Some Stoic Guidelines (Based on Epictetus)
by Gordon L. Ziniewicz

1. The overall purpose or Summum Bonum or reason for living: Apatheia, serenity or mental tranquillity, peace of mind, one's own reason in accord with universal reason.

2. The universe is governed by intelligence, and everything happens as it should. Do not ask that the universe conform to your will; conform your will to the universe.

3. The universe as a whole is good. Every event has its place in the scheme of things. No event is good or bad. Events (like sickness, death, impoverishment) appear bad to persons who expect things to conform to their wishes and are disappointed. Be calm in the face of what has been destined (fated).

4. Do not be disturbed by anything that happens to you. External events are outside of your control.

5. Do not desire anything. Rid yourself of the "will to get."

6. Do not try to avoid the inevitable and the fated. Rid yourself of the "will to avoid" those things that are outside of your power.

7. "Will to avoid" only those things that are under your control. Only things under your control can be called good or evil. "Will to avoid" those thoughts, impulses, desires, and judgments which enslave you to external things or which are disturbing.

8. Be your own master. Depend on nothing outside of yourself. Nature gives and nature takes away. External goods do not last. Depend only on your reason, which is a spark of divine reason.

9. Do not depend upon other people. Do not become so attached to other people that you cannot be happy without them. Know that even your spouse and children are human beings, are mortal.

10. Help others in need. Treat all persons equally. Give them food and shelter if they need it. Stay with them when they are grieving; grieve outwardly with them, if need be. But do not grieve on the inside. Do not let their disturbance make you disturbed. Do not feel their feelings.

11. In all your affairs, remain outwardly involved and inwardly detached and serene. Do not let anything "get to you." Remain calm. We cannot calm the storm of external events. We can calm our own minds. Objective knowledge of what we can and cannot control leads to peace of mind.

12. Let nothing disturb you. Expect nothing. Want nothing. Do not blame the gods or other people for your unhappiness. Only you can make yourself happy (serene) or unhappy (disturbed).

13. To blame others for one's own misfortunes shows a lack training; to blame oneself shows that one's training has begun; to blame neither oneself nor others shows that one's training has been completed (after Epictetus). When you are disturbed, you have only yourself to blame. When you are undisturbed, you have no one to blame.


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© Copyright 1995 - 2013 Gordon L. Ziniewicz

Please note: These philosophical commentaries, though still in process, are the intellectual property of Gordon L. Ziniewicz. They may be downloaded and freely distributed in electronic form only, provided no alterations are made to the original text. One print copy may be made for personal use, but further reproduction and distribution of printed copies are prohibited without the permission of the author.