10. Why not to be Alone ? 为何不独自一人?

Why not to be Alone ?

It is not to hide your desires & fears, that one choose a solitary life.

Livve among people as if the Gods beheld you; speak with God as if people were listening.

On Living to Oneself

Yes, I do not change my opinion: avoid the many, avoid the few, avoid even the individual.

Crates, they say, the disciple of the very Stilbo whom I mentioned in a former letter, noticed the youth walking by alone, & asked what they were doing all alone. “I am communing with myself,” replied the youth; “Pray be careful, then,” said Crates, “& take good heed; you are communing with a bad person!”

When persons are in mourning, or fearful about something, we are accustomed to watch them that we may prevent them from making a wrong use of their loneliness.

No thoughtless person ought to be left alone; in such cases they only plan folly, & heaps up future dangers for themselves or for others; they bring into play their base desires; the mind displays what fear or shame used to repress; it whets their boldness, stirs their passions, & goads their anger.

Finally, the only benefit that solitude confers, – the habit of trusting no one, & of fearing no witnesses, – is lost to the fool; for they betray themselves.

Mark therefore what my hopes are for you, – nay, rather, what I am promising myself, inasmuch as hope is merely the title of an uncertain blessing: I do not know any person with whom I should prefer you to associate rather than yourself.

You are not one of the many; you have regard for your rreal welfare.
Speak, & live, in this way; see to it that nothing keeps you down.

As for your former prayers, you may dispense the divine from answering them; offer new prayers; pray for a sound mind & for good health, first of soul & then of body, & of course you should offer these prayers frequently.

Call boldly upon the Divine; you will not be asking for that which belongs to another.

I must, as is my custom, send a little gift along with this letter; It is a true saying which I have found in Athenodorus: “Know that thou art freed from all desires, when thou hast reached such a point that thou, prayest to the Divine for nothing, except what thou canst pray for openly.”

How foolish people are now!, They whisper the basest of prayers to heaven; but if anyone listens, they are silent at once; that which they are unwilling for people to know, they communicate to God.

Livve among people as if the Gods beheld you; speak with God as if people were listening”.


Seneca, StoicTaoist.




















9. How to be Self-Sufficient ?

‘If you would be loved, love.’

The Wise One is in want of nothing, & yet needs many things.

On Philosophy & Friendship

Epicurus rebukes those who hold that the wise person is self-sufficient & for that reason does not stand in need of friendships.

This is the objection raised by Epicurus against Stilbo & those who believe that the Supreme Good is a soul which is insensible to feeling.

For it may be understood in the meaning the opposite to that which we wish it to have. What we mean to express is, a soul which rejects any sensation of evil; but people will interpret the idea as that of a soul which can endure no evil.

There is this difference between ourselves & the other school: our ideal wise person feels their troubles, but overcomes them; their wise person does not even feel them.

We & they alike hold this idea, – that the wise person is self-sufficient; Nevertheless, One desires friends, neighbours, & associates, no matter how much one is sufficient unto oneself.

Mark how self-sufficient One is; for on occasion one can be content with a part of oneself. If one lose a hand through disease, or if some accident puts out their eyes, one will be satisfied with what is left, taking as much pleasure in their impaired & maimed body as one took when it was sound.

While one does not pine for these parts if they are missing, one prefers not to lose them. In this sense the wise person is self-sufficient, that they can do without friends, not that they desire to do without them.

When I say “can,” I mean this: One endures the loss of a friend with equanimity. They need never lack friends, for it lies in their own control how soon they shall make good a loss.

Hecato, says: :

‘If you would be loved, love.’

Now there is great pleasure, not only in maintaining old & established friendships, but also in beginning & acquiring new ones. There is the same difference between winning a new friend & having already won them, as there is between the farmer who sows & the farmer who reaps.

Philosopher Attalus used to say: “It is more pleasant to make than to keep a friend, as it is more pleasant to the artist to paint than to have finished painting.”

When one is busy & absorbed in one’s work, the very absorption affords great delight; but when one has withdrawn their hand from the completed masterpiece, the pleasure is not so keen.

Henceforth it is the fruits of one’s art that one enjoys; it was the art itself that one enjoyed while one was painting.

