January 17, 2010

Marcus Aurelius Quotes


Marcus Aurelius (26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was Roman emperor from 161 to his death in 180. He was the last of the "Five Good Emperors", and is also considered one of the most important Stoic philosophers. His tenure was marked by wars in Asia against a revitalized Parthian Empire, and with Germanic tribes along the Limes Germanicus into Gaul and across the Danube.

Marcus Aurelius' work "Meditations", written in Greek while on campaign between 170 and 180, is still revered as a literary monument to a government of service and duty. Parallels between and Stoicism and Buddhism abound in the Meditations.

Online:
Meditations: Internet Classics Archives
Meditations: Harvard Classics: Bartleby.com
Meditations: Unpublished Selections Rewritten & Explained

Quotes:
  • A man does not sin by commission only, but often by omission.
  • A man should be upright, not be kept upright.
  • A man's life is what his thoughts make it
  • Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart.
  • Accept whatever comes to you woven in the pattern of your destiny, for what could more aptly fit your needs?
  • Adapt yourself to the things among which your lot is cast, and love sincerely the fellow creatures with whom destiny has ordained that you shall live.”
  • All is ephemeral--fame and the famous as well.
  • Anything in any way beautiful derives its beauty from itself and asks nothing beyond itself. Praise is no part of it, for nothing is made worse or better by praise.
  • Aptitude found in the understanding and is often inherited. Genius coming from reason and imagination, rarely.
  • Be content to seem what you really are.
  • Be content with what you are, and wish not change; nor dread your last day, nor long for it.
  • By a tranquil mind I mean nothing else than a mind well ordered.
  • Confine yourself to the present.
  • Death is a release from the impressions of the senses, and from desires that make us their puppets, and from the vagaries of the mind, and from the hard service of the flesh.
  • Death smiles at us all, but all a man can do is smile back.
  • Death, like birth, is a secret of Nature.
  • Despise not death, but welcome it, for nature wills it like all else.
  • Dig within. Within is the wellspring of Good; and it is always ready to bubble up, if you just dig.
  • Do every act of your life as if it were your last.
  • Do not act as if you were going to live ten thousand years. Death hangs over you. While you live, while it is in your power, be good.
  • Do what you will. Even if you tear yourself apart, most people will continue doing the same things.
  • Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.
  • Each day provides its own gifts.
  • Each thing is of like form from everlasting and comes round again in its cycle.
  • Everything that exists is in a manner the seed of that which will be.
  • Everything that happens happens as it should, and if you observe carefully, you will find this to be so.
  • Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
  • He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.
  • Here is a rule to remember in future, when anything tempts you to feel bitter: not This is misfortune, but To bear this worthily is good fortune.
  • Here is the rule to remember in the future, When anything tempts you to be bitter: not, This is a misfortune but To bear this worthily is good fortune.
  • How many together with whom I came into the world are already gone out of it.
  • How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.
  • How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbor says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself, to make it just and holy.
  • How ridiculous and unrealistic is the man who is astonished at anything that happens in life.
  • Humans have come into being for the sake of each other, so either teach them, or learn to bear them.
  • I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others.
  • If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.
  • If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change, for I seek the truth, by which no one ever was truly harmed. Harmed is the person who continues in his self-deception and ignorance.
  • If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.
  • If you do the task before you always adhering to strict reason with zeal and energy and yet with humanity, disregarding all lesser ends and keeping the divinity within you pure and upright, as though you were even now faced with its recall - if you hold steadily to this, staying for nothing and shrinking from nothing, only seeking in each passing action a conformity with nature and in each word and utterance a fearless truthfulness, then the good life shall be yours. And from this course no man has the power to hold you back.
  • In a man's life, his time is but a moment, his being a mere flux, his senses a dim glimpse, his body food for the worms, and his soul a restless eddy … the things of the body pass like a flowing stream; life is a brief sojourn, and one's mark in this world is soon forgotten.
  • Constantly remind yourself, I am a member of the whole body of conscious things. If you think of yourself as a mere part, then love for mankind will not well up in your heart; you will look for some reward in every act of kindness and miss the boon which the act itself is offering. Then all your work will be seen as a mere duty and not as the very portal connecting you with the Universe itself.
  • In the morning when you wake up, let this thought be present--I am rising to the work of a human being. Why then am I dissatisfied if I am going to do the things for which I exist and for which I was brought into the world?
  • In this flowing stream, then, on which there is no abiding, what is there of the things which hurry by on which a man would set a high price? It would be just as if a man should fall in love with one of the sparrows which fly by, but it has already passed out of sight.
  • Is your cucumber bitter? Throw it away. Are there briars in your path? Turn aside. That is enough. Do not go on and say, "Why were things of this sort ever brought into this world?" neither intolerable nor everlasting - if thou bearest in mind that it has its limits, and if thou addest nothing to it in imagination. Pain is either an evil to the body (then let the body say what it thinks of it!)-or to the soul. But it is in the power of the soul to maintain its own serenity and tranquility. . . .
  • It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.
  • It is the act of a madman to pursue impossibilities.
  • It is time to realize that you are a member of the Universe, that you are born of Nature itself, and to know that a limit has been set to your time. Use every moment wisely, to perceive your inner refulgence, or it will be gone and nevermore within your reach.
  • It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinions than our own.
  • Let it be your constant method to look into the design of people's actions, and see what they would be at, as often as it is practicable; and to make this custom the more significant, practice it first upon yourself.
  • Let men see, let them know, a real man, who lives as he was meant to live.
  • Let not your mind run on what you lack as much as on what you have already.
  • Life is a warfare and a stranger's sojourn, and after fame is oblivion.
  • Life is neither good or evil, but only a place for good and evil.
  • Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future too.
  • Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look there.
  • Look within. Within is the fountain of good, and it will ever bubble up, if thou wilt ever dig.
  • Loss is nothing else but change, and change is Nature's delight.
  • Natural ability without education has more often raised a man to glory and virtue than education without natural ability.
  • Neither worse then or better is a thing made by being praised.
  • Never esteem anything as of advantage to you that will make you break your word or lose your self-respect. Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.
  • Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.
  • No one loses any other life than the one he now lives, nor does one live any other life than that which he will lose.
  • Nothing happens to anybody which he is not fitted by nature to bear.
  • Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul..
  • Our life is what our thoughts make it.
  • Perhaps there are none more lazy, or more truly ignorant, than your everlasting readers.
  • Poverty is the mother of crime.
  • Receive without conceit, release without struggle.
  • Regain your senses, call yourself back, and once again wake up. Now that you realize that only dreams were troubling you, view this 'reality' as you view your dreams.
  • Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.
  • Remember that very little is needed to make a happy life.
  • That which is not good for the bee-hive cannot be good for the bees.
  • That which is really beautiful has no need of anything; not more than law, not more than truth, not more than benevolence or modesty.
  • The act of dying is one of the acts of life.
  • The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing, in so far as it stands ready against the accidental and the unforeseen, and is not apt to fall.
  • The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.
  • The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are..
  • The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts, therefore guard accordingly; and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue, and reasonable nature.
  • The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.
  • The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.
  • The only wealth which you will keep forever is the wealth you have given away.
  • The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.
  • The universe is change, life is opinion
  • The universe is change; life is your perception of it.
  • The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.
  • There is a stream of things entering into being, and time is a raging torment; for no sooner does each thing enter our sight than it has been swept away, and another is passing in it's place, and that too will be swept away.
  • There is nothing happens to any person but what was in his power to go through with.
  • Think not disdainfully of death, but look on it with favor; for even death is one of the things that Nature wills.
  • Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.
  • To live happily is an inward power of the soul.
  • Tomorrow is nothing, today is too late; the good lived yesterday.
  • Unhappy am I because this has happened to me.- Not so, but happy am I, though this has happened to me, because I continue free from pain, neither crushed by the present nor fearing the future.
  • Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself in your way of thinking.
  • Waste no more time talking about great souls and how they should be. Become one yourself!
  • We ought to do good to others as simply as a horse runs, or a bee makes honey, or a vine bears grapes season after season without thinking of the grapes it has borne.
  • What springs from earth dissolves to earth again, and heaven-born things fly to their native seat.
  • What we cannot bear removes us from life; what remains can be borne.
  • Whatever the universal nature assigns to any man at any time is for the good of that man at that time.
  • When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.
  • Where a man can live, he can also live well.
  • Where life is possible at all, a right life is possible; life in a palace is possible; therefore even in a palace a right life is possible
  • Within is the well-spring of Good; and it is always ready to bubble up, if you just dig.
  • You are a little soul carrying about a corpse, as Epictetus used to say.
  • You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.
  • You will find rest from vain fancies if you perform every act in life as though it were your last.
  • You'll have a better grasp of the harmony if you keep going back to it.
  • Your life is what your thoughts make it.