Stoicism

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Stoicism

Postby Javi » Thu Nov 29, 2012 4:08 pm

According to the Guardian, It's Stoic week! so let's talk Stoicism and Buddhism.

Stoicism (and possibly its earlier form - Cynicism) has always struck me as a sort of counterpart to Buddhism in the west. I have always thought that the truths that the Dhamma revealed was there for anyone to discover if they so chose, and I think the ancient Greeks uncovered quite a lot of it.
Stoicism was a Greek philosophy founded in the 3rd century BC by one Zeno of Citium, but it has its roots in more ascetic practices of the Cynics (such as Diogenes).
I think that the Stoics sought the same goal as Buddhism, which they called Apatheia (freedom from suffering, painful desires/emotions). They believed that pathos results out of human ignorance of the reason in nature. They put an emphasis of philosophy as a practice and personal training (askesis) instead of just intellectual exercise. The goal of that practice was the removal of pathos which comes in four forms; desire (for some future thing), delight (attachment to something you have), fear and distress from present conditions.

"Freedom is secured not by the fulfilling of men's desires, but by the removal of desire." - Epictetus


According to the philosopher Epictetus, no sense impressions are actually good or bad, because they are outside of our power to control them. The only thing which can be said to be in our power is our prohairesis, our choice in giving or withholding assent to impressions and passions. By training this faculty, the stoics point to a way to freedom.
Remember that what is insulting is not the person who abuses or hits you, but the judgment that these things are insulting. So when someone irritates you, realize that it is your own opinion that has irritated you. Try, therefore, in the first place, not to be carried away by the impression; for if you once gain time and respite, you will find it easier to control yourself. - Epictetus, the handbook


Another concept which seems to me very close to Buddhism is the idea of being vigilant and mindful of your daily actions (prosochē). As Pierre Hadot says in "Philosophy as a way of life": "Attention (prosochē) is the fundamental Stoic spiritual attitude." By being vigilant in this way, stoics sought to control their prosoche and not assent to impressions which could give rise to pathos.
"Remember that man lives only in the present, in this fleeting instant; all the rest of his life is either past and gone, or not yet revealed." - Marcus Aurelius


The techniques which the stoics used included writing in journals (hypomnemata - an example is the meditations of Marcus Aurelius), daily reminders about death and the impermanence of things (memento mori), and constant reflection on your actions and thoughts.

Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All of these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill... I can neither be harmed by any of them, for no man will involve me in wrong, nor can I be angry with my kinsman or hate him; for we have come into the world to work together... - Marcus Aurelius


I have read the stoics and they have always helped me in my practice. Also the use of a journal is indispensable as well. What do you guys think about Stoicism?
Non qui parum habet sed qui plus cupit pauper est.
It's not he who has little, but he who craves more, that is poor. - Seneca
User avatar
Javi
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:40 pm
Location: Miami, Florida

Re: Stoicism

Postby Kim OHara » Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:04 pm

Thanks for this, Javi.
I came across Marcus Aurelius years ago and liked his Meditations very much. I knew he was a Stoic but never looked any further into the philosophy.
The parallels you mention are certainly quite strong, and here's another: "daily reminders about death and the impermanence of things (memento mori)" are parallelled by Buddhist graveyard meditations.
You could also make a connection between stoicism (as a desirable mental quality, rather than a philosophy) and equanimity.
On the whole, though, they seem to have been more negative than equanimous.

:namaste:
Kim
User avatar
Kim OHara
 
Posts: 3073
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:47 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: Stoicism

Postby Jason » Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:09 pm

Interesting topic, Javi. I also find much in common between Western philosophical traditions like Stoicism, Epicureanism, Platonism, etc. and Buddhism.

For example, Seneca, quoting Epicurus, wrote, "I read to-day, in his works, the following sentence: 'If you would enjoy real freedom, you must be the slave of Philosophy.' The man who submits and surrenders himself to her is not kept waiting; he is emancipated on the spot. For the very service of Philosophy is freedom" (Epistles 1.8). Moreover, I find it interesting that in the same letter, Seneca's warning regarding the "snares" of sensuality closely parallels that of the Buddha in MN 26, and his admonishment regarding food, clothing, and shelter closely parallels that of the Buddha in MN 2.

