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- Chris OConnor
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Notebooks 5 - 8
Please use this thread to discuss the above referenced notebooks of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.
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Book 5 is probably my favorite.
“When you have trouble getting up, say to yourself: I awake to do the work of a man; why then should I grieve for having to do the things for which I was sent into the world? Was I born to remain warmly in bed under my covers? But it is so pleasant. Were you not born for pleasure, then? Was it not for action, for work?”
“On the occasion of every act ask yourself . . . Will I regret it?”
“Why were you born? For pleasure? See if that answer will stand up to questioning.”
A person’s most important work is “being human,” experiencing things and practicing virtues in response. Even when you encounter obstacles, as in dealing with difficult people, you can adapt to them, work around them, and turn obstacles into opportunities to make you a better person.
In Book 6 Marcus reflects on Nature as inhabited by the divine logos. It governs everything and keeps everything in harmony. Life may seem random, but that’s no cause for anxiety. No matter what, everything follows the law of the logos, and in the meantime, one’s job remains the same: have a goal and live in harmony with nature as one pursues that goal.
In Book 7 he comments on the individual as part of a larger whole and the importance of getting along well with others. Marcus stresses that we’re all human, we’ll soon die, and we can afford to show each other compassion. In any case, another person’s actions can’t stop you from practicing virtues. Your well-being is in your own hands.
In Book 8 Marcus advises to stay humble, you are still working on a philosophical life. Don’t complain or blame others. Just focus on building your own life out of the materials you’ve been given, one action at a time, and keeping your attention fixed on the present. Posthumous fame is a pointless goal.