Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations take us through the mind of the great Roman emperor. The book offers philosophical reflections on the meaning of death and justice, the nature of the world, and why things happen the way they do.
You may be wondering if you should read the book. This book review will tell you what important lessons you can learn from this book so you can decide if it is worth your time.
At the end of this book review, I’ll also tell you the best way to get rich by reading and writing.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
Lesson 1: Death is inevitable and there is no need to fear it
Ancient times were characterized by a constant sense of death, with infant mortality rates exceedingly high and average life expectancy exceedingly short. As a result, the most common concern expressed to the author was a fear of death.
The author, on the other hand, held a different viewpoint: all beings, living or dead, are still part of logos, and thus should not be afraid of death.
A person’s death, then, is simply the logos leaving a body that has been dying since the moment it was born – when they die, they return to the greater logos. The essence of these living beings is then recycled to create new ones, continuing the never-ending cycle.
Furthermore, death occurs only at the precise moment when logos requires it. There’s no point in being afraid of any of the millions of things that could kill you because logos has a bigger plan.
As a result, even if the author was fated to die of cancer in old age or on the battlefield in an instant, he would be powerless to change his fate. Fearing the unavoidable is pointless.
He was also aware that even the best people died. When the author felt overwhelmed by death, such as when he lost his wife, he reminded himself that we all die. Regardless of whether you are an emperor, philosopher, or gladiator, you should embrace death rather than fear it.
Lesson 2: It is not worth wasting time complaining
So, anyone can have a heart attack at any time, anyone can have a freak accident, and anyone can die of old age. It is critical to always strive to be the best version of yourself because you never know when you will die.
If you become irritated by the tasks at hand, you are wasting valuable time. You should not whine about how difficult life is.
For example, even though the author despised having to appear in court, he did so gladly because he believed that he should not waste a single moment of his brief life resenting his obligations. If Logos wanted him to spend the day in court, he should do so rather than make others suffer as a result of his complaints or a dysfunctional court.
Aside from that, we only have so much time on Earth, so we must make the most of it. Rather than staying in bed until midday, the author attempted to be productive.
While he despised people who wasted his time with small talk and superficial arguments, he recognized that it was his responsibility to serve the grand plan logos had laid out for him, even if it meant letting people waste his time on occasion.
He only needed to remember his role as an emperor and a participant in the logos to get back on his feet whenever he felt like giving up.
Lesson 3: Logic is crucial – emotions can undermine our rationality, causing us unnecessary harm
Stoicism, of which the author was a devout follower, valued logic and reason above all else. As a result, they believed that a calm and analytical mind was superior to one that was ruled by desires and feelings.
This approach makes sense because Logos is primarily concerned with reason and order. There is a system in which everything happens for a reason and thus is good.
If your house burns down, you can either see it as a disaster because all of your belongings will be destroyed, or you can see it as a great benefit because you will be able to cash in your home insurance policy. The essence of an event is determined by a person’s perception of it.
As a result, if you accept the premise that everything happens for a reason, you should be able to see events like this clearly and recognize them for what they are: necessary for the greater good.
Perhaps your house burning down will inspire you to relocate to a new neighborhood, where you will meet the one you will fall in love with. Perhaps you can use the insurance money to fund a once-in-a-lifetime trip around the world.
Human emotions, on the other hand, pose a threat to logic. Obsessed with the idea that you’re unlucky or making bad decisions based on carnal desires will confuse your mind so much that you won’t be able to see the truth for what it is.
Because of this, the author disliked being motivated by emotions such as retaliation, hatred, lust, and infatuation; the ability to remain composed, collected, and reasonable was critical for his ability to govern effectively.
When he felt overwhelmed, he thought about logos and his place in the grand scheme of things. As a result, he was able to reassert his place in the universe and regain his composure.
Lesson 4: The only pain you can suffer is the one you cause yourself
In ancient times, Roman emperors faced numerous threats. It is not uncommon for powerful people to be tortured, poisoned, or injured in combat, or for enemies to murder their loved ones.
Despite the author’s suffering, he maintained that physical pain is still a part of the greater good that is logos. People must sometimes suffer for the plan logos lays out for the universe in order for natural order to be established.
In light of this, even if someone is tortured and killed while suffering horrendous personal pain, it is still correct in the long run because it is what was supposed to happen.
Almost all of the author’s 13 children died in infancy, and his wife also died young. Despite these difficulties, the author maintained his cool by remembering that everything happens for a good and logical reason. Because logos is rational, whatever happens is always good, and rejecting such a fate is unnatural.
Humans are also fully accountable for their actions. Harm caused by an external source is beyond a person’s control and thus cannot be considered true harm.
People will have to learn to accept pain without complaining as long as they are powered by logos. Complaining ignores the immortal logic of logos, which is embodied in everyone, and causes more pain.
About the Author
In 161, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (121-180 AD) was crowned Emperor of Rome. He was a just man who valued philosophy and was regarded as one of the greatest Roman Emperors.
Buy The Book: Meditations
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