I see a lot of similarities between the middle way of Buddhism (i.e., the middle way between the two extremes of self-mortification and self-indulgence) and the hedonism of Epicurus, as well. Epicurus' philosophy, for example, was aimed at attaining ataraxia, peace of mind and freedom from fear, and aponia, the absence of pain, via a system of ethics, rational thinking/contemplation, and a secluded, moderate lifestyle. His hedonism wasn't so much unlimited indulgence in sensual pleasures as it was about balance.

Epicurus himself held that the absence of pain was the highest pleasure (compare that to the idea of nibbana being the highest bliss a la Dhp 202-04), and he favoured static pleasure over dynamic pleasure. The difference is explained by Bertrand Russell in A History of Western Philosophy using hunger as an example:

    Dynamic pleasures consist in the attainment of a desired end, the previous desire having been accompanied by pain. Static pleasures consist in a state of equilibrium, which results from the existence of the kind of state of affairs that would be desired if it were absent. I think one may say that the satisfying of hunger, while it is in progress, is a a dynamic pleasure while, but the state of quiescence which supervenes when hunger is completely satisfied is a static pleasure. Of these two kinds, Epicurus holds it more prudent to pursue the second, since it is unalloyed, and does not depend upon the existence of pain as a stimulus to desire. When the body is in a state of equilibrium, there is no pain; we should, therefore, aim at equilibrium and the quiet pleasures rather than the more violent joys. Epicurus, it seems, would wish, if it were possible, to be always in the state of having eaten moderately, never in that of voracious desire to eat.

This doesn't mean, of course, that you constantly stuff your face, but that you eat moderately, just enough to keep the body from experiencing the pain of hunger but not so much that it experiences the pain of overeating. In fact, Epicurus himself, contrary to popular belief, bordered on asceticism, renouncing sex and living off of little more than bread and cheese. The Buddha had a similar attitude towards food (among other things), as well. For example, from AN 4.37:

    And how does a monk know moderation in eating? There is the case where a monk, considering it appropriately, takes his food not playfully, nor for intoxication, nor for putting on bulk, nor for beautification, but simply for the survival & continuance of this body, for ending its afflictions, for the support of the holy life, thinking, 'I will destroy old feelings [of hunger] & not create new feelings [from overeating]. Thus I will maintain myself, be blameless, & live in comfort.' This is how a monk knows moderation in eating.

Personally, I love seeing the insights of, and similarities between, other spiritual traditions, and I've spent a fair amount of time discovering some of the seeming similarities between Buddhism, Platonism, Stoicism, and Epicureanism, as well as Christianity (e.g., see this, this, and this). My own practice and understanding has benefited from such comparisons, and I think they're worth exploring.
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

leaves in the hand (Buddhist-related blog)
leaves in the forest (non-Buddhist related blog)
User avatar
Jason
 
Posts: 469
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 1:09 am
Location: Earth

Re: Stoicism

Postby zavk » Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:21 pm

Yes, whilst it may not always be accurate or helpful to say that they teach the 'same' things, there are certainly many points of agreement. I too have been compiling various sayings, by Marcus Aurelius, etc. But I think if there were points of agreement it is likely that there were actual exchanges - because at least from the time of Alexander there was much movement and trade across the different lands and territories.
With metta,
zavk
User avatar
zavk
 
Posts: 1161
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 12:04 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Stoicism

