THE MANUAL, or THE ENCHIRIDION
(translated by P. E. Matheson)
(c. 50 A.D. - 125 A.D.)
1. Of all existing things some are in our power, and others are not in our power. In our power are thought, impulse,
will to get and will to avoid, and, in a word, everything which is our own doing. Things not in our power include
the body, property, reputation, office, and, in a word, everything which is not our own doing. Things in our power
are by nature free, unhindered, untrammelled; things not in our power are weak, servile, subject to hindrance,
dependent on others. Remember then that if you imagine that what is naturally slavish is free, and what is naturally
another's is your own, you will be hampered, you will mourn, you will be put to confusion, you will blame gods and
men; but if you think that only your own belongs to you, and that what is another's is indeed another's, no one will
ever put compulsion or hindrance on you, you will blame none, you will accuse none, you will do nothing against
your will, no one will harm you, you will have no enemy, for no harm can touch you.
Aiming then at these high matters, you must remember that to attain them requires more than ordinary effort; you
will have to give up some things entirely, and put off others for the moment. And if you would have these also -
office and wealth - it may be that you will fail to get them, just because your desire is set on the former, and you will
certainly fail to attain those things which alone bring freedom and happiness.
Make it your study then to confront every harsh impression with the words, 'You are but an impression, and not at
all what you seem to be.' Then test it by those rules that you possess; and first by this - the chief test of all - 'Is it
concerned with what is in our power or with what is not in our power?' And if it is concerned with what is not in our
power, be ready with the answer that it is nothing to you.
2. Remember that the will to get promises attainment of what you will, and the will to avoid promises escape from
what you avoid; and he who fails to get what he wills is unfortunate, and he who does not escape what he wills to
avoid is miserable. If then you try to avoid only what is unnatural in the region within your control, you will escape
from all that you avoid; but if you try to avoid disease or death or poverty you will be miserable.
Therefore let your will to avoid have no concern with what is not in man's power; direct it only to things in man's
power that are contrary to nature. But for the moment you must utterly remove the will to get; for if you will to get
something not in man's power you are bound to be unfortunate; while none of the things in man's power that you
could honorably will to get is yet within your reach. Impulse to act and not to act, these are your concern; yet
exercise them gently and without strain, and provisionally.
3. When anything, from the meanest thing upwards, is attractive or serviceable or an object of affection, remember