In letters from a stoic 14, Seneca talks about our natural affinity for our bodies. However, our love for it makes us slaves to a lot of pleasures. We have to check our pleasures constantly otherwise we may lose our control to them. Temptations are everywhere and if we don’t pay attention to our bodies, they can easily turn into uncontrollable vices. “He will have many masters who make his body his master, who is over-fearful in its behalf, who judges everything according to the body.”
Not only that we can be slaves to pleasures, we can also be slaves to pain. It’s also our body’s natural tendency to avoid discomfort and pain and that we could also lose our control to them. “Our too great love for it makes us restless with fears, burdens us with cares, and exposes us to insults”. A lot of our goals in our lives are not meet because of our fear of discomfort and pain.
While we are naturally pleasure-seeking and pain-avoidant creatures, Seneca reminds us to constantly check these natural tendencies. “We should cherish the body with the greatest care; but we should also be prepared, when reason, self-respect, and duty demand the sacrifice, to deliver it even to the flames.”
While Seneca wants us to be courageous in times of fear and discomfort, that does not mean we could be just challenging anyone in front of us and be reckless. Specifically, he is talking about the importance of respecting those in authority. He said the wise man should never provoke the anger of those in power. “Our wise man does the same he shuns a strong man who may be injurious to him, making a point of not seeming to avoid him”.
Subscribe To Our Newsletter
FREE weekly practical tips, reflections and key takeaways from the works of the stoics