Meditations by Marcus Aurelius – Life Lessons
Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) was the Roman Emperor from 161 until his death in 180. He was known as Marcus the wise and was the last of the five good emperors. You might remember him as the old guy from the movie Gladiator. During his later years, while he was commanding his armies, he wrote down many of his thoughts on Stoic philosophy. These personal writings consisted of 12 books (called Meditations, meaning “to himself”) which he wrote over the last 10 years of his life. They were a source for his own guidance and self-improvement and are still very relevant for us today.
Quick note: Stoicism was founded by Zeno (300 bce). His teachings continued and evolved until the later Stoics like Seneca (4 BC – AD 65), Epictetus (AD 55 – 135) and Marcus Aurelius. It was a pretty big deal back in the day, but it died out in the 4th century when Constantine (Emperor) declared Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. In AD 529, Justinian I closed all pagan philosophy schools because he perceived them as being at odds with Christian faith.
There are some great life lessons in Marcus Aurelius’ journals! What amazes me is that these are the journals of the Roman Emperor… almost 2,000 years ago!! Below are some powerful quotes and the lessons I pulled out from them (my interpretation).
1 – We are all one; all interconnected. The universe is harmonious, therefore, do not act against others.
Everything harmonizes with me, which is harmonious to thee, O Universe. Nothing for me is too early nor too late, which is in due time for thee. Everything is fruit to me which thy seasons bring, O Nature: from thee are all things, in thee are all things, to thee all things return. Occupy thyself with few things, says the philosopher, if thou wouldst be tranquil
For we are made for co-operation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of the upper and lower teeth. To act against one another then is contrary to nature; and it is acting against one another to be vexed and to turn away
Constantly regard the universe as one living being, having one substance and one soul
On dealing with other people
1 – Treat others with respect
Do not belittle others, treat them with respect it is thy duty to be a good man, and what man’s nature demands, do that without turning aside; and speak as it seems to thee most just, only let it be with a good disposition and with modesty and without hypocrisy
2 – If someone else is angry at you or even hates you, do not be disturbed. Even if they are liars and unjust men, react calmly and with intelligence. You can choose how to react. You can choose to react peacefully and with kindness. Your kindness will overcome their hostility. Show them where they have gone astray and help them become better.
These it is thy duty to observe and without being disturbed or showing anger towards those who are angry with thee to go on thy way and finish that which is set before thee
One thing here is worth a great deal, to pass thy life in truth and justice, with a benevolent disposition even to liars and unjust men
Whatever any one does or says, I must be good, just as if the gold, or the emerald, or the purple were always saying this, Whatever any one does or says, I must be emerald and keep my colour
Shall any man hate me? Let him look to it. But I will be mild and benevolent towards every man, and ready to show even him his mistake, not reproachfully, nor yet as making a display of my endurance, but nobly and honestly, Men despise one another and flatter one another; and men wish to raise themselves above one another, and crouch before one another
3 – When you’re being kind and true (not faking kindness), even the most violent person will eventually soften. Help them by being kind and by explaining their errors calmly. When someone is against you, they are not hurting you, but only hurting themselves.
Consider that a good disposition is invincible, if it be genuine, and not an affected smile and acting a part. For what will the most violent man do to thee, if thou continuest to be of a kind disposition towards him, and if, as opportunity offers, thou gently admonishest him and calmly correctest his errors at the very time when he is trying to do thee harm, saying, Not so, my child: we are constituted by nature for something else: I shall certainly not be injured, but thou art injuring thyself, my child.- And show him with gentle tact and by general principles that this is so, and that even bees do not do as he does, nor any animals which are formed by nature to be gregarious. And thou must do this neither with any double meaning nor in the way of reproach, but affectionately and without any rancour in thy soul; and not as if thou wert lecturing him, nor yet that any bystander may admire, but either when he is alone, and if others are present
4 – Both hate and flattery must be avoided because they are not beneficial to anyone or the whole.
Thou must equally avoid flattering men and being veied at them, for both are unsocial and lead to harm
5 – Be open, and willing to listen to reason.
If any man is able to convince me and show me that I do not think or act right, I will gladly change; for I seek the truth by which no man was ever injured. But he is injured who abides in is error and ignorance
1 – Remove unnecessary acts and thoughts from your life. If it doesn’t have a good purpose, then why are you wasting your time with it?
