Book Reviews

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius -Book Notes, Summary, and Review

14. Meditations - Marcus Aurelius

Get it on Amazon

Rating: 9/10

Date of reading: 23rd – 29th of March, 2018

Description: Roman Stoic philosophy from one the “The Big Five’s” of the Roman Empire. Marcus Aurelius was a wise emperor who understood the way of dealing with people and, luckily for us, he managed to inscribe most of that wisdom in his Meditations. This is a book about philosophy, a word which used to mean a way of life, not something you talk about at 2:00 am with your friends after you’re drunk. This is a book of life, a way of life, a code of life.

My notes:

Introduction
Gregory Hays

“State s will never be happy until rulers become philosophers or philosophers become rulers. —PLATO, The Republic” ( :7)

“In 137, however, Ceionius died unexpectedly, and Hadrian was forced to cast about for a new successor. His choice fell on the childless senator Antoninus, whom he selected with the proviso that Antoninus should in turn adopt Marcus (his nephew by marriage) along with Ceionius’s son Lucius Verus, then aged seven. Marcus took on the family name of his adopted father, becoming Marcus Aurelius Antoninus.” ( :8)

“assius’s assassination at the hands of a subordinate. Marcus was nevertheless obliged to travel east to reassert his authority, taking with him Faustina (who died in the course of the journey).” ( :11)

“Faustina had borne at least thirteen children, many of whom had died young. By the mid-170s, Marcus had only one surviving son, Commodus, just entering his teens.” ( :12)

“Two years later Marcus died at age fifty-eight, the first emperor to pass on the throne to his son since Vespasian a century before.” ( :12)

“In the ten years between 169 and 179 he had to cope with constant fighting on the frontier, the abortive revolt of Cassius, and the deaths of his colleague Verus; his wife, Faustina; and others.” ( :12)

“Stoic school. The movement takes its name from the stoa (“porch” or “portico”) in downtown Athens where its founder, Zeno (332/3- 262 B.C.), taught and lectured.” ( :13)

“conviction that the world is organized in a rational and coherent way.” ( :13)

“In individuals it is the faculty of reason. On a cosmic level it is the rational 1 principle that governs the organization of the universe.” ( :13)

“In the same way, humans are responsible for their choices and actions, even though these have been anticipated by the logos and form part of its plan. Even actions which appear to be—and indeed are—immoral or unjust advance the overall design, which taken as a whole is harmonious and good. They, too, are governed by the logos.” ( :13)

“Stoicism has even been described, not altogether unfairly, as the real religion of upper-class Romans.” ( :14)

“In the process it became a rather different version of the philosophy from that taught by Zeno and Chrysippus.” ( :14)

“Roman Stoicism, by contrast, was a practical discipline—not an abstract system of thought, but an attitude to life.” ( :14)

“Indeed, the application of the adjective “stoic” to a person who shows strength and courage in misfortune probably owes more to the aristocratic Roman value system than it does to Greek philosophers.” ( :14)

“Marcus Cato (known as Cato the Younger to distinguish him from his great-grandfather, prominent a century earlier). A senator of renowned rectitude when Julius Caesar marched on Rome in 49 B.C., Cato sided with Caesar’s rival Pompey in defense of the legitimate government. When it was clear that Caesar would triumph, Cato chose not to survive the Republic, killing himself after the battle of Munda in 46. Within a century he had become an emblem of Stoic resistance to tyranny.” ( :14)

“Lucius Annaeus Seneca (c. 4 B.C.-A.D. 65), commonly known as Seneca the Younger to distinguish him from his equally distinguished father. Originally councillor to the young Nero, he was eventually forced to commit suicide after being implicated in an attempted coup against his erstwhile pupil.” ( :15)

“There was another kind of Stoic exemplar as well: the outsider whose ascetic lifestyle won him the admiration of his wealthier contemporaries and enabled him to criticize the pretenses of upper-class society with real authority. An early example of the type is Gaius Musonius Rufus (c. 30-100), a member of the Roman administrative class, the so-called knights (equites), who was banished by both Nero and Vespasian.” ( :15)

“Musonius’s student Epictetus (c. 55-c. 135),” ( :15)

“He later produced an abridged version, the Encheiridion” ( :15)

