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Top 7 Brilliant Ideas of Epictetus: The Philosopher Who Was Born a Slave

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Epictetus, one of my favorite philosophers, was widely known for his fascinating philosophical ideas. Although he was a slave at a young age, he managed to pursue stoic philosophy under an influential teacher who played a huge role in making him great.

It’s said that Epictetus’ teachings influenced more people than Plato’s. Many people, including affluent folks and great thinkers, were highly interested in his teachings.

Here are some of his brilliant philosophical teachings I would love to share with you.

1.How To Achieve Your Goals

According to the stoic philosopher, you can only get what you want if you work extremely hard. He also believed you can achieve your goals if you quit doing anything that doesn’t move you towards them and only focus on doing the things that move you towards them.

2.Stop Being Concerned With Things Beyond Your Power

Epictetus taught that we should only be concerned with the things we can change. He believed it’s a waste of time and energy to be concerned with the things, such as other people’s character, the past, or the weather, which we don’t have the power to change. He argued that we only live well when we allow the things we can’t control to do as they please.

3.Only Care About The Things That Matter

Epictetus noticed that people were stressed because they cared about many things. They cared about their estate, brother, slave, pet, emperor, the weather, and the society. He advised people that they could reduce their burdens by choosing to only care about the things that truly mattered to them.

4.There is A Creator

This great philosopher also argued that all the things in the universe reveal the presence of an artificer as they could not have occurred randomly. He believed that things such as our intellect and sexual intercourse were purposefully designed by a Higher Power. He asked non-believers to explain, ‘how objects so wonderful and workmanlike should come to being at random and spontaneously.

5.Anxiety Occurs When We Want Things That Are Beyond Our Control

‘When I see a man in anxiety, I say to myself. What can it be that this fellow wants? For if he did not want something that was outside his control, how could he be in anxiety?’ – Epictetus, Stoic Philosopher

Epictetus argued that we become anxious when we want something that is beyond our control. He provided an example of a good singer who only becomes anxious when singing in front of a crowd because she wants the crowd to applause her but fears it might not do so. This singer could not have been anxious if she focused on her singing (which she can control). She only became anxious because she focused on applause (which she couldn’t control).

6.Understand The True Nature of Everything You Love

Epictetus urged his students to understand the true nature of the things they loved so that they won’t be sad when they lose them. For instance, he advised people who loved their family members to realize that they are vulnerable to death so that they won’t be disturbed when they die. Also, he advised people who owned an earthen vessel to understand its true nature so that they won’t be disturbed when the vessel breaks.

7.Your Opinions Determine Your Reactions

To illustrate this point, Epictetus provided an example of a man who wept after his son passed away. He revealed that the passing away of the man’s son was not a bad thing because it could have affected the whole society if it was bad. However, the fact that it only affected this man shows that this man had some opinions about his son. Maybe he thought that there is no one as wonderful as his son. His opinions made him devastated when he lost his son.

Epictetus also provided an example of an insult. He revealed that we react wrongly to an insult because of our opinions towards it.

THE END

Hope you enjoyed Epictetus’ ideas. I welcome you to add more of his ideas in the comment box or reveal the idea you agree or disagree with.

Anyway, I welcome you to my facebook community: The Unbounded Wisdom Community, where I share philosophical, success, and spiritual quotes and ideas.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Delle

    January 11, 2019 at 11:22 am

    I love how you break down useful info from great minds so it’s clearer and even better accessible and memorable! One of my favorite quotes as a perpetual student of life and philosophy is by Epictetus : If You Want To Imorove, Be Content To Be Thought Stupid and Foolish.

    • Isaac Wechuli

      January 11, 2019 at 12:48 pm

      Thanks Delle. I love that quote too…it motivates me to do the things i have to do for me to move towards my dreams

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Philosophy

The Brave Man: The Wisdom of Seneca

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The Brave Man: The Wisdom of Seneca

‘The assaults of adversity don’t weaken the spirit of a brave man.’ – Seneca

Introduction

Seneca was an amazing stoic philosopher who’s remembered for his life-changing moral essays. I read these essays to find out why most great folks love them, and I was amazed by the amazing pearls of wisdom they contained.

The best teachings from the essays are his writings on The brave man.

