The Spiritual Teachings of Marcus Aurelius

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9780060195779: The Spiritual Teachings of Marcus Aurelius

What Is The Right Way To live?--Socrates

While camped by the frozen Danube River defending his empire against invading "barbarian tribes," Marcus Aurelius, emperor of Rome from A.D. 161 to 180 and one of the most influential of the Stoic philosophers, inscribed his thoughts on the right way to live. Written as a personal diary for spiritual development, his "meditations," as they have been called, were not meant for publication or posterity, yet the Golden Emperor's insights on all aspects of the human condition have provided inspiration and guidance for more than eighteen centuries.

Now, after nearly two thousand years, Mark Forstater has adapted the ideas and principles relevant to the Roman world of the second century and made them accessible to twenty-first-century readers. Selecting key meditations, or teachings, he offers a contemporary reinterpretation of this influential philosopher. "Marcus Aurelius's truth remains alive, and the clarity of his mind and being filters down to us almost undiminished by time. We can see mirrored our own attempts to deal with whatever life throws at us without letting ourselves be overcome by the pain and despair that often accompanies life on earth," Forstater explains.

Conveniently arranged into eight thematic sections that will appeal to readers searching for spiritual and philosophical guidance, The Spiritual Teachings of Marcus Aurelius is a book that can be dipped into to find new thoughts or consolations, or can be read according to subject, to reflect on the events that are happening in one's life and how to handle them. Dealing with topics from hope, tolerance, and self-sufficiency to change, greed, and discipline, and from reason, courage, and the nature of good and evil to ambition, civility, and man's position in the universe, this powerful, moving work explores the questions we all have and offers the answers we all need to perfect our souls and better our lives today and every day.

Forstater writes: "Marcus was writing from the heart, and his words vibrate in our souls.... We read him as if he were a contemporary figure, as indeed everyone who lives and writes the truth will always remain timely. Fashions may change, and technology may generate newer and more different societies than ever existed before, but the core of our being stays the same, and the truth of life is always one." A wondrous, illuminating work that can be revisited for years to come, The Spiritual Teachings of Marcus Aurelius offers profound wisdom for all ages about attaining and living a more authentic life.

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Review:

Abraham Lincoln claimed that the best way to test a man's character was to give him power. Surely, Marcus Aurelius's golden reign over the Roman Empire, A.D. 161 to A.D. 180, was such a test. Although this well-educated pagan despised wars and battles, "barbarian" tribes constantly besieged his empire on the Asian and German borders. As a result, he spent eight miserable winters camped by the frozen Danube River acting as commander-in-chief over his triumphant armies. During those gloomy nights, he wrote many of the meditations that appear in this excellent translation.

The lack of arrogance or self-pity in his ruminations offers proof that Aurelius passed Lincoln's test of character with flying colors. Furthermore, the best way to test a person's writing is to give it time. Once again, Aurelius aced the test. For example, contemporary world leaders would do well to heed his advice under the heading "Talking and Being": "Stop talking about what the good person should be, and just be that person." Most of these quotes are similarly brief as he extols the virtues of working hard, not acting impulsively, and living in communion with the natural world. Like Thich Nhat Hanh and Kahlil Gilbran, Marcus Aurelius is an accessible writer of lasting spiritual integrity. --Gail Hudson

About the Author:

Mark Forstater is a producer of films, television documentaries, audio tapes, and now books. His most famous film production is Monty Python and the Holy Grail. An American, he lives and works in London. He is married and has three daughters.

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