Month: April 2020

Live knowing you will die

This is not an uncommon theme with the stoics and for a good reason in that it is so true. Marcus Aurelius was not just a philosopher, not that there is anything wrong with that. In fact Marcus Aurelius was a Roman emperor from 161 to 180 and a Stoic philosopher. He was the last of the rulers known as the Five Good Emperors, and the last emperor of the Pax Romana, an age of relative peace and stability for the Roman Empire. Most of his quotes deal with very pragmatic things, in this case the fact that you will die someday, maybe this very moment.

If you may die wouldn’t it be important that you understand that time for you is not infinite. This fact alone should guide your thoughts and actions. We are all so caught up in our day to day life, that we forget to focus on what is most important. Most of our time is worrying about trivial shit, seeking gratification, and making a terrible mess out of our lives. What if I woke up everyday and said thank you for being alive, and then reminded myself that I may die at any time. Would that change the course of each day, maybe and maybe not. It sure would be better than getting up and thinking another day in the matrix, get on the hamster wheel and start running.

When it really comes down to it, we don’t want to think about our mortality and we find lots of excuses for putting off achieving important things in favor of doing what is easy. After all I will start writing that book next year, get in shape later, quite those disgusting habits someday. We look to the future, a future that Marcus Aurelius reminds us is tenuous at best.

Thinks like a Stoic – I could die tomorrow.

Namaste

 

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Those who think they can damage me

How can you be damaged by people who don’t even know who you are?

They may have some cursory understanding of you, and yet they feel obliged to judge you, and instead of taking the high road they say or write disparaging things about you. These are the trolls of the internet, those who’s only purpose is to spew negative rhetoric about you. The trolls haven’t taken the time to learn about you, or digest your work with an open mind.

Remember they are not intellectuals, philosophers, or students of your work. You need to take the same attitude that Epictetus does and laugh at them and move on. These are not critics they are hate mongers and their feedback is not worthy of your consideration.

I only consider feedback from people that know me well. Life is too short to be absorbing negative messages from fools. Continue on with your good work and support those that have your best interests in mind. Remember those trolls and hate mongers can only cause damage if you let them.

Namaste

 

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A model personality

How do you see yourself?

Do you think you are lazy, unworthy, prone to anger, or lacking direction in your life? What Epictetus is advocating is to see yourself as something greater than you currently do. He even goes so far as to say imagine yourself a model personality, maybe someone like Epictetus, Seneca, or Marcus Aurelius. It could be anyone that you admire, maybe Winston Churchill,  Buddha, Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, or anyone that you aspire to be more like. Use that model character as your guiding light that leads on a course of to follow in terms of speech and action.

Once you have chosen that individual or ideal for yourself now act upon it in both your public and private life. It does no good if you ramble on in public about your philosophy if you cannot implement it in your personal life. If you want to be kind, compassionate, loving, understanding, and calm then do this at all times. It’s not only a philosophy, but it must become a way of life. Don’t study the Bible, the teachings of the Buddha, or the Holy Quran, and go about your life as normal. Just thinking about being a better version of yourself does nothing; you must think then act.

I don’t advocate Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Stoicism, or any other religion or philosophy. In fact any of these mentioned provides guidance on how to live a model life, but you are free to choose one or all of them for yourself. An example of this is the Dali Lama who often talks about loving kindness and compassion and by all accounts his actions support his teachings. So the challenge for the day is to take any of the tenants from your studies and actually implement it in your actions. As it becomes more challenging to be virtuous, during these stressful times, it also becomes more important to act as that model character you want to become.

Who do you aspire to be?

Namaste

 

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Leisure for the mind

You have to love Seneca, he always provides profound guidance, which I have so thankfully been accustomed to receiving over the past year or so. To me this is pretty straight forward. For you or me to have time to think or even to relax we need to be either a poor man, or resemble a poor man. He goes on to say that “study cannot be helpful unless you take pains to live simply”. So to be a great scholar maybe you need both the luxury of time and a life that is not too complex, so as not to compete with your studies.

Finally he states and “living simply is voluntary poverty”. Now mind you Seneca was not poor, but I think he could see that the pursuit of wealth was not healthy to obtaining the state of mind needed to relax the mind if you will. Just like the rest of us we often know the path, teach the path, but struggle to follow it ourselves.

Let you life be simple today, do what you must to earn a living, but keep a bit in reserve for you studies.

Namaste

 

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The good endures

Musonius Rufus was so right, any good work you do, does have an enduring quality or impact, while much of our fucking around ends rather quickly, but our shame about what we did endures. Isn’t this the ultimate challenge that has faced mankind since our existence on this planet? Do we seek to spend our lives seeking pleasure, craving harmful substances and practices? Most of humanity does just that, but as I’ve mentioned you are a philosopher and you are not so easily swayed by the crowd.