In the case of our children, their young adulthood yields the more abundant fruits, but their infancy was sweeter.

One who regards oneself only, & enters upon friendships for this reason, reckons wrongly. The end will be like the beginning: One has made friends with one who might assist them out of bondage; at the first rattle of the chain such a friend will desert them.

These are the so-called “fair-weather” friendships; one who is chosen for the sake of utility will be satisfactory only so long as one is useful.

The beginning & the end cannot but harmonize. One who begins to be your friend because it pays will also cease because it pays.

For what purpose, then, do I make a person my friend? In order to have someone for whom I may die, whom I may follow into exile?

The friendship which you portray is a bargain & not a friendship; it regards convenience only, & looks to the results.

Beyond question the feeling of a lover has in it something akin to friendship; one might call it friendship run mad. But, though this is true, does anyone love for the sake of gain, or renown?

Pure love, careless of all other things, kindles the soul with desire for the beautiful object, not without the hope of a return of the affection.

You may retort: “We are not now discussing the question whether friendship is to be cultivated for its own sake.” On the contrary, nothing more urgently requires demonstration; for if friendship is to be sought for its own sake, one may seek it who is self-sufficient.

“How, then,” you ask, “does one seek it?” Precisely as one seeks an object of great beauty, not attracted to it by desire for gain, nor yet frightened by the instability of Fortune.

One who seeks friendship for favourable occasions, strips it of all its nobility.

“The wise person is self-sufficient.” This phrase, my dear Lucilius, is incorrectly explained by many; for they withdraw the wise person from the world, & force them to dwell within their own skin.

We must mark with care what this sentence signifies & how far it applies; the wise person is sufficient unto themselves for a happy existence, but not for mere existence.

I should like also to state to you one of the distinctions of Chrysippus who declares that,

The Wise One is in want of nothing, & yet needs many things.

“On the other hand,” they say, “nothing is needed by the fool, for they do not understand how to use anything, but they are in want of everything.”

Wise people need hands, eyes, & many things that are necessary for their daily use; but they are in want of nothing. For want implies a necessity, & nothing is necessary to the wise Ones.

Therefore, although one is self-sufficient, yet one has need of friends. One craves as many friends as possible, not, however, that one may live happily; for one will live happily even without friends.

Supreme Good calls for no practical aids from outside; it is developed at home, & arises entirely within itself. If the good seeks any portion of itself from without, it begins to be subject to the play of Fortune.

People may say: “But what sort of existence will the wise person have, if they be left friendless when thrown into prison, or when stranded in some foreign nation?”

One’s life will be like that of Jupiter, who, amid the dissolution of the world, when the gods are confounded together & Nature rests for a space from its work, can retire into oneself & give themselves over to their own thoughts.

In some such way as this the sage will act; they will retreat into themselves, & live with themselves.

As long as one is allowed to order their affairs according to their judgment, one is self-sufficient – & marries a partner; one is self-sufficient – & brings up children; one is self-sufficient – & yet could not live if one had to live without the society of people.

Natural promptings, & not, one’s own selfish needs, draw one into friendships. For just as other things have for us an inherent attractiveness, so has friendship.

As we hate solitude & crave society, as nature draws people to each other, so in this matter also there is an attraction which makes us desirous of friendship.

For Stilbo, after his country was captured & his children & his wife lost, as he emerged from the general desolation alone & yet happy, spoke as follows to Demetrius, called Sacker of Cities because of the destruction he brought upon them, in answer to the question whether he had lost anything: “I have all my goods with me!”

Here is indeed, a brave & stout-hearted person for you! The enemy conquered, but Stilbo conquered his conqueror. “I have lost nothing!” Aye, he forced Demetrius to wonder whether he himself had conquered after all. “My goods are all with me!” In other words, he deemed nothing that might be taken from him to be a good.

Do you understand now how much easier it is to conquer a whole tribe than to conquer one man?

This saying of Stilbo makes common ground with Stoicism; the Stoic also can carry their goods unimpaired through cities that have been burned to ashes; for they are self-sufficient. Such are the bounds which they set to their own happiness.

