SLRP: LX. On Harmful Prayers

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Seneca,

This is an issue which I’ve been concerned with for some time.  You give the excellent example here, and I think this also ties into Musonius some, as we’ll see.

The bull is filled when he feeds over a few acres; and one forest is large enough for a herd of elephants. Man, however, draws sustenance both from the earth and from the sea.  What, then? Did nature give us bellies so insatiable, when she gave us these puny bodies, that we should outdo the hugest and most voracious animals in greed? Not at all.  How small is the amount which will satisfy nature? A very little will send her away contented. It is not the natural hunger of our bellies that costs us dear, but our solicitous cravings.

Folks look at the diet prescription Musonius lays out.  It make sense to me that a passion which we encounter not rarely, but for most westerners, three times a day should draw our immediate attention.  Of course, Musonius notes (Lectures XVIIIA and XVIIIB that we handle it every day, sometimes twice!  Ooops.  Already starting from a disadvantaged position, it seems.

The passion of food, then, is a reasonably an opportune place for us to apply our attention.  Musonius asks the question (Lecture V, Lecture VI), how can we learn self-control unless we actually practice being self-controlled?  This is why practice must come with theory.

Of course, you’re reading the letter of an overweight would-be Stoic.  The point still stands, and coupled with lessons of the previous week are poignant.

Thank you for the letter, and the reminder that I need.

Farewell.


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

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