SLRP: LVI. On Quiet And Study (Part 2: 8b – 15)

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Seneca,

I’ve very much enjoyed yeterday’s and today’s letter.  These thoughts have been heavy on my mind lately.  Two section stuck out at me, and I’d like to comment on them.

The first:

“For all unconcealed vices are less serious; a disease also is farther on the road to being cured when it breaks forth from concealment and manifests its power. So with greed, ambition, and the other evils of the mind, – you may be sure that they do most harm when they are hidden behind a pretence of soundness.”

In an earlier letter, I think it was you mention that men build walls and homes not for protection, but to hide away their vices.  They secret them behind many kinds of walls.  Some of stone, and some of society, and more yet words and deeds.  Yet, we should act as if all our actions are within the public view.  Whether it be from God, or from the Sage, or simply from the people wish we could be; we should act as if none of our actions are hidden.

“Men think that we are in retirement, and yet we are not. For if we have sincerely retired, and have sounded the signal for retreat, and have scorned outward attractions, then, as I remarked above, no outward thing will distract us; no music of men or of birds can interrupt good thoughts, when they have once become steadfast and sure.  The mind which starts at words or at chance sounds is unstable and has not yet withdrawn into itself; it contains within itself an element of anxiety and rooted fear, and this makes one a prey to care…”

Ah!  This was what I was getting at with yesterday’s worries.  If we retire, are we neglecting some thing.  From this, I take, that the retirement that Marcus speaks of as ‘the inner citadel’ is the same sort of retirement you’re getting at.  However, we may have to train ourselves to it.  If that’s the case, it’s not a concern really that the training looks different from the thing itself.  A boxer may lift weights, jump rope, and stand up and down on boxes daily as training, but the fight itself contains none of these actions.

Our physical retirement, then, a temporary retreat from the world to train our inner citadel is well founded.  Once that training has been complete, we can return to the city, and carry our retirement with us.

Thank you for letter, it has been a great help.

Farewell.


Part of Michel Daw’s Reading Plan of Seneca’s Letters.

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