Marcus Aurelius: Meditations, book 11:18
“… How driven are they by their beliefs. How proud they are of what they do.
iii. That if they’re right to do this, then you have no right to complain. And if they aren’t, then they do it involuntarily, out of ignorance. Because all souls are prevented from treating others as they deserve, just as they are kept from the truth: unwillingly. Which is why they resent being called unjust, or arrogant, or greedy- any suggestion that they aren’t good neighbors.
iv. That you’ve made enough mistakes yourself. You’re just like them. Even if there are some you’ve avoided, you have the potential. Even if cowardice has kept you from them. Or fear of what people would say. Or some equally bad reason.
v. That you don’t know for sure it is a mistake. A lot of things are means to some other end. You have to know an awful lot before you can judge other people’s actions with real understanding.
vi. When you lose your temper, or even feel irritated: that human life is very short. Before long all of us will be laid out side by side.
vii. That it’s not what they do that bothers us: that’s a problem for their minds not ours. It’s our own misperceptions. Discard them. Be willing to give up thinking of this as a catastrophe… and your anger is gone. How do you do that? By recognizing that you’ve suffered no disgrace. Unless disgrace is the only thing that can hurt you, you’re doomed to commit innumerable offenses- to become a thief, or heaven only knows what else.
viii. How much more damage anger and grief do than the things that cause them.
ix. That kindness is invincible, provided it’s sincere- not ironic or an act. What can the most vicious person do if you keep treating him with kindness and gently set him straight- if you get the chance- correcting him cheerfully at the exact moment that he’s trying to do you harm. “No, no, my friend. That isn’t what we’re here for. It isn’t me who is harmed by that. It’s you.” And show him gently and without pointing fingers, that it’s so. That bees don’t behave like this- or any other animals with a sense of community. Don’t do it sardonically or meanly, but affectionately- with no hatred in your heart. And not ex cathedra or to impress third parties, but speaking directly. Even if there are other people around.
Keep those nine points in mind, like gifts from the nine Muses, and start becoming a human being. Now and for the rest of your life.
And along with not getting angry at others, yet not to pander either. Both are forms of selfishness; both of them will do you harm. When you start to lose your temper, remember: There’s nothing manly about rage. It’s courtesy and kindness that define a human being- and a man. That’s who possesses strength and nerves and guts, not the angry whiners. To react like that brings you closer to impassivity- and so to strength. Pain is the opposite of strength, and so is anger. Both are things we suffer from and yield to.”
One thought on “Today’s Reading”
Well put, Marcus Aurelius.
The older I get the more I struggle with anger and irritation. I used to have way more patience.
Thanks for sharing. Definitely worth reading and pondering.
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