Accordingly on every occasion a man should ask himself, is this one of the unnecessary things? Now a man should take away not only unnecessary acts, but also, unnecessary thoughts, for thus superfluous acts will not follow after
2 – Always seek the easiest, most effortless path. Be like a river – it flows and follows the least path of resistance.
Always run to the short way; and the short way is the natural
1 – Accept everything that happens to you. You may not see the big picture at the moment, but is it possible that this thing you dislike could be happening for a purpose to help you? You are part of something bigger and there is a purpose for what happens to you. Look back on past events that you thought were bad and you can see that they are beneficial to you in some way. When you resist, you’re making the strain twice as bad (yourself resisting + your circumstances).
And so accept everything which happens, even if it seem disagreeable, because it leads to this, to the health of the universe and to the prosperity and felicity of Zeus (the universe). For he would not have brought on any man what he has brought, if it were not useful for the whole
2 – Accept pain because resistance only makes the pain worse.
Do not yield to pain. Pain is neither intolerable nor everlasting, if thou bearest in mind that it has its limits, and if thou addest nothing to it in imagination
3 – Accept your fate, do not fight or resist it. If you can accept what happens to you, your life will be more peaceful.
Love that only which happens to thee and is spun with the thread of thy destiny. For what is more suitable?
An moved to make the universe. But now either everything that takes place comes by way of consequence or continuity; or even the chief things towards which the ruling power of the universe directs its own movement are governed by no rational principle. If this is remembered it will make thee more tranquil in many things
4 – Practice non-attachment. Accept the fact that you may lose things in your life. Things are constantly changing and will continue to do so (more on that later), so accept it.
Receive wealth or prosperity without arrogance; and be ready to let it go
On solitude and meditation
1 – Retire into yourself in order to find your inner peace and renew yourself.
Only attend to thyself, and resolve to be a good man in every act which thou doest: and remember… Look within. Within is the fountain of good, and it will ever bubble up, if thou wilt ever dig
Men seek retreats for themselves, houses in the country, sea-shores, and mountains; and thou too art wont to desire such things very much. But this is altogether a mark of the most common sort of men, for it is in thy power whenever thou shalt choose to retire into thyself. For nowhere either with more quiet or more freedom from trouble does a man retire than into his own soul, particularly when he has within him such thoughts that by looking into them he is immediately in perfect tranquility; and I affirm that tranquility is nothing else than the good ordering of the mind. Constantly then give to thyself this retreat, and renew thyself; and let thy principles be brief and fundamental, which, as soon as thou shalt recur to them, will be sufficient to cleanse the soul completely, and to send thee back free from all discontent with the things to which thou returnest
Remember to retire into this little territory of thy own, and above all do not distract or strain thyself, but be free, and look at things as a man, as a human being, as a citizen, as a mortal
2 – Contemplate your existence and place in the universe. Think about pain, pleasure, death, and opinion. Contemplate about how small we are, how vast the universe is, the enormous time scale of the universe, and the small amount of time we have on Earth.
Constantly contemplate the whole of time and the whole of substance, and consider that all individual things as to substance are a grain of a fig, and as to time, the turning of a gimlet
Contemplate the formative principles (forms) of things bare of their coverings; the purposes of actions; consider what pain is, what pleasure is, and death, and fame; who is to himself the cause of his uneasiness; how no man is hindered by another; that everything is opinion
3 – We are only here for a short time and we are a very small speck in the universe. Everything is soon forgotten. Reflect on that.
See how soon everything is forgotten, and look at the chaos of infinite time on each side of the present, and the emptiness of applause, and the changeableness and want of judgement in those who pretend to give praise, and the narrowness of the space within which it is circumscribed, and be quiet at last. For the whole earth is a point, and how small a nook in it is this thy dwelling, and how few are there in it, and what kind of people are they who will praise thee
1 – Death is a natural part of life’s cycle and is nothing to fear. Bodies disappear and become something else, memories fade, and even those who remember you will soon be gone too. That is nature, so don’t be against it; welcome it. There is nothing wrong with death, only your opinion about it.
