I have been listening to lectures about and reading the words of ancient philosopher Epictetus, who was born in AD 50 in what is now modern day Turkey. I feel strongly for his idea that we can control only what we actually control and not what we cannot control. I can argue that it is questionable whether we can actually control our will, since we have been and continue to be influenced by the world and bombarded with external propaganda, but for argument’s sake and as far as we have anything called choice and are conscious of our power of choice, I believe that it may be possible to control our choice and will—only that which is inside of us.
I agree that technically we cannot control that which is outside of us.
Epictetus suggests for us to constantly examine and question whether what is happening is in our power to control or not. If it is not in our power to control, then we should answer, “It is nothing to me”—not by saying it with bitterness, spite, ugliness, or even emotion, but simply as reality.
I must simply accept that it has nothing to do with me and that which is inside of me, which is under my internal control. What is outside functions for its own purpose that does not necessarily coincide with my purpose. This is a fact.
I am, however, a stupid human being, so the problem is that I sometimes desire to control that which is outside of me, especially that which does have a relevant connection to me and that I can actually, at least possibly, affect or use to my disposition. I think this is realistic and acceptable because I am using my will to influence the outside external world as a manifestation of my will.
Perhaps the most important objective outcome of accepting Epictetus’ idea that you have control only of what is internal to you is that you can invest more time and energy for what is in your control. Hypothetically, you have less tension in your life because you do not stress over that which is nothing to you. You have more time and opportunity for authentic amor, for you are understanding what is ultimately important to you and not what the world tells you should be important to you.
This is not selfish. You do not separate yourself totally from the world because that is impossible. It means you make judgments, difficult judgments about what the world means to you in relation to who you truly are, who you decide you are both inside and outside of yourself, that you manifest through your actions. You are the minion of no one or nothing.
If internal epiphany is actually most important and real, then that means if you search for and interrogate yourself, you will most likely know what you know and action accordingly based on your legitimate internal desires and goals, which are truly a reflection of who you are.
As stated earlier, you cannot help but simultaneously live in both the internal and external worlds, but you can function so that the foundation of who you are is the driving force of your manifestation in the world.
Therefore, the central question is, what choices do you want to spend your finite time choosing?
You can do anything you want.
Ask yourself who you are and who you want to be, and then do what you got to do. If you truly want to know yourself, you must be at peace being thought of as an idiot. You cannot control how others view you. They are inside their own minds.
Any idea of justice, law, or truth is only what is actually inside your daily mind: it is the only true law, your law.
What good do any other spider symbols matter if you have lost, or not even tried to search for, your own only soul?