Journey through Every Country

map-wallpaper-5Hi everyone,

While this post isn’t related to Stoicism, I hope that among the readers here I will find both forgiveness and other individuals who share similar interests—If I say the words “travel, culture, history, sociology, anthropology,” and if one of those words sparks your interest, read on:

About two years ago, I was gifted an awesome book at Christmas: The Travel Book. It’s a coffee table book with a two-page spread for each country in the world. Each spread contains a couple of photos from the country, some geographic/demographic facts, and my favorite part: suggestions on books, food, music, movies, etc. to give you a feel for that country.

Why am I telling you this? Because I really want to “Journey through Every Country,” and I really want to do it in a group. I’d love to be in a group that can collectively recommend and decide which book we’ll read (and discuss!) for the given country, and everyone could share their music, videos, recipes, and other suggestions. So if you’re at all interested, or if you have a friend who might be interested, check out the Facebook group here. (You can also search for “Journey through Every Country”). Let’s give it a go! I’m really looking forward to this!

Sincerely,
Kirsten

Crumbling

I first got acquainted with Stoicism by chance when I was battling my darkest depression. That was exactly two years ago. My life has turned a 180 since then. Two years ago, I physically could not get out of bed until 3:00 in the afternoon. I ate a cookie or biscuit for daily sustenance. I had no job and no support system. My life was full of people rejecting me, and I was left on my own to deal with it (apart from my roommate at the time who tried her best to be supportive). I was wasting away.

Enter Stoicism. A philosophical belief system that told me to refocus my desires. Who cares about the corrupt administration in your last job (and the fact that your peers think lesser of you for exposing that corruption)? At least you can be an upright person. I clung to it. Powerful quotes that could bring goosebumps… That could make perfect sense of this picture below…cosmos-giordano-bruno

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Epictetus: Discourses 1.3

Today’s discourse throws out a phrase that rings a bell for Christians. Whenever I run into these familiar phrases in Stoicism, I get excited. Why? Because without getting into how much exactly Christianity pulled from ancient Stoic philosophy, the fact remains that there are these “uncanny” similarities you run into. And I love these, because they widen my understanding of Christianity actually. Where Christian teachings during my youth may have fallen short at times, they suddenly make so much more sense in light of Stoic philosophy. Don’t know what I mean? Read the discourse and see for yourself. Read more of this post

Epictetus: Discourses 1.2

We just finished covering Discourses 1.1 – Things that are in your power, and things that are not within your power. Epictetus clearly laid out that the mind is distinguished from the body (among other things):

Body Mind
Not completely in your power Completely in your power
Clay, earth Portion of the divine
Subject to setbacks, hindrances Invincible
Small, “poor little body” Capable of expanding as large as the cosmos

He also alluded to a sort of human superpower, called reason, that helps us unlock these properties of the mind and deal with obstacles.

He talked about perceptions, and the concept that humans assign value to objects and events. (Remember, quotes like “What else tells us that gold is beautiful? Gold itself doesn’t tell us that,” and “I must go into exile; can anyone prevent me from going into exile with a smile, cheerfully and serenely?”

Today, Epictetus addresses the fact that “rational” and “irrational” can mean different things to different people, depending on what you value and what you consider your ultimate aim. He also talks about what it means to stay true to your character, and just how much weight that can have once you decide to adhere to it. Let’s get started.

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Epictetus: Discourses 1.1

I randomly decided that I want to read through the works of the three most famous Stoics—Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius—and type up their works in a language that is quick and easy to understand. Once all is said and done, I may or may not print and bind the document, as a sort of “Stoic Trilogy” to keep at hand for quick reading of the main texts.

I’m starting with Epictetus’ Discourses. As you may well know, my favorite Stoic writer is Seneca. He’s funny, and he’s got a way with words. We’ll spend time with him later. But right now we’re working with Epictetus. Epictetus is a bad ass; he’s like a Stoic drill sergeant. I can imagine him tearing up a student, “You think that’s worth crying about, huh?? Shut the hell up and use that damn brain the gods gave you!” Read more of this post

A Morning Contemplation

It’s Sunday, and I woke up at 6:00am for fun.

Actually, I’m trying to add some intention to my daily life. So I did wake up early. I woke up to watch the sunrise, and it was awesome.

At 6:00am, I pulled on a sweater and shoes, made a latte in the kitchen, and headed out in the dark to my front porch, to sit, observe, and contemplate the sunrise. I was apprehensive at first. Since I had decided last night to do this, I thought, Am I crazy for waking up early on the weekend? This is my last day to sleep in, since work starts again tomorrow. But as soon as I stepped out the door into the darkness, I was immersed in the cool air and a sea of crickets and robins singing. That’s when I got excited. Read more of this post

Stoic Serenity 6.1: Impermanence, Loss, and Death

We’re progressing to the final full chapter of Stoic Serenity: “Impermanence, Loss, and Death.” Interestingly, author Keith Seddon starts this one out with a Bible verse:

cassini-earth-moon-look-bac“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
Remind me that my days are numbered—
how fleeting my life is.

You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
at best, each of us is but a breath.

We are merely moving shadows,
and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.
We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it.”

(Psalm 39:4-6, New Living Translation)

What do you think? Is eudaimonia and peace of mind even attainable? Can it be achieved, or are we simply enamored with an idea? Maybe the human mind is not capable of all this we’ve been studying—maybe we’re chasing after phantoms. After all, everything in the universe is transitory.

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Stoic Serenity 5.10: Thought Experiment 2

Well hello again. I’m going through a rough patch right now, which motivated me to re-read through the Stoic Serenity lessons here on the blog, which in turn motivated me to continue with the chapters in the book. So a year later, I’m picking up exactly where I left off: Cicero’s second thought experiment: Read more of this post

Audio Recordings

Here’s the deal: if you’ve read any handful of posts on this blog, you know that Seneca is my favorite of the three most famous Stoics. I enjoy his letters so much that I splurged and bought the newly-released Letters on Ethics published by Cambridge University Press (after waiting for it for a year!). I’ve been enjoying the introductory material and reading a letter each evening or so, when I decided I wanted to have Seneca’s letters on audio recording. Yes, these can sometimes be found on Youtube or on other websites, but sometimes the older translations can use an interesting vocabulary, which was a hindrance several weeks ago when my boyfriend (whose native language is not English) and I wanted to listen to Seneca during a road trip. So I wanted to listen to Seneca’s words in simple clarity, to free the mind from the tangles of vocabulary and syntax, and enable the mind to delve deep and explore the actual content.

So after reading both older translations of Letters from a Stoic and the 2015 Letters on Ethics, I have produced an audio recording that is similar to the way I include Seneca’s letters in my blog posts. Some words are changed, some parts may be slightly paraphrased, all is done in effort to convey the original meaning and to ease understanding.

Check back for updates. New audio recordings will be added to this page, but no email/blog updates will be sent, if you’ve subscribed.

Enjoy.

Role Models

Stoic Week 2015 centered on Marcus Aurelius and opened with the same theme shared in the first few pages of Meditations: role models.

I’ve never been one to consciously consider my own role models, although I know I have them. I suppose my pessimistic nature is more inclined to make a list of people from whom I’ve learned how not to act. Nevertheless, here is my own list of role models. I’ve tried to keep the attributes related to Stoicism. Here goes: Read more of this post

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