To the men of SOP
By Luke Seneca
A man should lean on himself. Truth lies open for all; it has not been monopolized. And there is plenty of it left to discover. For a man to follow Vanguard is disgraceful.
You are doing something excellent if you persist in your effort to attain knowledge. But it is foolish to pay for it, when you can acquire it yourself. You do not need to pay tribute to Vanguard, or beg to approach him as an idol as if, in this way, your wish is more likely to be granted.
I do not trust Vanguard to tell me what is true or false: I have a better and more trustworthy light by which I can distinguish what is true from what is false: let the mind find out what is good for the mind.
A greater god than Vanguard is near you, with you, and in you. There sits a holy spirit within us, one who marks our good and bad deeds, and is a guardian. I distinguish by the mind, which is the proper judge.
Of course, Vanguard is dangerous, if you retreat. Every trouble that Vanguard brings attacks us all the harder if we hide and turn our backs. He is mad. There is no limit to his greed, none to his cruelty. His cruelties are practiced in secret. He is dogmatic and constantly moralizing. He pretends to be the gentlest, most compassionate being, but he is not ashamed to revel in litigation, to wage war on former friends and lovers. He has made life, for many people, a battle. His cruelty springs from weakness.
Your lack of confidence in standing up and fighting Vanguard is not the result of difficulty. The difficulty comes from your lack of confidence.
His slaves are chained. The chain of one is made of gold, and wide, while that of another is short and rusty. But what difference does it make? The same enslavement surrounds all of them, and even those who have bound others are bound themselves; unless you think that a chain on the left side is lighter.
You must go to the scene of action, first, because men put more faith in their eyes than in their ears, and second, because the way is long if one follows precepts, but short and helpful, if one follows patterns.