Be conservative in what you do,
Be liberal in what you accept from others.
On a continuum, there are 3 states:
- A negative state, where we take/expect more than we deliver. At best, we require others to do us good before we ourselves do good, at worse we are unconcerned about other's good. It's also, at an individual level, the path of least resistance.
- A neutral state, where we attempt to balance what we expect and what we deliver. In that state is the Golden Rule (do to others what you want them to do to you) and eye-for-an-eye (don't return more tort than the tort caused to you). Very loosely, this is where justice lives.
- A positive state, where we attempt to give more than what we expect. This is the domain of mercy, stoicism and "turn the other cheek". It requires a personal cost/sacrifice in order to expect less yet still deliver what is good. This is also the domain of love.
In this one, both ends are bad, and the middle is good. It's especially useful for dealing with any type of devotion to cause (or a person):
Optimism ---- Improver ---- Pessimism
Though people tend to go from Optimism -> Pessimism (-> Improver).
The problem with optimists is that they will "defend the indefensible. He is the jingo of the universe; he will say, “My cosmos, right or wrong.” He will be less inclined to the reform of things; more inclined to a sort of front-bench official answer to all attacks, soothing everyone with assurances. He will not wash the world, but whitewash the world."
The problem with pessimists is "not that he chastises gods and men, but that he does not love what he chastises . . . [In being the so-called ‘candid friend,’ the pessimist is not really candid.] He is keeping something back—in his own gloomy pleasure in saying unpleasant things. He has a secret desire to hurt, not merely to help. . . . He is using the ugly knowledge which was allowed him [in order] to strengthen the army, to discourage people from joining it."
An example of the "Improver" is (are) women: "Some stupid people started the idea that because women obviously back up their own people through everything, therefore women are blind and do not see anything. They can hardly have known any women. The same women who are ready to defend their men through thick and thin . . . are almost morbidly lucid about the thinness of [their] excuses or the thickness of [their] head[s]. . . . Love is not blind; that is the last thing that it is. Love is bound; and the more it is bound the less it is blind."
 Quotes from G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy(Garden City, N.Y.: Image Books, 1959), pp. 69–71.
 Arrangement of quotes taken from https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/bruce-c-hafen_love-is-not-bli...
I also stumbled over a very interesting quote from the article:
> In other words, think of every unreasonable asshole you
> have to deal with as part of God’s attempt to “turn you
> into Olympic-class material.” This is a very powerful
The _exact_ same trick is practiced in many (traditional) Christian faiths---but I have the feeling that placing it in that context would alienate many modern readers (and in the worst cases, it comes relatively close to the prosperity gospel stuff).
Here are the Meditations:
And The Enchiridion (by Epictetus):
And Seneca's Dialogues:
> HOW’S THIS DIFFERENT FROM PROJECT GUTENBERG OR OTHER FREE EBOOK SITES?
> While there are plenty of places where you can download free and accurately-transcribed public domain ebooks, we feel the quality of those ebooks can often be greatly improved.
> For example, Project Gutenberg, a major producer of public-domain ebooks, hosts epub and Kindle files that sometimes lack basic typographic necessities like curly quotes; some of those ebooks are automatically generated and can’t take full advantage of modern ereader technology like popup footnotes or popup tables of contents; they sometimes lack niceties like cover images and title pages; and the quality of individual ebook productions varies greatly.
Not sure about the Calibre conversion. I normally convert EPUBs to MOBI using Calibre (and switching to left aligned, right ragged), but on StandardEbooks I've been downloading the AZW3.
Unfortunately this is true, despite being complete heresy. One of the saddest things for an American Christian is how a huge portion of the church has diluted Christianity to an unbiblical set of self actualization themes.
(just curious; no hidden agenda here)
I don't know that I would personally consider it "heretical" (especially since I am an agnostic by way of Catholicism) but that would be my stab at understanding the difference between the phrases.
> but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame ...
Stoicism is so starkly opposed to victimhood and complaining that it comes as a breath of fresh air.
