date Oct 26, 2021
authors Marcus Aurelius
reading time 9 mins

What is work?

I learned endurance of labour, and to want little, and to work with my own hands, and not to meddle with other people’s affairs, and not to be ready to listen to slander.

Give it your best at every task

And you will give yourself relief, if you doe every act of your life as if it were the last

Desire vs anger

the offences which are committed through desire are more blameable than those which are committed through anger.

Life is always uncertain

Since it is possible that you may depart from life this very moment, regulate every act and thought accordingly.

Good things and bad things happen equally to good people and bad people

But death certainly, and life, honour and dishonour, pain and pleasure, all these things equally happen to good men and bad, being things which make us neither better nor worse. Therefore they are neither good nor evil.

Present moment is the only thing one has

Throwing away then all things, hold to these only which are few; and besides bear in mind that every man lives only this present time, which is an indivisible point, and that all the rest of his life is either past or it is uncertain.

We are all nearing death

We must make haste then, not only because we are daily nearer to death, but also because the conception of things and the understanding of them cease first.

Don’t put much thought about other people’s affairs

For you lose the opportunity of doing something else when you have such thoughts as these, What is such a person doing, and why, and what is he saying, and what is he thinking of, and what is he contriving, and whatever else of the kind makes us wander away from the observation of our own ruling power.

Universe and life. Nothing is certain or permanent.

The universe is transformation: life is opinion.

There is nop point in desiring fame after death

He who has a vehement desire for posthumous fame does not consider that every one of those who remember him will himself also die very soon;

Focus on few things

Occupy yourself with few things, says the philosopher, if you want to be tranquil.

A wondrous life and the rest… all are the same

For all things soon pass away and become a mere tale, and complete oblivion soon buries them. And I say this of those who have shone in a wondrous way. For the rest, as soon as they have breathed out their breath, they are gone, and no man speaks of them.

We have little time

Pass then through this little space of time conformably to nature, and end your journey in content, just as an olive falls off when it is ripe, blessing nature who produced it, and thanking the tree on which it grew.

Infinite and eternal

Do not then consider life a thing of any value. For look to the immensity of time behind you, and to the time which is before you, another boundless space. In this infinity then what is the difference between him who lives three days and him who lives three generations?

Just do your work and exit

a horse when he has run, a dog when he has tracked the game, a bee when it has made the honey, so a man when he has done a good act, does not call out for others to come and see, but he goes on to another act, as a vine goes on to produce again the grapes in season.

Everything about me will become a part of something else

Every part of me then will be reduced by change into some part of the universe, and that again will change into another part of the universe, and so on for ever.

Everything is changing

Often think of the rapidity with which things pass by and disappear, both the things which are and the things which are produced. For substance is like a river in a continual flow, and the activities of things are in constant change, and the causes work in infinite varieties; and there is hardly anything which stands still.

We are all one

Frequently consider the connexion of all things in the universe and their relation to one another.

Fame vs pleasure

He who loves fame considers another man’s activity to be his own good; and he who loves pleasure, his own sensations; but he who has understanding, considers his own acts to be his own good.

What is the man worth?

every man is worth just so much as the things are worth about which he busies himself.

Everything disappears in time

Everything material soon disappears in the substance of the whole; and everything formal (causal) is very soon taken back into the universal reason; and the memory of everything is very soon overwhelmed in time.

Tolerable pain lasts a long time

About pain: The pain which is intolerable carries us off; but that which lasts a long time is tolerable; … Indeed in the case of most pains let this remark of Epicurus aid you, that pain is neither intolerable nor everlasting,

Do not equate fame with goodness

for it is very possible to be a divine man and to be recognised as such by no one. Always bear this in mind; and another thing too, that very little indeed is necessary for living a happy life.

An act

On the occasion of every act ask yourself, How is this with respect to me? Shall I repent of it? A little time and I am dead, and all is gone.

There is no point blaming anyone

you must blame nobody. For if you can, correct that which is the cause; but if you can not do this, correct at least the thing itself; but if you can not do even this, of what use is it to you to find fault? For nothing should be done without a purpose. That which has died falls not out of the universe.

Be ready to live with little an let go of everything

Receive wealth or prosperity without arrogance; and be ready to let it go.

Only the present moment pains you. The past and the future have no control.

In the next place remember that neither the future nor the past pains you, but only the present.

An external thing is only your judgement

If you are pained by any external thing, it is not this thing that disturbs you, but your own judgement about it.

Why are everything the same?

All things are the same, familiar in experience, and ephemeral in time, and worthless in the matter. Everything now is just as it was in the time of those whom we have buried.

Everything is changing

All things are changing: and you yourself are in continuous mutation and in a manner in continuous destruction, and the whole universe too.

Everyone will die early or late

All that you see will quickly perish, and those who have been spectators of its dissolution will very soon perish too. And he who dies at the extremest old age will be brought into the same condition with him who died prematurely.

Rational, Equanimity, Magnanimity

the term Rational was intended to signify a discriminating attention to every several thing and freedom from negligence; and that Equanimity is the voluntary acceptance of the things which are assigned to you by the common nature; and that Magnanimity is the elevation of the intelligent part above the pleasurable or painful sensations of the flesh, and above that poor thing called fame, and death, and all such things.

Why are you avoiding work?

But you, in what a brief space of time is your existence? And why are you not content to pass through this short time in an orderly way? What matter and opportunity for your activity are you avoiding?

Consider impermanence when angry

consider when you are much vexed or grieved, that man’s life is only a moment, and after a short time we are all laid out dead.

Opinion and judgements disturb us more than people themselves

it is not men’s acts which disturb us, for those acts have their foundation in men’s ruling principles, but it is our own opinions which disturb us.

If man loves himself the most, why is he concerned about the opinion of others?

I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others.

Shortness of life

consider the shortness of life, the boundless abyss of time past and future, the feebleness of all matter.

Compalined, or secret… is the same

Constantly bring to your recollection those who have complained greatly about anything, those who have been most conspicuous by the greatest fame or misfortunes or enmities or fortunes of any kind: then think where are they all now?

How small we are in time and size

How small a part of the boundless and unfathomable time is assigned to every man? for it is very soon swallowed up in the eternal.