“The questions that the Meditations tries to answer are primarily metaphysical and ethical ones: Why are we here? How should we live our lives? How can we ensure that we do what is right? How can we protect ourselves against the stresses and pressures of daily life? How should we deal with pain and misfortune? How can we live with the knowledge that someday we will no longer exist?” ( :16)

“Chief among these are inappropriate value judgments: the designation as “good” or “evil” of things that in fact are neither good nor evil.” ( :16)

“By contrast, my perception that my house has burned down and I have thereby suffered a terrible tragedy includes not only an impression, but also an interpretation imposed upon that initial impression by my powers of hypolepsis.” ( :16)

“It is, in other words, not objects and events but the interpretations we place on them that are the problem.” ( :16)

“Our duty to act justly does not mean that we must treat others as our equals; it means that we must treat them as they deserve.” ( :17)

“The latter governs our approach to the things in our control, those that we do; the discipline of will governs our attitude to things that are not within our control, those that we have done to us (by others or by nature).” ( :17)

“By contrast, things outside our control have no ability to harm us. Acts of wrongdoing by a human agent (torture, theft, or other crimes) harm the agent, not the victim.” ( :17)

“This, of course, we must not do. Instead we must see things for what they are (here the discipline of perception is relevant) and accept them, by exercising the discipline of will, or what Epictetus calls (in a phrase quoted by Marcus) “the art of acquiescence.”” ( :17)

“Alexander Pope’s phrase, “whatever is, is right.”” ( :17)

“One example is the so-called Socratic paradox, the claim that no one does wrong willingly, and that if men were able to recognize what is right, they would inevitably do it. “They are like this,” Marcus says of other people, “because they can’t tell good from evil” (2.1), and he repeats this assertion elsewhere.” ( :18)

“The best revenge is not to be like that. (6.6) Straight, not straightened. (7.12) The fencer’s weapon is picked up and put down again. The boxer’s is part of him. (12.9)” ( :19)

“important Roman value—and the Epicurean equation of the good with pleasure was bound to raise eyebrows among conservative Romans. “Eat, drink and be merry” was popularly supposed to be the Epicureans’ motto, though Epicurus himself had been quite explicit in identifying pleasure with intellectual contemplation rather than the vulgar enjoyment of food and sex.” ( :20)

“entries and others it seems clear that the “you” of the text is not a generic “you,” but the emperor himself.” ( :21)

“predominance of the imperative in the text; its purpose is not to describe or reflect (let alone to 7 “meditate”), but to urge, direct, and exhort.” ( :21)

“A persistent motif is the need to restrain anger and irritation with other people, to put up with their incompetence or malice, to show them the errors of their ways.” ( :24)

“It is not easy to see why one should pray to a power whose decisions one can hardly hope to influence, and indeed Marcus several times seems to admit the possibility that one should not” ( :25)

“Copies survived in the Greek-speaking East, of course, but even there the Meditations seems to have been little read. For centuries, all trace of it is lost, until at the beginning of the tenth century it reappears in a letter from the scholar and churchman Arethas, who writes to a friend, “I have had for a while now a copy of the Emperor Marcus’s invaluable book. It was not only old but practically coming apart. . . . I have had it copied and can now pass it on to posterity in better shape.”” ( :26)

“The fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453 led to an exodus of scholars, bringing with them the Greek texts that inspired the Italian Renaissance.” ( :26)

“The only complete manuscript to survive is a fourteenth-century codex (now in the Vatican), which is riddled with errors.” ( :26)

“1559, when Wilhelm Holzmann (known as Xylander) produced a text from what seems to have been a more reliable manuscript. That manuscript, unfortunately, has not survived.” ( :27)

“As evidence for later Stoicism it pales beside the greater bulk of Epictetus’s Discourses.” ( :27)

“It is not outside, but within, and when all is lost, 12 it stands fast.”” ( :27)

“The works of the two most important Stoics, Zeno and Chrysippus, are largely lost;” ( :28)

Book 1
DEBTS AND LESSONS

“4. MY GREAT-GRANDFATHER To avoid the public schools, to hire good private teachers, and to accept the resulting costs as money well-spent.” ( :33)

“To steer clear of oratory, poetry and belles lettres.” ( :33)

“To read attentively—not to be satisfied with “just getting the gist of it.” And not to fall for every smooth talker.” ( :33)

“to display expertise without pretension.” ( :34)

“Not to be constantly telling people (or writing them) that I’m too busy, unless I really am. Similarly, not to be always ducking my responsibilities to the people around me because of “pressing business.”” ( :34)

