“Remember these nine rules, as if thou hadst received them as a gift from the Muses, and begin at last to be a man while thou livest.” –Marcus Aurelius, Meditations Book 11
In The Meditations, Book 11, I came upon nine rules that Marcus Aurelius advised himself to follow. I found them to be thoughtful and helpful, in pondering “how to live.” Not really anything fundamental, but some things to think about.
Here’s the first of the nine:
“If any have offended against thee, consider first: What is my relation to men, and that we are made for one another; and in another respect, I was made to be set over them, as a ram over the flock or a bull over the herd. But examine the matter from first principles, from this: If all things are not mere atoms, it is nature which orders all things: if this is so, the inferior things exist for the sake of the superior, and these for the sake of one another.”
What it means to me:
I will disappoint people. You can’t please everyone, after all. Likewise, people will disappoint me, they may have bad opinions of me, and many may not even like me. I will not be perfect, but it is my goal to be above the fray, to have equanimity, and to be calm even in troubled times. In other words, to be like the ram over the flock, to be a leader. If I have succeeded in this goal, to lead with passionate equanimity, then it is meant to be so. If I fail in this pursuit, then it is either not my time or it just isn’t meant to be. So be it…all part of the grand plan.
If there are those who do not like me, or who are offended by my opinions, then it is meant to be so. If I am inferior to my neighbor in one way or superior to them in another, either way, “the inferior things exist for the sake of the superior, and these for the sake of one another.”
To put it briefly, which I could have done in the first place: Have equanimity and perspective about good and bad, it is all as it should be.