April 26, 2017 - Ancient Stoicism in Plain English
Nothing Happens In An Instant (Epictetus’ Discourses In Plan English I.15)
KEY IDEAS OF THIS DISCOURSE
As wood is the material for the carpenter, as marble is for the sculptor, so is the art of living for each individual. But nothing happens overnight. You need to be patient and understand that philosophy does not promise anything that is outside of your control.
Philosophy does not promise anything that is not under your control but seeks to preserve your governing part accordance with nature.
However, the human mind does not come to fruition in a short time. You must be patient because nothing important happens in an instant.
Philosophy does not promise anything that’s not under your control
A man came to Epictetus and wanted to know how to get his brother not be in bad terms with him. Epictetus told him that philosophy does not promise to get us anything outside of our control. Otherwise it would be taking on matters that do not concern us.
“As wood is the material for the carpenter, as marble is for the sculptor, so is the art of living for each individual. “
“How about my brother’s life?”
“It is his art of living. But as far as you are concerned it is as external to you as land, health, and reputation. Philosophy has nothing to say about these things. However, it tries to preserve the governing part inside of you in accordance with nature at all times”
“Then, how do I stop my brother being angry with me?”
“Bring him to me and I will tell him. I have nothing to say to you about his anger.”
“Tell me this then. How can I stay true to nature, even when he refuses to reconcile with me?”
Nothing happens in an instant
“Nothing important happens in an instant. Even grapes and figs take time to ripen. If you say you want a fig right now, I will ask you to be patient. First let the tree blossom and bear fruit. And then, let the fruit ripen. If the fig tree is not brought to maturity instantly or in an hour, how do you expect the fruit of a human mind to come to fruition in such a short time, and so easily? I tell you, don’t expect any such thing.”
Think about this
Nothing important comes into being overnight … be patient. Discourses I.15.7 Epictetus / Robert Dobbin