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The Tao of Seneca: Practical Letters from a Stoic Master, Volume 1

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  899 ratings  ·  87 reviews
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Lan I would not say Tim Ferriss is qualified or he isn't. But he seems clearly passionate about the work of Seneca and was inspired enough to provide his …moreI would not say Tim Ferriss is qualified or he isn't. But he seems clearly passionate about the work of Seneca and was inspired enough to provide his own take on the materials, not to mention sharing it for free to everyone.
Since you find things lost when reading someone else's voice. Then I suppose you're also learning a whole new language whenever you're approaching foreign or ancient texts?(less)

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Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor."

This amazing book (Volume 1 of 3) is filled with words and pearls of wisdom that will guide us to live a wise, contented and practical life. It is in the form of letters, from Seneca to his young protege. Seneca feels that this is the best way to get and pass wisdom - listening to the wise and the old.

The Tao of Seneca: Practical Letters from a Stoic Master, Volume 1 is based on Stoicism, which is a practical phil
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, stoicism
These are the first 65 letters of Seneca to Lucilius. There's a lot to gain from reading about stoicism if only to compare one's way of living to the way of living of the stoics.

Seneca tells Lucilius how to live a good life. At the heart of it: learning to distinguish vice from virtue and developing the discipline to follow the virtuous path. He tackles on various themes: friendship, death, grief, fear, travel, work, inequalities, wealth, poverty...

What can I say? Lucilius was a lucky guy.
Brad Mills
Jun 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great daily listen for short trips. Buy if you like meditation, etc., January 22, 2016

Note re: all the negative reviews.
Yes, there's a few bugs in the audio every 10 mins for the first hour or so. The audio glitches last like 2-3 seconds, but that resolves pretty quickly. I'm sure they will fix it. Don't let 5 seconds of glitched audio taint your view of the value of the other 99.9% of the audio. Funny enough, the stoic philosophy helps you let things slide a little easier, so a bit of buggy aud
Nathaniel Dean
Jul 24, 2016 rated it liked it
It was okay. Seneca's arguments have a lot of the trappings of most of the philosophers of that time using for example "great chain of being" arguments to justify particular beliefs, which is a bit of a turnoff. But, many of the topics discussed were surprisingly relevant, and made me put a more critical eye on my feelings towards old age, speaking plainly vs speaking with unnecessary flourish, death, valor and honor, purposeful philosophy vs wasteful mental gymnastics, and so on. In short, the ...more
Sotiris Makrygiannis
Tim Ferriss, an angel investor, advisor to big companies like Facebook, Uber, etc reprinted some Seneca papers as "guiding manual" to those big CEOs. Not all papers are good, not all advice makes sense, should have been a mix between various philosophers and not only Seneca. I liked the most the papers around slavery and of Masters, that even the rich have one once they get older...makes a lot of sense. Otherwise, I find it as a good way to influence those CEOs to Stoicism and in an extension to ...more
Karsten Speckmann
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it

Listening to Tim Ferriss' podcast regularly, and having enjoyed Ryan Holiday's books, I was curious about Stoicism.
Both, and - as you may learn - plenty of other successful people, value Seneca and his letters. Having listened to the readings - performed by John A. Robinson - I now understand why. Enjoying the antique wording, many principles I encounter in modern Life. They are worth contemplating, today. It is surprising how much we seem to have forgotten... I am looking forward to th
Steven Willmott
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-improvement
A nice reading of the letters - some of which have some genuine substance. There is a lot of material so some does get a bit repetitive. Definitely worth it though to unleash your inner Stoic.. just remember not the be afraid of death or poverty...
Nathan Roberton
Feb 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Seneca's letters are surprisingly accessible and packed with wisdom. Not a quick read, however. Each letter needs to be pondered. They definitely left me thirsting for more stoic philosophy.