“That no one could ever have felt patronized by him—or in a position to patronize him.” ( :35)

“Indifference to superficial honors.” ( :35)

“His dogged determination to treat people as they deserved.” ( :35)

“And that I never lost control of myself with any of them, although I had it in me to do that, and I might have, easily.” ( :36)

Book 2
ON THE RIVER GRAN, AMONG THE QUADI

“When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil.” ( :39)

“We were born to work together like feet, hands, and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are obstructions.” ( :39)

“The world is maintained by change—in the elements and in the things they compose. That should be enough for you; treat it as an axiom.” ( :39)

“Discard your thirst for books, so that you won’t die in bitterness, but in cheerfulness and truth, grateful to the gods from the bottom of your heart.” ( :39)

“Yours is almost used up, and instead of treating yourself with respect, you have entrusted your own happiness to the souls of others.” ( :40)

“Do external things distract you? Then make time for yourself to learn something worthwhile; stop letting yourself be pulled in all directions. But make sure you guard against the other kind of confusion. People who labor all their lives but have no purpose to direct every thought and impulse toward are wasting their time—even when hard at work.” ( :40)

“The nature of the world. My nature. How I relate to the world. What proportion of it I make up. That you are part of nature, and no one can prevent you from speaking and acting in harmony with it, always.” ( :40)

“If there were anything harmful on the other side of death, they would have made sure that the ability to avoid it was within you. If it doesn’t harm your character, how can it harm your life?” ( :40)

“Nothing is more pathetic than people who run around in circles,” ( :41)

“conducting investigations into the souls of the people around them, never realizing that all you have to do is to be attentive to the power inside you and worship it sincerely.” ( :41)

“keep it from being muddied with turmoil and becoming aimless and dissatisfied with nature— divine and human” ( :41)

“you cannot lose another life than the one you’re living now, or live another one than the one you’re losing. The longest amounts to the same as the shortest.” ( :41)

“ii. When it turns its back on another person or sets out to do it harm, as the souls of the angry do. iii. When it is overpowered by pleasure or pain. iv. When it puts on a mask and does or says something artificial or false. v. When it allows its action and impulse to be without a purpose, to be random and disconnected: even the smallest things ought to be directed toward a goal. But the goal of rational beings is to follow the rule and law of the most ancient of communities and states.” ( :41)

“Then what can guide us? Only philosophy.” ( :42)

“Which means making sure that the power within stays safe and free from assault, superior to pleasure and pain, doing nothing randomly or dishonestly and with imposture, not dependent on anyone else’s doing something or not doing it.” ( :42)

Book 3
IN CARNUNTUM

“Not just because we move daily closer to death but also because our understanding—our grasp of the world—may be gone before we get there.” ( :44)

“So we need to hurry. Not just because we move daily closer to death but also because our understanding—our grasp of the world—may be gone before we get there.” ( :44)

“Don’t waste the rest of your time here worrying about other people—unless it affects the” ( :44)

“common good.” ( :45)

“Never under compulsion, out of selfishness, without forethought, with misgivings. Don’t gussy up your thoughts. No surplus words or unnecessary actions.” ( :45)

“To stand up straight—not straightened.” ( :45)

“Anything at all: the applause of the crowd, high office, wealth, or selfindulgence. All of them might seem to be compatible with it—for a while. But suddenly they control us and sweep us away.” ( :46)

“7. Never regard something as doing you good if it makes you betray a trust, or lose your sense of shame, or makes you show hatred, suspicion, ill will, or hypocrisy, or a desire for things best done behind closed doors.” ( :46)

“Nothing earthly succeeds by ignoring heaven, nothing heavenly by ignoring the earth.” ( :47)

“saying nothing untrue, doing nothing unjust. And if the others don’t acknowledge it—this life lived with simplicity, humility, cheerfulness—he doesn’t resent them for it, and isn’t deterred from following the road where it leads: to the end of life. An end to be approached in purity, in serenity, in acceptance, in peaceful unity with what must be.” ( :47)

Book 4

“Which is idiotic: you can get away from it anytime you like. By going within.” ( :49)

“People try to get away from it all—to the country, to the beach, to the mountains. You always wish that you could too. Which is idiotic: you can get away from it anytime you like. By going within. Nowhere you can go is more peaceful—more free of interruptions—than your own soul.” ( :49)

