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  • Bill Mauro

Reference Guide to Meditations


v 1.7 – “…from Rusticus I received the impression that my character required improvement and discipline.”


v 2. 1 – “Begin the morning by saying to yourself, I shall meet with the busybody, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial. All these things happened to them by reason of their ignorance of what is good and evil. But I, who have seen the nature of good that is beautiful, and of the bad that is ugly, and the nature of him who does wrong, that it is akin to me, not only for the same or seed, but that in participates in the same intelligence and same portion of the divinity, I can neither be injured by any them, for no one can fix on me what is ugly, nor can I can be angry with any of my kinsman, not hate him”



v 2.5 – “…and you will give yourself relief, if you do every act as if it were your last, laying aside all carelessness, passionate aversion from the commands of reason, hypocrisy, self-love, and discontent with the task that has been given to you”.


v 2.8 – “Failure to observe what is in the mind of another has seldom made a man unhappy; but those who do not the observe movements of their own minds must of necessity be unhappy.”



v 2.11 – “Since it is possible that you may depart from life this very moment, regulate every act and thought accordingly.”


v 3.4 – “Do not waste the remainder of your life in thoughts about others, when you do not refer your thoughts to some object of common utility. For you lose the opportunity of doing something else when you have such thoughts as these. What is just a person doing? And why? And what is he saying? And what is he thinking of? And what is he contriving? and whatever else of the kind makes you wander away from the observation of our own ruling power.”

v 3.5 – “Be cheerful also, and do not seek external help or the tranquility that others give. A man then must stand erect, not be kept erect by others.”



v 3.12 – “If you apply yourself to the task before you, following right reason seriously, vigorously, calmly, without allowing anything to distract but keeping your divine part pure as you might be bound to give it back immediately; if you hold to this expecting nothing, fearing nothing, but satisfied with your present activities according to nature, and with heroic truth in every word and sound which you utter, you will live happily. And there is no man who able to prevent you from this.”

v 4.2 – “Let no act be done without a purpose, nor otherwise according to the perfect principles of art.”



v 4.3 – “Men seek retreats for themselves, houses in the country, seashores, and mountains; and you too, are wont to desire such things very much. But this is altogether a mark of the common sort of men. For it is in your power whenever you choose, to retire into yourself. For there is no retreat that is quieter or freer from trouble than a man’s own soul, especially when he has within him such thoughts that by looking into them, he is immediately in perfect tranquility; and in tranquility is nothing else than the good ordering the mind. Constantly then give to yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.”


v 4.3.2 – “For with what are you discontented? With the badness of men? Recall to your mind this conclusion, that rational animals exist for one another, and that to endure is a part of justice, and that men do wrong involuntarily; and consider how many already, after mutual hostility, suspicion, hatred, and fighting have been stretched dead, reduced to ashes. Now be quiet at last”.



v 4.3.3 – “But perhaps the desire of a thing called fame torments you. See how soon everything is forgotten, and look at the chaos of infinite time on each side of the present, and the emptiness of applause, and the fickleness and lack of judgement of those who pretend to give you praise, and the narrowness of its domain. Now be quiet at last”.


v 4.7 – “Take away your opinion, and then there is taken away the complaint ‘I have been harmed’. Take away the complaint, ‘I have been harmed’, and the harm is taken away”

v 4.8 – “That which does not makes a man worse than he was, also does not make his life worse, nor does it harm either from without or within.”


v 4.12 – “A man should always have these two rules in readiness: one, to do only whatever the reason of the ruling and legislating faculty may suggest for you; and two, to change your opinion, if anyone sets you right, and dissuades you from any opinion. But this change of opinion must proceed only from genuine conviction about what is just or of common advantage, and the like, not because it appears pleasant and brings reputation.”



v 4.29 – “He is an abscess on the universe who withdraws and separates himself from the reason of the common nature through being displeased with the things that happen.”


v 4.49 – ‘I am unhappy, because this happened to me’. Not so: say ‘I am happy, even though this happened to me, because I continue free from pain, neither crushed by the present nor fearing the future.’ “Remember, too, on every occasion that lead you to vexation to apply this principle: not that this is a misfortune, but that to bear it nobly is good fortune.”



