41. Find your Divinity !

Your Divinity

Find your divinity!

Know that, a Divine spirit dwells within us, & that it is with youu, & it is, within youu, yet we know not, what deity it is?

The highest good is attained, if one has fulfilled the good for which nature designed them at birth.

The easiest thing in the world

is to livve in accordance

with your own nature.

On the Divine within Us

The Divine is near You, It is with Youu, It is within Youu.

This is what I mean Lucilius: a divine spirit dwells within us, one who marks our good & bad deeds, & it is our guardian.

Just as we treat this spirit, so are we treated by it; Indeed, no person can be good without the help of the Divine; In each good person, A divinity doth dwell, but what deity, we know not.

If ever you have come upon a grove that is full of ancient trees which have grown to an unusual height, shutting out a view of the sky by a veil of intertwining branches, then the loftiness of the forest, the seclusion of the spot, & your marvel at the thick unbroken shade in the midst of the open spaces, will prove to you the presence of deity.

Or if a cave, made by the deep crumbling of the rocks, holds up a mountain on its arch, a place not built with hands but hollowed out into such spaciousness by natural causes, your soul will be deeply moved by a certain intimation of the existence of the Divine.

We worship the sources of mighty rivers; we erect altars at places where great streams burst suddenly from hidden sources; we adore springs of hot water as divine, & consecrate certain pools because of their dark waters or their immeasurable depth.

If you see a person who is unterrified in the midst of dangers, untouched by desires, happy in adversity, peaceful amid the storm, who looks down upon people from a higher plane, & views the divine on a footing of equality; A divine power has descended upon that person.

When a soul rises superior to other souls, when it is under control, when it passes through every experience as if it were of small account, when it smiles at our fears & at our prayers, it is stirred by a force from heaven.

What, then, is such a soul?, One which is resplendent with no external good, but only with its own.

For what is more foolish than to praise in a person the qualities which come from without?, And what is more insane than to marvel at characteristics which may at the next instant be passed on to someone else?

No person, ought to glory except in that which is their own.

We praise a vine if it makes the shoots teem with increase, if by its weight it bends to the ground the very poles which hold its fruit; would any person prefer to this vine one from which golden grapes & golden leaves hang down?

In a vine the virtue peculiarly its own is fertility; in people also we should praise that which is their own.

Suppose that one has a retinue of comely servants & a beautiful house, that their farm & their income is large ; none of these things is in the person themselves; they are all on the outside.

Praise the quality in one which cannot be given or snatched away, that which is the peculiar property of the person.

Do you ask what this is?, It is the soul, & reason brought to perfection in the soul.

Yet this is turned into a hard task by the general madness of Humankind; we push one another into vice; And how can a person be recalled to salvation, when one has none to restrain them, & all humankind to urge one on?

For people are reasoning animals; Therefore, everyone’s highest good is attained, if one has fulfilled the good for which nature designed them at birth.

And what is it, which this reason demands of them?, The easiest thing in the world, is to

Livve in accordance

with your own nature.

Farewell, Seneca, StoicTaoist.

40. How to Speak ?

Style

How to speak?

Your speech

like your life

should be measured

&

composed.

Eloquence flows gently as honey flows, thus soothing my irritations, quieting my terrors, shaking off my illusions, checking my indulgences, thus rebuking my greed.

Dispatch your eloquence with ease

rather than haste & I bid you to

slow your discourse.

On the Proper Style for a Philosopher’s Discourse

I thank you for writing to me so often; If the pictures of our absence friends are pleasing to us, though they only refresh the memory & lighten our longing by a solace that is unreal & unsubstantial, how much more pleasant is a letter, which brings us real traces, real evidences, of an absence friend!

For that which is sweetest when we meet face to face is afforded by the impress of a friend’s hand upon their letter, – Recognition.

You write me that the philosopher Serapio, “He is wont,” you say, “to wrench up his words with a mighty rush, & he does not let them flow forth one by one, but makes them crowd & dash upon each other; For the words come in such quantity that a single voice is inadequate to utter them”

I do not approve of this in a philosopher; their speech, like their life, should be composed; & nothing that rushes headlong & is hurried is well ordered.

