My professor assigned reading from Marcus Aurelius' text called Meditations. Many of my daybook readings will originate from this work. Here are some stimulating passages that I came across:
1. "Ignoring what goes on in other people's souls - no one ever came to grief that way. But if you won't keep track of your own soul's doing, how can you not be unhappy" (19)?
This commentary is thought provoking because I always want to understand the point of view of others. Aurelius points out that I need to understand myself before I can ever attempt to understand others.
He also goes on to say, "Nothing is more pathetic than people who run around in circles, 'delving into the things that lie beneath' and conducting investigations into the souls of the people around them, never realizing that all you have to do is be attentive to the power inside you and worship it sincerely" (21).
2. "The present is the same for everyone; its loss is the same for everyone; and it should be clear that a brief instant is all that is lost. For you can't lose either the past or the future, how could you lose what you don't have" (21)?
I should not let the past or the future control my present experience. I am constantly struggling with this aspect. My life is plagued by anxiety in all forms and sizes. Aurelius' idea seems analogous to the fundamental teaching of eastern philosophy.
3. "The human soul degrades itself... when it puts on a mask and does or says something artificial or false" (22).
I have had many times where I have felt as if I had an obligation to say something in a social situation. It is good to keep silent if there is nothing I have to say. Sometimes I think silence equates to social awkwardness. This is a downfall to American society, where people supposedly have to constantly express ourselves verbally. This is not necessarily true.
4. "We should remember that even Nature's inadvertence has its own charm, its own attractiveness. The way loaves of bread split open on top in the oven; the ridges are just by-products of the baking, and yet pleasing, somehow: they rouse our appetite without our knowing why" (27).
Existence is simple and real. I should accept what is and disregard what is not.
5. "Don't waste the rest of your time here worrying about other people - unless it affects the common good. It will keep you from doing anything useful. You'll be too preoccupied with what so-and-so is doing, and why, and what they're saying, and what they're thinking, and what they're up to, and all other things that throw you off and keep you from focusing on your own mind" (28-29).
This causes a lot of unwanted drama in my life. I feel as if I need to constantly know what is going on in order to be in the loop. This is especially true, I must admit, when it comes to relationships with girls. I'm sure many people experience this as well.
6. "Never regard something as doing you good if it makes you betray a trust, or lose your sense of shame, or makes you show hatred, suspicion, ill will, or hypocrisy, or a desire for things best done behind closed doors" (31).
This quote is pretty self-explanatory.