September 21

"FOR what purpose have I received these things?" — To use them. "How long?" — As long as he who lent them pleases. If, then, they are not necessary, do not attach yourself to them, and they will not be so; do not tell yourself that they are necessary, and they are not.

This should be our study from morning till night, beginning from the least and frailest things, from an earthen vessel, from a glass. Afterwards, proceed to a suit of clothes, a dog, a horse, an estate; from thence to yourself, body, parts of the body, children, wife, brothers. Look everywhere around you, and throw them from yourself. Correct your principles. See that nothing cleave to you which is not your own; nothing grow to you that may give you pain when it is torn away. And say, when you are daily exercising yourself as you do here, not that you act the philosopher (admit this to be an insolent title), but that you are asserting your freedom. For this is true freedom. This is the freedom that Diogenes gained from Antisthenes, and declared it was impossible that he should ever after be a slave to anyone.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iv. §1. ¶13.

1 comment:

  1. When we attach ourselves to a desire, possession, or even a person, we give up part of our freedom. For a lifetime of companionship the cost of the loss of freedom is worth it but for the ownership of possessions the cost is not. We should also understand that our friends and lovers are only lent to us for a time and try not to control or hold them too tightly. The only things that are truly in our control are our choices. When we choose to hold our loved ones, possessions, etc. with an open hand we gain our freedom to make choices without being a slave to anyone.