Meditations6 min read

Published by Zach on


The Book in 3 Points

  • Kindness is invincible and invaluable. It is your duty to be kind to everyone, even if they are awful to you. And not a sickly, fake “friendliness,” true affection with a true intention to help the person or rectify the situation.
  • Don’t always depend on yourself, but be able to only depend on yourself.
  • You have a purpose; realize that and stick to it; follow your nature.

Should You Read It?

One of the most hyped stoicism texts there is, and rightfully so. The middle, however, was dull and highly repetitive. If the book was just the first two chapters and the last two chapters, it would be a 10/10. The stoic core principles come from this book and some other life lessons that aren’t necessarily stoicism. I think most people should read this book unless you disagree with stoicism, don’t like translations, and don’t like inspirational books.

Major Take-Aways

  • Pay more money for better education; it’s worth it.
  • Sports are generally a waste of time; put up with discomfort and don’t make demands. Do your own work, mind your own business, and have no time for slanderers.
  • Stop constantly correcting people.
  • There is a limit to the time assigned to you. Use it wisely.
  • Be strong.
  • A wandering mind that jumps on every impulse has no purpose. It is at the mercy of any fleeting emotion, similar to that of a lizard or mouse.
  • Most things, arguing and extra words, are, by nature, unnecessary.
  • Wherever your thoughts go, your life goes. Do you want a happy life or a cynical, dark life?
  • Nothing is under your control except your flesh and blood, and even that will inevitably be lost.
  • It is your duty to be cheerful with everyone, even if they hate you. Be ready to show them your mistake. Not spitefully or to show off my own self-control, but in an honest, upright way.
  • Imagine the worst. Imagine your child may die in the morning. “but don’t tempt fate!” This is a natural event, is fate tempted when you speak of the grain being reaped or an apple picked?
  • We all love ourselves more than anyone else, but we always value others’ opinions over our own? Why?

Helpful Quotes

  • Self-reliance, always.
  • No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands, and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are obstructions.
  • You are an old man. Stop allowing your mind to be a slave, to be jerked about by selfish impulses, to kick against fate and the present, and to mistrust the future.
  • Concentrate every minute like a roman-like a man-on doing what’s in front of you with precise and genuine seriousness, tenderly, willingly, with justice.
  • But death and life, success and failure, pain and pleasure, wealth and poverty, all these happen to good and bad alike, and they are neither noble nor shameful-and hence neither good nor bad.
  • Be attentive to the power inside you and worship it sincerely.
  • The human soul degrades itself: […] when it allows its action and impulses to be without a purpose, to be random and disconnected: even the smallest things ought to be directed toward a goal.
  • Forget everything else. Keep hold of this alone and remember it: Each of us lives only now, this brief instant. The rest has been lived already or is impossible to see.
  • How to act:
    • Never under compulsion, out of selfishness, without forethought, with misgivings.
    • No surplus words or unnecessary actions.
    • Let the spirit in you represent a man, an adult, a citizen, a Roman, a ruler.
    • To stand up straight-not straightened.
  • No random actions, none not based on underlying principles
  • Choose note to be harmed-and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed-and you haven’t been.
  • At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: “I have to go to work as a human being. What do I have to complain about if I’m going to do what I was born into for the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm? But it’s nicer here… So you were born to feel “nice?” Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants, and the spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order as best they can? And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands? […] People who love what they do wear themselves down doing it. They even forget to wash or eat.
  • If an action or utterance is appropriate, then it’s appropriate for you. Don’t be put off by other people’s comments and criticism. If it’s right to say or do it, then it’s the right thing for you to do or say.
  • Not to feel exasperated, defeated, or despondent because your days aren’t packed with wise and moral actions. But to get back up when you fail, to celebrate behaving like a human-however imperfectly-and fully embrace the pursuit that you’ve embarked on.
  • What injures the hive injures the bee.
  • So this is how a thoughtful person should await death: not with indifference, not impatience, not with disdain, but simply viewing it as one of the things that happen to us.
  • (in regards to the community): but if the rupture is too often repeated, it makes the severed part hard to reconnect and restore. You can see the difference between the branch that’s been there since the beginning, remaining on the tree and growing with it, and the one that’s been cut off and grafted back.
  • The despicable phoniness of people who say, “listen, I’m going to level with you here.” What does that mean? It shouldn’t even need to be said. It should be obvious-written in block letters on your forehead. It should be audible in your voice and visible in your eyes, like a lover who looks into your face and takes in the whole story at a glance. A straightforward, honest person should be like someone who stinks: when you’re in the same room with him, you know it. But false straightforwardness is like a knife in the back. False friendship is the worst. Avoid it at all costs. If you’re honest and straightforward and mean well, it should show in your eyes. It should be unmistakable.
  • If you can cut yourself-your mind-free of what other people do and say, of what you’ve said or done, of the things that you’re afraid will happen, the impositions of the body that contains you and the breath within, and what the whirling chaos sweeps in from outside so that the mind is freed from fate, brought to clarity, and lives life on its own recognizance-doing what’s right, accepting what happens, and speaking the truth.
Categories: Book Notes


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