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Quotes tagged as "trials-of-life" Showing of You don't stand a chance. You can fight and pray and hope you have the strength to swim, but sometimes, you have to let yourself sink. Because you'll never know true happiness until someone or something pulls you back out of that river--and you'll never believe it until you realize it was you, yourself who saved you. Now, as you embark on a new journey, I'd like to share this one piece of advice. Always, always remember that - adversity is not a detour. It is part of the path.

You will encounter obstacles. You will make mistakes. Be grateful for both. Your obstacles and mistakes will be your greatest teachers. And the only way to not make mistakes in this life is to do nothing, which is the biggest mistake of all. Your challenges, if you let them, will become your greatest allies.

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Mountains can crush or raise you, depending on which side of the mountain you choose to stand on. All history bears out that the great, those who have changed the world, have all suffered great challenges. And, more times than not it's precisely those challenges that, in God's time, lead to triumph. Abhor victimhood. Denounce entitlement. Neither are gifts, rather cages to damn the soul. Everyone who has walked this earth is a victim of injustice.

Most of all, do not be too quick to denounce your sufferings. That view, which had been most thoroughly developed among Stoic thinkers and particularly by Epictetus, raised a peculiarly Christian problem, the concern of the power of God to reward the righteous and punish the transgressor; thus, it challenged the very idea of providence. Other manifestations of anthropopathism, the attributing of human feelings to God, had also been charged against the early Christian religionists; and the writers of the time—Lactantius and Tertullian among them—took great pains to refute the largely Stoic formulations of these charges.

Although the refutations took the form—in St. Augustine , for example—of denying that the wrath of God is a perturbation of the soul and of holding that it is rather a judgment, the concept of the divine essence excludes all passions. Within the monastic tradition, there remained more than a residue of concern over apathy as a divine attribute and as a model for the truly religious.

Other significant Stoic influences appeared in medieval discussions of the popular origin of political authority and of the distinctions made in law between jus naturale natural law , jus gentium law of nations , jus civile civil law —doctrines of Stoic origin—found in 3rd-century Roman juridical texts gathered together by St.

Isidore of Sevilla died ce , a Spanish encyclopaedist and theologian. The Stoic belief—as against Aristotle—that humans are by nature equal was an integral part of the knowledge that certain rules of law are universally recognized, laws that all people might naturally follow. In this way, the Romans—whose genius lay in organization and in law—fostered the conception of natural, or common, law, which reason was supposed to make evident to all people.

Thus, in the second half of the 11th century, the Stoic texts of Cicero and Seneca became important doctrinal sources for the initial discussions of social and political philosophy. These early theories of law, of natural equality, and of the rights of prince and populace were to become the basis for 13th-century systems of social and political privilege and obligation. In the 12th century, John of Salisbury , an English critical scholar, produced, in his Policraticus , the first complete attempt at a philosophy of the state since Classical times.

Stoic doctrines of natural law, society, state, and providence were important elements in his effort to construct a social philosophy on ethical and metaphysical principles. The impact of these doctrines and the lengthy history of their use in the earlier Middle Ages can also be found in the views of St.

Thomas Aquinas on the philosophy of the state and of human nature. If the influence of Stoic doctrines during the Middle Ages was largely restricted to the resolution of problems of social and political significance, it remained for the Renaissance , in its passion for the rediscovery of Greek and Roman antiquity, to provide a basis for the rebirth of Stoic views in logic, epistemology, and metaphysics , as well as the documentation of the more familiar Stoic doctrines in ethics and politics.

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Late in the 16th century, Justus Lipsius , a Flemish scholar and Latin humanist , was responsible for the first restatement of Stoicism as a defensible and thoroughgoing Christian philosophy of human nature. His treatises De constantia ; On Constancy and Politicorum sive civilis doctrinae libri sex ; Six Books of Politics or Political Instruction were widely known in many editions and translations.


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About the turn of the 17th century, Guillaume du Vair , a French lawyer and Christian philosopher, made Stoic moral philosophy popular, while Pierre Charron , a French theologian and skeptic, utilized Stoic themes in De la sagesse ; Of Wisdom , as did the skeptic Michel de Montaigne in his Essais ; Essays. In the continuing and relentless war against the Aristotelianism of the later Middle Ages, the doctrines of Stoicism influenced many prominent figures of the Renaissance and Reformation periods. Pietro Pomponazzi , an Aristotelian of early 16th-century Italy, in defending an anti-Scholastic Aristotelianism against the Averroists , who viewed the world as a strictly necessitarian and fated order, adopted the Stoic view of providence and human freedom.

The 15th-century humanist Leonardo Bruni absorbed Stoic views on reason, fate, and free will. Pantheism , the view that God and nature are unitary in the sense that God is an impersonal being, and naturalism , the view that nothing is supernatural, both of which identify God with the cosmos and ascribe to it a life process of which the world soul is the principle, were widely held Renaissance notions. Such a pantheistic naturalism was advocated—though from diverse standpoints—by Francesco Patrizi, a versatile Platonist, and by Giordano Bruno , defender of an infinite cosmos; and in both authors the inspiration and source were fundamentally Stoic.

