In this dialogue, Epictetus is talking to his shadow about life when he realizes it does not matter if he is free from chains that have rusted through or lives in another reality where he is afraid. His job is to live the good life, whether or not he perceives the fear, his own reaction or response or any other behaviour that keeps him from living his own truth.
Epictetus: hear me friends, these rusty old shackles won’t hold you here against your will.
Shadow: You can’t see the truth in this dark cave, the dust on your chain is from being unclean. Why do you deserve freedom?
E: I never lived my truth by telling others how or why they need to do the same. For all I know, we are all supermen and can pull apart these chains as easy as pulling out some tall grass.
S: Ah, you believe in yourself, you believe in being proper and doing the right thing.
E: my truth, may not be ‘the proper use of impressions ‘, like many in the dark cave, I have had no light to distinguish between dust and rust.
S: But you claim to know yourself and stumbled upon the truth of this dark cave. You know what is perceived in the dark and claim anyone can find the way out into the real world and be free. But there are no real truths, they are simple perception based on aspects of reality.
E: The proper use of impressions gives us a practice to live the good life and progress from a seedling to a strong tree, if the health of the seedling does not fail through malnutrition or some other accident of nature, he will grow. I have grown and now walk away from this rusted chain as can all of you. It will be my lot to discover my next rusted chain in my sunlight outside this cave.
S: You are sick Epictetus. There will always be a chain on your mind.
E: Yes shadow, it is true, I am talking to myself in this dialogue about my many fears. Don’t act on desire, start with aversion and do no harm. This is my only advice to myself. And I give it freely and only hope you will accept and use it freely. Be my friend, because outside you will still be with me in whatever shape my mind perceives you. I must live the good life to progress with such grave doubt at the seat of my consciousness. Come with me.
As Epictetus walks away thinking about his many fears and poor actions, he begins a new relationship with himself or that part he calls his shadow. Yes, it is true we all see our shadow in the sunlight. Some see the shadow in our psyche and some let the good grow by learning from their mistakes and using their own truth, the truth to guide them to better ways through working the principles of the proper use of impressions.