A lot of people compare Stoicism to Buddhism as ancient stoics puts a huge emphasis on living in the present moment. Whether it be the works of Seneca, Epictetus or Marcus Aurelius, time is viewed as probably the most important commodity given to man. As Marcus Aurelius put it, “That the longest-lived and those who will die soonest lose the same thing. The present is all that they can give up, since that is all you have, and what you do not have, you cannot lose”. Reflecting death on a daily basis (Memento Mori) is another manifestation of how the stoics put utmost importance on time. So, use your time wisely. Don’t look back at the past with guilt and don’t look forward to anxiety. The present is all that you have.
Top 10 Quotes
1. “At some point you have to recognize what world it is that you belong to; what power rules it and from what source you spring; that there is a limit to the time assigned you, and if
you don’t use it to free yourself it will be gone and will never return.” Meditations 2.5
2. “Concentrate every minute like a Roman—like a man—on doing what’s in front of you with precise and genuine seriousness, tenderly, willingly, with justice. And on freeing yourself from all other distractions. Yes, you can—if you do everything as if it were the last thing you were doing in your life, and stop being aimless, stop letting your emotions override what your mind tells you, stop being hypocritical, self-centered, irritable.” Meditations 2.6
3.” Even if you’re going to live three thousand more years, or ten times that, remember: you cannot lose another life than the one you’re living now, or live another one than the one you’re losing. The longest amounts to the same as the shortest. The present is the same for everyone; its loss is the same for everyone; and it should be clear that a brief instant is all that is lost. For you can’t lose either the past or the future; how could you lose what you don’t have? “Meditations 2.14
4. “That the longest-lived and those who will die soonest lose the same thing. The present is all that they can give up, since that is all you have, and what you do not have, you cannot lose “Meditations 2.14 b
5. “You need to avoid certain things in your train of thought: everything random, everything irrelevant. And certainly everything self-important or malicious.” Meditations 3.4
6. “Forget everything else. Keep hold of this alone and remember it: Each of us lives only now, this brief instant. The rest has been lived already, or is impossible to see. The span we live is small—small as the corner of the earth in which we live it.” Meditations 3.10
7. “But what is greater madness than to be tortured by the future and not to save your strength for the actual suffering, but to invite and bring on wretchedness? If you cannot be rid of it, you ought at least to postpone it.
Will you not understand that no man should be tormented by the future? The man who has been told that he will have to endure torture fifty years from now is not disturbed thereby, unless he has leaped over the intervening years, and has projected himself into the trouble that is destined to arrive a generation later. In the same way, souls that enjoy being sick and that seize upon excuses for sorrow are saddened by events long past and effaced from the records. Past and future are both absent; we feel neither of them. But there can be no pain except as the result of what you feel. Farewell.” Letters from A Stoic 74
8. “Life is short. That’s all there is to say. Get what you can from the present—thoughtfully, justly.” Meditations 4.26
9. “What fools these mortals be! They allow the cheapest and most use¬less things, which can easily be replaced, to be charged in the reckoning, after they have acquired them; but they never regard themselves as in debt when they have received some of that pre¬cious commodity—time! And yet time is the one loan which even a grateful recipient cannot repay.” Letters from a Stoic 1
10. “Time is a river, a violent current of events, glimpsed once and already carried past us, and another follows and is gone.” Meditations 4.43
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