Are you Happy?
Prosperity is a turbulent thing, it torments itself, just as a crowd rushes to a pool of water, & rendering it muddy, while draining it dry.
Regulate your character, so that it feels, neither pain nor gain, that remains the same, however things may fall.
On the Value of Retirement
Encourage your friend to despise those who upbraid him because he has sought the shade of retirement, & has abdicated his career of honours, & though he might have attained more, has preferred tranquility to them all.
Prosperity is a turbulent thing; it torments itself; It stirs the brain in more ways than one, goading people on to various aims, – some to power, & others to high living; Some it puffs up; others it slackens & wholly enervates.
So you need not let this class of people persuade you that one who is besieged by the crowd is happy; they run to them as crowds rush for a pool of water, rendering it muddy while they drain it dry.
There are people you know, whose speech is awry, who use the contrary terms;
Aristo used to say that he preferred a youth of stern disposition to one who was a jolly fellow & agreeable to the crowd; “For,” he added, “wine which, when new seemed harsh & sour, becomes good wine; but that which tasted well at the vintage cannot stand age.”
It is just this sternness that will go well when it is aged, provided only that One continues to cherish virtue & to absorb thoroughly the studies which make for culture, – not those with which it is sufficient for a person to sprinkle oneself, but those in which the mind should be steeped.
You will therefore be doing a thing, most helpful to yourself if you make this friend of yours, as good a person as possible; those kindnesses, they tell us are to be both sought for, & bestowed, which benefit the giver no less than the receiver, & they are unquestionably the best kind.
To pay the debt of money, the business must have a prosperous voyage, the farmer must have fruitful fields, & kindly weather; however the debt which your friend owes, can be completely paid by mere goodwill.
Let one so regulate ones character, that in perfect peace one may bring to perfection, that spirit within one which, feels neither loss nor gain, but remains in the same attitude, no matter how things fall out.
A spirit like this, if it is heaped with worldly goods, rises superior to its wealth, if on the other hand, chance has stripped one of a part of ones wealth, or even all, it is not impaired.
To what then, shall this friend of yours devote their attention?, I say, let one learn that which is helpful against all weapons, against every kind of foe;
In death there is nothing harmful, for there must exist something, to which it is harmful.
And yet, if you are possessed by so great a craving for a longer life, reflect that none of the objects, which vanish from our gaze, & are re-absorbed into the world of things, from which they have come forth, & are soon to come forth again, is annihilated, they merely end their course, & do not perish.
And death, which we fear & shrink from, merely interrupts life, but does not steal it away, the time will return when we shall be restored to the light of day, & many people would object to this, were they not brought back, in forgetfulness of the past.
Mark how the round of the universe repeats its course, you will see that no star in our firmament is extinguished, but that they all set, & rise in alternation.
Summer has gone, but another year will bring it again; winter lies low, but will be restored by its own proper months; night has overwhelmed the sun, but day will soon rout the night again.
The wandering stars retrace their former courses; a part of the sky is rising unceasingly, & a part is sinking.
I mean to show you later, with more care, that everything which seems to perish, merely changes.
Since you are destined to return, you ought to depart, with a tranquil mind.
Farewell, Seneca, StoicTaoist.