Breaking Free from Dependencies: Insights from Stoicism and Bushido

By Donavon L Riley 

In the intricate and often bewildering landscape of human existence, dependencies and addictions can swiftly evolve from comforts to shackles. They entangle us in a web of desires, leaving us trapped in patterns that undermine our well-being. In such moments, two ancient philosophies, Stoicism and Bushido, emerge as beacons of wisdom, offering us guidance through the labyrinth of these struggles.

Stoicism, hailing from ancient Greece, champions self-control, while Bushido, the venerable samurai code of honor, embodies discipline and valor. Both philosophies teach us not only how to break free from these chains but also how to transform our struggles into sources of strength, echoing Seneca’s sagacious words: “The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it.”

Adopting A Philosophy of Self-Mastery:

Stoicism, born in the heady philosophical ethos of ancient Greece, stands as a staunch advocate for self-control. It beckons us to confront dependencies and addictions with a resolute spirit, much like a warrior facing a formidable adversary. “No man is free who is not a master of himself,” declared the Stoic philosopher Epictetus, underlining the foundational importance of self-mastery.

Consider the dependency on excessive consumption of unhealthy foods, a pervasive modern struggle. One might indulge in sugary and fatty treats relentlessly, succumbing to momentary pleasure but incurring long-term health consequences. Yet, a Stoic would scrutinize this indulgence, recognizing that it grants only transient satisfaction and risks the glory of good health. With discipline and self-control, they would opt for nourishing foods, recognizing that the true triumph lies in a healthy body and mind.

This perspective allows us to break free from the snares of dependency by first acknowledging their existence, then dissecting the allure that binds us. Through Stoicism, we transform our vulnerabilities into sources of strength, our dependencies into opportunities for personal growth, and our chains into stepping stones towards a liberated and more resilient self.

The Path of Honor and Resolve:

On the other hand, Bushido, the esteemed way of the warrior, is a philosophy deeply rooted in honor, courage, and unwavering discipline. It imparts profound insights on how to confront and conquer dependencies by fostering the unyielding resolve of a samurai. As the revered samurai Musashi Miyamoto once said, “Today is a victory over yourself of yesterday; tomorrow is your victory over lesser men.” These words encapsulate the essence of Bushido, which places self-mastery at the forefront of personal growth.

Considering, again, a contemporary dependency, let’s focus on the ceaseless quest for social media validation—an affliction that has ensnared many. One might find themselves obsessively seeking likes and approval from the digital realm, placing their self-worth in the hands of anonymous followers. Yet, Bushido teaches us to scrutinize the true worth of such fleeting gratification, urging us to ask whether it genuinely defines our value. With the disciplined mindset of a samurai, we can disengage from this virtual battlefield (which quickly becomes a slave pit), seeking fulfillment within ourselves rather than through external validation. In embodying the spirit of the samurai, we learn that genuine honor arises not from the approval of others but from the steadfast commitment to our principles.

Through the teachings of Bushido, we discover that dependencies can be dismantled by fortifying our inner resolve. It encourages us to cultivate the virtues of honor, courage, and discipline in our daily lives, enabling us to transcend the allure of dependencies and chart a course towards self-mastery and enduring fulfillment.

Walking The Path of Liberation:

However, breaking free from the clutches of dependencies is more than just an act of liberation—it is a profound undertaking of self-reflection and personal maturation in our thinking and behavior. Seneca, for example, writes that, “Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body,” which underscores the transformative power of overcoming life’s challenges. By embracing the philosophies of Stoicism and Bushido, we harness the energy of these difficulties, molding them into tools that shape a more resilient, self-disciplined, and honorable existence.

Consider the dependency of addiction, a harrowing struggle that can consume one’s life. Addiction can lead to the deterioration of physical and mental health, strained relationships, and the erosion of self-esteem. However, by embracing Stoicism and Bushido, one can convert this ordeal into a catalyst for personal growth. The battle against addiction becomes a teasing ground, forging an iron will and a profound sense of self-discipline. It becomes a labor that, though arduous, strengthens the spirit in its relentless pursuit of sobriety and wholeness.

Through these ancient philosophies, dependencies cease to be shackles, and instead, they become stepping stones on our path to sobriety, sanity, and well-being. They provide us with the opportunity to confront our vulnerabilities head-on, to grapple with our weaknesses, and to emerge more resilient and worthy of honor and respect. It’s an undertaking where we translate our scars into badges of strength, and where the chains that once bound us become the very instruments that propel us toward a more profound and liberated existence.

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

By Donovan Riley

Donavon Riley is a Lutheran pastor, conference speaker, author, and contributing writer for 1517. He is also a co-host of Banned Books and Warrior Priest podcasts. He is the author of the book, "Crucifying Religion” and “The Withertongue Emails.” He is also a contributing author to "The Sinner/Saint Devotional: 60 Days in the Psalms" and "Theology of the Cross".

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