THE TRAP OF THE SELF, OR THE LIMITATIONS OF EXISTENCE, EPICTETUS SUBJECTIVE FREEDOM

I knew I was in dreamland

 

“If life was a dream, then dying must be the moment when you woke up.

It was so simple it must be true. You died, the dream was over, you woke up.

That’s what people meant when they talked about going to heaven.

It was like waking up.”

 

Ian McEwan,

The Daydreamer

We wake up on the morning after living in a fluid Universe of flowing images we call dreams, and believe we have come back in to ourselves, when it’s the other way around, we abandon the Self in order to descend to our material existence. It’s true those fluid images can be vague and confusing on waking up, but that is due to our lack of preparedness, or the contamination our spiritually polluted consciousness impede a more luminous dreaming were reality, is more impressive than our so call reality.

Which of those who have lived a full life, has not have a dream were a reality beyond our material existence, and the idea we make of ourselves from our daily experience, has not at least wonder at the marvelous luminosity of a lucid dream?

A reality that surpass so call reality, our our wakeful state, and that it is not perceived by our physical senses, but by our inner senses corresponding to a realm beyond matter, but to our subjective self!

A realm that it’s consider nothing but our neurons misfiring and doing the wrong chemical connections..!

To which my response would be: What a glorious misfiring!

The dreams within the cave of the Heart

 

THE LIMITATIONS OF FREEDOM

Freedom it’s a word of many different things to many people, it’s arguable what really the meaning of freedom would be in a world were limitation is the rule rather than the exception.

Since we are born we are given many limitations, as for example we didn’t choose to be born, that was someone else choice, we didn’t choose either our parents, neither the color of our eyes, or our skin, our sex,  health, none of the physical characteristics, that were determined by genetics and not us, how tall, or how short, curly hair versus straight hair, blond versus black, big mouth, small nose, freckles, smooth skin, great legs, short legs, our handsome features, and good looks, as to what it’s perceived as  ugly looks.

We can’t choose either how rich, or poor our parents are gone be, neither were they live, and you along, or what church they attend, so not freedom to choose another religion who may suit you best, at least until you become  a lot older, neither the type of meals your mom, or dad cooks for you, and your diet will be dictated by them until you can get your own meals, or your clothes at an early age, for all you know you will be wearing your elder siblings handouts, until you can purchase your own. And talking about siblings you can’t choose them either, even if you hate them, as well as any other member of the family, like grumpy grandpa, or sweet, or nasty grandma. Or the type of education you would receive, at least in the early stage of your life, education that will be formative, and that in great way would affect the outcome of who you will be.

In a way conditions of life are given to us, we may try to change them later, with various degrees of success, recently read a story of black man who is gay and in love with another black man who never corresponded his love by the mere fact of being heterosexual, and in love with diverse white women, during their long friendship, and his resentment of it, described painfully by him, his story reminded me of how we can make of our life misery, wanting the almost impossible to happen.

Our so named freedom it’s limited by who we are in the physical, and by whatever chance throw at us in the many other dimension of our life.

Man is a slave of circumstances

EPICTETUS

Epictetus  Ancient Greek: Ἐπίκτητος; AD c. 55 – 135) was a Greek sage and Stoic philosopher. He was born a slave at Hierapolis, Phrygia present day Pamukkale, Turkey, and lived in Rome until his banishment, when he went to Nicopolis in northwestern Greece for the rest of his life. His teachings were written down and published by his pupil Arrian in his Discourses.

Philosophy, Epictetus taught, is a way of life and not just a theoretical discipline. To Epictetus, all external events are determined by fate, and are thus beyond our control; we should accept whatever happens calmly and dispassionately. However, individuals are responsible for their own actions, which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline.

The name his parents gave him is unknown; the word epíktetos (ἐπίκτητος) in Greek simply means “acquired.” He spent his youth as a slave in Rome to Epaphroditos, a wealthy freedman and secretary to Nero.

Early in life, Epictetus acquired a passion for philosophy, and with the permission of his wealthy owner, he studied Stoic philosophy under Musonius Rufus, which allowed him to rise in respectability as he grew more educated. He somehow became crippled, with Origen stating that his leg was deliberately broken by his master, and Simplicius stating that he had been lame from childhood.

