Marcus Aurelius Roman Emperor 180 ADFrom the Book, “Thoughts of an Emperor, a Slave, a Philosopher, and a Christ
A man's greatness lies not in wealth and station, as the vulgar believe,nor yet in his intellectual capacity, which is often associated with the meanest moral character, the most abject servility to those in high places, and arrogance to the poor and lowly; but a man's true greatness lies in the consciousness of an honest purpose in life, founded on a just estimate of himself and everything else, on frequent self-examination, and a steady obedience to the rule which he knows to be right, without troubling himself, as to what others may think or say, or whether they do or do not do what he thinks and says and does.
Marcus Aurelius claimed that a man's life should be valued according to the value of the things to which he gave his attention. If his whole thought was given to clothing, feeding and housing himself comfortably, he should be valued like other well-housed and well-fed animals.
He would, however, derive the greatest pleasure and benefit in this life by acting in accordance with reason, which demands of every human being that his highest faculties should govern all the rest, and that each should see to it that he treated his fellow kindly and generously and that if he could not assist him to a higher level he should at least not stand in his way. When he speaks of the shortness of time and the value of fame, riches and power, for which men strive in this world, Marcus Aurelius speaks not from the standpoint of one who would wish to obtain these things, but as a Roman emperor enjoying the highest honors that man might expect to attain in this world. He certainly was in a position to speak intelligently concerning these matters, and his opinions ought to have weight with the coming generations.
Thoughts of the Emperor…
Every morning we should say to ourselves, "today I welcome this arrogant person...and this dishonest person...and this angry person." For regardless of their attitudes, these people are our brothers. They are not evil, for they act out of ignorance.
And no one – however persuasive they may be – can force us to be angry or upset.
Whatever a person’s attitude may be, he and I have been created for cooperation. We are like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of the upper and lower teeth.
If I attack a brother, I am attacking all my brothers.
To be angry with a brother is to be angry with myself.
It is not the body, nor the personality that is the true self. The true self is eternal. Even on the point of death we can say to ourselves, "my true self is free. I cannot be contained."
Everything from the gods is full of Divinity – all the things that we have been given on earth. Even difficult events have a place in the whole. The Divine gifts are right here in our midst, joined together with invisible threads.
All things flow from the gods – all things in the universe, of which we are a part. If we were to learn just this, we would never again need books.
Remember how many moments you have been given, and how many are gone. Time is valuable – it should be used for the highest purpose. Every moment is a chance to clear the mind, and seek a state of calm.
Strive to do your work with feelings of peace – and give yourself freedom from all other thoughts. You deserve the freedom that a peaceful mind brings. If you seek only peace, you will see how easy it is to live a happy live – one that is like the life of the gods.
Do activities break you from your peace? If so, give yourself some quiet time to return to your path. If necessary, change directions or take up a new activity. The most important thing in life is to have a focus and purpose.
It’s not another person’s minds that destroys us, but our own.
If we are watchful of our mind’s contents, we will rise above the troubles of the outside world.
Always remember your relationship to the Whole.