You may have been to my Stoic page, where I introduce the essential triad I have taken from the Stoics. This triad is about understanding what is under my control, accepting that fate will change my life unexpectedly, and knowing that all things are impermanent. These three concepts are essential in building the attitude of “indifference” to the external factors around us.
Once you build this philosophy, certain questions of “Why?” begin to fade away.
- Why did this happen to me?
- Why did my dog die?
- Why does every investment I make seem to tank?
- Why can’t I afford a new car?
- Why did I just win the lottery? (Threw this one in…positive occurrences are fate as well)
- Why are thousands murdered every year?
These things are going to happen…much of it is simply fate. They are mostly or completely out of your control. Like everything else, your dog is impermanent. But one question may still be lingering in your mind: “isn’t there a big plan for me?” In all of my research, and all that I have reflected on Stoic philosophy, one thing seems to be consistent. The Stoic strives to be indifferent to this big plan. God may have a plan for you, but it is simply part of the plan for all of existence. You are simply a player in the giant unfolding of the cosmos. He may be raising you from the minute you were born to save the world. You may be the one to cure cancer, to win the Tour De France, or to lead a church, but if you are a Stoic, you are not concerned with the specific plan for you. In short, the limit of your existential “why asking” stops at “why should I live a virtuous life?” and ends with “because it is in accordance with nature (both human and universal),” and moreover, because that is the way God intended it. All further why questions are not essential to living a virtuous life.
In my post on Life as Training, I alluded to this indifference as faith. This requires further reflection, I think. I won’t talk around this any longer: praying is a manifestation of a lack of faith. When you pray for something, it is for your own sake (even if it is to feel a little power over something….”Dear God, please watch over those on the East coast so Hurricane Sandy [Frankenstorm] does them no harm”). So, if you are part of God’s plan, and God put you here on Earth with murders, rapes, earthquakes, hurricanes (Frankenstorm) and all, why do you find it necessary to ask “are you sure this is your plan, God? Can you change it just a little for me?” For your sake, indeed.
Instead, I have said my prayer only once when I accepted the Stoic life, “I’ll do my part with the flesh, breath, and mind you gave me. Other than that, you’ve got the rest, God.” This is a covenant (a SUPER CONTRACT) between me and all of existence…and I only need to make it once. Upon further reflection, I’ve realized that what I originally called indifference might be better described as acceptance: An Acceptance Contract