You must not think that our school alone can utter noble words; Epicurus himself, the reviler of Stilbo, spoke similar language;

“Whoever does not regard what one has as most ample wealth, is unhappy, though one be master of the whole world.”

Or, if the following seems to you a more suitable phrase, – for we must try to render the meaning & not the mere words:
“A person may rule the world & still be unhappy, if one does not feel that one is supremely happy.”

In order, however, that you may know that these sentiments are universal, suggested, of course, by Nature, you will find in one of the comic poets this verse:

Unblest is one who thinks oneself unblest.

For what does your condition matter, if it is bad in your own eyes?

You may say: “What then? If yonder people, rich by base means, shall call themselves happy, will their own opinion make them happy?”

It matters not what one says, but what one feels; also, not how one feels on one particular day, but how one feels at all times.

There is no reason, however, why you should fear that this great privilege will fall into unworthy hands; only the wise one is pleased with one’s own.

Folly is ever troubled with weariness of itself.


Seneca, StoicTaoist.





























































8. What is Fortune & Chance?

What Chance has made yours, is not really yours.
Fortune; for we think that we hold them in our grasp, but they hold us in theirs. 

On the Philosopher’s Seclusion

“Do you bid me,” you say, “shun the throng, & withdraw from people, & be content with my own conscience? Where are the counsels of your school, which order a person to die in the midst of active work?”

As to the course which I seem to you to be urging on you now & then, my object in shutting myself up & locking the door is to be able to help a greater number.

I never spend a day in idleness; I appropriate even a part of the night for study.

I do not allow time for sleep but yield to it when I must, & when my eyes are wearied with waking & ready to fall shut, I keep them at their task. 

I have withdrawn not only from people, but from affairs, especially from my own affairs; I am working for later generations, writing down some ideas that may be of assistance to them.

There are certain wholesome counsels, which may be compared to prescriptions of useful drugs; these I am putting into writing; for I have found them helpful in ministering to my own sores, which, if not wholly cured, have at any rate ceased to spread.

I point other people to the right path, which I have found late in life, when wearied with wandering.
I cry out to them: “Avoid whatever pleases the throng: avoid the gifts of Chance!

Halt before every good which Chance brings to you, in a spirit of doubt & fear; for it is the animals & fish that are deceived by tempting hopes.

Do you call these things the ‘gifts’ of Fortune? They are snares.

Any one among you who wishes to live a life of safety will avoid, to the utmost of their power, these limed twigs of its favour, by which we mortals, most wretched in this respect also, are deceived;

Fortune: for we think that we hold them in our grasp, but they hold us in theirs. 

Such a career leads us into precipitous ways, & life on such heights ends in a fall.

Moreover, we cannot even stand up against prosperity when it begins to drive us to leeward; nor can we go down, either, ‘with the ship at least on its course,’ or once for all; Fortune does not capsize us, – it plunges our bows under & dashes us on the rocks.

“Hold fast, then, to this sound & wholesome rule of life; that you indulge the body only so far as is needful for good health. The body should be treated more rigorously, that it may not be disobedient to the mind.

Eat merely to relieve your hunger; drink merely to quench your thirst; dress merely to keep out the cold; house yourself merely as a protection against personal discomfort.

It matters little whether the house be built of turf, or of variously coloured imported marble; understand that a person is sheltered just as well by a thatch as by a roof of gold.

Despise everything that useless toil creates as an ornament & an object of beauty.

Reflect that nothing except the soul is worthy of wonder; for to the soul, if it be great, naught is great.”

When I commune in such terms with myself & with future generations, do you not think that I am doing more good than when I appear as counsel in court, or stamp my seal upon a will, or lend my assistance in the senate, by word or action, to a candidate?

Believe me, those who seem to be busied with nothing are busied with the greater tasks; they are dealing at the same time with things mortal & things immortal.

But I must stop, & pay my customary contribution, to balance this letter. The payment shall not be made from my own property; for I am still conning Epicurus.

I read to-day, the following sentence: “If you would enjoy real freedom, you must be the slave of Philosophy.” The person who submits & surrenders themselves to it is not kept waiting; One is emancipated on the spot.

For the very service of Philosophy is freedom.

