Moral Letters to Lucilius
Summary: Set your mind at peace with itself, to remain scared of death is like being a child who is afraid of the dark. Death should not be as dreaded as it is, as it cannot be with you. It either arrives and you don’t exist or it hasn’t come at all. If fear can inspire people to gladly die, such as a slave who kills himself after running away to avoid capture, then why shouldn’t virtue be able to allay the fear of death? A mind that focuses on lengthening life is not at peace. Rehearse this thought each day so you may depart contently, don’t be like a man carried by the current clutching to briers and sharp rocks.
Most people live between the fear of death and hardships of life, unwilling to live and not knowing how to die. Banish your worry and live. No possession can make you happy unless you are at peace with its loss. It makes even less sense to worry about loss of life as once it is lost it cannot be missed. Everyone around you has the power to bring death to you. If you are led to death today it is of no matter, you were heading to that destination anyway. Also, remember that to truly be wealthy is to avert hunger, cold and thirst. It is for superfluous things that men sweat.
Reflection: Good tips but it will take a lot of discipline to follow. But why worry: you can not add a second to your life by worrying. You can however internalize goals to make yourself healthy as possible and to die in the least uncomfortable way as possible.
Moral Letters to Lucilius
Summary: If you don’t trust an acquaintance as much as you trust yourself, then do not call them a “Friend”. Treat them as if they are loyal and they will become so. One must walk a line between not confiding too much to strangers/coworkers and bottling up and not even sharing with friends. “The love of bustle is not industry, it is the restlessness of a hunted mind” Don’t withdraw too much into darkness, remember good Mother Nature created both day and night.
Reflection: I should be careful not to be too negative when discussing things with coworkers and leave less said. No gossip no whining! And don’t put yourself down if you take some time off, it is better than the love of bustle with no end goal insight!
Moral Letters to Lucilius
Summary: It is best to study a few great thinkers and ponder their words than to continuously read new works and clutter your mind with ideas while not acting on any of them. Work on having intimate relationships with these great minds “A man who travels makes many acquaintances but no friends”. Only possess the books which you can read rather than worrying about trying to read all the books you possess. Reread you old authors when you need a change. *To have little but to be content is not poverty, to have a lot but want more is poverty… *=paraphrase.
Reflection: I think this may be true when dealing with a life philosophy but also has a lot of meaning when applied to other facets of life outside of reading. Dining, hobbies, and travel for example. It will be easier to be happy If you are easily satiated and get to know things in depth rather than have a mile-wide and an inch deep knowledge of many things. Work on being content with what you’ve done, with what you have rather than thinking that happiness rests in some future accomplishment.
I am working my way through the Moral Letters to Lucilius (AKA Letters from a Stoic) I highly recommend you check it out too. I thought I would summarize what I’ve read and while I’m at it I’ll share my summaries and reflections with you.
In my summaries I may quote directly or paraphrase, so far I’ve very much enjoyed the readings. I am trying to read the book over a year long period.
Moral Letters to Lucilius
Letter 1: On Saving Time
Summary: Time is a precious commodity that is often stolen from us, but we also tend to let it slip away. We could fit a lot more life into our lifetime by being mindful of this and not letting it slip by. We are dying each day, death already owns all of our past, take advantage of what is left. We allow cheap things, TV, etc. to steal our precious time away. If you are going to waste time, at least be able to account for it, know how and why it was wasted. Don’t to try to save time at the end of life “it is too late to spare when you’ve reached the dregs of the cask”.
Reflection: This is a good reason to implement daily mindfulness and to live an active life. An active life spent doing (I include reading in this category if done mindfully but not most passive forms of entertainment) hobbies, thoughtful conversation, charity etc. This active life is the opposite of a passive one in which one lets society dictate what they think and do… T.V. addiction, watching sports, drinking for no purpose, over socializing, over sleeping.
Image: By I, Calidius, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2456052
The next episode will be releasing Sunday May 21. Meanwhile, I have found that I can put all of the information that I want directly into the MP3 show notes when posting so I am going to discontinue using the blog for show notes.
For Sunday May 7th’s episode we will focus on the Stoic virtue of courage. I recommend you also read about Mucius Scaevola and the death of Cato the Younger to better understand this topic.
Reading 1: The Thoughts of Marcus Aurelius Chapter 7 vs. 7
Reading 2: Discourses by Epictetus Ch 1:
Reading 3: Letter 67
In this episode we explore a technique used by the stoics to remain calm in troubling times. Its called Premeditatio Malorum or, the pre-mediation of bad things to come. Also be sure to check out the very well written How to Be a Stoic Page and the Stoic Mettle Podcast !
The Thoughts of Marcus Aurelius Chapter 2 Vs 1.
The Enchridion by Epictetus Chapter 3
Moral Letters to Lucilius by Seneca: #63 On Grief for Lost Friends
In this episode we’ll explore the Stoic Virtue of Justice. How just are we when dealing with those around us? Who have we been rude to or didn’t treat fairly recently? Just because we can get away with it does not mean its virtuous!
Reading 1: Epictetus The Enchiridion #43
Reading 2: The Thoughts of Marcus Aurelius Chapter 5 vs. 31
Reading 3: Seneca Letter’s to Lucilius # 47: On Master and Slave
There are things that you can control and there are things that you cannot. Duh, right? Seems simple, but how much time do you spend worrying about things that you can’t control? In this episode we explore this part of Stoic Philosophy; the idea that if it is not within your power then it shouldn’t bother you. If something is outside your power but you still think it worth perusing, then ensure that you happiness rests on your attempt to pursue the thing and not in attaining it.
Maybe we would be happier if we lived according to nature. Like the morel mushroom in the image above. Its wants are few, and therefor easily met. If you curb your desires to only include the things directly in your power, you will increase your happiness! What is in your power? Your desires, your thoughts, your attitudes. Everything else is only slightly in your power or completely out of your control. If you refuse to be content until cows start laying eggs, you will never be content!
I recommend reading W. Irvine’s Guide to the Good life for further insight!
Listen to “Episode 3: Control” on Spreaker.
The main Stoic virtues are wisdom, justice, temperance and courage. Today’s episode will focus on wisdom. From my understanding, Stoic wisdom is knowing how to apply philosophy to daily life rather than just thinking about it. I used to hate philosophy. In a college course on environmental ethics, I remember the teacher trying to get us to debate by asking “Does a tree have value because we assign it value or because it has value within itself”. Ok fine, we can argue about that, but are we any better off once we are done arguing (and most philosophers are never done arguing)? Stoicism is a philosophy that shows us how to be better people and it is also a philosophy of action, don’t just think about it, be it!
Listen to “Episode 2: Stoic Wisdom” on Spreaker.
Marcus Aurelius Meditations Chapter 10 v. 2
Epictetus’s Discourses #65
Seneca, Letters to Lucilius #84 ON Gathering Ideas