Sunday, July 15, 2012

Not Zen 14: Slave Status

The stoic master Seneca became famous for his talks on spiritual harmony with nature. Students came from afar to hear his speeches, which he gave in his courtyard and in his orchard. Wealthy followers gave him money for the lectures.

"You are held in more esteem than any other in the city," one follower told him.

"Such is life," said the stoic. He knew there were others as worthy as he but they did not speak as well.

Late one summer, the city was overrun by a barbarian army. Thousands of citizens were killed. Many thousands more were captured and taken as slaves. They were forced to work in fields and huddle together for shelter.

"You are the lowest of the low," said their captors.

"Such is life," said Seneca. He reported for work early every morning and assisted with the harvests as ordered.

A month later, the invaders divided their forces. Soon a Roman army re-captured the fields. They unshackled the slaves, including Seneca.

"You are free!" shouted the soldiers.

The former slaves cheered, except for Seneca. Unlike the others, Seneca saw no reason to celebrate his freedom. He had never felt the weight of slavery or the fear of death.

"Thank you," he said. He calmly shook the hands of several soldiers. "What now?"

"Now we must all work in the orchards to bring in the rest of the harvest," they ordered. "It is the will of the new emperor!"

"Such is life," said the master.

No comments:

Post a Comment