Postby zavk » Fri Nov 30, 2012 12:08 am

Hi all,

To pick up on Javi's points, I'd like to share some ideas that may be helpful in framing this discussion and they may also be helpful to your own personal inquiries into such matters. The following ideas are informed by the research of the late French philosopher Michel Foucault, particularly the late phase of his work in the early 1980s which has largely not attracted as much attention as his earlier work, and also often misunderstood. In this phase of his intellectual career, he began to uncover in the Western tradition a forgotten approach of philosophy-AS-A-WAY-OF-LIFE. Some quick qualifications: There has been criticism about the historical accuracy of his research. My response is that he wasn't seeking to discover the absolute 'true' meaning of how ancient philosophy was really like. He has always said that he writes a 'history of the present', which is to say, he uncovers routes not taken or lost in the past in order to open up new vantage points to examine how present problems could be addressed differently. In any event, if anyone is interested in this idea of philosophy-as-a-way-of-life, the Antiquarian Pierre Hadot has conducted more comprehensive research: http://books.google.com.au/books/about/ ... edir_esc=y

We tend to value the maxim 'know yourself.' This was articulated in ancient Greece as the gnothi seauton, which is one of the three maxims inscribed on the walls of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. But apparently, in the Greco-Roman world, the main orienting maxim was epimeleia heautou, the care of self, a precept according to which the gnothi seauton had to abide. That is to say, to know oneself was not so much a matter of ascertain objective truth but rather a specific application of the act of knowing in the pursuit of the care for one's own wellbeing. This is what Foucault writes of the two precepts as they appeared in classical Greek discourses (The Hermeneutics of the Subject, p. 4-5; emphasis added):

Now not always, but often, and in a highly significant way, when this Delphic precept (this gnōthi seauton) appears, it is coupled or twinned with the principle of "take care of yourself" (epimeleia heautou). I say "coupled," "twinned." In actual fact, it is not entirely a matter of coupling. In some texts... there is, rather, a kind of subordination of the expression of the rule "know ourself" to the precept of care of the self. The gnōthi seauton ("know yourself") appears, quite clearly and again in a number of significant texts, within the more general framework of the epimeleia heautou ("care of oneself") as one of the forms, one of the consequences, as a sort of concrete, precise, and particular application of the rule: You must attend to yourself, you must not forget yourself, you must take care of yourself. The rule "know yourself" appears and is formulated within and at the forefront of this care [Foucault then points out how in Plato's The Apology of Socrates--widely regarded as the most reliable source of information about the historical figure--Socrates appears as the person whose 'essential, fundamental, and original function, job, and position is to encourage others to attend to themselves, take care of themselves, and not neglect themselves.'].


He also outlines these three key conditions of the epimeleia heautou (p. 10-11; emphasis added):

    - First, the theme of a general standpoint, of a certain way of considering things, of behaving in the world, undertaking actions, and having relations with others. The epimelea heautou is an attitude towards the self, others, and the world;

    - Second, the epimelea heautou is also a certain form of attention, of looking. Being concerned about oneself implies that we look away from the outside to... I was going to say "inside." Let's leave to one side this word, which you can well imagine raises a host of problems, and just say that we must convert our looking from the outside, from others and the world, etc, towards "oneself." The care of the self implies a certain way of attending to what we think and what takes place in our thought. The word epimeleia is related to meletē, which means both exercise and meditation.

    - Third, the notion of epimeleia does not merely designate this general attitude or this form of attention turned on the self. The epimeleia also always designates a number of actions exercised on the self by the self, actions by which one takes responsibility for oneself and by which one changes, purifies, transforms, and transfigures oneself. It involves a series of practices, most of which are exercises that will have a very long destiny in the history of Western culture, philosophy, morality, and spirituality. These are, for example, techniques of meditation, of memorization of the past, of examination of conscience, of checking representations which appear in the mind, and so on.


I'll post again later. But I think one final point should be noted here: why is it that the Western philosophical tradition had come to value 'know yourself' and forgotten about the 'care of self'?

To put it very schematically, one of the key influence was the Christian confessional modality of truth, where the subject has to obey the injunction to interpret the self, to confess or tell the truth about one's 'true self', only to then renounce that self (hence, the title of Foucault's lectures, The Hermeneutics of the Subject - he was trying to uncover a way out of this). In other words, this is an approach to knowing, an approach to truth, that is predicated on OBJECTIFICATION. This helped to pave the conditions for what is called the 'Cartesian moment.' This is important: it is not a matter of solely blaming Descartes. But taking it as a key moment in the history of the Western philosophical tradition, with the Cartesian moment, there was a decisive break between the 'care of self' and 'know yourself'. When the orienting principle was 'care of self', the subject had to perform work on oneself to transform one's very being in order to access truth. But when the 'care of self' is erased and the 'know yourself' becomes the sole principle, the subject can objectively know the truth without being obligated to fulfil the responsibility of working on oneself to transform one's very being.

