12. Part 12 of a series on the first 3 verses of Book IV (see previous post). #
In the last post, I spoke about how our minds are powerful. More than that --> they are powerful by definition, by nature. They ARE power itself.
This idea is so incredible to me😃 I don't know if I can even explain it😂🙈 I think we all 'get' this to a certain point...but if you really understand what it means, if you really believe it, this is an idea that can change your life - no, that can revolutionize your life.
What Marcus had already 'heard and agreed about pain and pleasure' is that they are fleeting, temporary and essentially unimportant in the quest to live a good life. They are, basically, to be ignored. Beyond that, they have no hold, no sway, no power over one who has discovered and been convinced by the nature of his own mind - the fact that it is the very essence of power.
I know I use the word in this kind of grand way - but the meaning behind it is quite simple: the ability to do, to create, to envision what you want.
We humans are uniquely empowered in this way, but how many of us consistently use our abilities, or even recognize them?
Whatever difficulty or pain or trouble you're facing in your life at present, remember that there is a part of you - perhaps the greater part - that cannot be touched by these things. If you focus on that part, concentrating your energies on what you CAN do rather than on what you can't, you will surprise yourself and everybody around you by the things you do and achieve.
The things of your dreams are actually possible. They only lie on the other side of this requirement: to take full control of your conscious mind and apply it in the direction of those dreams, allowing neither pain nor pleasure to hinder you (much) on your way.

11. Part 11 of a series on the first 3 verses of Book IV.
When he mentions "bodily spirit" here, Marcus is referring to the senses - those things which allow us to feel pain, pleasure, discomfort or fatigue. Now that I've mentioned that, go back and read the quote again.... (really, do it now before continuing...) #
Can you now see just how incredibly powerful this is? I mean...if he's right (he could be wrong...he was only human), then this should serve as a big wake up call. A call to focus on on our minds - on coming to know the DEFINING power of them. Of abstracting them from the rest of our being for this purpose.
Marcus says that if you can do this, if you can abstract/isolate/focus your mind and perceive and understand that your mind IS power (I.e. Your mind is DEFINED by its power - it is powerful by definition!!!) , then it is no longer afffected by the senses!
Is anyone else going crazy with me here? Guys!! When you know your mind's powerful, you can't be bothered by pain! You'll push through fatigue! You'll ignore any pleasure that doesn't serve you! You will hardly even recognize discomfort!! #
In other words, you can achieve ANYTHING you want. Literally. But only if your mind has abstracted itself and come to know it is powerful by nature.
Think about this. Then act. ❤️💪🏽

10. Part 10 of a series on the first three verses of Book IV.
This is one of those wonderfully loaded sentences that Marcus was so good at constructing. So much meaning in a just a couple of lines.
We're dealing here with issues of belief - existential and spiritual issues. Consider the two possibilities, he says. Providence - the direction, design, imagination, creativity and even possibly the planning of the way things are by God or Nature as a supreme spiritual and creative power. In other words - destiny, fate. Is this all meant to be? This world? This life? This situation?
Alternatively, is all of this nothing more than atoms? Nothing but matter, co-incidence - accidental and serendipitous. No forethought, design, planning or pre-destination. Essentially, the basis of much atheism.
The question he poses is interesting for its sheer faith. Conviction, if you will. 'Why, given the evidence and all that we know, would you remain beholden to matters of the flesh?', he seems to ask. Matters of pleasure and pain, of earthly suffering - things of the physical world and our human manifestation.
The universe - including the realm of human behaviour - is simply too full of laws and patterns and governing principles for it to be anything but designed, 'forethought' or otherwise intended. By whom or what - a discussion for another day!
As always, courage in your day and in your life❤️💪🏽

9. Part 9 of the series on the first 3 verses of Book IV. .
This is a notion that Marcus consistently returns to in his diary...that no fame, fortune or success will change the fact that all of us will die. Even those who remember us, and those who remember them, will eventually be buried or burnt. .
There are a number of possible ways to react to this, chief among which are the following: so if none of this matters, I can do anything I want - no matter what I destroy or who I harm; if none of this matters and I'm gonna die anyway, at least I should live in a dignified way, give my best and try to leave the world better than I left it - or at least no worse. .
The single greatest thing about being human is the endowment of CHOICE. We can choose any way we want. But in a way this is also the greatest curse: our actions are not taken in a vacuum. There are always consequences - and those, we cannot choose. .
So how will you choose? Will you complain? Cry? Fret? Wail, mope, wallow? Or will you try something? Will you dance? Will you hope? Will you live FOR something of value? Will you live in hatred and bitterness? Or in peace? These are your choices, as they are mine. .
Choose well! Choose courage. ❤️
"Courage is the quality of every quality at its highest testing point" S.R. Covey

