Fear keeps pace…

Fear keeps pace with hope. Nor does their so moving together surprise me; both belong to a mind in suspense, to a mind in a state of anxiety through looking into the future. Both are mainly due to projecting our thoughts far ahead of us instead of adapting ourselves to the present. Thus it is that foresight, the greatest blessing humanity has been given, is transformed into a curse. Wild animals run from the dangers they actually see, and once they have escaped them worry no more. We however are tormented alike by what is past and what is to come. A number of our blessings do us harm, for memory brings back the agony of fear while foresight brings it on prematurely. No one confines his unhappiness to the present.

Seneca

Solon, seeing a…

Solon, seeing a very friend of his at Athens mourning piteously, brought him into a high tower and showed him underneath all the houses in that great city, saying to him “Think with yourself how many sundry mournings in times past have been in all these houses, how many at this present are, and in time to come shall be; and leave off to bewail the miseries of mortal folk, as if they were your own.”

I would wish you, Lipsius, to do the like in this wide world. But because you cannot in deed and fact go to, do it a little while in conceit and imagination. Suppose, if it please, that you are with me on the top of that high hill Olympus; behold from there all towns, provinces, and kingdoms of the world, and think that you see even so many enclosures full of human calamities. These are but only theatres and places for the purpose prepared, in which Fortune plays her bloody tragedies. […]

Which things think well upon, Lipsius, and by this communication or participation of miseries, lighten your own. And like they [Roman generals] which rode gloriously in triumph, had a servant behind their backs who in the midst of all their triumphant jollity cried out often times “you are a man” [and “remember you must die”], so let this be ever as a prompter by your side, that these things are human, or appertaining to men. For as labour being divided between many is easy, even so likewise is sorrow.

The Neostoic Justus Lipsius

The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

The duration of a man’s life is as a point; the substance of it ever flowing, the sense obscure; and the whole composition of the body tending to decay. His soul is a restless vortex, fortune uncertain, and fame doubtful; in a word, as a rushing stream so are all things belonging to the body; as a dream, or as a smoke, so are all that belong unto the soul. Life is a warfare, and a sojourn in a foreign land. Fame after life is nothing more than oblivion.

What is it then that will guide man? One thing alone: philosophy. And philosophy consists in this, for a man to preserve that inner genius or divine spark which is within him, from violence and injuries, and above all pains or pleasures; never to do anything either without purpose, or falsely, or hypocritically: wholly to depend from himself and his own proper actions: all things that happen unto him to embrace contentedly, as coming from Him from whom he himself also came; and above all things, with all meekness and a calm cheerfulness, to expect death, as being nothing else but the dissolution of those elements, of which every living being is composed.

And if the elements themselves suffer nothing by this their perpetual conversion of one into another, that dissolution, and alteration, which is so common unto all, why should it be feared by any? Is not this according to nature? But nothing that is according to nature can be evil.

Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations, Book II, Section 15

Whoever it was …

Whoever it was who said, “Fortune, I have made a pre-emptive strike against you, and I have deprived you of every single loophole,” was not basing his confidence on bolts, locks and fortifications, but on principles and arguments which are available to anyone who wants them. […] For if the mind is self-indulgent, and takes the easiest courses all the time, and retreats from unwelcome matters to what maximizes its pleasure, the consequence is weakness and feebleness born of lack of exertion; but a mind which trains and strains itself to use rationality to conceive an image of illness and pain and exile will find that there is plenty of unreality, superficiality and unsoundness in the apparent problems and horrors each of them has to offer, as detailed rational argument demonstrates. (Plutarch, On Contentment, 467C)

Plutarch was a Platonist but perhaps influenced to some extent by aspects of Stoicism.

From the Ancient Greeks to Rational-Emotive-Behavior-Therapy Today

Link to an article on Stoic philosophy and REBT

From the Ancient Greeks to Rational-Emotive-Behavior-Therapy Today

I stumbled across this article by Sandra Lipsitz Bem that talks about Stoicism and REBT:

I think of patients much the same way as I think about myself. I am human. I make mistakes. People who come to therapy are just people who are trying to figure it all out and maybe they did not have parents or teachers who helped them to understand themselves. Sometimes we simply need someone to talk with, to reflect our minds and by so doing help us to know ourselves a little better. If another person takes the time to reflect back to people, like a mirror, what another perceives (not what the therapist thinks or judges to be right or wrong) then people can learn, adapt, and have a different outcome. This is more effective than simply following an ideology, although that has its place. We need, like narcissus, to see our own reflection in a still pond. A good therapist is like that still pond, calm.

Read the rest of the article here