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WISDOM AND PHILOSOPHIES OF LIVE

PHILOSOPHIES OF LIFE

There are several ancient philosophical schools proclaiming that happiness «hangs on one’s thinking”. Our positive or negative thoughts, and the way we see the world and ourselves, determine our happiness - without a direct dependence on objective causes. Seneca and the stoic philosophers in general are great interpreters of this thought.
                                  Meaning of life and Philosophies of life


Everything hangs on one’s thinking. (…) A man is as unhappy as he has convinced himself he is.
Seneca, Roman philosopher and politician, Letters to Lucilius


What difference does it make what your position in life is, if you dislike it yourself?
Seneca, Roman philosopher and politician, Letters to Lucilius


Not happy he who thinks himself not so.
Unknown ancient roman or greek authorship, cited in Seneca Letters to Lucilius


Happiness is an ideal of the imagination, not of reason.
E. Kant, 1724-1804, German philosopher, Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Ethics


See also:
Happiness



FACING THE FUTURE WITH CARELESSNESS, LIVING THE PRESENT           


To many ancient writers and philosophers happiness and meaning of life are achieved by living the present placidly, and minimizing or ignoring the future and its evils.


The life of the folly is empty of gratitude, full of anxiety, all of it focused in the ghosts of the future.
Epicurus, 341-270 b.C., Greek philosopher, Letter to Meneoceus


We must heal our misfortunes by the grateful recollection of what has been and by the recognition that it is impossible to make undone what has been done.
Epicurus, 341-270 b.C., Greek philosopher, The Extant Remains


Overlook what tomorrow may bring, and count as profit every day that Fate allows.
Horace, 65-8 a. C., Roman poet, Odes


Believe each day that has dawned is your last, and some hour for which you haven’t been expecting will prove lovely.
Horace, 65-8 a. C., Roman poet, Epistles


Projecting our thoughts far ahead of us, instead of adapting ourselves to the present, is cause of fear. Foresight, the greatest blessing humanity has been given, is also a curse.
Seneca, Roman philosopher and politician, Letters to Lucilius


What’s the good of dragging up sufferings which are over, or of being unhappy now just because you were then? (…) When troubles come to an end, the natural thing is to be glad.
Seneca, Roman philosopher and politician, Letters to Lucilius


Wild animals run from the dangers they actually see, and once they have escaped them worry no more. We however are tormented alike by what is past and what is to come.
Seneca, Roman philosopher and politician, Letters to Lucilius


A number of our blessings do us harm, for memory brings back the agony of fear, while foresight brings it on prematurely. No one confines his unhappiness to the present.
Seneca, Roman philosopher and politician, Letters to Lucilius


Those who are contented and at ease with the moment, those who live in accord with the course of Nature, cannot be affected by sorrow or joy. That’s what the ancients called release from bondage.
Chuang-Tzu, Taoist thinker, century III or II b. C., Book of Chuang-Tzu


Comments
Meaning of life and Philosophies of life

See also:
Life and Love
Life and friendship
Happiness
Existential Thought
Life Best Years



WE SHOULD BE CARELESS AND UNATTACHED TO MATERIAL WEALTH.

Ancient oriental philosophy proclaims emphatically that, to avoid worries and anxiety, we should be unattached to material possessions. This is a thought we can also encounter in the Epicurist and Stoic philosophers, or in the Bible.
                              Meaning of life and Philosophies of life


When we surrender ourselves to material desires – a new car, a new home, for instance – we increase the intensity and number of the desires. Our wishes increase and we become less and less satisfied, and more and more incapable of satisfying them.
Dalai Lama, Tibetan spiritual and political leader, Voices from the Heart


He who does not think that what he has is more than sufficient, is an unhappy man, even if he is the master of the whole world.
Epicurus, 341-270 b.C., Greek philosopher, in Seneca Letters to Lucilius


Those who cannot release themselves are so because they are bound by material things.
Chuang-Tzu, Taoist thinker, century III or II b. C., Book of Chuang-Tzu


When we bend ourselves to material desires – a new car, a new home, for instance – we increase their intensity and their number. Our wishes increase and we become less and less satisfied, and more and more incapable of satisfying them.
Dalai Lama, Tibetan spiritual and political leader, Voices from the Heart



Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Bible, Matthews


Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, and what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
Bible, Matthews


Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Bible, Matthews


Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
Bible, Matthews


Why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
Bible, Matthews


So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Bible, Matthews


Comments
Meaning of life and Philosophies of life

See also:
Existential Thought
Is Life Meaningful
Life is Dream
Life is Short
Life is Pain



POVERTY, EQUALITY, SOLIDARITY AND A MONASTIC LIFE.

