Keep death and exile before your eyes each day, along with everything that seems terrible - by doing so, you’ll never have a base thought nor will you have excessive desire.”
Epictetus, Enchiridion, 21
It’s pretty sobering to imagine oneself penniless, destitute, and rendered socially “insignificant”; a modern untouchable, if you will.
Taking the time to engage in premeditatio malorum (contemplating the possible ills and horrors of life), according to Epictetus, frees us from ego’s grasp, resulting in “never hav(ing) a base thought” or “excessive desire”. Hmmm… I’m pretty sure that doesn’t work for 100 percent of everyone, dear Epictetus. Addicts think of all kinds of shitty things crashing into their lives, breaking them apart piece by piece… and it FUELS our desire to fulfill those addictions. Once we can break away from those addictions, we can re-relationship ourselves with the benefits of sobering thought.
I get it, really. What I believe Epictetus is saying is that through remembering that we’re not nor ever have been any of the things that are beyond our control. By over or under-identifying with them, we potentially face egoic ruin…
… and yet, a more nuanced understanding is needed.
Perhaps discussions will arise around dinner tables tonight. Maybe people will grab their smartphones and look into these things. In any case, I’d love to hear what arises for you all.
Gods be good, I’ll be here to read them.
(See y’all tomorrow)