Epictetus – Discourses Book 1

Chapter 1 – Of the things which are in our power & not in our power.

  • There’s only one faculty able to contemplate itself & either approve or disapprove.
    • Grammar tells you what words to use but it doesn’t tell you whether you should write or not.
  • The rational faculty is the one that contemplates itself & all other things. It examines itself, what it is, what power it has & other faculties. It’s also capable of judging appearances.
    • It’s the only good thing the gods gave us & they gave us nothing else. They may have wanted to give us more but couldn’t. We exist on earth, bound to a body & companions – how is it possible for us not to be hindered in these things by externals.
    • To make us free, the gods gave us a portion of them – the faculty of desire, aversion & using the appearance of things. It we take care of the faculty, we’ll never be hindered by impediments, never lament, blame or flatter anyone.
    • When it’s in our power to look after a thing but we attach it to ourselves, we prefer to look after many things & be bound by them, the body, property, brother, friend, etc. Being bound to many things, we’re depressed by them & dragged down. For this we torment ourselves.
      • We have to make the most of things in our power & use the rest according to their nature.
      • What should a man have in readiness? Know what’s yours & what isn’t yours. Know that you’ll die but why die lamenting?
        • A man ought to make desire & aversion free from hindrance.
        • Say, if I must die now, I’m ready. If I am to die shortly, I’ll eat now because it’s dinnertime.

Chapter 2 – How a man on every occasion can maintain his proper character.

  • To a rational animal, the irrational is intolerable but the rational is tolerable.
    • Main is pained by nothing as much as the irrational & attracted to nothing as much as the rational.
    • But these 2 appear differently to different people. So we need discipline to learn how to adapt the preconception of the rational & irrational to nature. To determine those, we use the estimates of external things & what’s appropriate to each personal.
      • You must introduce the consideration into the inquiry of what is worthy of you & what isn’t. You alone know how much you’re worth to yourself & at what price you will sell yourself.
      • If you have things you must do, know the consequences of them & then decide on that basis. Others may bow to pressure. Both could be right but that depends on the person’s situation.
      • Consider at what price you sell your own will, if only to make sure it’s not a small sum.
    • Remember just because you’re not as wise as Socrates doesn’t mean it’s fine to be stupid. Just because you’re not as strong as Milo, doesn’t mean you ought to neglect your body. Don’t neglect anything of yours just because it’s not the best in the world.

Chapter 3 – How a man should proceed from the principle of God being the father of all men to the rest.

  • If you accept this idea that we’re all sprung from God who’s father of men & god. If Caesar adopts you, people won’t like your arrogance. If you’re the son of Zeus, wouldn’t you be elated? But we don’t do this.
    • We have 2 things mingled: body in common with animals, & reason & intelligence in common with the goods. Many see this as a miserable & mortal. Only a few see it as divine & happy.
      • Even so, every man uses everything according to the opinion he has about it & those who think they’re made for fidelity & modesty, & have no mean or dishonorable thoughts. But with many, it’s the opposites. While you may be wretched, you have more than just flesh. Why neglected it? Why be attacked to it so?
      • The kinship with flesh is either faithless & treacherous like wolves, savage & untamed like lions, or malignant & slanderous like foxes.

Chapter 4 – Progress or improvement

  • If you’ve made progress, you’ll have learned that desire is the desire of good things & aversion is the aversion of bad things. You’ll fail in those by not getting what you want & not avoiding what you want to avoid.
    • If you avoid anything independent of your will, you’ll run into something you don’t want to at some point.
    • If virtue promises good fortune, progress towards virtue will be progress toward these things. Perfection means progress towards the goal.
    • How often have you seen people admit that & then seek progress in other things? What’s the product virtue? Tranquility.
    • Who makes progress? One who reads Chrysippus? Shouldn’t you also understand him? Progress means reading, understanding & putting into action – virtue produces progress.
    • Where is progress? Withdrawing from externals, turning one’s will to its own exercise & making it conformable with nature, avoiding things not in our power & acting on it. Rising in the morning keeping to these rules, bathing as a man of fidelity, eating as a models man & working out your principles. To do this is not to have traveled in vain. But if you’ve failed in these efforts all the work was for nothing. How can a man trying to rid his life of lamentation cry out “woe to me”? & still rid it of misfortune & disappointment?
      • So what did Chrysippus actually teach us? To know all these things aren’t false from which happiness & tranquility come from.
      • The gods gave us the vine & wheat, so we sacrifice those to them. They also produced the mind to bear the fruit of happiness & we should thank them for that.

Chapter 5 – Against the Academics

  • If a man opposes evident truths, it’s not easy to find arguments to make him change his opinion. This isn’t form his strength or the teacher’s weakness. The man is hardened like a stone & we can’t deal with him by argument.
    • There are 2 kinds of hardening.
      • 1 – in understanding.
      • 2 – in the sense of shame – when a man won’t admit the obvious or stop contradicting himself.
    • Most of us are afraid of bodily mortification & wish to avoid it all costs but don’t do the same with the mortification of the soul. It a man’s like that, we think he’s in a bad condition. But if the sense of shame & modesty are deadened, we think he’s strong.
    • Can we still argue with this man? What fire or iron shall we use on him to let him know he’s deadened? He doesn’t see the contradiction: he’s in a bad condition. His rational faculty hasn’t been cut off but it is brutalized.

Chapter 6 – Of Providence

  • It’d be easy to praise Providence for everything, if a man can see what belongs & happens to all things & people, & a grateful disposition. If he doesn’t have those 2 qualities, a man won’t see the use of things & won’t be thankful.
    • If God mad colors, wouldn’t he have made the ability to see them? What use would they be otherwise? If he made vision, wouldn’t he have made stuff to look at? Suppose he made both but no light. Why would he?
    • What is only in the rational animal? We have a lot in common with irrational animals. God gave them the ability to make use of appearances but he gave us the ability to understand them. We have the intellectual faculty because just seeing isn’t enough – we must act in a proper & orderly manner in line with nature or we’ll never arrive at our true end.
    • Those animals with only the use of ability, it is enough. But the animal with the ability to understand must use that understanding to attain one’s goal.
      • God has made man a spectator to his works & to be an interpreter. It’s shameful for a man just to behave as an irrational animal. He ought to use that extra faculty in us – contemplation & understanding.
    • God has not only given us these faculties but free from hindrance, subject to no compulsion, unimpeded & completely in his power.

Chapter 7 – Of the Use of Sophistical Arguments, & Hypothetical & the Like

  • How you handle sophistical & hypothetical arguments & get meaning from questions relates to duties in life, though many don’t know it. We have to find out a good & wise man would discover the proper path.
    • People will either say a grave man won’t stoop to a Q&A of morals or if he does, he won’t be careless in doing so.
    • But what about the fact that we have reasoning? Shouldn’t we use it?
    • A man must learn how one thing is a consequence of one thing & when it follows from many things. You’ll need the power of reasoning to pull that off. It requires understanding & to avoid being deceived by sophists.
    • When we reason, we take premises & assumptions, & the results that result from them. But sometimes these aren’t true. What do we do then? Admit it? Perhaps we shouldn’t have agreed to the shaky premises, because we have to live with their consequences. If we can withdraw from the premises, we can withdraw from the consequences.
    • Sometimes in hypothetical argument, we have to accept some suppositions & explore the logical consequences of them. But we have to determine which ones to accept & reject.
      • Why is we look for pretenses for not working & not cultivating our reason?

Chapter 8 – That the Faculties are no Safe to the Uninstructed

  • We can change things that are equivalent to one another & we can change the forms of arguments & hypotheticals. Usually, a philosopher is pretty good at this. If an enthymeme is an imperfect syllogism, it’d make sense that if you can master perfect syllogisms, you can master imperfect syllogisms.
    • Because, while many haven’t mastered these & not distracted from the study of morality, we still make no progress in virtue.
    • The power of arguing & faculty of persuasion, boosted with language leads to goof things & not having it & developing it leads to poor results. Why would anyone not want to make use of them, knowing that having them & using them is beneficial, & not having & using them is detrimental.

Chapter 9 – How from the fact that we are akin to God a man may proceed to the consequences

  • If it’s true what they say about the relationship between God & man, what else is there to do other than what Socrates did?
    • This is related to the answer to the question of where you are from. Use the answer “citizen of the world” & not of the tiny plot you were born on. Think what the people of your country are. They all come from their forefathers & those ultimately came from God. We all come from God & God put us on earth. So we should think of ourselves as from the earth as a whole & not a small part of it.
    • If you were related to Caesar, you wouldn’t keep quiet about it. Why would you do that with God, who’s much bigger & more powerful? This will release you from many fears & sorrows.
      • What would slaves & runaways rely on once they leave their masters? They rely on themselves & find food. This is the case with many of us  – when we travel outside our comfort zones, we trust & rely on what we can around us but also finding ways of being self-sufficient.
    • When we realize we come from God, we can take comfort in that fact when the heavy stuff of life gets to be from too much.
      • When being alive gets to be too much, we ought to realize that maintaining ourselves & our lives aren’t that important. Even if death is on the schedule for us, we are just going back to where we came from. This realization releases us from stress & the bonds that weigh us down. The bad stuff no longer has any power over us when we turn our attention away from them.
      • Teachers ought to teach kids this. It makes more productive & enjoyable when we don’t feel the pain from envy, stress or hatred.

