Stoicism in The Shawshank Redemption – Meditations I.

Stoicism in The Shawshank Redemption – Meditations I.

323 BC. The death of Alexander the Great marked the end of the Classical era of Ancient Greece and the beginning of the Hellenistic period. The many socio-political changes and subsequent uncertainties of this period led to the emergence of new schools of thought concerned with the main question; How do I get a grip on my life? this search for order can lead you towards the grander scale; to nature and the cosmos, or it can lead you inwards, into the soul. Interestingly, in the Hellenistic philosophies you’ll find a combination of both. Among the most popular of these; the Stoa. We see by your file you’ve served 20 years of a life sentence, you feel you’ve been rehabilitated? Oh yes sir, absolutely sir. I’m a changed man. I’m no longer a danger to society, that’s the God’s honest truth. Every part of me then will be reduced by
change into some part of the universe, and that again will change into another
part of the universe, and so on forever. The universe is determined. An unchangeable series of things unraveling itself in eternal sequences of cause and effect. Things will go as they must. Man lives within it, experiences it from the
present; an indivisible point; The rest of his life either past or uncertain. To man; time is like a river made up of the events which happen, and a violent stream, For a soon as a thing has been seen, it is carried away and another comes in its place, and this will be carried away too. Short then is the time which every man lives, and small the nook of the Earth where he lives; and short to the longest posthumous fame, and even this only continued by a succession of poor human beings, who will very soon die, and who know not even themselves, much less him who died long ago. How to position ourselves against the inevitable? What room for choice and ethics? The answer is found in our attitude towards the way of things. The universe is transformation, life is opinion. A distinction must be made between that which is within our control and that which isn’t. By the power vested in me by the state of Maine, I hereby order you to serve two life sentences back-to-back, one for each of your victims. So be it. Some things are up to us and some are
not up to us. Our opinions are up to us and our impulses, desires, aversions,
in short; whatever is our own doing. Our bodies are not up to us, nor are our possessions, our reputations, or our public offices, or, that is; whatever is not our own doing. we cannot control the actions of others, but we can control our reaction to them. we cannot determine the judgment laid down upon us, but we can speak the truth and hope for the best. We cannot secure ourselves from danger,
but we can decide how we choose to face it. Only with clear eyes can we see what is outside of our power, and what is within it. The task then is to align our opinions
with the transformations of the universe, to let the things beyond our control
become exactly those things we desire. He had a quiet way about him, a walk and talk that just wasn’t normal around here. He strolled, like a man in the park without
a care or worry in the world. Living virtuously is equal to living in accordance with one’s experience of the actual course of nature. Practice this kind of virtue and you will be able to look upon the universe with confidence and say; Everything harmonizes with me, which is harmonious to thee, O Universe. Nothing for me is too early or too late which is in due time for thee. Everything is fruit to me which thy seasons bring,
O Nature: From thee are all things, in thee are all things,
to thee all things return. We suffer more often in imagination than in reality. what upsets people is not things themselves but their judgments about the things. Our emotions are a combination of two elements; an affective movement within the body and a judgment. Suffering arises when we attach judgments to these affective movements that are beyond our control. For example; to love someone is within your control, the judgment that this love should be
returned and should be so forever is not. You strike me as a particularly icy
and remorseless man, Mr. Dufresne. Contrary to popular belief, the goal is
not to repress or eliminate the emotions, to become devoid of feeling. The goal is to attach the right judgments to them. We can find happiness in love and beauty as long as we experience it without desiring more than is within our control. We can enjoy music if we do not at the same time wish for it never to end. We can enjoy a cold drink in the sun if we do not at the same time wish for the moment never to pass. True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears, but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not. I tell you those voices soared, higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream. And for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free. Let all your efforts be directed to something, let it keep that end in view. It’s not activity that disturbs people, but false conceptions of things that drive them mad. I’m telling you these walls are funny; first you hate them, Then you get used to them. Enough time
passes, you get so you depend on them. As important as it is to recognize
what is not within our power, just as important is it to not surrender
the power we do have to become passive objects
tossed around by external circumstances, dependent on the things which at
any moment can be taken away. It’s the only way they’ll let me stay. The man’s been in here 50 years Heywood, 50 years! This is all he knows! In here he’s an important
man, he’s an educated man, outside he’s nothing. It is better to direct your actions towards a goal
with an uncertain outcome, than to experience the fear that
arises from a life without purpose. Terrible thing to live in fear.
All I want is to be back where things make sense, Where I won’t have to be afraid all the time. Whatever purpose you find, do not stress about its achievement, for that is not up to you to decide. Stress instead about the virtue of your commitment, and embrace the beautiful foolishness
of acting without expectation. The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which
hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at?
To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately. Lastly, as long as you live,
keep learning how to live. Become a friend to yourself
and you will be a friend to all of mankind. Be sincere in your kindness and honesty so that not only you will help yourself, but others as well. There’s something inside that they can’t get to, that they can’t touch, that’s yours. If wisdom were offered me under one condition that I should keep it shut away and not divulge it to anyone, I should reject it. There’s no enjoying the possession of anything valuable, unless one has someone to share it with. I guess it comes down to a simple choice. Dear Red, if you’re reading this you’ve gotten out, and if you’ve come this far,
maybe you’re willing to come a little further. Get busy living – or get busy dying,
that’s goddamn right. If thou workest hard at which is before thee,
following right reason seriously, vigorously, calmly, and without allowing anything else to distract thee,
but keeping thy divine pure, as if thou shouldst be bound to
give it back immediately; if thou holdest to this, expecting nothing,
fearing nothing, but satisfied with thy present activity
according to nature, and with heroic truth in every word and sound which thou utterest, thou wilt live happy. And there is no man who is able to prevent this.


