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Words of Wisdom

What We Were Designed For: From Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, Part 2 of 2

2021-07-06
Language:English

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Let us now continue with the excerpt from Marcus Aurelius’ “Meditations,” in Book 6. The Stoic philosopher elaborates on what is worth prizing within ourselves, and how we can live our lives with a clear conscience.

“Some things are rushing into existence, others out of it. Some of what now exists is already gone. Change and flux constantly remake the world, just as the incessant progression of time remakes eternity. We find ourselves in a river. Which of the things around us should we value when none of them can offer a firm foothold? Like an attachment to a sparrow: we glimpse it and it’s gone. And life itself: like the decoction of blood, the drawing in of air. We expel the power of breathing we drew in at birth (just yesterday or the day before), breathing it out like the air we exhale at each moment.”

“When you deal with animals, with things and circumstances, be generous and straightforward. You are rational. When you deal with fellow human beings, behave as one. They share in the Logos (the Word of God). And invoke the gods regardless. Don’t worry about how long you’ll go on doing this. A single afternoon would be enough.”

“To escape imperialization — that indelible stain. It happens. Make sure you remain straightforward, upright, reverent, serious, unadorned, an ally of justice, pious, kind, affectionate, and doing your duty with a will. Fight to be the person philosophy tried to make you. Revere the gods; watch over human beings. Our lives are short. The only rewards of our existence here are an unstained character and unselfish acts.”

“Awaken; return to yourself. Now, no longer asleep, knowing they were only dreams, clear-headed again, treat everything around you as a dream.”

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