About Stoicism


Reading stoic literature, I strongly felt that I was well culturally connected to those teachings, while they have unfortunately not shaped our civilization in any significant manner, for it followed the teachings of Plato and Aristotle. 

After all, for me personally, rediscovering stoicism was a déjà vu experience for I had well studied it in general in high school, after I was able to unchoose religion and opt for the philosophy class. And already during that year, at the age of 16, I had not been fond of Plato and Aristotle. 

My favorite philosopher was Epicure, and while Epicurism is formally different from Stoicism, this is the case only on the surface. In fact, both philosophies are branches of the same tree in that both focus on the private life, and our overall attitudes toward life, toward desire, toward ambitions, and the way we master our daily existence. Eventually I was heeding Marcus Aurelius’ advice:

Remember how often you have received an opportunity from the gods, and yet do not use it. You must now at least perceive of what universe you are a part, and from what administrator of the universe your existence flows, and that a limit of time is fixed for you, which if you do not use for clearing away the clouds from your mind, it will go and you will go, and it will never return. (Id.)

Marcus Aurelius writes in his Meditations:

And you will give yourself relief, if you do every act of your life as if it were the last, laying aside all carelessness, passionate aversion from the commands of reason, hypocrisy, self-love, and discontent with the portion that has been given to you. You see how few the things are, which if possessed by a man, enable him to live a life that flows in quiet … 

Take away then aversion from all things which are not in your power, and transfer it to the things contrary to nature which are in your power.

—Epictetus, Enchiridion, Section II.

And I found an important advice in Epictetus’ Enchiridion:

When then we are impeded or disturbed or grieved, let us never blame others, but ourselves, that is, our opinions. It is the act of an ill-instructed man to blame others for his own bad condition; it is the act of one who has begun to be instructed, to lay the blame on himself; and of one whose instruction is completed, neither to blame enough nor himself. (Id., Section V)

This passage made me aware that I was still in the dark as long as I was blaming myself, which actually kept me chained to those past events in a negative, and painful manner. After having understood that, I used positive affirmations to forgive myself and clear my mind of the ‘clouds.’ It was very important to have done that for I saw that this was the key for finding inner peace once again.

© Peter Fritz Walter 2015