If you like philosophy, ethics, and asking questions about what is the best way to live our lives, you will like this!
In the last few months, I've been reading the famous book "The Meditations," by the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. He was one of the main followers of Stoic philosophy, a practical way of living that was the most popular philosophy of the ancient Greek and Roman world, centuries before Christianity.
Not only was Marcus one of the most powerful people in the world at the time (about AD 200), he was also known for his integrity and incorruptibility. Few emperors have been like Marcus, close to Socrates' ideal of the "philosopher-king."
"The Meditations" is a wonderful and thoughtful book of Stoic "spiritual exercises" that Emperor Marcus wrote only for himself, to improve his self-discipline. The Stoics were big on strong emotional and mental self-control.
If you or anyone you know is dealing with disaster or misfortune, feels trapped, is depressed, has anger management problems, or who gets easily upset---"The Meditations" has very wise advice that may really help! It teaches you how to resist pain and stay calm throughout any kind of disasters. Maybe now we would call it "cognitive behavioral therapy."
"The Meditations" is not perfect, and I strongly disagree with some parts of it. Yet leaders from politics, business, and the military have read it for centuries with great inspiration. Bill Clinton says he rereads it every year. I feel that Barack Obama, who always seems calm and cool through any disasters or stress, lives in a Stoic way. Whether you are religious or not, you may profit from its wisdom. It's a very practical book.
I've actually read not one, but TWO top translations of "The Meditations" (Hicks and Hays)! My favorite one is by Hicks. It's the clearest.
Since we all are short on time, I've cut and paraphrased the best parts of both translations into one document. It took a few months. I've cut 185 pages to 35.
Here is my condensed version of "The Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius! You may read it in 3 ways:
http://alumni.eecs.berkeley.edu/~rayning/Marcus-Aurelius-Hicks-excerpts.doc (Word document)
http://alumni.eecs.berkeley.edu/~rayning/Marcus-Aurelius-Hicks-excerpts.prc (Kindle/Mobipocket ebook)
Enjoy. Let me know what you think.