“”The world is nothing but change. Our life is only perception.”” ( :50)

“Choose not to be harmed—and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed—and you haven’t been.” ( :50)

“It can ruin your life only if it ruins your character. Otherwise it cannot harm you—inside or out.” ( :50)

“The tranquillity that comes when you stop caring what they say. Or think, or do. Only what you do.” ( :51)

“”If you seek tranquillity, do less.” Or (more accurately) do what’s essential—what the logos of a social being requires, and in the requisite way.” ( :52)

“Ask yourself at every moment, “Is this necessary?”” ( :52)

“Only this: proper understanding; unselfish action; truthful speech. A resolve to accept whatever happens as necessary and familiar, flowing like water from that same source and spring.” ( :53)

“Suppose that a god announced that you were going to die tomorrow “or the day after.” Unless you were a complete coward you wouldn’t kick up a fuss about which day it was—what difference could it make? Now recognize that the difference between years from now and tomorrow is just as small.” ( :54)

“It’s unfortunate that this has happened. No. It’s fortunate that this has happened and I’ve remained unharmed by it—not shattered by the present or frightened of the future.” ( :55)

“It’s unfortunate that this has happened. No. It’s fortunate that this has happened and I’ve remained unharmed by it—not shattered by the present or frightened of the future. It could have happened to anyone. But not everyone could have remained unharmed by it.” ( :55)

“Does what’s happened keep you from acting with justice, generosity, self-control, sanity, prudence, honesty, humility, straightforwardness, and all the other qualities that allow a person’s nature to fulfill itself?” ( :55)

Book 5

“But it’s nicer here. . . . So you were born to feel “nice”?” ( :57)

“To shrug it all off and wipe it clean—every annoyance and distraction—and reach utter stillness. Child’s play.” ( :57)

“Some people, when they do someone a favor, are always looking for a chance to call it in. And some aren’t, but they’re still aware of it—still regard it as a debt. But others don’t even do that.” ( :58)

“They don’t make a fuss about it. They just go on to something else, as the vine looks forward to bearing fruit again in season. We should be like that. Acting almost unconsciously.” ( :58)

“Or prescribed it. And in that case, let’s accept it—as we accept what the doctor prescribes. It may not always be pleasant, but we embrace it —because we want to get well.” ( :58)

“The other reason is that what happens to an individual is a cause of well-being in what directs the world—of its well-being, its fulfillment, of its very existence, even. Because the whole is damaged if you cut away anything—anything at all—from its continuity and its coherence. Not only its parts, but its purposes. And that’s what you’re doing when you complain: hacking and destroying.” ( :59)

“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” ( :61)

“—I know, but it was important to them. And so you have to be an idiot as well?” ( :63)

“I was once a fortunate man but at some point fortune abandoned me. But true good fortune is what you make for yourself. Good fortune: good character, good intentions, and good actions.” ( :63)

Book 6

“Not to assume it’s impossible because you find it hard. But to recognize that if it’s humanly possible, you can do it too.” ( :67)

“When you deal with irrational animals, with things and circumstances, be generous and straightforward. You are rational; they are not. When you deal with fellow human beings, behave as one. They share in the logos. And invoke the gods regardless. Don’t worry about how long you’ll go on doing this. A single afternoon would be enough.” ( :67)

“If someone asked you how to write your name, would you clench your teeth and spit out the letters one by one? If he lost his temper, would you lose yours as well? Or would you just spell out the individual letters? Remember—your responsibilities can be broken down into individual parts as well. Concentrate on those, and finish the job methodically—without getting stirred up or meeting anger with anger.” ( :68)

“But it’s not good for them. Then show them that. Prove it to them. Instead of losing your temper.” ( :68)

“Take Antoninus as your model, always. His energy in doing what was rational . . . his steadiness in any situation . . . his sense of reverence . . . his calm expression . . . his gentleness . . . his modesty . . . his eagerness to grasp things. And how he never let things go before he was sure he had examined them thoroughly, understood them perfectly . . . the way he put up with unfair criticism, without returning it . . . how he couldn’t be hurried . . . how he wouldn’t listen to informers . . . how reliable he was as a judge of character, and of actions . . . not prone to backbiting, or cowardice, or jealousy, or empty rhetoric . . . content with the basics—in living quarters, bedding, clothes, food, servants . . . how hard he worked, how much he put up with . . . his ability to work straight through till dusk— because of his simple diet (he didn’t even need to relieve himself, except at set times) . . . his constancy and reliability as a friend . . . his tolerance of people who openly questioned his views and his delight at seeing his ideas improved on . . . his piety—without a trace of superstition . . . So that when your time comes, your conscience will be as clear as his.” ( :68)