I understand that in many ways, Buddhism encourages us to 'know yourself'. However, to my experience, the first and necessary component for wisdom or understanding is sila, the precepts that ask of us a commitment to care and concern.

I think this general framework of the epimeleia heautou, the care of self, would be helpful for this discussion and also our own personal inquires.

:anjali:
With metta,
zavk
User avatar
zavk
 
Posts: 1161
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 12:04 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Stoicism

Postby Javi » Sat Dec 01, 2012 12:52 am

:toast:

I would say that much of this philosophy as a way of life spirit has been lost in many quarters of western philosophy. I think this is very sad, though I think we still see in some places such as in continental philosophy (existentialism) and maybe in ethics or classical studies. I'm not sure why this happened though probably the rise of scientific positivism and also the professionalization of philosophy had something to do with it. Most philosophers don't want to see themselves as people who "tell other people how to live their lives" so to speak, therefore ignoring what I think is one of the most important questions of the discipline: what is the good life (or eudaimonia)?

Anyways, I stumbled across a book that has some bearing on this conversation. It's called Pyrrhonism: How the Ancient Greeks reinvented Buddhism.

Pyrrhonism is commonly confused with scepticism in Western philosophy. Unlike sceptics, who believe there are no true beliefs, Pyrrhonists suspend judgment about all beliefs, including the belief that there are no true beliefs. Pyrrhonism was developed by a line of ancient Greek philosophers, from its founder Pyrrho of Elis in the fourth century BCE through Sextus Empiricus in the second century CE. Pyrrhonists offer no view, theory, or knowledge about the world, but recommend instead a practice, a distinct way of life, designed to suspend beliefs and ease suffering. Adrian Kuzminski examines Pyrrhonism in terms of its striking similarity to some Eastern non-dogmatic soteriological traditions-particularly Madhyamaka Buddhism. He argues that its origin can plausibly be traced to the contacts between Pyrrho and the sages he encountered in India, where he traveled with Alexander the Great. Although Pyrrhonism has not been practiced in the West since ancient times, its insights have occasionally been independently recovered, most recently in the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein. Kuzminski shows that Pyrrhonism remains relevant perhaps more than ever as an antidote to today's cultures of belief.


http://www.e-reading.org.ua/bookreader. ... honism.pdf
Non qui parum habet sed qui plus cupit pauper est.
It's not he who has little, but he who craves more, that is poor. - Seneca
User avatar
Javi
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:40 pm
Location: Miami, Florida

Re: Stoicism

Postby ground » Sat Dec 01, 2012 5:10 am

Sooner or later there has to arise reconciliation with one's own western culture and its roots. So it is good to reveal ubiquity of wisdom and to abandon the myth of "the wisdom of the east" and the myth of "the one and only wise and holy guy". :sage:
User avatar
ground
 
Posts: 2592
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:01 am

Re: Stoicism

Postby zavk » Sun Dec 02, 2012 3:57 am

ground wrote:Sooner or later there has to arise reconciliation with one's own western culture and its roots. So it is good to reveal ubiquity of wisdom and to abandon the myth of "the wisdom of the east" and the myth of "the one and only wise and holy guy". :sage:


Indeed. According to what is suggested by Foucault's research on the history of the relation between (ways of approaching) truth and subjectivity, we ought to perhaps be more mindful about the progressive narrative of 'secularisation' that is widely accepted as an unassailable truth in the history of the Western liberal political tradition, or Western culture more generally. Adopting an understanding of conditionality that is not dissimilar to the general logic of dependent co-arising, his work suggests that the 'Cartesian moment' and its ongoing effects are dependent upon certain conditions, underpinned by certain Western Christian theological understandings of the pastorate that are today articulated as a seemingly 'secular' political rationality and embodied in the 'systemic structure' of (neo)liberal forms of govern-mentality, which like the Christian pastorate has to deal with the question of how to best tend to every individual member of the population within a certain territory - in other words, modern forms of political power has to engage in a central task of policing, regulating, and managing 'individualisation' not dissimilar to how Christianity requires its members of the 'flock' to examine and speak the truth of the self in order to objectify the self as an individual who has to seek salvation and redemption via a morality of confession and obedience. Again, I stress that this is not a matter of blaming Descartes alone but merely pointing to the impact of his rationalist mode of thinking and its metaphysical presuppositions; Descartes is of course regarded as a key figure of the European Enlightenment and a father of the 'Scientific Revolution', a historical label that was articulated in retrospect, and to my understanding, historians have questioned if it accurately describes the sudden rupture or break as we have come to understand it in vernacular language.

The genealogy traced by Foucault's work suggests that certain Western Christian theological ideas about how we should recognise the truth about the self formed the precondition for the modern approach to truth and the pursuit of knowledge, where the act of knowing is predicated on the objectification of the self or subject, a process of interiorisation - the cogito ergo sum is one expression of this. This claim would no doubt agitate some, though I think if one feels a sense of discomfort, it usually indicates that something about our body-mind requires attention. Foucault has even suggested that it would be more prudent not to be complacent, self-assured or even smug about the accepted narrative of the secularisation of Western culture, and by extension, with colonialism and globalisation, the inevitable secularisation of the world. Rather, he wonders if there has been more precisely, a process of 'IN-DEPTH CHRISTIANISATION', the most obvious ongoing effect of which is the social, political, and ethical challenges of 'individualisation' confronting our neoliberal capitalistic times - this a problem that contemporary Buddhism has to grapple with. This is not so much a disavowal of such secular ideals as fairness and equal opportunity as such, but a simple reminder that we should perhaps strive to always defuse habitual thinking, and to do so in such a way that what goes 'obviously' without saying, may no longer go without saying. This, I believe, shares a certain 'critical ethos' with what we are pursuing with bhavana, the cultivation of insight and clear perceptual comprehension of our present experience.

The tracing of routes forgotten or not taken in the history of the Western tradition, like a reconsideration of Stoicism and other ways of approaching the question of truth and of relating the self to self, such an exercise in cultivating historical consciousness may uncover new vantage points to interrogate sedimented understandings about religion/secularism, stubborn habits of thought and self-relation that arguably pin us down to certain identities, modes of thinking, and ways of being. Alongside other wisdom traditions like Buddhism - provided we proceed with care, circumspection and attentiveness - we may perhaps discover ways to sharpen awareness about the question of 'who we are', test the limits that have been imposed on us, and hopefully always hold a space open for you and I and the world to become otherwise, over and over and over again: becoming-as-unbecoming. This, to me, is what Buddhism teaches with the idea of anicca and anatta, impermanence and not-self. But of course such ideals may be shared by others. Indeed, I believe we may learn just how much we share if we enact a gesture of hospitality towards those perceived as strange or foreign, or those perceived as holding incompatible beliefs to our own beliefs (even if one holds a belief in unbelief), engaging them in conversation for the purpose of mutual learning, recognition and respect, rather than accusing the other of bad conscience or jostle for the tinkling of our censure to be heard - or worse, insist that the line between True and False be drawn once and for all (typically from one's own 'right' side), before we accept the responsibility of changing our habits.

:anjali:
With metta,
zavk
User avatar
zavk
 
Posts: 1161
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 12:04 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Stoicism

Postby zavk » Sun Dec 02, 2012 11:08 am

Javi wrote:I would say that much of this philosophy as a way of life spirit has been lost in many quarters of western philosophy. I think this is very sad, though I think we still see in some places such as in continental philosophy (existentialism) and maybe in ethics or classical studies. I'm not sure why this happened though probably the rise of scientific positivism and also the professionalization of philosophy had something to do with it. Most philosophers don't want to see themselves as people who "tell other people how to live their lives" so to speak, therefore ignoring what I think is one of the most important questions of the discipline: what is the good life (or eudaimonia)?


