Garden of Epikouros
© 2012 Hermead of Surazeus
Epikouros lounges under pear tree
near sparkling stream that flows over white stones,
and watches sunlight dance on waves of time
that surge pulsing through his old aching heart
and smooth sorrow of memories to soothe
bitter loss and anger to fond nostalgia.
"My aching sorrows, once jagged and sharp,
now shine smooth as clean water-polished stones.
My cosmic knowledge, once supple and small,
now grows thick and gnarled as tall olive tree.
My moral wisdom, once tangled and thin,
now winds strong and heavy with sun-ripe grapes.
Before I die, and my body dissolves
releasing my soul to blow with blind wind,
I should compose document that presents
principle doctrines of wisdom I gleaned
from hunting for truth in meadows of hope."
Calling for small desk, scrolls, quills, and black ink,
Epikouros gazes at Gardeners
performing appointed tasks in Kepidion,
who savor and share pleasure of their Garden,
then composes treatise to capture thoughts
and principles of life that summarize
wisdom he learned on quest for basic truth.
"That person blessed with bliss of happiness
who attains eternal calm about life
receives no trouble and causes no trouble
for other people, so he never feels
surging waves of anger and gratitude
erupting from his heart, for he contains
emotions with gentle hands, like strong man
holds reins tight to control galloping horse,
for allowing anger or joy to swell
uncontrolled reveals lack of discipline.
Death is nothing to us, for this flesh shell,
animated alive by spark of senses,
when dissolved to elements of its flesh
feels nothing, for it has no eyes to see,
no stomach to hunger, no ears to hear,
no fingers to grasp fruit or caress skin,
no organs to reproduce incarnations,
so disintegrated body of flesh
ceases to be aware of anything,
therefore what lacks feeling or awareness
means nothing to us, not sorrow or joy.
Term of magnitude for pleasure we feel
is limited when sharp pain is removed.
Wherever pleasure endures without end,
bodies feel no pain and minds no distress.
Endless pain does not long inflict our flesh,
and extreme sharp pain ceases before long,
so pain that exceeds pleasure of our bodies
fades and dissolves with advance of new days,
while diseases that wrack our frail flesh shells
over long periods permit tastes of pleasure.
We cannot maintain life of pleasure long
without living wisdom, justice, and health,
nor can we live wisdom, justice, and health
without maintaining life of simple pleasure,
so whenever wisdom, justice, or health
is lost or missing from actions performed,
no man can live in simple pleasant joy.
Kings who lead well and protect other men
receive support of courage from those men,
natural good that grows strong from mutual need.
Some men pursue admiration and fame,
believing this secures them from attacks
of all other men who compete for power,
and if their love is genuine they will gain
natural good, but if they are vulnerable,
failing to attain strength through honest work,
they may lose everything they thought was won.
No true pleasure is evil in itself,
but methods that produce pleasure may charge
disturbing annoyance many times greater
than pleasures provided, outweighed by pain.
If all pleasures we savor were condensed
flushing flesh full at flash of ecstasy
to permeate with ripe organic delight
principal parts of complete human nature,
our mind would sense no rousing difference
between pleasures sparked by various causes.
If objects that produce pleasant delights
freed decadent minds from fears about death
and pain, shocked by terrifying thunder storms,
and taught them to know limits of desire,
we should not censure blossoming of wisdom,
since their souls would overflow with sweet joys
exempting their minds from evil of pain.
If suspicious minds were never alarmed
by thunder storms, falling stars, blasting winds,
or torrents of rain, terrified by pain
of violent death, and never comprehended
limits of pains and desires that wrack flesh,
then we would never need to contemplate
mysteries of life and study natural science.
People who cling to dark suspicious dread
of old myths about brutal angry gods,
and fail to study complex ways of nature,
learning how our universe operates,
stumble groping lost in mind-numbing fear,
and find it impossible to banish terror
of death, therefore without study of nature
they will never taste undiluted joy
of pleasure, and savor delight in life.
