“the truth will never be discovered if we rest contented with discoveries already made. Besides, he who follows another not only discovers nothing but is not even investigating. What then? Shall I not follow in the footsteps of my predecessors? I shall indeed use the old road, but if I find one that makes a shorter cut and is smoother to travel, I shall open the new road. Men who have made these discoveries before us are not our masters, but our guides. Truth lies open for all; it has not yet been monopolized. And there is plenty of it left even for posterity to discover.”
(Letter XXXIII, On the Futility of Learning Maxims, 10-11), Seneca
Everyone is on a journey from birth to death. Along the way, most of human activity seems to be focused on how to maximize our happiness and minimize our pain. The countless way that we attempt this depend on the circumstances of our birth and upbringing, as well as the culture and environment in which we were raised. From all of this, we develop and constantly evolve the mental definition of what we believe is desirable, good and right.
For those raised in religious cultures, this definition can be based on adherence to the precepts of whatever religion is dominant in their lives, with the hope of a reward after death. For those who have rejected or were never been raised in a religion, it can involve varying degrees of self indulgent hedonism ranging from “keeping up with the Jones” to full-on consumerism (posessions and the admiration/envy of others makes me happy), to maximize the “reward” while still alive.
Stoicism is a philosophy that started and flourished in the ancient Greek and Roman world, which has influenced the thinking of philosophers and countless millions ever since. According to its teachings, the path to happiness is found in learning and accepting what we control and what we don’t, and channeling the control we do have toward the practice of virtuous behavior.
As a personal philosophy, being a Stoic is all about you and the decisions you make to “live” the philosophy. There is no central church of Stoicism, no “holy book” for Stoics, no heaven or hell beyond what you make of your life with every decision. No one, other than yourself, can legitimately judge you as being a good Stoic or a bad one, because the ultimate definition of what being a Stoic is and how to live a Stoic life is up to you.
This site is a journal of my discoveries, insights, decisions and opinions as I work to understand Stoic philosophy and implement my interpretation of it in my daily life. It is not a textbook of what others should do, but rather a log of my journey in defining what is “right” for me. My Meditations if you will.