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 God, 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 believed accepting God’s will enables us to unite with God. According to him, you accept God’s will when you detach from everything since God subjected everything to change. You realize that nothing you have is permanent and you stop idolizing your material possessions.
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 willingly let go when the universe takes it back.
Furthermore, he believed you make God’s will your will when you place your ‘pursuits under the direction of God’ and accept whatever life throws at you. For as 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 whatever God allowed to happen was good.
He believed God controlled everything including our experiences and possessions. He trusted that God determined what happens to us and what we can amass in this world.
To sum up, Epictetus believed understanding that nothing is permanent and accepting whatever happens enables us 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 Philosophical Library
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