Stoicism to Jainism – What we know about Happiness is all wrong

“Virtue is sufficient for happiness.”

In the World stuffed with billions of unhappy people, Stoicism provides simple definitions of happiness. In fact, not only happiness but provides a solution to most of the problems our World and individually we all are facing.

Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy that flourished throughout the Roman and Greek world until the 3rd century AD.

According to the teachings of Stoicism, as social beings, the path to happiness for humans is found in accepting that which we have been given in life, by not allowing ourselves to be controlled by our desire for pleasure or our fear of pain, by using our minds to understand the world around us and to do our part in nature’s plan, and by working together and treating others in a fair and just manner.

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.” ― Seneca, A Stoic Philosopher.

Stoicism is now again in vogue. The well-known bloggers like Tim Ferriss and Eric Barker are writing and podcasting about it. Stoic philosopher Seneca’s book On the Shortness of Life: Life Is Long if You Know How to Use It, is enjoying rave reviews.

The following Stoic quotes will make you understand Stoicism in a better way and how its applicability can change our lives.

  • What we desire makes us vulnerable.
  • We suffer more of imagination than in reality
  • The best revenge is not to be like your enemy
  • You shouldn’t give circumstances the power to rouse anger, for they don’t care at all.
  • The man who has anticipated the coming of troubles takes away their power when they arrive.

The latest bestselling book on Stoicism  The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living by Ryan Holiday

I think this is the teachings of all major religion also. When we distance philosophy from the religion, we have greater acceptability to the idea and concepts. Philosophy can unite, religion divides.

Eastern philosophies of Jainism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and even the Taoism of Lao Tzu resemble some way or the other with the Happiness thoughts and concepts of Stoicism.

Usually, happiness can be defined in following three ways.

  1. Physical happiness, which arises from comforts of life, sensual enjoyment, and bodily pleasures.
  2. Mental happiness, which arises from a sense of fulfillment and freedom from worries, afflictions, and anxieties.
  3. Spiritual happiness, which arises from freedom from the cycle of births and deaths, and union with the Self.

Hindu philosophy and Happiness:

According to the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy, Ananda (Happiness) is that state of sublime delight when the Jiva (Soul) becomes free from all sins, all doubts, all desires, all actions, all pains, all sufferings and also all physical and mental ordinary pleasures. The ultimate happiness is to become free from the cycle of rebirth.

Some of the quotes on Hinduism Philosophy:

  • “The great secret of true success, of true happiness, is this: the man or woman who asks for no return, the perfectly unselfish person, is the most successful.” Swami Vivekananda
  • “One should not be happy or distressed over desirables and undesirables, knowing that such feelings are just created by the mind.” C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
  • “Desire nothing, give up all desires and be happy.” Swami Sivananda
  • “A spiritually illumined soul lives in the world, yet is never contaminated by it.”
    Swami Bhaskarananda
  • “You have the right to work, but never to the fruit of work.” Bhagavad Gita

Essential reading to know more about Hinduism Philosophy: The Bhagavad Gita (Easwaran’s Classics of Indian Spirituality by Eknath Raswaran 

Buddhism philosophy on Happiness:

Buddhism pursues happiness by using knowledge and practice to achieve mental equanimity. In Buddhism, equanimity, or peace of mind, is achieved by detaching oneself from the cycle of craving that produces dukkha (Pain/Unhappiness/Suffering). By achieving a mental state where you can detach from all the passions, needs and wants of life, you free yourself and achieve a state of transcendent bliss and well-being.

Some of the quotes on Buddhism Philosophy:

  • Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.
  • No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.
  • You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.
  • He who loves 50 people has 50 woes; he who loves no one has no woes.
  • All wrong-doing arises because of mind. If mind is transformed can wrong-doing remain?

The book for more insight on Buddhism Philosophy: Happiness Is an Inside Job: Practicing for a Joyful Life

Happiness as per Taoism Philosophy:

The greatest of woes comes from not knowing contentment; greatest of faults comes from craving for gains. In their writings, the Taoist sages dwelt upon the harmfulness of greed as it could impoverish people morally and spiritually. On the other hand, “those who know contentment are enriched,” and “a contented person always lives in abundance.

Some of the quotes on Taoism Philosophy:

  • Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing.
  • You must let what happens happen. Everything must be equal in your eyes, good and evil, beautiful and ugly, foolish and wise.
  • Trying to understand is like straining through muddy water. Have the patience to wait! Be still and allow the mud to settle.
  • Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is a strength; mastering yourself is true power.
  • When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.

Dr. Wayne Dyre’s book on Taoism: Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao

Jainism Philosophy and Happiness:

Our i.e. Souls’ ignorance of knowing self as a Body is the cause of all unhappiness. Knowing the self as a Soul different from the body is the beginning of the journey of eternal happiness. Soul attracts Karmas by attachment or hatred towards others, things or situations, and can get liberated from Karmas by two means: 1) Knowing the self as a Soul (first and necessary condition) 2) The desire-less equanimity in all the situations.

It is the Soul in the body who is suffering, unhappy or happy. Unless the subject of happiness is thought through with this basic premise, search for real happiness will be futile and invariably fail. Physical and Mental happiness are temporary (we all know and experience this), it is the spiritual happiness which is enduring. The only reason is we all are Spirit different from physique and mind.

Some of the quotes on Jainism Philosophy:

  • Have compassion towards all living beings. Hatred leads to destruction.
  • The greatest mistake of a soul is nonrecognition of its real self and can only be corrected by recognizing it.
  • All Souls are alike and potentially divine. None is Superior or Inferior.
  • One who, even after knowing the whole universe, can remain unaffected and unattached is God.
  • Every soul is independent. None depends on another.

Free pdf download  Moksha Marga Prakashak, one of the prominent books about the Jainism Philosophy.

EjainLibrary is the place where you would find thousands of Jain resources for free in English and different Indian languages.

I am sure you will find some insight about Happiness from different philosophies. You may also find some common links in all philosophies.

Stoicism to Jainism, Taoism to Hinduism all philosophies have something to offer for our happiness. Unfortunately, none is recommending what we all believe and doing for our happiness. No wonder most of us are unhappy.

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