Monday, 17 July 2017

Epictetus - 28

From: The Golden Sayings of Epictetus (translated by Hastings Crossley) - from Project Gutenberg.

What wouldst thou be found doing when overtaken by Death? If I might choose, I would be found doing some deed of true humanity, of wide import, beneficent and noble. But if I may not be found engaged in aught so lofty, let me hope at least for this—what none may hinder, what is surely in my power—that I may be found raising up in myself that which had fallen; learning to deal more wisely with the things of sense; working out my own tranquillity, and thus rendering that which is its due to every relation of life. . . .
If death surprise me thus employed, it is enough if I can stretch forth my hands to God and say, "The faculties which I received at Thy hands for apprehending this thine Administration, I have not neglected. As far as in me lay, I have done Thee no dishonour. Behold how I have used the senses, the primary conceptions which Thous gavest me. Have I ever laid anything to Thy charge? Have I ever murmured at aught that came to pass, or wished it otherwise? Have I in anything transgressed the relations of life? For that Thou didst beget me, I thank Thee for that Thou hast given: for the time during which I have used the things that were Thine, it suffices me. Take them back and place them wherever Thou wilt! They were all Thine, and Thou gavest them me."—If a man depart thus minded, is it not enough? What life is fairer and more noble, what end happier than his?

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

More Sky Lines

Standing at the bus stop, I often look up to see the trails of aeroplanes. (As I have previously mentioned.) These not unattractive features are, unfortunately trails of polution. From below, they look clean; white and bright wisps like any other cloud. What is noticable when travelling in an aeroplane is how dark they appear from above.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Just try...

Although it is not wise to be too harsty, it is also not wise to delay. Consider these sayings...

"Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step."

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)

"If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads"
Anatole France (1844-1924)
To the latter I would add '...but let us not tarry lest the path ahead lead to more spectacular views.'

"The men who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try to do nothing and succeed."
Possibly Martyn Lloyd Jones (1899-1981)

Thursday, 29 June 2017

What is...?

It is worth stopping and asking how one might define certain things should one be required to do so. It helps clarify one's understanding of the world. This is particularly worthwhile when it comes to familiar things - objects as well as concepts. There are many things with which we are so familiar that trying to give a clear and succinct definition or description can prove very difficult. Some things may even prove impossible to define satisfactorily. Dictionaries may give an idea of how words are used but what about the real essence of a thing?

Here are two definions that won't be found in any dictionary:

What is a philosopher?

"Everything is perceptually modified by proximity and perspective and philosophy is the capacity to pan in and out at will - and a philosopher is someone who can do this."
Christopher J. Ross - Tunnel Visions: Journeys of an Underground Philosopher (6) p12. 
Similarly, What is a gentleman?

"A gentleman is a man who can describe a woman without using his hands."
Unattributed (and perhaps rightly so)

Friday, 23 June 2017

On Travelling to Work - 2

Driving to work takes effort: concentration on the road and arriving safely. When one arrives at work this level of effort and concentration continues into the work of the day. At the end of the day, that effort and concentration continues as one drives home again. From leaving home to returning home again, one is expending effort and concentrating. The working day is extended as a result by the work that it takes to get to and from work.

Going to work by train or bus, if undertaken in the right frame of mind (and in the right circumstances: on trains and buses that are not overcrowded or uncomfortable) can (or perhaps should) be an extension of the leisure time one has at home.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Epictetus - 27

From: The Golden Sayings of Epictetus (translated by Hastings Crossley) - from Project Gutenberg.

Asked, Who is the rich man? Epictetus replied, "He who is content."

It is hard to combine and unite these two qualities, the carefulness of one who is affected by circumstances, and the intrepidity of one who heeds them not. But it is not impossible: else were happiness also impossible. We should act as we do in seafaring.
"What can I do?"—Choose the master, the crew, the day, the opportunity. Then comes a sudden storm. What matters it to me? my part has been fully done. The matter is in the hands of another—the Master of the ship. The ship is foundering. What then have I to do? I do the only thing that remains to me—to be drowned without fear, without a cry, without upbraiding God, but knowing that what has been born must likewise perish. For I am not Eternity, but a human being—a part of the whole, as an hour is part of the day. I must come like the hour, and like the hour must pass!