“To take flight every day! At least for a moment, which may be brief, as long as it is intense. A “spiritual exercise” every day – either alone, or in the company of someone who also wishes to better himself. Spiritual exercises. Step out of duration … try to get rid of your own passions, vanities, and the itch for talk about your own name, which sometimes burns you like a chronic disease. Avoid backbiting. Get rid of pity and hatred. Love all free human beings. Become eternal by transcending yourself.
This work on yourself is necessary; this ambition justified. Lots of people let themselves be wholly absorbed my militant politics and the preparation for social revolution. Rare, much more rare, are they who, in order to prepare for the revolution, are willing to make themselves worthy of it.”
— George Friedmann, La Puissance et la Sagesse
Nam si exaudit rationem sequiturque qua ducitur, iam non est ira, cuius proprium est contumacia; si vero repugnat et non ubi iussa est quiescit sed libidine ferocia-que provehitur, tam inutilis animi minister est quam miles qui signum receptui neglegit. Itaque si modum adhiberi sibi patitur, alio nomine appellanda est, desit ira esse, quam effrenatam indomitamque intellego.
For if anger listens to reason and follows where reason leads, then it is already not anger, of which obstinacy is a proper quality; if, however, it fights back and does not become quiet when it has been ordered, but is carried forward by its desire and ferocity, then it is as useless a servant of the soul as a soldier who disregards the signal for falling back. And thus, if it suffers a measure to be applied to itself, then it must be called by a different name, and it ceases to be anger, which I understand to be unrestrained and untamable.
— Seneca, De ira 1.9.2–3
“[Q]ualities which we ought to possess become better and more desirable the more extensive they are: if justice is a good thing, no one will say that it would be better if any part were subtracted from it; if bravery is a good thing, no one would wish it to be in any way curtailed: consequently the greater anger is, the better it is, for whoever objected to a good thing being increased? But it is not expedient that anger should be increased: therefore it is not expedient that it should exist at all, for that which grows bad by increase cannot be a good thing.”
— Seneca, On Anger.
”Still,” it is objected, “laws do not always make us do what we ought to do; and what else are laws than precepts mingled with threats?” Now first of all, the laws do not persuade just because they threaten; precepts, however, instead of coercing, correct men by pleading. Again, laws frighten one out of communicating crime, while precepts urge a man on to his duty.
— Seneca, Ep. XCIV. On the value of advice
“The desert was created simply to be itself, not to be transformed by men into something else. So too the mountain and the sea. The desert is therefore the logical dwelling place for the man who seeks to be nothing but himself – that is to say, a creature solitary and poor and dependent on no one but God.”
— Thomas Merton, “Thoughts in Solitude”
“When you relax your attention for a while, do not fancy you will recover it whenever you please; but remember this, that because of your fault of today your affairs must necessarily be in a worse condition in future occasions.”
— Epictetus. Discourses 4.12.1