Chapter 10 – Against those who eagerly seek preferment at Rome

  • If we worked on ourselves as much as the politicians do in politics, we’d probably get a lot done. I know a guy in Rome, in charge of the wheat supply He told me of his life before his arrival in Rome & how he wanted nothing more than to retire to that quiet life.
    • I told him – not a chance. Once you get within a stone’s throw of Rome, you’ll forget all that talk & thank God you’re in Rome.
    • He didn’t believe me & as soon as he got a letter from Caesar, he was back in Rome. I wish I could remind him of what he’d said.
      • I won’t say that man is made for sitting on his ass all day & doing nothing. But why isn’t life jam packed with action? I can only say for myself that I sleep & relax to help the rest of the day.
      • But these men go about their business answering requests for food supplies. Is there any different between what they do & what a teacher of philosophy does – answering questions based off of what they have at hand or will have at hand?
        • Maybe old men are just idle dreamers? No. Once old men are around youngsters trifling, we want to get involved too.

Chapter 11 – Of Natural Affection

  • Epictetus asked a man about his family situation, who responded that it was miserable because his daughter was sick. He couldn’t say & watch it so he left & asked someone to come & tell him when she got better.
    • Epictetus asked if he’d done the right thing. He answered that he acted naturally. Epictetus told him that would be the case with most father, but did he do the right thing?
    • When we ask if something is black or white, hot or cold, we could use sight & touch to give us the answer.
    • But if we don’t know what criterion & faculty we use to determine right & wrong, we’re in a bad way
      • But when there’s ignorance, there’s a lack of learning & training that you have to make up for. You ought to think of nothing else but to learn the criterion of things according to nature.
      • Epictetus inquired further. The man’s affection for his family seemed to be according to nature & was good, & that it was not inconsistent with reason. But according to these statements, to leave the child wasn’t reasonable even if it was natural. The mother & servants stayed. How could a sick child be left alone out of affection? It’s not logical not to do what those with affection for the child did & stay with her. Plus, he wouldn’t want to be left alone by those he loved.
      • He has to look within because that was the only place telling him to leave.
        • Achilles’s lamentation came from within himself, not from the death of Patroclus. He chose to lament.
        • Likewise the man chose to run away & he could have chosen to stay just as easily. Death & illness isn’t a choice but how we react to them is. When doing something wrong, we should see it coming from our weak will to do the wrong thing, which makes matters worse.

Chapter 12 – Of Contentment

  • Some say there is no God, or that he doesn’t care, etc. Some say he does exist & he cares deeply about what we do. Almost all of those people logically should not act as people say that God want them to because they either think he’s not there or he is there & doesn’t care. But if you believe there is a God you ought to obey him, just as you obey a law of the state.
    • Being “free” of this law is ridiculous. You can’t write & use a word as you like & still have it be the same word. You can’t will things without consideration.
      • The only thing we can change is our minds to put them in harmony with things that we can’t change. We can’t escape other men or change them. We don’t have that power or a method to do so.
    • What happens to those who do not accept things? The punishment is for them to be as they are. If a man’s unhappy being alone, his punishment is to be alone. You might say “put him in prison”, but he’s already there. He doesn’t have any control over the world & he can’t accept that fact – just like a prison.
  • Choose a place where you are equal to the gods by using your intelligence to stick things within your control.

Chapter 13 – How everything may be done acceptably to the gods

  • How would the gods want us to eat? Justly, contentedly, with equanimity, temperately & orderly. But what if you asked a servant for warm water & he brought you cold water, or none at all? Maybe he’s nowhere to be found? Should you get pissed off at him? Would the gods want that?
    • How should you deal with him? Remember you are the servant of our father, Zeus, & your servant is your brother. If you’ve found yourself in a higher place than him, should you be his tyrant? Remember who you are, who your kin are & who’s really in charge.
    • If you whine that you paid for the servant, you’re focusing on earthly law & human law, when you should be looking towards the law of the gods.