Seneca’s Thoughts on the Brave Man

According to Seneca, a brave man is any individual who welcomes adversity, knowing that it trains him to be a better person. This man, as Seneca writes, rejoices in adversity and fears nothing, and for this reason, he never worries about the possibility of future hardships.

As well, Seneca compares the brave man to boxers who match their strength with several, but not one opponent because they know that fighting several opponents will improve their skills. Seneca thus believes that brave men, just like boxers, seek challenges that will make them stronger.

Moreover, Seneca advises all those facing many hardships to realize that God considers them brave because he only sends hardships to brave folks. For as he writes, ‘Why is it that God afflicts the best men with ill health, or sorrow, or some other misfortune? For the same reason that in the army, the bravest men are assigned hazardous tasks.’

Seneca also believes God sends several hardships to brave men to prepare them for something big. He uses the example of fathers and their sons to prove his point. He explains how fathers make their sons toil and sweat when preparing them for something great in the future.

Fathers, as Seneca writes, ‘ensure their sons wake up early, and they never allow them to be idle during holidays, they draw from them sweat and sometimes tears’ because they want them to gather true strength that will enable them to handle what’s waiting for them in the future.

Discussions and Conclusions

For us to consider ourselves brave, we must welcome adversity and stop worrying about the possibility of future hardships. Furthermore, we must trust that Infinite Intelligence/God sends us hardships because it believes we have the power to overcome them and because it uses the hardships to prepare us for what’s ahead of us.

Apostle Paul firmly supported Seneca’s advice on hardships for he wrote in Romans 8: 18, ‘God hardens whom he wills.’ He also believed that facing many hardships indicates that God has something great for you.

Therefore, from today onwards, we must embrace hardships knowing that they are preparing us for the great things that the universe has in store for us.

Works Cited

 Seneca & John Basore. “Seneca, Moral Essays, Volume I.” Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, 1 Jan. 1928.

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Philosophy

A Summary of Pythagoras’ Secret Teachings That Were Hidden From the Public

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Pythagoras, once considered a god, was an extraordinary man. Several ancient texts claim he performed miracles, used music to heal people, and possessed the ability to be in two places simultaneously. Also, it is believed that most great people and secret societies lived by his principles and teachings.

Besides, legend has it that he was assassinated by the ruling classes who feared that his secret teachings would awaken the public.

The ruling classes noticed that Pythagoras became extraordinary because his secret teachings enabled him to awaken his inner self and contact the spiritual world. For this reason, they feared that these teachings might land on the public’s hands.

I gathered some of these teachings from Thomas Stanley’s book, ‘Pythagoras, His Life, and Teachings,’ which I believe would enable the awakening of our inner abilities.

  1. Maintain silence for a long period of time.
  2. Don’t be obsessed with riches and honor.
  3. The Divine cannot communicate through visions and dreams to those who are governed by the love of pleasure and anger.
  4. Excite your soul with music when you wake up, and soften the mind with music before you sleep.
  5. Virtue purifies and perfects human life because it eradicates the excess of passions.
  6. You attain intense happiness when you have a good soul.
  7. The best gifts from the Divine are: speaking truth and kindness.
  8.  Prefer the company of constructive criticizers to flatterers.
  9. Always think about the Divine/God.
  10. God is within the world and permeates everything.
  11. Your soul is sempiternal: eternal and non-changing
  12. Your soul lives several times in different living things.
  13. Your soul has two lives. One is within the body, and the other is outside it.
  14. Forget about worldly matters while worshipping or when in a sacred place.
  15. Avoid the way of the crowds and pursue what’s unique and holy.
  16. Rise above the illusion of material reality and focus on living a spiritual life.
  17. Strive towards a tranquil mind, and avoid anger because it lacks reason and prudence.
  18. Be just to all, and respect equality.
  19. Philosophy enables us to understand the truth, which is often hidden and hard to find.
  20. Practice receiving without resentment or envy.
  21. If you are patient and industrious, you must avoid lazy people.
  22. All pursuers of knowledge should only associate with the gods and the wise.
  23. Beware of anything that might interfere with your communication with the Divine.
  24. Strive to make friends with virtuous people.
  25. Do not do anything without reasoning.
  26. Avoid any action that will result in envy.
  27. There are many paths, but choose the path that is best for you.
  28. Allow yourself to be guided by the Divine.
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