Monday

July 21

THERE are some whom there is no convincing. So that now I think I understand what before I did not, the meaning of that common saying, that a fool will neither bend nor break. May it never fall to my lot to have a wise, that is an intractable, fool for my friend. "It is all to no purpose: I am determined." So are madmen too; but the more strongly they are determined upon absurdities, the more need have they of hellebore. Why will you not act like a sick person, and apply yourself to a physician? “Sir, I am sick. Give me your assistance: consider what I am to do. It is my part to follow your directions." So, in the present case, I know not what I ought to do; and I am come to learn.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §15. ¶2

5 comments:

  1. May I never claim to be wise. For then I would be an intractable fool, so convinced in my knowledge that would I refuse to learn. So are madmen too.

    Instead, I will apply myself to the physician. For when I acknowledge my illness I become open to healing. Or as I student , I come to the teacher saying "I know not what I ought to do; and I am come to learn."

    *In Greek mythology, Melampus of Pylos used hellebore to save the daughters of the king of Argos from a madness, induced by Dionysus, that caused them to run naked through the city, crying, weeping, and screaming.

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  2. This reminds me of the old buddhist story.

    A man is walking through the forest and is shot with a poisoned arrow. The villagers gather around and call for a doctor. The doctor comes and offers to help.

    The man in the story refuses help until he knows the tribe, dress, name, etc of the man who shot him. The end of the story goes something like, 'surely this man will die before he knows the answer to all these questions.'

    The point is that we have the power to heal ourselves and it's really quite simple. Pull out the arrow of wrong opinion and we'd all be whole again.

    Unfortunately, many love their suffering. They've attached personal significance to it and will not let go, no matter the personal cost.

    I for one am more than happy to jettison my false opinions and be truly happy. Am I consistent always? No. But I remember the quote:

    'When force of circumstance upsets your equanimity, lose no time in recovering your self control, and do not remain out of tune longer than you can help. Habitual recurrence to the harmony will increase your mastery of it.'

    So true.

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  3. We must be firm yet malleable to change. Life is a learning process if we are to live productively. We must be willing to allow new knowledge to effect and change our old habits so that we are continually growing and being our "best selves". Entrenched principles that are unbending only cause us to end up alone and miserable in our correctness and justification.

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  4. Do not hold too firmly to an opinion. Fools and madmen believe unfounded lies. Rather, say to yourself, 'This may be correct, but I could be wrong.' Build up to what you understand from basic assumptions, and create the structures that will uphold your daily activities. Then, should one of your structures prove false, you can rebuild yourself as a stronger edifice. - Inspired by Epictetus

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  5. The great question is: who is the 'physician' we should apply ourselves to? I think we are too quick to head to 'mental health professionals,' and should instead talk to each other, to wise friends, to figure out philosophical issues.

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