  1. I went with a slightly different approach on this one; instead of spelling everything out I thought it would be interesting to present a few meditations on Stoic philosophy (see description for sources) and juxtapose them with visual hints and quotes from The Shawshank Redemption; in doing so leaving it up to you to interpret how exactly it all ties into each other. I would love to hear your thoughts!

  2. There isn’t a bird like me in every cage in Lebanon, I guess; I’m the feathered friend who can get it for you. This is the first line of my novel, The Birdshack Redemption, which is a retelling of The Shawshank Redemption with bird characters.

  3. .I don’t know much about stoicism, thank you for sharing these thoughts, It’s interesting to learn about it the way you juxtaposed quotes with the movie. Every time I thought about this film before was to consider questions of innocence and freedom, and how the moment both Andy and Red became free (left prison) is when they finally accepted responsibility for what happened in their life, uniting the split between good and bad. It seems obvious now after watching your video but I hadn’t thought about the connection of the story to time and expectation, even though I’m very familiar with that kind of frustration. I’d say Red was living in the moment, but would you say Andy was? Cause all these years he was working toward a goal, “hope it the best of things” as he used to say. Even Red at the end, what motivated him to leave prison was that he missed Andy, and ultimately the hope to find him.

  4. YOU are in control. You have to remember who you are. Powerful beings. The universe obeys what you project out. Your mind and your heart help you create your worlds. EVERYTHING is up to you thru vibrations and energy. Video is stupid. Take your power back and learn to create and control your worlds.

  5. Man You have an amazing voice! You should do some hypnosis for relax or sleep video!!! I am in love with your voice!

  6. I love the narrator on this – I could swear I’m listening to the late Bruno ganz.

    Brilliant , profound content too. Great job & thank you.

  7. Well done. Very thoughtful, insightful video. However, and please dont take this the wrong way, but you may want to get someone to do the voice overs on your videos. Your voice is a little distracting and I cant really pay attention to the content of your words.

  8. When you quoted Marcus Aerelius, it gave me a kick. I could understand who you were quoting without ever looking at my screen – without ever searching the quotes up. Meditations is taking me forever to read, definitely worth it as I‘m striving more and more to adhere to stoic belief everyday

  9. Beautiful piece, thank you. It was a combination of a few of my fav things, namely Steven King, good movies, and Stoic philosophy. Great background music.

  10. Another disturbing example on how my iPhone is listening to my private conversations. I didn’t search anything related to the Shawshank redemption on my computer or iPhone but the next day after watching a movie with my iPhone on the table I am now getting recommendations on YouTube talking about Shawshank redemption. I’m days away from throwing this iPhone in the trash and never using this technology again. Privacy is gone in 2019!

  11. These philosophies are the distorted versions of the India's Vedic Knowledge which were taken away when they came invading India and could not believe that there is a civilization way more awakened and advanced than theirs so they decided to take all they could and then rebrand it and assimilate it in their philosophy and call it a new philosophy. It's a long list which includes trigonometry, calculus and algebra

  12. I can't seriously be the only one that routinely cries by your videos. The quotes and authors that you draw from to support your messages are incredibly inspiring. Do you happen to have any favourite reads that you could recommend?

  13. I honestly love your videos Man they're deep and for thought especially the movie depictions and hitting meanings and the metaphors that are contained within each movie it's such a deep Insight on movies in which everyone else has felt the same thing thank you for your Insight and the creation of your videos

  14. Is this Stoicism or Buddhism? Maybe did the two philosophical groups exchange ideas through conversations and the conquests of Alexander? There are even echoes of the Hindu faith, which preceded Buddhism.

