Author: RicardoGuaderrama

Psychology, Reflections, Stoic advice

Fortune is not to be trusted


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If you can meet with Triumph and Disasterfrederick
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
Rudyard Kipling
There shouldn’t be anything in yourself that you admire as much as your capacity to deal with reality on your own conditions.
The simple, greatest stoic teaching, to develop inner confidence in choosing to be content with concentrating explicitly on those things that are directly under your control.
It is painfully easy to derange ourselves into thinking that outer happiness and fame or fortune are worthier or feel better than a strong and imperturbable character.
It is only during dark times that you are reminded, painfully so, that strength of character is worth so much more than fame or success materially in life. Remembering the strength of character and a powerful will during this times is easy, you have no other option, it is during happy times which strength of character must be constantly reminded to be ready.
So use all that is called Fortune. Most men gamble with her, and gain
all, and lose all, as her wheel rolls. But do thou leave as unlawful these
winnings, and deal with Cause and Effect, the chancellors of God. In the
Will work and acquire, and thou hast chained the wheel of Chance, and shalt
sit hereafter out of fear from her rotations. A political victory, a rise of rents,
the recovery of your sick, or the return of your absent friend, or some other
favorable event, raises your spirits, and you think good days are preparing for
you. Do not believe it. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing
can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The great Theodore Roosevelt wrote to his brother in 1880: “My happiness is so great that it makes me almost afraid.” He had had a terrific year, he wrote a book attended public office and won his first public office. Fortune, sometimes smiles greatly upon us, at least once. In 1884 when his daughter was born, however, just two days after birth, his wife died from Brights disease and two hours later in the same hospital, his mother from Typhoid fever. He marked in his diary that grim day with a big X in his diary.
Life comes at you fast. You never know what is going to happen, all you can do is be prepared to face it. Later Roosevelt wrote:
“We cannot avoid meeting great issues. All that we can determine for ourselves is theodore-rooseveltwhether we shall meet them well or ill.”
Theodore Roosevelt
Self-ownership must be practiced at all times. This is a constant practice.
With practice, anything can be attained, but there are few things as important in life as really owning our presence here on earth.
Remember that fortune will benefit or harm you at any moment, she is not to be trusted. Know this and you will be free.

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philosophy

Stoicism, Archery, and Zen


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I love the stoic allegory of the bow.

Shooting the arrow is an allegory for live’s objectives and our way of achieving them.

There are many things that are under your control when shooting the arrow. You can measure the distance, feel wind’s direction on your face, tense the bow and aim at the bullseye. However, you cannot control how the wind is going to act when you throw the arrow, you cannot predict if someone will push you and make you miss the bullseye.

Some things are under our control, some are not.

In this specific example I want to compare the concept of tension and the handling of it from the stoic point of view and the eastearn.

Tension, the stress provider of life. You cannot shoot and arrow without some tension in the bow, just as you cannot achieve great goals without the tension that goes along with them.

Be the stone cliff against which the waves constantly break, standing firly against cliffthe fury of the ocean.

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus illustrates his idea of holding tension like being an inmovable cliff. Rough, rock solid standing against anything that comes to him, showing the greatness of his spirit against all adversity. Majestic.

His idea of tension is holding it, like the cliff against the ocean waves.

But what about using it?

“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”

Bruce Lee

Here Bruce Lee illustrates another way of looking at tension. Whereas Marcus stands immovable against the water, Bruce is the water, molding himself to whatever situation he is in. Interesting?

Archery in eastern philosopy is, like the tea ceremony, practiced as a spiritual practice.

In archery, like in martial arts, it’s better to have a clear and relaxed mind. Like water, b977bc37-5a9a-4868-ad69-c38cc6fc618eno extra amount of energy nor to little is needed, just the necessary.

In this instance, I believe that stocism and zen are very, very alike. The mind must be constanlty trained for it to function optimally.

Stoicism can be aid by Zen buddhism in the sense that bought deal with calming the mind as an important part of living the best life possible.

Let your mind be like water. Adapting, or let your mind be like the immovable cliff.

Which do you think works better?

Subscribe and receive for free the Askesis ebook to further develop your practice of stoicism. 

Subscribe here

Visit our Patreon page for more stoic, Patreon only content. Thanks.

GIFT A BOOK

Help the world spreading Stoicism, pay $20 and gift a Mexico City person a copy of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. I'll send you an email so you can write a personal message and the photo will be uploaded to the Stoic Answers page.

$20.00