Category: Stoicism

The shorter and nobler life

What is Epictetus saying when he would prefer a shorter life than one that is longer but of less account? Remember though he qualifies it with a shorter and nobler life, and the word nobler is the key. There are two definitions for noble with one being “one of the nobility or a higher class”, but Epictetus was referring to “having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals.” I think this also speaks to the stoic principle that your time on this earth is limited and it is up to you to make the most of it, and living a noble life does just that.

You are bestowed with the power of choice, and you can choose to live your life as a shining example for this world, or you can waste your time and live aimlessly. You know what is the correct choice, so today seek to live a noble life.

Namaste

 

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Epictetus (/ˌɛpɪkˈttəs/;[1] GreekἘπίκτητοςEpíktētosc. 50 – 135 AD) was a Greek Stoic philosopher. He was born a slave at HierapolisPhrygia (present day PamukkaleTurkey) and lived in Rome until his banishment, when he went to Nicopolis in northwestern Greece for the rest of his life. His teachings were written down and published by his pupil Arrian in his Discourses and Enchiridion.

Epictetus taught that philosophy is a way of life and not just a theoretical discipline. To Epictetus, all external events are beyond our control; we should accept calmly and dispassionately whatever happens. However, individuals are responsible for their own actions, which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epictetus

Except to reason

Marcus Aurelius was if nothing else a rational man. In this quote he rightly espouses that nothing else should guide you in life but reason. Not emotions, greed, lust, or any other vile thoughts. In many ways this is the same philosophy that Ayn Rand used in her books The Fountain Head and Atlas Shrugged. When we seek to go down a path that is void of reason we are taking a big risk that could manifest itself into addictions, stupid decisions, and an all around miserable existence.

Let the stoics help guide you to a better place in your life. You are constantly bombarded by so many things that will challenge you, and if you can stay grounded knowing reason alone is your basis for living, then you will be at peace. Most people around you and in society as a whole will not live a life based on reason, and you quickly see what the consequences are for them.

If it is not rational, if you can’t use reason to understand it and guide your decisions then don’t do it. If you are reading this blog you are a person of reason, and it is your responsibility to be the rational person and set an example for those around you. This is even more important now when so much fear about this pandemic is all around us.

Be like Marcus Aurelius, be the stoic!

Namaste

 

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Marcus Aurelius (/ɔːˈrliəs/ or /ɔːˈrljəs/;[1] LatinMarcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus; 26 April 121 – 17 March 180) 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 (a term coined some 13 centuries later by Niccolò Machiavelli), and the last emperor of the Pax Romana, an age of relative peace and stability for the Roman Empire. He served as Roman consul in 140, 145, and 161.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Aurelius

 

 

10 Powerful Lessons From The Meditations Of Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius picture of

The video below is from the YouTube channel Everyday Stoic. I think you will really enjoy this as much as I did. You can find many more of my favorite YouTube videos on this blog on the YouTube Videos page.

 

“Meditations (Medieval Greek: Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν, romanized: Ta eis heauton, literally “things to one’s self”) is a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor from 161 to 180 AD, recording his private notes to himself and ideas on Stoic philosophy.

Marcus Aurelius wrote the 12 books of the Meditations in Koine Greek as a source for his own guidance and self-improvement.

It is possible that large portions of the work were written at Sirmium, where he spent much time planning military campaigns from 170 to 180. Some of it was written while he was positioned at Aquincum on campaign in Pannonia, because internal notes tell us that the first book was written when he was campaigning against the Quadi on the river Granova (modern-day Hron) and the second book was written at Carnuntum.

It is unlikely that Marcus Aurelius ever intended the writings to be published and the work has no official title, so “Meditations” is one of several titles commonly assigned to the collection. These writings take the form of quotations varying in length from one sentence to long paragraphs.”

Source: Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meditations

Namaste

 

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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