Quotes from Meditations by Marcus Aurelius


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A man does not sin by commission only, but often by omission. A man should be upright, not be kept upright. A man's life is what his thoughts make it Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart. Accept whatever comes to you woven in the pattern of your destiny, for what could more aptly fit your needs? Adapt yourself to the things among which your lot is cast, and love sincerely the fellow creatures with whom destiny has ordained that you shall live.” All is ephemeral--fame and the famous as well. Anything in any way beautiful derives its beauty from itself and asks nothing beyond itself. Praise is no part of it, for nothing is made worse or better by praise. Aptitude found in the understanding and is often inherited. Genius coming from reason and imagination, rarely. Be content to seem what you really are. Be content with what you are, and wish not change; nor dread your last day, nor long for it. By a tranquil mind I mean nothing else than a mind well ordered. Confine yourself to the present. Death is a release from the impressions of the senses, and from desires that make us their puppets, and from the vagaries of the mind, and from the hard service of the flesh.

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Death smiles at us all, but all a man can do is smile back. Death, like birth, is a secret of Nature. Despise not death, but welcome it, for nature wills it like all else. Dig within. Within is the wellspring of Good; and it is always ready to bubble up, if you just dig. Do every act of your life as if it were your last. Do not act as if you were going to live ten thousand years. Death hangs over you. While you live, while it is in your power, be good. Do what you will. Even if you tear yourself apart, most people will continue doing the same things. Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them. Each day provides its own gifts. Each thing is of like form from everlasting and comes round again in its cycle. Everything that exists is in a manner the seed of that which will be. Everything that happens happens as it should, and if you observe carefully, you will find this to be so. Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth. He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.

but only at what he does himself. life is a brief sojourn. When anything tempts you to be bitter: not. if it is not true do not say it. Humans have come into being for the sake of each other. but yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others. staying for nothing and shrinking from nothing. so either teach them. by which no one ever was truly harmed. Here is the rule to remember in the future. Harmed is the person who continues in his self-deception and ignorance. And from this course no man has the power to hold you back. then the good life shall be yours. or learn to bear them. and his soul a restless eddy … the things of the body pass like a flowing stream. as though you were even now faced with its recall . How ridiculous and unrealistic is the man who is astonished at anything that happens in life. his time is but a moment. when anything tempts you to feel bitter: not This is misfortune. How many together with whom I came into the world are already gone out of it. disregarding all lesser ends and keeping the divinity within you pure and upright. If you think of yourself as a mere part. I will happily change. • • If you are distressed by anything external. on which there is no abiding. I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men. his being a mere flux. This is a misfortune but To bear this worthily is good fortune. to make it just and holy. his senses a dim glimpse. How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it. for I seek the truth. • In a man's life. • Constantly remind yourself. and this you have the power to revoke at any moment. his body food for the worms. If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right.if you hold steadily to this. then love for mankind will not well up in your heart. but To bear this worthily is good fortune. • In the morning when you wake up.• • • • • • • • Here is a rule to remember in future. then. you will look for some reward in every act of kindness and miss the boon which the act itself is offering. let this thought be present--I am rising to the work of a human being. How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbor says or does or thinks. If you do the task before you always adhering to strict reason with zeal and energy and yet with humanity. only seeking in each passing action a conformity with nature and in each word and utterance a fearless truthfulness. Why then am I dissatisfied if I am going to do the things for which I exist and for which I was brought into the world? • In this flowing stream. and one's mark in this world is soon forgotten. Then all your work will be seen as a mere duty and not as the very portal connecting you with the Universe itself. what is there of the things which hurry by on which a man would set a high price? It would be just as if a man . • • If it is not right do not do it. the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it. I am a member of the whole body of conscious things.

