Marcus Aurelius on Acceptance
On Closure

Marcus Aurelius on Impermanence

Meditations is saturated with Marcus Aurelius' thoughts on change, impermanence and death.

In a passage that finds an echo in Bhante Gunaratana's warning about inattention, Aurelius reminds us that change is already happening:

“Bear in mind that everything that exists is already fraying at the edges, and in transition, subject to fragmentation and to rot.” (10.18)

The present moment is all we have...

"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." (3.10)

...and all we can lose:

"The longest-lived and those who will die soonest lose the same thing. The present is all that they can give up, since that is all you have, and what you do not have, you cannot lose." (2.14)

Don’t waste time:

“Stop whatever you’re doing for a moment and ask yourself: Am I afraid of death because I won’t be able to do this anymore?” (10.29)

We may not even be able to enjoy our whole life:

"We need to hurry. Not just because we move daily closer to death but also because our understanding— our grasp of the world— may be gone before we get there." (3.1)

There will be a last time for everything we do, and it may come sooner than we think:

“As you kiss your son good night, says Epictetus, whisper to yourself, “He may be dead in the morning.”” (11.34)

Tomorrow our wife may leave us, we may be diagnosed with a fatal illness, we may lose our job. We may have already done something for the last time and not yet know it.

Not to hope that we will be remembered when we die. Anyone who might remember us will soon be dead too.

“So many who were remembered already forgotten, and those who remembered them long gone.” (7.6)

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