Consider in what condition both in body and soul a man should be when he is overtaken by death; and consider the shortness of life, the boundless abyss of time past and future, the feebleness of all matter
Do not despise death, but be well content with it, since this too is one of those things which nature wills
How quickly all things disappear, in the universe the bodies themselves, but in time the remembrance of them; waiting for death with a cheerful mind, as being nothing else than a dissolution of the elements of which every living being is compounded. But if there is no harm to the elements themselves in each continually changing into another, why should a man have any apprehension about the change and dissolution of all the elements? For it is according to nature, and nothing is evil which is according to nature
What a soul that is which is ready, if at any moment it must be separated from the body, and ready either to be extinguished or dispersed or continue to exist; but so that this readiness comes from a man’s own judgement
On judging someone else
1 – Don’t judge someone else’s actions. You have also done many things wrong (in your mind), so don’t be so fast to pass judgement. If you think someone has done something wrong, think about why you believe it is wrong. Is it really wrong or is that just your opinion of it? Maybe to him it is right. Once you see this, you won’t be angry with him.
When a man has done thee any wrong, immediately consider with what opinion about good or evil he has done wrong. For when thou hast seen this, thou wilt pity him, and wilt neither wonder nor be angry. For either thou thyself thinkest the same thing to be good that he does or another thing of the same kind. It is thy duty then to pardon him. But if thou dost not think such things to be good or evil, thou wilt more readily be well disposed to him who is in error
If thou art able, correct by teaching those who do wrong To-day I have got out of all trouble, or rather I have cast out all trouble, for it was not outside, but within and in my opinions
Resolve to dismiss thy judgement about an act as if it were something grievous, and thy anger is gone. consider that thou also doest many things wrong, and that thou art a man like others
That if men do rightly what they do, we ought not to be displeased; but if they do not right, it is plain that they do so involuntarily and in ignorance
2 – Judging in itself causes separation and pain, so avoid it and see the bigger picture. You cannot accurately judge someone unless you are them. All other judgments are biased.
Eighth, consider how much more pain is brought on us by the anger and vexation caused by such acts than by the acts themselves, at which we are angry and vexed
That it is not men’s acts which disturb us, for those acts have their foundation in men’s ruling principles, but it is our own opinions which disturb us. many things are done with a certain reference to circumstances. And in short, a man must learn a great deal to enable him to pass a correct judgement on another man’s acts
On the opinions of others
1 – Don’t waste time thinking about the opinions of others. Why consider the opinion of others who are not even satisfied with themselves? Don’t let anyone’s hateful actions or words hinder you, but still treat them as friends. Don’t try to be a people pleaser because you can’t please everyone. Examine your own opinions as well.
Do not waste the remainder of thy life in thoughts about others, to care for all men is according to man’s nature; and a man should hold on to the opinion not of all, but of those only who confessedly live according to nature. But as to those who live not so, he always bears in mind what kind of men they are both at home and from home, both by night and by day, and what they are, and with what men they live an impure life. Accordingly, he does not value at all the praise which comes from such men, since they are not even satisfied with themselves
And let neither another man’s wickedness hinder thee, nor opinion nor voice, nor yet the sensations of the poor flesh which has grown about thee
When another blames thee or hates thee, or when men say about thee anything injurious, approach their poor souls, penetrate within, and see what kind of men they are. Thou wilt discover that there is no reason to take any trouble that these men may have this or that opinion about thee. However thou must be well disposed towards them, for by nature they are friends
There is no man so fortunate that there shall not be by him when he is dying some who are pleased with what is going to happen. Examine thyself first
Consider that everything is opinion, and opinion is in thy power. Take away then, when thou choosest, thy opinion, and like a mariner, who has doubled the promontory, thou wilt find calm, everything stable, and a waveless bay
Cast away opinion: thou art saved
On other people’s affairs and fault finding
1 – When you see something you don’t like in someone else (when you judge them), look at yourself first. Usually we resist the faults of others because we see that in ourselves. The judgement is in your mind, not theirs, so ask yourself, who is at fault? The person with the judgement.
When thou art offended at any man’s fault, forthwith turn to thyself and reflect in what like manner thou dost err thyself
2 – Avoid gossip. Do not concern yourself with others faults and business. Life is so much easier when you don’t concern yourself with trivialities and other people’s drama.
Not to meddle with other people’s affairs, and not to be ready to listen to slander. not to busy myself about trifling things
Look carefully after the interests of friends, and to tolerate ignorant persons, and those who form opinions without consideration
How much trouble he avoids who does not look to see what his neighbor says or does or thinks, but only to what he does himself, that it may be just and pure; or as Agathon says, look not round at the depraved morals of others, but run straight along the line without deviating from it
On values and purpose
1 – Always speak the truth. Be a person of good qualities. Stick to your values and do not be easily swayed. There is nothing stopping you from living by your values right now.
