A while back I wrote a post about Epicurus which included the similarities between him and Buddha. Both were both exponents of human happiness. Despite the confusion and misinformation surrounding these men, especially Epicurus, the fact remains that the attainment of a happy life was a prime concern for both of them.
Of course Buddhism has thrived while Epicureanism has languished. This is something I hope to make a small contribution towards correcting. In both cases, there are misunderstandings and outright distortions. So I have invested time in studying as much of the original material as I can. In the case of Buddhism this is complicated by the existence of its many forms, based on the ways it was adapted as it migrated from India to the rest of Asia.
In the case of Epicurus. his ideas were subjected to a lot of derision by his detractors which has served to define his philosophy down through history. Since much of his original material has been lost, we have to recreate his principles from the remaining texts. This can be done, but requires some thought and careful observation within oneself.
I did some more online research to what others have said about this interesting connection and came across several references. From what I’ve read so far, I am convinced that a study of their ideas will reveal a path to a more serene inner life.
Here is a short list of some similarities between them. There is a lot to consider here and we will explore this more in future posts. For those of you interested in philosophical ideas and how they relate to the peaceful life, this will be a valuable exploration.
• Both studied under a number of teachers initially but ultimately rejected the prevailing teachings of their time and developed their own path
• Both valued emotional equilibrium and freedom from turmoil, what in Buddhism is termed dukkha – a good image being a wheel out of round, that is, a cart traveling down a road on wheels with a clump, clump, clump rather than a smooth ride; dukkha is frequently translated as suffering or anxiety
• Both saw wisdom and enlightenment being a result of serious, dedicated practice in a tranquil setting among like minded seekers (think of Buddhists meditating in their monastery and Epicureans reflecting in their garden)
• Both had Principal Doctrines they encouraged their followers to memorize and internalize into every aspect of their lives
• Both had detailed and developed views/philosophies suitable for more advanced students
• Both used what was before their very eyes and what they were experiencing at the moment as humans as the basis of their philosophy and vision rather than appealing to myths or to the gods
• Both valued a clear-headed moderation when dealing with our desires, as opposed to extreme asceticism or indulgence
• Both valued friendship highly (what the Buddha called the Sangha – fellow seekers)
• Both realized freedom is complete only when we come to terms with the idea of death and more specifically, with our own death
This list came from a website that has disappeared so I am unable to reference it. Please feel free to comment below and if you have some more information about this interesting connection, please share it.