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Seneca – Moral Letters – 94: On the Value of Advice

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The Moral Letter to Lucilius are a collection of 124 letters which were written by Seneca the Younger at the end of his life, during his retirement, and written after he had worked for the Emperor Nero for fifteen years. (These Moral Letters are the same letters which Tim Ferriss promotes in the Tao of Seneca)

Translated by Richard Mott Gummere
https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Moral_letters_to_Lucilius/
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Notes:
“precepts will be of no avail while the mind is clouded with error;
only when the cloud is dispersed will it be clear what one’s duty is
in each case Otherwise, you will merely be showing the sick man
what he ought to do if he were well, instead of making him well”

“Indeed, the persons who take the greatest pains to proffer such
advice are themselves unable to put it into practice”

“Shall you then offer precepts that are clear, or precepts that are
doubtful? Those which are clear need no counsellor, and doubtful
precepts gain no credence; so the giving of precepts is superfluous”

“To one who knows, it is superfluous to give precepts; to one who does not know, it is insufficient”

“What good does it do to point out the obvious? A great deal of
good; for we sometimes know facts without paying attention to
them”

“The mind often tries not to notice even that which lies before our
eyes; we must therefore force upon it the knowledge of things that
are perfectly well known.”

“Hence, you must be continually brought to remember these facts;
for they should not be in storage, but ready for use. And whatever is
wholesome should be often discussed and often brought before the
mind, so that it may be not only familiar to us, but also ready to hand.
And remember, too, that in this way what is clear often becomes
clearer.”

“The soul carries within itself the seed of everything that is
honourable, and this seed is stirred to growth by advice, as a spark
that is fanned by a gentle breeze develops its natural fire.”

“…there are certain things which, though in the mind, yet are not
ready to hand but begin to function easily as soon as they are put
into words.”

“one who has learned and understood what he should do and
avoid, is not a wise man until his mind is metamorphosed into the
shape of that which he has learned.”

“…although these things result from a sound state of mind, yet the
sound state of mind also results from them; it is both creative of
them and resultant from them.”

“if one awaits the time when one can know of oneself what the best
line of action is, one will sometimes go astray and by going astray
will be hindered from arriving at the point where it is possible to be
content with oneself.”

“Each man, in corrupting others, corrupts himself”

“If you would wield a command that is profitable to yourself, and
injurious to nobody, clear your own faults out of the way.”

“It is so: claqueurs and witnesses are irritants of all our mad foibles.
You can make us cease to crave, if you only make us cease to display.
Ambition, luxury, and waywardness need a stage to act upon; you
will cure all those ills if you seek retirement.”

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