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More Than Happiness: Buddhist and Stoic Wisdom for a Sceptical Age Kindle Edition
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I was taken by the title and subtitle: More Than Happiness: Buddhist and Stoic Wisdom for a Sceptical Age. That said I have read far too many books on Buddhism, and several on the Stoics, so it was with mixed feelings that I sat down to read the book when it arrived shortly before Christmas.
Let’s start with the basics. It’s a good read; clear, concise, practical. The author, Antonia Macaro, is a psychotherapist, counsellor and coach, and an author and columnist. She knows her territory well, both factually and experientially.
For me personally it was thoroughly enjoyable to read. It challenged my own perceptions and practices in a constructive and highly structured way, and though on a few occasions I disagreed with the author’s conclusions about a particular issue or subject, I felt that this was purely a matter of taste or innate preference on my part rather than any chink in the line of thinking from the author.
I also felt I got to know the author a little, and to like the impression of her that came across. Clearly the expertise and experiences she has collated from her work helping others came across in the way she writes; clearly, calmly, measured but still keeping it personal. So this is not a dusty academic paper comparing tow ancient forms of philosophy, but rather, as the subtitle says, an exploration of how to try to be as wise as possible in an age which doesn’t even care to venture into that territory very much any more.
I learned more about Stoicism than Buddhism from the book, but again that was personal as I have studied the latter in depth for almost twenty years whilst my engagement with the Stoics, though stretching over a longer period, has been very intermittent. It was a pleasure to be guided through their thinking and suggestions by the author, and the comparisons with Buddhism helped me understand the similarities and differences quite readily.
For those who are new to both ways of thinking, seeing and being in this world, I’d heartily recommend this book. It avoids unnecessary jargon, keeps things as simple as possible without detracting from the profundity of the original teachers, and introduces you to, in my opinion. some of the greatest people who ever lived; for me that means the Buddha and Marcus Aurelius. These are excellent life companions to discover, and to go to when life asks big questions of you.
For those who are already friends of Stoicism or Buddhism, or both, as I am, I think you’ll find this book a refreshing take on the two great subjects. Like me I guess you’ll disagree with a few of the author’s views, but surely that’s a good thing, otherwise it would have simply been an exercise in reading to the converted. More frequently however I’m sure it will give you that tantalising reminder and refresher that this life is literally awesome but immensely difficult to do well, so we need to go back to the greats, check out what they had to say, and then, with our mental control, our mindfulness, our ethical sensibility, and our awareness that nothing lasts, get on with the challenge of living, moment by moment, to the full.