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Stoicism On Fire

A weekly Religion, Spirituality and Society podcast
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Episodes of Stoicism On Fire

If you want to make progress, dismiss this kind of reasoning: “If I neglect my business, I will have nothing to live on,” or “If I don’t punish my slave, he will be no good.” It is better to starve to death in a calm and confident state of mind
Never say about anything, “I have lost it”; but say, “I have returned it.” Has your little child died? “It has been returned.” Has your wife died? “She has been returned.” “I have been robbed of my land.” No, that has been returned as well. “Bu
In all circumstances keep in mind to turn in to yourself and ask what resources you have for dealing with these things. If you see a good-looking man or woman, you will find self-control the appropriate power; if pain afflicts you, you will fin
Sickness is an impediment to the body, but not to the will unless the will wants to be impeded. Lameness is an impediment to the leg, but not to the will. If you tell yourself this at every occurrence, you will find the impediment is to somethi
Don’t ask for things to happen as you would like them to, but wish them to happen as they actually do, and you will be all right. (Ench 8) This passage, and several other similar passages within the Stoic texts, present a huge, sometimes insurm
When you are on a voyage and the boat is at anchor, if you disembark to get water, you may pick up a little shellfish and vegetable on the way, but you need to keep your mind fixed on the boat and keep turning around in case the captain calls;
Don’t preen yourself on any distinction that is not your own. If the preening horse should say “I am beautiful,” it would be acceptable. But when you are preening and say, “I have a beautiful horse,” admit that you are preening yourself on a go
Uneducated people blame others when they are doing badly. Those whose education is underway blame themselves. But a fully educated person blames no one, neither himself nor anyone else. (Ench 5) In Episode 35, I covered the first part of Enchei
It is not things themselves that trouble people, but their opinions about things. Death, for instance, is nothing terrible (otherwise, it would have appeared that way to Socrates as well), but the terrible thing is the opinion that death is ter
Whenever you are about to start on some activity, remind yourself what the activity is like. If you go out to bathe, picture what happens at a bathhouse—the people there who splash you or jostle you or talk rudely or steal your things. In this
This famous passage from Encheiridion 3 highlights the fact that this handbook is intended for practitioners who are already familiar with Stoic theory and practice. I say that because passages like this one, read in isolation, without an adequ
Encheiridion 1 focuses on what is up to us and contrasts the tranquil psychological state of those who focus their attention and impulse only on those things and events within their control with the troubled mind of those who attempt to control
The Path to Freedom vs the Path to Slavery As I noted in the last episode, the focus of this podcast series exploring the Encheiridion will be Epictetus’ concept of freedom, which is not the same as the commonly held concept of freedom as a hum
This episode of Stoicism On Fire kicks off an exploration of the powerful, poignant, and perennially inspiring Encheiridion of Epictetus. The fifty-three chapters of this Stoic handbook will provide the primary content and plan for this explora
In the last episode of Stoicism On Fire, I focused on the Stoic doctrine of an excellent human life and the fact that such a life requires agreement with both human nature and cosmic Nature. The corollary of that doctrine is that human reason a
The last episode closed with a thought-provoking passage from the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius that places our human reason into the proper Stoic perspective. It reads: to have the intellect as a guide towards what appear to be duties is so
In Meditations 3.16, Marcus Aurelius notes three different capacities of the human psyche and the corresponding character traits of bad people who are controlled or guided by them. He writes: To receive impressions by means of images is someth
Stoic practice is distinct from academic philosophy because it is a way of life—an art of living—supported by a holistic philosophical system. The Stoics never intended their system to be a primarily intellectual endeavor. Nor was it created as
From everything that happens in the universe it is easy to praise providence, if one has within him two things: the faculty of taking a comprehensive view of the things that happen to each person and a sense of gratitude. For, otherwise, one wi
Our modern world is bursting with angst. News of an impending environmental crisis, worldwide political turmoil, gratuitous violence, wars, and human suffering are delivered instantaneously, twenty-four hours a day, to the smart devices in the
Prepare for Death to Discover Freedom What is most important? Having your soul on your lips.  This makes you free not according to the law of the Quirites, but according to the law of nature. A free person is one who escapes enslavement to hims
The Good Fight Against Fortuna What is most important? Raising your spirits high above chance events; remembering your human status, so that if you are fortunate, you know that will not last long, and if you are unfortunate, you know you are n
A Contented Mind and Pure Hands What is most important? Refusing to let bad intentions enter your mind; raising pure hands to heaven; not seeking any good thing if someone else must give it or must lose it so that it may pass to you; wishing f
A Courageous Mind for Courageous Action What is most important? A mind that is brave and defiant in the face of calamity, not just opposed but hostile to luxury, neither courting nor fleeing danger; one that knows not to wait for fortune but t
Love of Fate (Amor Fati) What is most important? Being able to endure adversity with a glad mind, to experience whatever happens as though you wanted it to happen to you. For you ought to have wanted it to, if you had known that everything hap
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