Roman Calendar

Sunday, June 22, 2014

"Resilience" (from "Musonius Rufus on How To Live")

From Musonius Rufus on How To Live:

"If you want to be healthy, you should spend your life taking care of yourself. Unlike hellebore, reason shouldn't be cast out after the illness is cured - let it remain in the soul to guard your judgment. The power of reason shouldn't be compared to medicines, but to healthy foods - it introduces a good frame of mind into those where it becomes habitual. However, when the emotions are at their greatest heat, wise words and warnings barely have any effect at all. They are like the scents that revive those fallen in a fit, yet don't cure the disease.

To help us cheerfully endure those hardships which we may expect to suffer because of virtue and goodness, it is useful to recall what hardships people will endure for immoral reasons . . .

Anyone will admit how much better it is instead of
* struggling to win someone else's wife - struggle to discipline your desires?
* enduring hardship for the sake of money - train yourself to want little?
* troubling to be famous - take trouble to reducing your thirst for fame?
* trying to injure an envied person - ask how to stifle envy?
* slaving, as sycophants do, to win false friends - undergo suffering to possess true friends?

In general, hard work and hardship are a necessity for all - both those who seek the better ends and for those who seek the worse - it is ridiculous that those who are pursuing the better are not much more eager in their efforts than those who have small hope of reward for all their pains . . .

If we were to measure what is good by how much pleasure it brings, nothing would be better than self-control - if we were to measure what is to be avoided by its pain, nothing would be more painful than lack of self-control.

. . .

It is true that all of us who have participated in philosophic discussion have heard and appreciated that pain, death, poverty, or anything else free from wrong are not evil - similarly that wealth, life, pleasure, or anything else which does not contribute to virtue isn't a good.

. . . .

[T]he person who is in training must habituate themselves not to love pleasure, not to avoid hardship, not to be infatuated with living, not to fear death, and in the case of goods or money not to place receiving above giving."

Some pretty basic Stoic thoughts, but well-expressed!

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