Epictetus obtained his freedom sometime after Nero’s death in 68 AD, and began to teach philosophy in Rome. About 93 AD Emperor Domitian banished all philosophers from the city, and Epictetus fled to Nicopolis in Epirus, Greece, where he founded a philosophical school.

His most famous pupil, Arrian, studied under him when a young man (c. 108 AD) and claimed to have written the famous Discourses from his lecture notes, though some argue they should be considered an original composition by Arrian, comparable to the Socratic literature.[Arrian describes Epictetus as being a powerful speaker who could “induce his listener to feel just what Epictetus wanted him to feel.” Many eminent figures sought conversations with him, and the Emperor Hadrian was friendly with him and may have listened to him speak at his school in Nicopolis.

He lived a life of great simplicity, with few possessions and lived alone for a long time,but in his old age he adopted a friend’s child who would otherwise have been left to die, and raised him with the aid of a woman. Epictetus was never married. He died sometime around 135 AD. After his death, his lamp was purchased by an admirer for 3,000 drachmae.

Epictetus

HIS PHILOSOPHY

Epictetus maintains that the foundation of all philosophy is self-knowledge, that is, the conviction of our ignorance and gullibility ought to be the first subject of our study. Logic provides valid reasoning and certainty in judgment, but it is subordinate to practical needs. The first and most necessary part of philosophy concerns the application of doctrine, for example, that people should not lie; the second concerns reasons, e.g. why people should not lie; while the third, lastly, examines and establishes the reasons.This is the logical part, which finds reasons, shows what is a reason, and that a given reason is a right one.This last part is necessary, but only on account of the second, which again is rendered necessary by the first.

Both the Discourses and the Enchiridion begin by distinguishing between those things in our power (prohairetic things) and those things not in our power (aprohairetic things). That alone is in our power, which is our own work; and in this class are our opinions, impulses, desires, and aversions. What, on the contrary, is not in our power, are our bodies, possessions, glory, and power. Any delusion on this point leads to the greatest errors, misfortunes, and troubles, and to the slavery of the soul.

We have no power over external things, and the good that ought to be the object of our earnest pursuit, is to be found only within ourselves. The determination between what is good and what is not good is made by the capacity for choice (prohairesis). Prohairesis allows us to act, and gives us the kind of freedom that only rational animals have. It is determined by our reason, which of all our faculties sees and tests itself and everything else. It is the right use of the impressions (phantasia) that bombard the mind that is in our power:

Practice then from the start to say to every harsh impression, “You are an impression, and not at all the thing you appear to be.” Then examine it and test it by these rules you have, and firstly, and chiefly, by this: whether the impression has to do with the things that are up to us, or those that are not; and if it has to do with the things that are not up to us, be ready to reply, “It is nothing to me.”

We will not be troubled at any loss, but will say to ourselves on such an occasion: “I have lost nothing that belongs to me; it was not something of mine that was torn from me, but something that was not in my power has left me.” Nothing beyond the use of our opinion is properly ours. Every possession rests on opinion. What is to cry and to weep? An opinion. What is misfortune, or a quarrel, or a complaint? All these things are opinions; opinions founded on the delusion that what is not subject to our own choice can be either good or evil, which it cannot. By rejecting these opinions, and seeking good and evil in the power of choice alone, we may confidently achieve peace of mind in every condition of life.

Reason alone is good, and the irrational is evil, and the irrational is intolerable to the rational.The good person should labor chiefly on their own reason; to perfect this is in our power. To repel evil opinions by the good is the noble contest in which humans should engage; it is not an easy task, but it promises true freedom, peace of mind (ataraxia), and a divine command over the emotions (apatheia). We should especially be on our guard against the opinion of pleasure because of its apparent sweetness and charms.The first object of philosophy, therefore, is to purify the mind.

How many of contemporary men even think of such things, like working on our subjective, rather than strive wildly on the objective, for no purpose, but for ephemeral material gain, or to inflate our egos?

Remember the old Socratic advise: The unexamined life is not worth living for a human being. Real freedom it’s within, we got to live in the prison of the self, but remember we are here just for a little while, and we can always relied on our subjective self rather that on our always changing material circumstances.

