After the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, his giant empire broke into pieces and descended into a long period of political turmoil with rulers constantly jockying for power. This period, known as the Hellenistic Age, saw the rise of multiple schools of philosophy, all of which had at their core the task of trying to quell the anxiety caused by the political events that they had no control over. Stoicism was one of these schools.
Stoicism was for everyone. If you were making a late night infomercial trying to convince people that Stoicism was right for them, no matter which walk of life they came from, you couldn’t ask for three people with more diversity between them than Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius to plead your case. Known as the three “crown jewels” of Stoicism, these men dedicated their lives to applying Stoicism to the adversity that faced them, and their brilliant insights and techniques can teach us all something about the human condition.
1. Don’t Enslave Yourself to Annoying People
There aren’t many people more qualified to talk about feeling enslaved than the Stoic Philosopher Epictetus; he spent his entire childhood as a slave in the city of Rome. For most people, the thought of being enslaved is the kind of thing that makes you want to curl into the fetal position. To be forcefully put to work and treated as the property of someone else is one of the worst things that could ever happen to you. This is why it baffled Epictetus that everyone around him voluntarily puts themselves into slavery dozens of times per day. Epictetus said:
“If a person gave your body to any stranger he met on his way, you would certainly be angry. And do you feel no shame in handing over your own mind to be confused and mystified by anyone who happens to verbally attack you?”
Read more …
In these few marks on paper, I offer you everything that I have, and everything that I am. Thus I exist in this work both physically and spiritually. If you read me as you read the works of others, I will appear empty. Project your own understanding onto me, to make me meaningful, and you will destroy me. Dismemberment does not appeal to me, so I will warn and warn again in an attempt to confound. And even if my warnings touch only a single one of you, the effort will have been worth the trouble.
These writings will not be welcomed by the run of humanity, nor are they intended for such animals – the herd, obsessed with happiness and the preserving of the life. My wisdom is not for the public life and the organizations within it, neither for mass movements nor break-away sects. Groups appeal to the herd mentality, but the wisdom I speak of in these writings cannot exist in such an environment and in such minds. Rather, I preserve this work for the mere handful of worthies, the true individuals, few though they be and far between. You will know yourself to be one of these precious ones when the externals of authority and tradition fill you with disgust, and when you at last delve into your own intelligence in search of your own wisdom.
~ Kevin Solway
Few masculine archetypes are as mysterious and compelling as that of the monastic warrior. From the Shaolin monks to the Knights Templar, such men withdrew from worldly distractions and sacrificed common pleasures in order to develop both their spirituality and their martial prowess. Through study, contemplation, and physical exercise/training, they disciplined body, mind, and soul to a keen edge.
Throughout history only a small percentage of men have been capable of making such a commitment, and today, communities of martial monks have all but disappeared. Yet introspective and iron-willed men have followed the way of the monastic warrior in every age — finding outlets to seek solitude amidst even the noisiest throng.
Perhaps the best example of this determination in more modern times can’t be found in some exotic temple or tucked-away monastery, but in a rather less likely place: The skies above Normandy, June 6, 1944.
The first commandment of Socrates was: “Know Thyself.” Real-Time Relationships by Stefan Molyneux, host of Freedomain Radio, provides the second commandment: “Speak Thy Truth.” The first virtue is always honesty, but speaking immediate emotional experiences in intimate relationships can be enormously challenging.
Real-Time Relationships addresses the how and the why of true intimacy in love, friendship, politics and work. Bring the power of authentic honesty to all of your personal relationships, and reap the rewards of love, loyalty and security for the rest of your life!