Wednesday, October 14, 2015

practice being in need of only a few things

While perusing a Stoic blog today, I came across this post.

In that post, there was a quote.  I searched this quote and found the full quote at this link.

Here is the quote by crates of thebes:
practice being in need of only a few things, for this is the closest thing to god.
for the gods need nothing.  but, so that you may learn more exactly what is involved in having few needs ... reflect that children have more needs than adults, women than men, invalids than the healthy, and, in general, the inferior everywhere has more needs than the superior. therefore the gods have need of nothing and those nearest to them have the fewest needs.
Tt is a worthy pursuit, in all aspects of life, to need little.  in possessions; in entertainment; in clothing; in food.

In Seneca's On Tranquility, he says “Come, then, look at the world: you will see that the gods are bare, conferring everything but possessing nothing. Do you think a man who has shed all his gifts of fortune is a pauper, or like the immortal gods?” (8.5, trans by Elaine Fantham).

The wikisource  / Aubrey Stewart translation states: "Look upon the universe: you will see the gods quite bare of property, and possessing nothing though they give everything. Do you think that this man who has stripped himself of all fortuitous accessories is a pauper, or one like to the immortal gods?"

In a similar vein, Epictetus teaches, "In things to do with the body - food, drink, clothes, housing, and servants - take only what you need, and cut out everything that is for show or luxury" (Enchiridion 33).

And again: "It is the mark of a crude disposition to spend most of one's time on bodily functions such as exercise, eating, drinking, defecating, and copulating.  These are things to be done just incidentally.  All your attention should be on your mind (Enchiridion 41).

Saturday, October 3, 2015

make your life count

in reading meditations this morning, i came across this passage:

people marrying, having children, falling ill, dying, fighting, feasting, trading, farming, flattering, pushing, suspecting plotting, praying for the death of others, grumbling at their lot, falling in love, storing up wealth, longing for consulships and kingships.  and now that life of theirs is gone, vanished. 
similarly, look at the histories of other eras and indeed whole nations, and see how many lives of striving met with a quick fall and resolution into elements.  above all, review in your mind those you have seen yourself in empty struggles, refusing to act in accord with their own natural constitution, to hold tight to it and find it sufficient.  and in this context you must remember that there is proportionate value in our attention to each action - so you will not lose heart if you devote no more time than they warrant to matters of less importance. 
so where should a man direct his endeavour?  here only - a right mind, action for the common good, speech incapable of lies, a disposition to welcome all that happens as necessary, intelligible, flowing from an equally intelligible spring of origin.

i have just completed an enterprise leadership training course.  to say the least, it was inspiring and insightful.  i feel changed and now i am change.  no, that is not a typo.  i did not intend to write "i am changed", rather "i am change."  my paradigm has shifted from passive to active.

to help further explain, allow me to use a couple of seemingly cliche clips from dead poets society.

this one life, is all we have to live. weather we believe in an afterlife or eternal life or not, that does not matter. for the response to either belief is the same: that we have one life to live; one life to prove what we are worth.  and should we live a life of pleasure, devoted to hedonism?  should we eat, drink and be merry all the days of our life?  the stoic says, no.

the stoic believes in living a right life; a life of virtues; a life of improvement and in helping the common good.

so, what will you do?  how will you seize the day?  what verse will you contribute to the powerful play?