I could have done without Tim Ferriss' introduction, however. In one place he interrupts the flow of the letters to warn us that the next letter "On Being" was not as practical and applicable as the rest of the letters. What he derided as "Seneca on Shrooms" turned out to be one of my favorites.

"On The Faults
Sana Vasli
Aug 16, 2017 rated it liked it
There is a lot of recent hype about Stocism. Instead of reading tweets and small factoids it's good to read some of the early work on it to form your own opinion. This book is just that.

It's amazing that these letters were written around 2,000 years ago as it's just as relevant today. For those familiar with modern self help books or NLP etc there isn't anything groundbreaking here. Still worth the read as a side book.
Scott Wozniak
Feb 24, 2016 rated it liked it
These ancient letters from a philosopher to his friend/student are fascinating. They have practical wisdom and simple challenges to offer. They're especially suited for those who are wealthy, as Seneca and his friend were from the elite class of Roman society. So they challenge the idea that pleasure is worth pursuing and warn against the corrupting influence of the crowds. They include challenges to fast and wear simple clothing for a few days and ask yourself, "Is this the condition I so feare ...more
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Audiobook. This is completely excellent, a highly inspiring work. It's the first volume of a series of letters written by a Roman mentor to his young compatriot. The intervening 20 centuries have removed nothing of the wisdom and relevance of the statements. The original translation is from the early 20th century (and it brings a full flavor of Seneca's writings to suggest that he seems to have been very impressed with himself!).
The basic premise of Stoicism is existentialism of the soul; regar
Thiago Ramos
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was one of the most important books that I read in my entire life. It changed me in so many ways that is indescribable.

Full of knowledge on how to live well, in peace with your mind and soul. How to be good (in a sense of justice). How to not fall into the traps of your own mind. How to be polite, to live in the present, to not be hunted by the past or worried about the future.

How to connect with nature and other people. How to be honorable and respectful.

The stoicism has a lot to teach,
Nick Mclean
Dec 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy, classics
A good and useful compilation of the works of one of my favourite philosophers. The audiobook is a collection of Seneca's letters. The narration is fine and well paced. It is definitely a good introduction to Seneca and the Stoics and a very useful tool to build resilience, and hopefully, to grow a little wiser. ...more
Rand Cardwell
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I use it regularly while commuting. It’s good to reinforce stoic principles and concepts on a daily basis.
Caroline Whitten
Jan 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I know it’s in the next letter but
“With that stump of an arm he conquered two kings” sums it up quite nicely.
May 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great performance by the audiobook narrator. As for the content, if we're reading it 2000 years later, it really should be an automatic 5.0 on Goodreads. ...more
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
Might be expected that it's a bit "aged", but that's not the only reason I only awarded 2 stars. It has some entertainment value, and chapters are mostly brief and "autoconclusive" with some fresh perspectives. Nevertheless, the language used in the translation makes it sound condescending, too old-fashioned adding another layer of friction to the already sometimes-hard-to-follow content... which must be taken with quite a few grains of salt, as many analogies are not applicable anymore. In the ...more
Jan 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
This was my first incursion into stoicism, and in this case, through an audio book. I was amazed by the practicality of the reflection, even though it is not structured as we are often used to by contemporary authors. 

From reflections about how to face death, body fitness and even dressing code, many letters may require a careful rereading as they have more to add than we can take on a first pass through an audio book.
Tripp Borstel
Jun 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
More sacred text than book, Seneca's letters are as relevant and readable today as they were 2000 years ago. Contains timeless and practical wisdom for making one's way through the world without getting too caught up in its snares. The letters are like daily meditations and reminders on how to get the most from your one wild and precious life. ...more
Phillip Batch
Dec 08, 2018 rated it liked it
I was very excited to begin this book. I chose the audio book thinking that due to the age of the work it would be easier to digest. However, I really struggled to stay interested in this. There was some sound advice, but it seemed like the goal was to sound intelligent more-so than to explain the different concepts. This I found frustrating.
Mark Mulvey
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Free ebook:

In many ways it’s just marketing for Tools of Titans, but it’s primarily Seneca’s original letters interspersed with interviews and commentary from “modern day stoics.”
James Tomasino
Oct 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
There's a lot here. Too much really. I get more out of meditations. ...more
Luke Stephens
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This dude wrote a lot of letters. Am glad that I've been able to read the first third of the publicised ones.

