Paradoxes for Better Living, 3


Seneca, part of double-herm, Antikensammlung B...

Seneca, part of double-herm, Antikensammlung Berlin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“But I wish to share with you today’s profit also. I find in the writings of our Hecato that the limiting of desires helps also to cure fears: ‘Cease to hope,’ he says, ‘and you will cease to fear.’ ‘But how,’ you will reply, ‘can things so different go side by side?’ In this way, my dear Lucilius: though they do seem at variance, yet they are really united. Just as the same chain fastens the prisoner and the soldier who guards him, so hope and fear, dissimilar as they are, keep step together; fear follows hope. I am not surprised that they proceed in this way; each alike belongs to a mind that is in suspense, a mind that is fretted by looking forward to the future. But the chief cause of both these ills is that we do not adapt ourselves to the present, but send our thoughts a long way ahead. And so foresight, the noblest blessing of the human race, becomes perverted. Beasts avoid the dangers which they see, and when they have escaped them are free from care; but we men torment ourselves over that which is to come as well as over that which is past. Many of our blessings bring bane to us; for memory recalls the tortures of fear, while foresight anticipates them. The present alone can make no man wretched.” — Seneca, Epistle V

Paradoxes for Better Living, 2
Paradoxes for Better Living, 1

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