Indifference is a power
January 2, 2015 12:30 PM   Subscribe

 
Stoicism is fascinating but for fuck's sake is every thing in the universe a "hack" now?
posted by Sangermaine at 12:40 PM on January 2, 2015 [83 favorites]


Clickbait was never the same after we discovered the Matrix was a documentary.
posted by solarion at 12:45 PM on January 2, 2015 [11 favorites]


Stoicism has always struck me as Buddhism without the spiritual 'technology' of Jhana and Vipassana, the two forms of cultivated mindfulness.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:46 PM on January 2, 2015 [13 favorites]


Really good stuff. People do read Marcus Aurelius, but the influence of Epictetus on American thought is sadly under appreciated. You could say he was the missing Founding Father; and unacknowledged versions of his doctrines are being sold as depression therapy everywhere.
posted by Segundus at 12:48 PM on January 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


He tries to be less judgmental... and becoming more mindful in everything he does – “which means engaging, unlike the Buddhist version which means the opposite”.
That... is kind of a puzzling indictment of Buddhism. I'm not an expert, but since when is Buddhist mindfulness about "disengaging"?
So, let’s say you feared a daunting prospect. Both the CB therapist and the Stoic would point out it hadn’t happened yet. They would question its likelihood and, since there are greater forces in the world than our puny wills, ask if could it be averted. If not, why worry?
That doesn't help at all with all the things that are actually not beyond our control that we worry about. Does Stoicism have anything to say about, say, fear of failure? Not fear of something going horribly wrong that you can't have averted, but the fear of something that you could or should have been able to avert.
what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger
Very definitely not true.
In 2013, around 2,400 participants reported a 14% improvement in life satisfaction
Nearly meaningless since you're surveying a self-selected group, with no controls.
“For example, I encouraged a client with paranoid delusions to follow Stoic principles, think rationally about his emotions and perceptions, and embrace what he knew to be empirically true – and he reports greater success in maintaining his grasp on reality.”
Rationalizing with delusional people seems like it would only very rarely be a good idea. You can barely rationalize with antivaxxers, let alone someone who actually has lost their grip on our general consensus of what is real.
posted by BungaDunga at 12:50 PM on January 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


In one of the universe's finest combination terrible joke/great gift moments, a professor-mentor who was very dear to me committed suicide shortly before the semester when we had planned an independent study involving a careful translation of the Enchiridion (the Stoic's Manual).

The independent study had to be cancelled after that, but working over the text without him was both painful and a comfort, particularly number 11:

11. Never say of anything, "I have lost it"; but, "I have returned it." Is your child dead? It is returned. Is your wife dead? She is returned. Is your estate taken away? Well, and is not that likewise returned? "But he who took it away is a bad man." What difference is it to you who the giver assigns to take it back? While he gives it to you to possess, take care of it; but don't view it as your own, just as travelers view a hotel.
posted by dorque at 12:51 PM on January 2, 2015 [35 favorites]


for fuck's sake is every thing in the universe a "hack" now?

Yep.
posted by homunculus at 12:55 PM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh man, Aeon.co self-help writer vs. Friedrich Nietzsche isn't just a lopsided match, it leads right into one of the funniest philosophical rope-a-dopes I've seen since I stopped having to grade freshman papers:
Then (in some of the least subtle psychological projection you’re ever likely to see, given what we know of Nietzsche’s mad drive for psychological supremacy), he accuses all of philosophy as being a ‘tyrannical drive’
posted by RogerB at 12:55 PM on January 2, 2015 [9 favorites]


>for fuck's sake is every thing in the universe a "hack" now?

Yep.


The best hacks are the hackhacks that help me keep track of my hacks.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:06 PM on January 2, 2015 [12 favorites]


Neo-stoicism previously.
posted by theodolite at 1:10 PM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Hey- that thing that happened wasn't nearly as bad as I expected it to be! Well, OK!"
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:11 PM on January 2, 2015



The best hacks are the hackhacks that help me keep track of my hacks.


