chapter  9
9 Pages

Preserving the Soul's Health

When the soul is goodl101 and virtuous, zealous to attain virtue and acquire felicity, and obsessedllo2 with the winning of true sciences and certain knowledge (in all its forms),llo3 its owner is obliged to take thought for those things which invoke the retention of these conditions and the maintenance of these prescriptions. Now, just as, in medicine, the rule for preserving the body's health is to use that which is wholesome to the constitution, so the rule for preserving the health of the soul is to prefer association and intercourse with such persons as are congenial and collaborative in respect of the aforementioned qualities. Nothing has a greater effect on the soul than a companion or close friend: for this reason, one must be on one's guard against the intimacy or fellowship of persons not adorned with these talents, and especially against intercourse with men of evil and defective' character, such as those who have achieved notoriety for tomfoolery and impudence,llo4 or expended their aspiration on attaining (the fruits of) foul appetites or winning lewd pleasures; for the avoidance· of this class is the most important condition and the thing most necessary for one who would preserve this health. Moreover, just as it is necessary to guard against intercourse with them, so it is necessary to guard against lending an ear to their tales and anecdotes, or listening to their reports and discussions and poetry-recitals and idle stories, or attending their gatherings and receptions, especially when such occasions are alloyed with the approval of the inner self and the inclination of nature;1105 for from attending one gathering, or listening to one pleasantry, or reciting one line of poetry in such a way, so much filth and impurity attaches itself to the soul that it can be purified therefrom only by lapse of days and severe remedies. It often happens that such situations have become the occasion of corrupting men of outstanding virtue,llo6 the means of leading astray those both shrewd and learned;l107 what, then, can one expect in the case of young men still in training or tyros seeking their way as yet?1108