Ataraxia

"Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD..." Psalm 130.1


"Ataraxia" refers to the ability to prevent one's outer circumstances, however distressing, from affecting one's inner tranquility. It describes the attitude of the Stoics, one of the principal traditions of classical philosophy. It is also one of the characteristics of Fray Luis de León, revered Dominican poet of early modern Spain. Being falsely imprisoned for 5 years by the Inquisition was probably the formative experience of his life, as it finds recurring and various expression through his poems. Other distinguishing features are his use of the first person, even when not being explicitly autobiographical, and his figurative palette of symbols, metaphors an allegory. Among his favourites are: positively, beautiful gardens, and negatively, perilous sea voyages for questionable motives like trade and conquest.


de León speaks into our frantic age, in which many find ourselves imprisoned by obsession with social media or on a treadmill of achievement and recognition. The antidote is not a return to Eden so much as the yearning to discover richer existence through a simpler life. The route is discovered by the way of the cross, following Jesus who himself endured undeserved suffering yet, for the joy set before him, did not allow that to distract him and through whose gift of the Holy Spirit we may gain the strength to complete our own pilgrimage...

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