“Whatever any man either does or says, thou must be good; not for any man’s sake, but for your own nature’s sake; as if either gold, or the emerald, or purple, should ever be saying to themselves. Whatsoever any man either does or says, I must still be an emerald, and I must keep my color.
“This may even be my comfort and security: my understanding that rules over all, will not of itself bring trouble and vexation upon itself. Thus I say; it will not put itself in any fear, it will not lead itself into any concupiscence. If it be in the power of any other to compel it to fear, or to grieve, it is free for him to use his power. But sure of itself through some false opinion or supposition incline itself to any such disposition; there is no fear. For as for the body, why should I make the grief of my body, to be the grief of my mind? If that itself can either fear or complain, let it. But as for the soul, which indeed can only be truly sensible of either fear or grief, to which only it belongs according to its different imaginations and opinions, to admit of either of them, or of their contraries; thou may look to that thyself, that it suffer nothing.” ~Marcus Aurelius
You Must Be Good
It seems quite strange for a Roman Emperor to be advising people to be good, but Marcus Aurelius was not a violent and sexually-perverted kind of emperor they make movies about. He doesn’t get any movies because he is considered boring. He was spiritual, not materialistic.
Because he was spiritual, he knew that it was important for each of us to be good, not so much for the sake of others, but for ourselves! Even if we are not certain what truly is good or bad, when we do what we believe is good, we feel better within ourselves. When we feel good about ourselves, we treat others good also. And when we feel good about ourselves, and we treat others well, we are far more likely to get along with each other and help each other then we would if we are always looking for ways to con others or reasons to dislike them or feel superior to them. So to be good benefits ourselves most of all, but it also benefits the entire world. And the greater the number of us who try their best to be good as much as possible, the more the world benefits.
Know Good to Be Good
In order to truly be good, we must know what is good and what isn’t. Some things are obviously good, others are obviously bad, but many don’t fall into either camp. We know that saving someone’s life is good, while murder is definitely bad. But what of the situation where saving a person’s physical life will cost the loss of the soul? There, saving their physical life may not be a good thing. So the only way to know for sure is to be spiritually awakened. Then you will not guess or assume what is good or bad, you will simply know how to be good, even when the answer isn’t what the unawakened person might think it is.
Be an Emerald
Have you ever heard of a cursed gem? There are reputed to be such things. Whether they are truly cursed or not is not important for our purposes. The point is, cursed od not, the Hope Diamond is still a diamond. The supposedly cursed Delhi Purple Sapphire is still a sapphire, and a cursed emerald is still an emerald. The point Aurelius is making is that we shouldn’t change our nature based on how we are treated. We should be good even when those around us are not good. We must be good even when others treat us poorly. If we are good only because we expect others to reciprocate, and we get angry or upset when they don’t, then we are not really being good. To truly be good, you must do it simply because it is the right thing to do. But there is more to being gold, purple, or an Emerald.
The Spiritual Symbolism of Gold, purple, and Emeralds
When Aurelius chose to compare being good with being gold, purple, or emerald, I can’t help but believe that he was knowledgeable in spiritual symbology. Each of those things has a spiritual meaning.
I have written about the symbology of gold before, so I will just mention the most important one. Gold often represents the sun, so when used in spiritual writings, it almost always means the Spiritual Sun or the Spiritual Light from that Sun.
We all know that purple is associated with royalty. Not many know that before the wealthy and royal people claimed ownership of it, it was associated with spiritual people, with mystics. That makes more sense since this color is also associated with one of the highest, most spiritual energy centers (chakras) in the human being. Wearing this color can aid in spiritual growth and that can certainly help us to be good.
Emeralds are a valuable gemstone in the material sense, but even more so in the spiritual sense. Being green, it is associated with the heart center and the heart is often associated with both love and the soul. Obviously, having a strong heart center would go a long way to help us be good.