A Gathering of Wisdom - Selected Letters, Seneca

Discussion in 'Self Improvement' started by Deleted Account, Jul 7, 2018.

  1. Continuing on from my first philosophical submission to this forum, I have begun to read through the works of Lucius Annaeus Seneca. I will read ten to twenty letters each day, and submit relevant and thought-provoking lines from the tutor to Nero below so that they too might offer insight on your NoFap journey. I will note that if a letter does not seem to contain anything of pertinence to us, I will leave it out.

    Letter I:

    • "Liberate yourself, and gather and save up the time which until now was being taken from you by force or stealth or simply slipping away unnoticed. Consider yourself that the situation is as I describe it; some periods of time are snatched from us, some are stolen, and some simply seep away. Ye the most shameful loss is the loss due to carelessness. Indeed, if you consider things attentively, the greatest part of life slips away in failure, a great part in futility, and all of it in distraction." (Sen. Ep. 1.1.1)
    • "Do what you say you are doing and embrace every hour; in this way, you will have to depend less on tomorrow is you seize hold of today. While life is being postponed, it rushes past." (Sen. Ep. 1.1.2)
    Letter II:
    • "The man who is everywhere is nowhere." (Sen. Ep. 1.2.2)
    Letter IV:
    • "Keep on as you have begun, and press on as quickly as possible so that you can enjoy a calm and correct state of mind for as long as possible... It is a different kind of pleasure we receive from contemplating a mind pure and shining, free of every stain." (Sen. Ep. 1.4.1-2)
    Letter V:
    • "Let everything in our hearts be different..." (Sen. Ep. 1.5.2)
    Letter VI:
    • "Of course I have many faults that should be corrected, reduced, abolished. And even this is proof of a mind transformed for the better, that it sees the faults which it had not noticed until now." (Sen. Ep. 1.6.1)
    Letter VII:
    • "Withdraw into you, as far as you can, and associate with those who will make you better." (Sen. Ep. 1.7.8)
    Letter VIII:
    • "Halt with suspicion and fear before every benefit that comes by chance: both wild beasts and fish get caught when some hope entices them." (Sen. Ep. 1.8.3)
    Letter IX:
    • "The wise man is contented, not so that he wants to go without... but so that he is able to go without..." (Sen. Ep. 1.9.8)
    Letter XI:
    • "A lot of offences are averted if men have a witness when they are about to offend. His mind should have someone to respect, on whose authority he makes even his secret thoughts more pure." (Sen. Ep. 1.11.9)
    Letter XIV:
    • "I acknowledge that affection for our body is innate in us... I don't deny that I should indulge it, only that I should be enslaved to it. For the man who is a slave to his body... will also be a slave to many people... It is excessive love for it that disturbs us... honour is cheap to the man for whom his body is dear. Let us take good care of it... when reason and self-respect and integrity demand, it should be dispatched to the pyre." (Sen. Ep. 2.2.1-2)
    Letter XV:
    • "What do you think is meant by a foolish life?... It is our own life driven headlong by blind desire towards things that will harm us, and at best never satisfy us. For if anything could be enough for us it would have been..." (Sen. Ep. 2.3.9)
    Letter XVI:
    • "You must persist and build up strength by constant diligence until what is now a good intention becomes a good state of mind. So you do not need further argument... or so long a declaration." (Sen. Ep. 2.4.1-2)
    • "Control it and ensure that what is now an urge becomes a lasting disposition." (Sen. Ep. 2.4.6)
    • "Natural desires are limited, but desires born of false beliefs have no way of ending; for there is no boundary to what is false. If you travel on the road there is a destination, but wandering from it has no measure. So draw back from empty pleasures, and when you what to know whether what you are aiming for entails a natured desire or a blind craving, consider whether it can stop at any point..." (Sen. Ep. 2.4.9)
    Letter XXI:
    • "For as to the other extraordinary desires which one may postpone, or check and suppress, I will give this one warning; that pleasure is natural, but not necessary. You owe it nothing; if you pay it any heed, that is voluntary." (Sen. Ep. 2.9.11)
  2. sisyphus82

