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Applying Ancient Wisdom Teachings to Modern Day Living


'There are no new spiritual principles, and the only advanced spiritual teaching is practice.'

I’m not sure where I first heard that statement, but it came to mind as I was re-reading the book Meditations by the Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. The book, written about 1,850 years ago, is about Stoic Philosophy and how the Roman Emperor used it to cope with the challenges of life during his reign. While considered a school of philosophy as opposed to a religion, Stoicism has spiritual overtones that parallel New Thought teachings and are as relevant today as they were during Marcus Aurelius’ time.

First, modern life can be stressful, with constant bombardment from news and social media about racial and political polarization, cultural wars, and income inequality. It can be easy to get caught up in the negativity and despair, but as Aurelius points out, there are ways to cope with these stresses and find inner peace.


It is important to realize that the issues we face today have existed throughout history, and will likely continue to exist for the foreseeable future. In Meditations, Aurelius notes, "The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it." In other words, we cannot control the external world, but we can control our thoughts and reactions to it. Instead of getting caught up in the negativity and despair, we can choose to focus on the good in the world and the actions we can take to make a positive impact.


In addition, the emperor suggests it is important to practice acceptance and non-attachment. Aurelius writes, "The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing, in that it stands ready against the accidental and the unforeseen and is not apt to fall." We must accept that things will not always go as planned and that there will be times of struggle and hardship.


We must also practice non-attachment by not becoming too attached to our possessions, status, or opinions. This will help us to be more resilient in the face of adversity and not become overly affected by the stresses of modern life.


Moreover, Stoicism reminds us it is also important to practice gratitude and mindfulness. Aurelius claims we must be grateful for what we have and live in the present moment, rather than dwell on the past or worry about the future. This will help us to appreciate the beauty and goodness in the world, even amidst the stresses of modern life.


Marcus Aurelius also points out we must practice humility and self-awareness. He writes, "If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change, for I seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed. It is the person who continues in his self-deception and ignorance who is harmed." We must be open to learning and growing, and not become too attached to our own opinions and beliefs. This will help us to be more understanding and compassionate towards others and to not become too entrenched in our own perspective.


Finally, the author reminds us we must practice self-control and self-discipline. Aurelius claims, "The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature." We must control our thoughts and emotions, rather than allowing them to control us. This will help us to maintain inner peace and not become overwhelmed by the stresses of modern life.


No doubt, the stresses of modern life can be overwhelming if we allow it. However, there are ways to cope with them and find inner peace. By following the principles found in Marcus Aurelius' book, Meditations, such as practicing acceptance and non-attachment, gratitude and mindfulness, humility and self-awareness, and self-control and self-discipline, we can navigate the challenges of modern life with grace and resilience.


Peace and Blessings,

James


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