How should I act ?
I do not know whether I shall make progress; but I should prefer to lack success rather than to lack faith; You need not despair of curing sick people even when the disease is chronic, if only one hold out against excess & force them to do & submit to many things against their will.
None of our possessions is essential; Let us return to the law of nature; for then riches are laid up for us; The things which we actually need are free for all, or else cheap; nature craves only bread & water.
No one is poor according to this standard; when a person has limited their desires within these bounds, One can challenge the happiness of Jove itself, as Epicurus says.
“Do everything as if Epicurus were watching yyou.”, There is no real doubt that it is good for one to have appointed a guardian over oneself, & to have someone whom you may look up to, someone whom One may regard as a witness of your thoughts.
It is indeed, nobler by far to live as you would live under the eyes of some good person, always at your side; but nevertheless I am content if you only act, in whatever you do, as you would act if anyone at all were looking on; because solitude prompts us to all kinds of evil.
When you have progressed so far that you have also respect for yourself, you may send away your attendant; but until then, set as a guard over yourself the authority of some people, whether your choice be the great Cato or Scipio, – or any person in whose presence even abandoned wretches would check their bad impulses.
Meantime, you are engaged in making of yourself the sort of person in whose company you would not dare to sin; When this aim has been accomplished & you begin to hold yourself in some esteem, I shall gradually allow you to do what Epicurus, in another passage suggests: “The time when you should most of all withdraw into yourself is when you are forced to be in a crowd.”
You ought to make yourself of a different stamp from the multitude; Hence, while it is not yet safe to withdraw into solitude, seek out certain individuals; for everyone is better off in the company of somebody or other, – no matter who – than in their own company alone.
“The time when you should most of all withdraw into yourself is when you are forced to be in a crowd.”, Yes, provided that you are a good, tranquil, & self-restrained person; otherwise you had better withdraw into a crowd in order to get away from your self.
Farewell, Seneca, StoicTaoist.