Most of us have heard of Marcus Aurelius, the famous ruler of the Roman Empire, who is also one of the most well known philosophers of all time.
He is renowned as a wise philosopher king and for being the author of a book of Meditations written from the mid 160’s to his death in 180 AD. I could probably spend the next couple years quoting him every day and there would always be something fresh to say about his observations.
I hadn’t really thought much about how Meditations came to be until I read a biography, Marcus Aurelius by Frank McLynn. In this lengthy and well-researched biography, I was most fascinated with the idea that the Meditations are believed to have been written as something of a spiritual practice.
Apparently, it was a common practice in the ancient world to write personal notes on a daily basis as an aid for self-improvement or spiritual progress. These notes were NOT intended to have been read by anyone but the person writing them.
Interestingly, Marcus Aurelius wrote his notes in Greek, the philosopher’s language, rather than Latin which would require discipline on his part. McLynn cites Socrates, Heraclitus, Diogenes and Epictetus as his main influences for the Meditations.
This is a sampling of Marcus Aurelius quotes from www.brainyquote.com:
When I read this idea, I thought this is different from trying to write something for publication or journaling. It’s writing encouraging ideas for your eyes only.
To some extent I have been doing this for many years, but had never thought that this as an ancient spiritual practice.
In a way, any of us who practice this type of practice are writing our destiny in the tradition of Marcus Aurelius. Rather fascinating lineage of writing, isn’t it?
If you were to write these types of meditations, who would your main influences be for your personal philosophy on life?
- Marcus Aurelius (hilobrow.com)
- Weekly Meditation: The Wisdom of Rome (conservativenewager.wordpress.com)
- Notes – The Philosophy Of The Stoics, From The Meditations Of Marcus Aurelius (#stoic, #philosophy) (valueprax.wordpress.com)
- Lunch with Maurcus Aurelius- Roman Emperor + Philosopher (peacefulldawn.com)
- Marcus Aurelius’ birthday (humanisticpaganism.com)