Musings of Marcus Aurelius

  • Thou canst pass thy life in an equable flow of happiness, if thou canst go by the right way, and think and act in the right way. These two things are common both to the soul of god and to the soul of every rational being, not to be hindered by another; and to hold good to consist in the disposition to justice and the practice of it, and in this to let thy desire find its termination.
  • To the rational animal, the same act is according to nature and according to reason.
  • Be thou erect, or be made erect.
  • Look within. Let neither the peculiar quality of anything nor its value escape thee.
  • Retire into thyself. The rational principle which rules has this nature, that it is content with itself when it does what is just, and so secures tranquility.
  • Look within. Within is the fountain of good, and it will ever bubble up, if thou wilt ever dig.
  • Wipe out the imagination. Stop the pulling of the strings. Confine thyself to the present. Understand well what happens either to thee or another…
  • The perfection of moral character consists in this, in passing ever day as the last, and in being neither violently excited nor torpid nor playing the hypocrite.
  • This is the chief thing:  Be not perturbed, for all things are according to the nature of the universal; and in a little time thou wilt be nobody and nowhere…
  • Men exist for the sake of one another. Teach them then or bear with them.
  • He who does wrong does wrong against himself. He who acts unjustly act unjustly to himself, because he makes himself bad.
  • No longer talk about the kind of man that a good man ought to be, but be such.
  • If it is not right, do not do it: if it is not true, do not say it.
  • Perceive at last that thou hast in thee something better and more devine than the things which causes the various affects, and as it were pull thee by the strings…  First, do nothing inconsiderately, nor without purpose. Second, make thy acts refer to nothing else than to a social end…. Consider that everything is opinion, and opinion is in thy power…
  • The safety of life is this, to examine everything all through, what it is itself, what is its material, what its formal part; with all thy soul to do justice and to say the truth. What remains except to enjoy life by joining one good thing to another so as not to leave even the smallest intervals between?

 

(ed. – Excerpts taken from a 1862 translation by George Long.)

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