When I was a kid my mom used to buy me these Christian devotional books. Every night before bed I would flip open the book in order to absorb a small fragment of quick wisdom.
So what is a “devotional” book you might ask? To “devote” means, to set apart in order to apply (time, attention or self). A devotional is a book you go to at the end of the day by which to reflect upon wisdom and teachings. It is something that has to be tailored for easy absorption by the intellect. So these books are fragmented and made to be read one small bite sized paragraph a day. Sometimes it takes up to a year to finish. But the tremendous amount of self growth that comes from that commitment is well worth the amount of time.
I haven’t been able to find much use for these Christian devotionals since I apostatized from the faith. However, I’ve since found western philosophy to be a far more fulfilling study and I believe I have found a great devotional book, for any philosophy enthusiast, written by a philosopher, who was also the Emperor of Rome, Marcus Aurealius.
Marcus Aurelius was a part of this weird philosophical sect called “The Stoics.” The stoics formulated a methodology for living life. They believe that they had discovered a distinctive science to finding inner peace. They were almost like monks…philosopher monks. They weren’t entirely spiritual but more pragmatic, logical and rational. It wasn’t like these hippie new age feel good sophisms we have now a days, it was more like a scientific approach to living. As a matter of fact some of these ancient stoic practices are applicable in modern day psychology. One example of this would be the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy whereby one trace trains of thought in order to objectify thought patterns. The idea behind this is that when you’ve broken the routine of your thought patterns you can essentially change them. This malleability of the psyche was made into an art, originally, by the Stoics.
Another practice of the Stoics was the process of memorizing laundry lists of educational information, teachings and syllogisms and then reflecting on the teachings through the process of writing and repeating. This is because when you regiment a concept into your brain and condition it to the point of instant recall there is no question that it becomes a part of your practice altogether . This is where Marcus Aurelius’ meditations comes from.
This book is the ledger of the great emperor as he rehearsed and reflected on some of the teachings from his greatest and most notable teachers. Here you find the lessons and the life altering wisdom from one of the greatest Stoic philosophers who ever lived. It is the perfect night time devotional for anyone who wants to live the good life. Always go to bed at night smarter than when you woke up in the morning.