Chapter 14 – That the deity oversees all things

  • When asked how one’s actions are under God’s inspection, Epictetus responded that all things are united in one, & earthly things agree naturally with heavenly things. Everything fits in with God’s command.
    • Isn’t that also true with our souls? God sees our every motion as a part of his own being & himself. You keep in your soul impressions of many things & are moved them. God’s able to oversee & to be all-present & receive communication from all.
    • Just because you can’t take it all in doesn’t mean that Zeus can’t.
    • Make your oath to him as a soldier would to Caesar – to be obedient, not to make changes & not to find fault in anything he’s given us.

Chapter 15 – What philosophy promises

  • A man asked Epictetus how to make his brother stop hating him.
    • Epictetus said that philosophy doesn’t try to secure external things. It’s only about staying conformable with nature. Epictetus would only repeat this to the man’s brother for him. He reminded the man that nothing great is produced suddenly & requires time, especially a man’s mind

Chapter 16 – Of providence

  • Animals don’t have the additional needs we humans have – beds, clothes & shoes. That is because animals aren’t made  for themselves but for service. We should not take care of them as we do of ourselves.
    • The men in the military clothe & shod themselves, & the commander doesn’t do it for them like a farmer would for his livestock.
    • We should be grateful that we don’t need this help from God. We often complain about God & only the grateful & modest will accept his works. Remember milk is produced from grass. Cheese is made from milk. Wool comes from skins. But who made these things? If you think it’s nobody, you’re wrong.
    • Even if we just look at the small things. You can identify a male from a female but hair on the chain. Nature gives us a sign. Women has a slighter voice, no facial hair.
    • Isn’t it a beautiful that nature gives us these markers & shouldn’t we preserve the signs God’s given us to distinguish sexes.
    • We ought to do all we can to praise everything – tools, capacities, etc. – that God has given us.

Chapter 17 – That the logical art is necessary

  • Since reason is the faculty that analyzes & perfects, shouldn’t it be analyzed? But by what? Either reason itself or something above it (which doesn’t exist). If it’s reason who’ll analyze that reason? Reason is analyzed by itself.
    • When asked if it was more important to cure opinion or whether the things you argue are true or false. Epictetus said that distinguishing is more urgent & therefore logical arts are more important. The tools we use have to be honed in order for our logic to be solid. Without it, you can’t learn anything else.
    • While logic has no immediate fruit, you can’t do anything that does actually does bear fruit without it.
      • This logic is to understand the will of nature. Men do err, often involuntarily, but once they do learn the truth, they must act right.
    • Philosophers & diviners often have a haughty demeanor but guys like Chrysippus only interpret the will of nature. Diviners we don’t need because we don’t need to know the future or the signs given by the gods if we don’t know what to do with that information.
      • Ultimately, the diviner’s information informs your opinions & your will. You choose how to react & choose your course of action with or without the divination.

Chapter 18 – That we ought not to be angry with the errors of others

  • If philosophers are correct in saying all men have one principle & men can be persuaded in many ways, why should we be angry with the many?
    • If you think they are criminals because they’re mistaken about good & evil, why don’t we correct them instead of getting angry with them? If you do this, they may correct their errors. If no, they’ll have nothing better to replace their evil ways with.
    • We should see these “criminals” as people with faulty faculties. Not having the faculty to distinguish good from bad, these people have been deprived of a proper will. So, we should pity them, not hate them.
    • Furthermore, if we are angry that these men rob or offend us, it’s because we have & value things that they can take from us or harm us over. If we thought little of these things, they can’t really hurt us. Our pain from this is our own fault.
    • The ancients taught us to know ourselves & to be aware of what we can improve on. If something pains us we shouldn’t carry that pain around & mope about it.
    • The invincible man is undisturbed by things independent of the will & is able to overcome all so that he can conquer all.