    sisyphus82 Fapstronaut

    This is great, I'll be definitely looking into this
  3. Letter XXIV:
    • "Even pleasures turn to torture, feasting brings indigestion, and drunkenness the stupor or tremor of the nerves, while lust brings distortions of the feet and arms and all the joints." (Sen. Ep. 3.3.16)
    Letter XXVII:
    • "Count your years and you will be ashamed to want and plan the same things you wanted as a boy. In short, furnish yourself with this defence approaching the day of death; let your faults die before you. Send off those troubling pleasures which cost so fear; they are harmful not just as they approach but when they go past. Just as anxiety does not fade over crimes... so regret for evil pleasures lasts even after them. They are not firm and reliable; even if they don't do harm they escape from you." (Sen. Ep. 3.6.2)
    • "Only virtue guarantees continuing and carefree joy: even if something gets in the way, it is like clouds which are moved beneath the sky and never overcome the daylight." (Sen. Ep. 3.6.3)
    Letter XXVIII:
    • "You turn this way and that trying to shake off the weight oppressing you, which is only made more uncomfortable by the disturbance... you are acting against your interests and harming yourself with the movement, since you are jolting a sick man. But when you have eliminated this evil, every change of scene will be agreeable..." (Sen. Ep. 3.7.3-4)
    • "'Acknowledgement of the offence is the beginning of recovery.' Epicurus seems to me to have put this splendidly; for the man who does not know he is blundering does not want to be set right: you must detect yourself before correcting yourself." (Sen. Ep. 3.7.9-10)
    Letter XXXI:
    • "Rise up and breathe deeply and conquer that slope with one breath if you can. Effort nourishes noble spirits." (Sen. Ep. 4.2.4)
    • "Make yourself happy, and you will do so if you realise that those things are good which contain a share of virtue, and bad which are associated with vice. Just as nothing glitters without a mixture of light, and nothing is black unless it contains darkness and has absorbed something shadowy, just as nothing is hot without the assistance of fire, and nothing cold without air, so it is a share of virtue and vice that creates things honourable and shameful." (Sen. Ep. 4.2.5)
    • "This journey is safe and agreeable, one for which Nature equipped you. She gave you the qualities that will raise you to the level of a god, if you do not let them down." (Sen. Ep. 4.2.9)
    Letter XXXIII:
    • "A single tree does not win admiration when the whole forest soars to the same height." (Sen. Ep. 4.4.1-2)
    • "How long will you move under another's guidance? Take command and say something worth committing to memory, say something of your own creation." (Sen. Ep. 4.4.7-8)
    Letter XXXIV:
    • "Our business is based on the mind, so it is a great part of goodness to want to become good." (Sen. Ep. 4.5.3)
    Letter XXXVI:
    • "Success is an uneasy thing; it harasses itself. It disturbs the brain in more than one way: it provokes different men to different things, some to lack of self-control, others to self-indulgence." (Sen. Ep. 4.7.1)
    Letter XXXVII:
    • "If you want to subject everything to yourself, subject yourself to reason: you will rule over many if reason rules over you." (Sen. Ep. 4.8.4)
    • "It is shameful not to walk but to be carried, and suddenly dazed in the midst of worldly confusion to ask: 'How did I come to this point?' Keep well." (Sen. Ep. 4.8.5)
    Letter XXXIX:
    • "One of the best qualities of a noble mind [is] to be spurred on to honourable tasks." (Sen. Ep. 4.10.2)
    • "Just as a flame rises upward and cannot lie flat and be kept down, any more than it can rest, so our mind is in motion, all the more nimble and active as it is more passionate. Happy the man who has directed this impulse to better purposes: he will set himself beyond the power and control of fortune; he will moderate success, reduce the force of failure, and despise what others find admirable. It is the mark of a great spirit to hold great things in contempt and prefer moderate circumstances over excess; for moderation is useful and life-enhancing, whereas excess harms by its abundance." (Sen. Ep. 4.10.3-4)
    • "Lust that has leapt beyond nature inevitably bursts out beyond measure. For nature's measure has a limit, but empty desires sprung from lust are beyond bounds... men wallow in pleasures which they cannot do without, because these have become a habit... they are enslaved to pleasures and do not enjoy them, and even cherish their own failings, which is the worst of failings: then their unhappiness is absolute, when shameful activities not only delight them but are their choice, and there is no longer a chance of healing when what once were failings have become character." (Sen. Ep. 4.10.5-6)
    Letter XLI:
    • "You are observing an excellent and beneficial practice if... you are aiming persistently at a good state of mind... God is near you, he is with you, he is within you. That is what I claim... that a holy inspiration dwells within us as monitor and guardian of our good and bad behaviour; it treats us as it is treated by us." (Sen. Ep. 4.12.1-2)
    OnceAfraidToMerge likes this.
  4. OnceAfraidToMerge

