Thought for the Day

Sunday 16 January

Remember that you ought to behave in life as you would at a banquet. As something is being passed around, it comes to you. When it comes to you, stretch out your hand gently, take a portion of it politely, but pass it on. Or, it has not come to you yet. Do not project your desire to meet it. So act always in life.

— Epictetus

Eknath Easwaran's Commentary

This is the nature of desire: it jumps out from the present to the future. When you have a very pleasant event planned, the desire has jumped out already to meet it. Even though this particular event will take place on Saturday, and today is Monday, half of you is already living in Saturday.

And next Monday morning, you will be at your desk, remembering the great day you had Saturday.

Epictetus says, don’t ever let your desire jump out to the future, and don’t let your mind wander to the past, because you will never be present in the here and now.

If, for example, you are going to the theater to see Anthony and Cleopatra, it is only when you get into the theater that you let your attention dwell on it completely. Until then, you don’t think about it. And when you are watching the play, you are there completely, with no wisp of consciousness wandering to what your boss said to you yesterday about the project that is late, and no wandering to what you would like for breakfast tomorrow. You are there completely, sailing down the Nile with Cleopatra.

The Thought for the Day is today's entry from Eknath Easwaran's Words to Live By.