Chapter 19 – How we should behave to tyrants

  • If a man has any superiority, or thinks he is superior, he’ll be puffed up by the fact. So, if you run into a tyrant, he’ll say “I’m master of all.”
    • You might respond that he can’t hinder any desires of yours. He can’t avoid everything he wants to avoid – & he has things he really wants to avoid.
    • So what power does he actually have? He’ll claim all men respect him. Epictetus states he respects his dishes by washing them. They take care of him so he takes care of them. He cleans his donkey in the same way that men take care of themselves out of respect for themselves. The tyrant may say he has the power to kill or harm. So we fear him & appease him in the same way we build temples to gods, like the Goddess of Fever in Rome. Mostly to stave off fevers, not out of admiration.
    • Why are the many disturbed & terrified? The tyrant & the guards? I hope not. It’s not possible for something that is free in nature to be disturbed by anything other than itself. It’s your own opinions. If you are free from threat of these men, you are completely free.
      • If the tyrant threatens your body & you value it, he has something over you & can make you bend. If you realize he can only threaten your body & not your mind, tell him: “do your worst. You are master of my carcass”.
      • This isn’t a perversion of self-regard because while we are being stripped of our body but still maintain what’s more important – our minds & wills.
      • When absurd notions about things independent of the will lie at the bottom of our opinions, we have to pay regard to tyrants.

Chapter 20 – About reason, how it contemplates itself

  • Every art & faculty contemplates certain things especially. E.g. The grammarians’ art is used for articulate speech but it is not articulate speech itself.
    • The art that contemplates itself is reason which has been given to us by nature to use for appearances. Sound sense allows us to contemplate good & evil, & everything in between. Good sense can contemplate itself & the opposite.
    • When we think there’s a wide difference between being right & wrong, we ought to use this faculty to find out how things go wrong. If we are careless, we can be deceived by appearances. Why be careless in distinguishing good from evil? It’s be like walking around blind.

Chapter 21 – Against those who wish to be admired

  • When a man is in his proper station in life, he doesn’t look beyond it. If you’re satisfied, & desire & avoid as nature would have you do, you don’t look beyond where you are in life.
    • Some might wish to be admired – “What a great philosopher!” Who are those people you wish to be admired by? The same ones said were mad? Why wish to be admired by mad men?

Chapter 22 – Of precognitions

  • Precognitions are common to all men. Who doesn’t think good is useful & what we should follow & pursue. Who doesn’t think justice is important? No one.
    • So where does all the contradiction start? When men don’t agree on how the definition is applied to situations. We all agree is good but Jews & Syrians have contradicting definitions of what is it is to be holy.
    • Let’s adapt our precognitions to the present matter. Think of education. What is it? It’s learning how to adapt the natural precognitions to particular things conformably to nature. Then we distinguish the things that are in our power from those that are not.
      • Things in our power are in our will. Things not in our power are the body, possessions, other people, the country, society, etc.
      • Things not in our power do affect us like health, family, etc. But as a man maintains his duty towards the gods & himself, the badness that stems from things outside of our control can be minimized.

Chapter 23 – Against Epicurus

  • Even when Epicurus sees we are naturally social, he doesn’t build off of that. He just says we ought not admire or accept anything outside the nature of good.
    • How do we go on if we have no natural affection for our children? Epicurus knows that once a child is born, he begins to take on a will of his own. Then he thinks it’s no longer in our power to love or care for him.
      • So for this, he says a man who has any sense avoids politics because you’ll be forced to do & be like those who are in politics.
      • Why is having a mentality that is not 100% different from others bad? Why can we not love those who are like us? Why is being influenced by others in a positive way a bad thing?

Chapter 24 – How we should struggle with circumstances

  • Circumstances show you what men are made of. So when difficulty comes your way, just think of it as God matching you in a wrestling match with a young, strong man so that you can train to become an Olympic champion.
    • But it’s never done without sweat & struggle. No scout is any good if he’s slow, stupid & cowardly. He needs to be trained in what’s required for his trade/profession.
    • Death is no evil, nor is it base. So says Diogenes. It’s better to be naked than in any purple robe. To sleep on the ground is better than the softest bed. It demonstrates your courage, tranquility & freedom. You’re not a slave to comfort.
    • So then, what should you do? Do what you do when you leave a ship. Just take what is yours & never what belongs to others.
    • When you don’t get what you want, remember that it was never yours in the first place. You’ll see everything you get as a gift when given to you & nothing if it isn’t given to you.

Chapter 25 – On the same

  • The good of a man is in the will, as is the evil. If everything else doesn’t concern us, why are we still disturbed & afraid? We are too concerned with things in nobody’s power. So why moan about it?
    • When you ask for direction, remember Zeus has given you the ability to reason without hindrance. What else do you want? We get precognitions which, when combined with reason, can be developed into directions on how to behave.
    • In the Saturnalia, a “king” is chosen at random. He has the right to order people to drink, sing, etc. We play the game. But once the king tells you how to feel & what to be afraid of, who’s going to force you? We play this game in hypotheticals but continue only as long as it’s to our benefit. But no one can push us beyond what our wills allow us – only you can control your will.