I stack my hacks with a thwack (I've a knack) in the back of my shack on a hackhack rack.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:13 PM on January 2, 2015 [35 favorites]


There's a nice blog focusing just on Epictetus that I've been reading lately: Epictetan.org. It's been a very inspiring read, particularly in this season of new beginnings and resolutions.
posted by longdaysjourney at 1:13 PM on January 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


I want to like Stoicism; I want it to be a thing I can really look to for some life wisdom, but I can't seem to get past shit like this:
With regard to whatever objects give you delight, are useful, or are deeply loved, remember to tell yourself of what general nature they are, beginning from the most insignificant things. If, for example, you are fond of a specific ceramic cup, remind yourself that it is only ceramic cups in general of which you are fond. Then, if it breaks, you will not be disturbed. If you kiss your child, or your wife, say that you only kiss things which are human, and thus you will not be disturbed if either of them dies.

--Enchiridion, 3
posted by edheil at 1:23 PM on January 2, 2015 [9 favorites]


I experimented with introducing Stoicism to my five year old, after a litany of complaints first thing in the morning drove me up the wall. She took to it like a duck to water, in a conscious sense (still complains about every little thing but also wrote 'be like stoic' on the wall in the shower).

Then on the holidays she insisted on walking barefoot on searingly hot Australian summer bitumen "because I'm being stoic". I inadvertently created a Spartan.
posted by geek anachronism at 1:26 PM on January 2, 2015 [73 favorites]


Jake the Stoic.
posted by JDHarper at 1:28 PM on January 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


I want to like Stoicism; I want it to be a thing I can really look to for some life wisdom, but I can't seem to get past shit like this:

This doesn't seem any different, really, from the Buddhist admonishment to free oneself from attachments, which is something I have a hard time getting behind, too, in practice. I mean, I don't think I have ever met anyone at all who was really attempting to sever all attachments. I'm not sure how human such a person would appear to be.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 1:36 PM on January 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


or does it explode?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:00 PM on January 2, 2015


Meh.
posted by clvrmnky at 2:06 PM on January 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: stack my hacks with a thwack (I've a knack)
posted by sammyo at 2:30 PM on January 2, 2015


Wait.... do stoics snark?
posted by sammyo at 2:31 PM on January 2, 2015


geek anachronism: I experimented with introducing Stoicism to my five year old.... Then on the holidays she insisted on walking barefoot on searingly hot Australian summer bitumen "because I'm being stoic".

I would propose that we've had a major advance over Stoicism in the form of the Serenity Prayer. It's great and all to be able to accept the stuff that you can't change, but it's even better to add to that the strength to change the things you can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Walking barefoot on searingly hot Australian summer bitumen is... well... I'm not going to diss a five year old, but I'd suggest there's some lack there of the "wisdom to know the difference". :-)
posted by clawsoon at 2:31 PM on January 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Wait.... do stoics snark?

It's a hack.
posted by nubs at 2:31 PM on January 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Then on the holidays she insisted on walking barefoot on searingly hot Australian summer bitumen "because I'm being stoic". I inadvertently created a Spartan.

"GIVE THEM NOTHING! BUT TAKE FROM THEM... EVERYTHING!"

Smashcut

"Mom, Mrs. Smith said I'm not allowed to play kickball anymore..."
posted by officer_fred at 2:33 PM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I hope this means we can have an Epicurean* revival too. Stoics have good advice for how to get through the hard parts of life, Epicurus has good advice for why we might want to.

There is one Stoic line (from Seneca?) that I especially like, though. The gist: if someone is being an asshole to you, don't get angry. Remember: they will be dead soon, and so will you.

*no, it is NOT about fancy food
posted by echo target at 2:42 PM on January 2, 2015 [16 favorites]


I would propose that we've had a major advance over Stoicism in the form of the Serenity Prayer. It's great and all to be able to accept the stuff that you can't change, but it's even better to add to that the strength to change the things you can and the wisdom to know the difference.
Yeah, this is more or less what I try to encourage my kids to do. Getting upset about things you can't change (eg the weather) and directing that energy to something more useful (eg make new plans that aren't affected by the weather). But it's not that simple in practice - there are lots of things that, on the surface, an individual can't change (eg gender imbalance in society) but where it's still important to contribute to change to the extent possible. There's a lot of nuance needed in having the wisdom to know that there are times when even a small contribution to a big problem is worthwhile making, even though it may not have an immediate or significant impact.
posted by dg at 2:47 PM on January 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't really have any feelings about this article.
posted by lumpenprole at 2:50 PM on January 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have many feelings about this article, but I know that in the fullness of time they will pass away into nothing, so nbd
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:14 PM on January 2, 2015 [17 favorites]


echo target, I'm sure Seneca probably said that a couple of times in different ways but the one that stuck with me is in On Anger:

Behold, death comes, who will make you equals. At the morning performances in the arena we often see a battle between a bull and a bear tied together, and when they have harried each other, an appointed slayer awaits them. Their fate is ours; we harass some one bound closely to us, and yet the end, all too soon, threatens the victor and the vanquished.

