Stoicism, Archery, and Zen

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?

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Rejection is better than Regret

For nonconformity, the world whips you with its displeasure. And thereforeEdvard-Much-painting-Two-Friends-stolen-in-Malmo-Sweden-Slover-Linett-blog
a man must know how to estimate a sour face.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The path to greatness must be walked alone. You have to smile as well, because life is not something to be mourned, but celebrated. But you have to walk your own path if you want to enjoy life as best as it can be enjoyed, not depending on opinion but on will.

Yesterday I read a post on Reddit about someone asking how to deal stoically with your non-stoic friends, that, basically, just want to drink and smoke weed. I answered that you simply don’t deal with them, you simply have to become good at estimating the sour faces (this what not giving a fuck looks like), because you are going to get a lot if you are going to truly walk your own path.

I’m sure we’ve all been in that situation at the party when we know we must get going to get some sleep for work tomorrow or anything and when you announce that you are leaving, suddenly nobody wants you to leave, and fearing the sour faces, you decide to stay and face regret the next day, pity.

Rejection is always better than regret. 

Regret

Regret is always a good moral compass, you are not going to remember rejection, later on, you are going to forget the sour faces very, very quickly, but regret, regret stays forever my friend.

This is true in many situations in life. Just met the love of your life walking by? Didn’t asked name or number? Rejection is better than regret.

Need to talk to someone to fix things off? At least before he or she dies? Rejection is better than regret.

Afraid to start the new business or the trip to Korea? Rejection is better than regret.

People are afraid of greatness. It’s always better to make decisions by yourself and for yourself and get good at appreciating the sour faces.

Remeber

“You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire”
― SenecaOn the Shortness of Life

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

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GIFT A BOOK

Let’s use social media for something helpful, shall we? Help the world by spreading Stoicism, pay just $9 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.

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