Meditations – Book 2 – Pathetic People and The Present

I will be writing more than one post for each book that is left in Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. (Referred to MA)

There is just a lot to analyze here and a lot to process. And I don’t want to miss anything.

First, let me start out by saying this, MA can be bold in this book. He calls people out for being pathetic in book 2, and the people he calls pathetic, I can relate with.  Now I could take this as an insult or I could take it as constructive criticism. I choose the latter.

The reason I love this book is because it motivates me to be better. It makes me realize how precious my life is, and how precious time is. Sometimes we forget things like that. I have a lot to work on, and I think it is safe to say that I am not alone.

” Nothing is more pathetic than people running 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 to be attentive to the power inside you and worship it sincerely.”

He hits it right on the head here. What other people think, do or say is irrelevant. It can only hurt you if you let it hurt you. Don’t worry about other people, let them make their own mistakes, live their own lives. When you truly look inside yourself and realize your potential, your uniqueness and recognize that then you wont be “pathetic.”

“The present is the same for everyone; its loss the same for everyone”

The present moment is the most valuable thing we have. It will be gone soon and it is up to us to decide how we are going to use it. If we don’t use it wisely, we will live a life of regret, depression and anxiety. If we take advantage of it, we will be happy, fulfilled and productive.

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Meditations – Book 1

The first book or Section in Meditations by Marcus Aurelius is quite unique. What it does, is go through a list of people that have been a part in Aurelius’s life and he talks about attributes and qualities of that person. He even goes on and talks about “The Gods.”

Now, why do I like this?

I like this because it is clear to me that the most important thing we obtain here on this earth are our relationships. This includes relationship with spouses, family, friends, co-workers, strangers and maybe even our enemies.  We become who we are through the relationships we make in this life.

Some highlights from book one:

  • When he talks about his mother ” the simple way she lived- not in the least like the rich.” It is cool to hear the most powerful man in the world say its important to live simply, not like the rich live.
  • “To put up with discomfort” From his “First Teacher.”
  • “Read attentively – don’t be satisfied with getting just the gist of it” This is a cool one because I have an issue with just skimming things when I read. I really shouldn’t be doing that because I am not getting as much out of the reading as I could.  From Rusticus.
  •  “Never doubt your friend’s affection for you” – Severus ( His Brother )
  • “Doing your job without whining” –  From Maximus

 

There is a lot of good advice and ideas in this chapter. A lot of things to think about as we go on with our daily lives. I am in admiration with Aurelius’s admiration for these people. I hope that I can live a life where someone might include me in their “list” of admireres.

Take time to reflect on your relationships and all the positive things you have learned from them.  Even though this chapter is a bit out of the ordinary, I find it to be very rewarding.

 

 

Who was Marcus Aurelius?

People often refer to people in positions of power as evil, rotten and corrupt. I know I tend to. And to be fair, this analysis has its merits. There are and were a lot of people in positions of power who were or are greedy, selfish and in a sense, terrible.

Marcus Aurelius is different. 

This man was born in A.D 121 and was the Roman Emperor for about 20 years. Raised by his Grandfather. He became the emperor of Rome kinda by accident and was arguably the most powerful person in the world in the year(sih) 160-180 AD.

During his last decade or so of life, as emperor, Marcus began to write down things. Most of these things consisted of his ideas and thoughts about the world. He explains to us how to avoid pain, how to live a good meaningful life and how to handle tragic situations. Marcus never intended these words to be published or shared. This adds to the sincerity and rawness of this book.

As I read this book, my admiration for Marcus is ever so great. Here we have an extremely powerful man but ever so humble, loving and caring for everyone around him. With all his stressors, including war, politics, death, betrayal and peer pressure, his words can be applied to anyone and everyone who are found in this world.

Who was Epictetus?

I like to get to know the authors of whom I read, before I read them.

Epictetus is one of the most well known  Stoics, so lets get to know him a little better.

Epictetus was born a slave in 50 A.D. That was forever ago. It appears that he was eventually released as a slave and lived in Rome for a time, where he taught philosophy until he was kicked out. It is also worthy to note that he was crippled ( Possibly his leg?)

After he was kicked out of Rome he went to Greece and began a philosophy school. He had students of which they jotted down notes from Epictetus’s teachings. That is where the book “The Discourses” comes from.

Not much is known about Epictetus. He lived a simple life and died around 135 A.D. Now that I have some context, I feel I will gain more as I read ” The Discourses.”

Stumbling Upon Stoicism

Just a few months ago I was “googling” stuff and came upon the school of thought known as Stoicism. I was intrigued and fell victim to curiosity. I eventually found people like Ryan Holiday, Carrie Sheffield who seemed to be very successful, content and happy.

The basic idea is that you cannot control what happens to you, but you can control how you react to what happens to you.

Like I said, this have been very recent, but I am enthusiastic upon my new discovery.

The book “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius is one of the key works in the Stoic world. I am still reading it, it is not a one day read. In fact, it is recommended that you read a sentence, maybe a paragraph and then lean back and reflect on what you just read.

“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way, becomes the way” – Marcus Aurelius.

It took me a little bit to realize what this means. At least to me, it means that things that impede you from doing something become an essential part of doing that something. Things will pop up that will strain you from achieving your goals, you can either sit and complain and worry about it or accept it and figure out how to overcome it.

Quotes like this are good for me and for you too. I have a big Stoic reading list ahead of me and I look forward to learning new insights on how to live a better and happier life.