From the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
Back to Meditations of Marcus Aurelius: Book 9
I. O my soul, the time I trust will be, when thou shalt be good,
simple, single, more open and visible, than that body by which it
is enclosed. Thou wilt one day be sensible of their happincss,
whose end is love, and their affections dead to all worldly things.
Thou shalt one day be full, and in want of no external thing:
not seeking pleasure from anything, either living or insensible,
that this world can afford; neither wanting time for the continuation
of thy pleasure, nor place and opportunity, nor the favour either
of the weather or of men. When thou shalt have content in thy
present estate, and all things present shall add to thy content:
when thou shalt persuade thyself, that thou hast all things;
all for thy good, and all by the providence of the Gods:
and of things future also shalt be as confident, that all will do well,
as tending to the maintenance and preservation in some sort, of his
perfect welfare and happiness, who is perfection of life, of goodness,
and beauty; who begets all things, and containeth all things in himself,
and in himself doth recollect all things from all places that
are dissolved, that of them he may beget others again like unto them.
Such one day shall be thy disposition, that thou shalt be able,
both in regard of the Gods, and in regard of men, so to fit and order
thy conversation, as neither to complain of them at any time,
for anything that they do; nor to do anything thyself, for which thou
mayest justly be condemned.
II. As one who is altogether governed by nature, let it be thy care
to observe what it is that thy nature in general doth require.
That done, if thou find not that thy nature, as thou art a living
sensible creature, will be the worse for it, thou mayest proceed.
Next then thou must examine, what thy nature as thou art a living
sensible creature, doth require. And that, whatsoever it be,
thou mayest admit of and do it, if thy nature as thou art
a reasonable living creature, will not be the worse for it.
Now whatsoever is reasonable, is also sociable, Keep thyself
to these rules, and trouble not thyself about idle things.
III. Whatsoever doth happen unto thee, thou art naturally
by thy natural constitution either able, or not able to bear.
If thou beest able, be not offended, but bear it according
to thy natural constitution, or as nature hath enabled thee.
If thou beest not able, be not offended. For it will
soon make an end of thee, and itself, (whatsoever it be)
at the same time end with thee. But remember, that whatsoever
by the strength of opinion, grounded upon a certain apprehension
of both true profit and duty, thou canst conceive tolerable;
that thou art able to bear that by thy natural constitution.
IV. Him that offends, to teach with love and meek ness, and to show
him his error. But if thou canst not, then to blame thyself;
or rather not thyself neither, if thy will and endeavours have
not been wanting.
V. Whatsoever it be that happens unto thee, it is that which from all
time was appointed unto thee. For by the same coherence of causes,
by which thy substance from all eternity was appointed to be,
was also whatsoever should happen unto it, destinated and appointed.
VI. Either with Epicurus, we must fondly imagine the atoms
to be the cause of all things, or we must needs grant a nature.
Let this then be thy first ground, that thou art
part of that universe, which is governed by nature.
Then secondly, that to those parts that are of the same kind
and nature as thou art, thou hast relation of kindred.
For of these, if I shall always be mindful, first as I am
a part, I shall never be displeased with anything, that falls
to my particular share of the common chances of the world.
For nothing that is behoveful unto the whole, can be truly
hurtful to that which is part of it. For this being the common
privilege of all natures, that they contain nothing in themselves
that is hurtful unto them; it cannot be that the nature of
the universe (whose privilege beyond other particular natures,
is, that she cannot against her will by any higher external
cause be constrained,) should beget anything and cherish it
in her bosom that should tend to her own hurt and prejudice.
As then I bear in mind that I am a part of such an universe,
I shall not be displeased with anything that happens.
And as I have relation of kindred to those parts that are
of the same kind and nature that I am, so I shall be careful
to do nothing that is prejudicial to the community, but in
all my deliberations shall they that are of my kind ever be;
and the common good, that, which all my intentions and
resolutions shall drive unto, as that which is contrary unto it,
I shall by all means endeavour to prevent and avoid.
