April 19, 2017 - Ancient Stoicism in Plain English
Tag(s): Book Excerpts ||

Act Rationally To Please God (Epictetus’ Discourses In Plain English I.13)

Key ideas of this discourse

Do not be upset if things don’t happen the way you expect them to.
Remember not to put yourself above others, even if you have authority over them.

What is pleasing to God

Someone asked Epictetus: “How one can eat in a way pleasing to God?”

“If you ate with restraint and self-control, would that not be pleasing to God? You ask the waiter to bring hot water. He brings lukewarm water or even totally ignores you. If you don’t get angry then, would it not be pleasing to God?”
“How can I tolerate such people?”
“The same way you would tolerate your brother, who has the same God for a father. Why do you have to put yourself above him?”

If you are placed in a position above others, are you going to behave like a tyrant? Won’t you remember who you are and who you are placed above? They are your kin, siblings by nature, descendants of the same God. You pay for their services, you say? You are concerned with the laws of the earth, laws of the dead, not laws of God.

Think about this

“If you are placed in a position above others, are you automatically going to behave like a despot?” Discourses I.13. Epictetus/Robert Dobbin