“You take things you don’t control and define them as “good” or “bad.” And so of course when the “bad” things happen, or the “good” ones don’t, you blame the gods and feel hatred for the people responsible—or those you decide to make responsible.” ( :69)

“If we limited “good” and “bad” to our own actions, we’d have no call to challenge God, or to treat other people as enemies.” ( :69)

“Ambition means tying your well-being to what other people say or do. Self-indulgence means tying it to the things that happen to you. Sanity means tying it to your own actions.” ( :71)

Book 7

“Look at the past—empire succeeding empire—and from that, extrapolate the future: the same thing. No escape from the rhythm of events. Which is why observing life for forty years is as good as a thousand. Would you really see anything new?” ( :77)

“Because you can use it, treat it as raw material. Just pay attention, and resolve to live up to your own expectations. In everything. And when faced with a choice, remember: our business is with things that really matter.” ( :78)

“Look at who they really are, the people whose approval you long for, and what their minds are really like. Then you won’t blame the ones who make mistakes they can’t help, and you won’t feel a need for their approval. You will have seen the sources of both—their judgments and their actions.” ( :78)

“Take care that you don’t treat inhumanity as it treats human beings.” ( :79)

“It’s quite possible to be a good man without anyone realizing it. Remember that.” ( :79)

“you don’t need much to live happily. And just because you’ve abandoned your hopes of becoming a great thinker or scientist, don’t give up on attaining freedom, achieving humility, serving others, obeying God.” ( :79)

“The gods live forever and yet they don’t seem annoyed at having to put up with human beings and their behavior throughout eternity. And not only put up with but actively care for them. And you—on the verge of death—you still refuse to care for them, although you’re one of them yourself.” ( :79)

“You’ve given aid and they’ve received it. And yet, like an idiot, you keep holding out for more: to be credited with a Good Deed, to be repaid in kind. Why?” ( :80)

Book 8

“—Then where is it to be found? In doing what human nature requires. —How? Through first principles. Which should govern your intentions and your actions. —What principles? Those to do with good and evil.” ( :82)

“Alexander and Caesar and Pompey. Compared with Diogenes, Heraclitus, Socrates? The philosophers knew the what, the why, the how. Their minds were their own. The others? Nothing but anxiety and enslavement.” ( :82)

“Then do it, without hesitation, and speak the truth as you see it. But with kindness. With humility. Without hypocrisy” ( :82)

“Blame no one. Set people straight, if you can. If not, just repair the damage. And suppose you can’t do that either. Then where does blaming people get you? No pointless actions.” ( :83)

“This is what you deserve. You could be good today. But instead you choose tomorrow.” ( :84)

“27. Three relationships:” ( :84)

“i. with the body you inhabit; ii. with the divine, the cause of everything in all things; iii. with the people around you.” ( :85)

“You have to assemble your life yourself—action by action. And be satisfied if each one achieves its goal, as far as it can. No one can keep that from happening. —But there are external obstacles. . . . Not to behaving with justice, self-control, and good sense. —Well, but perhaps to some more concrete action. But if you accept the obstacle and work with what you’re given, an alternative will present itself —another piece of what you’re trying to assemble. Action by action.” ( :85)

“To accept it without arrogance, to let it go with indifference.” ( :85)

“Don’t let your imagination be crushed by life as a whole. Don’t try to picture everything bad that could possibly happen. Stick with the situation at hand, and ask, “Why is this so unbearable? Why can’t I endure it?” You’ll be embarrassed to answer.” ( :86)

“”To the best of my judgment, when I look at the human character I see no virtue placed there to counter justice. But I see one to counter pleasure: self-control.”” ( :86)

“Stop perceiving the pain you imagine and you’ll remain completely unaffected. —”You?” Your logos. —But I’m not just logos. Fine. Just don’t let the logos be injured. If anything else is, let it decide that for itself.” ( :86)

