Stoic Meditations

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16 Jan 2018 02:42 #312272 by Reacher
Stoic Meditations was created by Reacher
I recently purchased the book The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Steven Hanselman. It has a year's worth of daily passages meant to offer wisdom from the famous stoics of antiquity. I have been reading one a day for two weeks, and the experience has been very enriching. I'd like to try dictating them here in the hope that someone find them as edifying as I have. I may miss a day or two sometimes, but I'll catch up.

If you want to open any of the passages for discussion or have questions about anything, feel free to send a personal message or comment below!

If you want to provide more anonymous, non-attributional feedback, positive or negative, you can also reach me at my Sarahah Account

Thanks, and I hope this resonates!

One in the Force,

Reacher

Jedi Knight

The average man is hooked to his fellow men, while the warrior is hooked only to infinity.
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16 Jan 2018 02:55 #312273 by Reacher
Replied by Reacher on topic Stoic Meditations
January 15th
Peace Is In Staying The Course

"Tranquility can't be grasped except by those who have reached an unwavering and firm power of judgment - the rest constantly fall and rise in their decisions, wavering in a state of alternately rejecting and accepting things. What is the cause of this back and forth? It's because nothing is clear and they rely on the most uncertain guide - common opinion."
Seneca, Moral Letters, 95.57b-58a

In Seneca's essay on tranquility, he uses the Greek word euthymia, which he defines as "believing in yourself and trusting that you are on the right path, and not being in doubt by following the myriad footpaths of those wandering in every direction." It is this state of mind, he says, that produces tranquility.

Clarity of vision allows us to have this belief. That's not to say we're always going to be 100 percent certain of everything, or that we even should be. Rather, it's that we can rest assured we're heading generally in the right direction - that we don't need to constantly compare ourselves with other people or change our mind every three seconds based on new information.

Instead, tranquility and peace are found in identifying our path and in sticking to it: staying the course - making adjustments here and there, naturally - but ignoring the distracting sirens who beckon us to turn toward the rocks.

Jedi Knight

The average man is hooked to his fellow men, while the warrior is hooked only to infinity.
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16 Jan 2018 06:44 #312280 by Johno
Replied by Johno on topic Stoic Meditations

The Daily Stoic: 365 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance and the Art of the Living
by Ryan Holiday is an excellent resource and one that I use as part of my daily practice.

Stoicism is a practical philosophy for life that can be applied by anyone willing to give it a go. It is a daily pursuit. In addition the advantages have been well documented. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy borrows much from the Stoics. More and more psychologists are picking it up along with mindfulness as modalities for treating conditions such as depression, anxiety and grief as well as substance abuse.

Over the last two years I have taken part in Stoic Week which usually runs in October. Everyday a different theme is explored and participants are invited to apply Stoic practices. There is also a four week course which runs through modernstoicism.com/ .

Excellent books to read on modern Stoicism include:
A Guide to the Good Life (The ancient art of Stoic Joy) by William Irvine
How to be a Stoic: Ancient wisdom for modern living by Massimo Pigliucci
Stoicism and the Art of Happiness by Donald Robertson

Then of course there are the required readings:

Meditations
by Marcus Aurelius
Letters from a Stoic by Seneca
The Discourses by Epictetus

In my view Marcus Aurelius was the First Real World Jedi! Truly inspirational character and someone whose writings inspires me to be a better person.

Combined with the Jedi practices of meditation, physical exercise, study, application and service the Stoic philosophy is a perfect match for the Jedi philosopher.

"Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter" - Yoda
"We are spiritual beings having a human experience." -Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

www.dailyjedi.com
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16 Jan 2018 09:19 #312287 by Mandhar
Replied by Mandhar on topic Stoic Meditations
I found stoicism about a year ago and I love the pragmatic philosophy. I hadn't found this one yet. Thanks for the tip!

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16 Jan 2018 21:21 #312366 by Reacher
Replied by Reacher on topic Stoic Meditations
January 16th
Never Do Anything Out Of Habit

"So in he majority of other things, we address circumstances not in accordance with the right assumptions, but mostly by following wretched habit. Since all that I've said is the case, the person in training must seek to rise above, so as to stop seeking out pleasure and steering away from pain; to stop clinging to living and abhorring death; and in the case of property and money, to stop valuing receiving over giving."
Musonius Rufus, Lectures, 6.25.5-11

A worker is asked: "Why did you do it this way?" The answer, "Because that's the way we've always done things." The answer frustrates every good boss and sets the mouth of every entrepreneur watering. The worker has stopped thinking and is mindlessly operating out of habit. The business is ripe for disruption by a competitor, and the worker will probably get fired by any thinking boss.

We should apply the same ruthlessness to our own habits. In fact, we are studying philosophy to break ourselves of rote behavior. Find what you do out of rote memory or routine. Ask yourself: Is this really the best way to do it? Know why you do what you do - do it for the right reasons.

Jedi Knight

The average man is hooked to his fellow men, while the warrior is hooked only to infinity.
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18 Jan 2018 06:04 #312483 by Reacher
Replied by Reacher on topic Stoic Meditations
January 17th
Reboot The Real Work

"I am your teacher and you are learning in my school. My aim is to bring you to completion, unhindered free from compulsive behavior, unrestrained, without shame, free, flourishing, and happy, looking to God in things great and small - your aim is to learn and diligently practice all these things. Why then don't you complete the work, if you have the right aim and I have both the right aim and right preparation? What is missing?...The work is quite feasible, and is the only thing in our power...Let go of the past. We must only begin. Believe me and you will see."
Epictetus, Discourses, 2.19.29-34

Do you remember, in school or early in your life, being afraid to try something because you feared you might fail at it? Most teenagers choose to fool around rather than exert themselves. Halfhearted, lazy effort gives them a ready-made excuse: "It doesn't matter. I wasn't even trying."