Conformably to justice, that thou mayest always speak the truth freely and without disguise, and do the things which are agreeable to law and according to the worth of each
Show those qualities then which are altogether in thy power, sincerity, gravity, endurance of labour, aversion to pleasure, contentment with thy portion and with few things, benevolence, frankness, no love of superfluity, freedom from trifling magnanimity. Dost thou not see how many qualities thou art immediately able to exhibit, in which there is no excuse of natural incapacity and unfitness
Be like the promontory against which the waves continually break, but it stands firm and tames the fury of the water around it
2 – Whatever your purpose, it should be to serve the common interest somehow. If you do that, things will flow happily for you.
I shall turn an my efforts to the common interest, and divert them from the contrary. Now, if these things are done so, life must flow on happily, just as thou mayest observe that the life of a citizen is happy, who continues a course of action which is advantageous to his fellow-citizens, and is content with whatever the state may assign to him
3 – Your purpose needs to be in alignment with nature. If you follow your true calling according to nature (the universe, God, etc.), things will come easy. Focus on the task at hand without distraction. If you can do this, you will be happy and no one can take that from you. Don’t do anything for reputation or recognition.
For if these things are according to nature, rejoice in them, and they will be easy to thee: but if contrary to nature, seek what is conformable to thy own nature, and strive towards this, even if it bring no reputation; for every man is allowed to seek his own good
If thou workest at that which is before thee, following right reason seriously, vigorously, calmly, without allowing anything else to distract thee, but keeping thy divine part pure, as if thou shouldst be bound to give it back immediately; if thou holdest to this, expecting nothing, fearing nothing, but satisfied with thy present activity according to nature, and with heroic truth in every word and sound which thou utterest, thou wilt live happy. And there is no man who is able to prevent this
4 – Is what I’m doing (and thinking) right now helping me fulfill my purpose? Life is short, so focus on what’s important. Examine the actions you take and make sure they are helping you grow and prosper. Ask yourself, is this action/thought good for me? Is it in alignment with my purpose?
On the occasion of every act ask thyself, How is this with respect to me? Shall I repent of it? A little time and I am dead, and all is gone
5 – Again, focus on the task at hand and only do what is important (what is in alignment with your purpose). This could be your last moment, so don’t waste it on trivialities.
Every moment think steadily to do what thou hast in hand with perfect and simple dignity, and feeling of affection, and freedom, and justice; and to give thyself relief from all other thoughts. And thou wilt give thyself relief, if thou doest every act of thy life as if it were the last. Since it is possible that thou mayest depart from life this very moment, regulate every act and thought accordingly
6 – What is success to you? Fame and praise? No. That’s pointless. Do what you have been made for – your purpose.
What then is worth being valued? To be received with clapping of hands? No. Neither must we value the clapping of tongues, for the praise which comes from the many is a clapping of tongues. Suppose then that thou hast given up this worthless thing called fame, what remains that is worth valuing? This in my opinion, to move thyself and to restrain thyself in conformity to thy proper constitution, to which end both all employments and arts lead. For every art aims at this, that the thing which has been made should be adapted to the work for which it has been made
7 – Do not lie for it is against your nature and purpose and will only bring you trouble.
He then who lies intentionally is guilty of impiety inasmuch as he acts unjustly by deceiving; and he also who lies unintentionally, inasmuch as he is at variance with the universal nature, and inasmuch as he disturbs the order by fighting against the nature of the world; He who does wrong does wrong against himself. He who acts unjustly acts unjustly to himself, because he makes himself bad
If it is not right, do not do it: if it is not true, do not say it
8 – Don’t let anyone stand in your way of your purpose.
As those who try to stand in thy way when thou art proceeding according to right reason, will not be able to turn thee aside from thy proper action, so neither let them drive thee from thy benevolent feelings towards them, but be on thy guard equally in both matters, not only in the matter of steady judgement and action, but also in the matter of gentleness towards those who try to hinder or otherwise trouble thee
No man can rob us of our free will
9- Never do anything which is against your values.
Never value anything as profitable to thyself which shall compel thee to break thy promise, to lose thy self-respect, to hate any man, to suspect, to curse, to act the hypocrite, to desire anything which needs walls and curtains to love my kin, and to love truth, and to love justice
10 – Actions speak louder than words. So instead of talking about it, do it.