8. Part 8 of a series on the first three verses of Book IV. (See the previous couple of posts for context).
In the Meditations, Marcus speaks a lot about what we would commonly call 'proactiveness' today. Being proactive is the opposite of being reactive. And reactivity is a major cause of discontent and misery in our individual lives as well as in society at large. .
In short, we complain and react to circumstances or the behaviour of others, rather than responding by choice. Your boss treats you poorly - so you hate her and confess her sins to your colleagues behind her back. The driver next to me just cut me off and was rude and aggressive - so I scream back and drive aggressively, trying to cut him off. .
What Marcus suggests to himself - throughout the Meditations - is to look at human vice in, well, I suppose a 'stoic' way. Not to allow one's own peace to be disturbed by things outside of one's own control. And in reality, everything except our own individual thoughts, words and actions is out of our control! .
Here we have a beautiful little sentence that illustrates the mature person's approach to life with others. 1) remember that we are here for each other's sake. 2) remember that tolerance is a part of justice. 3) remember that wrongdoing is not deliberate. .
Powerful, powerful notions. If we believe no. 1, we will orient our entire way of thinking, speaking and acting in such a way as to benefit the world. If we submit to no. 2, it will be easier to look soberly at the faults of others - and indeed our own. And if we put no. 3 to the test, we will make it immeasurably easier to treat others with compassion and understanding, to criticize the behaviour and not the person. .
These are perhaps some of the fundamentals that Marcus visited during his own inward retreats, and which he mentions previously. .
As always, courage is required to have any sort of success in these endeavors. The courage to imagine, the courage to try and the courage not to give in or give up when the going gets tough. ❤️

7. Part 7 of a series on the first 3 verses of Book IV. (See previous post).
So in talking about this ability we all have - perhaps which we haven't learned to use well - that allows us to take retreat, to escape, to re-create, to reconnect and to replenish energies from within our own minds...Marcus goes into a bit more detail in this little section. Remember, he wrote these 'meditations' for himself, for his own edification and the maintenance of his character. So these instructions are much less given in the sense of wisdom for others than they are as personal reminders of the way things are - both within and without. .
I'm intrigued by the notion that 'the doctrines you will visit there will be few and fundamental'. This gives credence to the fact that he believed in principles and in the idea that to live life correctly depended on following and aligning oneself only with a few, fundamental laws of life. .
So basic and powerful are these tenets that they can, at a single meeting/sitting/ consultation clear and cleanse the mind to such an extent as to wash away pain and to restore joy, enthusiasm and an open disposition. What an incredible thought! That simply by closing our eyes, looking within and engaging with a few fundamental laws of life, we can renew our energies and return to our normal lives enthused and content! .
If what he says is true for all of us, what does it mean? Have we had opportunities to do this? Has the possibility been there all along? If you need something desperately but don't know that it's right under your nose, can you make use of it? Will you find it? .
I'm no expert in this, I simply have found Marcus Aurelius' writings to have had a powerful effect on my life. I certainly am trying better to develop this ability to retreat within. As I mentioned previously, I've done it before in my life - unwitting as it may have been. But the powers of the mind to close itself off from outside influences, to make itself, "a perfect round in solitude", are such that if we're aware of them, don't we owe it to ourselves to try to hone them? To develop them and use them for the betterment of our lives and of society? It takes courage❤️

6. Part 6 of the series on the first 3 verses of Book IV. This is the second post on verse 3 (see previous post).
When I was a kid, life wasn't always easy. I suppose that's true for everyone, pretty much always. In my case, I grew up with a father who was bitter and angry, who had a slight drinking problem, who did not know how to control himself and his emotions, who resolved challenging situations through violence or the threat of violence - and who had an upright public/church image to uphold. Needless to say, there were often very difficult, volatile and scary situations that arose in our home - and we grew up in almost constant fear, walking on eggshells, doing (or not doing) everything necessary for the avoidance of another blow-out. .
In those years, there were a few things that I did to escape from the painful reality. I drowned myself in music. I spent as much time as possible away from home. I wrote poetry/rap. And (this is the relevant one) I also retreated into a fantasy world I created in my mind - a world without the horrible fear and censorship I lived through daily. .
In that world, I was a different person - confident, well-liked, happy, at peace, successful. Everything i wanted to be in real life. I had girlfriends, I was successful in my work and I was famous for good things. I loved my life and I was in control of it. Those daydreams carried on for years and now that I'm looking back, something has just dawned on me: in many ways, my life BECAME the life I had dreamed about and so desired. I became that person. .
It's always easier to focus and concentrate in that way when your reality is unbearable. I think we do it automatically. CHOOSING to go to that imaginary world - pleasant, stress-free and whole - is more difficult. But I believe it is equally necessary. I think we NEED to escape to a place of peace within our own minds, to "dip into thoughts there that put us at immediate and complete ease". .
Marcus of course qualifies his use of 'ease' in this quote: "a well-ordered life". By his understanding that means a life aligned with natural principles. (Continues to first comment...)

