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Daily Living

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  • gropro
    Dear Group: I d be interested to know how others ground themselves with Stoic principles day-to-day. How do others start, live, and end their days? Do you
    Message 1 of 8 , Oct 1, 2004
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      Dear Group:

      I'd be interested to know how others "ground" themselves with Stoic
      principles day-to-day. How do others start, live, and end their
      days? Do you read/ write/ or meditate? Have you created poems/
      koans/ writings/ affirmations?

      I recall reading that ancient Stoics were greatly admired by other
      philosophic schools for their discipline and vigour of daily
      practice.

      One area I've been practicing in is: simplification, spending more
      time in nature, and "forcing" myself to endure more physical rigours
      (for me that entails cold water swimming in a local lake here in BC,
      Canada). (It's October 1st today and the water here is getting quite
      cold, but invigorating!) Of course, choosing to swim in a cold lake
      is nothing compared to what most people on our planet endure as
      daily hardships...nevertheless it does start to move one away from
      the addiction to luxury, albeit in a small way.

      Let's create our own stories of high-living and not just rely on the
      ancients for inspiration!! Then maybe someday others will look back
      to us for inspiration (not to mention young people today).

      Thanks for reading,
      Cheers,
      Mark H.
    • Rick Bamford
      ... I read, usually before bed. Currently reading The Feeling Buddha by David Brazier. I write also. I wrote a sci-fi novel a couple years ago that I
      Message 2 of 8 , Oct 1, 2004
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        > Mark asked: "Do you read/ write/or meditate?"

        I read, usually before bed. Currently reading "The Feeling Buddha" by David
        Brazier. I write also. I wrote a sci-fi novel a couple years ago that I
        could not get published, though I have been told I have talent. I will try
        my hand at another some day. I am currently trying to write my own
        philosophy, which is substantially influenced by Stoicism, but also other
        philosophies, such as Humanism, Buddhism, pantheism, logical positivism,
        existentialism, et al. It is proving to be a more arduous, albeit
        enlightening, task than I imagined. Since it's a labor of love, it hardly
        seems like work though. I have never seriously tried meditation, though I
        should like to try. Never seem to have the time.

        > M: "One area I've been practicing in is: simplification."

        Excellent.

        > M: "spending more time in nature..."

        Outstanding.

        > M: "...and 'forcing' myself to endure more physical rigours."

        I never could understand asceticism. ...forcing oneself to suffer
        unnecessarily. Is it some attempt to prove we can 'take it', or that we are
        somehow better than those who live 'soft lives' of comfort? I don't see any
        point in voluntary extreme deprivation or hardship. Prudent moderation is
        all the virtuous person needs to aim for. I remember reading of some Greek
        philosopher (his name escapes me, perhaps someone can remind me) who, whilst
        in the theatre, would see the wealthy file in, wearing their finest garments
        and jewels, and he would shout out to them "Affectation!" Then the ascetics
        would come it, dressed in their filthy rags, and he would shout out to them
        "More Affectation!"

        Best regards,

        -Rick
      • gropro
        ... that we are ... don t see any ... moderation is ... some Greek ... who, whilst ... finest garments ... the ascetics ... out to them ... Just to clarify
        Message 3 of 8 , Oct 1, 2004
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          > I never could understand asceticism. ...forcing oneself to suffer
          > unnecessarily. Is it some attempt to prove we can 'take it', or
          that we are
          > somehow better than those who live 'soft lives' of comfort? I
          don't see any
          > point in voluntary extreme deprivation or hardship. Prudent
          moderation is
          > all the virtuous person needs to aim for. I remember reading of
          some Greek
          > philosopher (his name escapes me, perhaps someone can remind me)
          who, whilst
          > in the theatre, would see the wealthy file in, wearing their
          finest garments
          > and jewels, and he would shout out to them "Affectation!" Then
          the ascetics
          > would come it, dressed in their filthy rags, and he would shout
          out to them
          > "More Affectation!"

          Just to clarify rigorous living: I agree w/ what you say about
          asceticism. I should mention that the pleasure derived from cold
          water swimming, and sleeping under the stars in a hammock far
          exceeds any sense of "deprivation"...it is, in a word, intoxicating.
          I started doing it years ago with a friend in Vancouver, Canada. One
          year we swam in the Pacific Ocean all winter, even with snow on the
          beach! Can't describe how invigorating it feels! Seneca (the wealthy
          Roman Stoic) practiced cold water swimming and sleeping on a hard
          bed. Keep in mind this was no ascetic...as you likely know, he was
          one of the wealthiest men of his time, with luxury estates and vast
          land holdings.