No longer talk at all about the kind of man that a good man ought to be, but be such
1 – It is nature’s nature to constantly change. Welcome change!
Often think of the rapidity with which things pass by and disappear, both the things which are and the things which are produced. For substance is like a river in a continual flow, and the activities of things are in constant change, and the causes work in infinite varieties; and there is hardly anything which stands still. How then is he not a fool who is puffed up with such things or plagued about them and makes himself miserable? for they vex him only for a time, and a short time
Universe loves nothing so much as to change the things which are and to make new things like them
Every part of me then will be reduced by change into some part of the universe, and that again will change into another part of the universe, and so on for ever
Is any man afraid of change? Why what can take place without change?
The parts of the whole, everything, I mean, which is naturally comprehended in the universe, must of necessity perish; but let this be understood in this sense, that they must undergo change
Consider whence each thing is come, and of what it consists, and into what it changes, and what kind of a thing it will be when it has changed, and that it will sustain no harm
Consider that before long thou wilt be nobody and nowhere, nor will any of the things exist which thou now seest, nor any of those who are now living. For all things are formed by nature to change and be turned and to perish in order that other things in continuous succession may exist
On failure and obstacles
1 – If you fail, try again. There is no shame in failing. There are no mistakes in nature.
Be not disgusted, nor discouraged, nor dissatisfied, if thou dost not succeed in doing everything according to right principles; but when thou bast failed, return back again, and be content if the greater part of what thou doest is consistent with man’s nature, and love this to which thou returnest
2 – Turn obstacles into opportunities.
For the mind converts and changes every hindrance to its activity into an aid; and so that which is a hindrance is made a furtherance to an act; and that which is an obstacle on the road helps us on this road
On your thoughts
1 – Your habitual thoughts shape who you are. Are your thoughts constructive or destructive?
Such as are thy habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of thy mind; for the soul is dyed by the thoughts. Dye it then with a continuous series of such thoughts
2 – Be cheerful in all circumstances. No matter what is happening in your life, you can choose to be cheerful to yourself and others.
cheerfulness in all circumstances
3 – There is no good or bad, only opinions of something’s nature.
Let the part which forms opinions about these things be quiet, that is, let it judge that nothing is either bad or good which can happen equally to the bad man and the good. For that which happens equally to him who lives contrary to nature and to him who lives according to nature, is neither according to nature nor contrary to nature
1 – Appreciate what you have
Think not so much of what thou hast not as of what thou hast: but of the things which thou hast select the best, and then reflect how eagerly they would have been sought, if thou hadst them not. At the same time however take care that thou dost not through being so pleased with them accustom thyself to overvalue them, so as to be disturbed if ever thou shouldst not have them
2 – Live everyday as a gift and live by your true purpose in life.
Consider thyself to be dead, and to have completed thy life up to the present time; and live according to nature the remainder which is allowed thee
On the present
1 – Focus on the present moment. Now is all we will ever have.
For the present is the only thing of which a man can be deprived, if it is true that this is the only thing which he has, and that a man cannot lose a thing if he has it not
2 – Don’t worry about the future
Let not future things disturb thee, for thou wilt come to them, if it shall be necessary, having with thee the same reason which now thou usest for present things
We must not chale and fret at that which happens
3 – Don’t fear the future or regret the past
Do not disturb thyself by thinking of the whole of thy life. Let not thy thoughts at once embrace all the various troubles which thou mayest expect to befall thee: but on every occasion ask thyself, What is there in this which is intolerable and past bearing? For thou wilt be ashamed to confess. In the next place remember that neither the future nor the past pains thee, but only the present
1 – Nature’s nature – we are all part of a whole, so act in accordance with that mentality. When you act from your nature, things are effortless.
Whether the universe is a concourse of atoms, or nature is a system, let this first be established, that I am a part of the whole which is governed by nature; next, I am in a manner intimately related to the parts which are of the same kind with myself. The whole contains nothing which is not for its advantage; and all natures indeed have this common principle, but the nature of the universe has this principle besides, that it cannot be compelled even by any external cause to generate anything harmful to itself. By remembering, then, that I am a part of such a whole, I shall be content with everything that happens.
