Vivat Marcus Aurelius!

I recently received an interesting letter from a student of one of my facilitators, through which I discovered that there’s a modern movement to revive the stoic philosophy of classical antiquity. I think this is absolutely fascinating. Below you’ll find his letter and my response.

Shinzen,

I’ve been practicing the Basic Mindfulness system regularly under Chris‘s guidance for quite some time now and I can’t thank you both enough for the changes it’s made in my life.

I’m also a member of several online stoic communities and I blog regularly on the topic. I recently wrote a blog post for my fellow stoics showing how mindful awareness skills can be helpful in living a virtuous life. Your comments or suggestions would be most appreciated.

http://approximatelyforever.com/blog/2014/03/03/mindful-awareness-and-the-good-life/

Many Thanks,
Ben

 

Hi Ben,

This is really cool. I had no idea that there were modern stoics. Obviously, you’re right on. Metaphorically speaking, if stoicism represents a certain “software”, then mindful awareness practices are the optimal hardware platform on which to run it.

In fact, I sometimes like to play a “counterfactual history” game with myself. What if Buddhist contemplative adepts from India had been able to dialog with the early European Stoics, providing them with systematic techniques for potentiating the actual practice of their conceptual ideals? In this version of history, Stoicism (and other schools of Greek thinking that emphasized eudaimonia) might have become so immediately efficacious that the vast majority of people adopted them. This, in turn, might have radically altered the course of Western and, therefore, world history, allowing for a continuous evolution of the “Greek miracle.” The scientific revolution that erupted in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries might have occurred in the 7th or 8th century, and the cross-fertilization of science and meditation practice, which may happen in this and the next century, might have occurred in the 9th or 10th century. Thus, what ended up being the dark ages might have been the greatest period of advance in human history, and we would be privileged to be living 1000 years after that!

All the best,
Shinzen