Friday, July 2, 2021

The Revival of Stoicism

By any reasonable measure, i am very much an exemplar of classic stoicism.  I am also deeply influenced by the beauty of the though of Yesua.  stoicism asks the rational mind to confront his emotions and to deal well with them. a good start toward a better experience.

all this allows us to rise beyond the horror of common existence.  Is that not good?  Particualarly a common existence informed by hormones and little else.  The rational mind can stand aside and discover meditation.  That is a worthy challenge for every living human.

Aghenaten discovered and revealed the inner sun.  I have seen the inner sun once.  It was shown to me as an egg bursting open with pieces of shell flying away as i looked into its radience.

Flooding my spirit would allow me to direct that radience toward healing.  Thus we know how Yesua did it all.

By reading this you know,  So commit to meditation as a habit to allow the otherside to guide you forward.  That is why

The Revival of Stoicism

Everyone from Silicon Valley billionaires to self-help enthusiasts is repurposing Stoicism for our modern age, with results that are good, bad, and highly indifferent.

Last September, a communications worker at the European grocery chain Lidl was fired for calling Asian people "greasy." The worker, Samuel Jackson, sued Lidl in response, claiming that he was a victim of religious and belief discrimination. Jackson said at a virtual hearing in the UK that he doesn't concern himself with the external consequences of his words or actions as part of his adherence to the ancient philosophy, Stoicism.

“Given that his job is in communications, one can see the potential for conflict, but that is a separate issue,” the judge noted, before ultimately finding that Stoicism is a belief protected under the Equality Act and allowing the case to proceed to the next stage.

Over the last 10 years, Stoicism has gone from a topic confined to philosophy lectures to one consumed by the masses. Sometimes referred to as Modern Stoicism, Stoic ideas and texts are now found in dedicated podcasts, newsletters, Instagram accounts, self-help books, personal coaching, and in-person events, like the well-attended annual event Stoicon.

During the pandemic, Stoicism’s popularity has only grown. Print sales of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius went up 28% in the first part of 2020 compared to 2019, and print sales of Seneca's Letters from a Stoic increased 42%. E-book sales of Letters from a Stoic went up 356%. Penguin Random House told The Guardian that while 16,000 copies of Meditations were sold in 2012, more than 100,000 copies were sold in 2019. “We have noticed a natural (slightly mysterious) year-on-year increase in our sales of the Stoic philosophers,” the Penguin representative said.

As trends go, a philosophy that preaches emotional tranquility, reason, and virtue would seem to be on the beneficial end of the spectrum. But Jackson’s case is just one example of what can happen when an ancient philosophy becomes popular, widely adopted, and, at times, distorted.

Alongside broad general interest, Stoicism has an outsized allure in certain cultural spheres. Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Square and Twitter, has been called the “Silicon Valley Stoic” for his 5 a.m. wake-up time and ice baths. Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos, has called Meditations her favorite book. Billionaires like Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Cuban have been described as Stoics, and there’s an entrepreneurship-focused lobbying firm, the Cicero Institute, named after the Stoic Roman philosopher. Classicist Donna Zuckerberg—Mark's sister—has pointed out the rise of a small, but troubling, group of far-right men who gravitate towards Stoicism to validate misogynistic and racist beliefs. A question currently dogging Modern Stoicism is a disconcerting one: Are billionaire and incel Stoics missing the mark? Or, are there elements of Stoicism that inherently justify their conduct and beliefs?

The answer is, "Perhaps." Stoics, unlike their contemporaries the Epicureans and the Cynics, had no position against extreme wealth or status; they were not to be sought after, but if you happened to be wealthy or powerful, so be it. It would be a misread to say that Stoicism encourages emotional suppression, but it is focused on emotional regulation—an appealing skill for those who view emotions as irrational, weak, or unmasculine. And Modern Stoicim's emphasis on focusing only on what you can control, in some permutations, can support expressions of capitalistic individualism that view wealth status or social disparities as givens, and place priority on furthering personal interests or affluence; this might be more likely in iterations of Modern Stoicism that don't highlight themes of interconnectedness that arise from Stoicism's metaphysical, pantheistic side.

Modern Stoicism has interesting parallels with how Buddhism and mindfulness have integrated into personal, wellness, and corporate spaces alike. Mindfulness, like Stoicism, can both be a boon for individual and collective mental wellbeing, and also a stand-in for more meaningful measures or activism—as when companies provide mindfulness or meditation workshops in lieu of living wages or better health insurance. As the next ancient form of wisdom to go mainstream, Stoicism will be subject to similar competing applications.

What is Modern Stoicism used for? Inner peace and mental serenity? Productivity and creating a Fortune 500 company? Fighting against climate change and for social justice? It's currently all of the above, depending on who you ask. Stoicism's memeable soundbites and its practical advice make it both incredibly useful as a strategy of resilience, and highly commercializable and pliant to varying interpretations. It can serve as an accessible entry to philosophy, offer genuinely helpful coping mechanisms, and a way to approach difficult circumstances, or, it can be adapted to justify one's pre-existing lot in life, forgo larger social change, and regulate away messy emotions, even in moments when vulnerability or attachment might be more beneficial. It will be up to the Modern Stoics to define the boundaries and applications of the philosophy so that it aligns with, to borrow a Stoic phrase, a virtuous life.

Stoicism first appeared around 300 BC in Greece, when a merchant named Zeno lost all of his belongings in a shipwreck and began to practice philosophy at the Stoa Poikile, a painted colonnade in the Agora of Athens from which Stoicism derives its name. But the most complete and renowned Stoic texts we have come from when Stoicism was popular in Rome: Meditations, by the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius; Letters from a Stoic by Seneca, a philosopher and advisor to the emperor Nero; and the Enchiridion, by freed-slave philosopher Epictetus.

These texts feel exceptionally modern in their descriptions of the frustrations we encounter on a day-to-day basis. Take the opening of Meditations: “When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly.” Even the emperor of Rome had to deal with annoying people; it's easy to imagine reciting this before opening Twitter.

Though it is a rich philosophy that can't be fully explained in brief, there are powerful and intuitive core observations that lie at the heart of Stoicism. Living a good life, to the Stoics, was about being as virtuous as you could be, through your capacity for reason. The Roman Stoics valued rational thinking above all, and thought that a person had control not over external events, but over their responses to those events. Anything that happens, whether it be a pandemic, war, your health, the weather, others' actions—if you have no control over it, it's not reasonable for you to expend negative emotional energy on it. Any distress that comes from such events comes from your reactions to them, which you can modify for the better.

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