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From Vol. 3, Issue 1, January 2021

Stoic Echoes


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Stoicism is based on reason, not revelation. If it is based on reason, then Stoic knowledge cannot be the Stoics’ exclusive preserve. Anyone who reasons should be able to come to similar conclusions, whether a Stoic or not. That is the premise of this issue. If Stoicism is true and is based on reason, we should be able to hear the echoes of Stoicism wherever reason reigns.

And we do.

Here is Marcus Aurelius:
Time is a river. It is the irresistible flow of everything that is created. You glimpse something, and it is already carried past you. - Meditations 4.43

And here is a passage from Gilgamesh, a five-thousand-year-old epic:
The river rises, flows over its banks
And carries us all away, like mayflies ...
And all at once there is nothing.
- English version (Book X) by Stephen Mitchell.

Marcus Aurelius’ sentiment,
When your acts are in accordance with reason, you don’t care if your actions are few or many, whether you live long or briefly. - Meditations 12.35

finds parallels in the Shamanic warrior tradtion:
When [a warrior] fulfils his acts, he retreats in peace, and whether his acts were good or bad, ow worked and didn’t, is no way a part of his concern. - Carlos Casteneda, A Separate Reality.

Marcus Aurelius’ view on continuity,
That which dies does not drop out of this world; here it remains. - Meditations 8.19

is reflected in the Bhagavad Gita:
Being can never not be. - Bhagavad Gita 2.16

Yet we don’t readily recognize the parallels because the basics of most wisdom traditions are obscured by metaphysical musings of the teachers and ritualistic practices of the followers. Once we strip the wisdom traditions of their metaphysical and ritualistic trappings, we find many surprising commonalities.

Buddhism is remarkably similar to Stoicism. So are many aspects of Judaism. Christianity comes close to Stoicism as well. Islam and Confucianism have many differences with Stoicism but also have many similarities. And Epicureans are not really rivals of Stoics, but fellow travellers.

We invited a few eminent Stoic scholars, academics, and modern Stoic practitioners to share their thoughts on the subject. We have been fortunate in that they readily agreed to do so.

So, in this issue, we present the echoes of Stoicism found in different wisdom traditions: 

With this issue, THE STOIC is entering its third year of publication. During this time, we have received a lot of encouragement and support from the modern Stoic community. We are thankful for all our supporters. Happy New Year!

Dr. Chuck Chakrapani Editor-in-Chief