Writer Your Destiny in the Way of Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius, emperor over the last generat...

Marcus Aurelius, emperor over the last generation of classicists and himself a classicist. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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:

Anything in any way beautiful derives its beauty from itself and asks nothing beyond itself. Praise is no part of it, for nothing is made worse or better by praise.
Because a thing seems difficult for you, do not think it impossible for anyone to accomplish.
Adapt yourself to the things among which your lot has been cast and love sincerely the fellow creatures with whom destiny has ordained that you shall live.
A noble man compares and estimates himself by an idea which is higher than himself; and a mean man, by one lower than himself. The one produces aspiration; the other ambition, which is the way in which a vulgar man aspires.

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?

2 thoughts on “Writer Your Destiny in the Way of Marcus Aurelius

  1. stuartart says:

    Wonderful stuff – it always amazes me that so many wise people lived so long ago, and yet how far have we really come? Interesting. 🙂

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