The Meditations are a personal notebook, written by Marcus to himself and for his own use. This is an incredibly powerful book.
"In this flowing stream then, on which there is no abiding, what is there of the things which hurry by on which a man would set a high price? It would be just as if a man should fall in love with one of the sparrows which fly by, but it has already passed out of sight." [Meditations 6:15]
Some may find this recording “monotone and lifeless”. But, remember: Marcus Aurelius had a manly stoic character. He was not a tragic hero.
“Everything which happens either happens in such wise as thou art formed by nature to bear it, or as thou art not formed by nature to bear it. If, then, it happens to thee in such way as thou art formed by nature to bear it, do not complain, but bear it as thou art formed by nature to bear it. But if it happens in such wise as thou art not formed by nature to bear it, do not complain, for it will perish after it has consumed thee.” [Meditations 10:3]
Walter Covell’s interpretation provides a fascinating picture of a would-be Stoic sage at work on himself. In some parts, his intonation is just perfect. If you heard it multiple times, you will start noticing it. Listen to the book IV for instance. There is no way to improve it.
“From Rusticus I received the impression that my character required improvement and discipline and from him I learned (…) to read carefully, and not to be satisfied with a superficial understanding of a book” [Meditations 1:7]
If you are looking for an introduction to stoicism, here are some suggestions: listen to the Epictetus’ Enchiridion at librivox dot org and search for “James Stockdale”.
Further Reading: The Fourth Book of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus at archive dot org -- a commentary by H. Crossley.
This book is motivating (i.e. it’s a guide for further study) and it helps to clear away some misconceptions (e.g. the “unimportance” of philosophy).
Here, Edward Craig discusses some philosophical questions using selections of classical texts. The way he approaches the texts (questioning, thinking, doubting etc.) is truly philosophical. He writes in clear friendly style, always encouraging us to continue our journey.
Worth noticing: Maurice West has done an extremely competent reading. Naxos has provided us an excellent audio book.
CRAIG, E.: PHILOSOPHY - A Very Short Introduction (Abridged)
1. Philosophy / A very short introduction
2. What should I do? / Plato’s Crito
3. How do we know? / Hume’s Of Miracles
4. What am I? / An unknown Buddhist on the self: King Milinda’s chariot
5. Some themes
6. Of ‘isms’
7. Some more high spots / A personal selection
8. What’s in it for Whom?
Where to go next?
To read the section “Where to go next?”,
click in “About this Recording” in
NA334412 - CRAIG, E.: PHILOSOPHY - A Very Short Introduction (Abridged)
at www dot naxos dot com
This audiobook is the Audible Audio Edition of the book:
Nyanatiloka Mahathera. The Word of the Buddha: An outline of the ethico-philosophical system of the Buddha in the words of the Pali Canon.
This little work is a compact sourcebook in English on the Buddha's basic teachings compiled and explained by Nyanatiloka Mahathera (a German scholar-monk).
The main difficulty in listening to this as an audiobook is that it is very difficult to tell when the excerpts from the Pali Canon end and the commentary from Nyanatiloka begins and vice versa.
You can find THE WORD OF THE BUDDHA by Venerable Nyanatiloka Mahathera at buddhanet (dot) net
From the Preface to the Eleventh Edition:
“The Word of the Buddha, published originally in German, was the first strictly systematic exposition of all the main tenets of the Buddha's Teachings presented in the Master's own words as found in the Sutta-Pitaka of the Buddhist Pali Canon.
“While it may well serve as a first introduction for the beginner, its chief aim is to give the reader who is already more or less acquainted with the fundamental ideas of Buddhism, a clear, concise and authentic summary of its various doctrines, within the framework of the all-embracing 'Four Noble Truths,' i.e. the Truths of Suffering (inherent in all existence), of its Origin, of its Extinction, and of the Way leading to its extinction. From the book itself it will be seen how the teachings of the Buddha all ultimately converge upon the one final goal: Deliverance from Suffering.”
From the Chapter "The Noble Truth of Suffering":
“[A. III. 35] Did you never see in the world a man, or a woman, eighty, ninety, or a hundred years old, frail, crooked as a gable-roof, bent down, resting on crutches, with tottering steps, infirm, youth long since fled, with broken teeth, grey and scanty hair or none, wrinkled, with blotched limbs? And did the thought never come to you that you also are subject to decay, that you also cannot escape it?
“Did you never see in the world a man, or a woman who, being sick, afflicted, and grievously ill, wallowing in his own filth, was lifted up by some and put to bed by others? And did the thought never come to you that you also are subject to disease, that you also cannot escape it?
“Did you never see in the world the corpse of a man, or a woman, one or two or three days after death, swollen up, blue-black in color, and full of corruption? And did the thought never come to you that you also are subject to death, that you also cannot escape it?”
If you're interested in exploring the teachings of Buddhism, you should go directly to the original sources. They are rich, vivid, clear, and vigorous. I would like to suggest two very good English-language anthologies of suttas:
John J. Holder. Early Buddhist Discourses. Hackett, 2006.
Rupert Gethin. Sayings of the Buddha: New Translations from the Pali Nikayas. Oxford, 2008.
I must warn you that some texts are complex and very difficult to follow in audio format. This is not an excuse to give up. There’s an important distinction between reading for relaxation and entertainment, or reading just for information, on the one hand, and reading for understanding, for deepening your mind, and for acquiring insight, on the other. (Please take a look at Adler’s “How to Read a Book”, also available on Audible.)
This book is well read with a clear professional voice. As one of the reviews said: the main difficulty in listening to this as an audiobook is that it is very difficult to tell when the narration from Hitchens ends and the excerpts from other authors begin and vice versa.
There are many, many excerpts that are a please to listen to. Here are the three I enjoyed the must:
(Due to the space limitation and since I cannot include URLs, please Google it. The three essays are in public domain.)
- George Eliot, Evangelical Teaching: Dr. Cumming (ch.3 of The Essays of George Eliot);
- Anatole France, Miracle (p. 175 of The Garden of Epicurus);
- Bertrand Russell, An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish.
Thanks to Nicholas Ball’s reading, they became even more powerful.
Report Inappropriate Content