21. What do you Want ?

If you wish, to be rich, do not add to your store of money, instead do subtract from your desires.

The difference between illuminations & brightness, is that one source its light from others, while one radiates light from the source, such as the Moon is dark when cast in shadows, while the Sun radiance comes from within.

The thirst can be quench at a small cost, provided only that you give it what you owe, not merely all you are able to give.

On the Renown which my Writings will Bring you

Your greatest difficulty is with yourself; for you are your own stumbling-block; You do not know what you want; You are better at approving the right course than at following it out.

You see where the true happiness lies, Yet you have not the courage to attain it; Let me tell you what it is that hinders you, in as much as you do not of yourself discern it.

You think that this condition, which you are to abandon, is one of importance, & after resolving upon that ideal state of calm into which you hope to pass, you are held back by the lustre of your present life.

This is a mistake, to go from your present life into the other is a promotion;

There is the same difference between these two lives as there is between mere brightness & real light; the latter has a definite source within itself, the other borrows its radiance.

One is called forth by an illumination coming from the outside, & anyone who stands between the source & the object immediately turns the latter into a dense shadow; but the other has a glow that comes from within.

It is your own studies that will make you shine & will render you eminent; The deep flood of time will roll over us; some few great Ones will raise their heads above it, & though destined at the last to depart into the same realms of silence, will battle against oblivion & maintain their ground for long.

Whenever people have been thrust forward by fortune, whenever they have become part & parcel of another’s influence, they have found abundant favour, their houses have been thronged, only so long as they themselves have kept their position; when they themselves have left it, they have slipped at once from the memory of people.

In the case of innate ability, the respect in which it is held increases, & not only does honour accrue to the One themselves, but whatever has attached itself to their memory is passed on from one to another.

Epicurus addressed the well-known saying

“If you wish, to make Pythocles rich, do not add to their store of money, but subtract from their desires.”

There is however, one point on which I would warn you not to consider that this statement applies only to riches; its value will be the same, no matter how you apply it.

“If you wish to make Pythocles honourable, do not add to its honours, but subtract from its desires”; “if you wish Pythocles to have pleasure for ever, do not add to its pleasures, but subtract from its desires”.

I refer to those desires which refuse alleviation, which must be bribed to cease; For in regard to the exceptional desires, which may be postponed, which may be chastened & checked: a pleasure of that sort is according to our nature, but it is not according to our needs; one owes nothing to it; whatever is expended upon it is a free gift.

The belly will not listen to advice; it makes demands, it importunes; & yet it is not a troublesome creditor; you can send it away at small cost, provided only that you give it, what you owe, not merely all you are able to give.

Farewell, Seneca, StoicTaoist.

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