Dissecting Meditations, a personal journal by Marcus Aurelius Part #1

What you are getting into: 476 words, 3mins read

Here, I will share my contemplations upon reading the published personal journal of Marcus Aurelius, a roman emperor from 161-180 AD. Thoughts mainly stemmed from Stoicism, and Marcus Aurelius used the notes for guidance, self improvement, and how to live a good life. It’s a translated book by Gregory Hays, or you can read it online.

For this and upcoming posts I attempt to dissect quotes I favour upon reading the book.

“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 recognised that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own – not of the same blood and birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are obstructions.”

First, the entry starts off on a negative note that one will meet people who are not pleasant. It also emphasise on the daily practice, which means one will meet unpleasant people everyday. Thus, meeting unpleasant people is the norm. There’s no getting around it, unless one accept it.

Second, it is I who have acquired wisdom to tell good from evil. That only comes with experience. If thou hasn’t acquired such experience, then thou shall seek out good and evil.

Third, even though we are born with different statuses, different upbringing, different life experiences, we share a similar trait — a mind capable of cognitive abilities. That’s the constant that we share. If we disregard authority, power, and status, leaving only the common denominator, then we are all the same — humans. If we are all the same, then why do we want to hurt each other?

Fourth, one shall not mistake the negligence of others as malice. Even if, other people may neglect the practice of restraint, thou shall not follow suit. An eye for an eye or mirroring bad behaviour makes all the same.

Fifth, sharing the same mind as part of the larger universe, all as homo sapiens, we should be working together for the greater good. For the future of humanity.

Last, because homo sapiens should work together for the future of humanity, we shall treat anger towards another person as obstructions. For anger certainly won’t yield constructive behaviour.

If, thou allow obstructions (malicious behaviour) to atrophy or cloak thy virtues, then thou can’t tell good from evil. But we do.

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