These things once so fixed and concluded, as thou wouldst
think him a happy citizen, whose constant study and practice
were for the good and benefit of his fellow citizens,
and the carriage of the city such towards him, that he were
well pleased with it ; so must it needs be with thee,
that thou shalt live a happy life.
VII. All parts of the world, (all things I mean that are contained
within the whole world, must of necessity at some time or other come
to corruption. Alteration I should say, to speak truly and properly;
but that I may be the better understood, I am content at this time
to use that more common word. Now say I, if so be that this be both
hurtful unto them, and yet unavoidable, would not, thinkest thou,
the whole itself be in a sweet case, all the parts of it being
subject to alteration, yea and by their making itself fitted
for corruption, as consisting of things different and contrary?
And did nature then either of herself thus project and purpose
the affliction and misery of her parts, and therefore of purpose
so made them, not only that haply they might, but of necessity
that they should fall into evil; or did not she know what she did,
when she made them? For either of these two to say, is equally absurd.
But to let pass nature in general, and to reason of things
particular according to their own particular natures; how absurd
and ridiculous is it, first to say that all parts of the whole are,
by their proper natural constitution, subject to alteration; and then
when any such thing doth happen, as when one doth fall sick and dieth,
to take on and wonder as though some strange thing had happened?
Though this besides might move not so grievously to take on
when any such thing doth happen, that whatsoever is dissolved,
it is dissolved into those things, whereof it was compounded.
For every dissolution is either a mere dispersion, of the elements
into those elements again whereof everything did consist,
or a change, of that which is more solid into earth;
and of that which is pure and subtile or spiritual, into air.
So that by this means nothing is lost, but all resumed again into
those rational generative seeds of the universe; and this universe,
either after a certain period of time to lie consumed by fire,
or by continual changes to be renewed, and so for ever to endure.
Now that solid and spiritual that we speak of, thou must not conceive
it to be that very same, which at first was, when thou wert born.
For alas! all this that now thou art in either kind, either for matter
of substance, or of life, hath but two or three days ago partly from
meats eaten, and partly from air breathed in, received all its influx,
being the same then in no other respect, than a running river,
maintained by the perpetual influx and new supply of waters, is the same.
That therefore which thou hast since received, not that which came
from thy mother, is that which comes to change and corruption.
But suppose that that for the general substance, and more solid part
of it, should still cleave unto thee never so close, yet what is
that to the proper qualities and affections of it, by which persons
are distinguished, which certainly are quite different?
VIII. Now that thou hast taken these names upon thee of good,
modest, true; of emfrwn, sumfrwn, uperfrwn; take heed lest
at any times by doing anything that is contrary, thou be but
improperly so called, and lose thy right to these appellations.
Or if thou do, return unto them again with all possible speed.
And remember, that the word emfrwn notes unto thee an intent
and intelligent consideration of every object that presents
itself unto thee, without distraction. And the word emfrwn
a ready and contented acceptation of whatsoever by the appointment
of the common nature, happens unto thee. And the word sumfrwn,
a super-extension, or a transcendent, and outreaching disposition
of thy mind, whereby it passeth by all bodily pains and pleasures,
honour and credit, death and whatsoever is of the same nature,
as matters of absolute indifferency, and in no wise to be stood
upon by a wise man. These then if inviolably thou shalt observe,
and shalt not be ambitious to be so called by others, both thou
thyself shalt become a new man, and thou shalt begin a new life.
For to continue such as hitherto thou hast been, to undergo those
distractions and distempers as thou must needs for such a life
as hitherto thou hast lived, is the part of one that is very foolish,
and is overfond of his life. Whom a man might compare to one of those
half-eaten wretches, matched in the amphitheatre with wild beasts;
who as full as they are all the body over with wounds and blood,
desire for a great favour, that they may be reserved till the next day,
then also, and in the same estate to be exposed to the same nails
and teeth as before. Away therefore, ship thyself; and from
the troubles and distractions of thy former life convey thyself
as it were unto these few names; and if thou canst abide in them,
or be constant in the practice and possession of them, continue there
as glad and joyful as one that were translated unto some such place
of bliss and happiness as that which by Hesiod and Plato is called
the Islands of the Blessed, by others called the Elysian Fields.
