STOICISM

THE CONTRARIAN

 

Stoicism is an ancient system of philosophy which can be summed up as ‘do not sweat the stuff you cannot do anything about’, although it is more than that. Stoicism might be the best philosophy for those of us who believe we have pretty much given away our freedom in favour of government; after all, we cannot as individuals do anything about government. Takes away a lot of stress.

One of the ancient Greek philosophers behind Stoicism was a very smart guy named Epictetus. His saying ‘It is impossible to begin to learn that which one thinks one already knows” is very apt in this day of a huge split in political opinion – some see Trump as evil; some see him as a salvation; both are right, and both are wrong. Both cannot see the other side because they think they know it all and there is no need to try to learn the others point of view.

Here are some more of Epictetus’ sayings. There is a lot of wisdom here for all of us.

The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.

Be careful to leave your sons well instructed rather than rich, for the hopes of the instructed are better than the wealth of the ignorant.

It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.

People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them.

First learn the meaning of what you say, and then speak.

We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.

All religions must be tolerated… for every man must get to heaven in his own way.

Only the educated are free.

First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.

To accuse others for one’s own misfortunes is a sign of want of education. To accuse oneself shows that one’s education has begun. To accuse neither oneself nor others shows that one’s education is complete.

If you wish to be a writer, write.

Do not seek to bring things to pass in accordance with your wishes, but wish for them as they are, and you will find them.

Difficulties are things that show a person what they are.

If evil be spoken of you and it be true, correct yourself, if it be a lie, laugh at it.

It is impossible to begin to learn that which one thinks one already knows.

If one oversteps the bounds of moderation, the greatest pleasures cease to please.

If thy brother wrongs thee, remember not so much his wrong-doing, but more than ever that he is thy brother.

Freedom is not procured by a full enjoyment of what is desired, but by controlling the desire.

Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens.

You are a little soul carrying around a corpse.

No man is free who is not master of himself.

He is a drunkard who takes more than three glasses though he be not drunk

Know, first, who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly.

The world turns aside to let any man pass who knows where he is going.

We should not moor a ship with one anchor, or our life with one hope.

The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.

Practice yourself in little things, and then proceed to greater.

Whenever you are angry, be assured that it is not only a present evil, but that you have increased a habit.

Is freedom anything else than the right to live as we wish? Nothing else.

Whoever does not regard what he has as most ample wealth, is unhappy, though he be master of the world.

Nothing great is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer you that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen.

Never in any case say I have lost such a thing, but I have returned it. Is your child dead? It is a return. Is your wife dead? It is a return. Are you deprived of your estate? Is not this also a return?

Silence is safer than speech.

Control thy passions lest they take vengeance on thee.

 

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