In this series of blog posts I attempt to translate the Moral letters to Lucilius by Seneca into modern English.
Letter 10. Respect the opinion of others
I trust you to be by yourself. In other words I mean that I think you can behave reasonably without supervision. Try applying this idea to the people you know. If you can leave them to get on with things alone then you have belief in them. If you can’t leave them then generally speaking you don’t have much faith in them.
If a person is by themselves and also in a emotional state then we’ll want to keep an eye on them. They may not be thinking straight and could do themselves, or others, some harm. Allowing someone total freedom in some activity which is important to you, means that you have complete certainty in them.
One snag to this is that if someone wants to keep an eye on you then it is because:
- they can’t trust you to look after yourself, or
- they can’t trust you to work on an important activity alone.
You’ll have to decide for yourself which one is true.
I’m happy to say that I have confidence in leaving you by yourself, and not because I think you are emotionally fragile. By the self-assured manner in which you present yourself I know that you’ll complete important activities without the need for constant direction.
I’ll sign off with this thought; don’t be afraid to seek spiritual guidance. If anyone asks what you’re doing in this respect be confident enough to tell them, don’t try to keep it a secret.
Read the original text here.
I recommend you read all of the most influential Letters in this new Penguin Classic book. It is the best translation, in my opinion, because it captures Seneca’s humour and style. It is also the easiest to read. My copy is full of highlighted lines, margin notes and tabs. A treasure chest of profound, practical advice which you can apply immediately.
Warning: this is not an academic text; it describes a hands-on philosophy of life. Discover powerful, instantly helpful wisdom. The complete guide to a improving your day-to-day activities, thoughts and actions.