We find no safe security of trust
in haven of truth against violent men
while we tremble in suspicious alarm,
terrified of thunder storms and earthquakes
and unseen terrors from infinite void
erupting to threaten our fragile world.
When we attain security of strength
from power to fight and defend garden walls,
and abundant wealth by work of our hands,
genuine peace of living in private faith
we find in solitude of garden groves
hidden from multitude of grasping men.
Wealth of nature flourishes within bounds
of fertile soil along fresh sparkling streams
granting easy procurement of resource,
but riches of vain fantastic opinion,
lacking roots in lush soil of earth, recede
blown by wild blustering wind far beyond grasp.
Fortune sneaks by rare chance across life path
of wise people, yet their greatest interests
and most important matters of their lives
are directed by clever power of reason
while they journey secure on path of life.
Each person who acts by justice and truth
enjoys peace of mind while striding serene
and creates splendid things with gentle craft,
but those who act by injustice and lies
suffer distress and stumble in confusion
smashing good things with their violent greed.
When sharp pain of desire, produced by lack
of things our bodies need, is satisfied
by consumption, pleasure within our flesh
will not increase beyond fulfilling taste,
but tingles embellished by range of flavors.
Limit of pleasure our mind may enjoy
we reach through reason when we calculate
balance of value from pleasures and pains
which provoke alarming fears in our minds.
Infinite time and finite time contain
equal amount of pleasure we can relish,
if we measure bounding limits of pleasure
through contemplation of reason in truth.
Our flesh assumes limits of pleasant joy
stretch infinite, and only infinite time
would satisfy hungry cravings of flesh.
But our mind, that reasons limiting goal
of consuming flesh to banish stark fears
of infinite future unsatisfied,
produces complete way of perfect life
that savors each moment of satisfaction,
and needs no excess of infinite time.
Yet our mind never shuns pleasure and joy,
and even when drama of death attacks
dragging us down into darkness of death,
forced from existence by bleak circumstances,
our mind never fails to savor rich fullness
life offers in abundance of sweet pleasure.
Whoever perceives clear limits of life
knows how easy it is to expel pain
of desire by fulfilling aching needs,
to make our whole life perfect and complete,
and thus relinquish need to fight for things
achieved through struggle and conflict from greed.
We must reason ultimate goal of life
is to comprehend real world we perceive
and reconcile opinions we conceive
with evidence of senses, then construct
system of belief on verified facts,
otherwise we will stumble confused, lost
in mist of fantasy, blinded by desire,
and fall off cliff of fear to struggle stuck
in muck of despair, and never feel peace.
If you fight against sensations you feel
and never trust perceptions of your mind
you will have no standard by which to measure
and judge clear sensations as true or false.
If you reject sense perceptions as false
because they frazzle your preconceived view,
and fail to discern between your opinion,
that waits confirmation from observation,
and solid facts verified by perception,
whether from sensation, deep intuition,
or mental apprehension based on reason,
you will disturb your existing sensations
by groundless belief and reject all truth.
If you affirm sense perceptions as true
and form new beliefs based on your opinions,
without observation and test for facts,
you will stumble blind in fantastic error,
unable to avoid deceiving yourself,
and doubt every sensation you perceive
by judging everything as true and false.
If every time you face important choice
you fail to guide actions to goal of life
or reconcile behavior with natural law,
but reject choice and avoidance to swerve
charging toward foolish purpose you invent,
then your actions will conflict with your words.
Desires that cause no pain when unfulfilled,
thus not essential to productive growth,
can be dispelled when object of desire
proves difficult to obtain without toil
or threatens to effect destructive harm.
Among all good things that wisdom provides
to insure complete happiness in life,
greatest treasures we gain are loving friends.
Sure conviction which inspires confidence
that terrible events or things we fear
never last forever and soon disperse,
also reveals amid evil we suffer
nothing enhances safe security
as heart-connecting bonds of close friendship.