Looking forward to reflecting on my notes to absorb more internalised questions, answers & exercises for myself to pursue stoic qualities.

Excerpts from the book:

See how much keener a brave man is to lay hold of danger than a cruel man is to inflict it.

Considering not how angry the enemy is, but to what lengths he may go if he is angry.

I shall conduct you to peace of mind via another rout
Aug 28, 2017 rated it liked it
There's definitely good stuff within Stoicism to be inspired from, but I couldn't help but feel that this needed more filtering. Every now and then Seneca will say stuff that might have seemed brilliant coming from a man of his times, but with an updated science based 21th century perspective, most people will definitely notice weird stuff. I speaking of course about full on religious remarks, essentially relying on God of the Gaps (non)arguments... Statements which I'm fairly sure Tim Ferriss a ...more
Aug 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
I wanted to read Senecas letters and this was the only one I found. I skipped most of the stuff that wasn't from Seneca.

I liked it. Throughout the years I've realized that I very much approach, or at least try to see, life in a stoic manner. I enjoyed reading Senecas letters. There were a few good tips here and there, but overall my main enjoyment was to partake in the (one way) verbal exchange between two friends, more than a thousand years ago. I feel that Senecas writings are more approachabl
Du Nguyen
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Tao of Seneca which is a compilation of letters that Lucius Annae Seneca wrote to his friend Lucilius is an extremely fascinating read. While it's not a textbook on stoicisim, it's an amazing read on how stoicism can be used in real life (even if that real life is in Roman times). Because it's written in the Roman times, the translation is also a bit hard to read at certain parts but it still holds up pretty well. As for the stoic content, it's one of the core readings in stoicism, an access ...more
Mike Panton
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I regard the first half of this book as much better than the second half. Very practical tidbits of wisdom and things to think about, most of which seems to be super relevant for today.

This was the first bit of stoic philosophy that I have read, and I really enjoyed it. Although in stoicism, thought and philosophy are regarded as essentially being god which I disagree with as a follower of Jesus, I still believe there is much value in this ancient wisdom.

I have used the ideas in many of these l
Jul 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, stoicism
Out of all the classical Stoics, Seneca is the most poetic, witty and light. In stark contrast to the melancholic and dreary Marcus Arelius, Seneca administers sage wisdom with a sense of optimism.

While most letters are poignant and thought provoking, a few of them felt like they were written very late in the evening when all faculties were not present.

Entertaining and surprisingly easy to follow, Seneca's advice stands the test of time.

Highly recommended to all citizens and their slaves.
Joao Reis
As a first introduction to Stoicism, I wouldn't say it's perfect. I haven't read others yet to have a final opinion about it, but I did struggle with the language and the constant analogies made. On the other hand, it is fascinating to read something written two thousand years ago and still feel so current. I will continue to read the letters, this is just one book out of three, but before I'll try other introductory books to ease my experience. ...more
Drekken Pownz
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
At first, it felt as Seneca ended each letter with wisdom from Epicurus and was wondering if I should simply go to the well instead. It begins to divert from Epicurus to the meat and potatoes around letter 40ish and the letter titled "The shortness of life" really deserves multiple listens.

Each letter is bite size and can be enjoyed stand-alone. A must have for everyone.
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Tim Ferriss is author of three #1 NYT/WSJ bestsellers: The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body, and The 4-Hour Chef. He is also a start-up advisor specializing in positioning, PR, and marketing (Uber, Evernote, etc.). When not damaging his body with abusive sports, he enjoys chocolate, bear claws, and Japanese animation.

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