Epictetus Hardship To Follow Buddha's Path

The topic:   

Suppose Epictetus had decided to follow the Buddhas path.  Would that be hard for him?  Would he be better off if he did this than if he just stuck with his own advice?  Might following Buddhas recommendations make him a better Stoic?

An elaboration of the topic:  For this discussion, assume that Epictetus was good at embodying his own advice.  Given this, are there some parts of the Buddha's path at which Epictetus would already be fairly skilled?  Are there others that might not require very much of a change?  Are there any that might be difficult for him?

     Do you think it would be good for Epictetus to add to his Stoic regimen the new practices that following Buddhas path would require?  Why or why not?

     Might it make him a better Stoic?  Why or why not?  (One way to think about this is to consider whether following Buddha's suggestions might make Epictetus even better at following through on his own advice.)

 Some advice:

Epictetus Hardship To Follow Buddha's Path

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  • Make sure you are clear on what the Eightfold Path requires and the reasoning underlying the various parts, using the accounts from Rahula and from my recording.  Be sure to address each of the eight parts of the Path.
  • Keep in mind that ideas from the readings, our discussions, and the recordings that did not directly cover the Path can be relevant because everything that is a true Buddhist teaching ties in to the Path.   Clearly you cannot discuss it all, so you will need to make choices, but making those well depends on a good overall understanding of Buddhas project, the requirements of the path, and the reasoning underlying it.  
  • Look at the rubric that will be used to evaluate these essays and use that to help decide how much of the essay should be devoted to each part of the essay.
  • There is a lot to think about here.  I recommend dividing the tasks up into smaller chunks to make this more manageable.  


  1. One of the main objectives here is to come to a better understanding of Buddha's core ideas.  (Working to apply ideas to a new situation requires a greater degree of understanding than simply reporting on them.)  
  2. Improving the ability to construct a good argument (offering good reasons in support of a conclusion) is always an objective of these assignments.  
  3. We are also starting to practice thinking critically about views (e.g., whether Epictetus would be better off or be a better Stoic if he followed Buddhas recommendations).

Citations Remember that ideas that are common knowledge dont need citations.  In a Philosophy essay, the basic parts of the Eightfold Path can be considered common knowledge, but you will of course need citations if you use others words in describing them.  Epictetus basic ideas (the focus on being rational, learning to be indifferent to things one cannot control, etc.) can also be considered common knowledge.

Quotations or references from the assigned readings may be given as follows:

  • We will continue to use the method of in-text citations we used in the last essay for references to Epictetus ideas.  
  • For Rahula's book, give the author and page number.  For example:
    •  Emperor Asoka, following Buddha, promoted tolerance of all religions. (Rahula 4)
  • When the author's name is in the sentence, only the page number is needed.  For example:
    • Rahula wrote that Emperor Asoka, because of the Buddha's influence, "honoured and supported all religions in his vast empire." (4)

If you quote from or use ideas from sources other than our assigned readings, full bibliographic information must be given (MLA format) in a Works Cited section at the end of your essay.  

 You do not need to have a Works Cited section for this assignment if you only cite from our assigned readings.  As noted for the previous assignment, you are neither expected nor required to use sources other than our course readings for thisIn fact, I advise against it.  I want you to think carefully about the ideas you have encountered and to engage with them yourself.


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