Buddhism and Stoicism Collide
The Comfort Crisis has certainly given me a lot to think about and a lot to write about! Last week we discussed author Michael Easter's take on nutrition and weight control. This week we take a different story from the book and get a chance to discuss one of my favorite concepts from Stoicism.
One of the most famous Stoic teachings is simply stated as "Memento Mori." Translated from latin it means "Remember you will die." Many people when they hear this statement immediately think about how morbid that thought is. However, given some time to reflect on the meaning, it can be a very powerful reminder and motivator to focus on what it truly important every day. This specific statement is credited to Socrates, but the concept had been a tenant of Buddhism for over a 1000 years before Socrates even said Memento Mori.
Easter discusses the word "Mitakpa," which translates to "impermanence" in Tibetan. He tells the story of a trip to Bhutan which allowed him to meet with Buddhist leaders to discuss the concept of impermanence, that nothing will live forever. One of the leaders that Easter spoke with relayed a story about time spent in a hospital with people nearing their death. He told Easter that those approaching death did not talk about being wealthy or wishing that they had worked more. Those people tended to wish for more of the little things that happened daily that made them happy. Things like sitting and reading with a child, playing with friends, or petting their dog. In the end, Buddhist monks reported to him that people who have planned for death, tend to have fewer regrets because they have lived in the moment.
Easter concludes the chapter by telling a story. On his trip to Bhutan, he decided to climb five (steep) miles to The Tiger's Nest, a sacred monastery. While on the mountain, Easter was called to help with an unconscious monk. He administered CPR for about 20 minutes, before another doctor advised him that he should stop. It was too late at that point. This monk, who had just hiked the same 5 steep miles as Easter, had just passed away suddenly, and without warning. This can happen to any of us at any time... Tomorrow is not guaranteed to any of us.
Take the time every day to enjoy the things which bring you joy.
Movement is my medicine,
Dr. William "Chip" Bleam