062 - On Good Examples - Moral Letters for Modern Times
We do not lack for knowledge of what to do, we lack the will to do it. The collective wisdom of humanity lays revealed before us. We need not even leave our homes to browse these volumes, for they are never farther than an internet search away. Do not give yourself the excuse, Deuteros, that you do not know the path when you fail to seek it. Many have gone before you and you need but follow their footsteps.
For myself, though I may sit alone on a bench with my face to the sun, I am in the presence of many teachers: the lessons of Confucius are before my eyes as if I sat in his classroom; the words of Cicero ring out as if I was in the forum to hear them delivered live; when I call to mind Seneca’s letters to Lucilius, I feel they are written directly to me; and though Marcus Aurelius was recording his personal thoughts, it is as though they are playing out in my own head.
No matter where I am and no matter what I am doing, I have these examples always before me. I can almost see them gathered around me like force ghosts. It helps me to imagine they are watching me just as I am watching them. In this way, I know not only what to do, I feel myself encouraged daily to take the proper steps to do what I ought to do.
The only riches you can be guaranteed to possess are those that are contained within you. External things come and go, and their pursuit will distract you from things that matter. The best way to become wealthy is to become rich in your mind. Plunder the wisdom of the ages and take into your ownership your self-possession. When your thoughts have thus become well-ordered by following the good examples of others, then you become a good example yourself, able to pass on your riches to future generations in ways that no inheritance tax can diminish.