Friedrich Nietzsche was a German philosopher who founded many aspects of modern philosophy. Nietzsche is mostly known for his phrase, ‘God is Dead,’ and the idea that human-beings must seek suffering because it leads to personal fulfillment.
Nietzsche’s ideas are interesting to the Seekers of Knowledge. I gathered seven of his thought-provoking ideas which I thought I should share with you.
Here are they:
- Christianity Was Created by the Weak
Nietzsche believed that Christianity was created by weak people to justify their lack of money and power since it praised poor conditions and promised good things to the meek.
Nietzsche’s interpretation of Christianity was wrong because he didn’t understand the true meaning of some Biblical terms. For example, he thought the term ‘meek’ meant ‘to be poor and helpless.’ But according to many Christian philosophers being ‘meek’ means “having faith in God and realizing God’s will.”
- The Ideal Human Being
According to Nietzsche, the ideal man goes his own way and uses his creativity to help the society. This man creates his own values and avoids living in accordance with the crowd’s values. He also welcomes everything that comes into his life believing that everything is meant for his good.
- Suffering Is Necessary For Human Excellence
“It’s out of the deepest depth that the highest must come to its height.” – Nietzsche
Nietzsche believed suffering was necessary for our excellence that he wished suffering upon his closest people. As he put it, “To those human beings who are of any concern to me I wish suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities. I wish that they should remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished. I have no pity for them.”
Although I never wish bad things to happen to my loved ones, I agree with Nietzsche’s idea because sometimes suffering leads to human excellence as it makes people to take action. Many successful people decided to go after their dreams after undergoing a series of unimaginable difficulties.
- People Create Excuses to Cope With Their Misfortunes
Nietzsche saw that many people created excuses that helped them live with their misfortunes. I believe Nietzsche would be surprised that we still do so in the 21st century since many people have justifications for their misfortunes. For instance, some people believe they can’t live a comfortable life because they came from poor family backgrounds. Others think they can’t follow their dreams because they don’t have time and money.
- What Will Happen When ‘God Dies?’
Nietzsche prophesied the condition of the modern society through his idea of ‘God’s Death.’ According to him, the belief in a Higher Power made medieval people to find life meaningful. He knew the modern society will find life meaningless because science will make people doubt God’s existence.
Nietzsche was right because today some people find life meaningless since they don’t believe in a Higher Power that created them to fulfill a certain purpose. The belief that God created us for a reason made medieval people to find life meaningful and less stressful.
- Why You Must Separate Yourself From The Masses
Today people conform to the masses thinking that any beliefs or values accepted by many people are right. Little do they know that the masses prevent them from self-actualizing since they have a negative perception towards factors that promote self-actualization. The masses hate solitude and the creation of independent values.
- If You Need Lots of Pleasure, You Must Experience Displeasure
Nietzsche believed that one only achieves pleasure after going through a series of displeasures. To achieve success, you must work hard and risk a lot. To enjoy the benefits of a relationship you have to experience its dark side. To reach the mountaintop and see the beautiful view of the lands below, you must be willing to climb the mountain. Nietzsche believed that it was impossible to live a life full of pleasure if you don’t want to experience displeasures.
“What if pleasure and displeasure were so tied together that whoever wanted to have as much as possible of one must also have as much as possible of the other. You have a choice in life: either as little displeasure as possible, painlessness in brief or as much displeasure as possible as the price for an abundance of subtle pleasures and joys.’ – Nietzsche
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Epictetus on How to Unite with God/Infinite Intelligence.
Many mystics and spiritual leaders believe the main goal of life is to unite with God/Infinite Intelligence. They believe uniting with God makes life blissful and brings higher wisdom and knowledge to an individual. For this reason, I researched on what great thinkers thought on how to unite with The Creator and I stumbled upon Epictetus’ idea.
According to Epictetus, you unite with God when you make God’s will your will. As he put it ‘A person who reasons well, understands and considers, that if he joins himself to God, he shall go safely through his journey. ‘How do you mean join himself to God?’ That whatever is the will of God may be his will too, that whatever is not the will of God, may not be his.’ (John Bonforte, Philosophy of Epictetus)
Epictetus thus trusted that accepting God’s will results in unity with God. According to him, you accept God’s will when you stop being attached to anything since God subjected everything to change: you realize that nothing you have is permanent because things are always changing. You also stop idolizing your material possessions and believing they are necessary for your survival.