For some reason the image of myself tied to some asshole and expected to fight it out just so the winner can be dispatched and the next match begin, it's like an off switch for my outrage.
posted by makeitso at 3:15 PM on January 2, 2015 [29 favorites]


I hope this means we can have an Epicurean* revival too.

Good news: The Society of Epicurus & Hiram Crespo's new book Tending the Epicurean Garden.

As for stoicism, I've always found its capacity for detachment compelling not for the sake of detachment itself but in the context of separating oneself from emotions and ways of thinking detrimental to careful, helpful actions.
posted by audi alteram partem at 3:21 PM on January 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: reports greater success in maintaining [their] grasp on reality
posted by blue_beetle at 3:37 PM on January 2, 2015


I mean, I don't think I have ever met anyone at all who was really attempting to sever all attachments

like jason in friday the 13th?
posted by pyramid termite at 3:39 PM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


For those thinking about Stoicism as a parenting philosophy, it might be worth noting that Marcus Aurelius' son Commodus didn't turn out too good.
posted by clawsoon at 3:40 PM on January 2, 2015 [8 favorites]


In remembering that our loved ones are mortal, and can leave us any time, we learn to value them and love them and engage with them while they are here. Contemplating the death of our nearest and dearest needn't be a cold exercise in detachment; it can be a useful reminder to act towards them in the best way possible.

I first stumbled on the modern Stoic movement about three years ago (yes, I was into it before it was cool) and I have found it very helpful.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:47 PM on January 2, 2015 [9 favorites]


My biggest problem with Stoicism (and why I don't assent to it) is that it is inherently conservative; it's essentially Cynicism with the demands for change removed.

In the other hand, the Cynics were kind of assholes, the Skeptics pretty much existed just to puss off the Stoics, and the Epicureans had the Swerve, so it's all kind of a mess, really.

And don't get me started on Neoplatonism, the worst thing to happen to The West, ever.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:56 PM on January 2, 2015 [13 favorites]


I really like the idea of Stoicism. Well, I've never actually done much reading about it, but what I've heard of it, I'm intrigued by. I tend to lean towards nihilism, sort of, as a state of mind. Or perhaps a cousin of nihilism. I generally think that life, and all the many things that happen in life, is/are fleeting, and when I'm having a dark day, I lean further towards "what's the point of continuing, given that it's all going to be over anyway". On the good says, though, it's like the focus zooms right in, and the day to day good things that occur are suddenly very important.

I try to focus on the good things that happen, like playing ball with my dog, because there will come a point when I can't do that any more. Acknowledging that it's going to go away at some point makes it a much more fulfilling experience - I want to do it right, and as much as I can, right now! My dog will die someday, so I try to have as much fun as I can with her. I try to remind myself that it's a bonus that I can play with her. I'm not entitled to it. I can demand it all I want, but the universe is an unfeeling kind of thing, and all the begging I can do won't make it change its mind. I'm lucky to be able to play with my dog. I won't always have the ability to do it. There's nothing I can do to make myself deserve it.

I think I see where Buddhism teachings about non-attachment are coming from. There's a difference between walking alongside someone and clutching them to your chest. Letting go of the clutching is really freeing, because you're not devoting so much mental and emotional energy to trying to control something that you can't control. All you can do is walk alongside someone while your path and theirs run parallel. If you're trying to drag them from their path onto your own, you're missing out on so many other opportunities, so many other people who are walking next to you. There are many dogs for me to throw balls for. There is only one right now, but there will be others. There will be many more opportunities for ball-throwing fun. Realising that doesn't mean that I enjoy throwing a ball for this particular dog any less.

