Meditations: prove me wrong

For several weeks now, I have been thinking of this quote from Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations, and I’ve been meaning to find it so that I could blog about it, but I either haven’t had time or, when I did have time, I just couldn’t find it.

During my first reading of Meditations (now a few years ago), I used some scrap paper to jot down some notes regarding noteworthy passages. For some of these, I copied out the passage (if it was short), and for some I simply noted the book and chapter numbers. I kept these scraps of paper as reminders — some within the pages of Meditations, and the rest on my bedside table. I had hoped that the quote I was thinking of would be on one of these but, alas, no luck.

But, no matter, I thought, there is a helpful index in the back of the copy I own, which can be used to find passages relating to various subject matter and concepts, so I tried this next. I pondered over words that might lead me to the passage, but these either did not take me to where I wanted to go, or they did not exist in the index.

As a last resort — or perhaps just a despairing effort — I flipped through to random pages, hoping to find it by pure luck or coincidence. (Keep in mind that I didn’t do all this searching in one day; it was spread over several weeks, whenever I thought of it and had time.) Unsurprisingly, this tactic proved fruitless too.

Last night, however, I was really determined to find it. I was so determined that I resolved to go through each entry in the index that was even remotely relevant, starting with A and working through the entire index to Z.

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Meditations: on character and expectations

A colleague recently gave me some advice that reminded me of the words of Marcus Aurelius. They didn’t use the same words, but the message was essentially the same. Their words actually reminded me of a part of Meditations that I thought I would never blog about — not necessarily because I disagree with it, but because it never sat quite right with me.

When I first read it (a few years ago), I remember that I felt a bit… uncomfortable about it, I suppose is the best way to describe it. But I think, for the most part, I’ve come to terms with it now. I’m sure there is still some part of me that is bothered by it in a way I cannot quite articulate, but maybe acceptance will come with time. Continue reading

philosophy, kindness and sleep

Last night, in a contemplative and pensive mood, I flicked through my copy of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations again. In the time between now and when I last picked it up, I’ve tried reading two other philosophical books: Discourses, Fragments, Handbook of Epictetus; and Human, All Too Human by Friedrich Nietzsche. The former I found to be too dry and too much like a lecture; and the latter, although more read-able and understandable, also started going over my head after some time.

So Epictetus and Nietzsche are back on my bookshelf for now, but still with their bookmarks in place, as my promise to return to them eventually. Part of me feels like I don’t really need to read any more philosophy, as Meditations has served me so well, but I’ve been taught not to accept the most immediate and/or convenient text of any kind without doing some sort of cross-referencing and broader reading. Continue reading

meditations – removing judgement

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine was giving me a lift home from work. On the way, she kept complaining that she was so hungry and really wanted to eat. Our plan, however, had been to go for a run, or at least do some exercise, and I generally don’t eat right before exercise (it’s just not a good idea), so I was basically trying to get her to stop complaining and get some control over her appetite.

I’d written previously (some time ago now) about the virtues of being hungry, and I pretty much have the same views on it now, so that was what I was telling her that night.  Continue reading

meditations – history repeats

There are a lot of recurring themes and messages in Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, and one that I’ve found myself thinking about quite a lot recently is his assertion that history is constantly repeating itself, and hence no problem is ever completely new.

What I find interesting about this is that I actually discounted this assertion when I first came across his remarks about it in the book. I mean, this book was written almost 2000 years ago, and a lot has changed since then, right? Continue reading

meditations – superfluity

Of all the lessons, revelations, advice and guiding principles that I’ve gotten from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations there’s probably one that’s been most influential. Well, I actually hesitate to say that because I don’t always follow it, and because I’ve taken so much from reading the book that it’s really hard to pinpoint which one singular passage I think about the most; but if I had to choose one, this would be it:

Most of what we say and do is unnecessary: remove the superfluity, and you will have more time and less bother. … And the removal of the unnecessary should apply not only to actions but to thoughts also: then no redundant actions either will follow.
– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book 4, Chapter 24

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