That is why, in Homer the rapid style, which sweeps down without a break like a snow-squall, is assigned to the younger speaker; from the old person, eloquence flows gently, & is sweeter than honey.

Therefore mark my words; that forceful manner of speech, rapid & copious, is more suited to a mountebank than to a person who is discussing & teaching an important & serious subject.

Although I object just as strongly that one should drip out their words as that one should go at top speed; One should neither keep the ear on the stretch, nor deafen it.

For that poverty-stricken & thin-spun style also makes the audience less attentive because they are weary of its stammering slowness; nevertheless, the word which has been long awaited sinks in more easily than the word which flits past us on the wing.

Finally, people speak of “handing down” precepts to their pupils; but one is not “handing down” that which eludes the grasp, Besides, speech that deals with the truth should be unadorned & plain.

This popular style has nothing to do with the truth; its aim is to impress the common herd, to ravish heedless ears by its speed; it does not offer itself for discussion, but snatches itself away from discussion.

Yet how can that speech govern others which cannot itself be governed?, May I not also remark that all speech which is employed for the purpose of healing our minds, ought to sink into us?

Remedies do not avail unless they remain in the system, Besides, this sort of speech contains a great deal of sheer emptiness; it has more sound than power.

My terrors should be quieted, my irritations soothed, my illusions shaken off, my indulgences checked, my greed rebuked.

And which of these cures can be brought about in a hurry?, What physician can heal his patient on a flying visit?, May I add that such a jargon of confused & ill-chosen words cannot afford pleasure, either? 

No; but just as you are well satisfied, in the majority of cases, to have seen through tricks which you did not think could possibly be done, so in the case of these word-gymnasts, – to have heard them once is amply sufficient.

For what can a person desire to learn or to imitate in them?, What is One to think of their souls, when their speech is sent into the charge in utter disorder, & cannot be kept in hand? 

Just as, when you run down hill, you cannot stop at the point where you had decided to stop, but your steps are carried along by the momentum of your body & are borne beyond the place where you wished to halt; so this speed of speech has no control over itself, nor is it seemly for philosophy; since philosophy should carefully place their words, not fling them out, & should proceed step by step.

“What then?”, you say; “should not philosophy sometimes take a loftier tone?”, Of course they should; but dignity of character should be preserved, & this is stripped away by such violent & excessive force.

Let philosophy possess great forces, but kept well under control; let them stream flow unceasingly, but never become a torrent, & I should hardly allow even to an orator a rapidity of speech like this, which cannot be called back, which goes lawlessly ahead; for how could it be followed by jurors, who are often inexperienced & untrained?

Even when the orator is carried away by their desire to show off their powers, or by uncontrollable emotion, even then One should not quicken their pace & heap up words to an extent greater than the ear can endure.

Fabianus, a person noteworthy because of his life, his knowledge, &, less important than either of these, his eloquence also, used to discuss a subject with dispatch rather than with haste; hence you might call it ease rather than speed.

I approve this quality in the wise person; but I do not demand it; only let their speech proceed unhampered, though I prefer that it should be deliberately uttered rather than spouted.

However, I have this further reason for frightening you away from the latter malady, namely, that you could only be successful in practising this style by losing your sense of modesty; you would have to rub all shame from your countenance, & refused to hear yourself speak.

For that heedless flow will carry with it many expressions which you would wish to criticize, &, I repeat, you could not attain it & at the same time preserve your sense of shame.

Moreover, you would need to practise every day, & transfer your attention from subject matter to words; And words, even if they came to you readily & flowed without any exertion on your part, yet would have to be kept under control.

For just as a less ostentatious gait becomes a philosopher, so does a restrained style of speech, far removed from boldness.

Therefore, the ultimate kernel of my remarks is this:

I bid you be slow of speech.

Farewell, Seneca, StoicTaoist.