Reflections of Seneca

Seneca a Roman stoic philosopher, tutor and later advisor to emperor Nero has some keen insights into human nature that I believe would align with the teachings of Yeshua.  I cannot speak for the character and all saying of Seneca.   I am sharing some wisdom from a secular person that struck me.

All cruelty springs from weakness.

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.

The important thing about a problem is not its solution, but the strength we gain in finding the solution.

No one can lead a happy life, or even one that is bearable, without the pursuit of wisdom, and that the perfection of wisdom is what makes the happy life, although even the beginnings of wisdom make life bearable.  Yet this conviction, clear as it is, needs to be strengthened and given deeper roots through daily reflection; making noble resolutions is not as important as keeping the resolutions you have made already.

Drunkenness is nothing but voluntary madness.

It is the characteristic of a weak and diseased mind to fear the unfamiliar.

It is only luxury and avarice that make poverty grievous to us; for it is a very small matter that does our business, and when we have provided against cold, hunger, and thirst, all the rest is but vanity and excess. 

Eyes will not see when the heart wishes them to be blind. 

We become wiser by adversity; prosperity destroys our appreciation of the right.

 

Be not too hasty either with praise or blame; speak always as though you were giving evidence before the judgement-seat of the Gods. 

The primary sign of a well-ordered mind is a man’s ability to remain in one place and linger in his own company. 

He is most powerful who governs himself.

 

Be wary of the man who urges an action in which he himself incurs no risk.

Shall I tell you what the real evil?  To cringe to the things that are called evils, to surrender to them our freedom, in defiance of which we ought to face any suffering.

We are members of one great body.  Nature planted in us a mutual love, and fitted us for a social life.  We must consider that we were born for the good of the whole.

We are mad, not only individually, but nationally.  We check manslaughter and isolated murders; but what of war and the much vaunted crime of slaughtering whole peoples?

Begin at once to live, and count each day as a separate life.

The mind is never right but when it is at peace within itself.

To err is human.  To repeat error is of the Devil.

These individuals have riches just as we say that we ‘have a fever,’ when really the fever has us. 

There is nothing the wise man does reluctantly.

There is no evil that does not promise inducements.  Avarice promises money; luxury, a varied assortment of pleasures; ambition, a purple robe and applause.  Vices tempt you by the rewards they offer.

The Fates guide those who go willingly.  Those who do not, they drag.

The willing, destiny guides them; the unwilling, destiny drags them. 

It’s all in your head, you have the power to make things seem hard or easy or even amusing.  The choice is yours. 

What difference does it make how much you have?  What you do not have amounts to much more.  

What need is there to weep over parts of life?  The whole of it calls for tears.

We should every night call ourselves to an account: What infirmity have I mastered today? What passions opposed?  What temptation resisted? What virtue acquired? Our vices will abate of themselves if they be brought every day to the shrift. 

I will govern my life and thoughts as if the whole world were to see the one and read the other, for what does it signify to make anything a secret to my neighbor, when to God, who is the searcher of our hearts, all our privacies are open?

The best cure for anger is delay.

Never to wrong others takes one a long way towards peace of mind. 

Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart.

He who asks with timidity invites a refusal.  

Do the best you can. . . enjoy the present. . . rest satisfied with what you have.  

True friends are the whole world to one another; and he that is a friend to himself is also a friend to mankind.  Even in my studies the greatest delight I take is of imparting it to others; for there is no relish to me in the possessing of anything without a partner.

Money does all things for reward.  Some are pious and honest as long as they thrive upon it, but if the devil himself gives better wages, they soon change their party.  

Study rather to fill your mind than your coffers; knowing that gold and silver were originally mingles with dirt, until avarice or ambition parted them.  

In every good man a God doth dwell.

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.

When I think over what I have said, I envy dumb people.

The bad fortune of the good turn their faces  up to heaven; the good fortune of the bad bows their heads down to the earth.

Night brings our troubles to the light, rather than banishes them.

Everywhere is nowhere.  When a person spends all his time in foreign travel, he ends by having many acquaintances, but no friends.

He who is brave is free.

He who dreads hostility too much is unfit to rule.

Ignorant people see life as either existence or non-existence, but wise men see it beyond both existence and non-existence to something that transcends them both; this is an observation of  the Middle Way.

You want to live-but do you know how to live?  You are scared of dying-and, tell me, is the kind of life you lead really any different from being dead?

As the mother’s womb holds us for ten months, making us ready, not for the womb itself, but for life, just so, though our lives, we are making ourselves ready for another birth…Therefore look forward without fear to that appointed hour- the last hour of the body, but not of the soul…That day, which you fear as being the end of all things, is the birthday of your eternity.

 

 

 

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