Chapter 26 – What is the law of life

  • Epictetus said that when we make hypothetical arguments, we have to accept the results. But before this law, is the law of life, which is that we must act conformably to nature. If we want to see what’s natural, it’s clear we should also make it our goal to see what follows & not to admit the contradictory.
    • Philosophers exercise us in theory & then lead us to more difficult things. But many things distract us in matters of life. It’s hard to start with the real world first but it’s so messy. Start simple.
    • What is the cause of wrong doing? Ignorance. Why not choose to get rid of ignorance?
    • This is the beginning of philosophy – a man’s perception of the state of his ruling faculty. When a man knows he’s weak, he won’t use it for the hardest things.

Chapter 27 – In how many ways appearances exist, & what aids we should provide against them

  • Appearances come in 4 ways
    • 1 – as they are & as they appear to be.
    • 2 – as they aren’t & don’t even appear to be.
    • 3 – as they are but don’t appear to be.
    • 4 – as they aren’t but do appear to be.
  • If something looks good & it really is bad, we need to fix this. If a habit annoys us, let’s fix it. Usually, doing the opposite works.
    • So, oppose on bad habit with a good one. Oppose sophistry with reason.
    • When death seems like an evil, we should avoid it. But it isn’t evil, it’s necessary. You can’t escape it, so you might as well be brave about it.
      • There is no way to avoid it for good, moaning about it doesn’t fix anything & there’s no cure for it.

Chapter 28 – That we ought not to be angry with men; & what are the small & the great things among them

  • What makes us agree to anything? When something to be true. We couldn’t agree with something that looked false. We are naturally inclined toward the true & away from the false. When we’re not sure, we withhold our assent. When a man assents to something false, he didn’t intend to, it was just that it appeared to be true.
    • Look at Medea. She indulged her passion by taking vengeance on her husband. She thought that was better than sparing her children. But show her she’s wrong & she won’t do it. She can only follow how things appear to her. So why be angry that she’s wrong about the most important things & turned into an animal? We don’t get angry at the blind for not seeing.
    • Remember we measure every act by appearance. If it’s good, a man will be free from blame. If it’s bad, he suffers the consequences.
    • Wars & civil upheavals, as well as destruction of men are often the consequences of appearances being out of order.
    • The difference between the death of animals & people is small for the most part. Man understands what he does, it’s in social community, fidelity, modesty, steadfastness & intelligence. When these are destroyed, man is destroyed.
      • Let’s got to the rule, produce precognitions because without these, we can’t really understand man.

Chapter 29 – On constancy

  • The being of the good is a certain will & the being of the bad is a certain will.
    • So what are externals? These are materials for the will to use to get its own good or bad. If the opinions about the materials are right, the will is good. If the opinions about them are wrong, the will is bad.
    • “Do philosophers teach us to despise kings?” I hope not. Who teaches to claim against them the power over things which they possess.
      • You can take my property, body, reputation & those around me. But if you try to command my opinions, who’s given this power? How is it even possible? By applying terror?
        • Opinion conquers itself & is not conquered by another. The law of God is most powerful & most just: “Let the stronger always be superior to the weaker.” Having the right opinion makes you much more powerful than having the wrong opinion.
        • Show me someone with inferior principles overpowering him who is superior in principles. It’s not in accordance to the law of God.
    • A man must keep in mind that when a man is called to any difficulty, he should know that the time is coming to show what he’s been taught. When the time of trial has come, some will wish that they had learned & practiced more.

Chapter 30 – What we ought to have ready in difficulty circumstances

  • When you go in front of any great person, remember there’s someone above who sees what’s going on. You ought to please the one above him rather than the man.
    • He’ll ask if we learned that exile, prison chains, death, calumny, disgrace were indifferent things… Yes. My opinion of them doesn’t change them & they don’t change me. So what are the things are indifferent?
    • What’s the good of man? A good opinion & to understand appearances.
    • To what end? To follow you.
    • Then go to this great person with that in mind & you will see the difference between the ignorant & the informed. You’ll be thinking: Why am I going to such trouble? It’s all for this man & his little world. This is nothing but I’ve been acting like it’s a big deal.

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