5. Part 5 of the series on the first 3 verses of Book IV. -
This is super intriguing for me, because it goes against everything we think we know and speaks to a timeless #principle: the autonomous mind. .
It's always easier to be happy when the weather is good, or to work hard when others around you arre doing that. Of course it's more difficult to be studious on the beach or to maintain a positive mindset in the midst of extremely difficult circumstances and/or negative people. Without a doubt, other things and people affect us, our moods, our ability to act. .
But in truth, those things and people do NOT #decide our response. You and only you are #responsible (response-able) for your decisions. How to think, how to #act, how to #respond. No one else can decide that for you..
The city may be hot, stressful, full of liars and cheats. But you decide your response, and ultimately whether you become the same way or not. .
The mountains and hills and beaches and waters may be peaceful, calm, relaxing or restful. But you decide whether to take that in, or to maintain your stress, tension or anxiety. .
I'm as guilty as anyone on this - I often lay the responsibility for my poor mood on external things. The argument I had. The heat. My hunger. But at the end of it all, I know it's all on me. .
We love to take breaks, get away from the hustle and bustle. And I am 100% a believer in the importance of connecting with the natural world. .
But there is nothing more powerful than our own minds and decisions. There are places you can go in your mind where no one can reach you. No stress can touch you. Once we assume responsibility for our own thoughts, feelings and actions, we open up a world of possibility that is simply not there when we're blaming other things and people. .
Sure, your boss or partner may be an asshole. But they cannot take your peace without your consent! (Respect to #Eleanor #Roosevelt). The weather may be making you uncomfortable, but it does not make your decisions! .
Let's commit to ourselves this week to try to take greater responsibility for our decisions, our moods, our behaviour. Courage!! ❤️💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽

4. Part 4 of the series on the first 3 verses of Book IV. .
One of my favorite things about Marcus Aurelius' writing is that in pretty simple language he can penetrate right through to the core of an idea or #principle. .
Here we have him laying down for himself a rule, a law that is immediately and universally understood: no waste. .
Don't do anything without a #purpose, a goal, an objective. In other words, let every action you take be taken in the service of a goal - be it immediately achievable or further away. That's the first part and the easy part. .
Slightly trickier is "...in conformity with a principle affirming that art of #life." So what principles affirm the art of life? What principles give to us, as we observe them or act upon them, a sense that life is good, meaningful, important, intended? .
Generosity, perhaps? Organic growth? Care? Patience, reciprocity, kindness, long-suffering, courage, vision, discipline, diligence, energy, preparation? These are some of mine. What are yours? .
When we take time to sit down with ourselves and look at our behaviour, do we find that we are living in alignment with life affirming principles? Our own principles - ones we decide to live our lives by? .
No waste. Courage! ❤️💪🏽

3. Part 3 in the series on the first 3 verses of Book IV. (See previous 2 posts)
What a marvellous analogy! It so beautifully describes this tender and powerful thing we are thinking about: the human directing mind. .
This beautiful quote, which ends verse 1, clearly reveals to us how crucial it is to take command of our directing minds and to grow them so that they remain agile while resilient enough not to be conquered at times of immense challenge. We've simply got to develop the ability to withstand the winds of disappointment and shock and discomfort and pain - so we can still be around in the sunshine of success, fulfillment and real, true, inner #joy. The difficulties have to have some value - and we can make sure they are valued by fighting thru. .
What really stands out for me in this quote and has just given me a massive energetic boost at 1am, is the last little phrase: "...and leaps up yet higher in consequence." IN CONSEQUENCE!!! .
How incredible is that thought??? 😱🙌🏽 The bright fire (your strong directing mind), having claimed and devoured (overcome, survived) everything that was heaped on it (life's pain, challenge, difficulty), leaps up even higher IN CONSEQUENCE. I.e. The fire is now even brighter, even stronger💪🏽 BECAUSE of the challenges it faced! .
My friends, all of us suffer. ALL of us go through some or other hell. I suffered terrible abuse as a child. I've had friends who died. I've got my daily struggles that many people just don't need to deal with. But you've got your troubles too. EVERYONE does. We always forget that these things help to make us who we need to be. They can propel us to shine brighter and be better. BECAUSE we went through them. And, if you will, IN SPITE of having gone through them. .
I wish everyone who reads this strength and perseverance and grit and determination and happiness. And for you to devour your challenges, even if you have to suffer as you do, and let your flame, your directing mind, your LIFE, leap up in consequence!! Courage.❤️💪🏽 Let's get this Monday!

