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Promoting the Study of the Philosophy of Epicurus

Against The Men Of The Crowd RECTANGLE

I Choose Epicurus

I choose to live my life in gratitude to the Nature that produced and sustains me.  I therefore gladly choose Epicurus as my guide, and I choose to remind myself why I live and do all things as if Epicurus were beside me:

*  I remind myself that many are the illusions that men would have me believe, but I see that truth can never come from reasoning based on false evidence, and thus I choose to follow the evidence that Nature herself provides to me, and I resolve never to allow the supposed logic or revelation of other men to sway me from Nature’s own path.

*  I remind myself that never have I seen any evidence that the laws of Nature have ever been or can ever be contradicted, either by gods or by speculation of men.  I remind myself that nothing is ever seen to be created from nothing, and so I look for the meaning of things in that which exists, and in those elements of things which Nature shows me have always existed, and always will exist.

*  I remind myself that knowledge is possible to me, provided I have the courage to trust the faculties that Nature has provided — the Five Senses, the Sense of Pain and Pleasure, and the Sense of Anticipations.  I remind myself that with these as my reliable tools I must seek out a knowledge of the Nature of things if I am to live happily.  I remind myself that unless I hold fast to these faculties as the ultimate test of all truth that is relevant to me, I will surely lose not only my reason but also my life.   I accept that even though I use these faculties to my utmost there are limits and bounds to the knowledge I can obtain, but I refuse to allow those limits to cause me to rebel against Nature, or those boundaries to harden my heart simply because there are answers which are withheld from me.

*  I remind myself that I must always keep separate in my mind those things which I know to be true from those things which I see to be uncertain, for unless I grasp firmly that which I see to be true I have no standard by which to judge that which is false.

*  I remind myself that it is this foundation, to which Epicurus has guided me, on which I conclude that there is no reality or power higher than Nature herself, nor any goal for my life other than that which Nature has set, which is that I live happily.

*  I remind myself how thankful I am to Epicurus, the master-builder of human happiness, who devoted his life to seeking after truth, and who has shown to me the way to determine what to choose, and what to avoid, and thereby how I may avoid the pitfalls of error into which I would surely fall without this guidance.

*  I thank Epicurus for showing me the evidence by which I grasp that the universe is full of other worlds and other races of men, and by which I grasp the true perfection of any gods which exist as part of Nature and by Nature’s laws.  I now see that such gods have no part of anger or gratitude, and that I need not fear the gods or look to them for reward, but merely reverence their happy state within the Natural universe.  I thank Epicurus for showing me that it is not I who am impious, but those who impute weakness or imperfection to the gods, and who hold that the gods cause all things, including evil and suffering, to torment this world.  I thank Epicurus for showing me that I too may aspire to a happiness worthy of the gods within the limits of my own Nature, that Nature has granted me the free will to choose this course, and that therefore it is I — and not the gods — who am responsible for my own actions.

*  I thank Epicurus for showing me the evidence by which I grasp that all that has ever or will ever happen to me will happen within this life, that the time which passes after my death is of no greater significance to me than the time which passed before my birth, and that death is indeed nothing to me other than a reminder of the urgency that I live my life happily now.

*  I thank Epicurus for showing me the evidence by which I grasp that to be alive is to possess the means of happiness, and that all I need to experience the greatest happiness which Nature allows is that I free myself from pain.

*  I thank Epicurus for allowing me to see that I have no need of immortality, of riches, or of power, and that my goal of a simple and self-reliant life according to Nature will allow me to achieve the highest happiness for which any man can hope.

*  I thank Epicurus for showing me the evidence by which I grasp that I need fear neither pain nor anything else in life, for now I see that intense pain is brief, chronic pain is manageable, and so long as I am alive the joy of living will outweigh any pain I experience.  I thank Epicurus for showing me that should I ever determine that my circumstances make life unbearable, the way of escape is always open to me, and that I can meet no inescapable fear in life so long as I remember that I have no fear of death.

*  I thank Epicurus for showing me the evidence by which I grasp that it is not possible for me to live happily unless I live wisely, honorably, and justly, nor is it possible that I live wisely, honorably, and justly without success in living happily.

*  I thank Epicurus for showing me the evidence by which I grasp that any means by which I may protect myself from other men is approved by Nature, but that neither power over other men nor luxury nor riches are sufficient to secure my safety and happiness — these can only be secured through study of and obedience to Nature.

*  I thank Epicurus for showing me the evidence by which I grasp that Nature has provided that no pleasure is inherently bad for me, but that I must forgo certain pleasures in order to achieve greater pleasures, and that I must endure certain pains in order that I avoid worse pains or achieve greater pleasures.  I thank Epicurus for showing me that it is never too soon, nor ever to late, to study Nature’s laws so that I may calculate these things correctly.

*  I thank Epicurus for showing me the evidence by which I grasp that Nature has provided that all pleasures must come to an end, for if any pleasure did not end, there would be no room for new pleasures, or for new experiences of happiness.

*  I thank Epicurus for showing me the evidence by which I grasp that there is no higher path for me to pursue than that to which Nature herself calls me through divine pleasure, the guide of life.  I thank Epicurus for showing me the evidence by which I grasp that there is no means for determining whether a path is blessed or debauched other than whether it in fact leads to a life of happiness.

For these and many other things I thank Epicurus, for now I see the life to which Nature calls me.   As did Epicurus before me, I will seek to live in the continuous enjoyment of happiness of both body and of mind, undisturbed either by the presence or by the prospect of pain.  I will study Nature so as to possess a strength of mind that is impregnable against all fear of death or of pain.  I will prize the joy which life brings, and I will never lightly give up my life, but neither will I have any fear of death, because I know that death only means complete unconsciousness, and I seek to live not the life that is the longest, but the happiest.  Likewise I will have no fear of pain, because I will know that while I am alive, pain that is long is generally light, pain that is strong is generally short, and pain that I find unbearable has a ready remedy.  I will laugh at the false notions of Fate, Fortune, and Necessity; I will have no fear of any supernatural power, and I will know that my mind is free and that I am responsible for my actions.  I will never allow the pleasures of the past to fade away, and I will constantly renew their enjoyment in my recollection.

Each step I will take as if Epicurus were watching, and in all that I encounter I will be grateful to Nature for her blessings and to Epicurus for his guidance in finding them.