Struggle is mandatory. Suffering is optional.

Struggle is mandatory. Suffering is optional.

You have get uncomfortable. You have to be uncomfortable. You will be uncomfortable.

To live is to not want to suffer. To live is to suffer. You will suffer.

Control what is in your hands and leave the rest to faith. We are not meant to foresee all the variables and possibilities. Why stress?

Responsibility – here is an interesting word – nagging discomfort due to thinking that you can control what happens to a particular thing. Thus, discomfort = responsibility.

Comfort is momentary. We bounce around, wall to wall, like a pinball, seeking that high score of comfort. No chance.

Thus, if you are alive then be at peace with being uncomfortable. Know that such discomforting thoughts are not optional. Why stress?

School = discomfort

Bills = discomfort

Life = struggle

If life is struggle then struggle is life. That is where you find the meaning for your existence. In running away from struggle your are running away from yourself.

You find yourself through struggle.

A sword will never be forged if the metal does not experience the pain of being hit by the blacksmith’s hammer.

Your happiness is elevated by the pain you’ve been through. Your suffering makes you appreciate the happiness and beauty with greater intensity.

 

To desire is not freedom.
To want is not freedom.
To crave is not freedom.

Where is freedom?

It is in the negation of desire, want and craving. To desperately seek something is to be possessed by it. If one desires then certainly one will languish if unable to satisfy the craving. It’s not outside the real of possibility to desire a thing but never be able to acquire it. Eternal misery, is it not?

What is the remedy then? Realize that desire is prison. Realize that life is desire. Cravings that are satiated one moment will undoubtedly return. Thus, to crave things is to be indefinitely miserable.

Life is like a boat-ride across a river that one navigates on a small raft. With limited space on your ship you have to be mindful of what is useful and what is excess. Keep your baggage light for fear of risking taking on too much baggage to cause your raft to sink. Necessity over excess.

Freedom is not achieved
by satisfying desire,
but by eliminating it.
– Epictetus

Freedom is not achieved by satisfying desire… – Epictetus

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​Remember, it is not enough to be hit or insulted to be harmed, you must believe that you are being harmed. If someone succeeds in provoking you, realize that your mind is complicit in the provocation. Whichis whyit is essential that wenot respond impulsively to impressions; take a moment before reacting, and you will find it is easier to maintain control.

The more you cut down on mistakes, the greater your chance of winning is. – Bob Knight


Bob Knight

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Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali, 1

Thou hast made me endless, such is thy pleasure. This frail vessel thou emptiest again and again, and fillest it ever with fresh life.

This little flute of a reed thou hast carried over hills and dales, and hast breathed through it melodies eternally new.

At the immortal touch of thy hands my little heart loses its limits in joy and gives birth to utterance ineffable.

Thy infinite gifts come to me only on these very small hands of mine. Ages pass, and still thou pourest, and still there is room to fill.

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Epictetus, Stoicism, Anger

The exact date escapes me, but I remember that my studies of Buddhism started around the summer of 2012. Stoicism came into my life a few years later in a form of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. Currently reading Epictetus’ Discourses I come upon a point after point where similarities between the two philosophies are striking.

Buddhism, personally, feels more like a philosophy, rather than religion.

An important line of thinking that is shared by the two philosophies of Buddhism and Stoicism concerns our craving and want of things. Those wants are not limited to material possessions that we can acquire in exchange for money. Included is the achievement of certain benchmarks that we often treat as physical things that are to be achieved in life: a ‘good job’, high social status and the rest…if these “needs” could be met then most certainly we have achieved happiness. Right?

Let’s see what Epictetus has to say:

​If you must be affected by other people’s misfortunes, show them pity instead of contempt. Drop this readiness to hate and take offence. Who are you to use those common curses, like ‘We get angry because we put too high a premium on things that [people] can steal. Don’t attach such value to your clothes, and you won’t get angry with the thief who takes them. Don’t make your wife’s external beauty her chief attraction, and you won’t be angry with the adulterer. Realize that the thief and the adulterer cannot touch what’s yours, only what is common property everywhere and not under your control. If you make light of those things and ignore them, who is left to be angry with? As long as you honour material things, direct your anger at yourself rather than the thief or adulterer.“*

Have you seen a teenager wear a new pair of white sneakers, only to become enrage when someone accidentally steps on them? The addition of about a dozen years since I had graduated from high school graduation had given me a new perspective on purchasing sneakers. With age came a great many things to preoccupy my mind other than the cleanliness of my footwear: making the most out of being a husband and a dad, squeezing in more time for reading, work/job/career (can’t figure out which one is more appropriate). Most challenging part of life is not taking this said life too seriously.

It could be just that I live in New York City… lack of smiling faces, impatient drivers honking, dirt and garbage everywhere…but when all else fail I take a pause and think of what a wise man once said: don’t take things too seriously, remember that we are talking monkeys flying through space on a piece of rock.**

*Epictetus, Discourses and Selected Writings (ISBN: 9780141917481)
**paraphrasing Joe Rogan

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