Roman Calendar

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

"Living in Harmony with the Universe" (Chapter 6 of "Everything Has Two Handles")

"Living in Harmony with the Universe" (from chapter 6 of Everything Has Two Handles)

     "Nothing will happen to me which is not conformable to the nature of the universe."
~ Marcus Aurelius (Long p.89)

     "Resent a thing by all means if it represents an injustice decreed against yourself personally; but if this same constraint is binding on the lowest and highest alike, then make your peace again with destiny."
~ Seneca, Letter XCI (Campbell, 182)

     Pies cites the book Infinite Life by Robert Thurman about Buddhism, and notes that although "the Buddhist tradition is quite distinct from Greco-Roman stoicism, the two systems have many elements in common. One error is to suppose that either tradition encourages us to be 'doormats' - to accept passively whatever evil befalls us. On the contrary, Thurman tells us, 'Don't think that the spiritual thing to do is to swallow your feelings and be a victim. Not at all. The point is not to allow injustice . . . to flourish. Doing nothing could not be more wrong. When something unjust happens, step in at once. Develop the ability to act forcefully without getting angry . . . Get help. Be assertive. Cheerful aggressiveness is the ticket here." (Thurman 167-70).

     "The Stoics distinguish time and again between those things that are within our power or control and those that are not. Epictetus tells us, 'Within our power are the Will, and all voluntary actions; out of our power are the body and its parts, property, relatives, country, and in short, all our fellow beings' (Bonforte, 22). Later, he reminds us, 'If you fulfill your duties, you have what belongs to you. For it is not the business of a philosopher to take care of mere externals - his wine, his oil, his body - but of his Reason' (73)."


  1. Salve! And thank you for highlighting my efforts at bringing Stoic philosophy into the modern age!

    Best regards,
    Ron Pies

    Author: Everything Has Two Handles; and The Director of Minor Tragedies

  2. Salve! You're very welcome! I am enjoying the book, and would encourage aspiring Stoics to read it!

  3. Thank you, Gaius, that's most kind (and I believe kindness is a Stoic trait!)

    Ron Pies

    Author, The Three-Petalled Rose (a synthesis of Buddhism, Judaism, and Stoicism)