Yes, valuing these things will make us more vulnerable to suffering, but it seems a price worth paying for the sake of a richer life. The third element is samādhi. It is a choice. Hi Haku. Developing insight helps to identify the right thing to do, just like working on one’s moral attitudes helps to see things in a less self-centred way. Zeno of Citium (334-262 BCE) Born in Cyprus, of Phoenician origin, moved to Athens, 312 BC Immediate founder of stoicism, which became dominant phil in Hellenistic and Roman eras Established his own school at Athens in 300 BC Lectured/wrote on ethics, logic and physics Only fragments of his writing survive This marriage of compassion and equanimity is a slightly awkward one, in that there is a tension between withdrawal and engagement. This included things like reading and reciting the texts and seems readily comparable to Stoic askēsis. Both are strikingly similar anyways. Even though ancient Stoics had some strong (and somewhat dogmatic) opinions on what the good life is, modern stoic practitioners like William Irvine, Massimo Pigliucci, Donald Robertson and Ryan Holiday are cultivating more of an open and respectful attitude towards other life philosophies. "Freedom is secured not by the fulfilling of one's desires, but by the removal of desire." Assuming self where there’s no self He is alone between two villages, both far away. Being able to do this could certainly be useful for any of us, as a lot of the time we do tend to react on the basis of habitual patterns and unreflective values and impulses. You can get stressed about this month’s rent and payment. Lack of supernatural powers. Have you read them? One of these life philosophies is Buddhism. The 4 main virtues of the Stoics are as follows: 1- Wisdom – Making the chief operating system reason and sound mind (not for ex. Neo-Platonism was the philosophy of the Church Fathers who promoted monasticism. Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading Stoicism & Western Buddhism: A Reflection on Two Philosophical Ways of Life. Looking back over the years, I can see that my life I can see that a lot of it has been influenced by Stoicism in some way and that each influence was leading me to where I am now. In urging participation in human affairs, Stoics have always believed that the goal of all inquiry is to provide a mode of conduct characterized by tranquillity of mind and certainty of moral worth. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. In Buddhism … I thought the article was spot on. The dangers of compassion were felt even more strongly in Stoicism, in that compassion will often involve a judgement that something bad has happened to someone, and most of the time this would be a faulty judgement. Thank’s for posting it. Even though ancient Stoics had some strong (and somewhat dogmatic) opinions on what the good life is, modern stoic practitioners like William Irvine, The goal of Buddhism is to eliminate suffering (dukkha) and reach nirvana. Buddhists also do value virtues. Stoicism and Buddhism are two remarkably similar philosophies that were created independently thousands of miles apart. However, in buddhism things are covered in religious symbols and explained in mysterious, obscure ways. Disclaimer: Advice and information is provided on this site as-is and may not suit your specific circumstances. (Ench. Reply Delete. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Let’s pause for a moment and think of these three strands of Buddhist modernism in reference to Stoicism. In ancient literature Pyrrhonism was commonly referred to as "skepticism." But definite influence of Buddhism occurred in Neo-Platonism. Sign up to join this community Concerning strand (I), Stoicism also features a concept of wisdom, based on the four cardinal virtues of practical wisdom, courage, justice, and temperance. Hi, Dave! In particular, for the Stoics the disease was the faulty judgements that attribute good or bad to things other than virtue or vice (and which are inseparable from emotions, which are like the symptoms of the disease), and philosophy is the cure. – It underlies changes In this we could follow Marcus Aurelius, who wrote: ‘Things are wrapped in such a veil of mystery that many good philosophers have found it impossible to make sense of them.’. Originally founded by Zeno in 4th-century-BC Athens, Stoicism later developed and changed into forms designated "Middle Stoa" and "Later Stoa," also known as Roman Stoicism. Stoicism was very influential in the development of the law as we know it, particularly the law derived from Roman law. But what ‘therapeutic’ meant for them is not the same it means for us. 5) Epictetus Stoicism as a philosophy didn't promise prosperity in this life or salvation in the next life, but did promise happiness in the present life. There are various analogies for this skill in the Buddhist texts. Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading Stoicism & Western Buddhism: A Reflection on Two Philosophical Ways of Life. You will achieve this, if you perform each action as if it were your last…”. illness is dukkha, Seneca has a good analogy for this: Just as in a field that has been ploughed for corn some flowers grow up in between, yet all that work was not undertaken for this little plant, however much it pleases the eyes … so too, pleasure is not the reward or the motive of virtue but an accessory. By signing up, you'll get thousands of step-by-step solutions to your homework questions. Epictetus advises not to think of a consul as a happy man, or a poor man as wretched: All these are judgements, and nothing more; and judgements concerning things outside our choice. This is similar to upekkha in Buddhism, which refers to a sense of looking upon the goings-on in the world with a balanced awareness, without getting too involved in the ups and downs of the eight worldly conditions. At the end of time, the dead will rise, Christ will return to separate the sheep from the goats, and the Kingdom of God will be established on Earth. You write in How to Be a Stoic that you personally find Buddhism “a bit too mystical, its texts opaque and hard to interpret.”At the same time, you acknowledge that there really are some fundamental commonalities, or commonalities of perspective, between Buddhism and Stoicism. It is also about a healthy scepticism and humility, about realising that our powers are limited and there’s a lot about the world and ourselves that we can probably never know. Your email address will not be published. This is what often happens with mindfulness. My hunch was that there must be much more that we could usefully bring into our lives. Like compassion, equanimity runs the risk of being corrupted, in this case by indifference, and therefore it needs to be tempered by compassion. (for ex. Cynicism was also influenced by Indian philosophy, but not necessarily Buddhism. Even if we have a great life we are all going to get what we don’t want and will eventually lose what we want and love. Stoicism & Western Buddhism: A Reflection on Two Philosophical Ways of Life - Kindle edition by Ussher, Patrick. Copyright © Stoic-Leaders.com --------- It's not surprising, really, because while Stoicism is not considered a religion, it's core principles align perfectly with the teachings of the Buddha. If we feel compassion for a beggar in the street, for instance, it’s probably because we think they are in a bad situation. I would include more of our embodied nature and emotional experience in the good life. Stoicism on Wisdom: You Don’t Have Problems, Stoic Reading List: 6 Must-Read Books To Get You Started. There are also some really important and significant differences between stoicism and the kinds of mindfulness that have been associated with Buddhism and Daoism. I did this for a number of years. From the lecture series: The Great Ideas of Philosophy. But doing this for the sake of an inheritance makes one a vulture awaiting a corpse. And there is a universal justice on the large scale beyond what a human from our limited P.O.V. In any case, I like to think that both the Stoic philosophers and the Buddha would have approved of this kind of questioning approach, even if it were to lead to conclusions that are at odds with traditional ones. What these backward and forward glancing eyes are doing is they are creating illusions. pleasure), 2- Courage – Moral courage to stand up for injustices and taking bold actions, 3- Justice – Wisdom applied to social living. True Happiness : Cure Suffering With Stoicism and Buddhism. As a Stoic practitioner, I have rigorous and variety of meditation practices (60 minutes every morning). For me the orthodox buddhist doctrins don´t fit in the today´s world (karma/rebirth) and the orthodox want to get out of nature (no birth, out of samsara ) and see animals with low value. Until Simon, the youngest son of Mattathias decided to seek political independence from Syria in 141 BCE, Jews rarely sought harbored political ambitions or grand empires like the rest of the world. I’ve also heard of, but have no knowledge of, Existential therapy. My Ultimate Vision For You: Why Stoic Leaders exists? Of course this is a central part of the Stoic path too, as virtue is synonymous with living according to our rational nature. Make no mistake, it is possible to be completely in the present moment. One is that of a cowherd watching his cows from the distance. We could spend a long time talking about the many definitions of mindfulness, but at bottom it’s a way of paying attention, a skill used differently in different Buddhist meditation practices. Please consider donating an amount of your choosing to help support Stoic Week. In Buddhism these things are known as the eight worldly conditions: The Stoics would have been very comfortable with the view that attachment to the things of the world is misguided. As