Merry Christmas to all who celebrate.
Quote from Ronald W Pies, The Three-Petaled Rose - this is a book about the common ground between Judaism, Buddhism, and Stoicism. His depiction of Stoicism and my grasp of Stoicism is not the same, by that is not the subject today.
"Marcie has a distorted understanding of the world, herself, and others."
This is from a summary of Marcie's issues, which the book then go on to take it apart with CBT style questioning in Buddhist and Stoic perceptive. But the Stoic perspective, while it is taking the distortions, one at a time and addressing them, misses the real effect of Stoicism, that is Stoicism is a replacement philosophy. Had Marcie been a stoic, her whole understanding would be different; it would be distorted, in a different way. She would know here whole story is just story in a way that her whole life story would be mostly irrelevant, just the underlying motives and values have lasting effect, and she would be full of joy and this situation would not be discussed. There would simply be nothing there to discuss, no issue. She may need a bit more purpose in her life, but most the non-understanding would be gone.
Such is the effect of Stoicism. It is a philosophical clearing of the fog and mist. (1) It is a clear hierarchy of values, starting with virtues and knowing what virtues we wish to uphold, and going down through knowing that taking care of self, (2) physically and mentally, which is primary. We are of no use to others if we are not looking after ourselves, like that air mask on planes, place yours on first, then help others. Health and our own welfare must be first, even if that is not what you were trained to in your youth. Moderate exercise and proper diet are primary and essential. For this, I am responsible. Mental health includes protecting our mind from bullshit, and distraction. Turn noise off. (radio, music, TV) and the like. We cannot live with continual stimulation. Maintain a proper attitude toward life. After that extending our (3) understanding and knowledge is likely third value. By the way, this includes the Buddhist four truths, and the first 2 of 8 of the path. With the exception of the emphasis and language, Stoicism and Buddhism mesh amazingly well.
After that the hierarchy of values (HOV) is not so clear. We are here likely to serve others in some capacity. The remaining items on the path, and fleshing out details of our desired life must occur high up on the list. It is like the first thing on a todo list should be to make a todo list, which gets crossed off when the list is completed.
It is obvious to me now that a school of Stoicism combined with Buddhism could be wonderful. Stoicism supplies the theory and Buddhism the practice. It is not clear what form that should take.
Just as Buddha accepted his birth religion concept of reincarnation/rebirth, belief in a supernatural god is not required, and is not even logical. Carma is a concept equivalent to the next life, not much real substance there, but some influence in the present to improve or compliance with virtue, without demonstrating the present value of living virtuously. For something to exist, the description should be independent of the observer. When we apply this to a god, the logical conclusion is that we are opportunistic aggressive organic matter growing on a big rock.
Our relationship with time will need a major rework. Past and future will get a haircut, and be put on a diet. The future is changed in the present, and the present is all we really have anyway.
Morning meditation to encourage gratitude for another day, to lay out our work for that day, and a bit of reading to pick something to learn today. Perhaps even run our HOV list. We then must do the work of a citizen of the world for this day. Evening mediation, to see how we did, what we need to fix up tomorrow, what we did well, what problem we fixed, what we learned, and the like. If we return to our bed with the world better than when we arose, perhaps the day was good.
Enough. A plan to try.