          In the western world we live in comparative luxury in contrast to
          95% of the world. I'm grateful for this abundance, and would prefer
          it to living in a hovel with rags any day. The question is: if that
          luxury was removed could I maintain my dignity amidst squalor, which
          is what most human beings have to do every day.

          The asceticism you refer to above is arrogance personified...as
          in "see how humble and simple I am, I'm so much better than you", no
          different than the guy living in his palace looking down his nose at
          the peons "below" him, thinking his stuff (cars, brands, woman)
          makes him better than others. The ascetic thinks his denial
          of 'stuff' makes him better, when in most cases he is more attached
          to the idea of the stuff than the guy who actually owns it!

          Anyway...the weather here is a crisp beautiful Indian summer, and
          I'm looking forward to another cold swim across the lake tomorrow...

          Cheers,
          Mark H.
        • Papini, Mauricio
          Correct me if I am wrong, but the practice of exposing oneself to hard conditions of living (e.g., sleeping in a hard bed, tolerating the cold, etc.), is not
          Message 4 of 8 , Oct 2, 2004
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            Correct me if I am wrong, but the practice of exposing oneself to hard conditions of living (e.g., sleeping in a hard bed, tolerating the cold, etc.), is not done for pleasure or enjoyment, but as preparation for potential hardships that may occur in life. It is the physical equivalent of premeditation, that is, the morning exercise of anticipating that one's affairs may go wrong or that one may not be able to do what one has planned. In this case, considering all expectations, both positive and negative, prepares us so that nothing is surprising and, thus, it helps us deal with negative feelings. The assumption is that nothing affects us if we are prepared to receive it.

            As for other things, I also read at night and on Sunday mornings. I've just finished Hadot's The Inner Citadel, and started Long's Epictetus. It seems to help to read Epictetus when I am anxious (e.g., during a flight). I practice certain thoughts, such as "I'm going to suspend my judgment" or "I am going to eat with moderation", that seem to have acquired power over my will. I also struggle for simplicity both in my life and in my surrounding environment, and tried to write "comentaria", but they turned out lengthy and boring. Perhaps after reading Hadot's book I have a better understanding of how Marcus did it: concentrate on philosophical principles and repeat them in many forms so that they become second nature to me. Meditation, oriental style, does not appeal to me; I've always had somewhat of an easy power to concentrate my thought process (perhaps it comes from reading in noisy, crowded buses, during my younger years in Buenos Aires).

            Best wishes,
            Mauricio.


            -----Original Message-----
            From: gropro [mailto:mholland@...]
            Sent: Fri 10/1/2004 23:43
            To: stoics@yahoogroups.com
            Cc:
            Subject: [stoics] Re: Daily Living



            > I never could understand asceticism. ...forcing oneself to suffer
            > unnecessarily. Is it some attempt to prove we can 'take it', or
            that we are
            > somehow better than those who live 'soft lives' of comfort? I
            don't see any
            > point in voluntary extreme deprivation or hardship. Prudent
            moderation is
            > all the virtuous person needs to aim for. I remember reading of
            some Greek
            > philosopher (his name escapes me, perhaps someone can remind me)
            who, whilst
            > in the theatre, would see the wealthy file in, wearing their
            finest garments
            > and jewels, and he would shout out to them "Affectation!" Then
            the ascetics
            > would come it, dressed in their filthy rags, and he would shout
            out to them
            > "More Affectation!"

            Just to clarify rigorous living: I agree w/ what you say about
            asceticism. I should mention that the pleasure derived from cold
            water swimming, and sleeping under the stars in a hammock far
            exceeds any sense of "deprivation"...it is, in a word, intoxicating.
            I started doing it years ago with a friend in Vancouver, Canada. One
            year we swam in the Pacific Ocean all winter, even with snow on the
            beach! Can't describe how invigorating it feels! Seneca (the wealthy
            Roman Stoic) practiced cold water swimming and sleeping on a hard
            bed. Keep in mind this was no ascetic...as you likely know, he was
            one of the wealthiest men of his time, with luxury estates and vast
            land holdings.

            In the western world we live in comparative luxury in contrast to
            95% of the world. I'm grateful for this abundance, and would prefer
            it to living in a hovel with rags any day. The question is: if that
            luxury was removed could I maintain my dignity amidst squalor, which
            is what most human beings have to do every day.

