Marcus on Acceptance of Fate (A Modern Day Translation by Me)


What follows is my own translation of an excerpt from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations,  You can easily find a more raw translation anywhere on the internet, for example click here.  I believe “The Meditations” is an awesome (as in filling me with awe) collection of wisdom that has endured centuries of time (he wrote them throughout his life sometime around 160 AD).  I humbly admit that my posts are influenced by the thoughts of giant minds such as his.  When he wrote his meditation they were to himself, so when he is saying “you,” he is saying it to himself.  They are indeed his Stoic meditations.  You may replace “the gods” with “God” or “Nature” or “fate.”  Regardless of where you find your spiritual inspiration, or even if you don’t, Marcus provides us with a potent guide to living a tranquil Stoic life.

“Of all that you think you are, you are but a little flesh and breath, and your mind. Throw away your books; no longer distract yourself: it is not allowed; be as if you were now dying.

First, despise the flesh; you are blood and bones and a network of nerves, veins, and arteries.

Next the breath, see the breath, what kind of a thing it is, air, and not always the same, but every moment sent out and again sucked in.

The third part then is your mind, so consider this: you are an old man; no longer let your mind be a slave, no longer be pulled by the strings like a puppet to being disagreeable, no longer either be dissatisfied with your present situation or fear the future.

All that is from the gods is meant to be.  That which is from fortune is not separated from nature and interweaves with all things.  From this all things flow; and these occurrences are necessary, and are an advantage to the whole universe, of which you are a part.  And that is good, for every part of nature is necessary for the whole of nature, and maintains it.  Thus the universe is preserved, just like the changes of the elements, so it is with the changes of things made by them.

Let these principles be enough for you.  But cast away your desire for books, that you may not die murmuring, but cheerfully, truly, and from your heart thankful to the gods.  Remember how long you have been putting off these things, and how often you have received an opportunity from the gods, and yet you did not use it.  You must now at last perceive of what universe you are a part, and of what administrator of the universe your existence is a product of, and that your time on Earth is limited and fixed, which if you do not use for clearing away the clouds from your mind, it will go and you will go too, and you will never return.

Every moment think steadily as a man to do what you must with perfect and simple dignity, and feeling of affection, and freedom, and justice; and to give yourself relief from all other thoughts.  You will give yourself relief, if you do every act of your life as if it were the last, laying aside all carelessness and passionate aversion from the commands of reason, and all hypocrisy, and self-love, and discontent with the portion which has been given to you.

You see how few things are really necessary to be able to live a life of tranquility, a godly life; for the gods on their part will require nothing more from him who observes these things.”

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