In a tradition that includes mystics such as Saint Francis of Assisi, some religious philosophies demand from their members a vow of poverty, a strict equality and a monastic life. That’s the way to desired happiness.
 

1
Before all else, dear brothers, love God and then your neighbour, because these are the chief commandments given to us.
2
The main purpose for you having come together is to live harmoniously in your house, intent upon God in oneness of mind and heart.
3
Call nothing your own, but let everything be yours in common. Food and clothing shall be distributed to each of you by your superior, not equally to all, for all do not enjoy equal health, but rather according to each one's need.
Saint Augustine Order


See also:
Poems about life
Life and Love
Life and friendship
Happiness
Existential Thought



PLEASURE GIVES MEANING TO LIFE
Meaning of life and Philosophies of life

Epicurus, a Greek philosopher (341-270 b.C), prescribed a philosophy of life centred on a controlled choice of pleasures. Some centuries after that, the Christians attacked Epicurus and his philosophy violently. Only in the XVII century did a great Christian author – Benedito Espinoza – sustain the human right to pleasure.


We must exercise ourselves in the things which bring happiness, since, if that be present, we have everything, and, if that be absent, all our actions should be directed towards attaining it.
Epicurus, 341-270 b.C., Greek philosopher; Letter to Meneoceus


I do not know how I can conceive the good, if I withdraw the pleasures of taste, of love, of hearing, or the pleasurable emotions caused by the sight of a beautiful form.
Epicurus, 341-270 b.C., Greek philosopher; Extand Remains


Pleasure is our first and kindred good. It is the starting-point of every choice and of every aversion, and to it we come back, inasmuch as we make feeling the rule by which to judge of every good thing.
Epicurus, 341-270 b.C., Greek philosopher; Letter to Meneoceus


When we are pained because of the absence of pleasure, then, and then only, do we feel the need of pleasure
Epicurus, 341-270 b.C., Greek philosopher; Letter to Meneoceus


To habituate one's self, therefore, to simple and inexpensive diet supplies all that is needful for health, and enables a man to meet the necessary requirements of life without shrinking, and it places us in a better condition when we approach at intervals a costly fare and renders us fearless of fortune.
Epicurus, 341-270 b.C., Greek philosopher; Letter to Meneoceus


When I say, then, that pleasure should be the end and aim of our lives, I do not mean the pleasures of the prodigal and the pleasures of sensuality, as we are understood to do by some through ignorance, prejudice, or wilful misrepresentation. By pleasure we mean the absence of pain in the body and of trouble in the soul.
Epicurus, 341-270 b.C., Greek philosopher; Letter to Meneoceus


It is not an unbroken succession of parties and revelry, not women and children, not the enjoyment of the fish and other delicacies of a luxurious meal, which produce a pleasant life; it is sober reasoning, searching out the grounds of every choice and avoidance, and banishing those beliefs through which the greatest tumults take possession of the soul.
Epicurus, 341-270 b.C., Greek philosopher; Letter to Meneoceus


Nothing forbids our pleasure except a savage and sad superstition. For why is it more proper to relieve our hunger and thirst than to rid ourselves of melancholy?
B. Espinosa, 1632-1677, Dutch philosopher, The Ethics


To use things and take pleasure in them as far as possible – but not to the point where we are disgusted with them, for lack of pleasure –is part of the life of the wise man.
B. Espinosa, 1632-1677, Dutch philosopher, The Ethics


Comments
Meaning of life and Philosophies of life

See also:
Life and friendship
Happiness
Existential Thought
Life Best Years
Humour about life



WE SHOULD CONTROL NEGATIVE OPINIONS, DESIRES AND PASSIONS…

The ancient stoic philosophers were the most outstanding defenders of controlling our passions and bodily desires, as a path to liberation and meaning. Also philosophers such as Socrates and the oriental philosophies pleaded the same principle.


