There are things that are within our power, and things that fall outside our power. – Epictetus
The first paragraph of the “Manual” or called the “Handbook” written by Epictetus describes that there is a power that is within us. This power is not on the mere surface of brute physical strength as some may think about. Its not the power to outplay another in a game of wits in some sports match. No more it is the power to climb over some financial struggle. Perhaps a power to defeat evil in terms of good sounds seems abit fanatical, a bit over the top.
The life of Epictetus was in the times of Ancient Greece. It was in the period between AD 55 and AD 135. A picture describes him with a crutch, because his leg was disabled. Stories proclaim that it was probably due to a master when he was in slavery. He doesn’t seem as the person who would have power if scrutinizing the image of him found in his picture or that he was a slave in the early parts of his life. In Hierapolis, Phrygia and living in Rome until banished, he went to Nicopolis in northwestern Greece. He did become a teacher and wrote to pupils of the Discourses and the Enchiridion. He is not famous for his picture what most people see, though really it is his stoic relationship, studies, and self discipline. He had rigorous self discipline. One of the main philosophical understandings was about power and control.
As Epictetus studied his life on what is power and control that one has, he was referring to our inner power, while our outer power is illusive.
I’m sure that a philosopher in all times can have a deep contemplation of life and the nature of existence about the concepts of power and control.
While Epictetus probably had experienced much, he had to get to the understanding of the development of power and control, because it was much bigger than his own.
While exploring the efforts of Epictetus, what power or control do we have in our lives? While there can be a big deterrence of a world issue, we can be moved immediately from our work. These days, the COVID 19 virus made such an impact in many of us if not all and displayed Epictetus’s understandings of power and control. While the world moves at large, our subjectivity is affected by it in some way. It may be obvious since it is a world issue and most of us resides in as parts of it. We have to follow this as it is a bigger picture involvement. The structure of our lives moves within the bigger picture, not by the smaller ones. So whatever attachments that we may have with our job, school, or recreation is only a slice of the big apple.
By looking at this in the grand scale, how can we go about in our lives within what power and control we have? Somebody could be scurrying about in there lives with their business, however just as the earth moves, we move. There are things that are much bigger than the epidemic, however what is important is that we can focus on the matter at hand. In the current times, the matter at hand is the epidemic. At least there is some perspective of understanding power and control. As a whole, we are moving so that we can support humanity from the epidemic that seems difficult to control. We are moving in a group as a city to state to country and even worldwide. This is a great effort from all the small communities reaching to the current world cooperation. However, this is only a perspective in the grand scale (or at least my own way of interpreting it).
In the grand scale, being openminded helps see our subjective world moving as one in the objective world. This is very important so that we are not left in the grey with misunderstandings. There are many things going on all around the world. While news media, public support, and various agencies fill us up so that we can stay on top of things so for being ready for anything. It is like the ocean moving with all its currents underneath going about, however your boat at the top only sees the mild swellings, but move along anyhow. It is a good idea to know what is ahead so that you can find your way. On a boat, we have various methods to guide us to where we should go. Among could be the wind, ocean currents, stars, or techs like GPS navigations. There is a big trust in this matter, but understanding it is very important. Just going wherever the wind blows doesn’t seem to fly navigating the open seas. You can seriously lose in no time if battling without measures of intelligence.
Jumping a bit around the COVID 19 virus looking deeply in the greater perspective, the power and control in a bigger medium moves all those below. While the COVID 19 is going about, we have to move along the greater current. As the moon shifts, the shores tides shifts. However looking outside, you can probably see the craziness that may be going on. Once the news struck about the COVID 19, massive amounts of people set to arms to stock up on food, supplies, medicines, and preventative measures to shift gears as a response to ready themselves for anything. It seemed a bit frantic, probably because most people in the world are not prepared for it. It could be a bit of automatism, however the shift was from living day by day to turning the survival instincts to protect ourselves and families from danger.
Though Epictetus looked deeply and found that power and control falls outside of one’s means. Yet it is within our lives that power and control begins and could be maneuvered in a manageable scale.
Epictetus practice the art of stoicism. Stoicism is a philosophy to lives the wisdom. While there is a lot of knowledge around the world, wisdom is putting knowledge in practice. It is the transformation of putting the philosophy in action. Practicing the philosophy will then become you. We cannot rely on external events, however we can observe upon our lives of the responses of ourselves. Observing ourselves, we can look at the checks and balances that mediate our lives. Much of life moves in automatism, spontaneity, or randomness if wrapped up on the world at large. These can be challenges that a person can face, however within us we can hone our ability to live in virtue. This help us to fulfill our lives and live in a path of happiness.
Therefore in the subject of power and control, we need to look in the dynamics of our internal and external lives. The path you seek is the path you follow. This statement is very obvious, however it helps to remind ourselves what is obvious if living in the mundane world, closed off from the inspection of ourselves, or distracted with some greater gain. If you move with the external life, there is a tendency to create a gap from yourself to whatever you may be going after. Within your internal life, you can take steps to create a better world for you without being taken or pulled by various circumstances. You can observe yourself the interaction of you, life, and the world. You can become steadfast, honing your ability of virtue, and becoming stronger just so that outside circumstances does not put you into disarray. When your internal self is strong, it can become responsible. Then, your integrity is not overtaken by what is on the outside.
There are worldwide issues going on in the world today. While this is all occurring, what can we do? We need to look within our lives and make sure not to lie down in the face of difficulties. We have means to make our lives better. Observing the internal and external affairs is a good start. However, there is much going on these days. We have the opportunity to hone our ability to become better in ourselves. Each step can be in direction of happiness if you prefer. For sure, you can keep intact when faced with the greater movements of our world.
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