2. Part 2 of the series on the first three verses of Book IV (see previous post) *apologies for lack of paragraphs - my phone 😕
The concept that Marcus hits upon here is really intriguing. It speaks of this #ruling #power in ways that are seldom heard in contemporary conversation. In fact, Aurelius' way of speaking about the individual *generally* appears fresh, even new, to the contemporary ear. Nowadays, you and your body are one. We hear this everyday - thru ads and shows and thru every social platform. Look like this, eat that, wear this thing because you are your body. The way of the stoics is different. Aurelius, specifically, thinks like this: *you* have many parts - a body, a soul and a mind. Your body allows you to do and experience things in the physical world. Your soul provides impulses (prompts, inner imperatives, conscience) that give you clues on how to live your life. Your (directing) mind directs how you use your body in the physical world, and how you respond to the prompts of the soul. It is the final arbiter of your action or inaction, proaction or reaction. It is your ruling power - it moves you and it also is you. .
But how curious this power is. It seems weak and yet it's powerful - like water (respect to Bruce Lee!) and fire. It has no care for what drives it or for what it consumes. Rather, it merely does its work, if allowed. Wait, what? Allowed? How?
Well, by choosing. By choosing action towards a goal. By first choosing a goal to set upon. Your ruling power is exactly that - a power & one only humans have. By choosing our objects and setting ourselves on them, we can move, step by step, ever forward as conditions allow. That means: when things get in our way, we don't stop, complain or fret - we simply #choose intelligently how to continue on our path towards the goal - taking obstacles as gifts; opportunities to overcome, achieve. .
Whatever #challenge you may be facing at this time, be it in your health, family, with friends or your work situation - remember that the thing which rules your life, which both gives you the power to choose and which acts on those choices, can take any obstacle and turn it into an #advantage. ❤️💪

1. The first post in a series on an extract from the Meditations that's particularly dense and powerful - the first 3 verses of Book IV. -
The first little phrase that we need to try to understand, "in agreement with #nature", is something that comes up constantly in the Meditations. What could it mean to be "in agreement with nature"? Is it even possible to be in disagreement with it? I mean, you are always - well, you. Aren't you? -
The first point to make is that Marcus is not talking about nature in the sense of the natural world as we think of it today. We're not talking about the forests and plains and oceans and mountains. No, rather we are concerned here with #human #nature. The nature of our very selves. And that - as we all know - is something we can definitely be in disagreement with. We are affected by things we see and hear, by the lives of others, by our own desires - and often we may behave in ways that move us closer to those things. Our nature as human beings, however - as Marcus saw it - is a guideline, a kind of guiding light towards lives of contentment and meaning. In a way, we're naturally 'set up' for success in this endeavor. But, being human and having free will, our ruling power endows us with the ability to choose how we behave, how we think, how we live our lives. And so it is possible to do that - to live your life - in a way that is contrary to your very nature. -
In this short sentence, Marcus basically says, "Hey, life is crazy...things happen unexpectedly, we get surprised and have to face difficult choices. But the power within you, when operating in accordance with your natural way of being, knows how to handle this, how to balance the demands of practicality - what is immediately possible, appropriate and necessary - with the nature of what has happened. When you are aligned with your nature - the nature you've always had, since before your birth - you have the capacity to manage difficult situations, situations with seemingly conflicting ideals and pressures. -
So the challenge for us, if we take this to ❤️, is to live (think, speak, act) our lives in accordance, alignment, in #peace and #harmony with our nature. 💪🏽❤️🙌

Who can identify with this? 😂🙋🏽‍♂️#guilty #humannature #artofliving #improvement #selfawareness

