January 12, 2017 – The Path to Serenity


“Keep this thought at the ready at daybreak, and through the day and night – there is only one path to happiness, and that is in giving up all outside of your sphere of choice, regarding nothing else as your possession, surrendering all else to God and Fortune.” – Epictetus, Discourses, 4.4.39

Before getting directly into the meditation some clarity is problem warranted. It is of interest that Epictetus uses “God” in his quote. Our Western traditions might immediately nudge our focus to the Christian concept of God. This would be a false reading. For Epictetus, and the Stoics in general, God might be better understood as nature. As Joseph Waligore writes in his blog:

The Stoics thought that God was not a separate being who created the world, but was nature.  They also believed God or nature was a living organism.  Humans were cells in this larger organism, and our purpose was to do our appropriate part in the larger whole.

Understanding the Stoic view on God we can benter understand what the path to serenity might look like. If we are all cells in a greater organism then we serve a purpose within the whole. Being that the organism is made of many cells it is understood those cells are also performing their own tasks.

Our everyday actions have an impact on those around us, as the actions of others have on us. Today’s meditation reminds us that those external forces are beyond our control. Some meet our approval, and in doing so pass by without remark. Others are in conflict with efforts, and in doing so have the potential of garnishing a more stressful degree of attention. Today’s meditation uses sleep as an example of surrender, and how we welcome it without consideration. Surrendering to that which we cannot control is just as peaceful as sleep.

Our lives are full of moving parts.

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