TITLE: A State Conformable to Nature AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: February 20, 2007 11:58 PM DESC: ----- BODY: In the beginning, I blogged on the danger of false pride and quoted the Stoic philosopher Epictetus. Now I have encountered another passage from Epictetus, at the mind hacker site Hacks
When you are going about any action, remind yourself what nature the action is. If you are going to bathe, picture to yourself the things which usually happen in the bath: some people splash the water, some push, some use abusive language, and others steal. Thus you will more safely go about this action if you say to yourself, "I will now go bathe, and keep my own mind in a state conformable to nature." And in the same manner with regard to every other action. For thus, if any hindrance arises in bathing, you will have it ready to say, "It was not only to bathe that I desired, but to keep my mind in a state conformable to nature; and I will not keep it if I am bothered at things that happen."
The notion of a "state conformable to nature" was central to his injunction against false pride, and here it remains the thoughtful person's goal, this time in the face of all that can go wrong in the course of living. This quote also resonates with me, because, just as I am inclined toward a false pride, I have a predisposition toward letting small yet expectable hindrances interfere with my frame of mind. Perhaps predisposition is the wrong word; perhaps it's just a bad habit. As is often the case for me, after a second or third positive reference is all I need to commit to reading more. In the coming weeks, I now plan to read the Discourses of Epictetus. We even have a copy on our bookshelf at home. (My wife's more classical education proves useful to me again!) -----