Thank you, homunculus, for posting this.
posted by Solomon at 4:07 PM on January 2, 2015 [17 favorites]


Speaking of Cynicism: How To Be A Cynic - Roger Caldwell contemplates the life and thinking of Diogenes the Dog

And speaking of dogs (scroll down): Lockjaw the philosopher
posted by homunculus at 4:16 PM on January 2, 2015


" don't get me started on Neoplatonism, the worst thing to happen to The West, ever"

You're saying that the intellectual movement which produced Porphyry is worse than payday lending?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:20 PM on January 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


All philosophies tend towards some aspect of living or another. I'm not sure why everything has to be about death, though. Why not make it about other people's deaths in relation to a person? I guess I'd try this when I'm confronting terrible adversity.
posted by halifix at 4:21 PM on January 2, 2015


I read the Irvine Book and found it kind of trite.

The echo of Stoicism in Albert Ellis and REBT/CBT is interesting. In both cases I tend to wonder about the "cognitive" packaging--in particular whether interrogating defective or over-valenced beliefs actually does much work. Maybe it's more about the behavioral retraining. Anyway, officially at least, the therapeutic neo-Stoic revival stuff seems significantly, and significantly anachronistically, more disembodied than, say, mainstream american buddhism (probably because it's academic philosophers playing at therapist), but I suppose there's no reason stoicism couldn't be stewed together cafeteria style with meditation, AA exercises, et al... But so far most of this stuff sounds like a rhetoric for a set of practices to be developed later maybe.
posted by batfish at 4:49 PM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Cynicism with the demands for change removed

I hadn't looked at it that way! I do think, at least with the Roman Stoics, that this trend of turning away from the public sphere and trying to get the good life by philosophy was in itself appealing, since Romans were not able to really pursue public honors through the Senate etc, the way their Republican forefathers were. Of course one of the major Stoic writers we have was himself Emperor, so the idea kind of breaks down there.
posted by thelonius at 4:50 PM on January 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


I hadn't looked at it that way! I do think, at least with the Roman Stoics, that this trend of turning away from the public sphere and trying to get the good life by philosophy was in itself appealing, since Romans were not able to really pursue public honors through the Senate etc, the way their Republican forefathers were.

I'm not sure that is true. Under the Empire, honors were multiplied (with numerous Consuls a year, for example) even if their authority was reduced. I think that philosophy, for the Romans, took the place of theology in most of post-Roman Western thought. The religion of the Romans was a huge part political show with a load of superstition added in (ie people acted less out of deep belief than vague worries of what might happen if they didn't); for anyone who wanted to address deeper intellectual and emotional aspects of life, philosophy was pretty much the outlet, with Stoicism and Epicureanism being the most popular -- of the Greek philosophical schools, these seemed to have the greatest resonance with the "Roman character."
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:03 PM on January 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


The forms of the old course of honors still existed, in the Roman Empire, but I think there was a sense among a certain aristocratic type that they were now not worthy, or that the Senate was basically now for sycophants, courtiers, and attached good-timers. The Stoics were heavily into rectitude, I guess you'd call it, and that kind of scene would not appeal.

Did anyone write political philosophy in the Roman Empire? It may have been dangerous to do so. I am unaware of any big developments for a long time there, in political philosophy, but I'm maybe just ignorant.
posted by thelonius at 5:20 PM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


the influence of Epictetus on American thought is sadly under appreciated. You could say he was the missing Founding Father; and unacknowledged versions of his doctrines are being sold as depression therapy everywhere

Somebody should put together a handbook of Epictetus' philosophy for easy consumption.
posted by uosuaq at 5:27 PM on January 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


meh someone already made my joke :(
posted by Reyturner at 5:34 PM on January 2, 2015


it's essentially Cynicism with the demands for change removed.

In the earlier Mefi thread, someone said Stoicism was a religion of empire. I think it's more a religion FOR empire. That is, it gives you some backbone and tolerance and general ability to deal with evil and futility and failure, when you are a non-entity in an inflexible, vast and nasty social structure. Hence its utility for an educated slave like Epictetus. Marcus Aurelius wasn't into Stoicism to justify his power (which may have been as constrained as a US president's) but to deal with the troubles in his life, which were very considerable.