And whensoever thou findest thyself; that thou art in danger of a relapse,
and that thou art not able to master and overcome those difficulties
and temptations that present themselves in thy present station:
get thee into any private corner, where thou mayst be better able.
Or if that will not serve forsake even thy life rather.
But so that it be not in passion but in a plain voluntary modest way:
this being the only commendable action of thy whole life that thus
thou art departed, or this having been the main work and business
of thy whole life, that thou mightest thus depart. Now for the better
remembrance of those names that we have spoken of, thou shalt find
it a very good help, to remember the Gods as often as may be:
and that, the thing which they require at our hands of as many of us,
as are by nature reasonable creation is not that with fair words,
and outward show of piety and devotion we should flatter them,
but that we should become like unto them: and that as all other
natural creatures, the fig tree for example; the dog the bee:
both do, all of them, and apply themselves unto that.
which by their natural constitution, is proper unto them;
so man likewise should do that, which by his nature, as he is a man,
belongs unto him.
IX. Toys and fooleries at home, wars abroad: sometimes terror,
sometimes torpor, or stupid sloth: this is thy daily slavery.
By little and little, if thou doest not better look to it,
those sacred dogmata will be blotted out of thy mind.
How many things be there, which when as a mere naturalist,
thou hast barely considered of according to their nature,
thou doest let pass without any further use? Whereas thou
shouldst in all things so join action and contemplation, that thou
mightest both at the same time attend all present occasions,
to perform everything duly and carefully and yet so intend
the contemplative part too, that no part of that delight
and pleasure, which the contemplative knowledge of everything
according to its true nature doth of itself afford,
might be lost. Or, that the true and contemn plative knowledge
of everything according to its own nature, might of itself,
(action being subject to many lets and impediments)
afford unto thee sufficient pleasure and happiness.
Not apparent indeed, but not concealed. And when shalt thou attain
to the happiness of true simplicity, and unaffected gravity?
When shalt thou rejoice in the certain knowledge of every
particular object according to its true nature: as what the matter
and substance of it is; what use it is for in the world:
how long it can subsist: what things it doth consist of:
who they be that are capable of it, and who they that can give it,
and take it away?
X. As the spider, when it hath caught the fly that it hunted after,
is not little proud, nor meanly conceited of herself: as he likewise
that hath caught an hare, or hath taken a fish with his net:
as another for the taking of a boar, and another of a bear:
so may they be proud, and applaud themselves for their valiant
acts against the Sarmatai, or northern nations lately defeated.
For these also, these famous soldiers and warlike men, if thou dost
look into their minds and opinions, what do they for the most part
but hunt after prey?
XI. To find out, and set to thyself some certain way and method
of contemplation, whereby thou mayest clearly discern and represent
unto thyself, the mutual change of all things, the one into the other.
Bear it in thy mind evermore, and see that thou be throughly well
exercised in this particular. For there is not anything more effectual
to beget true magnanimity. XII. He hath got loose from the bonds
of his body, and perceiving that within a very little while he must of
necessity bid the world farewell, and leave all these things behind him,
he wholly applied himself, as to righteousness in all his actions,
so to the common nature in all things that should happen unto him.
And contenting himself with these two things, to do all things justly,
and whatsoever God doth send to like well of it: what others shall
either say or think of him, or shall do against him, he doth not so much
as trouble his thoughts with it. To go on straight, whither right
and reason directed him, and by so doing to follow God, was the only
thing that he did mind, that, his only business and occupation.
XIII. What use is there of suspicion at all? or, why should thoughts
of mistrust, and suspicion concerning that which is future,
trouble thy mind at all? What now is to be done, if thou mayest
search and inquiry into that, what needs thou care for more?
