Let that determine what you do and say and think. This was one of my first. He points out that tragedies plays help remind us of what can happen in life. It is medicine. Only there, delight and stillness. I was looking for it in Eastern texts and here it has been in Stoicism the entire time.
Unselfish action, now, at this very moment. Willing acceptance—now, at this very moment—of all external events. Farquharson, that was free online. I was immediately struck by how the beautiful, lyrical book I loved had become dense and unreadable. Books are investments. Be glad to put in your money. Anyone that works in the public eye, who puts their work or their life out there for consumption, could use to remember this phrase.
Because the fencer has a weapon they must pick up. Same goes for knowledge, philosophy and wisdom. He has a great standard. Did he mean that any and every role is the perfect one for philosophy? I prefer to think it is the latter. It strikes me what a Stoic would have thought if given a book that was then a couple hundred years old. It said January and it was from a Borders in Riverside, California. Ten years later we are still together. Some research turned up that Bill Clinton was that president.
Was that where I got the idea to keep reading and re-reading the book?
- Political Philosophy of Alasdair MacIntyre?
- Pitfalls of Shoreline Stabilization: Selected Case Studies: 3 (Coastal Research Library).
- Time for a Visible Hand: Lessons from the 2008 World Financial Crisis (Initiative for Policy Dialogue)?
- True Leadership (True Series Book 15).
To use it as a reminder of all the lessons that success would bring? But Marcus had absolute power. To me, his writing and his life are proof that the right principles and the right discipline—if followed rigorously—can help buck this timeless trend. In fact, their original title Ta eis heauton roughly translates as To Himself. All we have now are translations of translations—no original writing from his hand survives.
It all could have been arranged in an entirely different format originally Did all the books have titles originally—as the first two do? Are those titles made up? Were they all numbered originally? Or were even the breaks between thoughts added in by a later translator? Action by action. Money will be lost. Plans will be frustrated. Long held dreams will be broken. People including us will be hurt.
You can still practice honesty, forgiveness, friendship, patience, humility, good spirit, resilience, creativity, and on and on. Remember, this was essentially his journal, the meditations are reflections written after a long hard day. They are not abstractions, they are notes on what he can do better next time.
It feels like we have regressed instead of progressed. Get over it. I remember reading East of Eden shortly after Meditations , and guess who is quoted everywhere? Stop being jerked like a puppet. Limit yourself to the present. How inspiring? I assumed that Hays was capturing the inherent beauty in Marcus.
In some sense he was, but he was also choosing to write beautifully—someone could just as easily decide to be blunt and literal. It gave me a new appreciation for the art of translation—and how much room for interpretation there is in all of it. In his excellent book The Inner Citadel about Marcus Aurelius and Stoicism, Hadot did original translations for the passages he quotes—but sadly he died without publishing a full translation of Marcus for wider consumption.
What a beautiful idea. Or at least, there is so much further left to go. That word seemed familiar to me when I first read it. Then I made the connection, Viktor Frankl, the psychologist and Holocaust survivor named his school of psychology logotherapy. Hays—and many writers—have used the analogy of a dog tied to a cart to explain our connection to the logos.
The cart the logos is moving and we are pulled behind it. We have a little slack to move here and there, but not much. No free will?
That sounded religious. College kids are often attracted to atheism for precisely the freedom and empowerment it implies. It strikes me, then, that the debate is not whether we are in fact the dog tied to the moving cart but rather, just how long the rope is? How much room to we have to explore and determine our own pace? A lot? A little? There was no self-flagellation, no paying penance, no self-esteem issues from guilt or self-loathing.
This self-criticism is constructive. I was stuck in the middle seat. The person next to me was horrible. They were imposing in my space. They were being obnoxious. I was stewing. Then this hit me: Either I say something or I let it go. All the anger left me. I went back to what I was doing. I probably think of that line every other time I get on a plane now. To think that 3 or 4 generations of people may have owned this thing.
That someone will own it after I die. The answer is because this is a Stoic exercise that goes back thousands of years and in fact, has also been observed by astronauts thousands of years later. All the things that people do hallucinogens to explore, you can also do while sober as a judge.
It just takes work. He was saying: I must avoid being changed and corrupted by my office. Not all of us hold executive power, but we all can use that advice. Stop monkeying around! Or is this a modern line? Of course he would have! In fact, his psychopathic son probably killed a bunch of them in the coliseum. Marcus supposedly hated the gladiatorial games but he definitely would have been familiar with a shocking amount of African wildlife.
He was selected for the throne by Hadrian who set in line a succession plan that involved Hadrian adopting the elderly Antoninus Pius who in turn adopted Marcus Aurelius. When Marcus eventually ascended to the throne, what was his first decision? He appointed his step-brother Lucius Verus co-emperor. He was given unlimited, executive power and the first thing he did was share it with someone he was not even technically related to?
I asked him what his favorite passage was.
See a Problem?
The infinity of past and future gapes before us—a chasm whose depths we cannot see. A dead bird. A dead pig. For instance, to deconstruct things like power and seduction and to see the actual elements in play instead of the legends surrounding them. That is to live a false life.
To me, people like Robert Greene were that master and so were people like Marcus. You have to go straight to the sources of knowledge and absorb what you can from them. I would kill to flip through his copy! Did he sit down at night and read few pages? Are there interesting notes in the margins? What were his favorite passages? A more Stoic question: How many other famous or important men and women have sat down with a copy of Marcus?
And where are they now? Gone and mostly forgotten.
Leading Blog: A Leadership Blog
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