Fly like an Eagle and soar

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About theburningheart

Blog: KoneKrusosKronos.wordpress.com
This entry was posted in Being, Counsciousness, Crisis of Values, Critical Thinking, Dreams, Ego, Epictetus, Freedom, Imagination, Inspiration, New Values, Ontology, Philosophy, Self, The Subjective, Uncategorized, Values, Virtue and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to THE TRAP OF THE SELF, OR THE LIMITATIONS OF EXISTENCE, EPICTETUS SUBJECTIVE FREEDOM

  1. Aquileana says:

    Great post… Very interesting approach to Epictetus´philosophy and way of life.

    Thanks for sharing . Best wishes, Aquileana 😀

  2. Pingback: “Why can’t you just …” | A Transgender's Journey

  3. Ileana says:

    Good night friends! Sleep well and sweet dreams, and smiles when you’re sleeping
    We hear tomorrow night as beautiful and quiet!

  4. sherazade says:

    Very interesting srguments sorry that my english is not so good to understand all details.
    Thanl you so much to remember me 🙂

    sheraciaofromRome

  5. Love the logical flow to this. Many of us wonder, a lot, about death particularly after losing a loved one. I replaced the word ‘reason’ with ‘common sense’ other than that I agree totally with your concept. Interesting and food for thought.

  6. I remember reading about the moment when Gertrude Stein died. She said, “So, that’s the answer.” A second later, she asked, “But what was the question?” I adhere to the idea that we are spiritual beings having a human experience, and that when I cross over, I’ll say, “But, of course! I knew this all along.” I think we carry that knowledge within us from our source, but do not recognize it until the second death occurs.

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  8. hipmonkey says:

    A great post always leaves more questions than answers. I really enjoyed this. Thanks !!

  9. Earth Angel says:

    The first part sums it all up for me “If life was a dream, then dying must be the moment when you woke up”. Being “awake” to the illusion of the dream is what we come to wake up to…The death of the illusion that this is moment is “REAL”..then we are in a timeless ageless eternal experience…Thank you for this post Heart to Heart Robyn

  10. It’s not the first time that I’ve come to your philosophical analysis, which is not easy to understand for me, but highly interesting. At the moment I’m reading “meditations” by Marcus Aurelius Antonius and his impressive convictions of the power of will, which are very much connected with those of Epictetus.I had thought that the quote you mention by this philosopher about our reactions to a situation was by Macus Aurelius, but this is probably wrong!!
    I wish you an pleasant Sunday; here it’s raining without an end.

    • theburningheart says:

      The Enchiridion or Manual of Epictetus is a short manual of Stoic ethical advice compiled by Arrian, a 2nd-century disciple of the Greek philosopher Epictetus.
      Although the content is similar to the Discourses of Epictetus, it is not a summary of the Discourses but rather a compilation of practical precepts. Eschewing metaphysics, Arrian focused his attention on Epictetus’s work applying philosophy in daily life.

      If you like Marcus Aurelius you for sure would like Epictetus stoic philosophy.
      By the way it’s not the first time someone make me the observation about the similarity between Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus, which it is not surprising been both philosophers from the stoic
      school.

      Thank you for your comment! 🙂

  11. Maria F. says:

    The “self” is a subject matter that has haunted me ever since I can remember. The “ego” we possess which clings us to the here and now and which makes us “unique”? According to Buddhist philosophy the “self” does not even exist, it’s an illusion.

  12. theburningheart says:

    Yes every mayor Religion see the ego as illusory, and a veil to discover Self.
    Thank you for your input 🙂

  13. Yoshiko says:

    Thank you on behalf of Daylight Tune Ministry to like our ministry blog. May our poetry bless your hearts and minds 🙂 ~ Yoshiko

  14. DG MARYOGA says:

    Much Kudos my friend !
    Superb work and philosophical aspects on aponia and ataraxia !

  15. kethuprofumo says:

    Brilliant, dear Mr. Brigido! A modern man is a donkey and his objective is an illusive carrot before him that makes him run faster to reach it.))) And the irony of the objective is almost always the same: “why have I needed that?!”

    • theburningheart says:

      Life it’s a riddle, and every man has to find his own answer, as to why he lives, and how.

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment Maria! 🙂

  16. macalder02 says:

    I have had to step back to continue enjoying your philosophy. Excellent, like everything you post.

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