“What is the fruit of these teachings? Only the most beautiful and proper harvest of the truly educated — tranquility, fearlessness, and freedom. We should not trust the masses who say only the free can be educated, but rather the lovers of wisdom who say that only the educated are free.” — Epictetus, Discourses, 2.1.21–23a
For most people, education is an obligation. It is simply something they have to get through for about 18–22 years of their lives and then they will finally be free. They think that education is limited merely to schools and colleges. But that is the wrong way of looking at it. Education is something that goes way beyond schools and colleges. While they have their merits, these are still merely buildings. Education is not something to do just to pass exams and get a diploma or a degree. Education is a lifelong endeavor. According to the stoics, education is not an obligation but a responsibility. We must educate ourselves and continue to do so all our life because education, no matter our circumstances, is one of the few things we can control. Education is the key to a better life and a better world. While schools and colleges can be seen as a privilege that not everyone can afford, education transcends these institutions made of stones and bricks. There are millions of books out there that one can read to get himself educated. In fact, one who is truly educated would say that she got her real education not from institutions but from books she read of her own accord. Perhaps the only way to reduce the suffering in one’s life and in the world as a whole is to read more books and get more education. Education will, as Epictetus would say, set us free.
This article is a part of my Stoic Musings challenge, inspired by the book “The Daily Stoic” by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman, where I take a quote from the book and reflect on it, every day.