afraid of poverty, he is not afraid of any of the vicissitudes of the human condition. He fears only that he should let himself down and he should be less than a complete human being. According to the Stoics, the only matter of concern to a wise and philosophical individual is the things completely under your control. You can’t control the movements of the sun and the planets, you can’t control whether a leaky ship sinks or makes it to port, you can’t control the weather, you can’t control other people, you can’t control the society around you. There is only one thing, and one thing only that you are in control of, and that is YOU. Your will, your intentions, yourself. In other words, the wise man, the truly philosophical man is a man who is entirely in control of his own soul. Who takes utter and complete moral responsibility for his actions and is indifferent to anything else. Not because he doesn’t care about other people but because it is not under his control. In order to learn more about Marcus Aurelius and Stoicism before you begin, have a look at this lecture. It is a very succinct introduction and some of the text in this post has come from transcribing the content. Last, a bit about the challenge. The premise is simple. In order to complete this challenge you must make progress both on your NoFap streak and the book. The meditations of Marcus Aurelius is divided into 12 books. This means you'll 2-3 days per book, with some of the longer chapters getting a bit of extra time. At the end of the allocated time, you must post a progress report that contains a short (or long if you wish to) text that contains your own meditations and thoughts on what you've read during this stretch. Book 1 : Days 1 and 2 | ~3000 words Book 2 : Days 3 and 4 Book 3 : Days 5 and 6 Book 4 : Days 7 and 8 Book 5 : Days 9, 10 and 11 Book 6 : Days 12, 13 and 14 Book 7 : Days 15, 16 and 17 Book 8 : Days 18, 19 and 20 Book 9 : Days 21 and 22 Book 10 : Days 23, 24 and 25 Book 11 : Days 26, 27 and 28 Book 12 : Days 29 and 30 The meditations are not the kind of book where it would benefit you to look ahead or read through quickly. There is no plot, no part of it is particularly more important than another. What would benefit you most is if you read through it slowly, deliberately and with great attention and reflection. This is what I invite you to do. Read, pause, ponder and write down your thoughts, so that you can share them here. How does Marcus's ideals of morality resonate with your own? Is Marcus describing the man you would like to strive to be? Have you ever encountered situations similar to what he is describing? How did you react in them and has what you've read changed your worldview? How you would approach the situation in the future? We think best when we write. Without writing, many would say, you can barely say you've even thought. I invite you to start writing and sharing your thoughts. Not only read the books, but also leave a mark. On this forum and in the memory of the people who read it. You can start this challenge at any point in your journey. Just keep track of which day of this challenge you are using a daily check in. You can find free PDF files of the book at project Gutenberg and potentially in many other places online if you search for it. You can also find free audio versions on YouTube or at LibriVox. You can also buy the paper version at any bookstore or online retailer. Best of luck, young Stoics. May Nature favour you in your pursuits of Courage, Temperance, Justice and Wisdom.