v 5.1 – “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, and 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 you do not make haste to do that which is according to your nature? “But it is necessary to take rest also!” It is necessary; however, nature has fixed bounds to this too. She has fixed bounds both to eating and drinking, and yet you go beyond these bounds, beyond what is sufficient. Yet in your acts it is not so, but you stop short of what you can do. So, you do not love yourself, for if you did, you would love your nature and her will.”

v 5.6 – “So a man, when he has done a good act, does not call out for others to come and see, but he goes on to another act, as a vine goes to produce again the grapes in season. Must a man then be one of these, who in a manner act without it observing it? Yes.”


v 5.9 – “Do not be disgusted, or discouraged, or dissatisfied, if you do not succeed in doing everything according to right principles; but when you have failed, return back again, and be content if the greater part of what you do is consistent with man's nature, and love this to which you return.”



v 5.18 – “Nothing happens to any man that he is not formed by nature to bear. The same things happened to all men, and either because he does see that they happened or because he would show a great spirit, he is firm and remains unharmed.”


v 5.25 – “Does another man do me wrong? Let him look to it. He has his own disposition, his own activity. I now have what the universal nature wills me to have, and I do what my nature now wills me to do.”

v 5.28 – “Are you angry with him whose armpits stink? Are you angry with him whose mouth smells foul? What good will this danger do you? He has such a mouth; he has such armpits. It is necessary that such an emanation must come from such things. But the man has reason, it will be said, and he is able, if he takes pain, to discover wherein he offends. I wish you well of your discovery. Well then, and you have reason. By your rational faculty stir up his rational faculty; show him his error, admonish him. For if he listens, you will cure him, and there is no need of anger.”


v 6.6 – “The best way of avenging yourself is not to become like the wrongdoer.”

v 6.18 – “How strangely men act. They will not praise those who are living at the same time and living with themselves; but to themselves praised by prosperity, by those whom they have never seen or ever will see, this they set much value on. But this is very much the same as if you should be grieved because those who have lived before you did not praise you.”

v 6.21 – “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 by his error and ignorance.”

v 6.22 – “I do my duty: other things do not trouble me; for they are either things without life, or things without reason, or things that have rambled and do not know the way.”

v 6.26 – “If any man should propose to you the question, how the name “Antoninus” is written, would you not with a patient voice utter each letter? What then if he grew angry, will you be angry too? Will you not go on with composure and name every letter? Just so then, in this life also remember that every duty is made up of certain parts. These it is your duty to observe, and without being disturbed, or showing anger towards those who are angry with you, to go on your way and finish that which is set before you.”

v 6.30 - “Take care that you are not made into a Caesar, that you are not dyed with this dye, for such things happen. Keep yourself then simple, good, pure, serious, free from affectation (being fake), a friend of justice, a worshipper of the gods, kind, affectionate, strenuous in all proper acts. Strive to continue to be such as philosophy wished to make you. Reverence the gods, and help men. Life is Short. There is only one fruit of this earthly life, a pious disposition and social acts. Do everything as a disciple of Antoninus (Roman Emperor known as one of the “Five Good Emperors”). Remember his constancy in every act which was conformable to reason, and his evenness in all things, and his piety, and the serenity of his countenance, and his sweetness, and his disregard of empty fame, and his efforts to understand things. And how he would never let anything pass without having first most carefully examined it and clearly understood it; and how he bore with those who blamed him unjustly without blaming them in return; how he did nothing in a hurry; and how he listened not to calumnies, and how exact an examiner of manners and actions he was; and not given to reproach people, nor timid, nor suspicious, nor a sophist (paid teacher); and with how little he was satisfied, such as lodging, bed, dress, food, servants; and how laborious and patient; and how he was able on account of his sparing diet to hold out to the evening, not even requiring to relieve himself by any evacuations except at the usual hour; and his firmness and uniformity in his friendships; and how he tolerated freedom of speech in those who opposed his opinions; and the pleasure that he had when any man showed him anything better; and how religious he was without superstition. Imitate all this that you may have as good a conscience, when your last hour comes, as he had.”

v 7.2 – “How can our principles become dead, unless the thoughts that correspond to them are extinguished? But it is in your power continuously to fan these thoughts into a flame. I can have that opinion about anything, which I ought to have. If I can, why am I disturbed? The things that are external to my mind have no relation at all to my mind. Let this be the state of your affects, and you may stand straight. To recover your life is in your power. Look at things again as you used to look at them. For in this consists the recovery of your life.”


