Book notes: Meditations

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius book summary.

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Synopsis: “One of the most significant books ever written by a head of State, the Meditations are a collection of philosophical thoughts by the Emperor Marcus Aurelius (121 – 180 ce). Covering issues such as duty, forgiveness, brotherhood, strength in adversity and the best way to approach life and death, the Meditations have inspired thinkers, poets, and politicians since their first publication more than 500 years ago. Today, the book stands as one of the great guides and companions – a cornerstone of Western thought.” -Audible

Opening thoughts:

Tim Ferriss has definitely mentioned this book and this work on his podcast on several occasions. When I saw it was on sale on Audible and one of the few ones I would get, it was an easy choice to pick this one up finally

Key notes:

Readers note: Wow, this is really hard to follow. It really sounds like a philosophers ponderings, very unstructured, and frequently bounces around to different ideas. I can see this being a little bit easier to follow with a text version, but audio needs a bit more structure

  • Nothing that pertains to man is done well without reference to things divine and vice versa
  • Because life is short, take away your complaints and your judgments
  • Since you will not live forever, be good while it is in your power
  • You’ll avoid worries in trouble by not worrying about what your neighbor says or does or thinks, but only concerning yourself with your own thoughts and actions
  • Do not get anxious, and make yourself all simplicity
    • If someone does something wrong, it is to themselves
  • Life is short so be sober and be relaxed
  • Good fortune is what you assign yourself
    • A good fortune is a good disposition of soul, good emotional response, good actions
  • Change is necessary for the universe for anything to happen
  • Change and mutations and actions of others are neither good nor evil
    • Change and termination of life is nothing to be afraid of
  • Let every act of yours be a part of social life

Readers note: what I’ve been getting out of this so far, even despite half listening and have zoning out, is that: life is short, change is inevitable, so chill out and don’t worry and be a good person

  • Neither in writing nor in reading would you be able to lay down rules for others before you shall first learn how to obey rules your self
  • He wonders how it is that every man loves oneself more than the rest of man, and yet sets less value of his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others
  • If it is not right, do not do it. If It is not true, do not say it
  • Let go of opinion and you will be free from burden

Readers note: these last few sections are way more insightful than the rest of the book. The rest was just his musings and thoughts. This section actually gives the reader advice and insight into what to do and how to improve his situation, mental state, or thought processes.

Closing thoughts:

For the most part, this was a very boring book to be honest. I probably zoned out half of the time so I will say there may have been some gold nuggets of wisdom I missed.

With that being said, even the parts I listened to and just droned on and bounced around to different topics. However, they kept coming back to the same themes. This made me feel a bit better and less worried that I missed something.

To Marcus’s credit, this isn’t a typical “personal development” type book. It really is just one man’s musings, albeit a very thoughtful and intelligent man/philosopher. I think if I were to go back, I would have prepared myself and set the stage more. I will take some fault and say my expectations were high, partially because of the rave reviews from Tim Ferriss and others on Stoicism and the role it plays in their lives and thought process.

There’s a lot of stuff her on ethics and how to think. Personally, my ethics are guided by what I learn from my church and the daily sermons I listen to, particularly my faith in God. So while these principles of ethics and how to think about life is great, my center of ethics comes from my faith and spirituality.

That being said, I think this book still has a lot of value for the listener. Not my cup of tea, but tremendous value especially for people who don’t have a guide on ethics and a spiritual center.

Nutshell: Life is short and change is inevitable, don’t worry and just be a good person.

Rating: 3/5

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