Monday

May 20

CEASE to make yourselves slaves, first of things, and then upon their account, of the men who have the power either to bestow or take them away. Is there any advantage then to be gained from these men? From all, even from a reviler. What advantage doth a wrestler gain from him with whom he exercises himself, before the combat? The greatest. Why, just in the same manner I exercise myself with this man. He exercises me in patience, in gentleness, in meekness. Is my neighbour a bad one? He is so to himself; but a good one to me. He exercises my good temper, my moderation. Is my father bad? To himself, but not to me. "This is the rod of Hermes. Touch with it whatever you please, and it will become gold." No; but bring whatever you please, and I will turn it into good. Bring sickness, death, want, reproach, capital trial. All these, by the rod of Hermes, shall turn to advantage.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. 20, 1.

8 comments:

  1. I like the "All things work to the good" feel of this passage. It is important for me to remember that it is my reactions that make a situation bad or good.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's all in your perspective. A curse becomes a blessing when your outlook has changed and you see challenges as a chance to exercise self-control and virtue.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I absolutely love this post and wholeheartedly agree. It has always been my belief that no matter what the situation in life, there is always some good to be gained. We don't always realize when we go through the painful, more troubled times of life that we are actually accumulating some of the most important gems of our lifetimes. It is taking the good out of these situations that makes all the difference in the effect it has on your life.

    ReplyDelete
  4. "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life..." there is wisdom in Monty Python.

    Things and people have control over us because we give them control by holding onto things and desires. The Stoic practice of "bugging out" (taking a period of time and going away with just the basics) really helps you to realize that we don't need much to thrive. The people in Slave Lake who lost their homes and had barely any notice to take things are an example of what is needed in an emergency. Shelter, clothing and food. If we have those three things in our lives, we are rich. If you add in family and friends then we are rich beyond measure.

    ReplyDelete
  5. When faced with a person or situation that challenges us, we should see it is an opportunity to exercise our virtue. They exercise us in patience, in gentleness, in meekness. Is our neighbour a bad one? He is so to himself; but a good one to us. He exercises our good temper, our moderation, our justice, our courage. - Lessons from Epictetus

    ReplyDelete
  6. It is true that those who challenge us help us to exercise our virtues, but so do those who love us. So really, can we not say that ALL men, whether they look to harm or help are a part of our betterment?

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love this one as well. I love the beauty in the way Epictetus presents scenarios to us. I love how he asks us to reason things through. He does not trifle with how a non stoic will react, he tells us how he, a stoic, acts --how we all can reason and act.

    When we work through this one we are forced to realize that we are that bad neighbour --sometimes. It is much easier to see faults in others than to see them in ourselves but, the same faults come to light in us when we react without reason. When we realize this we can act as a stoic --with patience, with moderation, with gentleness and understanding.

    ReplyDelete
  8. @ Scott, Mike and Leah - Here, Here :) To be a good neighbour should be our goal in life. In being a good neighbour we will be both good to others and to our environment/planet.

    ReplyDelete