Begin the morning by saying to yourself, "Today I'm going to meet busy-bodies, the ungrateful, and people who are arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial."
Then realize that these things happen to them because of their ignorance of what is good and evil. I have seen the nature of the good which is beautiful, and of the bad which is ugly. And realizing that the nature of those who do wrong, that it is within me, not only of the same blood or seed, but that it shares the same intelligence and the same portion of the sacred--then I can neither be injured by any of them, for no one can determine what is ugly within me, nor can I be angry with my kinsman, nor hate him.
We are made for co-operation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of the upper and lower teeth. To act against one another then is contrary to nature; and it is acting against one another to be vexed and to turn away.
Whatever I am, the ruling part is flesh, blood and breath. Throw away your books; no longer distract yourself: it is not allowed. But as if you were now dying, despise the flesh; it is blood and bones and a network, a conglomerate of nerves, veins, and arteries. See the breath also, what kind of a thing it is, air! It isn't always the same, but every moment sent out and again sucked in. The third then is the ruling part: consider this: You are an old man; no longer let this be a slave, no longer be pulled by the strings like a puppet to unsocial movements, no longer either be dissatisfied with your present lot, or shrink from the future.
Everything from the gods is full of Providence. Things that come from fortune aren't separated from nature or without an interweaving and tangling with the things which are governed by Providence. From thence all things flow.
Besides necessity there are things for the advantage of the whole universe--you are a part of this. But that is good for every part of nature which the nature of the whole brings, and what serves to maintain this nature.
Now the universe is preserved, by the changes of the elements so by the changes of things compounded of the elements. Let these principles be enough for you. Let them always be fixed opinions. Cast away the thirst after books, that you may not die murmuring, but cheerfully, 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 don't use it. You must now at last realize what universe you are a part of, and of what administrator of the universe your existence is an expiration.
Realize that there is a fixed amount of time for you, which if you don't use to clear away the clouds from your mind, it will go and you will go, and it will never return.
Every moment think steadily as a man to do what you have in hand with perfect and simple dignity. And feeling of affection, and freedom, and justice. Give yourself relief from all other thoughts. And you will give yourself relief, if you do every act as if it were your last. Lay 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 the things are, which if a man claims hold of, he is able to live a life which flows in quiet. It is like the existence of the gods; for the gods on their part will require nothing more from him who observes these things.
Do wrong to yourself, my soul, you shame yourself, and you will no longer have the opportunity of honoring yourself. Every man's life is sufficient. But yours is nearly finished, tho your soul doesn't revere itself; rather it allows your happiness to depend on the souls of others.
Do external things which befall you distract you? Give yourself time to learn something new and good. Stop being whirled around. But then you must also avoid being carried about the other way. For those too are triflers who have wearied themselves in life by their activities, and yet have no object to which to direct every movement, and, in a word, all their thoughts.
Through not observing what is in the mind of another a man has seldom been seen to be unhappy; but those who don't observe the movements of their own minds must of necessity be unhappy.
You should always bear in mind what the nature of the whole is, and one one thing is related to another. And what kind of a part it is of what kind of a whole. Also realize that no one hinders you from always doing and saying the things which are according to the nature of which you are a part.
Theophrastus, in his comparison of bad acts--such a comparison as one would make in accordance with the common notions of mankind-- says, like a true philosopher, that the offenses which are committed through desire are more to blame than those which are committed through anger. For whoever is excited by anger seems to turn away from reason with a certain pain and unconscious contraction, but he who offends through desire, being overpowered by pleasure, seems to be in a manner more intemperate and more effeminate in his offenses.
Rightly then, and in a way worthy of philosophy, he said that the offense which is committed with pleasure is more at fault than that which is committed with pain. On the whole the one is more like a person who has been first wronged and through pain is compelled to be angry, the other is moved by his own impulse to do wrong, being carried towards doing something by desire.
// HERE Since it is possible that you may depart from life this very moment, regulate every act and thought accordingly. But to go away from among men, if there are gods, is not a thing to be afraid of, for the gods will not involve you in evil. If indeed they do not exist, or if they have no concern about human affairs, what is it to me to live in a universe devoid of gods or devoid of Providence? But in truth they do exist, and they do care for human things, and they have put all the means in man's power to enable him not to fall into real evils. And as to the rest, if there was anything evil, they would have provided for this also, that it should be altogether in a man's power not to fall into it.