Epictetus also believed that to accept God’s will, you must avoid feeling sad when something bad happens to your possessions because doing so is resisting God’s will. Feeling bad when something happens to your possessions shows that you want to retain forever what God made temporary. The Stoic philosopher wanted us to thankfully receive whatever the universe gives us, and let it go without regrets when the universe takes it back.
Furthermore, he trusted that you make God’s will your will when you place your ‘pursuits under the direction of God’ and accept whatever life throws at you. He wrote, ‘Say to yourself, ‘I have placed my pursuits under the direction of God. Is it his will that I should have a fever? It is my will too. Is it his will that I should obtain anything? It is my will too.’ Epictetus trusted God so much that he believed that whatever the Universe/God allowed to happen was good.
He believed God controlled everything including our experiences and possessions. He trusted that The Creator determined what happens to us and what we can amass in this world.
To sum up, Epictetus believed that accepting whatever happens showed one’s trust in God and understanding of the nature of the universe. This, he believed was the surest way to unite with God.
‘Conduct me, O God, and thou, O destiny. Wherever your decrees have fixed my lot. I follow cheerfully.’ – Epictetus (John Bonforte, Philosophy of Epictetus)
Bonforte, J. (1955). Philosophy of Epictetus. New York: The Philosphical Library
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12 Incredible Quotes That Reveal Epictetus’ Thoughts on God/Infinite Intelligence
I love Infinite Intelligence. (You can call it God if you like. I don’t care). I’m fascinated by how this Intelligence designed both living and non-living things. I always wonder how it designed the brain, digestive system, sun, stars, and everything in the universe. I’m obsessed with knowing how it works, what it wants, and how it created the world. For this reason, I love studying what great thinkers wrote about it. One of the great thinkers that loved talking about God/Infinite Intelligence was Epictetus, the great Stoic philosopher. I gathered some of his powerful thoughts on Infinite Intelligence/God.
- ‘Were I a nightingale, I would act the part of a nightingale; were I a swan, the part of a swan, but since I am a reasonable creature, it is my duty to praise God.’ (John Bonforte; the Philosophy of Epictetus).
- ‘If any is unhappy, remember that he is so for himself; for God made all men to enjoy happiness and peace.’ (John Bonforte; the Philosophy of Epictetus).
- ‘A person who reasons well, understands, and considers that if he joins himself to God, he shall go safely through his journey. How do you mean join himself to God? That whatever is the will of God may be his will too, that whatever is not the will of God, may not be his.’ (John Bonforte; the Philosophy of Epictetus).
- ‘If you will always remember that God stands by as a witness of whatever you do, either in soul or in body, you will never err, either in your prayers or actions, and you will always have God abiding with you.’ (John Bonforte; the Philosophy of Epictetus).
- ‘Great is God, who has supplied us with these instruments to till the ground; Great is God, who has given us hands and organs of digestion; Who has made us to grow insensibly, to breathe in sleep.’ (John Bonforte; the Philosophy of Epictetus).
- ‘So when you have shut your doors, and darkened your room, remember never to say that you are alone, but God is within, and your soul is within.’ (John Bonforte; The Philosophy of Epictetus).
- ‘But you are a primary existence. You are a distinct portion of the essence of God, and contain a certain portion of Him within yourself.’ (John Bonforte; The Philosophy of Epictetus).
- Assuredly from the very structure of all made objects we are accustomed to prove that the work is certainly the product of some artificer, and has not been constructed at random – (Oldfather, Epictetus, The Discourses)
- ‘You carry God about with you, poor wretch, and you know nothing of Him. Do you suppose I mean some external idol made of gold or silver? It is within yourself that you carry Him; and you do not observe that you profane Him by impure thoughts and unclean actions.’ (John Bonforte; The Philosophy of Epictetus).
- ‘From God, the seeds of our being are descended, not only to our fathers and grandfathers, but to all things that are produced and born on earth; especially, to rational creatures, since they alone are qualified to communicate with God.’ (John Bonforte; The Philosophy of Epictetus).
- ‘If you fix your desires on riches, health, power, honors, your country, friends, children. In short, on anything beyond the control of your will, – you will be unfortunate. But fix them on God, give yourself to Him, let Him govern, let your powers be ranged on the same side as His, and how can you any longer be unprosperous?’ (John Bonforte; The Philosophy of Epictetus).
- ‘If a person could be persuaded that we are originally descended from God, and that He is the Father of all on earth and in heaven, I conceive he would never think of himself, meanly or ignobly.’ (John Bonforte; The Philosophy of Epictetus).
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