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The latter work is one of the most famous Renaissance treatises on the theory of natural and social rights. The foremost Swiss reformer of the early 16th century, Huldrych Zwingli , who regarded justification by subjective belief as the foundation of the new Christianity, utilized Stoic views on the autonomy of the will, on the absolute predestination of the good and evil person, and on moral determinism see also moral responsibility, problem of. Another Stoic influence of considerable importance in the tradition of Christian humanism was the view that all religions have a common basis of truths concerning God—a universal Deism.

Among those who favoured such a view were Zwingli and Desiderius Erasmus , the great Renaissance humanist and scholar. More and Grotius also laid special stress on that view, and its influence was felt in the moral, social, and even the artistic life of the 16th century.


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Later, Herbert of Cherbury , often called the father of Deism, further developed the idea of religious peace and the reduction of opposing religious views to common elements. This view became one of the most popular ideas of the 17th century. Philipp Melanchthon also cultivated humanism and the philosophy of antiquity as a basis for a reborn Christianity. Although Aristotle was his chief inspiration, Melanchthon made telling use of the Stoic theory of knowledge, with its notions of innate principles and the natural light of reason, which teach the great truths of metaphysical and moral order.

Stoicism thus became the basis for the natural-law theory, which holds that the state is of immediately divine origin and independent of the church—a Protestant view opposed by Roman Catholic writers. The Cartesian revolution in thought in the 17th century brought forward several Stoic notions: that morality consists of obedience to the law of reason, which God has deposited within humans; that ethics presupposes a knowledge of nature, because humans must learn to know their place in the world, for only then may they act rightly; that self-examination is the foundation of ethics; and that the innateness and commonality of truths bespeak the view that only thoughts and the will belong properly to humans, for the body is a part of the material world.

Benedict de Spinoza , a freethinking Jewish rationalist , made similar use of Stoic views on the nature of humans and the world.

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Together with the Cartesians, Spinoza insisted upon the importance of internal and right reason as the sole means by which to attain to indubitable truths and to the possibility of human freedom. Blaise Pascal , a French scientist and religious philosopher, also was sympathetic to Cartesian conceptions of human nature. His religious thought retained the Cartesian and Stoic insistence on the independence of human reason, holding that humans are fundamentally thinking beings, innately capable of making right decisions. Thus, the Stoic exaltation of reason to an entity in its own right—indeed, to a divine entity—as exemplified among the Cartesians and in the thought of Spinoza, was rejected by Pascal in the Jansenist Christianity that he finally adopted—a rejection that, because it also repudiated free will, distinguishes Pascal from those who held Stoic as well as alternative conceptions of human freedom and responsibility.

Christianity in general, in spite of striking contrasts with Stoicism, has found elements within it that parallel its own position. As the Stoic, for example, feels safe and protected in the rational care of some immanent providence, so the Christian senses that a transcendent though incarnate and loving God is looking after him.

And in general, Stoicism has played a great part throughout the ages in the theological formulation of Christian thought as well as in the actual realization of Christian ideals. Contemporary philosophy has borrowed from Stoicism, at least in part, its conviction that human beings must be conceived as being closely and essentially connected with the world.

And contemporary humanism still contains some obviously Stoic elements, such as its belief in the solidarity of all peoples based upon their common nature, and in the primacy of reason. It is perhaps just because Stoicism has never become a full-fledged philosophical system that, many centuries after the dissolution of the Stoic school, fundamental themes of its philosophy have emerged again and again, and many have become incorporated into modern thinking. We welcome suggested improvements to any of our articles.

You can make it easier for us to review and, hopefully, publish your contribution by keeping a few points in mind. Your contribution may be further edited by our staff, and its publication is subject to our final approval. Unfortunately, our editorial approach may not be able to accommodate all contributions.

Our editors will review what you've submitted, and if it meets our criteria, we'll add it to the article. Please note that our editors may make some formatting changes or correct spelling or grammatical errors, and may also contact you if any clarifications are needed. Written By: Jason Lewis Saunders. See Article History. Nature and scope of Stoicism For the early Stoic philosopher, as for all the post- Aristotelian schools, knowledge and its pursuit are no longer held to be ends in themselves. Start Your Free Trial Today. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:.

Stoicism was a rule of life that held that all reality was material but was animated by a rational principle that was at the same time both the law of the universe and of the human soul. The wise man then could accept and…. Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor — ce , best known for his Meditations on Stoic philosophy. When he was born, his paternal grandfather was already consul for the second time and prefect of Rome,….

Although remote origins of the doctrine can probably be found in the Cynics second half of the 4th century bc , it was Zeno of Citium…. Philosophical inquiry is a central element in the intellectual history of many…. Ten thousand years ago wheat was just a wild grass, one of many, confined to a small range in the Middle East.

Suddenly, within just a few short millennia, it was growing all over the world. According to the basic evolutionary criteria of survival and reproduction, wheat has become one of the most successful plants in the history of the earth. In areas such as the Great Plains of North America, where not a single wheat stalk grew 10, years ago, you can today walk for hundreds upon hundreds of kilometers without encountering any other plant. Worldwide, wheat covers about 2. How did this grass turn from insignificant to ubiquitous? Wheat did it by manipulating Homo sapiens to its advantage.