Now that which does not make a man worse, how can it make a man's life worse? But neither through ignorance, nor having the knowledge, but not the power to guard against or correct these things, is it possible that the nature of the universe has overlooked them; nor is it possible that it has made so great a mistake, either through want of power or want of skill, that good and evil should happen indiscriminately to the good and the bad. But death certainly, and life, honor and dishonor, pain and pleasure, all these things equally happen to good men and bad, being things which make us neither better nor worse. Therefore they are neither good nor evil.
How quickly all things disappear, in the universe the bodies themselves, but in time the remembrance of them; what is the nature of all sensible things, and particularly those which attract with the bait of pleasure or terrify by pain, or are noised abroad by vapoury fame; how worthless, and contemptible, and sordid, and perishable, and dead they are- all this it is the part of the intellectual faculty to observe. To observe too who these are whose opinions and voices give reputation; what death is, and the fact that, if a man looks at it in itself, and by the abstractive power of reflection resolves into their parts all the things which present themselves to the imagination in it, he will then consider it to be nothing else than an operation of nature; and if any one is afraid of an operation of nature, he is a child. This, however, is not only an operation of nature, but it is also a thing which conduces to the purposes of nature. To observe too how man comes near to the deity, and by what part of him, and when this part of man is so disposed.
Nothing is more wretched than a man who runs round and round, and pries into the things beneath the earth, as the poet says, and seeks by conjecture what is in the minds of his neighbors, without realizing that it is enough to attend to the sacred within him, and to revere it sincerely. And reverence of this spirit consists in keeping it pure from passion and thoughtlessness, and dissatisfaction that comes from gods and men. For the things from the gods merit veneration for their excellence; the things from men should be dear to us because of kinship. Altho sometimes even, in a manner, they move us to pity because of men's ignorance of good and bad. This defect is not less than that which leaves us unable to distinguish things that are white and black.
tho you were able to live three thousand years, or thirty thousand years, remember that no man loses any other life than what he now lives, nor lives any other life than which he now loses. The longest life and shortest are thus the same. For the present is the same to everyone, tho that which perishes is not the same; and so that which is lost appears to be a mere moment. For a man cannot lose either the past or the future: for what a man has not, how can any one take this from him?
These two things then you must bear in mind; the one, that all things from eternity are of like forms and come round in a circle, and that it makes no difference whether a man shall see the same things during a hundred years or two hundred, or an infinite time; and the second, that the longest liver and he who will die soonest lose just the same. For the present is the only thing of which a man can be deprived, if it is true that this is the only thing which he has, and that a man cannot lose a thing if he has it not.
Remember that "Everything is opinion." That retort by the Cynic Monimus is evident: and also evident is the use of the saying, if a man accepts what may be got out of it as far as it is true.
The soul of man does violence to itself, most of all, when it becomes an abscess and, so far as it can, a tumor on the universe. For to be upset at anything which happens is a separation of ourselves from nature, in some part of which the natures of all other things are contained.
In the next place, the soul does violence to itself when it turns away from any man, or moves towards him with the intention of injury, such as are the souls of those who are angry. In the third place, the soul does violence to itself when it is overpowered by pleasure or pain. Fourthly, when it plays a part, and does or says anything insincerely and untruly. Fifthly, when it allows any act of its own and any movement to be without an aim, and does anything thoughtlessly and without considering what it is. It is right that even the smallest things are done with reference to an end; and the end of rational animals is to follow the reason and the law of the most ancient city and polity.
The human lifetime is but a point, and the substance is in flux, and the perception dull, and the composition of the whole body subject to decay, The soul is a whirl, and fortune hard to divine, and fame something devoid of judgment. And, to put it briefly, everything that belongs to the body is a stream, and whatever belongs to the soul is a dream. Life is a battleground and a stranger's sojourn, and after-fame is oblivion.
What then can guide our way? One thing and only one: philosophy. But this consists in keeping the spirit within a man free from violence and unharmed, superior to pains and pleasures, doing nothing without purpose, nor yet falsely and with hypocrisy, not feeling the need of another man's doing or not doing anything; and besides, accepting all that happens, and all that is allotted, as coming from thence, wherever it is, from whence he himself came. And, finally, waiting for death with a cheerful mind, as being nothing else than a dissolution of the elements of which every living being is compounded. But if there is no harm to the elements themselves in each continually changing into another, why should a man have any fear about the change and dissolution of all the elements? For it is according to nature, and nothing is evil which is according to nature.
This in Carnuntum.