I recall that you yourself expressed this idea much more happily & concisely:

What Chance has made yours, is not really yours.
The good that could be given, can be removed.


Seneca, StoicTaoist.















财富: 正当我们认为已抓住了它,但它却已牢牢抓住了我们。


















7. Why not to seek Crowds? 为何不寻找人群呢?

Do not copy the bad simply because they are many,

Nor hate the many because they are unlike you.

On Crowds

Do you ask me what you should regard as especially to be avoided? I say,


for as yet you cannot trust yourself to them with safety.

I shall admit my own weakness, at any rate; for I never bring back home the same character that I took abroad with me. Something of that which I have forced to be calm within me is disturbed; some of the foes that I have routed return again.

To consort with the crowd is harmful;

there is no person who does not make some vice attractive to us, or stamp it upon us, or taint us unconsciously therewith.

Certainly, the greater the mob with which we mingle, the greater the danger.

But nothing is so damaging to good character as the habit of lounging at the games; for then it is that vice steals subtly upon one through the avenue of pleasure. 

What do you think I mean? I mean that I come home more greedy, more ambitious, more voluptuous, & even more cruel & inhuman,

– because I have been among human beings.

Come now; do you not understand even this truth, that a bad example reacts on the agent?

The young character, which cannot hold fast to righteousness, must be rescued from the mob; it is too easy to side with the majority.

Even Socrates, Cato, & Laelius might have been shaken in their moral strength by a crowd that was unlike them; so true it is that none of us, no matter how much One cultivates their abilities, can withstand the shock of faults that approach, as it were, with so great a retinue. 

Much harm is done by a single case of indulgence or greed;

the familiar friend, if they be luxurious, weakens & softens us imperceptibly;

the neighbour, if they be rich, rouses our covetousness;

the companion, if they be slanderous, rubs off some of their rust upon us, even though we be spotless & sincere.

What then do you think the effect will be on character, when the world at large assaults it!

You must either imitate or loathe the world.

But both courses are to be avoided;

you should not copy the bad simply because they are many,

nor should you hate the many because they are unlike you.

Withdraw into yourself, as far as you can. Associate with those who will make a better person of you. Welcome those whom you yourself can improve. The process is mutual; for people learn while they teach. 

There is no reason why pride in advertising your abilities should lure you into publicity, so that you should desire to recite or harangue before the general public.

One or two individuals will perhaps come in your way, but even these will have to be molded & trained by you so that they will understand you.

You may say: “For what purpose did I learn all these things?”

But you need not fear that you have wasted your efforts;

it was for yourself that you learned them.

In order, however, that I may not to-day have learned exclusively for myself, I shall share with you three excellent sayings, of the same general purport, which have come to my attention.

This letter will give you one of them as payment of my debt; the other two you may accept as a contribution in advance.

Democritus says:

“One person means as much to me as a multitude, & a multitude only as much as one person.” 

The following; they asked them what was the object of all this study applied to an art that would reach but very few. They replied:

“I am content with few, content with one, content with none at all.”

The third saying – & a noteworthy one, too – is by Epicurus:

“I write this not for the many, but for you; each of us is enough of an audience for the other.” 

Lay these words to heart, Lucilius, that you may scorn the pleasure which comes from the applause of the majority. Many people praise you; but have you any reason for being pleased with yourself, if you are a person whom the many can understand?

Your good qualities should face inwards.


Stoic, Seneca, StoicTaoist。


不要简单地抄袭它,只 因为它是多数,











































6. How to Share ? 如何分享?

Nothing is pleasant to possess, without someone to share.

Many lacked not a friend, but a friendship.

The living voice & the intimacy of a common life will help you more than the written word.

First, because people put more faith in their eyes than in their ears, &
Second, because the way is long if one follows precepts,
– but short & helpful, if one follows patterns.

On Sharing Knowledge

I feel, my dear Lucilius, that I am being not only reformed, but transformed.

I do not yet, however, assure myself, or indulge the hope, that there are no elements left in me which need to be changed.

Of course there are many that should be made more compact, or made thinner, or be brought into greater prominence.

And indeed this very fact is proof that my spirit is altered into something better, – that it can see its own faults, of which it was previously ignorant.