And if thou art well able to perceive it alone, let no man divert
thee from it. But if alone thou doest not so well perceive it,
suspend thine action, and take advice from the best. And if there be
anything else that doth hinder thee, go on with prudence and discretion,
according to the present occasion and opportunity, still proposing
that unto thyself, which thou doest conceive most right and just.
For to hit that aright, and to speed in the prosecution of it,
must needs be happiness, since it is that only which we can truly
and properly be said to miss of, or miscarry in.
XIV. What is that that is slow, and yet quick? merry, and yet grave?
He that in all things doth follow reason for his guide.
XV. In the morning as soon as thou art awaked, when thy judgment,
before either thy affections, or external objects
have wrought upon it, is yet most free and impartial:
put this question to thyself, whether if that which is right
and just be done, the doing of it by thyself, or by others
when thou art not able thyself; be a thing material or no.
For sure it is not. And as for these that keep such a life,
and stand so much upon the praises, or dispraises of other men,
hast thou forgotten what manner of men they be? that such
and such upon their beds, and such at their board:
what their ordinary actions are: what they pursue after,
and what they fly from: what thefts and rapines they commit,
if not with their hands and feet, yet with that more precious
part of theirs, their minds: which (would it but admit of them)
might enjoy faith, modesty, truth, justice, a good spirit.
XVL Give what thou wilt, and take away what thou wilt, saith he that
is well taught and truly modest, to Him that gives, and takes away.
And it is not out of a stout and peremptory resolution, that he saith it,
but in mere love, and humble submission.
XVII. So live as indifferent to the world and all worldly objects,
as one who liveth by himself alone upon some desert hill.
For whether here, or there, if the whole world be but as one town,
it matters not much for the place. Let them behold and see a man,
that is a man indeed, living according to the true nature of man.
If they cannot bear with me, let them kill me. For better were it
to die, than so to live as they would have thee.
XVIII. Make it not any longer a matter of dispute or discourse,
what are the signs and proprieties of a good man, but really
and actually to be such.
XIX. Ever to represent unto thyself; and to set before thee, both the
general age and time of the world, and the whole substance of it.
And how all things particular in respect of these are for their substance,
as one of the least seeds that is: and for their duration,
as the turning of the pestle in the mortar once about. Then to fix thy
mind upon every particular object of the world, and to conceive it,
(as it is indeed,) as already being in the state of dissolution,
and of change; tending to some kind of either putrefaction or dispersion;
or whatsoever else it is, that is the death as it were of everything
in his own kind.
XX. Consider them through all actions and occupations, of their lives:
as when they eat, and when they sleep: when they are in the act of
necessary exoneration, and when in the act of lust. Again, when they
either are in their greatest exultation; and in the middle of all
their pomp and glory; or being angry and displeased, in great state
and majesty, as from an higher place, they chide and rebuke.
How base and slavish, but a little while ago, they were fain to be,
that they might come to this; and within a very little while what will
be their estate, when death hath once seized upon them.
XXI. That is best for every one, that the common nature of all doth
send unto every one, and then is it best, when she doth send it.
XXII. The earth, saith the poet, doth often long after the rain.
So is the glorious sky often as desirous to fall upon the earth,
which argues a mutual kind of love between them. And so (say I)
doth the world bear a certain affection of love to whatsoever shall come
to pass With thine affections shall mine concur, O world. The same
(and no other) shall the object of my longing be which is of thine.
Now that the world doth love it is true indeed so is it as commonly said,
and acknowledged ledged, when, according to the Greek phrase,
imitated by the Latins, of things that used to be, we say commonly,
that they love to be.
XXIII. Either thou dost continue in this kind of life and that is it,
which so long thou hast been used unto and therefore tolerable:
or thou doest retire, or leave the world, and that of thine
own accord, and then thou hast thy mind: or thy life is cut off;
and then mayst. thou rejoice that thou hast ended thy charge.
One of these must needs be. Be therefore of good comfort.
