I have a saying, kind of a principle, that goes like this, with a few minor variations. “Don’t seek enlightenment, enlightenment will take care of itself. Seek wisdom.”.
One of the classic types of wisdom that reappears in teh human culture streams over and over around the planet is stoicism, in some variation or another. Not under that name, as we know it in our culture stream, a name taken from the ancient greeks. But, as a system of principles.
The kind of mental training you do to explore your own consciousness and ‘seek enlightenment’ can end up producing a range of different kinds of minds and personal philosophies. One of these, a fairly common place to ‘end up’, is somthing I think of as ecstatic stoicism – a complete accepting of things as they are, without emotional fixations that they should be one way or another, combined with a tendency fot the way things are to induce spasms of bliss, because the way things are is so freekin amazing.
So I’m always interested in references to stoicism, and it blisses me out that stoicism is becoming more popular.
Avi: Why are spiritual exercises important in Stoicism?
William: Seneca, a famous ancient Stoic, wrote that a Stoic must, at the end of each day, reflect on every decision and action he performed that day. He must scrutinize his deeds, one by one, and evaluate whether they were done well or poorly. Thus, Stoics are very serious about training themselves to apply their (Stoic) judgments about what is good (virtue), what is bad (wickedness), and what is neither (everything else) to their daily living. This intensive spiritual exercise, or introspective meditation, is vital for making progress in the art of living the good life as a Stoic. Studying the ideas, theories, and arguments in Stoicism is easy enough.Â Applying Stoic judgments to every single decision, action, and reaction to events around us is very difficult. It requires great discipline and years of rigorous practice to apply Stoicism to all our beliefs, value judgments, decisions, intentions, and actions.