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Epictetus - The Enchiridion - 24, 25, 26, 27, 28

Identifier

013350

Type of Spiritual Experience

Background

A description of the experience

The Enchiridion

           24. Don't allow such considerations as these distress you. "I

           will live in dishonor, and be nobody anywhere." For, if

           dishonor is an evil, you can no more be involved in any evil

           by the means of another, than be engaged in anything base. Is

           it any business of yours, then, to get power, or to be

           admitted to an entertainment? By no means. How, then, after

           all, is this a dishonor? And how is it true that you will be

           nobody anywhere, when you ought to be somebody in those things

           only which are in your own control, in which you may be of the

           greatest consequence? "But my friends will be unassisted." --

           What do you mean by unassisted? They will not have money from

           you, nor will you make them Roman citizens. Who told you,

           then, that these are among the things in our own control, and

           not the affair of others? And who can give to another the

           things which he has not himself? "Well, but get them, then,

           that we too may have a share." If I can get them with the

           preservation of my own honor and fidelity and greatness of

           mind, show me the way and I will get them; but if you require

           me to lose my own proper good that you may gain what is not

           good, consider how inequitable and foolish you are. Besides,

           which would you rather have, a sum of money, or a friend of

           fidelity and honor? Rather assist me, then, to gain this

           character than require me to do those things by which I may

           lose it. Well, but my country, say you, as far as depends on

           me, will be unassisted. Here again, what assistance is this

           you mean? "It will not have porticoes nor baths of your

           providing." And what signifies that? Why, neither does a smith

           provide it with shoes, or a shoemaker with arms. It is enough

           if everyone fully performs his own proper business. And were

           you to supply it with another citizen of honor and fidelity,

           would not he be of use to it? Yes. Therefore neither are you

           yourself useless to it. "What place, then, say you, will I

           hold in the state?" Whatever you can hold with the

           preservation of your fidelity and honor. But if, by desiring

           to be useful to that, you lose these, of what use can you be

           to your country when you are become faithless and void of

           shame.

 

           25. Is anyone preferred before you at an entertainment, or in

           a compliment, or in being admitted to a consultation? If these

           things are good, you ought to be glad that he has gotten them;

           and if they are evil, don't be grieved that you have not

           gotten them. And remember that you cannot, without using the

           same means [which others do] to acquire things not in our own

           control, expect to be thought worthy of an equal share of

           them. For how can he who does not frequent the door of any

           [great] man, does not attend him, does not praise him, have an

           equal share with him who does? You are unjust, then, and

           insatiable, if you are unwilling to pay the price for which

           these things are sold, and would have them for nothing. For

           how much is lettuce sold? Fifty cents, for instance. If

           another, then, paying fifty cents, takes the lettuce, and you,

           not paying it, go without them, don't imagine that he has

           gained any advantage over you. For as he has the lettuce, so

           you have the fifty cents which you did not give. So, in the

           present case, you have not been invited to such a person's

           entertainment, because you have not paid him the price for

           which a supper is sold. It is sold for praise; it is sold for

           attendance. Give him then the value, if it is for your

           advantage. But if you would, at the same time, not pay the one

           and yet receive the other, you are insatiable, and a

           blockhead. Have you nothing, then, instead of the supper? Yes,

           indeed, you have: the not praising him, whom you don't like to

           praise; the not bearing with his behavior at coming in.

 

           26. The will of nature may be learned from those things in

           which we don't distinguish from each other. For example, when

           our neighbor's boy breaks a cup, or the like, we are presently

           ready to say, "These things will happen." Be assured, then,

           that when your own cup likewise is broken, you ought to be

           affected just as when another's cup was broken. Apply this in

           like manner to greater things. Is the child or wife of another

           dead? There is no one who would not say, "This is a human

           accident." but if anyone's own child happens to die, it is

           presently, "Alas I how wretched am I!" But it should be

           remembered how we are affected in hearing the same thing

           concerning others.

 

           27. As a mark is not set up for the sake of missing the aim,

           so neither does the nature of evil exist in the world.

 

           28. If a person gave your body to any stranger he met on his

           way, you would certainly be angry. And do you feel no shame in

           handing over your own mind to be confused and mystified by

           anyone who happens to verbally attack you?

The source of the experience

Epictetus

Concepts, symbols and science items

Symbols

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps

Activities

Suppressions

Squash the big I am

References