Perturbation derives from unwise opinions and judgments.
Cicero, 106-43 b. C., Roman philosopher and politician, De Finibus bonorum et malorum

Happy is the wise man who, with moderation and vigour, is serene and in harmony, not consuming himself with evils, futilities or excitements, nor becoming enervated by fear, or burning with desires and envy.
Cicero, 106-43 b. C., Roman philosopher and politician, Tusculan disputation


We must heal our misfortunes by the grateful recollection of what has been and by the recognition that it is impossible to make undone what has been done.
Epicurus, 341-270 b.C., Greek philosopher, The extant remains


Reducing to the utmost my desires, brings me closer to the gods.
Socrates, 470-399 b.C., Greek philosopher, in Diogenes Laerce Lives of Eminent Philosophers.

It’s an illusion to feed the insatiable desires of our ungrateful soul, covering it with goods, without ever satisfying it.
Lucrecius, 98-55 a.C, Roman poet and philosopher, De rerum natura


The greatest of victories is the one over oneself.
Pali Tripitaka, Buddhist collection of Holly texts, Dhammapada


It is not the body that is insatiable. The limitlessness of desire, which condemns us to neediness, dissatisfaction, or unhappiness, is a disease of the imagination.
A. Comte-Sponville, French philosopher, Small Treatise


Comments
Meaning of life and Philosophies of life

See also:
The Human Beings
Existential Thought
Life Best Years
Humour about life



EMOTIONAL UNATTACHMENT AS A WAY TO STOP SUFFERING
Meaning of life and Philosophies of life

Several oriental philosophies of life – Buddhists, Taoists, Hindus – claim that the denial of the emotions and feelings is the only way to avoid suffering. Some authors postulate almost vegetative forms of living, to extirpate pain.


Those who are looking for happiness should pull out the darts that they have stuck in themselves: the darts of grief, of desire, of despair.
Pali Tripitaka, Buddhist collection of Holly texts, Sutta-Nipata


If you are a wise man, avoid the causes of pain: wrath, pride, deceit, greed, love, hate, delusion, conception, birth, death, hell and animal desires.
Jaina Sutras, Acaranba Sutra, Hindu religious texts of the VI and V b. C. century


The mind of the perfect man looks like a mirror – something that doesn’t lean forward or backward in its response to the world. It responds to the world but conceals nothing of its own. Therefore it is able to deal with the world without suffering pain.
Chuang-Tzu, Taoist thinker, century III or II b. C., Book of Chuang-Tzu


Do not want to be the possessor of fame. Do not want be the stockroom of schemes. Do not meditate on the function of things. You should not be a master of manipulative knowledge. (…) You should exercise fully what you have received from Nature without any subjective viewpoint. In short: you should look for vacuous.
Chuang-Tzu, Taoist thinker, century III or II b. C., Book of Chuang-Tzu


Our capacity for disgust is in close proportion with our desires; that is, in proportion to the intensity of our attachment to the things of this world.
Thomas Mann, 1875-1955, German writer, The Confessions of Félix Krull



See also:
Happiness
Existential Thought
Death
Science and Meaning




HAPPINESS IS IN GOD
Meaning of life and Philosophies of life

The Christian tradition proclaims that happiness is in faith in the divine.


The Ecclesiastes shows that man without God is in total ignorance and inevitable misery.
B. Pascal, 1623-1662, French thinker, Thoughts


When I search for you, my God, I am searching for happiness. I will look for you in order that my soul lives, because my body lives from my soul, and my soul lives from you.
Saint Augustine, 354-430, theologian and philosopher, Confessions


Far from me, far from the heart of your serf, my God, confessing to you, the idea of finding happiness in whatever the joy!
Saint Augustine, 354-430, theologian and philosopher, Confessions


Happiness is a joy that is granted not to the impious, but only to those who serve you through pure love: because you are that joy! To rejoice from you, in you and by you, that is happiness. And there is no other.
Saint Augustine, 354-430, theologian and philosopher, Confessions


Comments
Meaning of life and Philosophies of life

See also:
The Human Beings
Existential Thought
Death
Life After Death




A POPULAR VISION OF HAPPINESS AS LAZINESS, EATING AND EVEN AS IGNORANCE

Meaning of life and Philosophies of life


The Ecclesiastes is a rather atypical text in the framework of Christianity. It reflects a popular vision that sees happiness as laziness, eating, drinking and even as ignorance.


