Meditations by Marcus Aurelius – Session 02:
Thank you very much for joining us on our adventure to better understand the Classical work of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. Together, we will meet every Sunday at 3:00 p.m. EST on Twitch <https://www.twitch.tv.projectmindfulness> and Discord <https://discord.gg/FKWFeYq>
Order of Thanks:
The order of the individuals he honors in the first book is revealing of the characteristics he appreciates in relationships. Albeit, he begins with the two individuals who raised him, his grandfather and mother; he does not then continue with members of his family. Then pivots directly to his most honorable teachers and then concludes with his brother and father. It’s possible Marcus Aurelius viewed relationships as opportunities to learn from one another and he structured his order by those to whom he learned the most from.
His Brother and Father:
When preparing for a book, written by a man with such exceptional qualities; one would expect the author to begin with stories detailing the triumphs leading to his success. Nonetheless, Marcus Aurelius opens by detailing the qualities of his family and teachers, who helped mold and craft him into the man he was.
Both of which passed away when Marcus Aurelius was a young child, he honors with esteemed attributes. From his brother Severus he learned to govern and care for the commonwealth and to supply both them with justice and equality. That he should regard his governance as “nothing more than the good and welfare of the subjects.” For his father he goes on-and-on, enumerating nearly all positive attributes one could imagine: humility, governance, readiness to listen, integrity, hard-work, repression of flattery, esteem for philosophers, etc. He honors his father with greater praise than anyone else; ultimate stating, “who hath a perfect and invincible soul.”
Marcus Aurelius was a Pantheist who regarded Gd as divine-will transmitted through nature. In this way, he is thankful to the gods or nature to be born into his set of circumstances. He is thankful for his family, teachers and the causes which placed him into his life. He shows particular appreciation towards having good health; which is of little surprise, having been surrounded by death most of his life. Most importantly, he’s thankful for his loving and independent wife and able men to teach his children; allowing him to lead a life of excellence and reflection.
Of The Evil Ones:
He is thankful to learn from the savagery he campaigned against in endless wars; to learn from their wicked ways. He learned from their shamefulness, educating him what one should never become.
Immediately upon honoring of his teachers, he engages in a tricky point of philosophy. He rejects listening to the will of passions of the flesh; instead, focusing on self-growth, learning and understanding. Whether our life is determined by divine providence or by our own actions; Marcus Aurelius cares not and recommends the same methodology. Grow in understanding, become meek and well satisfied.
Marcus Aurelius’ ontology begins with the connection between Gd, the Governor of the World and our personal will. Our purpose is to properly use the time given to us and better understand the nature of the world. Treating every day as your last, removing yourself from hypocrisy and self-love; one begins to live the “divine life” and their soul will remain, post-death.