XXIV Let it always appear and be manifest unto thee that solitariness,
and desert places, by many philosophers so much esteemed of
and affected, are of themselves but thus and thus; and that all
things are them to them that live in towns, and converse with others
as they are the same nature everywhere to be seen and observed:
to them that have retired themselves to the top of mountains,
and to desert havens, or what other desert and inhabited places soever.
For anywhere it thou wilt mayest thou quickly find and apply
that to thyself; which Plato saith of his philosopher, in a place:
as private and retired, saith he, as if he were shut up and enclosed
about in some shepherd's lodge, on the top of a hill. There by thyself
to put these questions to thyself. or to enter in these considerations:
What is my chief and principal part, which hath power over the rest?
What is now the present estate of it, as I use it; and what is it,
that I employ it about? Is it now void of reason ir no ?
Is it free, and separated; or so affixed, so congealed and grown
together as it were with the flesh, that it is swayed by the motions
and inclinations of it?
XXV. He that runs away from his master is a fugitive. But the law is
every man's master. He therefore that forsakes the law, is a fugitive.
So is he, whosoever he be, that is either sorry, angry, or afraid,
or for anything that either hath been, is, or shall be by
his appointment, who is the Lord and Governor of the universe.
For he truly and properly is Nomoz, or the law, as the only nemon,
or distributor and dispenser of all things that happen unto any one
in his lifetime--Whatsoever then is either sorry, angry, or afraid,
is a fugitive.
XXVI. From man is the seed, that once cast into the womb man hath
no more to do with it. Another cause succeedeth, and undertakes
the work, and in time brings a child (that wonderful effect from
such a beginning!) to perfection. Again, man lets food down through
his throat; and that once down, he hath no more to do with it.
Another cause succeedeth and distributeth this food into the senses,
and the affections: into life, and into strength; and doth with it
those other many and marvellous things, that belong unto man.
These things therefore that are so secretly and invisibly wrought
and brought to pass, thou must use to behold and contemplate; and not
the things themselves only, but the power also by which they are effected;
that thou mayst behold it, though not with the eyes of the body,
yet as plainly and visibly as thou canst see and discern the outward
efficient cause of the depression and elevation of anything.
XXVII. Ever to mind and consider with thyself; how all things that
now are, have been heretofore much after the same sort, and after the same
fashion that now they are: and so to think of those things which shall
be hereafter also. Moreover, whole dramata, and uniform scenes,
or scenes that comprehend the lives and actions of men of one calling
and profession, as many as either in thine own experience thou hast known,
or by reading of ancient histories; (as the whole court of Adrianus,
the whole court of Antoninus Pius, the whole court of Philippus,
that of Alexander, that of Croesus): to set them all before thine eyes.
For thou shalt find that they are all but after one sort and fashion:
only that the actors were others.
XXVIII. As a pig that cries and flings when his throat is cut, fancy to thyself every one to be, that grieves for any worldly thing and takes on. Such a one is he also, who upon his bed alone, doth bewail the miseries of this our mortal life. And remember this, that unto reasonable creatures only it is granted that they may willingly and freely submit unto Providence: but absolutely to submit, is a necessity imposed upon all creatures equally.
XXIX. Whatsoever it is that thou goest about, consider of it by thyself, and ask thyself, What? because I shall do this no more when I am dead, should therefore death seem grievous unto me?
XXX. When thou art offended with any man's transgression,
presently reflect upon thyself; and consider what thou thyself
art guilty of in the same kind. As that thou also perchance dost
think it a happiness either to be rich, or to live in pleasure,
or to be praised and commended, and so of the rest in particular.
For this if thou shalt call to mind, thou shalt soon forget thine anger;
especially when at the same time this also shall concur in thy thoughts,
that he was constrained by his error and ignorance so to do:
for how can he choose as long as he is of that opinion?
Do thou therefore if thou canst, take away that from him,
that forceth him to do as he doth.
XXXI. When thou seest Satyro, think of Socraticus and Eutyches, or Hymen, and when Euphrates, think of Eutychio, and Sylvanus, when Alciphron, of Tropaeophorus, when Xenophon, of Crito, or Severus.
