Memento Mori | Stoic Exercises For Inner Peace


Life is short. It’s ticking away and seems to pass by faster
as we get older. Despite of this, many people waste their lives
on trivial things. But there’s an antidote. Thinking about death not only reminds us that
we have a limited amount of time to do the things we want to do; it also teaches us to
accept the reality of death itself and that it’s all around us. In this video, I explore the Stoic philosophy
behind memento mori. This video is animated by the YouTube channel
BD Design. For more philosophy videos like this, you´ll
find a link in the description. Now, let´s dive in! Memento mori is Latin for remember thou art
mortal. On the famous painting by Philippe de Champaigne
from 1671, you see the three essentials of memento mori. The hourglass stands for the notion that life
is ticking away second after second. The rose stands for the truth about vitality,
which is that, at some point, we all decay. The skull represents death. We are going to die. And not only us: the people around us including
our loved ones as well. This means that today could be the last day
you walk the earth. “You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and
think,” wrote Marcus Aurelius in his meditations. So, if you’d die today, what would you do? Well, some people would certainly go on a
hedonistic binge, getting whatever pleasure they can think of before they die. But if you lead your life according to Stoic
principles, that would not be a preferred option. Rather, you’d probably live your last hours
as virtuously as possible. Do you want to show appreciation for your
loved ones? Tell them you love them. Do you have unfinished business? Now is the time to take care of that. So, memento mori is a great antidote to one
of the nastiests habits of mankind: procrastination. Because procrastination can only take place
if we believe that we have an abundance of time. When we take that belief away, we face the
necessity of doing our task now, because tomorrow we might be dead. Now, thinking about death may evoke feelings
of fear and sorrow along with the motivation we get to take care of our business. This isn’t caused by death itself but by our
opinions about death. Here is a quote by Epictetus: Men are disturbed, not by things, but by the
principles and notions which they form concerning things. Death, for instance, is not terrible, else
it would have appeared so to Socrates. But the terror consists in our notion of death
that it is terrible. End quote. When we stop fearing death and we see it as
nothing more than the insurmountable consequence of life, we can be appreciative for the time
that is given to us and not squander it doing petty things. Another dimension of memento mori is preparation. Yes, we will lose the people we love and sometimes
in the most brutal ways. Just look at human history or look at what’s
happening in the world right now: the world is full of death. Not being affected by loss is, of course,
easier said than done. Even though the Stoics propose this ideal;
most of us are still human and will have to deal with grief when someone they love dies. Now, reminding ourselves of the possibility
that we can lose a loved one as we speak, helps us to be less shocked when that happens. For most people I know, losing someone they
love is excruciating. Humans are often so attached to each other
that they cannot bear the loss. But if we are mindful of the truth of death,
we can cultivate a healthier mindset towards the possibility of loss. Instead of clinging to a person, wishing that
we will never get separated, we can embrace the reality that the day of separation will
come. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t grieve
and mourn; it means that we were prepared all along. We can be more functional
and helpful human beings for the community when death occurs. In this case losing someone due to mortality
becomes more neutral. Here’s how Marcus Aurelius puts it: “Don’t look down on death, but welcome
it. It too is one of the things required by nature. Like youth and old age. Like growth and maturity. Like a new set of teeth, a beard, the first
gray hair. Like sex and pregnancy and childbirth. Like all the other physical changes at each
stage of life, our dissolution is no different.” End quote. What happens after we die? Will we enter the eternal nothingness that
frees us of sense-perception, emotional turmoil, worry and rumination and the enslavement of
our bodies? Or will we return to the flesh again for another
life in the realm of matter. No one knows for sure. But what we do know is that mortality is upon
us. When death smiles at us no matter where we
go, is there a better response than to smile back? Thank you for watching.

46 thoughts on “Memento Mori | Stoic Exercises For Inner Peace

  1. Embrace death as your true friend and learn to count your life in weeks and months instead of years.

  2. Thanks for your videos. A correction, "Mori" is not pronounced with a gutural R but a foward R.

  3. What is it that you hope to gain from a commercial ad prior to a teaching? What is it that you hope to communicate? The priority seems to be the ad because it comes before the teaching. Where then is the priority of your heart? You can't have it both ways. Nor can you or any other 'teachers' of any kind of spirituality know the truth of what they teach when there are commercial ads prior to the teaching. Nor can anyone dispute or find error in these words. One's priority is self evident by what comes first.

  4. "The perfection of moral character consists in this, in passing every day as if it were your last."
    – Marcus Aurelius

  5. I don't feel anything when i think of death, i even didn't grief when my friend or even my uncle died, instead i think of it as something pleasant and nothing to be afraid of. Is this meant depression? or is it an acceptance of death itself?

