* Epícteto *

I undertook to conquer myself rather than fortune, and to alter my desires rather than change the order of the world, and to accustom myself to believe that nothing is entirely in our power except our own thoughts...Here; I think, is the secret of those ancient philosophers who were able to free themselves from the tyranny of fortune, or, despite suffering and poverty, to rival the gods in happiness.


The aim of our studies should be to direct the mind with a view to forming true and sound judgments about whatever comes before it... (a person should consider) how to increase the natural light of his reason...in order that his intellect should show his will what decision it ought to make in each of life's contingencies.



Someone says, I don't like leisure, it's boring; I don't like crowds, they're a nuisance. but if events ordain that you spend time either alone or with just a few other people, look upon it as tranquillity and play along with it for the duration. Talk to yourself, train your thoughts and shape your preconceptions.



 

LIBRO I

 

Que la Divinidad contempla a Todos

 

Al preguntarle alguien cómo podría uno convencerse de que la divinidad contempla cada una de las cosas que uno hace, dijo:

-¿No te parece que todo es´ta unido?

-Si me lo parece -contestó-

-¿Y  qué? ¿No te parece que lo de la tierra actúa en simpatía con lo del cielo?

-Si me lo parece- contestó.

 

-¿Cómo es que de un modo tan regular como si procediera de una orden divina, cuando aquél dice a las plantas que florezcan, florecen; cuando les dice que gerimen, germinan; cuando que produzcan fruto, lo producen; cuand que maduren, maduran; cuando que que se despojen y pierdan las hoja y que, recogidas en sí mismas, permanezcan en reposo  y descansen, reposan y descansan? ¿Cómo es que se  puede ver en el creciente y menguante de la luna y en le acercamiento y alejamiento del sol tal alternancia y tal mutación de las cosas de la tienrraa en sus contrarios? Las plantas y nuestros propios cuerpos están tan atados al conjunto y reaccionan por simpatía con él. ¿y no  iban a hacerlo aún nás nuestras almas? Y si las almas están tan atadas y unidas a la divinidad, por sr partes y fragmentos suyos, ¿no iba a percibir la divinidad cualquiera de sus movimientos como suyos y de su propia naturaleza?

 

Tú puedes reflexionar sobre el gobierno divino y sobre cada una de las cosas divinas, e igualmente sobre los asuntos humanos, y sr movido por miles de cosas al mismo tiempo sensorial e intelectualmente, a veces afirmativamente y otras negativamente o dejándolas en suspenso, y guardas en tu alma impresiones tan numerosas demuchísimos y muy variados asuntos y movido por ellos vas a dar en la ideas semejantes a las que antes te impresionaron, y acumulas habilidades y recuerdos de miles de asuntos unos sobre otros.

¿Y la Divinidad no es capaz de contemplarlo todo y estar resente en todo?  

 

El sol puede iluminar una gran parte del universo y dejar unapequeña parte sin iluminar, la que puede tener bajo su dominio la sombra que hace la tierra: y el que creó el sol y lo dirige como una parte de sí, pequeña en comparación al todo, ¿ése no iba a poder percibirlo todo?

 

-Pero no puedo seguir al tiempo todos esos razonamientos- dice-.

 

-¿Es que alguien te está diciendo además que tengas la misma capacidad que Zeus? Por ello puso nada menos que a cada uno un demon como protector personal y le encargó que lo cuidase y que fuese incansable e imposible de engañar. ¿A qué otro guardián mejor y más cuidadoso nos puso entregar a cada uno de nosotros?.

 

Así que cuando cerréis las puertas y hagáis la oscuridad dentro, acordáos de que no decir nunca que estáis solos, porque no lo estáis, sino que la divinidad está dentro y vuestro demon también.  Y ¿qué necesidad tienen ellos de luz para ver lo que hacéis? A esa divinidad convendría que tambien vosotros le persentarais juramento, como los soldados al César.

 

Y si aquéllos por cobrar una paga juran que honrarán por encima de todo la  seguirdad del César, vosotros, que habéis sido considerados dignos de tanto y tan preciosos dones, ¿no prestaréis el juramento, o, una vez prestado, no lo mantendréis?


¿Qué  qué vais a jurar?  Que nunca desobedeceréis, ni os quejaréis, ni reclamaréis por ninguna de las cosas que él os dio, y que no haréis o soportaréis de mala gana lo forzoso. ¿Es acaso este juramento semejante a aquél? Allí juran que no honraran a otro más que a él; aquí, que a nosotros mismos más que a todo.

 


BOOK I


That God supervises everyone


Someone asked Epictetus how a person could be convinced that everything he I was supervised by God. "Don't you believe," he answered, "that all things are unite as one?"

"I do", the other said.

Well, don't you think that there is interaction between things on earth and the things in heaven?

"Yes"


"How else, after all, could things take place with such regularity, as if God were issuing orders? When he tells plants to bloom, they bloom,, when he tells them to bear fruit, they bear fruit, when he tells them to ripen, they ripen. Similarly when he tells them to drop their fruit, shed their leaves, draw in and lie dormant for the winter, all that they do too. How else explain that the waxing and the waning of the moon and the coming and going of the sun, coincide with such obvious changes and fluctuations here on earth? well, if plants and our bodies are so intimately linked to the world and its rhythms, won't the same be true of our minds -only more so? And if our minds are so intimately connected with god as to be divine sparks of his being, is he not going to perceive their every movement, since the parts in motion participate in his nature?


Now you, for your part, are capable of reflection in detail on God and his government, while also tending to human affairs. You can process in your intellect and senses a wealth of thoughts and impressions simultaneously. There are impressions that you assent to, others that you reject; sometimes you suspend judgement altogether. Your mind can store so many of these impressions and from a wide range of sources too. Under their influence, the mind proceeds to form ideas that correspond with particular impressions. That's how we form memories, and how the many varieties of art and science are created. And now  God- are we going to deny him the ability to oversee everything that happens, even when we know that he is present everywhere and enjoys a kind of communion with the world?


The sun is capable of illuminating a large part of the universe, just leaving unlit the small shadow that the earth casts.Well, here is God, who creates the sun (which is minuscule in relation to the whole universe), and who still causes the sun to turn-  wouldn't you say he is in a good position to see everything that goes on?


"And yet, someone objects, "I cannot understand all these things at one and the same time."


"Is anyone saying that your capacities are the equal of God's? Nevertheless, he has provided each of us with an individual guardian deity, which stays by our side and is in charge of looking after us -a guardian who never sleeps and is impossible to distract. Is there any guardian to whose care he could have committed us that is better or more vigilant? Whenever you close your doors and turn out lights, remember, never say to yourself that you are alone; you're not. god is inside, and so is your private deity" and neither of them requires light to watch you by.


This is the deity who deserves your pledge of allegiance, as soldiers swear before Caesar. If they want to be paid, they must swear to put the emperor's safety first. You, however, who have been chosen to receive an abundance of blessings -and for free- why won't you swear a similar oath, and if your have done so already, why not reaffirm the commitment?


What is that oath? You swear that under no circumstances will you disobey, press charges, or find fault with God and his gifts. You won't shrink from life's essential tasks or trials. Can anyone seriously compare the soldier's oath with ours? They swear to honour no one more than Caesar, we swear to honour no one more than ourselves."