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Finding Contentment through Understanding Mortality: Selections from the Works of Pierre Gassendi (vegetarian), Part 1 of 2

2024-02-28
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Today, it is an honor to present selections from “Three Discourses of Happiness, Virtue, and Liberty – Collected from the Works of the Learn’d Gassendi by Monsieur Bernier.”

THE FIRST BOOK CONCERNING HAPPINESS. CHAPTER 1: What Happiness Is

Some Particulars needful to be examined, and considered, which will contribute very much to the Repose and Happiness of the Mind.

“The best and only remedy to pass our life free and void of trouble, is to suit ourselves to our nature, to desire nothing but what it requires, and to esteem the last moment of our life as a free gift of Providence, and to dispose and prepare ourselves in such a manner, that when death approaches, we may say, I have lived, and I have finished the race that nature has appointed me. She calls away, but I come of mine own accord. Nature requires of me what I am entrusted with, I yield it willingly: I am commanded to die, I expire without regret.

We might also very well make use of the advice of Lucretius, and speak thus to ourselves. The greatest and most mighty monarchs of the world are dead; and Scipio, that Thunderbolt of War, and Terror of Carthage, has left his bones in the earth. […] Anchises, the most religious of all men, and Homer the Prince of the Poets, are dead; and shall we murmur to die? But more to comfort thee – Consider, Ancus perished long ago; Ancus, a better man by much than thou. Consider, mighty kings in pampered state Fall, and ingloriously submit to fate. Scipio that Scourge of Carthage, now the grave […]”

“And cannot thou, O wretch, resolve to die? Then how dare thou repine to die and grieve, Thou [more limited] soul, thou dead even whilst alive? That sleeps and dreams the most of life away, Thy night is full as rational as thy day. Still vext with cares, who never understood The principles of ill, nor use of good, Nor whence thy cares proceed, but reel about, In vain unsettled thoughts, condemned to doubt.”

“These considerations therefore ought to teach us, that our life of what sort [of any kind], is to be computed, not by its length, but by the good qualifications and pleasures that attend it. In the same manner (said Seneca) ‘As the perfection of a circle ought to be computed, not by the greatness, but by the exact roundness of the figure.’ ‘O vain and indiscreet diligence,’ said Pliny, ‘men compute the number of their days, where they should only seek their true worth.’”
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