you can see, even the differences do have similarities. It is too easy to get carried away with life. Another way to think about this is in terms of ideal qualities, and a central one is compassion. According to the texts the Buddha agreed to teach out of compassion, despite being initially reluctant. As a both a long time practitioner and student of stoicism and a avowed Zen Buddhist Id question if nirvana/enlightenment is the goal and that rather the aim is to live mindfully, with compassion and cultivated wisdom the consequence being enlightment. Stoicism would certainly hold to the position of there being many things that cannot be changed or influenced such as the fact that we are all going to die, that we, as conscious beings, will cease to exist and this is outside of our control and so must be accepted as such, if we are to proceed wisely focussing our energies and attention on those things in our lives that can be changed. I think you're correct that Buddhism, Stoicism and Epicureanism are related in certain respects. For instance, Seneca writes that joy based on external things is constantly subject to turning into suffering: we often say that we are overjoyed that one person was elected consul, or that another was married or that his wife has given birth, events which, far from being causes for joy, are frequently the beginnings of future sorrow. WRIGHT: So I wanted to do a compare and contrast with Stoicism and Buddhism. In Buddhism there is a concept of wholesome actions, which are those that have wholesome consequences on ourselves and others, and these tend to be actions that are untainted by greed, aversion and delusion. what others speak of as happiness, this the noble ones speak of as misery. It only takes a minute to sign up. As Stoics argue, it is “you” who have these unnecessary thoughts about the future and about the past. Again, a similar interrelation exists in Stoicism. Replies. 4- Temperance (Self Control) – The ability to act in according to nature. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Contrary to this caricature, Stoicism emphasized human … In Stoicism this means appreciating that virtue is the only good and vice the only evil, and challenging the faulty judgements (also known as emotions) that things other than virtue are good. Sensing the unlovely as lovely. Yes, there is a very strong influence, which I will explain… although some of it derives from the words of Jesus himself. Stoicism, a school of thought that flourished in Greek and Roman antiquity. Thus, unlike the sect, a church seeks power and influence. December 14, 2016. that the rationality of a person lies within his conduct and virtue, with an ability to control his mind. Of course there are many differences between Buddhism and Stoicism, but here I focus on some of the similarities that seem most striking to me. A sub-virtue of wisdom is reason. There are things that have great importance in our lives and should be valued in full appreciation of their impermanence, such as relationships with people. I always hear about Stoicism and how each one of us should be a stoic during uncertain times, but I never really compared it to other schools of philosophy. Who is to say, however, that Jesus wasn’t, along with other things, a kind of Stoic philosopher himself? Doing this requires developing what we could call mindfulness. The overarching commonality is the diagnosis of the human condition. In more general terms, seeing clearly is about critical thinking, valuing reason, looking for evidence, cultivating curiosity, awareness, reflection and intellectual honesty. What could a school of philosophy established 24 centuries ago possibly teach us worldly people of the 21st century with our smartphones, social media, and fake news? Epictetus, for instance, says that the philosopher ‘keeps watch over himself as over an enemy in ambush’. I did this for a number of years. But definite influence of Buddhism occurred in Neo-Platonism. In the texts samādhi refers mainly to states of concentration, but it is a broad term that can mean meditation more generally. “If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change, for I seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed. That is correct. Both Buddhism and Stoicism tells us the importance of mindfulness – to be present in the moment. For both Buddhism and Stoicism, seeing clearly is about learning to mistrust misleading appearances and to value things properly. In Buddhism, the awakened person has completely overcome the three ‘unwholesome roots’ of greed, aversion and delusion, and acts only out of their opposites – non-attachment, kindness and wisdom. What should we value? He didn’t write anything but is said to have brought back a philosophy of agnosticism and suspension of judgement that had tranquillity as its aim. Others might choose to highlight different aspects. Is this not the case? In Buddhism there are the four