February 28, 2018 - Ancient Stoicism in Plain English
Train Yourself to See Things as they are
Key ideas of this discourse
- Everything that happens, happens in accordance with reason. People who are wealthier pay a price for being wealthy. So, it is reasonable that they have what they have.
- Don’t add judgments to events and make them worse.
THE FOLLOWING DISCOURSE IS AN EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK STOIC TRAINING, BOOK III OF EPICTETUS’ DISCOURSES IN PLAIN ENGLISH. THE COMPLETE BOOK IS AVAILABLE IN ONLINE AND PAPERBACK EDITIONS FROM AMAZON AND OTHER ONLINE BOOKSTORES. http://amzn.to/2sfVvJ
People have what they have because they paid the price
Whenever you find fault with providence, reflect on it. You will then realize that what happened is reasonable.
“True. But the dishonest person is better off.”
“In what? In money? Yes, in that regard he is better off, because he flatters people, he is shameless, and lies awake at night. Nothing surprising there. But look to see if he is better than you in being trustworthy and honest? You will not find it to be so. Where you are superior to him, there you are better than him.”
Someone was upset because he was envious of the wealth of another. [Epictetus] asked him
“Will you be willing to sleep with senator so-and-so?”
“God forbid such a day should ever come!”
“Then why are you angry with the wealthy man [who slept with the senator to gain his wealth]? He paid for it. How can you think that he is fortunate when he got what he wanted using means which you detest? What harm does providence do in giving better things to better people? Isn’t it better to be honourable than be rich?”
“You are right.”
“Then why are you upset, if you have things of greater worth? Always remember and keep this thought at hand: It is a law of nature that the superior person has the advantage over the inferior person in respect to the superiority. You will never ever have any reason to be upset.”
Don’t add your judgment to events
“But my wife behaves badly towards me.”
“Well, if someone asks what’s the matter, say, ‘My wife behaves badly to me.’”
“My father doesn’t give me anything.”
[There is a gap in text here.]
“Do you have to add in your mind the judgment that it is bad (which is untrue)?
For this reason, it is not poverty we should reject, but the judgment we hold about it. Then we will be at peace.
Think about this
It is not poverty we should reject, but our judgement regarding it, and then we shall be at peace. Discourses III.17.9. Epictetus [CG/RH]