Instead I prefer the Socratic approach to issues, where you actually try and discover solutions together. I know stoics took a lot of lessons from Socrates, and that you can’t be Socratic without a tad of stoicism, but I’ve also found asking questions to be better (for me) than letting things slide.
Like with the cab-driver taking the long route. Sure you can let it slide, but I’ve never had politely asking about it break my tranquility.
The truth is that I know that if I were in a situation like that as a drver, it would not take me much to lie to my friend if I needed to (whether I am taking advantage of him or it just happened this way). There are just too many variables for anyone to be able to call bullshit on all of them at once.
Some people just like feeling in control. They just can’t admit they are not more often than not.
Unless I take a cab all the time or something, I just chalk it up to the "cost of doing business" and go on with my day.
I feel this proves the point: Marcus Aurelius was Emperor of Rome. That's an accomplishment, surely :)
It contains 366 quotes, one for every day. I usually read it in the morning, then I take a photo on my phone and I re-read it during lunch time. This way I can process it again and make sure I (try to) 'fix' one thing at a time.
I have made this part of my "What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast" and "The Miracle Morning" combined-routine.
Also Mark Aurelius Meditations are interesting read. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meditations
Very easy to read this book and growth mind. There are no abstraction here. Very pragmatics. For those who want to know/understand Stoic. I'm highly recommended.
Reading this one felt to me like having a sequence of funny jokes explained pedantically, without ever getting to hear the original jokes.
I'm closing in on 60 years of age, and have had both major wins and major losses in my life. Today, I am generally at peace with whatever happens and my different moods; they come and go like the weather. I usually meditate for 15 - 30 minutes a day. The Buddhist concept of "no self" is something I'm reflecting on as well.
The problem with stoicism is the same problem as the problems with Buddhism's eight-fold path; avoiding suffering is not living to the fullest. If that's your philosophy, what's the point of being alive?
Stoicism/Buddhism works well in situations for which it was designed by Siddhartha - enduring your crappy slave existence. It makes sense to learn not to feel when all you feel is disappointment and lack of control. A bit defeatist, really. Enduring, while valuable, is not being proactive.
It's effective, but it's no way to live long term.
Stoicism isn't about the avoidance of suffering. It's about accepting fate, loving others despite their behavior, and not creating anguish for yourself, in your own mind. It doesn't mean, however, that you don't attempt to put things in order and fix your problems.
"Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart."
"Be tolerant with others and strict with yourself."
"So you were born to feel 'nice'? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don't you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you're not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren't you running to do what your nature demands?"
That's actually a Roman-Christian reinterpretation of the Greek philosophy.
The Greek teaching in a nutshell is that what depends on you depends on you, and what doesn't depend on you (such as others or nature) does not -- and therefor shouldn't be a source of frustration.
(It says nowhere, as you note a few sentences later, that you should accept the would-be source of the frustration; just that you shouldn't be frustrated about it -- while working on improving the situation if you feel strongly about it.)
But that's just it, buddhism does not advocate avoidance of suffering at all.
The buddhist 'path' is about using suffering as a raw material and transforming it.
You can't be a buddhist without experiencing suffering, because you need to work with it.
> Buddhism works well in situations for which it was designed by Siddhartha - enduring your crappy slave existence.
Siddhartha was an indian prince who gave up that life to investigate suffering.
He realized early that he would have suffered whether he stayed in the palace or not.
Buddhism is not about enduring, it is about transforming.
 Suffering as might be translated today as 'stress'.
I am genuinely interested in what people see in Buddhism beyond that - this is after literally decades of having the same debate with random strangers and reading provided sources.
My parents once told me that one of my biggest problems is that I was too happy. I have always had the mantra "the path to true happiness is to want for nothing". This means you can either have the things you wanted or choose not to want the things you dont have. If I want something badly enough I work to get/achieve it. If I'm not willing to work to get it, then I am at peace with my decision because apparently I didn't want it that badly.