No consoling doctrine is going to go well with revolution.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 5:37 PM on January 2, 2015 [7 favorites]


I always thought Epicureanism is a lot more honest, and a lot more true to lived experience. People have a misunderstanding of it, that it's about base pleasure; but it's about living within your means, seeking knowledge, building friendships, and enjoying what you have:
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
“He who is not satisfied with a little, is satisfied with nothing .”
“The noble man is chiefly concerned with wisdom and friendship; of these, the former is a mortal good, the latter an immortal one.”
This seems a lot more psychologically healthy than the stiff-upper-lip philosophy of Stoicism (and later mainstream Christianity).
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:38 PM on January 2, 2015 [9 favorites]


"Learn to be Stoic in seven days using this one weird trick."
posted by ...possums at 5:44 PM on January 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


If you kiss your child, or your wife, say that you only kiss things which are human, and thus you will not be disturbed if either of them dies.

Sounds legit. However, I really can't see my wife being okay with me endorsing this philosophy. And I can't really blame her for that.
posted by valkane at 6:02 PM on January 2, 2015


A Buddhist knows you can't cage Joy, a Stoic would never name a parrot that.
posted by Oyéah at 7:25 PM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wait.... do stoics snark?

No, they deliver babies (and sometimes, pickles).
 
posted by Herodios at 7:31 PM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


The best hacks are the hackhacks that help me keep track of my hacks.

I stack my hacks with a thwack (I've a knack) in the back of my shack on a hackhack rack.


Hack, brothers, hack with care
Hack in the presence of the passengare!
A stoic hack for stoic fare,
A cynic hack for cynic fare,
A Buddhist hack for a Buddhist fare,
Hack in the presence of the passengare!
 
posted by Herodios at 7:38 PM on January 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


I've been practicing stoicism, or at least my own interpretation of it, for a couple of years now. It has drastically reduced my anxieties and my frustrations, especially over the difference between how things are and how I think they should be.
There is still joy in the life of a stoic, in fact there may be even more if you do it right. The stuff about envisioning the demise of your loved ones is really just about putting into practice the "live every day as if it were your (or their) last" philosophy.
The side benefit to stoicism I like most is its effect on my poker playing. Once I learned to detatch emotion and train myself to not care whether I win or lose, my unconscious "tells" disappeared and I won much more often. (Not that I care about that, of course)
posted by rocket88 at 8:33 PM on January 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


so because i have a bad brain
after reading up on the stoics
i had a tremendous urge to get t-shirts printed up that read

STOIC GIRLS
HAVE EPICTETUS
posted by murphy slaw at 9:13 PM on January 2, 2015 [7 favorites]


Segundus: "Really good stuff. People do read Marcus Aurelius, but the influence of Epictetus on American thought is sadly under appreciated. You could say he was the missing Founding Father; and unacknowledged versions of his doctrines are being sold as depression therapy everywhere."

Looking up Epictetus, and I found that he apparently wrote a treatise called "Enchiridion". I am assuming it's a recipe for an ancient Greek version of what Taco Bell calls the "Enchirito".
posted by symbioid at 10:12 PM on January 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


For those concerned about the Spartan Anachronism, it was only about 8am, so it wasn't actually burn territory, and she agreed when we pointed out there's a difference between being stoic about what has and is happening, and seeking out unnecessary hardship in order to 'toughen up'.
posted by geek anachronism at 10:29 PM on January 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Hm. I noticed in a quick look, that except for the the picture in the Aeon Magazine article, every pictureof the participants and team members seems to be only of white people. Interesting.
posted by happyroach at 10:42 PM on January 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Thanks for this post and the links.

For me, no one philosophy captures the wholeness of existence. But Stoicism has been a very good way for me to pick up and carry on when I have hit hardships. The approach also helps me to be aware of what I do have and how wonderful it is.

And nothing scares off annoying people by looking them in the eye and telling them, "Eh, you'll soon be dead and so will I." People do tend to scream less if I just say it to myself though.
posted by moonlily at 11:02 PM on January 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


R. C. Sherriff, future author of Journey's End, carried pocket editions of Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, and Alice in Wonderland with him every time he went into the trenches in World War I. Judging by his letters, he read and re-read each author obsessively while he was there to take his mind off the war. Which leads me to ask: is Alice in Wonderland a covert Stoic text?
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:43 AM on January 3, 2015


> is Alice in Wonderland a covert Stoic text?

Alice: But I don't want to go among mad people.

