Text: Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
“we are what we think and desire (Aurelius 10)”
- Freedom begins in our thinking not doing. How can a man act freely if, within his mind, he is a captive? Actions that are undertaken are merely projections from a consciousness, so the action serves as a physical representation of what is within the mind. In order for us to seek and use freedom, we must believe that we are free. By granting us a hint of political freedom (freedom used loosely), we accept that we are not bound; but in truth we cannot allow the unwanted external factors deter us. In order to be truly free, one must constantly be vigilant within their own mind.
“Stoic: Indifferent to pleasure and pain, unafraid of death, resigned to fate, welcomes adversary as an ally (Aurelius 11)”
“None of them can harm me, for none can force me to do wrong against my will” 2:1
- It is willpower that reigns supreme within our lives. With a wavering will, we can be damaged; but one that is stalwart can not be broken. Will is a direct result of being, so if it is damaged, then so is the being. That is why it is dangerous for one to go against their will.
“Now it is change that sustains the universe” 2:3
- Once again, change is the only truth on Earth. When it comes to man’s nature, he creates his own when he decides to change. If a man does not change, then how can he be?
“Use them [your days] to throw open the windows of your soul to the sun” 2:4
- God gave us time, time he didn’t have to lend. But he did, why would we waste it by doing things that go against us? We will wake up on our death bed one day, and realize that our soul was never given the time it deserved. What a horrible fate.
“This is possible, if you perform each act as if it were your last” 2:5
- When you do something, do not be afraid to give it your all. Your energy can be replaced, the opportunity to commit an act to an idea may not, so do not falter.
“You have made your happiness subject to others opinions” 2:6
- This goes back to true freedom, if we allow ourselves to be swayed by individuals, then what are we? We are not us, nor are we happy, for our being has become contingent upon others (the collective), and not of our own.
“Take time to concentrate your mind…In order to combat anxiety one must focus on something beneficial.” 2:7
- Allowing our brains to run free will only make it weary, and it will always evade our control. It begins with focus, learn your own mind and you will not be anxious.
“No one can ever prevent me from saying and doing what is in complete conformity with the whole of which I am.” 2:8
- Be true to your nature. Outside influences cannot dictate who you are, only you and your decision have that power. It is vital to understand our nature, in order to know its limitations.
“How swiftly everything disappears” 2:12
- In the end, what we do may or may not matter in one thousand years, but it will today, and tomorrow, and so on. These are the times we must consider, not the intangible and unwritten future, it begins today!
“A man can lose on the life is he is living/can only be deprived of the present moment.” 2:14
- One life to live, and in this life, the only amount of time we truly own is the present. The past is time rented and thus returned, and the future is an insurance policy that we may never obtain. If that is the case, then why should man put his faith in yesterday or tomorrow?
“Complaining against nature is a revolt against nature” 2:16
- We must do well not do ruin our souls by doing things against our will. Our existence depends upon it. Complaining will only yield more trouble than triumph.
“What then can guide us through life? Philosophy.” 2:17
- Philosophy in the sense of thought and exploration of knowledge. Only this will grant our minds a purpose; God has bestowed us with the mind, a gift for us to use.