Never esteem anything as of advantage to you that will make you break your word or lose your self-respect. to perceive your inner refulgence. Our life is what our thoughts make it. with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present. But it is in the power of the soul to maintain its own serenity and tranquility. Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul. or it will be gone and nevermore within your reach. Are there briars in your path? Turn aside. there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look there. Use every moment wisely. but he should fear never beginning to live. practice it first upon yourself. nor does one live any other life than that which he will lose. Look within.. No one loses any other life than the one he now lives. . Neither worse then or better is a thing made by being praised. "Why were things of this sort ever brought into this world?" neither intolerable nor everlasting . You will meet it. It is the act of a madman to pursue impossibilities. with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present. . . That is enough. if you have to. Never let the future disturb you. • • It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people. Look well into thyself. • • • It is not death that a man should fear. Nothing happens to anybody which he is not fitted by nature to bear. but only a place for good and evil. and to know that a limit has been set to your time.should fall in love with one of the sparrows which fly by. and if thou addest nothing to it in imagination. as often as it is practicable. if you have to. Do not go on and say. with its changing empires that rose and fell. if thou wilt ever dig. and see what they would be at. Loss is nothing else but change. Life is a warfare and a stranger's sojourn. let them know. It is time to realize that you are a member of the Universe. but it has already passed out of sight. who lives as he was meant to live. and after fame is oblivion. and to make this custom the more significant. Within is the fountain of good. that you are born of Nature itself. a real man. • Is your cucumber bitter? Throw it away. • • • • • • • • • • • Let men see. Pain is either an evil to the body (then let the body say what it thinks of it!)-or to the soul. Look back over the past. Let not your mind run on what you lack as much as on what you have already.if thou bearest in mind that it has its limits. Natural ability without education has more often raised a man to glory and virtue than education without natural ability. and you can foresee the future too. . and change is Nature's delight. and it will ever bubble up. but care more about their opinions than our own. Let it be your constant method to look into the design of people's actions. Life is neither good or evil. • • • • • Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it.

not more than law. • • • To live happily is an inward power of the soul. The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority. That which is not good for the bee-hive cannot be good for the bees. release without struggle. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are. Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears. The act of dying is one of the acts of life. The universe is change. The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury. Tomorrow is nothing. for no sooner does each thing enter our sight than it has been swept away. and once again wake up. neither crushed by the present nor fearing the future. There is a stream of things entering into being. view this 'reality' as you view your dreams. Regain your senses. life is opinion The universe is change. . and another is passing in it's place. though this has happened to me. Remember that very little is needed to make a happy life. and is not apt to fall. and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue. and that too will be swept away. in so far as it stands ready against the accidental and the unforeseen. and time is a raging torment. not more than truth. The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. • • • There is nothing happens to any person but what was in his power to go through with. but look on it with favor. • • • • • • • • The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts. or more truly ignorant. That which is really beautiful has no need of anything. but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.. our life is what our thoughts make it. The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts. than your everlasting readers. not more than benevolence or modesty. Unhappy am I because this has happened to me. call yourself back. Time is a sort of river of passing events.• • • • • • • • • • • • • Perhaps there are none more lazy. The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts. The universe is change. Think not disdainfully of death. today is too late. Receive without conceit. therefore guard accordingly. life is your perception of it.. and reasonable nature. the good lived yesterday. no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place.Not so. for even death is one of the things that Nature wills. because I continue free from pain. Now that you realize that only dreams were troubling you. Poverty is the mother of crime. but happy am I. The only wealth which you will keep forever is the wealth you have given away. and strong is its current. and this too will be swept away. The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing.

as Epictetus used to say. or a vine bears grapes season after season without thinking of the grapes it has borne. his soul an unquiet eddy. You are a little soul carrying about a corpse. and heaven-born things fly to their native seat. Whatever the universal nature assigns to any man at any time is for the good of that man at that time. his sense a dim rushlight. When you arise in the morning. Where life is possible at all. You will find rest from vain fancies if you perform every act in life as though it were your last. Become one yourself! We ought to do good to others as simply as a horse runs.to breathe. What springs from earth dissolves to earth again.• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Very little is needed to make a happy life. a right life is possible. to love. You have power over your mind . or a bee makes honey. Waste no more time talking about great souls and how they should be. think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive . to enjoy. his fortune dark. it is all within yourself in your way of thinking. his time is but a moment. and it is always ready to bubble up. what remains can be borne. and you will find strength. all that is of the soul as dreams and vapors" . Where a man can live. his body a prey of worms. "In the life of a man. his fame doubtful. Realize this. he can also live well.not outside events. In short. You'll have a better grasp of the harmony if you keep going back to it. therefore even in a palace a right life is possible Within is the well-spring of Good. Your life is what your thoughts make it. all that is body is as coursing waters. life in a palace is possible. to think. if you just dig. What we cannot bear removes us from life. his being an incessant flux.

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