In our very hectic world many turn to self-help books that offer advice and counsel; and although in the 21st century we may feel that our lives are substantially more hectic than our predecessors, it appears that as early as the days of antiquity, folks were too in need of a bit of daily inspiration and direction.
It is with this consideration that I bring back…actually dig up from the archives of the past, the thoughts of the Roman Emperor and philosopher, Marcus Aurelius ( 121-180 CE). Known best for being a Stoic philosopher…he is especially noted for his book, Meditations, composed in the darker and later decades of his life.
Although the entries are not really what “we” contemporaries would call meditations, it also does not really characterize a diary. For some, we would affirm they are more like the notes of a philosopher, but written on papyrus roles. In its dialogue form, one can find an internal debate which voices from within question or rebuke.
Unlike today’s philosophy, which takes on an academic discipline, Ancient philosophy, though it clearly had an academic component, often was written and argued as provisioning a “design for living” as we see in his works, Meditations. So for today’s blog I dust off the esteemed thinker, Marcus Aurelius, and bring you a taste of his thoughts from Book Ten of Meditations.
* “ Use thyself; as often, as thou seest any man do anything, presently (if it be possible) to say unto thyself, What is this man’s end in this his action? But begin this course with thyself first of all, and diligently examine thyself concerning whatsoever thou doest. “
* (Modern translation: “ Learn to ask of all actions, “Why are they doing that?” Starting with your own.”)