And when thou doest look upon thyself, fancy unto thyself some one or other of the Caasars; and so for every one, some one or other that hath been for estate and profession answerable unto him.
Then let this come to thy mind at the same time; and where now are
they all? Nowhere or anywhere? For so shalt thou at all time.
be able to perceive how all worldly things are but as the smoke,
that vanisheth away: or, indeed, mere nothing. Especially when thou
shalt call to mind this also, that whatsoever is once changed,
shall never be again as long as the world endureth. And thou then,
how long shalt thou endure? And why doth it not suffice thee,
if virtuously, and as becometh thee, thou mayest pass that portion
of time, how little soever it be, that is allotted unto thee?
XXXII. What a subject, and what a course of life is it,
that thou doest so much desire to be rid of. For all these things,
what are they, but fit objects for an understanding, that beholdeth
everything according to its true nature, to exercise itself upon?
Be patient, therefore, until that (as a strong stomach that turns
all things into his own nature; and as a great fire that turneth
in flame and light, whatsoever thou doest cast into it) thou have
made these things also familiar, and as it were natural unto thee.
XXXIII. Let it not be in any man's power, to say truly of thee,
that thou art not truly simple, or sincere and open, or not good.
Let him be deceived whosoever he be that shall have any
such opinion of thee. For all this doth depend of thee.
For who is it that should hinder thee from being either truly
simple or good? Do thou only resolve rather not to live,
than not to be such. For indeed neither doth it stand
with reason that he should live that is not such.
What then is it that may upon this present occasion according
to best reason and discretion, either be said or done?
For whatsoever it be, it is in thy power either to do it,
or to say it, and therefore seek not any pretences, as though thou
wert hindered. Thou wilt never cease groaning and complaining,
until such time as that, what pleasure is unto the voluptuous,
be unto thee, to do in everything that presents itself,
whatsoever may be done conformably and agreeably to the
proper constitution of man, or, to man as he is a man.
For thou must account that pleasure, whatsoever it be,
that thou mayest do according to thine own nature.
And to do this, every place will fit thee. Unto the cylindrus,
or roller, it is not granted to move everywhere according
to its own proper motion, as neither unto the water,
nor unto the fire, nor unto any other thing, that either is
merely natural, or natural and sensitive; but not rational.
for many things there be that can hinder their operations.
But of the mind and understanding this is the proper privilege,
that according to its own nature, and as it will itself,
it can pass through every obstacle that it finds, and keep
straight on forwards. Setting therefore before thine eyes
this happiness and felicity of thy mind, whereby it is able
to pass through all things, and is capable of all motions,
whether as the fire, upwards; or as the stone downwards,
or as the cylindrus through that which is sloping:
content thyself with it, and seek not after any other thing.
For all other kind of hindrances that are not hindrances of thy
mind either they are proper to the body, or merely proceed from
the opinion, reason not making that resistance that it should,
but basely, and cowardly suffering itself to be foiled;
and of themselves can neither wound, nor do any hurt at all.
Else must he of necessity, whosoever he be that meets
with any of them, become worse than he was before.
For so is it in all other subjects, that that is thought
hurtful unto them, whereby they are made worse.
But here contrariwise, man (if he make that good use of them
that he should) is rather the better and the more praiseworthy
for any of those kind of hindrances, than otherwise.
But generally remember that nothing can hurt a natural citizen,
that is not hurtful unto the city itself, nor anything
hurt the city, that is not hurtful unto the law itself.
But none of these casualties, or external hindrances, do hurt
the law itself; or, are contrary to that course of justice
and equity, by which public societies are maintained:
neither therefore do they hurt either city or citizen.
XXXIV. As he that is bitten by a mad dog, is afraid of everything
almost that he seeth: so unto him, whom the dogmata have
once bitten, or in whom true knowledge hath made an impression,
everything almost that he sees or reads be it never so short
or ordinary, doth afford a good memento; to put him out
of all grief and fear, as that of the poet, 'The winds blow
upon the trees, and their leaves fall upon the ground.
