In the last week, I chose some philosophy genre to read. To grab your eyeballs on this article I will put here a wonderful quote by the Italian philosopher “Seneca”.
" But the man who spends all his time on his own needs, who organizes every day as though it were his last, neither longs for nor fears the next day. "
This book is all about how one can overcome the fear of death. It tells how precious the time is for an individual. The time is not the mysterious thing, it is just an unstoppable force. How people can try to find immortality in their deeds is subjected in Seneca’s writings.
Author — Seneca The Younger
On the shortness of life is a classic book written by an Italian philosopher named Seneca who is normally referred as Seneca The Younger. He is the follower of many other before generation philosophers like Epicurus, Ovid, Euripides, Virgil, Zeno of Citium, Publilius Syrus, Chrysippus, Posidonius.
He is the center of Stoic philosophy. He had been tutor to Rome’s emperor, Nero since the younger man was twelve or thirteen. Seneca is one of the closest advisors in the Nero rule. He is a truly celebrated intellect in the Rome in 50AD. He wrote many letters of advice to normal public (sometimes emperor Nero as the subject too). The important ones are:
- On the Mercy
- On the shortness of life
- On the happy life
- On tranquillity of mind
- On leisure
In this article, we will look at the Seneca’s views on the shortness of life.
The nature of Fortune
Always we are happy of the fortunes those comes in our way. Few of us won’t stand on the ground when any kind of huge success bestow upon us. Always one should be careful about the lurking pitfalls and failures next to the happy giving fortunes. Keep the mindset of a neutral man who views both the fortunes and losses as the events you observe in the path of time. An emperor can conquer the entire world without a single failure, but death finally claims him. For that reason, Seneca tells
“ Fortune is never less to be trusted.Whatever comes our way by chance is unsteady, and the higher it rises the more liable it is to fall. ”
The nature of Mortality
All the men are mortal. This is the universal truth which we study frequently. Seneca sees life as a mortal journey to achieve immortality. He points that humans always wish for more. Their desires are never ending. It means desires are immortal(never dying). Normal people like us always feel we should be granted with a continuous stream of fortunes. But when it comes to the death or sickness we fear like we are mortals. So valor is the only way to encounter all the fears.
“ You act like mortals in all that you fear and act like immortals in all that you desire. The man who feels the death as a luxury as other is the one who is really immortal“
The nature of Time
Life is long enough to prove ourselves and do good deeds. We are given a sufficiently generous amount of time to achieve higher things if it were all invested. But we waste the majority of time on heedless luxury. So the moral is we are not given a short life but we make it short. We are finally forced by death’s constraint to realize that golden chance had passed away. Few people argue that person lived for 100 years is lucky than one perished in 40 years. But Seneca tells “There are two types of time. Useful & Useless. People don’t realize how much time they should spend in what”.
The time escapes you rapidly. Even though we were given a thousand years, it will be shrunk into the tiniest span, because the actual useful time is so slippery and fast. It naturally passes quickly.
Like the princely wealth passed to a bad owner will suffer, time given to a normal individual will diminish. A diligent owner will increase it a hundred folds. Similarly, if we manage our time properly lifetime extends promptly.
“ So you must not think a man has lived long because he has white hair and wrinkles: he has not lived long, just existed long.
If you don’t grasp the time first, it flees.’ And even if you do grasp it, it will still flee. So you must match time’s swiftness with your speed in using it, and you must drink quickly as though from a rapid stream that will not always flow ”
The finest day is always the first to flee. So don’t lose the first chance you get instead of postponing action to another day.
The nature of Death
For a lazy man, a life in leisure is truly an ideal pre-occupation. The person who postpones things may not keep up with the pace of time and eventually lose it. But the one who truly do the good and clever deeds ends up with time well invested. So, however, short the life is fully sufficient for him. And therefore whenever his last day comes, the wise man will not hesitate to meet death with a firm step.
The man who consults daily about himself, who will tell him the truth without insulting him and praise him without flattery will be a wise man. Now while the blood is hot you should make your way with vigor to better things.
After reading the book, I have mixed reviews about Seneca, that he is a very rich man and advisor of emperor Nero. At the same time, he is a philosopher who is preaching about the life and time. I read this book slowly to understand the context in which he wrote it. But one thing is sure. Seneca is a great thinker of all time. He tried to change the ruthless Nero and failed. But luckily his words will give us the courage to encounter the death when it finally comes to us.
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