Meditation by Marcus Aurelius: Book Review and Summary

Meditation by Marcus Aurelius: Book Review and Summary

Meditation by Marcus Aurelius

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” ~ Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius wrote personal notes to himself to express or define life philosophy and praiseworthy characters aspiring to and the fundamental part of his struggle to live up to these things. These collections of notes were never intended for publication. But Aurelius stokes some universal truth in these notes so they were published under the name of “Meditation’’. Marcus Aurelius was a powerful Roman Emperor who ruled from 161 to 180 AD the age of imperial cult Roman rulers were exquisitely authoritative with unlimited wealth and power. Aurelius spent almost ten years of his regime in ruthless battles to guard the kingdom’s boundaries. Both these factors drove many emperors to insanity and tyranny. However Aurelius’s objectivity and humility are incredible. He persistently reminded himself of his own shortcomings, mortality and insignificance. Aurelius named these notes “Writings to me.”  He wrote them in Greek although his native language was Latin. His work is divided into 12 short books. Competent in Stoic philosophy Aurelius practice a sequence of spiritual exercises that made him humble, generous, patient, empathetic and strong to deal with different aspects of his life. Whenever we read this book we would definitely come across a phrase that will help us in our daily life.

Meditation by Marcus Aurelius: Book Review and Summary
Meditation by Marcus Aurelius: Book Review and Summary

This book is not organized by theme instead different ideas kept coming throughout that are important to understand and integrate into the manner we live. Aurelius suggests one perspective that characteristically follows Apathetic thoughtfulness and clarifies why both potential truths would lead to the same best beliefs and actions. The most important themes that persist throughout the book are the importance and role of coherent will and mind,  transformation,  shortness of life and death, dealing with other people and accepting their limitations or weakness, escaping the pursuit of fame and pleasure, and to live according to nature and completely accommodating its path. Aurelius reminds himself throughout to not be distressed by the faults of other people and if possible correct them but if they are inflexible and are not willing to change then accept them as they are.  In responding to these types of people, one should not permit his own ideologies to be disrupted. Instead of judging others we should consider our own mistakes and responsibilities then automatically we will be less inclined to blame others. We must focus on self-improvement as Aurelius said:

“It is a ridiculous thing for a man not to fly from his own badness, which is indeed possible, but to fly from other men’s badness, which is impossible.”

Even 2000 years ago the author knew that everyone should mind their own business. Aurelius constantly clarifies that the pursuit of praise and fame is irrational and we should not think what others say about us. Fame and Recognition will fade away with time so chasing it only proves one’s narcissism. Its mistake to think that we are gaining something by being praised as he writes:

“When you’ve done well and another has benefited by it, why like a fool do you look for a third thing on top— credit for the good deed or a favor in return?”

Many desires could lead us to act dissolutely. Aurelius quotes a Theophrastus a  philosopher who states that people who commit immoral acts because of yearnings and desires are ore guilty than harms did due to rage in other words despair is caused by desire. Then came the most solid philosophy about acceptance of death he constantly reminds us that everyone will eventually die .human life is fleeting and ephemeral so instead of striving for immorality enjoy the present moment. The shortest and longest life would expire the same way and be ended for the same eternity. Aurelius explains that people must act promptly so that their affairs get in order.  the universe is changing we must not live like we have endless years because death is overshadowing us but we must live to the fullest while we are alive. “Thou wilt soon die, and thou art not yet simple, not free from perturbations, nor without suspicion of being hurt by external things, nor kindly disposed towards all; nor dost thou yet places wisdom only in acting justly.” It is the processes of the universe that things change into new substance and this is never harmful to the universe things that are according to nature are not malicious.

According to Aurelius we could always acquire solitude in our own observances and minds. If our thoughts and minds are tranquil and peaceful we would discover happiness and peace.  The real source of unhappiness is our very own upsetting perception of events. The author is of the view that a person can instantly erase any distressing influence from their thought process and live with peace and harmony. We cannot control how others think about us but good thinking is still virtue even if nobody recognizes it. So act righteous and be happy and turn the complications or hindrance upside down as he wrote “Our actions may be impeded . . . but there can be no impeding our intentions or dispositions. Because we can accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting.”

Aurelius explains the interesting fact that our mind regulates itself entirely and is disconnected fro the things happening around us unless we make it happen. So we must not disagree with our mind and nature because they sensibly agree with the course of actions the biggest lesson we could learn from Meditation is that our minds are beautiful and have great power it is us who chose to perceive the events differently but if we practice. we could straightaway remove any evil influences or effects from our mind.  Our actions and thoughts are absolutely under our control. If we want the things standing in our way could easily be transferred into our way.  it is us who choose to be good even when we are surrounded by wrong and unpleasant people that will always try to harm us but we could react with compassion and empathy advising them if possible or ignoring them if they don’t want the advice. Always try to remember our own faults and respond optimistically and positively, irrelevance to any hypothetical destruction done to us. Life is short we should not waste it in distressing instead focus on doing good for others and ourselves we should not forget death because this understanding and remembrance give us the deepest understanding of life. Meditation is the collection of notes that give us the answers to our problems but it doesn’t provide a solution it provides us with appropriate tools to handle these problems. It shows that our intentions, attitudes, and thoughts can’t be impended or obstructed because they are within our control similarly our emotions are also in our control it is upon us to show negative or positive emotion in response to any situation. Our mind is so powerful that it will convert an obstacle into a process of accomplishing your goal.

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