            The asceticism you refer to above is arrogance personified...as
            in "see how humble and simple I am, I'm so much better than you", no
            different than the guy living in his palace looking down his nose at
            the peons "below" him, thinking his stuff (cars, brands, woman)
            makes him better than others. The ascetic thinks his denial
            of 'stuff' makes him better, when in most cases he is more attached
            to the idea of the stuff than the guy who actually owns it!

            Anyway...the weather here is a crisp beautiful Indian summer, and
            I'm looking forward to another cold swim across the lake tomorrow...

            Cheers,
            Mark H.



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          • gropro
            ... hard conditions of living (e.g., sleeping in a hard bed, tolerating the cold, etc.), is not done for pleasure or enjoyment, but as preparation for
            Message 5 of 8 , Oct 2, 2004
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              --- In stoics@yahoogroups.com, "Papini, Mauricio" <m.papini@t...>
              wrote:
              > Correct me if I am wrong, but the practice of exposing oneself to
              hard conditions of living (e.g., sleeping in a hard bed, tolerating
              the cold, etc.), is not done for pleasure or enjoyment, but as
              preparation for potential hardships that may occur in life. It is
              the physical equivalent of premeditation, that is, the morning
              exercise of anticipating that one's affairs may go wrong or that one
              may not be able to do what one has planned. In this case,
              considering all expectations, both positive and negative, prepares
              us so that nothing is surprising and, thus, it helps us deal with
              negative feelings. The assumption is that nothing affects us if we
              are prepared to receive it.
              >

              Mauricio, you are right...nevertheless, there often comes a sense of
              empowerment in conditioning oneself to endure "hardships", and this
              is strangely pleasurable. Likely similar to what mountain climbers
              experience after attaining the summit (even though it was
              excruciating painful during the climb). You're on the top and you
              feel the thrill of accomplishment and forget the preceding
              hardships. I'm not talking masochism by the way! On the other hand,
              let's not kid ourselves...any self-imposed hardship will pale in
              comparison to what can be imposed from the outside, and is imposed
              to many peoples in the world (as in torture, starvation, beheadings
              and so on). When I swim in a cold lake, I get in a warm car
              afterwards, so it's child's play compared to what we could be forced
              to endure in extreme external deprivation. (i.e. not self-imposed).

              Thanks for your thoughts on books being read as well....

              All the best,
              Mark H.
            • Nigel Glassborow
              As a new member of the group I am pleased to see the discussion taking the direction this thread is going. In his 1915 Conway Memorial Lecture Professor
              Message 6 of 8 , Oct 2, 2004
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                As a new member of the group I am pleased to see the discussion taking the direction this thread is going.  In his 1915 Conway Memorial Lecture Professor Gilbert Murray said of Zeno, 'Two questions lay before him - how to live and what to believe.  His real interest was in the first, but it could not be answered without first facing the second.'  While considering Stoic ideas I have found that the progress of knowledge, especially in the area of the nature of the human animal, does make one look at some of the ideas from a different slant.  However I feel that Seneca in many of his ideas understood the path.  He showed there was a difference between the intellectual debate of how to be the perfect sage, and the realities of life.
                 
                In many debates I will take matters to the extreme, such as asking what is the worst that could happen? Death?  In truth the situation is rarely that stark.  But by looking to the extreme the reality of the situation can be faced.  Mark H's discipline has its place as a training tool.  It also can provide a feeling of exhilaration - which according to many is not very stoical.  I find it unfortunate that the word stoic has come to mean a stern disciplined life lacking in emotion.
                 
                I believe that Seneca was like me, a 'laughing stoic'.  There is much humour to be found in his writings, and I certainly believe that humour and enjoyment should be embraced whenever possible. 
                 
                Yes be ready for that disaster, but enjoy what you have.  Back in 1988 I met a friend who asked me how I was.  My answer was 'Everything is great, my divorce has just come through, I have done my back in and am having to give up my business, and I have today been made homeless.'
                 
                Funnily enough I did feel great and ready to face the challenges I was to be faced with.
                 
                Nigel Glassborow, Mansfield, England
              • Mr Geoffrey Howard
                on a daily level... hmm... stoicism creeps in every day because i teach acting from a stoic perspective.. or it may be more accurate to say that it is
                Message 7 of 8 , Oct 2, 2004
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                  on a daily level... hmm... stoicism creeps in every
                  day because i teach acting from a stoic perspective..
                  or it may be more accurate to say that it is
                  stoic-informed. so i get to keep stoic principles
                  before me on a fairly daily level.

                  every summer i go on a bicycle trip. unsupported,
                  completely alone. supplied only with what i can carry
                  comfortably. it is my stoic retreat. it is not
                  suffering. it is liberating. it forces me to realize
                  what is absolutely essential and what is ancillary. i
                  don't plan where i'm going to stay each night. i see
                  what the road will bring me.




