(How I became a practicing Stoic)
Discovering and implementing a philosophy of life has become a life changer for me over the last 4 years. You don’t find the philosophy of life that suits you... it finds you, when you are ready to begin a specific (new) journey in life.
Stoicism came into my life thanks to the works of Marcus Aurelius. His book ‘Meditations’ opened its pages at the moment I was ready to understand the teachings and it has grown strongly from there.
For the ones who are less familiar to Stoicism, it is a teaching originating around the 3rd century BC, and in a nutshell, deals with learning and implementing (moral) ethics and virtues in your daily life, with a specific focus on self reflection, self growth and working to become the best version of yourself. There are similarities to Taoism or Buddhism, only the Stoics have a more pragmatic way of dealing with life, the Stoic meditating deals with reflections on oneself, while Buddhist meditations are more metaphysically leaning.
I was unhappy with the person who I was, unable to see problems that lay within myself and within my reach, using excuses and excesses to avoid the necessary personal confrontation, which was absolutely necessary to be able to make changes that were long overdue.
It’s hard to break down foundations and to rebuild them... at any stage in life, but if it needs to be done, it needs to be done.
The Stoics see the obstacles as a way to achieve their goals and not as a force to hold them back. I had to learn that the hard way. This means letting go and to be unafraid to start anew.
Practicing Stoicism has greatly affected my musical projects and has been a catalyser towards the transcendental themes surrounding my new compositions and projects. As if it has cleared a fog that lay covering my brain for decades, and which obviously did not pass with the hedonist life I was leading.
Strangely enough ‘philosophies of life’ have lingered over my projects as a metaphorical fog for maybe just as long. The early Bong-Ra and the short lived White Darkness projects are clearly emphasising hedonistic and nihilistic principles, thoughts and/or lifestyle. I’m not denouncing these periods of my life or these musical projects, but you need to cross certain bridges to reach the place you are today.
The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble seems to have been a receiver of the first Stoic signals with song titles ‘Seneca’ (Seneca being one of the great Stoics), ‘All is One’ (A principle found in the Kybalion).
MANSUR’s ‘Temple’ was my first musical travelling into the new discovered transcendentalism in my composing of songs after having discovered the Stoics. The difference between past releases and ‘Temple’ is that I now clearly know where this journey is leading and that musically I understand the tools in my possession to direct the listener to that specific universe I would like to guide them to creatively.
MANSUR’s 2nd release ‘Karma’ was in its entirety dedicated to the works of the Stoics; concept, artwork, titles where all elements of the teachings. The same goes for the Bong-Ra album ‘Meditations’, which pays hommage to Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations and the 4 Stoic Cardinal Virtues.
There are some sparse moments when I contemplate and doubt if it’s not ‘too much’ message in the new music, like some reborn Christian pushing his faith... maybe so or maybe not... I’ll let the listener decide if they feel this is the case. For me its sharing the gratitude and these amazing ancient teachings which have disappeared in the thick fog of mass media consumption. If there is anyone who’s spark of curiosity I can ignite and provide a start to some positive life changes, then it’s already a mission accomplished! As an artist and human being its definitely made me reach the highest peak of who I want to be in life so far, and ready for the obstacles that will pass my way in the years to come.
Thanks for your time, your appreciation and your ears for listening to my music. I’m very grateful to be able to share this music with you and hope to do so for many years more...
If you're interested to dabble into Stoicism, you can subscribe to my Youtube channel : The Stoic Cat, where Solomon the cat and myself take a deep dive into Stoicism!
Photo by Claudia Gschwend