Echoes through time: to keep your mind within bounds

I want you not to go traipsing about from place to place, and this for two reasons. First, such frequent travel is a sign of disquiet. The mind cannot find strength in its leisure unless it stops looking around and wandering around. To keep you mind within bounds, you must first stop your body from running away. Second, it is the protracted cure that does the most good. You should rest without interruption and forget your former life. Let your eyes unlearn what they have seen; let your ears grow accustomed to more healthful words.

Seneca (4 BC – AD 65), Moral Letters to Lucilius (69.1)

Echoes through time: the primary indication of a well-ordered mind

The primary indication, to my thinking, of a well-ordered mind is a man’s ability to remain in one place and linger in his own company.

Seneca (c. 4 BC – AD 65), Moral Letters to Lucilius (Letter 2, paragraph 1)

Image: Wikipedia

Echoes through time: seek to be worthy of appreciation

Do not worry if you have no official position. Worry about your qualifications. Do not worry because no one appreciates your abilities. Seek to be worthy of appreciation.

Confucius (551-479 BC), The Analects, Book IV, para 14

 

Image: Britannica.com© philipus/Fotolia

Echoes through time: in his words there may be nothing incorrect

“If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success.

“When affairs cannot be carried on to success, proprieties and music do not flourish. When proprieties and music do not flourish, punishments will not be properly awarded. When punishments are not properly awarded, the people do not know how to move hand or foot.

“Therefore a superior man considers it necessary that the names he uses may be spoken appropriately, and also that what he speaks may be carried out appropriately. What the superior man requires is just that in his words there may be nothing incorrect.”

Confucius (551-479 BC) , Analects  (Book 13, Chapter 3)

These fine words come via the very fine Cultural Offering.

Image: Biography.com

Something posterity will carry in its notebook – Seneca, @DailyStoic

I love this quote from Seneca, via The Daily Stoic’s newsletter:

How long will you be compelled by the claims of another? Take charge and stake your own claim — something posterity will carry in its notebook.

It comes from Seneca’s Moral Letters to Lucilius (Letter 33, paragraph 7 – he wrote a lot of letters).

I’m not sure where the translation comes from. I read it in the Daily Stoic newsletter, and also find it on The Mission (on Medium, here). In fuller version, the passage reads:

“For it’s disgraceful for an old person, or one in sight of old age, to have only the knowledge carried in their notebooks. Zeno said this . . . what do you say? Cleanthes said that . . . what do you say? How long will you be compelled by the claims of another? Take charge and stake your own claim — something posterity will carry in its notebook.”

But elsewhere, I find a more pedestrian (but possibly more literal) translation (on Wikisource and The Stoic Life ).

That is why we give to children a proverb, or that which the Greeks call Chria, to be learned by heart; that sort of thing can be comprehended by the young mind, which cannot as yet hold more. For a man, however, whose progress is definite, to chase after choice extracts and to prop his weakness by the best known and the briefest sayings and to depend upon his memory, is disgraceful; it is time for him to lean on himself. He should make such maxims and not memorize them. For it is disgraceful even for an old man, or one who has sighted old age, to have a note-book knowledge. “This is what Zeno said.” But what have you yourself said? “This is the opinion of Cleanthes.” But what is your own opinion? How long shall you march under another man’s orders? Take command, and utter some word which posterity will remember. Put forth something from your own stock.

For words to live by, though, I’ll go with the Daily Stoic:

Take charge and stake your own claim — something posterity will carry in its notebook.

And, for a spot of random association, it reminds me of this line from the classic Warren Zevon song, The French Inhaler:

And when the lights came up at two
I caught a glimpse of you
And your face looked like something
Death brought with him in his suitcase.

I can’t find a decent live version online, but here’s the original:

And, in fairness, I don’t think Warren was a stoic.

 

Photo by Kiwihug on Unsplash

Echoes through time: most of what we say and do…

‘If thou wouldst know contentment, let thy deeds by few,’ said the sage. … Most of what we say and do is not necessary, and its omission would save both time and trouble. At every step, therefore, a man should ask himself, ‘Is this one of the things that are superfluous?’ Moreover, not idle actions only but even idle impressions ought to be suppressed; for then unnecessary action will not ensue.

Marcus Aurelius (AD 120 – 180), Meditations (4.24)