Use this Stoic philosophy on a micro scale to get things done

a statue of a man near the clouds

Famous Stoic Seneca recommends premeditatio malorum, imagining the worst possible scenario. For Seneca this was shipwreck, war, torture, or exile. For us, that could be anything from a loss of face, to losing a loved one, or even losing a job. Either way, the objective of premeditatio malorum is to gain an understanding of hardship, so that when we inevitably experience it, we can more easily come to terms with it. Premeditatio malorum has the effect of helping you more greatly appreciate the things you have, meaning you treat life itself with much more respect.

There are no such thought experiments in Yamabushi training (to my knowledge). Doing so clearly takes you away from the now, which is the worst thing you can do. However, Yamabushi training is indeed similar in that some of the exercises we do, waterfall meditation immediately comes to mind, are designed to prove our resilience. This in turn helps us when the proverbial hits the fan, as we are more easily accustomed to emerging situations, the so-called Uketamo.

These things are all macro, however. Which is great, but the exercise also works on a micro level.

For example, I’m making a video right now about Yamabushi concepts you can apply in your everyday life. I’m hesitant to share it for a number of reasons, but it’s mainly the resistance playing mind games.

What will other Yamabushi think of my ideas? What if someone somehow uses the tools for something bad? What if I get laughed at?

Now you could argue these things prove I’m onto something. Whenever you’re doing something new like this, if you don’t have these thoughts, you’re most likely not risking enough. You should be more brazen.

But if we take this tool of premeditatio malorum, of predicting what could go wrong, we can see the ridiculousness in these thoughts.

I’m 100% certain there will be Yamabushi who disagree with me. One of the concepts is entirely unique to Yamabushi of our area, which is a shame because it’s the most powerful in my opinion. But these are people who are offended by my existence as a Shinto yamabushi alone. Speaking about these things probably won’t go very far in changing their minds.

Using the concepts for something bad I am somewhat worried about. Although, to use them for bad would be taking things completely out of context. These concepts will bring a net positive to those who watch the video, they are designed to help you do good. Besides, it’s harmless stuff about being in nature and being receptive, for the most part. Nowhere am I telling people to be harmful, it’s quite the opposite.

The last one, being laughed at. I thought about this when thinking what other Yamabushi will think, and my answer is, so what? You’re bringing attention to what is some powerful stuff. These people are in most likelihood jealous, or they’re trolling, which is a total waste of their time. Plus it brings in views, which means the concepts spread even further, the main aim of sharing them in the first place.

Premeditatio malorum on a micro scale

Don’t get caught up in analysis paralysis. If you’re having thoughts about what ifs, it mostly means you’re onto something. Absence of these thoughts is more of a red flag. Use this adjusted version of premeditatio malorum to see the ridiculousness in your thinking, and get things done.



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Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan

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