One might equate gain to desire and avoid to fear in this quote from Epictetus. The very fact that you desire something whether it be a position, money, or some material thing indicates something or someone else is now in control. I liken this to Buddhist teachings about cravings. Something outside of ourselves becomes our master, and suffering ensues.
Of course our master may not be revealed by craving alone. Fear can as easily result in a loss of control. What we seek to avoid may not even come to pass, but this makes it no less real in our minds.
I don’t like to dwell upon current events too much as they are often portrayed as negative, and I just don’t want to invest my limited energy in them. Put another way I don’t watch the fucking news!
With that said, please don’t let this pandemic make you so fearful that you allow it to be your master. If you seek to gain anything from this moment have it be knowledge; this will allow you to remain the master of your domain.
Stay calm, stay safe, and be nice to everyone. You may be wise and strong, but there are many others who are not, and they need reassurance that all will be well.
I really enjoyed this stoic quote by Epicurus as it covers three important areas including gratitude, fear, and not being present. Epicurus defines the fool as someone who is not grateful for what they have, is consumed by fears, and thinks only about the future. Talk about a path to misery. Do you know people like this? These people do not appreciate what they have, fear just about everything that is out of their control, and instead of living in the present they are focused on the future. You often here them say someday when I get that new job, buy that expensive house, have some free time I will be happy. Always looking towards the future for contentment and missing out on what is happening today.
Then there is this lack of gratitude expressed by so many people. They will say my job sucks, the people I work with are morons, the government is inept, and on and on; clearly never seeing all the wonderful things going on in their life. A fool wastes their life by not being present, not appreciating what they already have, and seeking something better that may or may not happen. We are all guilty of this from time to time, but we don’t turn it into a life philosophy. The fool just doesn’t know any better, they stay stuck in this mindset, and because they are a fool they don’t even know it.
You my friend are not a fool!