I have a lot of material possessions and I enjoy them, yet if I were to lose them all it would be ok. There was a time in my life where I had to dig change out of the couch to buy enough to eat and I reveled in the moment, that I was a person that had to live that way. There was a certain thrill to finding a dollar so I could go to the farmers market to buy a basket of the veggies of the day which could be an entire basket of green peppers (yuck). I enjoyed learning a variety of recipes to make do with green peppers.
Im happy to be able to travel, help others, raise kids, do hobbies etc. I enjoy them, but the loss of all of that, especially as I get older, I think I can accept. Every phase of life brings something new to enjoy, even pain.
I often think about all the things I will lose, especially people, even to the point where it brings me to tears. I work to accept that loss today and to enjoy the having right now. One day I will lose my parents, I might lose my spouse, a child, a friend. When they are gone, I'll have the sadness, but I'll still have the joy of having had them in my life.
Someday I might not be able to walk, see, or get out of bed. But I will appreciate and treasure the time I did have.
As a concrete example I look at people who are so angry at trump, most of them are simply angry. The anger itself is pointless. In my world view you either act to create the change you want or accept that you dont care enough to act. Each person is motivated differently and people aren't bad because they don't care as much as you.
Even if you act, you might fail. If you recognize that failure is possible, even feel anguish over the failure, yet try to see the pleasure in the attempt and the failure, then you can have peace.
This means not being afraid of failure, because there is still joy in failure, the journey as well as the learning.
If you want peace, you can have it. Many people simply dont want peace.
> In my world view you either act to create the change you want or accept that you don't care enough to act.
This aligns nicely with a stoic principle I read somewhere, that said something like: "The proper use of thought is inform action."
That's just it though, you might not have seen it in your readings, but it is part of the practise.
Buddhism isn't just a set of beliefs, it's a practise.
It's not about professing a set of beliefs, it's more like a training program to achieve an outcome.
I'm not telling you that you should practise buddhism of course, but if you want to understand it, you can't just read about it.
That would be like reading everything you can find about golf, and then saying you understand golf.
Asking random strangers about their experiences is only marginally better, since everyone will give you a different answer based on their individual experiences.
If you are interested in an a modern analytical view of buddhism, you might enjoy this: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/shape... or any other writing by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. IIRC he is a former engineer, so he explains buddhism in a way that might appeal more to the HN crowd.
It's nice to say you have to avoid reacting to things outside of your control. But how does one do that ?
Stoicism fails at explaining any practical way of embrassing the teaching. It's strange since they were quite practical people, but you see that a often in philosophy: lots of theory, very few advices for practice.
At least the buddhists suggest meditation as a tool to learn to act instead of reacting, and see things more objectively.
The first step is to learn to distinguish between the things that are in your control and those that outside of your control. The second step is to consciously remind yourself that things outside your control are by their nature indifferent - neither good nor bad - and to act accordingly.
Both of these things require constant practice to develop skill. One specific exercise that can help is the "Premeditatio Malorum". Another is to keep a journal of one's successes and failures and to review it daily.
There are other useful resources online with practical advice. One good example is Donald Robertson's Stoic Therapy Toolkit: https://learn.donaldrobertson.name/p/stoic-therapy-toolkit
Its treatment of modern stoicism is uplifting, and I found that the overall philosophy (and even just the practice of having a set of values and philosophy) matched my personal beliefs well and gave me new tools to use.
Overall - Stoicism as it was taught by Epictetus is more about freeing yourself from desire for things and the fear of losing them, and not about giving up all worldly things (that's Asceticism)
I appreciate that the Stoic teachings allow for enjoyment of life and its fruits when that enjoyment is bounded by the good of "community feeling" or love for your common man. If the 80's "greed is good" movement had had a "but try to lift up others and don't be a dick", it may have been a more sustainable culture, and I hope that those of us disrupting things and building new systems figure out how to create societal benefits as well as wealth.
Edit: what stops me from being a christian because both believed in god
Like when Sokrates and Seneca had to end their lives. They didn't lament the unjust verdicts but embraced it.