A Way of Life

Many years ago I received a beautiful book from a friend. It is a manual of Epictetus with Calligraphy by Claude Mediavilla. I have always had an affinity to the stoics, especially Epictetus, so of course I have enjoyed perusing this small book.

One of the passages keeps leaping out at me, each time I pick-up the book.

Determine for yourself as of now
a way of life
a plan of conduct
that you will follow,
both when you are alone
and when you find yourself
with others.

Self-reflection is important all the time, but especially so when we are reminded that the length of our days don’t come with a guarantee. I think about this “way of life”, and variations on the theme and what it means to me. Some things are obvious and some are not. No matter our circumstances, conflicting purposes arise. Saying yes to this, means no to that. But one thing I know for sure is that heart, kindness, laughter, generosity and mending my fences, figure prominently in the plan. May I/we all choose wisely, and when we don’t, make amends and generously choose again.

Naikan is an exceptional practice for discerning and cultivating a “way of life,” that is meaningful to each of us, in our own ways.