  6. Another amazing video! We should all open our eyes to the principles that govern life as well as death, so many get distracted and always believe tomorrow will come yet tomorrow doesn't exist. There is only now and when death comes will be in the now. I think most people suffer because they are not more mindful of their present but lost in their minds and emotions and use distractions to cope with it, and their lives are chaos because of it. Our western society has for a long time neglected mindfulness and what it means to have true body and mind wealth. More people are awakening again and that's beautiful. Death makes way for new life to be born with wonder again like supernovas to stars, plants and trees in fall for a new spring etc. Life really is an amazing balance.

  7. Great video, death can be a torment if we allow it, but we can have peace if we see it as something that gives peace, whether that be the absolute end in death which all thinking ceases or to hope of eternal life afterwards as it would be in my case.

  8. Great wisdom brother thank you. I have tip for next content if its fill the bill for you. You could speak about our cravings or lust or greed. I think those are the other fingers of evil systems beside the procrastination you mentioned. 😉👍

  9. As Marcus Aurelius said in his Meditations: "Do not think of someone who died that he's gone, but that he's returned".

  10. Procrastination is solved by death. Living your life as if you could die soon, when you don't know if you will, never works…………

  11. How to think about death has occupied center stage of many a great philosophy. I still hear the words of, "Hamlet." "To be or not to be?" That is the question for all of us.

  12. I am not lying,

    If I get to know that I am gonna die tomorrow, I will do nothing extraordinary at all .
    Will get up in the morning,
    I will take bath, eat breakfast , attend office, return home , have dinner with my family , drink tea before bed, plug ear phones in and will play Chopin Nocturne No.20 C sharp, will leave this earth with out any fear and regrets.

  13. Paradoxically, when you deal with death while alive, you become more alive.
    One lives the life to the fullest, because no fear is holding you back.

  14. As a Buddhist this was especially interesting- death awareness certainly makes our life meaningful, Shrouds don’t have pockets 😉🙏🏼🧘🏼‍♂️

  15. Yes, that's what I thought today, and I went to the cemetery to see my grandfather and paying him a visit. I've thought the exactely right thing that in this video is presented.

  16. Awesome video. Your content is great. I recently began practicing Stoicism and I find your content extremely helpful. Thank you.

  17. This channel tackles some existential elements that would bring anxiety to even the strongest stoics. Thank you for the courage to think larger

  18. Love your videos, I really like to see the notification of a new video by you.
    Keep up spreading the good message 👍🏼

    Ps. If you have any content regarding mental illnesses like anxiety or ocd I would appreciate it 🙂

  19. I've been thinking about death for some weeks, most likely because I've been idle and today I woke up sweating and thinking that some day I won't be here, could only say "stop it" out loud to myself… it was so sad and terrifying :'( it never happened to me before, but then I started to do things and eventually forgot about it. Now your video pops up and even though it's difficult to embrace death as something natural it helped me to put my feelings into words. I'm scared to go deeper into the subject but your words surely helped so thank you. I've been watching you content since the "5 Habits Of The Sigma Male" video and you manage to explain sensitive topics in a simple and understandable way in 10 minutes or less, so thank you again and great work!

  20. in my early 20's I thought I was having a heart attack. I was actually quite happy to go, I was more concerned if the pain was going to get worse just before I bit the dust.

  21. Have You Earned Your Tomorrow
    By Edgar Guest

    Is anybody happier because you passed his way?
    Does anyone remember that you spoke to him today?
    This day is almost over, and its toiling time is through;
    Is there anyone to utter now a kindly word of you?

    Did you give a cheerful greeting to the friend who came along?
    Or a churlish sort of "Howdy" and then vanish in the throng?
    Were you selfish pure and simple as you rushed along the way,
    Or is someone mighty grateful for a deed you did today?

    Can you say tonight, in parting with the day that's slipping fast,
    That you helped a single brother of the many that you passed?
    Is a single heart rejoicing over what you did or said;
    Does a man whose hopes were fading now with courage look ahead?

    Did you waste the day, or lose it, was it well or sorely spent?
    Did you leave a trail of kindness or a scar of discontent?
    As you close your eyes in slumber do you think that God would say,
    You have earned one more tomorrow by the work you did today?

  22. “However much my face clouds with sombre vanity, or vulgar vengeance, or contemptible contempt, the bones of my skull beneath it are laughing for ever.” – G.K. Chesterton

  23. 'Yesterday This Day's Madness did prepare; To-morrow's Silence, Triumph, or Despair:
    Drink! for you know not whence you came, nor why:
    Drink! for you know not why you go, nor where.'

    Omar Khayyám

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