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Selections from Meditations by Marcus Aurelius 
Adaptation © SpiritSite.com (language has been adapted and/or simplified)

 


"If a man stands by a pure fountain of water, and curses it – the fountain doesn’t change. 

And if the man throws in dirt into the fountain, the water washes it away.

 When our minds are calm, they become fountains like this."

Meditations: Books Seven and Eight

How can our principles die, unless the thoughts that come with them are extinguished? We must rekindle these thoughts constantly.

You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength. It is in your power to return to life.

Can I accomplish this task? If I can, I will dedicate my effort to the greater good. If I can’t, I will let a more skilled person do it – or I will simply ask for help and do the best I can. In whatever I do, I will strive to serve the greater good.

Think how many famous people are now gone and forgotten. Gone, too, are those who praised these people, and made them famous.

Don’t be embarrassed to accept help. Your job is to do what’s in front of you, like a man who must scale a wall. Suppose you had a sore leg – you might not be able to climb the wall yourself, but with another’s help, it is done.

All things are joined, and the bond that holds them is sacred. Nothing is separate from anything else. All is connected in one order, one universe, one God, one substance, one law, and one truth.

When we see each person as part of a great, sweeping melody, we will realize that to do good to another is to do good to the whole.

I am not threatened unless I judge events as being evil. And it is within my power to not view things this way.

Whatever anyone may do or say, I am committed to be good – just as an emerald says, "I am committed to be an emerald, and keep the color that is mine."

The true self has no needs, unless it creates needs for itself. In the same way, the mind is not troubled unless it allows itself to be.

When fears crop up we can say, "What are you doing here, ghost? Leave, I have no use for you. You are a product of a bad habit. I am not angry with you – simply go."

Why do we fear change? What comes to us without change? Can you take a warm bath without changing the firewood? Can you eat, without changing something? The changes in our lives are like the changes of Nature. If we see them in the right way, we will understand their value.

Only one thing troubles me: the thought that I might do something that isn’t in accord with the greater good.

It is a gift of man to love those who do wrong. And you are in possession of this gift if you can look at those who do wrong and say, "That man is my brother. He does wrong because of ignorance. We are equals, he and I. And his mistakes have no effect on my mind."

The substance of the universe – as if it were wax – takes the form of a horse, then, melting down, a tree, then a man, then something else. And every one of these forms exists for a very brief while. The eternal is a different thing.

A scowl goes against the principle of the Universe.

When a man has attacked you, try to understand his view of the world. And seeing this, you will pity him, and no longer be angry. For you will either see one who is confused like you, and you will have compassion – or you will see one who is confused like you once were, and you will have patience.

Find your peace within. The mind is content with its own right actions, and the tranquility they bring.

Leave the wrong where the wrong was done.

Choose to be simple, self-respecting, and modest. Love mankind. Follow God. Remember that everything rests in a higher order.

Euripides wrote, on behalf of us all, "The Good and the Righteous is with me."

Consider how you may live the best possible life in the time that is given you to live.

Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.

Plato said that we should look at earthly life from a higher place: the armies, the fields, the marriages, the births, deaths, the famines and feasts. We will gain a new perspective.

It is impossible for the future to escape the motion of the present.

Euripidies said, "That which is borne from the earth returns to the earth, and that which is borne from the heavens returns to the heavens."

A man may be a better wrestler, but I would like to know: Is he more open-minded? More kind? More forgiving of faults?

It is always within your power to be respectful, to behave kindly, and to discipline your thoughts so that no one can control your mind.

Consider the past to be dead. Now live from this point onward according to your highest principles.

Love what is around you. For what else is more suitable for your love?

Look within. Within is the fountain of good, and it will bubble up if you simply dig.

No soul willingly wants to lose truth, justice, or kindness. Remember this, and you will be more gentle toward men.

Remember that pain is not an evil, and does not injure the soul.

Perfection of character consists in this – living each day as if it were the last, and spending each moment in peace.

Why try to change your neighbor’s faults, which is impossible? Simply change your own faults, which is possible.

When you have done something good, and another has received it, don’t look for praise or something in return.

No one gets tired of receiving kindness, and to share it is to receive it.