    OnceAfraidToMerge Fapstronaut

    Inspirational quotes from one of my favourite thinkers. Thank you for this!
  5. Letter XLVII:
    • "Show me who is not a slave. One man is slave to lust, another to greed, another to ambition, all of us to hope and fear... no slavery is more shameful than self-imposed slavery." (Sen. Ep. 5.6.17)
    • "We are not harmed by anything that offends us, but self-indulgence drives people to frenzy, so that anything which does not answer their whim calls forth their rage." (Sen. Ep. 5.6.19)
    Letter XLVIII:
    • "Nothing is favourable or adverse for one of us alone: we are living for a common purpose. Nor can anyone live happily if he only observes himself and turns everything towards his own advantage: you must live for someone else if you want to live for yourself." (Sen. Ep. 5.6.2)
    Letter XLIX:
    • "Death is pursuing me and life fleeing from me. Teach me some remedy for this: bring it about that I am not fleeing death, and life is not fleeing from me. Urge me on against what is difficult and what is inescapable: ease up the constriction of my time. Teach me that the good life does not depend on its length, but its employment, and that it is possible, in fact very often so, that a man who has lived a long time has not lived enough." (Sen. Ep. 5.8.9-10)
    Letter LI:
    • "We ought to concentrate on escaping as far as possible from the provocations of vice. One's mind must be hardened and dragged far away from the enticements of pleasure." (Sen. Ep. 5.10.5)
    • "We too must campaign, and in a form of campaigning in which rest and leisure are never granted; above all, pleasures must be defeated which, as you see, have taken possession even of fierce natures." (Sen. Ep. 5.10.6)
    • "If I yield to pleasure, I shall have to yield to pain, I shall have to yield to toil and to poverty." (Sen. Ep. 5.10.8)
    • "Cast out whatever desires are lacerating your heart; if they cannot be pulled out any other way then you must tear out your heart with them. In particular, uproot pleasure and treat them with absolute loathing... they are embracing us in order to strangle us." (Sen. Ep. 5.10.13)
    Letter LV:
    • "Our self-indulgence has imposed weakness upon us..." (Sen. Ep. 6.3.1)
    Letter LIX:
    • "The wise man is fortified and alert against every assault. He will march against these hazards and amongst them without fear. As for us, many things bind and weaken us. We have been wallowing for a long time in these vices." (Sen. Ep. 6.7.8-9)
    • "If you constantly desire all kinds of pleasures, know that you are as far short of wisdom as of joy... The very things you seek as if they would give you happiness and pleasure are the causes of your distress." (Sen. Ep. 6.7.14)
    • "When men have worn themselves out with wine and sexual indulgences, when the night has run out amongst their vices, when their pleasures, poured into a cramped body beyond its capacity, have begun to rot, then the unhappy creatures cry out that Virgilian line: 'You know how we spent that last night in false joys'." (Sen. Ep. 6.7.17)
    Letter LXI:
    • "Let us stop wanting what we used to want... My days are spent on this one goal, as are my nights: this is my task and meditation, to put and end to the old evils. I am aiming to make a day the equivalent of my whole life, nor am I snatching it as if it were my last, but I look on it as if it could be my last... Take pains not to do anything against your will; what is compulsory for the man who resists is not compulsory for him if he is willing." (Sen. Ep. 6.9.1-3)
    Letter LXV:
    • "The wise man and the student of wisdom certainly stays in his own body, but is absent in his best part and directs his thoughts to the world on high." (Sen. Ep. 7.3.18)
    • "[The] flesh will never force me to suffer fear or adopt a pretence unworthy of a good man; I shall never lie for the sake of the body... my mind claims all rights for itself. Contempt for one's body is the surest liberty." (Sen. Ep. 7.3.22)
    Letter LXVII:
    • "Nothing is more glorious than virtue, nothing more noble, whatever is done at virtue's command is both good and to be desired." (Sen. Ep. 7.5.15)
    Letter LXX:
    • "You need not think that only great men had the strength to break through the barriers of human slavery..." (Sen. Ep. 8.1.19)

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