So, go your way - eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already accepted your works.
Bible, Ecclesiastes


Don't be overly righteous, and don’t be yourself overly wise. Why should you destroy yourself?
Bible, Ecclesiastes


Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your life of vanity, which He has given you: for that is your portion in life you have to stand under the sun.
Bible, Ecclesiastes


Better is a handful, with quietness, than two handfuls with labour and chasing after wind.
Bible, Ecclesiastes

In much wisdom is much grief; he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.
Bible, Ecclesiastes


Comments
Meaning of life and Philosophies of life


See also:
Existential Thought
Life Best Years
Life is Dream

 
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PHILOSOPHIES OF LIFE


  

Above:
Fragment of Indian saint Guru Nana
Many oriental philosophies of life are based on mysticism.


Commentary
Philosophies of life: Christianism and Epicurism


Wrong choices and unwise options can damage our lives. Life is an art, and the anticipation of future evils, foolish thoughts, and the chasing after material wealth are causes of unhappiness. Only through wisdom – given by philosophy - can we enrich the meaning of our lives, and get happiness. 

In short, that’s the position of an important group of ancient philosophers, the most outstanding of which is, perhaps, Epicurus (341-270 a.C.).

Epicurus was a believer in a secluded life, a life in small communities whose members should cultivate friendship, wisdom, and, ultimately, pleasure. «Pleasure is the beginning and the end of living happily», Epicurus argued. «It’s the first and innate good, and it is based upon this that we should make our choices and establish our aversions».

But Epicurus was not exactly a hedonist. Epicurus emphasized  pleasure, but not indiscriminate pleasures. Epicurus was also an adept of moderation. «It is not an unbroken succession of parties and revelry, not women and child, not the enjoyment of the fish and other delicacies of a luxurious table, which produce a pleasant life; it is sober reasoning, searching out the grounds of every choice and avoidance, and banishing those beliefs through which the greatest tumults take possession of the soul», he said.

We don’t really know what life was like for the many Epicurist communities (very popular and numerous in the ancient Greek and Roman empires). But the first Christians, namely Saint Augustine, fought them violently, charging them with hedonism, and even of orgies and debauchery.

This could have happened in some of the thousands of Epicurist communities, but probably it’s exaggerated, something spotted by the fundamentalism of the first Christians. Epicurus’ writings show a moderate and sensible man, advocating contention, a position common to philosophers such as Socrates or the stoics, who overemphasised it.

There is, anyway, a profound difference between Epicurus’ philosophy of life and the ones born from Christianity. To Saint Augustine, the father of the medieval-Christian philosophy of life, happiness was in the faith in God, in the certainty brought by that faith, in the joy which it allows. «I will look for You in order that my soul lives, because my body lives from my soul, and my soul lives from You» (Saint Augustine)

Happiness is, therefore, something that should be searched for outside the secular world. It doesn’t pass by physical or even intellectual pleasures. «Far from me, far from the heart of your serf, my God, confessing to You, the idea of finding happiness in whatever the joy!»

Happiness, to Saint Augustine, was also not in the oblivion of our future evils, or in emotional unattachment (as claimed by Buddhist, Hindu and Taoist schools); and it was even less in eating our «bread with joy, and drinking your wine with a merry heart, for God has already accepted your works», as advocated in the Ecclesiastes.

«Happiness is a joy that is not granted to the impious, but only to those who serve you through pure love: because you are that joy! To rejoice from you, in you and by you, that is happiness. And there is no other», argued Saint Augustine. Happiness passed to depend wholly in the creed and in attachment to God. With Christianity, the philosophies of life spreading upon the western world changed dramatically. 

Only with secularization introduced by the Renaissance and deepened in the following centuries, did the major principles of classic Greek philosophy, as pleaded by Epicurus, – valuing pleasure, friendship and profane love – regain importance.

 

 

 

 



 

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