If you want to live a happy life, throw out the thought, "How will this seem to others?" Simply live according to your principles.

Let nothing distract you, for you have wandered many times and have not found peace. Peace is not found in victory, wealth or reputation. Where, then, is it found? It is found simply in staying true to one’s principles.

When you are faced with any opportunity, ask yourself, "how do I feel about this? Shall I regret it? Or is it in line with my principles?"

Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and the great ruler Pompeius – we place them on the same level as Socrates and the philosophers. But although Alexander, Caesar, and Pompeius were rulers of the world, they were worried about many things, and slave to many. Only the philosophers were free.

This is the most important thing: do not be disturbed, for all things are in harmony with the Whole. Do your part without worry, and speak the words that are most true.

Whoever you are, you are able to shape your mind, to rise above pleasure and pain, to take no thought of fame, and to forgive all mistakes.

Whenever you do not understand someone’s actions, ask yourself, "what are this person’s attitudes toward life?" If you understand his attitudes, you will not be surprised by the way he acts – for you will see that his attitudes oblige him to act this way.

You are as free to change your mind and correct your errors as you are to persist in them.

What purpose does fault-finding have? It has none. And nothing should be done without a purpose.

Everything exists for a purpose – a horse, a vine, even the sun. What then is your purpose?

If I do anything, I try to do it for the good of all. If something happens to me, I release it to the gods and to the source of all things.

Joy comes from doing the right work of a man. And the right work of a man is to be kind, to not judge, and to respect the higher order.

We relate to the world, to God, and to our neighbors as one.

It is within the mind’s power to remain calm, and to not judge anything as evil. For every judgment is in the mind, and nothing evil can break its way in.

Wipe out all worry by saying, "it is within my power to keep my mind in peace."

Receive gifts without pride, and be willing to let them go.

God has joined man with his fellow-man. And if a man should break himself off through an unkind word or deed, God has permitted man to rejoin with the whole and again take his place.

As the Universe turns every obstacle into part of itself, we too can use every obstacle to serve our highest goals.

Do not dwell upon the troubles that have passed, but realize that everything can give way to a peaceful solution.

It is never the future or the past that troubles us, but the present. And we can train our minds to see the present in a new, peaceful light.

If you can see, see – and judge things with the highest vision.

No one can disturb your mind without your will – neither can fire or sword or a harsh word touch it. A peaceful mind is yours to choose and maintain.

I do not deserve pain, for I never try to give another pain.

One thing brings joy to this man; another to this one. My joy is to see everything with forgiving eyes, and to use everything according to my principles.

Why race after future fame, while the present moment is yours to enjoy?

"I will not be defensive" – this is how I keep my spirit at peace.

God does not bring to us what we cannot bear.

If some external event seems to bring you pain, realize that it’s not the event that pains you, but your interpretations of it. And if it is your interpretations that pain you, what prevents you from changing them?

The mind becomes strong when it touches the peace and satisfaction within.

Try not to add judgments to events. Someone speaks badly of you; this does not mean you are injured. If you must judge, judge like one who knows everything in the world.

Is the cucumber bitter? Simply put it down. Are there branches in the road? Simply step aside. That is enough to do, without getting upset.

Do not be sluggish in action, or muddled in conversation. Above all, do not let your thoughts wander.

If a man stands by a pure fountain of water, and curses it – the fountain doesn’t change. And if the man throws in dirt into the fountain, the water washes it away. When our minds are calm, they become fountains like this. How can we possess a flowing fountain, instead of a mere trickle? We must immerse ourselves in simplicity, humility, and feelings of content.

He who does not understand the Universe does not understand himself. And he who does not understand the purpose of the Universe does not understand his own purpose. Seek to know the Universe and you will know yourself.

From now on, let us not simply breathe the air that’s around us, but also think with the intelligence that is in all things.

We were brought into the world for each other. And yet – another’s mistakes are not my own, and my unhappiness is not the fault of another.

A ray of sun lights up an object, instead of knocking it down. So should our understanding be still, and quietly illuminate the obstacles in front of us.

We have come into the world for the sake of each other. Let us either help our neighbor or forgive him.

The path of the mind should be as clear as an arrow’s.

Join with everyone’s soul, and allow everyone’s soul to join with you.

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