The Proper Use Of Impressions: Desire Vs. Aversion

In this dialogue, Epictetus is talking to me about the need to work on the proper use of impressions. He is elaborating on Virtue as good and the practice we call a good life.

Epictetus: I wish you would stop reading and writing about philosophy and just live it.

Me: I am doing it. But I am a little sketchy on a few points.

E: It is easier to act on aversion and more complex to act on desire. You can see the problem more clearly when you act on aversion. You already have some habits that will help you change.

M: Common sense, the same kind of sense that makes it a practice to live the ‘good life’. It is better to do this than to write or talk or read about it. But I am not sure if I understand when to start acting on desire as a good habit.

E: That is difficult until you become proficient at living rather than study. As we build stronger and better habits, we learn what we need to do or be. We need to work on desire once we do enough to think more deeply about our life and therefore build more complex habits.

M: So, when I stopped on aversions to me like eating junk food, sugar, alcohol, meat: these bad habits taught me about aversion. But when I took supplements, the desire taught me when they became adverse and I stopped doing it.

E: I guess you are right. But the habits get harder the worse the habit. Sometimes the habits is designed around thought loops that obscure your awareness and will make action improper or confusing at best.

But as we get more grey with our thinking we can illuminate or become more aware of our reality and learn to help ourselves, family and friends. But it is too difficult to help much more than this in one life.

M: I am looking at what I want out of life. The consequences are of the utmost importance to me. I am deciding what is best. How to be or do the best I can.

E: Yes, and that is all any of us can do. Try to do it as much as you can. It is a good life, legacy, it is virtue.

M: You make a good teacher. I am grateful for your help in clearing up these questions of mine.

E: Do me a favor and get on with it as much as you dare. You can help me a lot more than you know. Be a good person, relative or friend.

Solo, Self-control

To start, one must recognize the lack of self-control…

Unable to use the senses, body and mind,

As a result, some degree of craving will need to be endured, unbearable aches of desire…

Learn to stop harming anyone.

It is in every religion, philosophy and idea: the purpose of life is to gain self-control.

Stop talking, reading, writing, promising to do it.  Just do it…

Identify it as a virtue and practice it in your life.

It may be the most important practice in your life.