Perennial Stoicism

Stoicism is a wonderful topic, which Kathryn Morse (a friend of mine) brought up today by pointing me to a video, linked here:

The philosophy of Stoicism – Massimo Pigliucci
19 June 2017

Here are some ideas and books I thought of, as a result.

There is the idea of a “perennial philosophy,” which phrase Aldous Huxley used as the title of his 1945 book on comparative religion/philosophy, and which wikipedia defines as: “Perennial philosophy, also referred to as Perennialism and perennial wisdom, is a perspective in modern spirituality that views each of the world’s religious traditions as sharing a single, metaphysical truth or origin from which all esoteric and exoteric knowledge and doctrine has grown.”

I see the Western version of the perennial philosophy of “stoicism” and self-command as being the combination of four elements:

1, the magisterial cosmic consciousness of Herakleitos (Heraclitus);
2, the truth-bound pragmatic Cynic (Dog) philosophy of Diogenes;
3, the philosophy of Epicurus (the actual philosophy of being appreciative as the route to being happy, not the later and still existing complete misrepresentation as ‘lazy pleasure seeking’); and
4, the stoicism of Zeno (as described in the video).

I see the Eastern version of this same philosophical nexus as being Zen Buddhism in particular, and Buddhism in general.

Here are four books I like on the Western tradition:

1. Herakleitos And Diogenes, translated from the Greek by Guy Davenport (during 1976-1979), Grey Fox Press (San Francisco), 1994 (4th printing).

2. The Epicurus Reader, by Brad Inwood & D. S. Hutchinson, Hackett Publishing Company (Indianapolis), 1994.

3. Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 1997, a reprint of an 1862 version by George Long published by Bell of London. (Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations is perhaps the most popular volume of stoic literature.)

4. Man’s Search For Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankl; original publication in German in 1946, earliest copyright in English in 1959, last preface by Frankl in 1992, most recent edition published by Beacon Press (Boston) 2006.

Four of my favorite books on the Eastern tradition of this ‘stoical nexus’ are (original texts from oldest to newest):

1. The Dhammapada, translated from the Pali by Juan Mascaró (by 1971), Penguin Books (Great Britain), 1973.

2. One Robe, One Bowl, The Zen Poetry of Ryōkan (‘Ryokan,’ without the bar over the “o”), translated by John Stevens, Weatherhill (NY & Tokyo), 1977.

3. Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, compiled by Paul Reps (transcribed by Nyogen Senzaki) in the 1930s and published by Charles E. Tuttle (Rutland, VT, & Tokyo), republished by Anchor Books (Garden City, NY), ~1960s (my guess as it’s not stated).

4. The Way of Zen, by Alan W. Watts, Vintage Books (NY), 1957.

I discuss a great deal more about the topic (the Eastern wing), and some of these books, at the following website:

Asian Philosophies, Oppenheimer, & the New Age