Marcus Aurelius was a Stoic master Philosopher King who was Emperor of Rome from 161 – 180.
He remains a legend in history because of his commitment to orienting himself to the most effective mode of being for himself as a king, a man and a celebrated Stoic Philosopher.
Further, he was passionate in his commitment to his society, culture and the Gods.
For these reasons Marcus Aurelius regarded as a hero of history.
Rather than using his power to go on bloodthirsty rampages bent on oppressive domination, he spent a great deal of time contemplating the correct way for a man to have maximum harmonic effect in this life.
Through studying his book Meditations, I have put together 10 of his most impactful teachings that carry great resonance when dealing with addiction and recovery:
1: Sort Yourself Out Before Trying to Fix Others
“Failure to read what is happening in another’s soul is not easily seen as a cause of unhappiness:
“But those that fail to attend to the motions of their own soul are necessarily unhappy.”
2: Cooperate with the Mad, Bad and Sick
“Say to yourself first thing in the morning:
“Today I will meet people who are meddling, ungrateful, aggressive, treacherous, malicious, unsocial.
“All this has afflicted them through their ignorance of true good and evil.
“But I have seen that the nature of good is what is right, and the nature of evil is what is wrong…
“I have reflected that the nature of the offender himself is akin to my own – not a kinship of blood or seed, but a sharing in the same mind, the same fragment of divinity.
“Therefore I cannot be harmed by any of them, as none will infect me with their wrong.
“Nor can I be angry with my kinsman or hate him.
“We were born for cooperation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids.
“So to work in opposition to one another is against nature: and anger or rejection is opposition.”
3: Find Space Free of Distraction, Learn Something and Watch For Those Who Act Without Purpose
“Do externals tend to distract you?
“Then give yourself some space to learn some further good lesson, and stop your wandering.
“That done you must guard against the other sort of drift.
“Those who are dead to life and have no aim for the direction of every impulse and, more widely, are drivellers in deed as well as word.”
4: Lust Will Cause You Greater Pain Than Anger – Manage It
“Theophrastus says that offences of lust are graver than those of anger.
“It is clearly some sort of pain and involuntary spasm which drives the angry man to abandon reason, whereas the lust-led offender has given into pleasure and seems somehow more abandoned and less manly in his wrongdoing.
“…The one [being devoid of reason] is more like an injured party, forced to anger by pain of provocation:
“The other is his own source of impulse to wrong driven to what he does by lust.”
5: There is No Future or Past: Embrace What is Now
“All things have been the same from everlasting, coming round and round again, and it makes no difference whether one will see the same things for a hundred years, or an infinity of time.
“…Both the longest lived and earliest to die suffer the same loss.
“It is only the present moment of which either stands to be deprived:
“If this is all he has, he cannot lose what he does not have.”
6: Stand Tall, Speak The Truth, Be Cheerful and Independent
“Do not dress up your thoughts in smart finery.
“Let the God that is within you be the champion of the being you are – a male, a statesman, a ruler:
“One who has taken his post like a soldier waiting for the Retreat from life to sound, and ready to depart, past the need for any loyal oath or human witness.
“See that you keep a cheerful demeanour and retain your independence of outside help and the peace which others can give.
“Your duty is to stand straight – not held straight.”
7: Judge Your Actions Wisely, Not Others
“Revere your power of judgement.
“All rests on this to make sure that your directing mind no longer entertains any judgement which fails to agree with the nature or the constitution of a rational being.
“This state guarantees deliberate thought, affinity with other men, and obedience to the gods.”
8: You Are Part of The Oneness of Everything, Never Separate, You Deeply Belong Here
“You have subsisted as a part of the Whole.
“You will vanish into that which gave birth to you.
“Or rather, you will be changed, taken up into the generative principal of the universe.”
9: Make the Best of This Life By Becoming Good
“You do not have thousands of years to live.
“Urgency is on you.
“While you live, while you can, become good.”
10: Just Try Being a Satisfied, Good Man – See What Happens
“Try out how the life of a good man goes for you.
“The man content with his dispensation from the Whole, and satisfied in his own just action and kind disposition.”