That isn’t exactly what it sounds like. When a Stoic aims to be “passionless“, it means discarding the extremes of emotions. Much like what is described in the Laws of Power, emotion can be destructive, it can cloud your judgement and keep you from seeing reason, which is one of the three pillars of the philosophy.
I’m trying to practice aphateia for the past few days, and it really does keep things in perspective.
As I finish my reflection on Book 1 of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, I have begun thinking about how gratitude works in with how Stoics look at the world. Marcus was thankful for a lot of things, and he attributes all of his blessings to “God”.
To stoics, God isn’t a entity, but the entity. The center of the universe, the basic law of that puts the universe (physics) in order. It is by this order that reason exists. So a stoic isn’t religious by any means, but entirely logical. It just so happens that the source of logic is God, or a God.
I found this concept really difficult to grasp, being a very Catholic individual. But I do embrace reason overall, I’m not denying God, but acknowledging him/her in a different state that conforms to scientific progress. But the spiritual aspect isn’t the core of Stoicism, but the mindset that regardless of how the world is made up, there is one law that remains constant: “I am in Control”.
Circumstances change, situations change, but I will always be in control of how to respond to them. If tragedy strikes, I won’t falter. This is a strong emphasized point in the last two parts of Book 1 in Meditations.
How can I either be hurt by any of those, since it is not in their power to make me incur anything that is truly reproachable?
The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, Book 1.15
In the end of all things, it is I who decides how I feel, how I act, how I live. It’s a mantra that I need to focus on constantly, sometimes it’s hard but as I grow stronger each day as a Stoic, I find that the challenges of life are nothing more than mere annoyances to the greater scheme of things.