                  --- Nigel Glassborow <thestoa@...> wrote:

                  > As a new member of the group I am pleased to see the
                  > discussion taking the direction this thread is
                  > going. In his 1915 Conway Memorial Lecture
                  > Professor Gilbert Murray said of Zeno, 'Two
                  > questions lay before him - how to live and what to
                  > believe. His real interest was in the first, but it
                  > could not be answered without first facing the
                  > second.' While considering Stoic ideas I have found
                  > that the progress of knowledge, especially in the
                  > area of the nature of the human animal, does make
                  > one look at some of the ideas from a different
                  > slant. However I feel that Seneca in many of his
                  > ideas understood the path. He showed there was a
                  > difference between the intellectual debate of how to
                  > be the perfect sage, and the realities of life.
                  >
                  > In many debates I will take matters to the extreme,
                  > such as asking what is the worst that could happen?
                  > Death? In truth the situation is rarely that stark.
                  > But by looking to the extreme the reality of the
                  > situation can be faced. Mark H's discipline has its
                  > place as a training tool. It also can provide a
                  > feeling of exhilaration - which according to many is
                  > not very stoical. I find it unfortunate that the
                  > word stoic has come to mean a stern disciplined life
                  > lacking in emotion.
                  >
                  > I believe that Seneca was like me, a 'laughing
                  > stoic'. There is much humour to be found in his
                  > writings, and I certainly believe that humour and
                  > enjoyment should be embraced whenever possible.
                  >
                  > Yes be ready for that disaster, but enjoy what you
                  > have. Back in 1988 I met a friend who asked me how
                  > I was. My answer was 'Everything is great, my
                  > divorce has just come through, I have done my back
                  > in and am having to give up my business, and I have
                  > today been made homeless.'
                  >
                  > Funnily enough I did feel great and ready to face
                  > the challenges I was to be faced with.
                  >
                  > Nigel Glassborow, Mansfield, England


                  =====
                  Geoffrey Howard
                  Asst. Professor of Theatre
                  Missouri Valley College
                  http://www.moval.edu
                  Personal Homepage: http://www.geocities.com/howardgfh




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                • Karlton Douglas
                  I guess the main way I apply Stoicism to my daily living is through self-examination. It becomes a habit after awhile. When I am beginning to get angry, or
                  Message 8 of 8 , Oct 2, 2004
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                    I guess the main way I apply Stoicism to my daily living is through
                    self-examination. It becomes a habit after awhile. When I am beginning to
                    get angry, or 'worked up' over certain situations or circumstances I seek to
                    re-ground myself by examining the situation in light of Stoic Philosphy,
                    i.e. "Is this something I truly can or cannot control?" "Am I reacting in a
                    way acceptable to my core beliefs, or am I being carried away by the
                    situation?" "Will I later regret the way I am reacting to the situation, and
                    if so, why not act in the way I think best to start with?"
                    Those self-examination questions are helpful to me, sometimes I fail the
                    test, but not as much as if I did not try at all.
                    Best Wishes.
                    Karlton


                    Date: Sat, 02 Oct 2004 02:06:30 -0000
                    From: "gropro" <mholland@...>
                    Subject: Daily Living

                    Dear Group:

                    I'd be interested to know how others "ground" themselves with Stoic
                    principles day-to-day. How do others start, live, and end their
                    days? Do you read/ write/ or meditate? Have you created poems/
                    koans/ writings/ affirmations?

                    I recall reading that ancient Stoics were greatly admired by other
                    philosophic schools for their discipline and vigour of daily
                    practice.

                    One area I've been practicing in is: simplification, spending more
                    time in nature, and "forcing" myself to endure more physical rigours
                    (for me that entails cold water swimming in a local lake here in BC,
                    Canada). (It's October 1st today and the water here is getting quite
                    cold, but invigorating!) Of course, choosing to swim in a cold lake
                    is nothing compared to what most people on our planet endure as
                    daily hardships...nevertheless it does start to move one away from
                    the addiction to luxury, albeit in a small way.

                    Let's create our own stories of high-living and not just rely on the
                    ancients for inspiration!! Then maybe someday others will look back
                    to us for inspiration (not to mention young people today).

                    Thanks for reading,
                    Cheers,
                    Mark H.
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