Epictetus: prophet or poet?

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Joined: Mon Jul 13, 2020 8:57 pm

Epictetus (50 AD-135 AD) often describe as a stoic Greek philosopher is said to be a wise man, the kind of man that inspires and brings peace but also strength inside one's heart when one reads his words.

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One of the characteristics of his discourse is that he brings back the person that wants to find truth or be virtuous, to his own responsibility… and freedom.

He says for example:
"It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters."
"We are not disturbed by what happens to us, but by our thoughts about what happens to us"
"Any person capable of angering you becomes your master; he can anger you only when you permit yourself to be disturbed by him"

He was somehow as much as possible bringing back the attention inside and preferring that within to that without as Lao Tse a.s used to say.

The morals and manner he promoted were deeply beautiful.
"Nature hath given men one tongue but two ears, that we may hear from others twice as much as we speak"

"If evil be said of thee, and if it be true, correct thyself; if it be a lie, laugh at it"

Here we can find an amazing definitions of contentment for example, close to what Ahlul bayt a.s would say:
He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.

"I must die. Must I then die lamenting? I must be put in chains. Must I then also lament? I must go into exile. Does any man then hinder me from going with smiles and cheerfulness and contentment?"

A Philosophy that calls to action and rebuke the non working scholars:
"For sheep don't throw up the grass to show the shepherds how much they have eaten; but, inwardly digesting their food, they outwardly produce wool and milk"

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A speech close to what buddha a.s would share, with clear reference to karma, reincarnation and rejection of what causes suffering: desires and passions.

Control thy passions lest they take vengeance on thee.

Freedom is not archived by satisfying desire, but by eliminating it

Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants

No man is free who is not master of himself

As a man, casting off worn out garments taketh new ones, so the dweller in the body, entereth into ones that are new.

He mentions sometime Socrates and here he says something that reminds me of him :It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.

Inspired by God directly or by the readings of wise and holy men?
He nevertheless speaks as someone having access to knowledge from first hand, and from personal experience. This knowledge that comes when ones dissolve himself in the One, the Alive.
And he seemed to have found this inner God that reveals Himself in intimacy of one's silence.
The following words of his reminds me of a hadith of imam Ali a.s: Let silence be your general rule; or say only what is necessary and in few words.

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And he seems to have faith not only in that inner strength and wisdom and internal divine intuition or truth but also in a almighty God to Who everything comes from and go back, to whom everything belongs…
"Never say about anything, I have lost it, but only I have given it back."

Epictetus is often described as a simple man, (even a part of his life being a slave) and having an humble life.
There is much more to know I am sure about this character who by his sayings sometimes appears to speak directly and personally to the reader which is another skill of true teachers.
This last quote is a bit long but really struck me so I really wanted to share it here and inshallah it may speak to some of you:

"How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself and in no instance bypass the discriminations of reason? You have been given the principles that you ought to endorse, and you have endorsed them. What kind of teacher, then, are you still waiting for in order to refer your self-improvement to him? You are no longer a boy, but a full-grown man. If you are careless and lazy now and keep putting things off and always deferring the day after which you will attend to yourself, you will not notice that you are making no progress, but you will live and die as someone quite ordinary. From now on, then, resolve to live as a grown-up who is making progress, and make whatever you think best a law that you never set aside. And whenever you encounter anything that is difficult or pleasurable, or highly or lowly regarded, remember that the contest is now: you are at the Olympic Games, you cannot wait any longer, and that your progress is wrecked or preserved by a single day and a single event. That is how Socrates fulfilled himself by attending to nothing except reason in everything he encountered. And you, although you are not yet a Socrates, should live as someone who at least wants to be a Socrates"

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We know that some great men known for their philosophical knowledge and writings such as Socrates, Plato, Aristotles, Plotinus, Amonnius ,or Pythagoras etc etc. have been revealed by Ahmed al Hassan a.s as being prophets of God, while other men that appeared to be wise, were actually not from God.

What about Epictetus?
Was he a prophet or just a wise philosopher?
Was he, as some say, a poet? A nihilist?
A polytheist as most of the Romans and Greeks of his time? Or was he a very clever man and a cheater as even others say, making his own philosophy out of others wisdom?

Who was Epictetus?
Was He a man of God or not?
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And you, what do you think?
Posts: 47
Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2020 3:50 am

He seem like a torch bearer of the previous Prophets. Maybe could be a successor or a close companion. Or maybe not as we think. However, Imam a.s. know best
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