31. Meditations of an Emperor and a Sage

Marcus Aurelius was a Roman Emperor, possibly one of the greatest emperors, but is remembered mostly for his Meditations. These are a compilation of thoughts he recorded for himself as a sort of journal, and were never meant to be published. I read his these Meditations last week and felt they were pertinent to our modern world and the ideas I have been trying to convey.

“The universe is change: life is judgement.”

-Marcus Aurelius


I want to talk about the idea of Stoicism and the way this idea seemed to shape Marcus Aurelius’ thoughts. It was from this first principle that his discipline and self-criticism seems to come.


We could all take this lesson and record our thoughts and beliefs on a daily basis. This reflection on one’s thoughts would offer a more fruitful form of meditation than simply closing one’s eyes and breathing a certain way. Meditation should be revelatory in nature- not simply a yoga exercise.


Obviously Marcus Aurelius was an emperor, and was therefore not chosen as ruler. However he felt more of a sense of duty than our elected officials do today. He was incredibly critical of himself and worried more about fulfilling his duty than by feeding his ego or searching for fame and praise.


Despite his faith in himself to overcome all odds based on the tenants of Stoicism, he had tremendous faith in the gods. This is something we see in Christianity and Judaism. All three believe in a world that has order discoverable by the human mind through the senses and guided by reason. That is the act of faith. No matter how one arrives at the belief in the logical universe, it still takes a leap of faith to think that there is order.

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