Then do the trees begin to bud again, and by the spring-time
they put forth new branches. So is the generation of men;
some come into the world, and others go out of it.'
Of these leaves then thy children are. And they also that
applaud thee so gravely, or, that applaud thy speeches,
with that their usual acclamation, axiopistwz, O wisely
spoken I and speak well of thee, as on the other side,
they that stick not to curse thee, they that privately and
secretly dispraise and deride thee, they also are but leaves.
And they also that shall follow, in whose memories the names of men
famous after death, is preserved, they are but leaves neither.
For even so is it of all these worldly things.
Their spring comes, and they are put forth. Then blows the wind,
and they go down. And then in lieu of them grow others out
of the wood or common matter of all things, like unto them.
But, to endure but for a while, is common unto all.
Why then shouldest thou so earnestly either seek after these things,
or fly from them, as though they should endure for ever?
Yet a little while, and thine eyes will be closed up,
and for him that carries thee to thy grave shall another mourn
within a while after.
XXXV. A good eye must be good to see whatsoever is to be seen,
and not green things only. For that is proper to sore eyes.
So must a good ear, and a good smell be ready for whatsoever
is either to be heard, or smelt: and a good stomach
as indifferent to all kinds of food, as a millstone is,
to whatsoever she was made for to grind. As ready therefore
must a sound understanding be for whatsoever shall happen.
But he that saith, O that my children might live! and,
O that all men might commend me for whatsoever I do! is an eye
that seeks after green things; or as teeth, after that which
is tender. XXXVI. There is not any man that is so happy
in his death, but that some of those that are by him when
he dies, will be ready to rejoice at his supposed calamity.
Is it one that was virtuous and wise indeed? will there not
some one or other be found, who thus will say to himself;
'Well now at last shall I be at rest from this pedagogue.
He did not indeed otherwise trouble us much: but I know well enough
that in his heart, he did much condemn us.' Thus will they speak
of the virtuous. But as for us, alas I how many things be there,
for which there be many that glad would be to be rid of us.
This therefore if thou shalt think of whensoever thou diest,
thou shalt die the more willingly, when thou shalt think with thyself;
I am now to depart from that world, wherein those that have been
my nearest friends and acquaintances, they whom I have so much
suffered for, so often prayed for, and for whom I have taken
such care, even they would have me die, hoping that after
my death they shall live happier, than they did before.
What then should any man desire to continue here any longer?
Nevertheless, whensoever thou diest, thou must not be less
kind and loving unto them for it; but as before, see them,
continue to be their friend, to wish them well, and meekly,
and gently to carry thyself towards them, but yet so that on
the other side, it make thee not the more unwilling to die.
But as it fareth with them that die an easy quick death,
whose soul is soon separated from their bodies, so must thy
separation from them be. To these had nature joined and annexed me:
now she parts us; I am ready to depart, as from friends
and kinsmen, but yet without either reluctancy or compulsion.
For this also is according to Nature. XXXVII. Use thyself; as often,
as thou seest any man do anything, presently (if it be possible)
to say unto thyself, What is this man's end in this his action?
But begin this course with thyself first of all, and diligently
examine thyself concerning whatsoever thou doest.
XXXVIII. Remember, that that which sets a man at work,
and hath power over the affections to draw them either one way,
or the other way, is not any external thing properly, but that
which is hidden within every man's dogmata, and opinions:
That, that is rhetoric; that is life; that (to speak true)
is man himself. As for thy body, which as a vessel, or a case,
compasseth thee about, and the many and curious instruments
that it hath annexed unto it, let them not trouble thy thoughts.
For of themselves they are but as a carpenter's axe,
but that they are born with us, and naturally sticking unto us.
But otherwise, without the inward cause that hath power to move them,
and to restrain them, those parts are of themselves of no more
use unto us, than the shuttle is of itself to the weaver,
or the pen to the writer, or the whip to the coachman.
Meditations of Marcus Aurelius: Book 11