Oh, in my long winded previous post I forgot to respond to your points. Yes, by and large, such an approach to a philosophical life as an ongoing art of living doesn't have much currency within the pedagogy of philosophy today. Though, the spiritual requirements contained with the precept of the care of self - of performing work on oneself to bring about a different way of living - have not disappeared as such and are in a sense well and alive today, even if the 'epimeleia heautou' as such is not remembered. These 'spiritual exercises' have developed from the Ancient ethical practices of self-cultivation to Christian confessional practices of purification to modern psychotherapeutic knowledge practices of wellbeing - this could more or less be called a certain genealogy of the 'cure of the soul'. But even if we place them on a same lineage, their specific content and guiding frameworks of truth are different. But generally speaking, contemporary psychotherapeutic knowledge practices do turn on a similar modality of truth and self-relation of speaking the truth about one's inner 'true self' - an objectifying mode of knowing that is conducive to the subjectification of individuals under normalising relations of power effects. Somewhat like the Christian confessional appartus where one examines and interprets innermost desires to confess them as the 'truth' of what one really is so as to seek forgiveness or purification or to cure the soul, psychotherapeutic knowledge practices seek to describe, define, and delineate what the individual truly is with an objectifying approach to the act of knowing (positivist), and also encourage individuals to talk about the desires, feelings, etc, in order to interpret and discover some hidden truth of the self for therapeutic purposes. Such a way of approaching the relation between truth and subjectivity has of course proliferated across many domains of life, lifestyle coaching, entrepreneurship courses, and of course the ubiquitous genre of 'individualistic' spirituality, New Age, Mind-Body-Spirit, etc. I won't suggest that these knowledge practices are inherently bad or wrong, but insofar as they simply reproduce the injunction towards individualisation mentioned above and does not question the implications of only positing the objectification of an atomic, self-same subject who in order to find happiness and meaning in life, would simply have to exercise their capacity for 'free choice' - this is precisely what sustains current regimes of power that are inter-involved with the cult of the 'free market'.

Anyway, while Foucault's late work on the Ancient Greek ideal of an aesthetics of existence of which the care of self is a part (interesting consonance with the Buddhist idea of an art of living, I reckon) arguably reprsents a response to the Socratic question of a good life - and indeed, he recognised Socrates' duty as that of reminding people to care for themselves - I think Foucault would be very careful in suggesting to people how they ought to live a good life. Rather, in rethinking the legacy of Kant and the Enlightenment alongside his revival of philosophy-as-a-way-of-life, he suggests that the philosophical task of our times, or the critical attitude more generally (which means it need not be confined to 'philosophical' practice), out to deal with the question of what is happening right now: TODAY. He also defines the task of philosophy as being not a way of reflecting on what is true and what is false, but instead a way of reflecting on our relations to truth and how we should conduct ourselves. His critical-political project can be summed up as a commitment to always challenge any power that would seek to answer the question of 'who am I' on the behalf of anyone. 

So yeah, it's not so much that those who are cultivating an art of living should not share their understandings with or encourage others, but any such attempt has to be careful, reflexive, and humble, always being circumspect that it does not voice its opinions and advice in such a way as 'to lay down the truth' for others, which is precisely the habitual will to knowledge-power, a fascistic tendency in all of us, that has to be refused and defused, not least because this same tendency is that which leads us to crave domination over others and also makes us susceptible to domination ourselves.

