BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time covered stoicism in 2005. The podcast of that programme (mp3) has now been made available. Alternatively, you can listen to the discussion on the iPlayer. The programme page with links and readings is here.
Immediately decide on your character and form of conduct; and stick to them both, whether alone or in company.
Epictetus, start of Handbook, chapter 33.
Here’s a lecture by William B Irvine* on using stoic principles to deal with the ageing process.
…nothing ought to be unexpected by us. Our minds should be sent forward in advance to meet all problems, and we should consider, not what is likely to happen, but what can happen.
Seneca, letter 91. The letter opens with the news of the unprecedented burning down of Lyons, so Seneca is referring here to what we might now call black swan events.
Meditation 11.11 preceeds the one I cited yesterday. Again it is about the soul remaining calm, dignified and intact:
These things may not come to you, the pursuits and avoidances of which disturb you, but in some sense you still go to them. So let your judgement about them be at rest, and they will remain quiet, and you will not be seen either pursuing or avoiding.
This is one of the most beautiful meditations (11.12) I think, evoking the image of the sphere as a symbol of perfection:
The spherical form of the soul maintains its figure, when it is neither extended towards any object, nor contracted inwards, nor dispersed nor sinks down, but is illuminated by light, by which it sees the truth, the truth of all things and the truth that is in itself.
The idea of the soul neither grasping at things nor recoiling, but keeping itself and its dignity intact, reminds me of the Buddhist idea of craving as the source of suffering (although I know Buddhists don’t believe in a soul).
There is only one way to happiness; keep it in mind morning, noon and night. The rule is not to look toward things which are out of the power of our will, to think that nothing is our own, to give up all things to the Divinity and to Fortune.
Epictetus, Discourses, 4.4.39
There’s no better time to find instant peace:
How clear is it that no other condition of life is so well suited for philosophising as that in which you now happen to be.