  15. Thank You "Like Stories of Old",
    Your channel has helped alot through the darkest times of my life, taught me to how to keep living with the worst of all odd comings in life.
    I often used to confuse myself with Expectation and Hope, which aren't in anyway same things to look upon.
    Inevitable curcumstances always made do things that i don't want to do, more like something on the inside rejects the very doing of it but still it's inevitable to do it anyways.

    "Without Expectations" – so true,
    But With Hope, and always there will be, a little spark of it is enough to satisfy the mind's eye and soul to move forward.

    Hope can be a dangerous thing, it can drives a man crazy enough but still it's a good thing, no good thing shall ever dies, even in the abbys.
    Mastering thyself is far greater than controlling over things those are not in my control.
    A free man who is master of himself can always live up with this dangerous thing called Hope.

    Thank you again, Sir…

  16. It's a MOVIE! Hollywood is far removed from Stoicism than anything else that comes to my mind. Stoicism is my co-worker who lost his daughter in a car accident, who got out his bed every morning and came to work and did his job as he always did, without a complaint. Everything in this World has to be animated, deciphered, explained – served ready-made. No room for imagination and real-life experience.

  17. I have no words to express my feelings this movie set me thinking about how circumstances in life can be challenged or face things the way they are or reconcile to a system so flawed !! The judgement against an innocent you are cold and remorseless touched me!! his indomitable will to live teaches so much one sees many honest and straightforward men go through it !!I I just have no words to express i luved this movie🌹🌹

  18. This is so true there is something inside you that no one can take away from you !! never live a life of fear but for that one has to be sincere and honest so that when you questio yourself you feel so sure about yourself and strong mentally and spiritually !! This movie is a masterpiece three men in a prison and all three so diversified in their outlook to life!! Ive watched this movie so many times and its left me thinking about life really interesting 👌👌🌹🌹

  19. Beautiful video. I made these discoveries for myself sometime ago and find all of this to be accurate. Nice choice of classic movie to blend with Stoic philosophy.

  20. I must not be stoic enough for Google! YouTube at least keeps insisting I watch this video. It is in my suggestion feed EVERY DAY! Like YT I saw it when it dropped a year ago and have watched all of them several times. Cheers on another great year of content though LSOL!

  21. This film saved my mother's life. My father died, and she retreated into drunken stupors. Nothing could reach her. She told me afterwards, while watching this film in a drunken stupor, she was hit like lightening by the line of Andy: "…I guess it comes down to a simple choice….get busy livin' ….or get busy dyin' ".


  22. Marcus Aurelius was way ahead of his time , his writings will touch and have a lasting impression on the mind for centuries to come

  23. When on stares in the hole in the outhouse long enough, the turds there start to appear important. Commercial movies are not the stuff of thoughtful philosophic communication. Let's quit pretending they are what they aren't.

  24. f government control. it's all pointless anyway. time on earth is just a blink of the 👀 eyes. do what you think is right.

  25. I love pragmatic stoicism, this video and the movie shows exactly how stoa is a valuable way for living, thanks you for creating this content

  26. 25 years of shawashank redemption.
    One of the best things I love about the movie and learned from it is the awareness of Andy Dufresne about the opportunities around him. He always stays inspired for living his life and never loses hope.

  27. As a writer, I am finding so much inspiration from your video's…everything from character development…to world-building., and towards life in general, your missives are confirming many of my thoughts and beliefs in how life should be viewed and shared. Thank you so very much.

  28. Buddy im floored by your work… plz continue to produce these amazing videos that take us through this unique philosophical journeys … I’ve been curating similar content like these for our website but I must say – your work stands out in so many ways.

    Also do chkout whr we bring inspiring, motivational, mind expanding content like yours ..

  29. I’m here filled with emotions. Your channel is exceptional. A hidden gem.
    I’m surprised you don’t have over a million subscribers. Keep up the incredible education you offer to your subscribers.

  30. I never realized this was considered stoicism. It's crazy to me because I never realized I was a stoic until today. Thanks for the beautiful video

  31. 03:49 "The task then is to align our opinions with the transformations of the universe, to let the things beyond our control become exactly those things we desire."
    05:42 "We can find happiness in love and beauty as long as we experience it without desiring more than is within our control."

    Aren't these statements at odds? Can someone clarify what LSOO means?

  32. But I think you get it fundamentally wrong about this movie, and the first clue is in the movie's title: Redemption. Andy refuses to accept life's fate–in fact, his entire time in prison is spent working to escape it–to find redemption, for him and for those around him.

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