:anjali:
With metta,
zavk
User avatar
zavk
 
Posts: 1161
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 12:04 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Stoicism

Postby Javi » Tue Dec 04, 2012 3:44 pm

I may have spoken too soon however, these seems to be a series of new books on just this topic.
http://lareviewofbooks.org/article.php?id=1166

Reading through your above posts, I agree with being careful about assuming secularization and treading carefully, though I always tend to take Foucaultian analysis with a grain of salt. For example, i would say that Ancient Greek and Roman conceptions of the polis, the citizen and the self inform our modern socio-political weltanschauung just as much if not more than Christianity (I haven't really read Foucault so I'm not sure how he tackles the issue of the 'Christian pastorate' influence). But that's tangential to the major issue here, which is a self education or paidea through Exercitia spiritualia. Something which you mentioned here I think strikes at the root of the difference that I see between both (Buddhist and western) approaches however, namely western conceptions of individuality. The modern ideals seem to be much more individualized, the care of the self is either a 'self care of the self' in the manner of Montaigne or Marcus Aurelius. However there is also another strain which is systematized and medicalized, the psycho-therapeutic model (which I believe Foucault also critiques heavily in one of his books).
There seems to be in the west a widespread dislike and maybe even fear of authority. I think this is where conflict between the two would generally arise, and Buddhism has generally had to become much less hierarchical and authoritarian as it came west. Interestingly, I don't think that Buddhism is inherently structurally authoritarian (at least not to the extent we see it in some places), just the cultures that have inherited Buddhism have generally had such a structure. I still think that there are issues here however. Buddhism would say to you to find the most realized teacher you can and study under him. Western 'care of the self' (and here I mean the Greco-Roman tradition) seems to approach things auto-didactically, at least modern conceptions of it (modern 'Stoics' for example, check the new stoa website). Interestingly, this is not how ancient Greek philosophers would have approached things, as the importance of a philosophical guide and teacher was central in Greek education. Modern psychotherapy has, as we all know, been incorporating mindfulness and meditation for a while now but I think it lacks a sort of philosophical, communal and ethical stance (which in it's defense, is not its intended goal). This is why I turned to Buddhism, we in the west lack a holistic 'philosophy as a way of life', even though we have great techniques and practices to cure some of the problems that Buddhism addresses.
Non qui parum habet sed qui plus cupit pauper est.
It's not he who has little, but he who craves more, that is poor. - Seneca
User avatar
Javi
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:40 pm
Location: Miami, Florida

Re: Stoicism

Postby Kamran » Tue Dec 04, 2012 5:08 pm

Thanks for the link to Pyrrhonism: How the Ancient Greeks reinvented Buddhism. ( http://www.e-reading.org.ua/bookreader. ... honism.pdf ). I am interested in stoicism but could not find information on what practices they used to reach their goal.
When this concentration is thus developed, thus well developed by you, then wherever you go, you will go in comfort. Wherever you stand, you will stand in comfort. Wherever you sit, you will sit in comfort. Wherever you lie down, you will lie down in comfort.
User avatar
Kamran
 
Posts: 189
Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2011 3:14 am

Re: Stoicism

Postby Javi » Tue Dec 04, 2012 6:45 pm

http://www.scribd.com/doc/104214547/Pie ... ay-of-Life

Pierre Hadot's book is a good place to start but also I really like this little book called A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine. Of course there is always the primary sources, especially Epictetus discourses and Seneca's letters.
Non qui parum habet sed qui plus cupit pauper est.
It's not he who has little, but he who craves more, that is poor. - Seneca
User avatar
Javi
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:40 pm
Location: Miami, Florida

Re: Stoicism

Postby Kamran » Sat Dec 15, 2012 8:05 pm

Thanks. I found 2 Stoic practices that look useful and will try to add them to my toolbox:

1. Negative Visualization - spend a few minutes each day visualizing losing the things you love most (your car is stolen, a loved one dies, etc), and it will make you appreciate what you have.

2. Dichotomy of Control - Some things are up to us and some are not up to us, so make your goals things that you can control.

http://www.mindthebeginner.net/2009/06/ ... alization/
When this concentration is thus developed, thus well developed by you, then wherever you go, you will go in comfort. Wherever you stand, you will stand in comfort. Wherever you sit, you will sit in comfort. Wherever you lie down, you will lie down in comfort.
User avatar
Kamran
 
Posts: 189
Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2011 3:14 am


Return to Open Dhamma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: WoodsyLadyM and 4 guests