The following is an excerpt from the introduction of my new book "A Course In Stoicism" - which is available to buy via the books page of this website, or on Amazon.
In our modern times, Philosophy is too often seen as something reserved for Academics and intellectuals.
We might imagine it to be something complex - or old fashioned – with no real value to us now. Or, we may think of Philosophy as just a kind of abstract subject. There for us to debate in lecture halls - or read about in long winded textbooks - but not really to practice on a day-to-day basis.
However . . . This was not always the case.
After all, the word “Philosophy” - in its Original Greek route – simply means “Love of wisdom” – which is something that most of us have, in some shape or form.
And thus, the real study of philosophy should be open to everyone. No-matter of background, education level, age, or social status.
There have been great philosophers who were kings and politicians - and there have been others who were tramps or vagabonds.
But the key things is that all philosophers live their lives mindfully. Seeking practices which can not only help us as individuals - but, also, those around us = with everything from how to live a "good" life . . . To taking care of our own mind and body . . .To growing in self knowledge . . . to finding happiness . . . . to coping with life’s stresses or terrors . . . and so on.
In fact, incorporating philosophy into our every day lives can be one of the most beneficial things we can do. Helping us to keep grounded in times of joy . . . And have courage in times of hardship.
But, of course, the history of philosophical thought is so vast - it can be daunting to know where to start. Which is why a collection like this can be so beneficial.
The essence of Stoic thought is the idea that we can live a happier, more grounded, more mindful, and more virtuous life, simply by living in accordance with our own nature.
We cannot always control our externals. But we can always take responsibility for the calmness of our internal-state.
And focus our efforts on cultivating a mindset of balance, akin to the Buddhist “Middle path”, where we are able to face all sides of life - good, bad, dark, light, hopes, and fears - with the same sense of security within.
Stoicism is not a religion – or any other kind of set dogma . Rather, it is more accurately seen as a kind of ancient precursor to Psychotherapy - encouraging us to turn inwards, and work closely with our own emotions.
Thus, it is not only one of the most universally accessible schools of philosophy. . . But, also, one of the most relevant to our modern times too.
The writers and thinkers we will be exploring here come from all walks of life. From Zeno - the wealthy merchant, who lived an ascetic’s life To Epictetus, the Slave turned Philosopher To Seneca, the exiled aristocrat and Statesman To Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor
But, as this is not an academic book, we will not be dwelling too much on their days and times. Rather, we will be using the coming pages simply to introduce their wisdom in it’s simplest form. Letting the writers speak for themselves.
There will be no boring essays, or analysis . . . though, of course, if any of the content in this book inspires you, further study is highly recommended.
But, hopefully, there is value to be found for everyone – with passages on mental health – spirituality – wisdom - ethical worries - anxiety - love - loss - regrets - living a peaceful life in tune with nature - and so much more.
Stoicism is a school of thought that has helped countless people from across the ages to live calmer, more peaceful, lives.
And so, this is a book for anyone looking to take their first steps into a new way of thinking.
Allowing the wisdom of the past to bring us a lifetime's worth of benefits.