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Today: On December 16, 1773, after officials in Boston refused to return three shiploads of taxed tea to Britain, a group of colonists boarded the ships and destroyed the tea by throwing it into Boston Harbor.
Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.
– Marcus Aurelius, philosopher and writer (121-180)
Aurelius wrote his Meditations in Greek as a source for his own guidance and self-improvement. He had been a priest at the sacrificial altars of Roman service and was an eager patriot. He had a logical mind and his notes were representative of Stoic philosophy and spirituality.
- A cucumber is bitter. Throw it away. There are briers in the road. Turn aside from them. This is enough. Do not add, “And why were such things made in the world?”
- Soon you’ll be ashes or bones. A mere name at most–and even that is just a sound, an echo. The things we want in life are empty, stale, trivial.
- Never regard something as doing you good if it makes you betray a trust or lose your sense of shame or makes you show hatred, suspicion, ill-will or hypocrisy or a desire for things best done behind closed doors.
- Words that everyone once used are now obsolete, and so are the men whose names were once on everyone’s lips: Camillus, Caeso, Volesus, Dentatus, and to a lesser degree Scipio and Cato, and yes, even Augustus, Hadrian, and Antoninus are less spoken of now than they were in their own days. For all things fade away, become the stuff of legend, and are soon buried in oblivion. Mind you, this is true only for those who blazed once like bright stars in the firmament, but for the rest, as soon as a few clods of earth cover their corpses, they are ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ In the end, what would you gain from everlasting remembrance? Absolutely nothing. So what is left worth living for? This alone: justice in thought, goodness in action, speech that cannot deceive, and a disposition glad of whatever comes, welcoming it as necessary, as familiar, as flowing from the same source and fountain as yourself.
- It is like the officer who engaged a comic actor dismissing him from the stage. “But I have not played my five acts, only three.” “True, but in life three acts can be the whole play.”
- How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.
- As a horse when he has run, a dog when he has caught the game, a bee when it has made the honey, so a man when he has done a good act does not call out for others to come and see, but he goes on to another act, as a vine goes on to produce again the grapes in season. Must a man then be one of these, who in a manner acts thus without observing it? Yes. What more dost thou want when thou hast done a man a service? Art thou not content that thou hast done something conformable to thy nature, and dost thou seek to be paid for it, just as if the eye demanded a recompense for seeing, or the feet should demand a recompense for walking?
- I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, wouldn’t it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them? So, now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe.
- Take away your opinion, and there is taken away the complaint, […] Take away the complaint, […] and the hurt is gone
- Let opinion be taken away, and no man will think himself wronged. If no man shall think himself wronged, then is there no more any such thing as wrong.
Meditations, an online version from Project Gutenberg (text is from The Golden Book of Marcus Aurelius, translated by Meric Casaubon, published 1906-1908.)
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