I therefore wish to impart to you this sudden change in myself; I should then begin to place a surer trust in our friendship,

– the true friendship which hope & fear & self-interest cannot sever, the friendship in which & for the sake of which people meet death.

I can show you many who have lacked, not a friend, but a friendship;

this, however, cannot possibly happen when souls are drawn together by identical inclinations into an alliance of honourable desires.

And why can it not happen?
Because in such cases people know that they have all things in common, especially their troubles.

You cannot conceive what distinct progress I notice that each day brings to me.

And when you say: “Give me also a share in these gifts which you have found so helpful,”
I reply that I am anxious to heap all these privileges upon you, & that I am glad to learn in order that I may teach.

Nothing will ever please me, no matter how excellent or beneficial, if I must retain the knowledge of it to myself.

And if wisdom were given me under the express condition that it must be kept hidden & not uttered, I should refuse it.

No good thing is pleasant to possess, without friends to share it.

I shall therefore send to you the actual books; & in order that you may not waste time in searching here & there for profitable topics, I shall mark certain passages, so that you can turn at once to those which I approve and admire.

Of course, however, the living voice & the intimacy of a common life will help you more than the written word.

You must go to the scene of action,
first, because people put more faith in their eyes than in their ears, &
second, because the way is long if one follows precepts, but short & helpful, if one follows patterns.

Cleanthes could not have been the express image of Zeno, if One had merely heard his lectures;
he shared in his life, saw into his hidden purposes, & watched him to see whether he lived according to his own rules.

Plato, Aristotle, & the whole throng of sages who were destined to go each their different way, derived more benefit from the character than from the words of Socrates.

It was not the class-room of Epicurus, but living together under the same roof, that made great sages of Metrodorus, Hermarchus, & Polyaenus.

Therefore I summon you, not merely that you may derive benefit, but that you may confer benefit; for we can assist each other greatly.

Meanwhile, I owe you my little daily contribution; you shall be told what pleased me to-day in the writings of Hecato;

That was indeed a great benefit; such a person can never be alone.

it is these words:

I have begun to be a friend to myself.


Stoic, Seneca, StoicTaoist。









































3. How to be Friends ?

One who reposes should act & One who acts should take repose.

When friendship is settled, you must trust; before friendship is formed, you must pass judgment.

How to be friends ?
Pass Judgment & Trust.

True and False Friendship.

You have sent a letter to me through the hand of a “friend” of yours.
And in your very next sentence you warn me not to discuss with them all the matters that concern you, saying that even you yourself are not accustomed to do this; in other words, you have in the same letter affirmed & denied that they are your friends. 

Now if you used this word of ours in the popular sense, & called them “friend” in the same way in which we speak of all candidates for election as “honourable persons,” and as we greet all people whom we meet casually, if their names slip us for the moment, with the salutation “my dear,” – so be it.

But if you consider anyone a friend whom you do not trust as you trust yourself, you are mightily mistaken & you do not sufficiently understand what true friendship means.

Indeed, I would have you discuss everything with a friend; but first of all discuss the person themselves.

When friendship is settled, you must trust; before friendship is formed, you must pass judgment.

Those people indeed put last first & confound their duties, who, violating the rules of Theophrastus, judge a person after they have made them their friends, instead of making them their friends after they have judged them.

Ponder for a long time whether you shall admit a given person to your friendship; but when you have decided to admit them, welcome them with all your heart & soul. Speak as boldly with them as with yourself. 

As to yourself, although you should live in such a way that you trust your own self with nothing which you could not entrust even to your enemy, yet, since certain matters occur which convention keeps secret, you should share with a friend at least all your worries & reflections.

Regard them as loyal, & you will make them loyal.

Some, for example, fearing to be deceived, have taught people to deceive; by their suspicions they have given their friends the right to do wrong.

Why need I keep back any words in the presence of my friend?
Why should I not regard myself as alone when in their company?

There is a class of people who communicate, to anyone whom they meet, matters which should be revealed to friends alone, & unload upon the chance listener whatever irks them.

Others, again, fear to confide in their closest intimates; & if it were possible, they would not trust even themselves, burying their secrets deep in their hearts.