v 7.7 – “Do not be ashamed to be helped; for it is your business to do your duty like a soldier in assault on the town. What if, being lame, you cannot mount up on the battlements alone, but with the help of others it is possible?”



v 7.8 – “Do not let the future disturb you, for you will arrive there, if you arrive, with the same reason you apply to the present.”


v 7.12 – “Be upright, or be made upright.”



v 7.21 – “In a little while, you will have forgotten everything; in a little while, everything will have forgotten you.”


v 7.29 – “Think of your last hour. Let the wrong that is done by a man stay where the wrong was done.”



v 7.58 – “In everything that happens, keep before your eyes those to whom the same things happened, and how they were vexed, and treated them as strange things, and found fault with them; and now where are they? Nowhere. Why then do you, too, choose to act in the same way?”

v 7.61 – “The art of life is more like the wrestler’s art than the dancer’s, in respect of this, that it should stand ready and firm to meet onsets that are sudden and unexpected.”


v 7.64 – “In every pain let this thought be present, that there is no dishonor in it, nor does it make the governing intelligence worse, for it does not damage the intelligence either so far as the intelligence is rational or so far as it is social. Indeed, in the case of most pains let this remark of Epicurus aid you, that pain is neither intolerable nor everlasting, if you bear in mind that it has its limits, and if you add nothing to it in imagination. And remember this too, that we do not perceive that many things which are disagreeable to us are the same as pain, such as excessive drowsiness, and being scorched by heat, and the having no appetite. When then you are discontented about any of these things, say to yourself, that you are yielding to pain.”



v 7.65 – “Take care not to feel toward the inhuman as they toward men.”

v 7.68 – “It is in your power to live free from compulsion and in the greatest tranquility of mind, even if all the world cries out against you as much as they choose.”


v 7.73 – “When you have done a good act and another has received it, why do you look for a third thing besides these, as fools do, either to have the reputation of having done a good act or to obtain a return?”

v 8.2 – “On the occasion of every act ask yourself, ‘how is this with respect to me?’ ‘Will I regret it?’ A little time and I am dead, and all is gone.”


v 8.4 – “Consider that men will do the same things even though you would burst with rage.”



v 8.9 – “Let no man any longer hear you finding fault with the court of life or with your own.”


v 8.22 – “Attend to the matter before you, whether it is an opinion, or an act, or a word.”



v 8.22.2 – “You suffer this justly; for you choose rather to be good tomorrow than to be good today.”


v 8.26 – “It brings satisfaction to a man to do the proper works of a man.”



v 8.33 – “Receive wealth and prosperity without arrogance; and be ready to let it go.

v 9.2 – “it would be a man’s happiest lot to depart from mankind without having had any taste of lying and hypocrisy and luxury and pride.”

v 9.27 – “When another blames you or hates you, or when men say anything injurious about you, approach their poor souls, penetrate within, and see what kind of men they are. You will discover that there is no reason to be concerned that these men have this or that opinion about you. You must, however, be well disposed toward them, for by nature they are your friends.”



v 10.4 – “If a man is mistaken, instruct him kindly and show him his error. But if you are not able, blame yourself, or not even yourself.”

v 10.16 – “No longer talk at all about the kind of man a good man ought to be, but be such.”

v 10.30 – “when you are offended at any man’s fault, immediately turn to yourself and reflect in what manner you yourself have erred. For by attending to this you will quickly forget about your anger if you consider that the man is compelled: for what else could he do? Or, if you are able, take away from him the compulsion.”

v 11.14 – “Men despise one another and flatter one another; and men wish to raise themselves above one another, and crouch before one another.”

v 11.29 – “Neither in writing nor in reading will you be able to lay down rules to other before you shall have first learned to obey the rules of yourself.”

v 12.4 – “I have often wondered that every man loves himself more than others, and yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinions of others.”

v 12.9 – “In application of your principles you must be like the pancratiast (ancient Greek for mixed martial artist), not like the Gladiator. For the gladiator lays aside the blade he uses, and picks it up again, but the pancratiast always has his hand and only needs to clench it.

v 12.17 – “If it is not right, do not do it. If it is not true, do not say it. For let your impulse be within your own power.”


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