The hard work of setting a life course of action and living must never be delayed. Not even the matters of the day and business ought to get in the way of pursuing the love of wisdom.
Seneca has taken time to learn and apply the lessons of philosophy, but every so often, he must review what he has learned so he has his principles at the ready - like a boxer whose hands are always ready to fight.
my mind needs to be unrolled, and whatever has been stored away there ought to be examined from time to time, so that it may be ready for use when occasion demands.
Even when our day is packed with things to do, we must make time to keep up the study and application of philosophy. Don't procrastinate the important work of philosophy.
the study of philosophy is not to be postponed until you have leisure; everything else is to be neglected in order that we may attend to philosophy, for no amount of time is long enough for it ... We must resist the affairs which occupy our time; they must not be untangled, but rather put out of the way. Indeed, there is no time that is unsuitable for helpful studies; and yet many a man fails to study amid the very circumstances which make study necessary.
The task is urgent and we have to reach escape velocity to overcome the gravity of the daily business which tries to suck us back to the mundane.
We must resist the affairs which occupy our time; they must not be untangled, but rather put out of the way. Indeed, there is no time that is unsuitable for helpful studies; and yet many a man fails to study amid the very circumstances which make study necessary.
The very problems we may complain about, can be resolved by the study and application of philosophy. Therefore, if we are to fix ourselves, we must not put off the work that will address the root causes of our ailments. If you are saying, "I don't have time to study philosophy and apply it because I have too many other concerns and work to do," then you are falling for the trap and will be stuck in a loop called the rat race of life. Like a hamster who runs and spins on a wheel endlessly and goes nowhere.
He then returns to the standard of the wise man and describes his equanimity and unassailable fortress.
the joy of a wise man, on the other hand, is a woven fabric, rent by no chance happening and by no change of fortune; at all times and in all places he is at peace. For his joy depends on nothing external and looks for no boon from man or fortune. His happiness is something within himself; it would depart from his soul if it entered in from the outside; it is born there. Sometimes an external happening reminds him of his mortality, but it is a light blow, and merely grazes the surface of his skin. Some trouble, I repeat, may touch him like a breath of wind, but that Supreme Good of his is unshaken.
The description above sounds similar to Marcus' description of his inner citadel.
The aim and object of philosophy is to heal one's mind. He describes what a healthy mind looks like.
the mind is content with its own self; if it has confidence in itself; if it understands that all those things for which men pray, all the benefits which are bestowed and sought for, are of no importance in relation to a life of happiness; under such conditions it is sound. For anything that can be added to is imperfect; anything that can suffer loss is not lasting; but let the man whose happiness is to be lasting, rejoice in what is truly his own.
And while the sage does not come along very often, similar to the regeneration of the phoenix, the rest of us can still strive and make some progress to wisdom. We are
those who toy with wisdom; they have not indeed touched it, but yet are in sight of it, and have it, so to speak, within striking distance. They are not dashed about, nor do they drift back either; they are not on dry land, but are already in port.
And until we reach sage hood or until our death, we
we should not give ourselves up to matters which occupy our time ... [we should] resist [these matters] in their early stages. It is better that they shall never begin than that they shall be made to cease.