The Manual – by Epictetus
Date read: 10/24/18. Recommendation: 8/10.
Enjoyed the Ancient Renewal translation by Sam Torode. I’m always eager to read any new or updated translation of the classics. I’ve always found Epictetus to be one of the more inspiring Stoic philosophers. This is a great introduction to Stoicism for those interested in the philosophy. It’s also a great refresher for those already familiar. He discusses themes of impermanence, substance, expectations vs. reality, mental toughness, and authenticity.
See my notes below or Amazon for details and reviews.
Sphere of control = free, independent, strong
Beyond sphere = weak, limited, dependent
Impermanence is the nature of all things.
Expectations vs. Reality:
“In preparing for any action, remind yourself of the nature of the action.”
Going to a pool? Remind yourself of the usual incidents.
“Is some oil spilled or wine stolen? Say to yourself, ‘Accepting these annoyances is the price of my peace and tranquility. All good things come at a cost.’"
You are responsible for you:
“People who are ignorant of philosophy blame others for their own misfortunes. Those who are beginning to learn philosophy blame themselves. Those who have mastered philosophy blame no one.”
Don’t blame another for your state of mind, your conditions is result of your own opinions and interpretations.
“Do not wish that all things will go well with you, but that you will go well with all things."
"Follow your principles as though they were laws.”
“Do not take satisfaction in possessions and achievements that are not your own…What, then, is your own? The way you live your life."
Cannot always choose your circumstances, but you can always act well in your current position.
“If you truly wish to become a philosopher, you must gain self-control, give up friends who are bad influences, and be prepared to face ridicule and scorn, and be willing to give up honors, offices, riches, and fame.” Not to say you shouldn’t acquire these things, but the true philosopher is never dependent on these things.
“If you can acquire riches without losing your honor and self-respect, then do it. But if you lose what is dearest to you, no amount of money can make up for it."
Humility = Harmony
“If you are praised by others, be skeptical of yourself. For it is no easy feat to hold onto your inner harmony while collecting accolades. When grasping for one, you are likely to drop the other."
“A philosopher is one whose thoughts and emotions are internally anchored…When she fails, she takes responsibility. When she succeeds, she smiles to herself."
“It is not the person who insults or attacks you who torments your mind, but the view you take of these things.”
"Do not be fooled by how things first appear. With time and greater perspective, you can regain inner peace."
Observe subtleties, “Do not mistake your impressions for the whole truth."
“Continually remind yourself that you are a mortal being, and someday will die. This will inspire you not to waste precious time in fruitless activities, like stewing over grievances and striving after possessions."
“If you are diligent and consistent, those who ridiculed you will come to admire you. But if you abandon the path near the start because of their laughter, you are truly worthy of scorn."
“If you find yourself acting to impress others, or avoiding action out of fear of what they might think, you have left the path."
Use the world and your current situation as a practice ground for your philosophy
Fulfillment is found in a life best-suited to your attributes and abilities.
"Find significance within yourself.” Don’t lose your honor striving for perceived significance.