Among all our desires we entertain
some are natural and necessary, some
are natural but not necessary, others
are neither natural nor necessary, yet
those last are by empty belief invented.
We regard as natural and necessary
those desires that relieve pain of our flesh
like drink of water relieves aching thirst,
fruit and bread relieve hunger of our body,
and intimate love relieves sweet desire
to procreate in children of our blood.
Natural desires, which cause no aching pain
when not gratified, though goals are pursued
with intense effort, are beliefs contrived
by feigned fantasy of groundless opinion,
but when they are not dispelled by clear light
of truth, they linger clouding minds of men
with blinding fear, not because of their nature,
but because human vanity clings with lust
gripping bright fantasies their minds invent.
Justice of nature is mutual consent
of common interest, contracted by men
in covenant of agreements, not to cause
nor allow people to harm or be harmed.
Wild forest animals who are unable
to form covenants for mutual protection,
to neither inflict nor suffer cruel harm,
live without either justice or injustice,
and human tribes without power or desire
to form mutual covenants of shared peace
to harm none and suffer none to be harmed,
are same as uncivilized animals.
Justice cannot exist alone, but men
enforce justice based on mutual contracts
they institute, when and where they assemble,
to never inflict pain or allow suffering.
Injustice is not by its nature evil,
but only evil to men who cause harm
because they fear consequence of enforcement
when strong honest men, appointed to punish
unjust actions, discover their offense.
Whoever breaks laws of social compact,
not to inflict harm or allow suffering,
will never feel confident to escape
detection and punishment for his crime,
though he escaped numerous times before,
for until death he will never be sure
he will escape, and lives ever in fear.
Justice provides same benefits of peace
and protection for all people who share
mutual contract with laws of safe conduct,
but how men apply justice in local lands
to each special case varies in details
based on circumstance of crime and result,
so justice is not same for every person.
Actions confirmed by honest testimony
to benefit common needs of companions
and by agreement are considered just,
whether it is just for all men or not,
but if some man legislates special law
that does not benefit association
of social welfare for people involved,
yet provides advantage for their own good,
then true justice is betrayed by blind greed.
If something that provided mutual justice
changes benefit against common good,
yet continues to conform to our concept
of justice, then it remains just in truth
to each person who is never confused
by blustering shouts demanding empty terms,
but remains focused on verified facts
and prefers to examine every angle
and judge merits of each specific case
based on circumstances of its events.
When circumstances themselves never change
and conventional laws thought to be just
conflict with essential notions of justice,
those laws are exposed never just at all.
When circumstances change, and common laws,
considered just for mutual benefit
of social interaction, soon prove useless,
they cease to be measured just when results
fail to provide advantage for companions
and results no longer benefit all.
He who desires to live in tranquil peace
and no longer fears threats from other men
should extend hand of friendship to each person
and unite in mutual compact of laws,
and avoid harm that makes men enemies,
but men who refuse to participate
forming social contract that prevents harm,
he excludes from rich garden of his soul
and avoids interaction to remain
uninvolved when this suits his private interest.
Men who exert power of bold confidence
to build among their neighbors mutual trust,
and guarantee safe passage and assembly,
savor happiness in secure society
and enjoy rewards of strong fellowship,
yet never mourn death of intimate friends
who die before fulfillment of their life,
discarding pity for loyal admiration."
Epikouros gives long scroll that details
principle doctrines of his philosopy
to Mys, who manages Grammatopion,
where scribes copy scrolls of insightful thoughts
for distribution to large garden schools
opened by followers in market towns
of every land that thrive on fertile shores
of Middle-Earth Sea to spread Atomism
so people live well in productive pleasure.
- Columbus, Georgia, Zarathi, Wohali, Anglonesia
- September 24
- Angelus of Anglonesia. Geospatial Analyst and Cartographer.
- Cosmographer and Poet.
BA in Liberal Arts - Literature and History at Washington State University 1988.
MS in Geographic Information Science, Geospatial Analysis and Cartography at Michigan State University 2008.
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