This ape had been living a fairly comfortable life hunting and gathering until about 10, years ago, but then began to invest more and more effort in cultivating wheat. Within a couple of millennia, humans in many parts of the world were doing little from dawn to dusk other than taking care of wheat plants. Wheat demanded a lot of them.

Wheat got sick, so Sapiens had to keep a watch out for worms and blight. Wheat was defenseless against other organisms that liked to eat it, from rabbits to locust swarms, so the farmers had to guard and protect it. Wheat was thirsty, so humans lugged water from springs and streams to water it. Its hunger even impelled Sapiens to collect animal feces to nourish the ground in which wheat grew. The body of Homo sapiens had not evolved for such tasks. It was adapted to climbing apple trees and running after gazelles, not to clearing rocks and carrying water buckets. Human spines, knees, necks, and arches paid the price.

Studies of ancient skeletons indicate that the transition to agriculture brought about a plethora of ailments, such as slipped disks, arthritis, and hernias. Moreover, the new agricultural tasks demanded so much time that people were forced to settle permanently next to their wheat fields. This completely changed their way of life.

We did not domesticate wheat. It domesticated us. Not the wheat. How did wheat convince Homo sapiens to exchange a rather good life for a more miserable existence? What did it offer in return? We often assume that religions and gods go hand in hand. This seems obvious to Westerners, who are familiar mainly with monotheistic and polytheist creeds.

Yet the religious history of the world does not boil down to the history of gods. During the first millennium BC, religions of an altogether new kind began to spread through Afro-Asia.

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The newcomers, such as Jainism and Buddhism in India, Daoism and Confucianism in China, and Stoicism, Cynicism and Epicureanism in the Mediterranean basin, were characterized by their disregard of gods. These creeds maintained that the superhuman order governing the world is the product of natural laws rather than of divine wills and whims. Some of these natural-law religions continued to espouse the existence of gods, but their gods were subject to the laws of nature no less than humans, animals, and plants were.


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  5. Gods had their niche in the ecosystem, just as elephants and porcupines had theirs, but could no more change the laws of nature than elephants can. A prime example is Buddhism, the most important of the ancient natural law religions, which remains one of the major faiths. The central figure of Buddhism is not a god but a human being, Siddhartha Gautama.

    According to Buddhist tradition, Gautama was heir to a small Himalayan kingdom, some time around BC. The young prince was deeply affected by the suffering he saw all around him. He saw that men and women, children and old people, all suffer not just from occasional calamities such as war and plague, but also from anxiety, frustration, and discontent, all of which seem to be an inseparable part of the human condition.

    People pursue wealth and power, acquire knowledge and possessions, beget sons and daughters, and build houses and palaces. Yet no matter what they achieve, they are never content. Those who live in poverty dream of riches. Those who have a million want two million. Those who have two million want ten. Even the rich and famous are rarely satisfied.

    They too are haunted by ceaseless cares and worries, until sickness, old age, and death put a bitter end to them. Everything that one has accumulated vanishes like smoke.

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    Life is a pointless rat race. But how to escape it? At the age of 29 Gautama slipped away from his palace in the middle of the night, leaving behind his family and possessions. He traveled as a homeless vagabond throughout northern India, searching for a way out of suffering. He visited ashrams and sat at the feet of gurus but nothing liberated him entirely—some dissatisfaction always remained. He did not despair. He resolved to investigate suffering on his own until he found a method for complete liberation. He spent six years meditating on the essence, causes, and cures for human anguish.

    In the end he came to the realization that suffering is not caused by ill fortune, by social injustice, or by divine whims. When the mind experiences something distasteful it craves to be rid of the irritation. When the mind experiences something pleasant, it craves that the pleasure will remain and will intensify. Therefore, the mind is always dissatisfied and restless. This is very clear when we experience unpleasant things, such as pain. As long as the pain continues, we are dissatisfied and do all we can to avoid it.

    Yet even when we experience pleasant things we are never content. We either fear that the pleasure might disappear, or we hope that it will intensify. People dream for years about finding love but are rarely satisfied when they find it. Some become anxious that their partner will leave; others feel that they have settled cheaply, and could have found someone better. And we all know people who manage to do both.

    Great gods can send us rain, social institutions can provide justice and good healthcare, and lucky coincidences can turn us into millionaires, but none of them can change our basic mental patterns. Hence even the greatest kings are doomed to live in angst, constantly fleeing grief and anguish, forever chasing after greater pleasures. Gautama found that there was a way to exit this vicious circle. If, when the mind experiences something pleasant or unpleasant, it simply understands things as they are, then there is no suffering.

    If you experience sadness without craving that the sadness go away, you continue to feel sadness but you do not suffer from it. There can actually be richness in the sadness. If you experience joy without craving that the joy linger and intensify, you continue to feel joy without losing your peace of mind. But how do you get the mind to accept things as they are, without craving? To accept sadness as sadness, joy as joy, pain as pain?

    Gautama developed a set of meditation techniques that train the mind to experience reality as it is, without craving.