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Books to Roll By: Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius

February 13, 2019

 

   "Emphasis on impartial analysis and calm intervention in problem-solving can be used to improve one’s game and succinctly address danger or issues that arise during a roll"

  

 

If one views the practice of jiu jitsu and martial arts as a way of life, or even analogous to spiritual practice, Meditations is an invaluable book and tool.  This collection of writings by the late emperor Marcus Aurelius has defined the philosophical outlooks of men and women on a global scale for hundreds of years.  United States Secretary of Defense James Mattis is said to have carried this book with him while enlisted in the Marine Corps.

 

     Aurelius was a student of stoicism, an ancient Greek philosophy founded in Athens during early third century BC.  This school of thought places great importance in the student’s ability to perceive pain and hardship as opportunities to learn and grow positively without complaint or display of emotion, and that virtue is based in knowledge.  The stoic lives in harmony with divine will (predestination) and acknowledges triumph and defeat equally, impartially.  However, this text alone does not serve as a definitive guide: Marcus considered himself only a student.

 

     Meditations is unique and and struggles against classification.  It is his diary.  It contains his lectures.  It features the inner dialogue of a man dealing with the weight of an empire on aging shoulders.  These thoughts and observations present the reader with rare and useful tools to interpret modern life, and with a more specific focus, jiu jitsu practice.

 

     Emphasis on impartial analysis and calm intervention in problem-solving can be used to improve one’s game and succinctly address danger or issues that arise during a roll, either in the gym or during competition.

 

     In other words, if Marcus Aurelius could use this method of philosophy to cope with the death of loved ones, the gruesome campaigns of war and the chronic pain of deteriorating health, then you might be able to use some of those lessons for when your guard is being passed.

 

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