Stoicism 1, 2, 3, 4: A Memory Aid for Meditation

Bringing them the plague
3 min readMar 1, 2022

Stoic meditation is about memorizing Stoic teachings deeply, which you can call upon facing adversities. As Marcus Aurelius says:

Continually, therefore, grant yourself this retreat and repair yourself. But let them be brief and fundamental truths, which will suffice at once by their presence to wash away all sorrow, and to send you back without repugnance to the life to which you return. (Marcus Aurelius, Meditations IV, 3)

Here is one mnemonic (memory) aid Stoic learners might use. It is based around counting up from 1 to 4, then back down again. Simple.

One

One thing is necessary for happiness, virtue: the knowledge of what is and is not needed to live well.

If you don’t have this, you can have many other things and still be miserable. If you do have it, you don’t need many other things and can still be content.

Two

There are two kinds of things in the world:

1.things outside of our control — money, power, fame, status, natural disasters, what others say about us…

2.things within our control.

Most of us spend a lot of our time worrying about the first, and not focusing on what we can control. But worrying about what we can’t change won’t help — it robs you of energy for what you can change.

Three

There are three kinds of things in the world that the Stoics argued are in our control:

1.our beliefs about the world, and right and wrong

2. our desires and aversions (impulses towards what we want or want to avoid)

3. our speeches and actions.

Everything else “belongs” to others, nature, or the Gods. We should spend more time reflecting on these three things, than worrying about things we can’t control.

Four

There are four core virtues for the Stoics:

1.moderation in what we desire (food, drink, sex, popularity…)

2.courage facing what we would wish to avoid (threats to what we value)

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Bringing them the plague

Freud's response on arrival in America, some Camus; blogs of philosophy, psychology, culture and politics. (Formerly Castalian Stream, now less pretentious)