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Moral Letters to Lucilius (MLTL) # 4: On the Terrors of Death


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Summary: Set your mind at peace with itself, to remain scared of death is like being a child who is afraid of the dark. Death should not be as dreaded as it is, as it cannot be with you. It either arrives and you don’t exist or it hasn't come at all. If fear can inspire people to gladly die, such as a slave who kills himself after running away to avoid capture, then why shouldn’t virtue be able to allay the fear of death? A mind that focuses on lengthening life is not at peace. Rehearse this thought each day so you may depart contently, don’t be like a man carried by the current clutching to briers and sharp rocks.

Most people live between the fear of death and hardships of life, unwilling to live and not knowing how to die. Banish your worry and live. No possession can make you happy unless you are at peace with its loss. It makes even less sense to worry about loss of life as once it is lost it cannot be missed. Everyone around you has the power to bring death to you. If you are led to death today it is of no matter, you were heading to that destination anyway. Also, remember that to truly be wealthy is to avert hunger, cold and thirst. It is for superfluous things that men sweat.

Reflection: Good tips but it will take a lot of discipline to follow. But why worry: you can not add a second to your life by worrying. You can however internalize goals to make yourself healthy as possible and to die in the least uncomfortable way as possible.


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