More, from the Enchiridion

Wisdom, from Epictetus, a man who used to be slave:

2. [F]or the present altogether restrain desire; for if you desire any of the things not within our own power, you must necessarily be disappointed; and you are not yet secure of those which are within our power, and so are legitimate objects of desire.  Where it is practically necessary for you to pursue or avoid anything, do even this with discretion, and gentleness, and moderation.

3. With regard to whatever objects either delight the mind, or contribute to use, or are tenderly beloved, remind yourself of what nature they are, beginning with the merest trifles: if you have a favorite cup, that it is but a cup of which you are fond — for thus, if it is broken, you can bear it; if you embrace your child, or your wife, that you embrace a mortal — and thus, if either of them dies, you can bear it.

5. Men are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of things.  Thus death is nothing terrible, else it would have appeared so to Socrates.  But the terror consists in our notion of death, that it is terrible.  When, therefore, we are hindered, or disturbed, or grieved, let us never blame anyone but ourselves; that is, our own judgments.  It is the action of an uninstructed person to reproach others for his own misfortunes; of one entering upon instruction, to reproach himself; and of one perfectly instructed, to reproach neither others nor himself.

8. Demand not that events should happen as you wish; but wish them to happen as they do happen, and your life will be serene.

14. [….] if you wish not be disappointed in your desires, that is in your own power,  Exercise, therefore, what is in your power.  A man’s master is he who is able to confer or remove whatever that man seeks or shuns.  Whoever then would be free, let him wish nothing, let him avoid nothing, which depends on others; else he must necessarily be a slave.

30. [….] For another cannot hurt you, without your consent.  You will then be hurt when you consent to be hurt.

33. [….] If anyone tells you that such a person speaks ill of you, do not make excuses about what is said of you, but answer, “He was ignorant of my other faults, else he would not have mentioned these alone.”

35. When you do something which you have decided ought to be done, never avoid being seen doing it, even though the world should misunderstand it; for if you are not acting rightly, shun the action itself; if you are, why fear those who wrongly censure you?

37. If you have assumed any character beyond your strength, you have both demeaned yourself ill in that, and neglected one which you might have filled with success.

42. When any person treates you badly, or speaks ill of you, remember that he acts or speaks from an impression that is right for him to do so.  Now, it is not possible that he should follow what appears right to you, but only what appears to himself.  Therefore, if he judges from false appearances, he is the person hurt; since he too is the person deceived.  For if anyone takes a true proposition to be false, the proposition is not hurt, but only the man is deceived.  Setting out, then, from these principles, you will meekly bear with a person who reviles you; for you will say upon every occasion, “It seemed so to him.”

So simple, these maxims seem… but to paraphrase C. S. Lewis, real things are rarely simple.  Nor easy.


About lizardqueen

If single-mothering were a paid job, I'd be rich. However, it doesn't, so I write (which doesn't pay the bills) and teach (which does). I'm overly-educated in the liberal arts, but that doesn't hinder my ability to be pragmatic and realistic. YAY.
This entry was posted in AVOCATIONS, LQ POV, Reading, The Axioms. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to More, from the Enchiridion

  1. Steph says:

    I really, really like this. thanks for posting it!!

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