Despite our differences, at the root of it all we are similar. More similar than different. We should remember this - especially in times of difficulty, conflict and challenge. By starting at the same place, such as acknowledging that we all just want to be happy and to make the best of our lives, we can achieve so much. We can find ways through different world views, experiences and desires. We can find common ground - small though it may be. We are all rational beings, we are all of mind. The greatest rewards lie beyond the most challenging conversations and seemingly the greatest obstacles. #reason #understanding #common #seekfirst

So, in a really macro sense, we don't matter - nothing does. We're all gonna go back to just being an unconscious part of the energy of this place. So then what does matter? Does anything matter? Surely, yes: what we do with our time. That's what I think anyway. The passage of time in our lives is merely the chance for us to make truth. And each of us chooses what truth we make. Do we harm or do we hurt? Do we do right or wrong? Do we live justly or unjustly? Do we create or destroy? This is such a powerful way to look at the world, because literally everything we do - or don't do - becomes a part of the truth of our lives. Unequivocal. Evidenced (mostly). Unchangeable after the fact. To live, therefore, is to make truth. And so while your life may not matter in the grand scheme, every minute of it matters in your life. ---> Nothing really matters, and for that reason, everything does. #worthathink #matter #meaning
#marcus #aurelius #marcusaurelius #understanding #vision #grand #universe #perish #old #young #death #die #gone #once #oneshot #wise #wisdom #wiseguy #wisdomquotes #ancient #ancientrome #ancientwisdom #marcusaureliushadadreamthatwasrome

This reminds me of that famous Roosevelt quote, "The man in the arena". The "true" (hu)man lives according to nature. What that means, really, is that such a person is not swayed by artificial, unnatural things. Rather, it is those things of the natural order that move her. She responds to principles, to her own standards and the demands Nature makes of her. He is not one in the baying crowd, screaming uncontrolled as he watches others. No, he is in command of his own life. Let people witness this in you. Direct yourself with conviction - moving with courage (your whole heart) towards the goals and dreams and that which is right. If that conviction is not already yours, nurture it. Like all natural things it takes time and care to grow. This really is the best way to live, because even if you fail at everything (unlikely based on your behaviour), you will always be able to look yourself in the mirror and say "I know who I am. I know what I want. I know why I am here." Let not your heart be amongst those who were too afraid to try, those who consistently shied away, those who know neither victory nor defeat. Nurture a place within yourself where you are quiet, at peace. A refuge, yours. There you will be able to develop the things of the person you want to be. Steadily you'll grow that quiet place until your peace is so great that all the world could not disrupt it. Let them look at you in wonder and say, "How?". Courage, friends! #courage #true #human .
#marcus #marcusaurelius #aurelius #succeed #earth #champ #victory #defeat #win #yourlife #howtolive #howtolivelife #truth #ancient #ancientrome #wise #wisdom #wisdomliterature #development #leadership #personalleadership #marcusaureliushadadreamthatwasrome

The grass is greener where you water it, where it gets sunshine, and where it is not covered up by shadows or objects. Big city or small town, mountaintop or riverbed, your office or the gym - the same principles govern. The same laws, the same natural restrictions and the same natural freedoms. You can water that grass anywhere you like!! 💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽 Courage, friends! #courage #life #moments .
#grass #green #greener #mountain #seashore #mind #mindpower #clearmind #clarity #effort #true #truth #marcus #marcusaurelius #aurelius #ancient #ancientrome #romanemperor #romanempire #wise #wisdom #earth #wisewords #stronginside #marcusaureliushadadreamthatwasrome

The man "educated into humility"... this loaded little phrase is so powerful!! The implication is that we are not humble by nature (I disagree but that's another post!), that we must be taught humility. It could have a sinister side - as in: I, the emperor, have the job of educating people into humility - by means one could easily imagine. But I don't get that sense - to me this is really about being educated into humility BY LIFE. Isn't that what happens to us all, sooner or later? As the famous Rocky says to his son in the movie Rocky VI: "You, me or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. Life will bring you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it." As we know, She's the greatest teacher of all. But to what end? Well, humility, you say. I don't think so. I don't claim to be an expert, but it doesn't seem to me (or Aurelius for that matter) that Life does things merely for their sake. One thing leads inexorably to another. No, the reason for this education, brutal as it may sometimes be, is that each individual should be able to enjoy life to the fullest and to live a life rich in joy and peace. OK, but how does humility bring that about? Simple: a humble disposition, respectful of Nature and her laws, does not break itself against them. The loyal subject of life says simply, "Give what you will; take back what you will." Humility is the mother of all virtues - she makes us open, willing, teachable. She allows us to come to new experiences almost as a child does. With sincerity and courage❤️ #humble #humility #courage #courageous .

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