Today you will take the high road and do something useful, not over indulging in food or drink. As always, make the best of this day or night, express love for the people around you, and take care of yourself.

I wrote a book review on The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday, which I think you might enjoy, really a wonderful book.

Namaste

Let silence be your general rule

A nice quote from Epictetus and if you are like me you wish this would be read and understood by the continuous talkers we all know and love. Why would silence be the preferred default state of being? Being silent allows you to be a better listener, and thus learn more. Being silent allows others to express themselves, which is a show of respect. The second part of the quote advises that if we need to talk to say what is necessary and in as few words as possible.

I often see in business just the opposite, people who talk and talk, sometime, is just filling in spaces of time, endless babble if you will. In fact this is often encouraged so that we have something to say at a meeting, instead of ending it earlier, we feel compelled to rant on about often meaningless stuff. Corporate America could gain much from studying the stoics, but don’t hold your breath, the endless babbling will continue.

Use this quote as advice for yourself or maybe for a friend. Forget about the babbling fools, they will not change, it is not in their DNA. Philosophy is not for fools, they have no need for it, nor will they ever understand it.

Namaste

Your days are numbered

I love this quote by Marcus Aurelius especially during this trying time, where we are re-discovering just how valuable each day is. We tend to live our life like time is infinite, when logically we know this is not true, but our actions tend to lead us toward filling time versus valuing it. His analogy of throwing open the windows of your soul to the sun, means your days are numbered and you must express yourself, be yourself, and stop all the bullshit and value your time on this earth. The second part of this quote reminds you that our time is limited and wasting our life on trivial shit, becomes a life that is wasted.

The stoics did a good job reminding us we are all mortal. In fact we die a little bit everyday, getting a little closer to our demise. You may live another 10, 20, 30, or 40 years or more, but you may also die tomorrow. I know all this sounds morbid, but understanding how fragile we all are has a great potential for helping us realize how valuable each moment is. Yes, you will die, but if you are reading this you are not dead yet.

Rejoice, do something important today, show someone you love them, and don’t waste your time.

Namaste

Learn while you teach

I’m sure you have experienced that when you teach something it accelerates your own learning. Could it be the students, or the preparation studying the material, or maybe a combination of both.

Seneca also says to associate with those that make you a better person, and welcome those who you can improve. You could interpret this as associate with people you can learn from, and share your knowledge with those that can learn from you.

Maybe today we seek out opportunities to share knowledge with others; not to bolster our ego, but to give back in some way. It might be as simple as sitting with a child and talking about letters or numbers. Maybe you show someone in your family a yoga pose that will relieve back pain. The opportunities are endless, and your reward includes the enhancement of your own knowledge.

Listen I know you are busy, worried, and a bit overwhelmed, but would 10 or 15 minutes to share some knowledge with a friend or family member really be that difficult. Hell do it for yourself if you must, even if it’s just to make you feel good about helping someone.

So that’s it for today. Your challenge is to impart some useful knowledge to someone. No fucking excuses!

Namaste

Allen Carr’s Easy Way To Quit Smoking

Inspirational Book Reviews

Allen Carr's Easy Way To Stop Smoking

Summary

If you are a smoker, you might have entertained quitting, and you may be aware of the book that Allen Carr wrote called Easy Way To Stop Smoking. Now if you are not a smoker, but know someone who would benefit from quitting, then read on. I just finished the Kindle version of the book, but have also read the paperback version which is a little over 200 pages long. The premise of the book is that we continue to smoke because we don’t really understand why and that we perceive we are getting some positive benefit from smoking. He talks about the Little Monster and the Big Monster a lot in this book. The Little Monster being the addiction to nicotine and the Big Monster being our psychological dependence on smoking, with the Little Monster being a mere 1% of the problem, and the Big Monster being 99%…

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Who is your master?

One might equate gain to desire and avoid to fear in this quote from Epictetus. The very fact that you desire something whether it be a position, money, or some material thing indicates something or someone else is now in control. I liken this to Buddhist teachings about cravings. Something outside of ourselves becomes our master, and suffering ensues.

Of course our master may not be revealed by craving alone. Fear can as easily result in a loss of control. What we seek to avoid may not even come to pass, but this makes it no less real in our minds.

I don’t like to dwell upon current events too much as they are often portrayed as negative, and I just don’t want to invest my limited energy in them. Put another way I don’t watch the fucking news!

With that said, please don’t let this pandemic make you so fearful that you allow it to be your master. If you seek to gain anything from this moment have it be knowledge; this will allow you to remain the master of your domain.

Stay calm, stay safe, and be nice to everyone. You may be wise and strong, but there are many others who are not, and they need reassurance that all will be well.

Namaste