The ancient private notes written by the only Roman Emperor who was also a philosopher, are a profound read for anyone also grappling with large, existential questions. Marcus Aureliu’s words of self encouragement as he tried to make sense of himself and his place in the world are a remarkable testament of the insatiable thirst of for order and knowledge ingrained in the human condition.
My key Takeaways from “Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius
Takeaway #1 Everything Happens For a Reason
The ancient Roman word 'logos' can be roughly translated as meaning 'reason'. The ancient Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius believed that Reason/Logos was the essence of life, the underlying master plan for everyone and everything. With a master plan in place, it means that everything happens for a reason, that when bad things happen and challenges arise you're always on exactly the path you're meant to be on.
Takeaway #2 Emotions Kill Our Reasoning
Aurelius valued reason and having a logical perception of the world, he thought that a calm and analytical mind was better than a mind ruled by feelings and desires. Since logos focuses on order with everything happening for a good reason, even the bad things, it shows us that how we see an event in our life is based on our perception.
Unfortunately, because of our emotions, we lose sight of the logic and bring drama and upset into life rather than acceptance and trust. When it comes down to it, all of the pain that you have felt you have inflicted on yourself – you have allowed yourself to feel that way. You can't always avoid pain, such as when someone you love dies, but you can choose to accept it, know that everything happens for a reason, and move on rather than wallowing in your pain and thinking about all the 'what ifs'.
Takeaway #3 Death Should Not Be Feared
In Ancient Rome death was even more prevalent than it is now with low life expectancy and a very high infant mortality rate. Aurelius believed that a body begins dying as soon as it is born and that when a person dies it's all part of logos. Reincarnation was a concept he believed in saying that a person's energy got recycled after death to form new life in a continuous cycle.
Death comes only when it is needed, it's all part of the greater plan and the inevitable should not be feared, however, life should not be wasted since you don't know if you'll die young or old. Always be the best you can, be productive and make the most of every minute you have on earth. Don't allow yourself to get annoyed, don't complain, and don't begrudge your responsibilities.
Chapter One - The First Book
Chapter Two - The Second Book
Chapter Three - The Third Book
Chapter Four - The Fourth Book
Chapter Five - The Fifth Book
Chapter Six - The Sixth Book
Chapter Seven - The Seventh Book
Chapter Eight - The Eighth Book
Chapter Nine - The Ninth Book
Chapter Ten - The Tenth Book
Chapter Eleven - The Eleventh Book
Chapter Twelve - The Twelfth Book
Best Quotes from Meditations
“I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”
“Keep your best wishes, close to your heart and watch what happens”
“It does not matter how long you are spending on the earth, how much money you have gathered or how much attention you have received. It is the amount of positive vibration you have radiated in life that matters,”
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”
“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”
“One thing: you have to walk, and create the way by your walking; you will not find a ready-made path. It is not so cheap, to reach to the ultimate realization of truth. You will have to create the path by walking yourself; the path is not ready-made, lying there and waiting for you. It is just like the sky: the birds fly, but they don't leave any footprints. You cannot follow them; there are no footprints left behind.”
“Through my love for you, I want to express my love for the whole cosmos, the whole of humanity, and all beings. By living with you, I want to learn to love everyone and all species. If I succeed in loving you, I will be able to love everyone and all species on Earth... This is the real message of love.”
“I have lived with several Zen masters -- all of them cats.”
“The problem with introspection is that it has no end.”
“Rejection is an opportunity for your selection.”
“Looking at beauty in the world is the first step of purifying the mind.”
“The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms.”
― Marcus Aurelius - Meditations
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Editor and Founder
Tal Gur is a location independent entrepreneur, author, and impact investor. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His most recent book and bestseller, The Art of Fully Living - 1 Man, 10 Years, 100 Life Goals Around the World, has set the stage for his new mission: elevating the next generation of leaders to their true potential.