That which rules within, when it is according to nature, is so affected with respect to the events which happen, that it always easily adapts itself to that which is and is presented to it
For to be vexed at anything which happens is a separation of ourselves from nature, in some part of which the natures of all other things are contained
2 – Do we live in a world of fate or will? Be one with nature because it doesn’t matter if there is a God or if we are ruled by chance. Either way, being with nature is the best route to take.
The periodic movements of the universe are the same, up and down from age to age. And either the universal intelligence puts itself in motion for every separate effect, and if this is so, be thou content with that which is the result of its activity; or it puts itself in motion once, and everything else comes by way of sequence in a manner; or indivisible elements are the origin of all things.- In a word, if there is a god, all is well; and if chance rules, do not thou also be governed by it
Either all things proceed from one intelligent source and come together as in one body, and the part ought not to find fault with what is done for the benefit of the whole; or there are only atoms, and nothing else than mixture and dispersion. Why, then, art thou disturbed?
3 – You are of this universe and when you find your purpose and are in harmony with nature, you will be found.
If thou shalt be afraid not because thou must some time cease to live, but if thou shalt fear never to have begun to live according to nature- then thou wilt be a man worthy of the universe which has produced thee, and thou wilt cease to be a stranger in thy native land,
1 – Do not waste your limited time here complaining. Instead of complaining, take action. What happens to you is meant to happen, so why bother complaining about it and bringing more attention to it? Get rid of your opinions on the matter and your complaint will go away.
If thou art pained by any external thing, it is not this thing that disturbs thee, but thy own judgement about it. And it is in thy power to wipe out this judgement now; why dost thou not rather act than complain?
Nothing can happen to any man which is not a human accident, nor to an ox which is not according to the nature of an ox, nor to a vine which is not according to the nature of a vine, nor to a stone which is not proper to a stone. If then there happens to each thing both what is usual and natural, why shouldst thou complain? For the common nature brings nothing which may not be borne by thee
Take away thy opinion, and then there is taken away the complaint
2 – Think of those who came before you who complained about things. They are gone, so save your breath because complaining won’t help you in any way.
Constantly bring to thy recollection those who have complained greatly about anything, those who have been most conspicuous by the greatest fame or misfortunes or enmities or fortunes of any kind: then think where are they all now? Smoke and ash and a tale, or not even a tale
On praise and pride
1 – Do not seek praise. You don’t need praise or pride to fulfill your purpose. Do not seek substance in the opinions of others (see opinion section).
Dost thou wish to be praised by a man who curses himself thrice every hour? Wouldst thou wish to please a man who does not please himself? Does a man please himself who repents of nearly everything that he does?
Everything which is in any way beautiful is beautiful in itself, and terminates in itself, not having praise as part of itself
Think of the eager pursuit of anything conjoined with pride; and how worthless everything is after which men violently strain
1 – Be in control of your emotions. Don’t let your anger and frustration get the best of you. It is much more human to be gentle, kind, courageous, and under control of yourself. These other emotions are animalistic tendencies. Anger and frustration are signs of weakness. They are signs of someone who is out of control. Strive to be in control of yourself.
And let this truth be present to thee in the excitement of anger, that to be moved by passion is not manly, but that mildness and gentleness, as they are more agreeable to human nature, so also are they more manly; and he who possesses these qualities possesses strength, nerves and courage, and not the man who is subject to fits of passion and discontent. For in the same degree in which a man’s mind is nearer to freedom from all passion, in the same degree also is it nearer to strength: and as the sense of pain is a characteristic of weakness, so also is anger. For he who yields to pain and he who yields to anger, both are wounded and both submit
We are all one, and what I do must be good for the whole never to be overpowered either by the motion of the senses or of the appetites, for both are animal; but the intelligent motion claims superiority and does not permit itself to be overpowered by the others
On helping others
1 – Help others. This should be in line with your purpose in life. When your purpose is aligned with helping others, you’re on the right path.
Give help to all according to thy ability and their fitness. There is only one fruit of this terrene life, a pious disposition and social acts
2 – Help others and don’t expect anything in return. Don’t gloat about your good deeds.
One man, when he has done a service to another, is ready to set it down to his account as a favour conferred. Another is not ready to do this, but still in his own mind he thinks of the man as his debtor, and he knows what he has done. A third in a manner does not even know what he has done, but he is like a vine which has produced grapes, and seeks for nothing more after it has once produced its proper fruit
So a man when he has done a good act, does not call out for others to come and see, but he goes on to another act
Full text can be found at The Internet Classics Archive