As we get older, failure is not so inconsequential anymore. What's at stake is not some arbitrary grade or intramural sports trophy, but the quality of your life and your ability to deal with the world around you.

Don't let that intimidate you, though. You have the best teachers in the world: the wisest philosophers who ever lived. And not only are you capable, te professor is asking for something very simple: just begin the work. The rest follows.

Jedi Knight

The average man is hooked to his fellow men, while the warrior is hooked only to infinity.
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18 Jan 2018 22:03 #312526 by Reacher
Replied by Reacher on topic Stoic Meditations
January 18th
See The World Like A Poet And An Artist

"Pass through this brief patch of time in harmony with nature, and come to your final resting place gracefully, just as a ripened olive might drop, praising the earth that nourished it and grateful to the tree that gave it growth."
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 4.48.2

There are some stunningly beautiful turns of phrase in Marcus's Meditations - a surprising treat considering the intended audience (just himself). In one passage, he praises the "charm and allure" of nature's processes, the "stalks of ripe grain bending low, the frowning brow of the lion, the foam dripping from the boar's mouth." We should thank private rhetoric teacher Marcus Cornelius Fronto for the imagery in these vivid passages. Fronto, widely considered to be Rome's best orator besides Cicero, was chosen by Marcus's adopted father to teach Marcus to think and write and speak.

More than just pretty phrases, they gave him - and now us - a powerful perspective on ordinary or seemingly unbeautiful events. It takes an artist's eye to see that the end of life is not unlike a ripe fruit falling from its tree. It takes a poet to notice the way "baking bread splits in places and those cracks, while not intended in the baker's art, catch our eye and serve to stir our appetite" and find a metaphor in them.

There is clarity (and joy) in seeing what others can't see, in finding grace and harmony in places others overlook. Isn't that far better than seeing the world as some dark place?

Jedi Knight

The average man is hooked to his fellow men, while the warrior is hooked only to infinity.
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21 Jan 2018 15:38 #312778 by Reacher
Replied by Reacher on topic Stoic Meditations
January 19th
Wherever You Go, There Your Choice Is

"A podium and a prison is each a place, one high and the other low, but in each place your freedom of choice can be maintained if you so wish."
Epictetus, Discourses, 2.6.25

The Stoics all held vastly different stations in life. Some were rich, some were born at the bottom of Rome's rigid hierarchy. Some had it easy, and others had it unimaginably hard. This is true for us as well - we all come to philosophy from different backgrounds, and even within our own lives we experience bouts of good fortune and bad fortune.

But in all circumstances - adversity or advantage - we really have just one thing we need to do: focus on what is in our control as opposed to what is not. Right now we might be laid low with struggles, whereas just a few years ago we might have lived high on the hog, and in just a few days we might be doing so well that success is actually a burden. One thing will stay constant: our freedom of choice - both in the big picture and small picture.

Ultimately, this is clarity. Whoever we are, wherever we are - what matters is our choices. What are they? How will we evaluate them? How will we make the most of them? Those are questions life asks us, regardless of our station. How will you answer?

Jedi Knight

The average man is hooked to his fellow men, while the warrior is hooked only to infinity.
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21 Jan 2018 15:45 #312779 by Reacher
Replied by Reacher on topic Stoic Meditations
January 20th
Reignite Your Thoughts

"Your principles can't be extinguished unless you snuff out the thoughts that feed them, for it's continually in your power to reignite new ones...It's possible to start living again! See things anew as you once did - that is how to restart life!"
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 7.2

Have you had a bad couple weeks? Have you been drifting away from the principles and beliefs that you hold dear? It's perfectly fine. It happens to all of us.

In fact, it probably happened to Marcus - that may be why he scribbled this note to himself. Perhaps he'd been dealing with difficult senators or having difficulties with his troubled son. Perhaps in these scenarios he'd lost his temper, became depressed, or stopped checking in with himself. Who wouldn't?

But the reminder here is that no matter what happens, no matter how disappointing our behavior has been in the past, the principles themselves remain unchanged. We can return and embrace them at any moment. What happened yesterday - what happened five minutes ago - is the past. We can reignite and restart whenever we like.

Why not do it right now?

Jedi Knight

The average man is hooked to his fellow men, while the warrior is hooked only to infinity.
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21 Jan 2018 16:00 #312780 by Reacher
Replied by Reacher on topic Stoic Meditations
January 21st
A Morning Ritual

"Ask yourself the following first thing in the morning:
  • What am I lacking in attaining freedom from passion?
  • What for tranquility?
  • What am I? A mere body, estate-holder, or reputation? None of these things.
  • What, then? A rational being.
  • What then is demanded of me? Meditate on your actions.
  • How did I steer away from serenity?
  • What did I do that was unfriendly, unsocial, or uncaring?
  • What did I fail to do in all these things?"
Epictetus, Discourses, 4.6.34-35

Many successful people have a morning ritual. For some, it's meditation. For others, it's exercise. For many, it's journaling - just a few pages where they write down their thoughts, fears, hopes. In these cases the point is not so much the activity itself as it is the ritualized reflection. The idea is to take some time to look inward and examine.

Taking that time is what Stoics advocated more than almost anything else. We don't know whether Marcus Aurelius wrote his Meditations in the morning or at night, but we know he carved out moments of quiet alone time - and that he wrote for himself, not for anyone else. If you're looking for a place to start your own ritual, you could do worse that Marcus's example and Epictetus's checklist.

Every day, starting today, ask yourself these same tough questions. Let philosophy and hard work guide you to better answers, one morning at a time, over the course of a life.

Jedi Knight

The average man is hooked to his fellow men, while the warrior is hooked only to infinity.
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