vipallāsas, or distortions of perception: Sensing no change in the changing In Stoicism being compassionate without buying into faulty judgements means remembering that what is bad is not the actual situation but the suffering person’s understanding of it. Stoicism has its roots in Athens, Greece and was “founded” around 300 B.C. To engage the philosophy behind CBT, we trace the ideas that influenced Ellis in his development of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy, then we move to the ideas that informed Burns’ Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. And this should not be a surprise given the radically different context in which these traditions have emerged and then developed. Of course the perspective I arrived at is the result of a personal search. There are several perspectives we can take away in this respect, for instance the importance of intentions. Buddhism and Stoicism tended towards the ascetic. There are also sub-virtues to these main ones. Even though Stoics do advocate stillness and tranquility, they believed that this sense of tranquility is a by-product of living a virtuous life. They share: 1. We present here a review of a new book exploring common ground between Buddhism and the philosophical tradition of Stoicism:More Than Happiness: Buddhist and Stoic Wisdom for a Sceptical Ageby Antonia MacaroIcon Books, London, 2018. Required fields are marked *. Due to this approach – even though Stoics advocate many meditation practices – they don’t make meditation and consciousness work as the chief priority as Buddhism does. If you liked this article, you might also like these: I like your succinct summaries of Buddhism and Stoicism. For me seeing clearly does involve accepting dukkha, impermanence and lack of control as givens in our life, and therefore choosing our values carefully, questioning some of the more superficial desires we have. I’d love to also get your, “Top Books to Read for getting started on Virtuous Living work” because I’m a newbie…, My book list on beginner Stoic practitioners is a good start: https://stoic-leaders.com/the-stoic-reading-list-stoicism-books/, Your email address will not be published. One of the biggest differences between Stoicism and Buddhism is their chief end goals. Epictetus defended this by saying that some detachment is actually essential for fellow feeling, because if we allow love, for instance, to follow its natural course it can easily turn into its opposite. Stoicism is more about rationality and logic, while Buddhism heavily lies on intuition and experience. One of the things I love about Stoicism is that it operates on an open-minded mindset. Sitting down and using many different meditation techniques like self-inquiry, mindfulness and do-nothing are all ways to still the mind, increase awareness and raise consciousness. Stoicism and Christianity also have diverging points of view about the afterlife. In Buddhism, for instance, that involves learning to catch what are usually called ‘feelings’, or immediate reactions to things in terms of good, bad and neutral. It might look like this doesn’t have a parallel in Stoicism, but we only have to scratch the surface to see that it does. Of course there are connections between these traditions and modern psychotherapeutic approaches. Stoicism would certainly hold to the position of there being many things that cannot be changed or influenced such as the fact that we are all going to die, that we, as conscious beings, will cease to exist and this is outside of our control and so must be accepted as such, if we are to proceed wisely focussing our energies and attention on those things in our lives that can be changed. Stoicism is by far not the only, and certainly not the major, ancient philosophy that attracts people today. It was one of the loftiest and most sublime philosophies in the record of Western civilization. Always consult a licensed professional for serious psychiatric or medical conditions. Buddhism was founded in ancient India in the 6 th century BC by a prince named Siddharta Gautama, also known as “the Buddha.” Stoicism in one sentence: a school of ancient Greek philosophy founded in Athens in the 3 rd century BC by a philosopher named Zeno of Citium. Sign up to join this community. Moreover, some clients, and therapists, find Stoicism more congruent than Buddhism with their own cultural concepts and values. “Every hour focus your mind attentively…on the performance of the task in hand, with dignity, human sympathy, benevolence and freedom, and leave aside all other thoughts. Her most recent book, More than Happiness: Buddhist and Stoic Wisdom for a Sceptical Age, is published by Icon. If so, my free daily email course will teach you deep meditation work and mind training - integrating buddhist and stoic wisdom - to help you cultivate permanent happiness in your life. Such meditation cultivates an awareness of our own cognitive and emotional states, along with a sense of detachment, and that is precisely what Stoicism aims to achieve. Stoicism and Buddhism Thread starter madness; Start date May 31, 2009; May 31, 2009 the asceticism and mysticism of Christian monasticism, was heavily influenced by contact with India. Stoicism talks about eudaimonia, which roughly translates to happiness as being attained when humans are in agreement with nature. a person sits by a sick friend, we approve. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. It seemed to offer a practical philosophy of life that was more familiar to me than Buddhism, more rational, and more down-to-earth. Finding your life’s purpose genuinely helping people and building a career based on altruistic goals are strongly encouraged by Stoicism as this helps you to practice virtues as well. A sub-virtue of justice is social intelligence. Although there is no historical proof of significant influence from Buddhism on Stoicism or the other way around, some believe that this was the case. If you want to acquire these worldly pleasures like money, success, relationships, Stoics would encourage you as long as these pursuits would not conflict with your virtuous personality. Without mindfulness and clear perception, one can not achieve the state of nirvana (or enlightenment). Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Learn how your comment data is processed. And there is a universal justice on the large scale beyond what a human from our limited P.O.V. Stoics also have their morning meditations to get prepared for the day ahead and night rituals to learn from their mistakes and improve their lives the next day. When you indulge in fantasies, stories, anxieties and regrets, you make life unnecessarily complicated, difficult and stressful. – There is no complete “control” (no complete control in mind, body ). When we look at Buddhism, we see a different end goal. Both Buddhism and Stoicism knew that to achieve the deep transformation they were after intellectual understanding was not enough, so the practical training was an integral part of the path. Like Buddhism, Stoicism is often caricatured and misunderstood in the West. I’ve heard of CBT and believe Stoicism played some part in its formation. Walpola Rahula, author of What the Buddha Taught, even translates it as ‘mental discipline’. And they have more techniques for the everyday life. Just enter your email and get access to your. In Stoic terms this is an emotion, which like other emotions betrays faulty thinking about the value of indifferents. Would that be just a few tips to be happier, as is often the case in the more popular versions of both Buddhism and Stoicism? Stoics and Buddhists share practices like meditation, reflecting on nature, and conversation with friends and elders. The area was occupied first by the Persian empire and then by the empire of Alexander the Great, and there must have been channels of cultural transmission through diplomatic and trade routes. Stoicism appears clear and logical since it is a pure philosophical school. In Buddhism, meditation is almost a requirement to attain enlightenment. I know little about stoicism, but I don't believe it to be necessarily influenced by Buddhism, based upon this. A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I started followed Buddhism. The first wouldn´t be the great problem if the second (control) would be full possible in the changes. In fact, Stoicism significantly influenced Christianity, which assimilated so much of ancient pagan thought and religious beliefs. It only takes a minute to sign up. And to describe this they both adopted what we could call medical metaphors. You can literally waste years getting plugged into virtual reality and entertain yourself for hours. Possible that stoicism was influenced by Buddhism from the East, but no hard evidence. But this stereotype partially reflects the original philosophy of stoicism, but it’s much more than that. There is evidence that Indian Philosophy was influencing Greek philosophy The founder of skepticism Pyrrho travelled with Alexander the Great into India and was said to have studied philosophy there. In a similar way, the disease that both traditions saw themselves as targeting is in broad terms human suffering; the cause is ultimately ignorance of how things really are and what’s truly valuable in life, which expresses itself in craving for and attachment to the things of the world; the treatment is following the path; the state of health is understanding and non-attachment, leading to tranquillity. It was a cultural consequence of a long chain of interactions begun by Greek forays into India from the time of Alexander the Great. So given the way reality is (impermanent and dukkha), we are completely deluded when we believe, as we do, that the things of the world can make us happy or determine our unhappiness. 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