Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I've posted quotes from Marcus Aurelius here before, but because of their immense importance to me I will compile notes and such here.

Note: some are not complete/coherent sentences, because I chose to record them that way. Sometimes all that's needed is a fragment of a thought.

Enjoy. Become enlightened.


Self/Acts | Possessions | Morals | Duty | Other People | Death | Etc.



-simplicity and reason

-"gravity without affectation" (6)

-"entirely free from passion, and also most affectionate" (7)

-"knowledge without ostentation" (7)

-keep an even keel

-"ready to forgive, and...free from all falsehood" (8)

-few secrets


-to know yourself is enough

-examine everything in relation to yourself and the universe

-no one can stop you from being happy "if you hold to this, expecting nothing, fearing nothing, but satisfied with your present activity according to nature, and with heroic truth in every word and sound you utter" (20)

-always be ready to understand how the human meets the divine

-be like a fire and use everything to rise higher

-physical retreats < the refuge of your own soul/the tranquility afforded by a well-ordered mind

-go to your own mind often

-"let thy principles be brief and fundamental" (22)

-keep it simple

-you are enough

-body < soul

-whatever happens, you can take it

-puppet < strings

-"About what am I now employing my own soul?" (27)

-by chance in how the universe changes you exist

-"Look within. Let neither the peculiar quality of anything nor its value escape you." (30)

-"If any man is able to convince me and show me that I do not think or act right, I will gladly change; for I seek the truth by which no man was ever injured. But he is injured who abides in his error and ignorance." (34) - don't take it personally, you want to know how to be a better person

-if there are no gods to decide for me, then I can decide for myself

-"Show good humor and not a proud air." (38)

-be content when your mind is firm and your desires/aversions are within your power

-"Does the light of the lamp shine without losing its splendor until it is extinguished: and shall the truth which is in you and justice and temperance be extinguished before your death?" (44) - senescence of body =/= senescence of mind

-improving yourself = freedom

-"Speak...appropriately, not with any affectation; use plain discourse." (46)

-soul: fountain > well, because it renews itself

-accept that bad things exist in the world

-"Today I have got out of all trouble, or rather I have cast out all trouble, for it was not outside, but within and in my opinions." (51)

-"The healthy eye ought to see all visible things and not to say, I wish for green things, for this is the condition of a diseased eye...And accordingly the healthy understanding ought to be prepared for everything which happens" (54)

-"Think not: this is ill fortune; but rather: to bear this worthily is good fortune."


-be content with what you have

-on the good things in life: "used without arrogance and without excusing himself; so that when he had them, he enjoyed them without affectation, and when he had them not he did not want them" (9)

-beauty needs no audience: "Is an emerald made worse than it was, if it is not praised?" (23)

-value what you have over what you want, but not so much that you'd care losing it

-"Receive wealth or prosperity without arrogance; and be ready to let it go." (47)


-love kin, truth, and justice

-if it makes you break promises, lose self-respect, hate, suspect, lie, etc., then it isn't good for you

-"with all they soul...do justice and...say the truth" (19)

-leave no space to do evil

-happiness and rightness go together

-"Whatever anyone does or says, I must be good." (38)

-"Within is the fountain of good, and it will ever well up if you will ever dig." (41)

-you can always be just and have control over your thoughts

-"I see no virtue which is opposed to justice." (47)

-"If it is not right don't do it, if it is not true don't say it."

-"no longer talk at all about the kind of man that a good man ought to be, but be such." (59)


-"a disposition to do good, and to give to others readily, and to cherish good hopes, and to believe that I am loved by my friends...no concealment of...opinions" (7)

-do what needs doing without complaining

-after you've thought sth. over and chosen what to do, follow through resolutely

-don't do it for pride, do it to get it done

-focus: "every moment think steadily...do what you have in hand with perfect and simple dignity...and...give yourself relief from all other thoughts" (11)

-"In the morning when you rise unwillingly, 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? Or have I been made for this, to lie in the bedclothes and keep myself warm? But this is more pleasant. Do you exist then to take your pleasure, and not at all for action or exertion? Do you not see the little plants, the little birds, the ants, the spiders, the bees working together to put in order their several parts of the universe? And are you unwilling to do the work of a human being, and do you not make haste to do that which is according to your nature?" (25-26)

-"so a man when he has done a good act, does not call out for others to come and see, but goes on to another act, as a vine goes on to produce again the grapes in season" (26)

-"let it make no difference to you whether you are cold or warm, if you are doing your duty; and whether you are drowsy or satisfied with sleep; and whether ill-spoken of or praised; and whether dying or doing something else" (30)

-"what more do you want when you have done someone a service? Shouldn't you be content that you have done the right thing, and not feel you have to be paid for it?"

-you are what you do

-"that no man can escape his destiny, the next inquiry being how he may best live the time that he has to live" (41)

-one thing at a time

Other People

-"receive from friends what are esteemed favors, without being either humbled by them or letting them pass unnoticed." (6)

-don't be coy: always make it clear where people stand with you and what you do/not want

-don't resent people who can't spend time with you

-no envy for betters

-I will meet with jerks, but since I know good from bad they won't injure me

-you can be happy without prying into others' thoughts, but if you don't know yourself you will definitely be unhappy

-know your place as a part of the whole

-if someone is malodorous, don't get mad, tell him

-men can be obstacles and thus become things that shouldn't affect your mind (hindrance -> help)

-"How strangely men act", as if future > present, though it is not so

-just because you can't do it doesn't mean it's impossible

-if someone has hurt you, avoid him quietly, without anger or suspicion or hatred

-"Be not ashamed to be helped." (38)

-understand where people are coming from

-people will always do things that irritate you, so relax

-"If anyone despises me, that's their problem. My only concern is not doing or saying anything deserving of contempt."

-"Men exist for the sake of one another. Teach them then or bear with them." (50)

-"who can change men's opinions?" (52)

-"The best revenge is to be unlike he who performed the injury."


-anything that happens equally to good and bad people is natural, not good or evil

-don't fear death

-the present is all you have

-even if there is no afterlife, you'll be free from your earthly body

-"short then is the time which every man lives, and small the nook of earth where he lives: and short too the longest posthumous fame" (18)

-"Death hangs over you. While you live, while it is in your power, be good." (20)

-"Time is like a river...as soon as a thing has been seen, it is carried away, and another comes in its place, and this will be carried away too." (23) (Confucius said pretty much the same thing.)

-"end your journey in content, just as an olive falls when it is ripe, blessing nature who produced it, and thanking the tree it grew on" (24)

-everything is transient

-in the end everyone is the same

-"Depart then satisfied." (61)


-"For everything that exists is in a manner the seed of that which will be" (24)

-divinity moves less obviously than the elements

-"Is any man afraid of change? Why, what can take place without change?...And can you take a bath unless the wood undergoes a change? And can you be nourished, unless the food undergoes a change?" (38)

-look at the stars to purge the earth from your mind

-if you are cut off from nature, you are like a severed limb; unlike the limb, you can reconnect

-"for nothing is injurious to the part if it is for the advantage of the whole" (55): take one for the team


Quotes with page numbers are from the George Long translation. Quotes without page numbers are from Goodreads.

Stoicism 101 is helpful.

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