“He who is greedy of credit and reputation after his death, doth not consider that they themselves by whom he is remembered, shall soon after every one of them be dead; and they likewise that succeed those; until at last all memory… be quite extinct. But suppose that both they that shall remember thee, and thy memory with them should be immortal, what is that to thee? I will not say to thee after thou art dead; but even to thee living, what is thy praise. But only for a secret and political consideration, which we call oikonomian or dispensation. … That which is fair and goodly, whatsoever it be, is so of itself. … That therefore which is praised, is not thereby made either better or worse.” ~Marcus Aurelius
We all want to be remembered. It is simple human nature. But we should be remembered by friends and family as a good person. To seek to be remembered by large numbers of people generally causes two problems. One, we do what is popular rather than what is right thinking that in doing so we will be better remembered by all. Second, we sped so much time trying to gain remembrance that we fail to do things we should be doing to make the world a better place.
It isn’t just a matter of doing something good, or something memorable, but of doing the best we can with the tools we have been given by nature and education. The most memorable of deeds may not be those that best use our talents. We waste those talents when we seek to be remembered.
Most important of all is that being remembered is not the same as being immortal. Materialistic people promote the idea that it is. They say the only way to be immortal is to be remembered for your accomplishments. They are wrong. Not only is that not a way that works, as Aurelius points out, but there is a way that does work.
Reward of Being Remembered
The quote points out that in almost all cases, being remembered only lasts for a generation or two. There were quite a few people in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries who thought themselves immortal for the memories of great accomplishments they left behind. Nearly all of them have been completely forgotten.
And don’t forget the times we make mistakes and do things we regret. Do we really want to be remembered for them? Murderers, despots, and other evil doers are often remembered longer than the good guys, at least on the material plane.
As mentioned earlier, there is a way to be truly immortal. We simply have to awaken and nourish our spirit and soul while we are still alive on the material level. If we do that, and become a fully integrated being, we will never die. And if we never die, there should be no desire to be remembered for our past deeds. It will always be the deeds of today and the plans for tomorrow that matter. Isn’t that the way it should be? Whether we believe in the spiritual worlds or not, what we are doing now and what we are planning for tomorrow should always be more important than trying to be remembered for what we did yesterday. So the best way of being remembered is remembering ourselves that we have an immortal nature, If we choose to use it.