But we should do neither.
It is equally faulty to trust everyone & to trust no one.
Yet the former fault is, I should say, the more ingenuous, the latter the more safe. 

In like manner you should rebuke these two kinds of people,
– both those who always lack repose, & those who are always in repose.

For love of bustle is not industry,
– it is only the restlessness of a hunted mind.

And true repose does not consist in condemning all motion as merely vexation; that kind of repose is slackness & inertia. 

Therefore, you should note the following saying, taken from my reading in Pomponius:
“Some people shrink into dark corners, to such a degree that they see darkly by day.”

No, people should combine these tendencies, &

One who reposes should act & One who acts should take repose.

Discuss the problem with Nature;

Nature will tell you that it has created both day & night.


Stoic, Seneca, StoicTaoist。

2. What is Enough ?


When being Everywhere means Nowhere.
Having what is necessary, is to have what is enough.

Discursiveness in Reading.

Judging by what you write me, and by what I hear, I am forming a good opinion regarding your future.

You do not run hither and thither and distract yourself by changing your abode;
for such restlessness is the sign of a disordered spirit.

The primary indication, to my thinking, of a well-ordered mind is a man’s ability to remain in one place and linger in his own company. 

Be careful, however, lest this reading of many authors and books of every sort may tend to make you discursive and unsteady.

You must linger among a limited number of master-thinkers, and digest their works,
if you would derive ideas which shall win firm hold in your mind.

Everywhere means nowhere.

When a person spends all his time in foreign travel, he ends by having many acquaintances, but no friends.

And the same thing must hold true of men who seek intimate acquaintance with no single author, but visit them all in a hasty and hurried manner. 

Food does no good and is not assimilated into the body if it leaves the stomach as soon as it is eaten;
nothing hinders a cure so much as frequent change of medicine;
no wound will heal when one salve is tried after another;
a plant which is often moved can never grow strong.

There is nothing so efficacious that it can be helpful while it is being shifted about.
And in reading of many books is distraction.

Accordingly, since you cannot read all the books which you may possess,
it is enough to possess only as many books as you can read. 

“But,” you reply, “I wish to dip first into one book and then into another.”

I tell you that it is the sign of an overnice appetite to toy with many dishes;
for when they are manifold and varied, they cloy but do not nourish.

So you should always read standard authors;
and when you crave a change, fall back upon those whom you read before.

Each day acquire something that will fortify you against poverty,
against death, indeed against other misfortunes as well;
and after you have run over many thoughts, select one to be thoroughly digested that day. 

This is my own custom; from the many things which I have read, I claim some one part for myself.

The thought for to-day is one which I discovered in Epicurus; he says

“Contented poverty is an honourable estate.”

Indeed, if it be contented, it is not poverty at all.
It is not the man who has too little,
but the man who craves more, that is poor.

What does it matter how much a man has laid up in his safe, or in his warehouse, how large are his flocks and how fat his dividends,
if he covets his neighbor’s property, and reckons, not his past gains, but his hopes of gains to come?

Do you ask what is the proper limit to wealth?

It is, first,
to have what is necessary,
and, second,
to have what is enough.



Stoic, Seneca, StoicTaoist。

Nourish before Craving 渴望 初中

Nourish before Craving

It is the sign of an overnice appetite to toy with many dishes; for when they are manifold and varied, they cloy but do not nourish.

So you should always read standard authors; and when you crave a change, fall back upon those whom you read before.

Nourish before Craving

当你胃口过度渴望多方面; 和多样化的迹象时,

当太多种多样时,通常是会令人反感; 最初令人愉悦的东西。


渴望 初中
渴望 初中

Crave not for variety and plenty,

As it may fill up, yet not fulfilled.

Seek not the latest & newest aplenty,

Search that which is ready & awaits within.

StoicTaoist 坚道学
Nourish before Craving

Possess Distraction 拥有 分心

Possess Distraction

In reading of many books, many is a distraction. 

Accordingly, since you cannot read all the books which you may possess, it is enough to possess only as many books as you can read.

Possess Distraction




拥有 分心
拥有 分心

Having too many, possessing too much,

Can be too distracting.

Having what is needed, is to posse that which is enough.

StoicTaoist 坚道学
Possess Distraction