28 Nov Epicurean Philosophy For Modern Life
Epicurus was a Greek philosopher dedicated to the study of happiness. If you’ve heard the term before you may associate Epicureanism with hedonistic pleasure, but this selfish search for satisfaction is not epicureanism at all. In fact Epicurean philosophy is a way of life that we could do well to learn from and I have found it to be wonderful reference in my everyday life.
Epicurus was a philosopher and a teacher and his study of happiness was carried out in school that he started in Athens. It was referenced to as the garden school and began this way, a group of friends meeting in the garden. In fact they all lived together too. It was an innovative communal living sort of arrangement where wealth and status were traded for quality of life.
After many years of study Epicurus drew conclusions about the meaning of happiness.
We mus then meditate
on the things that make our happiness.
Seeing that when that it with us
it is all
and when that is absent
we do all to win it.
Epicurus believed that happiness was better shared, that pleasure was experienced in natural quantities and rather than seeking the maximum quantity of pleasure a truly fulfilled life was more about an appreciation of experience and shared in experiences with others.
Epicurean philosophy is about pleasure- pleasure as the absence of pain. A state without pain, discomfort or any kind of suffering. I believe that this sort of existence is our most natural state, and it is the state that we go back to when we get out of our own way. Like other Greek philosophers Epicurus also put a great value on virtue, temperance and moderation. He lived a very moderate life and valued his friends above all material possessions.
The objective of Epicurean philosophy is in essence happiness. Not the buoyant fleeting happiness we may associate with the word. We are talking about a deeper, richer sense of well-being. It’s called eudaimonia, this is the sort of growing happiness that keeps us rooted in the world.
A synopsis of the key points to an Epicurean lifestyle.
The Importance of Friendship
Unjaded by jealousies and social constructs, our friendships carry us though life. And in friendship we appreciate other human beings without judgements or inhibitions that come out of our insecurities. Like Epicurus I believe friendship to be one of the most important point to a happy life.
To Find Fulfillment in Your Work
To work for pleasure rather than money. Or better said to take pleasure in your contribution. In the end money is a construct, it is a system of exchange, and what are we exchanging really? Energy- time, focus, dedication- work. When looked at a little more metaphorically it is natural what we should look for a sense of fulfillment in our work.
Peace Of Mind
The conclusion Epicureus came to was the peace of mind was found where it began. In the mind.
To find this peace of mind takes introspection. Reading, writing, and reflecting. Spending time in stillness. Spending time with oneself. It reminds me a lot of the creative state of flow. Flow is another way to let go of your mind, but rather than through sedentary meditation it is found in the time spent making things. I’ll link my post on Entering A Creative Flow if you’re interested.
Epicureanism vs Stoicism
Stoicism is one of my other favorite philosophies, and although they have many paralelles the refferences are very different. Seneca and Marcus Aurelius are very different to Epicureus and I would love to dedicate a post to each of them. Leave a comment if that’s something you would be intrigued to read about and I’ve move it up my to do list so to speak.
Eros and Psyche
Another of my favorite Greek mythologies the story of Eros and Psyche is a metaphor, a timeless tale I think it captures the essence of Epicurean philosophy.
For if soul is psyche and love is eros then this classic greek mythology shows us what Epicurus was looking for. How to value pleasure of experience, how to give it soul.
Epicureanism In Modern Society
For me Epicurean philosophy is about honoring the senses. The tastes, the textures, the sounds and smells connect us to the pleasure of everyday life. There is a magic ritualistic essence to preparing breakfast well, and a meditative quality to listen, be it the sound of the wind through the leaves or the smell of a sudden downpour. Epicurean philosophy calls us to appreciate these details. To give our surroundings feel the pleasures of life more closely.
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