Cheshire Cat: Oh, you can't help that.
posted by jfuller at 5:26 AM on January 3, 2015 [11 favorites]


Thinking more about Commodus, it occurs to me that knowing your father had taught himself to not care whether you lived or died could really fuck a kid up.
posted by clawsoon at 6:07 AM on January 3, 2015


I think as far as philosophy, my mid-40s self has come to prefer Teddy Roosevelt to the stoics:
It is not the critic who counts; nor the one who points out how the strong person stumbled, or where the doer of a deed could have done better.

The credit belongs to the person who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who does actually strive to do deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, spends oneself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst, if he or she fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.
Or as The Tick opined during The Immortal's eulogy:
Squeeze the milk of life into your dirty glass, and drink it warm!
Because you get 1 life, and it slips away one breath at a time.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:34 AM on January 3, 2015 [10 favorites]


I think as far as philosophy, my mid-40s self has come to prefer Teddy Roosevelt to the stoics:

I've been thinking about getting "WWTRD?" bracelets made for a friend who's really into Teddy.

(Although... I'm pretty sure that his usual response in any given situation was "shoot something, preferably a whole bunch of large animals.")
posted by clawsoon at 9:13 AM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


As an atheist who's spending a year as a late antique theurgist as part of a stunty blog-to-book deal, I find the casual slurs against Neoplatonism in this thread to be lazy and offensive. Look, I know not everyone thinks that knowledge gained through the application of technologies of god-making is superior to knowledge gained through philosophy, but that doesn't mean you have to go around being, like, dicks about it.

That said, though: In regards to the whole "Stoicism vs. Buddhism" part of the conversation, I had a fun six hours or so a while back spent in a wikipedia hole that started with idly clicking on a link for Greco-Buddhism. There was more cultural exchange between India and Greece than people typically think about, and as a result of that presenting Greek philosophy and Buddhism as totally separate rather than as two (at least somewhat) interconnected streams is not entirely accurate.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 11:57 AM on January 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


since when is Buddhist mindfulness about "disengaging"?

There's a popular notion of Buddhist mindfulness as "the quality of mind that notices what is present,without judgment, without interference." Chapter four of Right Mindfulness (p. 79) has a criticism of this notion which I have found very useful in my own practice.
...some theorists explain the power of pure receptivity by maintaining that as long as the mind doesn’t react to sensory data, no fabrications are created. In other words, non-reactivity is an unfabricated state—or, in the words of a popular modern teaching, “A moment of mindfulness is a moment of nibbāna.” This, however, misses the fact that non-reactivity—whether termed “mindfulness” or “equanimity”—is something willed through intention. To assume that either mindfulness or equanimity is unfabricated prevents the mind from seeing how it’s actually fabricating these qualities in the present moment. This would simply continue the sort of ignorance that lies at the root of suffering and stress. At the same time, this assumption erases any distinction between the path and the goal—a confusion that would effectively prevent any level of awakening from happening.
posted by fivebells at 12:37 PM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wonder if these modern Neo-Stoics believe that the universe works out in the best possible way, and it will eventually dissolve in fire, which will, in turn, give rise to a new universe, which, because it will work out in the best possible way, will be identical to this one? I mean, I may have typed this comment many many times before....
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:31 PM on January 3, 2015


Mindfulness / non attachment. This links to that cognitive lazy thread, but also a tendency to shut down due to overstimulation. I think humans are mindful and then instead of running the film of the now, for all its worth, we take a snapshot and end it. The tricky part is the judgement which can just be a minute decision as to where one stores the snapshot in memory. Then as collectors we are in an entirely different mindspace than receptors. Humans want to remember and judge which has to be a very ancient process having to do with survival. We have the time to be mindful and run the full film and let it go, we always have. Once we achieved a certain sentience(not to imply better,) we wanted our memories easily retrievable. Much memory is stored in all the senses at once and in the body. We became information addicted at some point, rather than experience oriented. Now kinesthetic children, hyperactive children are treated as special cases, I think they are just more in the world, and less in their heads.

Attachment is grabbing some stimuli and creating a hard record to return to again and again, rather than just being in the world, as it is ocurring. Stoicism and non attachment seem first cousins to me.
posted by Oyéah at 2:43 PM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Like Diogenes predilection for carpet.
posted by clavdivs at 4:38 PM on January 3, 2015


> for fuck's sake

Jawdropping!
posted by ostranenie at 12:22 PM on January 4, 2015




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