The pitfall wherein we try immediately to be a sage

A lot of Stoic teachings describe the way a sage would see and feel.

We of course are not sages. Yet we can easily fall into trying to be one immediately, trying to force our perception and feelings to be other than they must be at this stage of our development.

This is one of four ways we may easily stumble, in attempting to learn and practice Stoicism, that I identified in a previous post.

Contemporary popular writings about Stoicism can even unintentionally nudge us into this pitfall of attempting immediately to be the sage. These writings (and perhaps some ancient writings also) may tell us simply to adopt the view that only virtue is worth desiring, that everything we typically see as good or bad is in fact “indifferent,” and instruct us to “try to be equanimous” no matter what happens.

This isn’t exactly wrong, of course. But we do not have the abilities, understanding, and responses of a sage. We will not really be able to adopt the view that only virtue really matters, and we will certainly not remain equanimous. What may happen instead is that we may suppress, deny, overlook, or punish ourselves for how we cannot help seeing and feeling. And this will not be very effective.

If you have experienced this, what approaches did you begin to take instead?


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3 thoughts on “The pitfall wherein we try immediately to be a sage

  1. It is wise to realize that in the folly, there is wisdom and vice versa. Spiritual bi-passing blocks these pathways. We’ve all done it. Thank you SeekerFive.

  2. I 100% have made myself feel as if I’m going to be punished for thinking a certain way. An example of this is when I say something like “I’m having a great health day” and then I say “I shouldn’t have said that because I’m going to be punished with a bad health day now.” It’s silly and it’s not true. I’m working on it! Enjoying the moments as they are

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