Tuesday, November 10, 2009


The Epicurean life is a life of patience, practice, and peace. All who follow this path are encouraged to seek out wisdom in every event they experience, extract that wisdom, and put it to use in their futures in the best way possible. No one is disregarded as incapable of philosophy; “…to say that the season for studying philosophy has not yet come, or that it is past and gone, is like saying that the season for happiness is not yet or that it is now no more…we must exercise ourselves in the things which bring happiness, since, if that be present, we have everything, and, if that be absent, all our actions are directed toward attaining it.”
Epicurus implored those who followed his teachings to live a simpler, more controlled lifestyle. Though his presentation of the good life has an Aristotelian perspective on the way in which one develops himself, his views on the gods and the spiritual nature of much of his commentary seem strangely eastern. He had no doubts that the gods exist, but almost seemed ashamed of the way that most humans viewed them, condemning that “he who affirms of the gods what the multitude believes about them is truly impious.” Only by showing respect, through a steadfast adherence to a life aimed at philosophy, can one come to have correct knowledge about the gods. This is also the way that one is able to come to wisdom and particularly some degree of equilibrium.
None of these qualities can be learned overnight; just as one must practice a violin, disc throwing, and mathematics in order to become skilled at each, one must also practice philosophy in order to become wise and truly happy. Once a person makes it to this stage, they will not worry for things they cannot control, especially death. “Whatever causes no annoyance when it is present, causes only a groundless pain in the expectation. Death, therefore, the most awful of evils, is nothing to us, seeing that, when we are, death is not come, and when death is come, we are not.” Though he speaks clearly of death, this is a principle that can be applied to many other aspects of daily life.
Most of these are lessons by which I would try to live my life. Though I am very cautious about anyone who claims knowledge of gods, even the most intelligent and wise of people, the far reaching benefits of the rest of his beliefs are tremendous. To live a more simple, controlled lifestyle would benefit not only myself, but those whom I may influence in the future. It is natural to want to be in total self control, but many people do not always understand what that entails. This state of being means relinquishing many of ones personal desires. This isn’t to say that pleasure is lost, but it is much easier to be in control if you can be in command of the desires themselves.

No comments: