Meditations - by Marcus Aurelius

When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can't tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own - not the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me.

"Everything is just an impression."
— Monimus the Cynic

Choose not be harmed--and you won't feel harmed. Don't feel harmed--and you haven't been.

  • It's unfortunate that this has happened. No. It's fortunate that this has happened and I've remained unharmed by it--not shattered by the present or frightened of the future. It could have happened to anyone. But not everyone could have remained unharmed by it.

To shrug it all off and wipe it clean--every annoyance and distraction--and reach utter stillness. Child's play.

So other people hurt me? That's their problem. Their character and actions are not mine. What is done to me is ordained by nature, what I do by my own.

When jarred, unavoidably, by circumstances, revert at once to yourself, and don't lose the rhythm more than you can help. You'll have a better grasp of the harmony if you keep on going back to it.

The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way

Latching onto things and piercing through them, so we see what they really are. That's what we need to do all the time--all through our lives when things lay claim to our trust--to lay them bare and see how pointless they are, to strip away the legend that encrusts them.

Not to assume it's impossible because you find it hard. But to recognize that if it's humanly possible, you can do it too.

If anyone can refute me--show me I'm making a mistake or looking at things from the wrong perspective--I'll gladly change. It's the truth I'm after, and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance.

You take things you don't control and define them as "good" or "bad." And so of course, when the "bad" things happen or the "good" things don't, you blame the gods and feel hatred for the people responsible--or those you decide to make responsible. Much of our bad behavior stems from trying to apply those criteria. If we limited "good" and "bad" to our own actions, we'd have no call to challenge God, or to treat other people as enemies.

Everywhere, at each moment, you have the option:

  • To accept this event with humility

  • To treat this person as he should be treated

  • To approach this thought with care, so that nothing irrational creeps in.

It's silly to try to escape other people's faults. They are inescapable. Just try to escape your own.

Nature willed the creation of the world. Either all that exists follows logically or even those things to which the world's intelligence most directs its will are completely random. A source of serenity in more situations than one.

The mind without passions is a fortress. No place is more secure. Once we take refuge there we are safe forever. Not to see this is ignorance. To see it and not seek safety means misery.

Nothing but what you get from first impressions. That someone has insulted you, for instance. That--but not that it's done you any harm. The fact that my son is sick--that I can see. But "that he might die of it," no. Stick with first impressions. Don't extrapolate. And nothing can happen to you.

Today I escaped from anxiety. Or no, I discarded it, because it was within me, in my own perceptions--not outside.

Learn to ask of all actions, "Why are they doing that?" Starting with your own.