When someone else is upset – problems with children, maybe, or a business difficulty – watch out that you don’t get upset too, by thinking that these events themselves are really evil. Remember that what bothers your friend isn’t these events themselves – since someone else would be completely unmoved by them – but the attitude she takes toward them, considering them so awful. Commiserate with her, of course. Even sigh or groan, if that’s what she’s doing. But don’t let yourself sigh or groan inwardly.
When you see someone weeping in sorrow, either because a child has gone on a journey, or because he has lost his property, beware that you be not carried away by the impression that the man is in the midst of external ills, but straightway keep before you this thought: “It is not what has happened that distresses this man (for it does not distress another), but his judgement about it.” Do not, however, hesitate to sympathize with him so far as words go, and, if occasion offers, even to groan with him; but be careful not to groan also in the centre of your being.
When you see a man shedding tears in sorrow for a child abroad or dead, or for loss of property, beware that you are not carried away by the impression that it is outward ills that make him miserable. Keep this thought by you: ‘What distresses him is not the event, for that does not distress another, but his judgement on the event.’ Therefore do not hesitate to sympathize with him so far as words go, and if it so chance, even to groan with him; but take heed that you do not also groan in your inner being.
When you see a person weeping in sorrow either when a child goes abroad or when he is dead, or when the man has lost his property, take care that the appearance do not hurry you away with it, as if he were suffering in external things. But straightway make a distinction in your own mind, and be in readiness to say, it is not that which has happened that afflicts this man, for it does not afflict another, but it is the opinion about this thing which afflicts the man. So far as words, then, do not be unwilling to show him sympathy, and even if it happens so, to lament with him. But take care that you do not lament internally also.
When you shall see one lamenting in grief because his son is gone abroad, or because he has lost his wealth, see to it that you be not rapt-away by the phantasm, to think that he has suffered a real misfortune in external matters. But be the thought at hand, It is not the fact itself which afflicts this man—since there are others whom it afflicts not—but the opinion he has conceived about it. And do not hesitate as far as words go, to give him your sympathy, and even, if so it be, to lament with him. But take heed that your lamenting be not from within.
When you see any one weeping for grief, either that his son has gone abroad, or that he has suffered in his affairs, take care not to be overcome by the apparent evil; but discriminate, and be ready to say, “What hurts this man is not this occurrence itself,- for another man might not be hurt by it, - but the view he chooses to take of it.” As far as conversation goes, however, do not disdain to accommodate yourself to him, and if need be, to groan with him. Take heed, however, not to groan inwardly too.
When you see anyone weeping in grief because his son has gone abroad, or is dead, or because he has suffered in his affairs, be careful that the appearance may not misdirect you. Instead, distinguish within your own mind, and be prepared to say, “It’s not the accident that distresses this person., because it doesn’t distress another person; it is the judgment which he makes about it.” As far as words go, however, don’t reduce yourself to his level, and certainly do not moan with him. Do not moan inwardly either.
Ὅταν κλαίοντα ἴδῃς τινὰ ἐν πένθει ἢ ἀποδημοῦντος τέκνου ἢ ἀπολωλεκότα τὰ ἑαυτοῦ, πρόσεχε μή σε ἡ φαντασία συναρπάσῃ ὡς ἐν κακοῖς ὄντος αὐτοῦ τοῖς ἐκτός, ἀλλ’ εὐθὺς ἔστω πρόχειρον ὅτι «τοῦτον θλίβει οὐ τὸ συμβεβηκός (ἄλλον γὰρ οὐ θλίβει), ἀλλὰ τὸ δόγμα τὸ περὶ τούτου». μέχρι μέντοι λόγου μὴ ὄκνει συμπεριφέρεσθαι αὐτῷ, κἂν οὕτω τύχῃ, καὶ συνεπιστενάξαι: πρόσεχε μέντοι μὴ καὶ ἔσωθεν στενάξῃς.