“What humans experience is part of human experience. The experience of the ox is part of the experience of oxen, as the vine’s is of the vine, and the stone’s what is proper to stones. Nothing that can happen is unusual or unnatural, and there’s no sense in complaining. Nature does not make us endure the unendurable.” ( :87)

“The mind without passions is a fortress. No place is more secure. Once we take refuge there we are safe forever. Not to see this is ignorance. To see it and not seek safety means misery.” ( :87)

“That’s all you need to know. Nothing more. Don’t demand to know “why such things exist.” Anyone who understands the world will laugh at you, just as a carpenter would if you seemed shocked at finding sawdust in his workshop, or a shoemaker at scraps of leather left over from work.” ( :87)

“You want praise from people who kick themselves every fifteen minutes, the approval of people who despise themselves. (Is it a sign of self-respect to regret nearly everything you do?)” ( :88)

“The existence of evil does not harm the world. And an individual act of evil does not harm the victim. Only one person is harmed by it—and he can stop being harmed as soon as he decides to.” ( :88)

“Otherwise the harm they do would cause harm to me. Which is not what God intended—for my happiness to rest with someone else.” ( :88)

“What doesn’t transmit light creates its own darkness.” ( :88)

Book 9

“And you can also commit injustice by doing nothing.” ( :92)

“Objective judgment, now, at this very moment. Unselfish action, now, at this very moment. Willing acceptance—now, at this very moment—of all external events. That’s all you need.” ( :92)

“Today I escaped from anxiety. Or no, I discarded it, because it was within me, in my own perceptions—not outside.” ( :93)

“A rock thrown in the air. It loses nothing by coming down, gained nothing by going up.” ( :93)

“Enter their minds, and you’ll find the judges you’re so afraid of—and how judiciously they judge themselves.” ( :93)

“Go straight to the seat of intelligence—your own, the world’s, your neighbor’s. Your own—to ground it in justice. The world’s—to remind yourself what it is that you’re part of. Your neighbor’s—to distinguish ignorance from calculation. And recognize it as like yours.” ( :94)

“Childish tantrums, children’s games, “spirits carrying corpses”; “Odysseus in the Underworld” saw more real life.” ( :94)

“When you face someone’s insults, hatred, whatever . . . look at his soul. Get inside him. Look at what sort of person he is. You’ll find you don’t need to strain to impress him.” ( :94)

“And don’t go expecting Plato’s Republic; be satisfied with even the smallest progress, and treat the outcome of it all as unimportant.” ( :94)

“How many people don’t even know your name. How many will soon have forgotten it. How many offer you praise now—and tomorrow, perhaps, contempt. That to be remembered is worthless. Like fame. Like everything.” ( :95)

“You can discard most of the junk that clutters your mind—things that exist only there—and clear out space for yourself:” ( :95)

“by comprehending the scale of the world . . . by contemplating infinite time . . . by thinking of the speed with which things change—each part of every thing; the narrow space between our birth and death; the infinite time before; the equally unbounded time that follows.” ( :95)

“Enough of this wretched, whining monkey life. What’s the matter? Is any of this new? What is it you find surprising? The purpose? Look at it. The material? Look at that. That’s all there is. And the gods? Well, you could try being simpler, gentler. Even now.” ( :95)

“A hundred years or three. . . . No difference.” ( :96)

“If they’ve injured you, then they’re the ones who suffer for it. But have they?” ( :96)

“Either the gods have power or they don’t. If they don’t, why pray? If they do, then why not pray for something else instead of for things to happen or not to happen? Pray not to feel fear. Or desire, or grief. If the gods can do anything, they can surely do that for us.” ( :96)

“Then isn’t it better to do what’s up to you—like a free man—than to be passively controlled by what isn’t, like a slave or beggar?” ( :96)

“Start praying like this and you’ll see. Not “some way to sleep with her”—but a way to stop wanting to. Not “some way to get rid of him”—but a way to stop trying. Not “some way to save my child”—but a way to lose your fear. Redirect your prayers like that, and watch what happens.” ( :96)

“Another useful point to bear in mind: What qualities has nature given us to counter that defect? As an antidote to unkindness it gave us kindness. And other qualities to balance other flaws. And when others stray off course, you can always try to set them straight, because every wrongdoer is doing something wrong—doing something the wrong way.” ( :96)

Book 10

“3. Everything that happens is either endurable or not. If it’s endurable, then endure it. Stop complaining. If it’s unendurable . . . then stop complaining. Your destruction will mean its end as well. Just remember: you can endure anything your mind can make endurable, by treating it as in your interest to do so. In your interest, or in your nature.” ( :99)

