What do we pray for? & What are we praying about?
Seneca expresses his dissatisfaction with prayers offered by loved ones, and argues that they often wish for things that are harmful to us. He questions why we continue to rely on gods for sustenance, when we are capable of supporting ourselves.
Our insatiable desires are not a result of our natural hunger, but our excessive cravings; & everyone who are solely driven by their desires, should be considered animals rather than humans.
True living involves using oneself to benefit others, and that those who become inactive and consumed by their desires are no better off than the dead.
The Taoist philosophy highlights the importance of living in harmony with nature, & avoiding excessive desires, remember that the insatiable desires of humans are not natural, & are harmful to our well-being.
Instead we should encourage everyone to focus on contentment & self-sufficiency, rather than relying on external sources for our sustenance.
True living benefiting others & being actively engaged in the world, is in line with the Taoist belief in living a simple, & balanced life in harmony with the natural world.
On Harmful Prayers
I file a complaint, I enter a suit, I am angry.
Do you still desire what your nurse, your guardian, or your mother, have prayed for in your behalf?, Do you not yet understand what evil they prayed for?
Alas, how hostile to us are the wishes of our own folk!, And they are all the more hostile in proportion as they are more completely fulfilled.
It is no surprise to me, at my age that nothing but evil attends us from our early youth; for we have grown up amid the curses invoked by our parents, And may the gods give ear to our cry also, uttered in our own behalf, – one which asks no favours!
How long shall we go on making demands upon the gods, as if we were still unable to support ourselves?, How long shall we continue to fill with grain the market-places of our great cities?
How long must the people gather it in for us?, How long shall many ships convey the requisites for a single meal, bringing them from no single sea?
The bull is filled when it feeds over a few acres; and one forest is large enough for a herd of elephants. People, however draws sustenance both from the earth, and from the sea.
What then?, Did nature give us bellies so insatiable, when it gave us these puny bodies, that we should outdo the hugest and most voracious animals in greed?
Not at all…; How small is the amount which will satisfy nature?
A very little will send it away contented.
It is not the natural hunger of our bellies that costs us dear, but our solicitous cravings.
Therefore those who as Sallust puts it, “hearken to their bellies,” should be numbered among the animals, and not among people; and certain people indeed, should be numbered not even among the animals, but among the dead.
One really live, who is made use of, by many; one really live who makes use of themselves.
Those people, however, who creep into a hole and grow torpid are no better off in their homes than if they were in their tombs; Right there on the marble lintel of the house of such a person you may inscribe their name, for they have died before they are dead.
Farewell, Seneca, StoicTaoist.