Daily Touch of Inspirations

September 13th: Protecting our inner fortress from fear

Ryan Holiday, The 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living

No, it is events that give rise to fear — when another has power over them or can prevent them, that person becomes able to inspire fear. How is the fortress destroyed? Not by iron or fire, but by judgments... here is where we must begin, and it is from this front that we must seize the fortress and throw out the tyrants. —Epictetus, Discourses, 4.1.85-86; 87a

The Stoics gives us a marvelous concept: the Inner Citadel. It is this fortress, they believed, that protects our soul. Though we might be physically vulnerable, thought we might be at the mercy of fate in many ways, our inner domain is impenetrable. As Marcus Aurelius put it (repeatedly, in fact), "stuff cannot touch the soul."

But history teaches us that impenetrable fortresses can still be breached, if betrayed from the inside. The citizens inside the walls — if they fall prey to fear or greed or avarice — can open the gates and let the enemy in. This is what many of us do when we lose our nerve and give in to fear.

You've been granted a strong fortress. Don't betray it.

The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom Perseverance and Art of Living

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