"Just as a physician who prescribes many drugs for his patients deserves less praise than the one who succeeds in helping them with a few, so the philosopher who teaches his pupils with the use of many proofs is less effective than the one who leads them to the desired goal with a few." Musonius
If you are lost and need to ask for directions to go to a specific place, would you prefer a local person to tell you the shortest route to get there, or would you prefer that he tell you many ways of getting there? Life is like a map without showing you where you are, and without showing you how to arrive at your destination once you have decided where you want to go. Philosophy is like a guide who can help you identify the landmarks to ascertain where you are, and then provide you a compass to ensure you are heading in the right direction. You would still need to walk, but each step is progress and has purpose. Unless you choose to, you need not waste one minute by going south when your aim is toward the north.
A tree that produces many fruits aren't always better. Some of them might be inedible or rotting. A tree that is good produces only good fruits. There is no additional labor necessary to separate them from the bad fruits. And although these good fruits might be rare and few, they can command the highest prices. Likewise, succinctness in words is a virtue and is valuable. It takes much greater skill to make complicated things simple than to make simple things complicated. What an emperor wouldn't give for a military general who can convey quick and clear orders to one thousand soldiers and they understand him instantly and perfectly as a result.
When many explanations are offered instead of the appropriate ones for a difficult matter, they don't help those who are perceptive because they would be able to understand it immediately if given simply one good explanation. Furthermore, many explanations don't necessarily help those who are obtuse because they would be baffled by the sheer amount of different explanations for one matter.
Thus, in order to successfully explain a difficult matter, it would be more fitting to only use the plainest and most obvious explanation. And should that be insufficient for those who are still uncertain, then offer the next best explanation. This is analogous to trying to give a hungry person the right amount to eat, and adjusting later if necessary, instead of giving him everything you have available. That would be a waste and risk him choking on the excessive offering.
From a student's perspective, it is your duty to pay attention to what is being taught, not because you need to digest everything you hear, but to be vigilant and ensure you don't fall for things that are often false. Be careful and selective in what you believe is true. When you have accepted an idea is indeed true, then be certain that it wasn't due to a vast number of inferior proofs but rather one or few cogent, irrefutable proofs. But you don't stop there. You would need to continue further by trying to apply and test that idea to your daily life. For only in this way will philosophy be beneficial for you. As such, I will only teach ideas that are in harmony with my conduct.
There are only a few things that make me happier than to uncover and share ideas that are relevant, timely, alive -- and one of those few things is sharing them with you, Epictetus.
"Associate with people who are philosophers not in name only, but in truth, if you were willing to follow their teachings." Musonius
There are those who are good at doing and good at teaching. There are also those who are good at doing but not good at teaching. However, there cannot be those who are not good at doing but good at teaching. For how can one understand, much less teach, what it is like to struggle without struggling? How can one obtain knowledge of overcoming an adversity or a great temptation without actually having done so? How can one show you treasure if he has never found it and all he has is a dubious map?
Where I sit there are plenty of men of the sort. They are in low positions and they are in high positions. They counsel to children and they counsel to kings. They write beautiful poems and publish exquisite plays. They might be good writers but they are not philosophers. They convince with words and that is as far as they go. In contrast, philosophers convince also with the tilling, sowing, watering, and laboring to produce the fruits of those words.
In short, a philosopher is a friend of wisdom. He is a friend of wisdom when he refuses to quit when the going gets tough, or to make decisions not always in his best interests. Being a friend of wisdom is hard; it sometimes takes sacrifice and contemplation. However, the entire world is a philosopher's playground, with areas to stretch one's mental and physical muscles. If everything was level and without challenge, it would not be a very fun playground at all.
Seek those who choose the difficult path because it can be a more interesting path. Follow those who take the lonely road because it can be a worthy road. People will laugh at them, calling them fools and naive. These people might even be correct for the time being. But like when one is correct to keep walking, he would not be correct to do so toward a cliff ahead. Like when a broken clock is right one minute, it is unsurprisingly not the next. The universe is tricky and mysterious like that, and so it would be a rollicking experience to play along.
I could not be happier if you always stay on the path of benevolence. Although it is sometimes difficult in terms of short-term consequences, it is rather simple (and rewarding) to follow. There are only two options to take within this path: to be honest, and if not, to be kind. Honesty is working hard for an honest day's pay which would inevitably lead you to greater powers and resources. Kindness is to protect others from harm, to promote justice, and to choose to lose for the benefit of others. I know an old man who went into debt and faced being ridiculed so he could purchase a slave to only then turn around and free him.
Of course you cannot lose anything of value when you take philosophy seriously, to choose what is wise and not always what is obvious, and to choose to be wisdom's friend -- not only when it is convenient -- until the end. What you can only lose are your anger and selfishness, and to take their places are contentment and abundance. How can one be angry and tranquil at the same time? How can one be selfish when he feels he is blessed with so much?
I am blessed to have you as my son, Epictetus.