Intro To Benefits

What is a Benefit?
How to give and receive a benefit?

Seneca(4BC – 65AD) was a stoic philosopher, statesman, rhetorician, and one of the richest people in the Roman Empire. Seneca starts by shaming one of the worst faults of humans, which is misusing and mismanaging benefits – scattering benefits at random rather than bestowing them.

We do not need our wealth, but only our intention to set us free from the obligation of it


  • The art of doing a kindness that bestows pleasure and gains by bestowing it
  • A thing that exists only in the mind of the doer/giver
  • Pure and untainted and held holy by all – Without a strict or binding conditions
  • Necessarily good, yet that which is done or given has a neutral state(neither good or bad)
  • Is a loan
    • Repayment depends merely upon the good feeling of the debtor
    • Repaid by being acknowledged 
      • He who doesn’t repay a benefit sins more, but he who doesn’t bestow one, sins earlier
  • Does its office by a natural and spontaneous impulse
  • Depends upon the direction given by the guiding spirit (in which is done), from which things receive their shape
  • Expenditure: If anyone returns it, that is a clear gain. If it is not returned, it is not lost, because it was given for the sake of giving 
    • Nothing is lost because he who loses had counted the cost before

It is an art to give or receive a benefit. Giving a benefit should be done without a delay, carefully, in a kind matter (not offensive), and not put with an interest – as Seneca says that virtue consists in bestowing benefits for which we are not certain of meeting with any return, but whose fruit is at once enjoyed by noble minds.

That which is seen is not a benefit, but the trace and mark of a benefit. There is a great difference between the subject matter of a benefit and the benefit itself :

Wherefore neither gold nor silver, nor any of those things which are highly esteemed, are benefits, but the benefit lies in the goodwill of him who gives them

The goodwill or kindness that gives these things(Money /Lasting presents/ Position) their value – all those things are means by which a kindly feeling manifests itself.


From – On Benefits


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