In my own experience and opportunities-to-practice along the way, I've had the good fortune of engaging with lots of Buddhism, and through these connections, I've come away with an appreciation for the particulars of what many Buddhists might call the "human condition", as well as methods and modalities for working with (instead of working FOR) symptoms of the aforementioned condition.
I'm not Buddhist, nor am I of a culture that inherently benefits from a local Buddhist influence.
Paganism/polytheism (in general - under the "great umbrella") doesn't have practices like this inherently built into it.
Paganism/polytheism desperately needs practices like this if we're going to evolve together as "a people" of familial spirit.
As a servant of both a church community locally, and various and sundry other pagan-folx nationally (and internationally, I suppose), I want to be able to offer a solution for, what I see to be, this oversight in the development of our folx-soul, thus far.
I want to test something out for efficacy myself before offering it to folx who trust me.
I don't want to go alone.
In short, I have a lot of respect for how Buddhists privilege the practices of discipline over one's basal egoic nature and primal desires. I want to bring these practices into my life (and, gods be good, the lives of my congregants and readers, alike), and have wanted to do so for a very long time... and have done so, to a greater or lesser degree, but I always wanted something from an I-E language based culture, as that would be what I consider to be necessary practices that perform similar functions of Buddhism's introspective ones, but that come from my own culture (for those that don't know, I'm an I-E mutt: Mediterranean, Northern European, Southwest Asian). It matters to me from where my practices come, and I'd like my introspective work to be informed by a cultural framework that I inherently understand. Hence: Stoicism.
Before I jump in to the first topic of the year, I want to forewarn my readers that I'm not trained as a writer, nor am I coming at this work through the academic lens. I mean, sure I've taken the obligatory writing courses at university, but only enough to learn a citation modality (#TeamChicago) and how to not sound like a complete, self-aggrandizing buffoon.
Buffoonery and self-aggrandizement aside, be patient with a vulnerable, non-professional, please. If y'all can agree to that, I can agree to be authentic and open as I'm going through this journey. Also, thank you all, in advance, for coming along.
OK... one last bit...
Quick Overview of the Year & Structure of Study
According to Holiday, in seeking to understand real, actionable ways to work with their not-knowing, ancient Stoics created exercises around three central disciplines (1 new central discipline/4 months):
The Discipline of Perception (Jan.-Apr.) - how, through our senses, we intake the world around us.
The Discipline of Action (May-Aug.) - the positions we take, and actions we do... and why we do them
The Discipline of Will (Sept.-Dec.) - how we define our relationship with that which we cannot change, how to hone adamantine discernment, and how to understand where we are in each moment in the world.
Each discipline has four elements of training and exploration within; what works out to be one element per month, and one idea within that element for each day of the month..
Perception explores Clarity, Passions & Emotions, Awareness, and Unbiased Thought.
Action considers Right-Action, Problem Solving, Duty, and Pragmatism.
Finally, Will looks at Fortitude & Resilience, Virtue & Kindness, Acceptance, and Mortality.
Alrighty then... with no further delay, we begin:
Control & Choice - day 1
I was asked to select a prayer for my birth-mother, Patrice's, memorial cards for her funerary services when she died some years ago. See, she died an addict. Her addiction, ultimately, killed her. So, on the back of the card, I asked that "The Serenity Prayer" be printed. Appropriate, I thought.
It's in this well known prayer's first stanza that the petitioner is asking their god to grant them serenity, courage, and wisdom in their time of need.
It's a prayer about control and choice. Hard stop.
Epictetus wonders about the nature of good and evil, and comes to the conclusion that these are always under the control of choice-making beings. We choose our actions. We do not blame our actions on another, be they human or god.
Shantideva, in the Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life, says there's no point in going through the world angry. If it's within your control to change it, be happy and change the thing. It's beyond your control to change it, being angry will not change anything, only the strength of your ego.
Ego causes us to spend out resources trying to change things we cannot change, and/or convincing us that we can control things that we cannot.
Knowing what I can and cannot control, and applying discerning wisdom to my choices. These are good tools to have at the beginning of a journey.
Not getting fooled is one thing... not getting fooled by your "self" is another thing entirely.
(See y'all tomorrow) ;)