may also understand our ordinary goals as quite absurd — atnbest, quaint copies of a greater excellence: children buildingnsand-castles to be washed away. In the words of thenNicaraguan poet Enrico Cardenal, “the realities we see arenlike shadows of all that is God. The reality we see is as unrealncompared to the reality in God as a coloured photographncompared with what it represents . . . This whole world isnmade of shadows.”nWe are asleep because we have false impressions, falsenvalues. It is perhaps inevitable that we should. The LadynPhilosophy to Boethius:nYou have forgotten what you are. Because you arenwandering, forgetful of your real self, you grieventhat you are in exile and stripped of your goods.nSince indeed you do not know the goal and end ofnall things, you think that evil and wicked men aren. fortunate and powerful; since indeed you havenforgotten what sort of governance the world isnguided by, you think these fluctuations of fortunenuncontrolled.nThe Fall into our present sense-world, which created thingsnas we now see them at the same moment that it created thenegos that seem to see, was the product of “tolma”: the wishnto control something as one’s own, even if only an apple!nWhether we say, as the Gnostics and Buddhists did, thatnthere would be no world of things at all without that error, ornconcede that there would be “things” of a kind—but notnthe things we greedily possess or hate — even without thenFall (that it was not a Fall into matter, but into sin), itnremains true that what we perceive is not what the saints andntrue philosophers are, still less what God sees. Jung remarks,nafter his near-death experiences, “I have never since entirelynfreed myself of the impression that this life is a segment ofnexistence which is enacted in a three-dimensional boxlikenuniverse especially set up for it.” And again: “Our consciousnworld [is] a kind of illusion . . . like a dream which seems anreality as long as we are in it.” As Schopenhauer also said,n”We all have a permanent notion or presentiment thatnunder this reality in which we live and are there also liesnconcealed a second and different reality; it is the thing-initself,nthe hupar (the real in the proper sense) to this onarn(our present life-dream).”nThe first step in our return from exile is, simply, not toncomplain, but to hold fast to “God’s presence” in us. Thatnpresence is happiness — not as if “the substance of thenhappiness possessed is different from God the possessor.”nHappiness, goodness, unity, and God are one and the same.n”Eternity is the whole, simultaneous and perfect possessionnof boundless life.” That life, half-glimpsed now from thenshadows, is the abiding reality of which our worlds are thenstained reflections.nMoralsnAre there moral dangers in this vision? Epictetus’ editor,nin the Loeb Classical Library, writes: “the celebratednlife-formula. Endure and Renounce, is, to speak frankly,nwith all its wisdom, and humility, and purifactory power, notna sufficient programme for a highly organized societynmaking towards an envisaged goal of general improvement.”nWe may now, perhaps, entertain a little more realisticnsuspicion of “organized societies for general improvement,”nand wonder, with Epictetus, whether we can really claim tonbe able to improve others, or society in general, when wencannot improve ourselves. But the claim that the things ofnthis world are of little moment, that the true philosopher hasnother things in mind, may well seem heartless, or evasive, orn(of course) incredible.nWatch yourself and see how you take the word—Indo not say the word that your child is dead; howncould you possibly bear that?—but the word thatnyour oil is spilled, or your wine drunk up. Wellnmight someone stand over you when you are in thisnexcited condition, and say simply, Thilosopher, yountalk differently in the schools; why are youndeceiving us? Why, when you are a worm, do younclaim that you are a man?’ ,nMaking oneself not mind, detaching oneself from woridlyncares, is likely to be hypocritical escapism. Dodd’s rebuke:n”from a world so impoverished intellectually, so insecurenmaterially, so filled with fear and hatred as the world of thenthird century [what century would you prefer?] any pathnthat promised escape must have attracted serious minds.”nBut do Epictetus, Aurelius, and Boethius really come acrossnas lazy or cowardly people? Maybe, as Dodd declares, “whatnare we here for” is not a “question which happy men readilynask themselves” — necessarily so, if “happiness” is beingnabsorbed by what we — for the moment—have. But thosenwho have asked the question, and answered that we arenactors in God’s play, have not obviously been the leastnhelpful members of society. The horrieland for which theynhave yearned, of which they have hoped to be obedientnexpatriates even in this land of shadows, is one where all livenby their real, waking natures, which is to say, by God’s will.nSkeptics — whether they are real skeptics or merely conventionalnmoderns — will regularly reply that the inner convictionnof God’s truth cannot count as knowledge. We onlyn”know” what we can demonstrate from premises thatnanyone who understands them will accept. Real Pyrrhoniannskeptics have a sort of right to argue like that; ordinarynmoderns do not, since it is quite clear that on such terms wenknow nothing worth remembering. The ancient quarrelnbetween Faith and Reason rests on terminological mistakes:nthere is actually litfle difference between Nous and livingnfaith or inspiration. “We must believe,” said Porphyry, “thatnin turning towards God is our salvation, as without this faithnwe cannot achieve truth, love or hope.”n”Even if you are not yet [a] Socrates, you ought to live asnone who wishes to be [a] Socrates.” The consolation ofnphilosophy is experienced by those who respond to God’sncall to be philosophers. There can be no such duty, no suchnvocation, no values beyond an afternoon’s amusement innphilosophy, unless Boethius and the rest were right.nIf we ought to be serious and awake, it is possible for us tonwake. If it is possible, then the waking world is not one aliennto our best and brightest thought, and what we meet therenwill be the originals of which our present sense-objects arenthe distorted copies. If it is indeed not alien, then Epictetusnwas right to say that we are never helpless. <^nnnSEPTEMBER 1989/19n