Tag Archives: Stoicism

Quotes of Wisdom: Seneca on the True Meaning of Philosophy

Seneca

Demetrius the Cynic is fond of stating that it is better for us to possess only a few maxims of philosophy that are always at our command, than to acquire a vast knowledge that serves no practical purpose. It will not harm you to pass over matters which are neither possible nor advantageous to know. Truth is hidden and wrapped in mystery. There is nothing that is hard to discover except that which brings no other reward than the fact of discovery; all that makes us better and happier has been placed either in plain sight or nearby. The soul that can scorn the accidents of fortune, that can rise superior to fears, that does not covet boundless wealth, but has learned to seek riches in itself; the soul that can cast out dread of men and gods and knows that it has little to fear from man and nothing from Jupiter; that despising all things which, while they enrich, harass life, can rise to the height of seeing that death is not the source of evil, but the end of many; the soul that can dedicate itself to Virtue, and think that every path to which she calls is smooth; that social creature that is born for the common good views the world as the universal home of mankind and can bare its conscience to the gods. Such a soul, remote from storms, stands on solid ground beneath a blue sky and has attained to perfect knowledge of what is useful and essential. All other matters are but the diversions of a leisure hour; for once the soul has found a safe retreat it may also make excursions into things that bring polish, not strength, to its powers.

~ Seneca

Enlightening Articles: 10 Things The Stoics Can Teach You About Being A Happier Person

Zeno of Citium

Zeno of Citium was the founder of the Stoic school of philosophy

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?”
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Enlightening Articles: The Way of the Monastic Warrior: Lessons from Major Dick Winters

Richard_Dick_Winters_ww2

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.

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