Tag: death

The Stoic Buddhist

Marcus Aurelius and the Buddha

I recently changed my byline to The Stoic Buddhist and you may ask why? It is partially due to the many books I have read on Buddhism and Stoicism. So one reason is the interest I have in both philosophies, but as my studies progressed I started noticing some pretty interesting similarities. In this blog post I just want to focus on a couple of the things stoics and Buddhist’s have in common.

Well back to the question about the byline. This will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me one can embrace multiple philosophies and sometimes even just certain tenants. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. Both Buddhism and Stoicism have always encouraged independent thinking analyzing what you feel is true and real in the world. I doubt that the Buddha would have objected too much if someone wanted to read the works of Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, or Epictetus. Both Stoicism and Buddhism take an analytical approach to philosophy as opposed to a faith based approach of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. Buddha was not a God and either was Marcus Aurelius or Seneca, and in the case of the stoics far from it. So in my life and studies I borrow from both, calling myself a Buddhist first and foremost, that also has a keen interest in stoicism.

Two of the more common themes that I noticed in both Stoicism and Buddhism are about desiring less and not fearing death.

Desire

Both Buddhism and Stoicism teach that there is inherent suffering involved with desires. The more you desire the more unhappy you will be, ever wanting more. The Buddha taught that the root of suffering was desire and Epictetus equates freedom to limiting what you desire.

Another quote from Marcus Aurelius speaks to the idea that very little is needed to be happy.

Actually Marcus Aurelius wrote extensively in his book Meditations about the need to control ones desires and the destructive nature of vices and materialism. As you know this was a Roman Emperor who could have had anything he wanted, but practiced a huge amount of self control in the way he lived. I think both the Stoics and Buddhists recognized that desires led to excesses, creating suffering and ultimately preventing one from leading a more noble existence.

Death

It is my understanding that both Stoicism and Buddhism viewed death as a natural part of life and not to be feared. With that said the Buddhist might believe that you will be reborn into another life; the Stoic will just state that this death is part of natures life cycle and your body is given to the earth. In either case as a Stoic or a Buddhist you will be expected to not fear death, to be courageous, and calm upon your demise.

Whether a Stoic or a Buddhist it is not death to be concerned with, but rather how well you have lived. Was the life you had meaningful and of service to mankind? To the stoic philosopher or a dedicated Buddhist a life satisfying selfish desires is a life wasted and not worth living. Another similarity between the Stoic and Buddhist view of death is that it begins when we are born with each day we die a little bringing us that much closer to our final demise.

Below is a quote from the Buddha from the Pali Canon , Sali Sutta that illustrates the nature of life and death.

From Marcus Aurelius a quote on the inevitability of death and our response to it.

While this by no means is meant to provide any kind of exhaustive comparison between similar views shared by Stoics and Buddhists, I wanted it to be more of an introduction to the idea that there are some aspects of the two philosophies that they have in common. As death pursues us all I hope there will be time to go into a more detailed analysis of where the two philosophies converge.

There is no way of cheating nature of our own inevitable destiny. We all will face death, some sooner, some later, but it will surely come. With that in mind whether you are a Stoic or a Buddhist; it is all up to you to live an authentic life and cherish each day.

I’ll leave you with a final quote from Seneca.

“You want to live-but do you know how to live? You are scared of dying-and, tell me, is the kind of life you lead really any different from being dead?”

Namaste

You Care too Much

I contend that most of the anxiety and unhappiness you experience comes from giving a shit about things that don’t warrant your attention. Every day you agonize over whether I will get that project done on time, or will I accomplish that ever-growing list of to-do items. Let me be clear, I’m not saying you don’t need to accomplish things in your life, but you’re playing this game as if it were life and death and it’s eating you up inside. You give all this shit that you feel must get done a high priority, in effect you care too much. Every project, every endeavor you undertake is not intended to be done as if it were some kind of death march. You not someone else is sucking the fucking joy out of everything by taking it all too seriously. 

We perceive what we do as so important when in the grand scheme of things the shit we are doing is just stuff that we feel needs to be done and we are going to bust our ass to make sure it is accomplished regardless of how it affects our well being. I work as a consultant and on a daily basis, issues are being escalated. The end result is that 90% of the work that needs to be done is considered high priority and only 10% can wait. These escalations are not self-imposed but instead, the priority is being dictated by the customer or my leadership. Is it any wonder that we care too much?