“If they’ve made a mistake, correct them gently and show them where they went wrong. If you can’t do that, then the blame lies with you. Or no one.” ( :99)

“Keep in mind that “sanity” means understanding things—each individual thing—for what they are. And not losing the thread.” ( :100)

“How they all change into one another—acquire the ability to see that. Apply it constantly; use it to train yourself. Nothing is as conducive to spiritual growth.” ( :101)

“Possibilities: i. To keep on living (you should be used to it by now) ii. To end it (it was your choice, after all) iii. To die (having met your obligations) Those are the only options. Reason for optimism.” ( :102)

“So too a healthy mind should be prepared for anything. The one that keeps saying, “Are my” ( :104)

“children all right?” or “Everyone must approve of me” is like eyes that can only stand pale colors, or teeth that can handle only mush.” ( :105)

“It doesn’t matter how good a life you’ve led. There’ll still be people standing around the bed who will welcome the sad event.” ( :105)

“Learn to ask of all actions, “Why are they doing that?” Starting with your own.” ( :105)

Book 11

“Someone despises me. That’s their problem. Mine: not to do or say anything despicable. Someone hates me. Their problem.” ( :109)

“Someone despises me. That’s their problem. Mine: not to do or say anything despicable. Someone hates me. Their problem. Mine: to be patient and cheerful with everyone, including them. Ready to show them their mistake. Not spitefully, or to show off my own self-control, but in an honest, upright way. Like Phocion (if he wasn’t just pretending). That’s what we should be like inside, and never let the gods catch us feeling anger or resentment. As long as you do what’s proper to your nature, and accept what the world’s nature has in store— as long as you work for others’ good, by any and all means—what is there that can harm you?” ( :109)

“correcting him cheerfully at the exact moment that he’s trying to do you harm. “No, no, my friend. That isn’t what we’re here for. It isn’t me who’s harmed by that. It’s you.”” ( :110)

“When you start to lose your temper, remember: There’s nothing manly about rage.” ( :110)

“That to expect bad people not to injure others is crazy. It’s to ask the impossible. And to let them behave like that to other people but expect them to exempt you is arrogant—the act of a tyrant.” ( :111)

“• This thought is unnecessary. • This one is destructive to the people around you. • This wouldn’t be what you really think (to say what you don’t think—the definition of absurdity).” ( :111)

“Socrates used to call popular beliefs “the monsters under the bed”—only useful for frightening children with.” ( :111)

“At festivals the Spartans put their guests’ seats in the shade, but sat themselves down anywhere.” ( :111)

“Mastery of reading and writing requires a master. Still more so life.” ( :112)

“Grapes. Unripe . . . ripened . . . then raisins. Constant transitions. Not the “not” but the “not yet.”” ( :112)

“Socrates: What do you want, rational minds or irrational ones? —Rational ones. Healthy or sick? —Healthy. Then work to obtain them. —We already have. Then why all this squabbling?” ( :112)

Book 12

“It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.” ( :114)

“prohibited us from concealing our thoughts or imagining anything without immediately shouting it out, we wouldn’t make it through a single day. That’s how much we value other people’s opinions—instead of our own.” ( :114)

“The student as boxer, not fencer. The fencer’s weapon is picked up and put down again. The boxer’s is part of him. All he has to do is clench his fist.” ( :115)

“To see things as they are. Substance, cause and purpose.” ( :115)

“that to expect a bad person not to harm others is like expecting fig trees not to secrete juice, babies not to cry, horses not to neigh—the inevitable not to happen.” ( :116)

“If it’s not right, don’t do it. If it’s not true, don’t say it.” ( :116)

“At all times, look at the thing itself—the thing behind the appearance—and unpack it by analysis: • cause • substance • purpose • and the length of time it exists.” ( :116)

“What links one human being to all humans: not blood, or birth, but mind.” ( :117)

“That whatever happens has always happened, and always will, and is happening at this very moment, everywhere. Just like this. What links one human being to all humans: not blood, or birth, but mind.” ( :117)


Check out more book notes at How I Read 90 Books In The Past 2 Years By Reading 20 Pages A Day

Interested in more book notes like these? Subscribe to my weekly newsletter.

Share life-long habits over:
error

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *