spiritual writings | retreat center directory

You're invited to visit our sister sites: DanJoseph.com, a resource site
featuring articles on spirituality, psychology, and A Course in Miracles, and
ColoradoCounseling.com, an information site on holistic cognitive therapy.

Home | Writings | Classics | Epictetus | Part Two | next
Selections from The Enchiridion by Epictetus 
Edited version © SpiritSite.com (some language has been adapted and/or simplified)

 


"When anyone provokes you, remember that it is your own opinion about him that provokes you. Try not to be tossed around by appearances."

Enchiridion Selections, Part Two

If you want to be happy, you must change your thinking. 

Donít say, "I have to worry about my work, otherwise Iíll be poor." Or, "If I donít yell at my servant, heíll be lazy and bad." 

It is better to die with hunger, free of anger and fear, than to live with wealth and worry. It is better for your servant to be lazy than for you to be unhappy.

Begin with little things. Is a little oil spilled? A little wine stolen? Say to yourself, "This is the price I will pay for peace of mind, and it is not a large price to pay."

When you call your servant, he may not come Ė or, if he does, he may not do what you want. However, this is in no way important enough to cause you any disturbance.

If you wish for yourself and your family to live for ever, you are expecting the impossible. For you wish to be in control of things that are not in your control.

Similarly, if you wish for your servant to be without fault, you are expecting the impossible.

However, if you wish to remain at peace, this is in your control. 

If you would be free, wish for nothing that depends on the actions of others. If your happiness is dependent on others, you have made yourself a slave.

Remember that you must behave in life like you would at a dinner party. Is anything brought around to you? Put out your hand and take your share. Does it pass you by? Don't stop it. Has it not yet come? Don't reach out towards it, but wait until it reaches you.

Do this with regard to children, to a wife, to a job, to wealth, and you will eventually take your seat at the feasts of the gods. And if you don't even need the things which are set before you, but are able to let them go, then you will not only take your seat at the feasts of the gods, but also at their home.

When you see anyone weeping in grief because his child has gone abroad, or because he has suffered in his affairs, be careful not to be misled by appearances. 

Instead, think to yourself, "It's not the event that distresses this person, because that same event doesn't distress another person. What distresses this person is his interpretation of it."

Remember that you arenít insulted by a mean person, but by your own thoughts about him. 

Therefore, when anyone provokes you, remember that it is your own opinion about him that provokes you. Try not to be tossed around by appearances. For if you take a moment and regain your peace, you will more easily control your mind.

These thoughts are not connected with each other: "I am richer than you, therefore I am better." Or, "I am more eloquent than you, therefore I am better."

The connection is rather this: "I am richer than you, therefore I have more money at present." And, "I am more eloquent than you, therefore I can speak more clearly." 

You, after all, are neither money nor eloquence.

next ->