Finding Happiness The Epictetus Way #4


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Epictetus was born into slavery about A.D. 55 in the eastern outreaches of the Roman Empire. Sold as a child and crippled from the beatings of his master, Epictetus was eventually freed, rising from his humble roots to establish an influential school of Stoic philosophy. Stressing that human beings cannot control life, only how they respond to it, Epictetus dedicated his life to outlining the simple way to happiness, fulfillment, and tranquility. By putting into practice the ninety-three witty, wise, and razor-sharp instructions that make up The Enchiridion, readers learn to successfully meet the challenges of everyday life and face life’s inevitable losses and disappointments with grace.

Epictetus’s teachings rank among the greatest wisdom texts of human civilization. The Enchiridion is still the best primer for living the best possible life — as helpful in the twenty-first century as it was in the first.

In every post I’m focusing on one Maxim from Enchiridion to understand it more fully & holistically.

Today’s Maxim: ‘Don’t seek to have events happen as you wish, but wish them to happen as they do happen.’

Commentary: Many times we wish that life should go only as we want, all our wishes & dreams should be fulfilled instantly. We want instant gratification. And then if we meet some circumstances that are not as per our expectations then we get frustrated, disappointed & depressed.

Byron Katie, author of the book ‘Loving What is’, is a champion of accepting Reality as it is without interfering/judging/demanding. This is the key to peace of mind.

She says:

Reality doesn’t wait for your opinion, vote, or permission, sweetheart. It just keeps being what it is and doing what it does.

Reality doesn’t ever wait for our agreement or approval. It is what it is. You can count on that.

Nothing ever goes wrong in life.

Nothing terrible has ever happened except in our thinking. Reality is always good, even in situations that seem like nightmares. The story we tell is the only nightmare that we have lived.

Without the “should” and “shouldn’t,” we can see reality as it is, and this leaves us free to act efficiently, clearly, and sanely. Asking “What’s the reality of it?” can help bring the mind out of its story, back into the real world.

All I have is all I need and all I need is all I have in this moment.

When we stop opposing reality, action becomes simple, fluid, kind, and fearless.

If you want reality to be different than what it is, you might as well try to teach a cat to bark.

Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late. You don’t have to like it… it’s just easier if you do.”

I am a lover of what is, not because I’m a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality.

Nothing comes ahead of its time, and nothing ever happened that didn’t need to happen.

When you argue with reality, you lose, but only 100% of the time.


It’s true that whatever life brings us, whatever happens to us for the best. An old Akbar Birbal Tale come to my mind:

Once Akbar the mughal emperor and Birbal, his minister were having a chat. While cutting a fruit, Akbar cut his finger slightly and was upset about it. Birbal said “Jahapana, whatever happens is for your good. Do not worry”. This irked Akbar and he wanted to score it even with Birbal. He takes him for hunting trip at the end of the day they are tired. Akbar asks Birbal to get down into an abandoned well and fetch water. After Birbal got down, Akbar pulled the rope up, said, “Birbal stay there, what ever happens is for your own good”, and left him there. Wandering in the Jungle, Akbar lost his way back and was captured by the Tribes, who decided to offer him as a sacrifice to Goddess Kali. Just before chopping his head off, one of them sees the cut on his finger, asserted that he was not perfect, and hence cannot be offered as “Bali” and they released him. Akbar realized Birbal’s words and repented for leaving him in the well and went back to get him. When Akbar explains what happened and apologizes to Birbal for his act, Birbal says “Jahapana, good that you left me, else they would have killed and offered me to kali instead of you”.

It’s a story, still the moral is priceless. We all know that thinking positively through tough times is not easy. It’s hard to practice, easier said than done. Nevertheless, they are great support under difficult circumstances. 


This is the Message of Bhagvat Geeta too:

Whatever happened, happened for the good; whatever is happening, is happening for the good; whatever will happen, will also happen for the good only. You need not have any regrets for the past. You need not worry for the future. The present is happening as it should.


September 10, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Books, Greek Philosophers, Happiness, Inspiration, Meaning of Life, My lifestyle, My Values, Philosophy, Quotations, Reflections/Musings, Teaching Stories, Wisdom.


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  5. kamal dev replied:

    all this literature gives strength and should be practised at each moment

  6. Jason Preater replied:

    I enjoyed the Akbar and Birbal story. That would work well for children!

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