Sunday, September 13, 2015

Stoic Buddhist?

No god, so now it is up to us to live right and get on with building community, spreading wisdom and the like. No god places the responsibility for living rightly, by virtue in stoic terms squarely on us humans. We need to live within what nature throws at us, and be content with what we have. Now what if we could merge Stoic thought and Theravada Buddhism?

Last day we say the second noble truth exposed as Stoic, more or less. The fourth noble truth is indistinguishable from live by virtue, for the eight fold path employs virtue, but without naming it.

The Buddhists place right knowledge first in the eight point path to the good life, while the Stoics name the path living in accordance with virtues and nature. If we do one, we do the other. Wisdom or prudence provide the knowledge and intent; we require the courage, temperance, and justice to do the remaining six: speak, action, livelihood, and to look after our mental self through effort, mindfulness and concentration. The emphasis on what is being taught or described is just different, but combined, these similar, if not identical philosophies, provide a more detailed path to a better life. It is what is considered to be more important that differs, by the ancients, and by the modern teachers. Mediation, to the Stoics was not a field of concentration, but it is for the Buddhists, while ethics was big for the Stoics, it was reduced to prescription through the precepts and other concepts in the Buddhist tradition. There are a group to concepts that are held in common. Impermanence v. constant change, and that all stressing issues are the result of wrong though, delusions of what life should be, v. opinions in our own mind that we have power over.

So what am I saying? After one strips away the language of the system, a sage would be enlightened or enlightened would be a sage. The sage must cut wood and haul water as well.  Nothing about that changes. There is this old story of "what does a monk do before enlightenment? He cuts wood and hauls water. And after enlightenment? He cuts wood and hauls water.The Theravada Buddhist will spend more time meditating, while the Stoic will spend the time in analysis and consideration, and both will act with confidence that they are doing right for the right reasons. The Theravada are not as much into mediation as the Zens. They rely more on the prescriptions found in the writings, rather than developing everything from first principals. In the end, after achievements are totaled, I doubt that the result would be distinguishable in many cases. Both would spend there lives tranquil, without hurry, and make about the same decisions. Both would sit likely at sunrise and watch the show, content with what the day might bring.

But what do I know?

Others view on this very subject:
  Karma was a prevailing concept accepted by Buddhists. In a small community, it has some truth to it.   Buddha was silent on 19 questions asked of him. Karma and God were two of the questions.

What is "I" is the discussion that leads to the illusion statement. In Stoic terms, "I" is the facility of reason, the part that holds opinions, makes judgements, and does all those things "I" has  power over. So is "I" real or an illusion?

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