Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything — anger, anxiety or possessions — we cannot be free.
- Quote by Thich Nhat Hanh
Thich Nhat Hanh is not considered a classic or modern Stoic. In fact, he is one of the most known Zen Buddhism masters. So what can we learn from him in this capacity?
We can frame his teachings in a different light and see them from the perspective of Stoicism.
Obtaining freedom through letting go, is the message of this quote.
This seems very similar to the stoic principle of Amor Fati, which tells us to accept what is not in our power to influence.
You might lose a valued possession, but once it is gone, and you exhausted your options to get it back, what does it accomplish to be displeased?
Will it bring back your precious?
Consider what good it did for Gollum to run after a ring that was never his to begin with. 😏
In a similar way, nothing is ever truly yours. That is also an inherent stoic teaching. We merely borrow from the world, and sometimes it is time to release back into it.
If something happens that Stoics would consider a dispreferred indifference, let it go, and ask yourself: “What good can come of this?”
In the end, any event can become fuel to your flames which then can contribute to the greater good (or Summum Bonum, as the Stoics would say).
In case of losing a loved one, or a high value asset, this will become decidedly more difficult to stay indifferent to such a loss. But that is why we should practice these things on a daily basis in all things we do.
Got triggered by the mailman shoving your package into the mailbox that is obviously too small to hold it? Catch yourself before you go on a rant or become annoyed. What can you do about it now? Protect yourself from giving the negative emotions free rain. Acknowledge them, recognize that these feelings will contribute to nothing you want, then make the decision to let it go.
BTW, if you just revel in a feeling, but don’t react to it for about 10 seconds, it goes away.
It is impossible for you to stay angry without constantly fueling your anger.
Try it out for a week. I dare you. Then tell me @f_schlz how it went.
A good mental exercise is also to tell yourself that you do not own something the second you get it.
Got a new partner? You don’t own them. You might break up in the future. Love them while they are there, and let them go when it is time.
Got new gear? Might break. Might be lost.
Got new clothes? They might rip, or get irremovable stains.
Thinking about situations in this way is Premeditatio Malorum btw, also a stoic principle btw. We are going full circle today it seems.
Detaching yourself from owning things & people, has also the aspect of Temperance to it. You choose to go through the extra pain of thinking of practicing Premeditatio Malorum, and thinking about the loss before it happens. And that will likely propel you to brace yourself against it. But, you know what? That is the right thing to do, from the Stoics POV. (And that’s the stoic virtue of Justice for you 😘)
Detaching yourself from owning things & people will free you, since you will not be bothered by the feeling of loss, once they are gone. — Amor Fati
Now I’d love to hear from you!
What situation have you dealt with where you freed yourself from an attachment?
Or maybe you have another great quote regarding Amor Fati? Don’t hesitate to submit it via this form 📝
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