Listen whether this sense of urgency is self-imposed or being imposed upon you, really doesn’t matter, either way, you are screwed if you continue to react in the same way you always do. So what can you do about this overwhelming avalanche of high priority shit on your plate? There are several things to consider:

  1. Choose carefully from the list of things everyone thinks must be done right now and prioritize 3 to 5 things you can do today and defer the rest. This may not make you more popular, but it will improve the quality of your life by providing some much-needed focus and strangely enough your productivity will actually increase. Not being burdened by a list of 15 things and instead focusing on just a few things allows you to be more present and take back a little bit of control over your life.
  2. While those around you will think the world will come to an end if this or that is not done you can rest assured that this stuff they deem so important just isn’t and not nearly as time-sensitive as everyone makes it out to be. Sometimes you have to push back and ask for more time to accomplish something or even ask why in the fuck are we doing this in the first place? Stop believing in this insane idea that working more is a badge of honor, or makes you more productive. Don’t buy into all the memes that say you won’t achieve anything unless your working 18 hours a day, it’s is just bullshit and unsustainable. 
  3. Finally and this is maybe the most empowering, which is why I wrote the quote above. You cannot and should not take all this shit so seriously, hell you shouldn’t even take your own life so seriously. You can’t spend your life making everything a high priority, in fact, this thing you call your life is really just a journey, yet we make it into some fucking project. Once our life has become a project it is just a series of milestones and tasks that get checked off, never stopping to enjoy the process. I love this quote by Kurt Vonnegut “We are here on earth to fart around. Don’t let anybody tell you any different”.

This thing you call your life is not a series of goals to achieve or some fucking death march. Start today by taking things less seriously, living in the moment, and stop making all things you are compelled to do of equal priority. Years from now you will thank yourself.

Namaste

 

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This post was proofread by Grammarly.

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The end of suffering

Random Thoughts / Poetry

The End Of Suffering

You know everything is impermanent

Yet you choose to suffer

Only change is certain

Yet you choose to suffer

You are aging day by day

Yet you choose to suffer

Life and death is ever-present

Yet you choose to suffer

Love and joy surround you

Yet you choose to suffer

You have no direction

You can find no end to suffering

The end to your suffering is a walk down the Eightfold Path

 

Namaste

 

If you would like to support this blog, check out the awesome selection of eBooks at:

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I am calm

Random Thoughts / Poetry

I Am Calm

As the world implodes around me

I am calm

As violence escalates

I am calm

As suffering becomes the norm

I am calm

As the pressure at work increases

I am calm

As insanity reigns supreme

I am calm

As sickness and death exist

I am calm

Namaste

 

If you would like to support this blog, check out the awesome selection of eBooks at:

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Live knowing you will die

This is not an uncommon theme with the stoics and for a good reason in that it is so true. Marcus Aurelius was not just a philosopher, not that there is anything wrong with that. In fact Marcus Aurelius was a Roman emperor from 161 to 180 and a Stoic philosopher. He was the last of the rulers known as the Five Good Emperors, and the last emperor of the Pax Romana, an age of relative peace and stability for the Roman Empire. Most of his quotes deal with very pragmatic things, in this case the fact that you will die someday, maybe this very moment.

If you may die wouldn’t it be important that you understand that time for you is not infinite. This fact alone should guide your thoughts and actions. We are all so caught up in our day to day life, that we forget to focus on what is most important. Most of our time is worrying about trivial shit, seeking gratification, and making a terrible mess out of our lives. What if I woke up everyday and said thank you for being alive, and then reminded myself that I may die at any time. Would that change the course of each day, maybe and maybe not. It sure would be better than getting up and thinking another day in the matrix, get on the hamster wheel and start running.

When it really comes down to it, we don’t want to think about our mortality and we find lots of excuses for putting off achieving important things in favor of doing what is easy. After all I will start writing that book next year, get in shape later, quite those disgusting habits someday. We look to the future, a future that Marcus Aurelius reminds us is tenuous at best.

Thinks like a Stoic – I could die tomorrow.

Namaste

 

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Your days are numbered

I love this quote by Marcus Aurelius especially during this trying time, where we are re-discovering just how valuable each day is. We tend to live our life like time is infinite, when logically we know this is not true, but our actions tend to lead us toward filling time versus valuing it. His analogy of throwing open the windows of your soul to the sun, means your days are numbered and you must express yourself, be yourself, and stop all the bullshit and value your time on this earth. The second part of this quote reminds you that our time is limited and wasting our life on trivial shit, becomes a life that is wasted.

The stoics did a good job reminding us we are all mortal. In fact we die a little bit everyday, getting a little closer to our demise. You may live another 10, 20, 30, or 40 years or more, but you may also die tomorrow. I know all this sounds morbid, but understanding how fragile we all are has a great potential for helping us realize how valuable each moment is. Yes, you will die, but if you are reading this you are not dead yet.

Rejoice, do something important today, show someone you love them, and don’t waste your time.

Namaste