Saturday, September 10, 2011

"If you seek tranquillity, do less" (and better)

--- Democritus frg B 3, quoted by Marcus Aurelius in Meditations Book 4, 24

More interesting is Aurelius's gloss on Democritus, here from Gregory Hays's new translation (Modern Library 2003)

If you seek tranquillity, do less.” Or (more accurately) do what’s essential – what the logos of a social being requires, and in the requisite way. Which brings a double satisfaction: to do less, better.

Because most of what we say and do is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you‘ll have more time, and more tranquillity. Ask yourself at every moment, “Is this necessary”?

But we need to eliminate unnecessary assumptions as well. To eliminate unnecessary actions that follow.