Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Letters from a Stoic 62 - On Good Company

On Good Company

Point 1 - stop making excuses

"I don't have time to read or study philosophy!  I have too many things to do!"

Seneca replies,

We are deceived by those who would have us believe that a multitude of affairs blocks their pursuit of liberal studies; they make a pretence of their engagements, and multiply them, when their engagements are merely with themselves.

Point 2 - take back your independence!

If you prioritize what is most important (in the case of Seneca, it's the study and living of philosophy), then you will have a mind to do that first and then allow other interests to have time as you see fit.

my time is free; it is indeed free, and wherever I am, I am master of myself. For I do not surrender myself to my affairs, but loan myself to them, and I do not hunt out excuses for wasting my time. And wherever I am situated, I carry on my own meditations and ponder in my mind some wholesome thought.

When you pursue what is most important, you will only "loan" out your time for lower-value time commitments.

Point 3 - spend time with people worthy of it

I can almost hear Seneca say, "I don't always spend time with people, but when I do, I prefer to spend it with Demetrius."

As the footnote states, "Demetrius of Sunium, the Cynic philosopher, who taught in Rome in the reign of Caligula and was banished by Nero.  He ... achieved the Stoic ideal of independence of all external control; he is a king and has all things to bestow upon others, but needs nothing for himself."

It seems that Seneca quite admires the Cynic Demetrius; while Epictetus adored the Cynic Diogenes.

Point 4 - "The shortest cut to riches is to despise riches"

This part reminds me of the story of the businessman and the fisherman.  Here is a link to the 'Brazilian version of it.'

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