Even A Small Cave May Hold Calamities

The decrees of Fortune may be postponed, but they can never be vacated.  He who imagines that he can avoid these rulings is like the man who exerts his limited control over a raft traveling on a swiftly-moving river; he may be able to organize the furnishings on his raft, but it is the river that decides his course.  It swirls him about in its currents and eddies; it pushes him against projecting rocks and rapids; and its flux holds him firmly in its aquatic grip.  Individual effort can arrest or divert this course, but only under certain conditions.  Most men are unable to summon the required exertions of will necessary to resist such implacable torrents.  We celebrate heroism because it is so uncommon, and because it represents, in some ways, a kind of conscious rebellion against Fortune’s unfeeling mandates.

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In Trying To Avoid One Harm, You May Cause A Worse One

Aesop tells the following tale called “The Son and the Painted Lion.”  A fearful old man was worried about his robust son’s enthusiasm for hunting wild game.  He imagined that the son’s courage might go too far, and result in serious bodily injury or death.  So he did everything he could to shelter and sequester his son; yet his fears grew constantly, even reaching the point where he began to dream about possible disasters.

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The Font Of Life And Leadership

How often do we really think about time, and our interactions with it?  We know that Augustine of Hippo, in his Confessions (XI.20), expended significant effort on the nature of time, and its effect on human affairs.  In his view it was not accurate to say, as we normally do, that the three “times” are past, present, and future.  The better way of understanding our perception of time, he says, is to observe that the three “varieties” of time co-existing in our souls are the following:

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The Monkey Atop The Ship’s Mast, And How To Deal With Him

A nineteenth-century volume of nautical lore provides the following story of a strange incident at sea.  In 1818 there was a ship—its name is not recorded by the tale’s author—on its homeward voyage from Jamaica to Whitehaven, England.  One of the passengers was a young mother with her infant child, who was only several weeks old.  One day, the ship’s captain saw something on the horizon, and offered his spyglass to the mother, so that she might for herself see what it was.  She wrapped her child in her shawl and placed it carefully on the seat where she had been sitting.

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The Humor And Wisdom Of Ibn Sabir Al-Manjaniki

Ibn Sabir Al-Manjaniki’s full name was Abu Yusuf Ibn Sabir Ibn Hauthara Al-Manjaniki; we note it here for completeness, and will not repeat it again.  He was also known in some circles by the surname Najm Al-Din, which means “star of religion.”  He was born  in Baghdad in January 1159, and spent his early life there.  He is nearly unique in having achieved enduring fame in two completely separate disciplines:  military engineering and poetry.

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Sooner Or Later, Everyone Must Take A Side

The Athenian statesman and lawgiver Solon is said to have enacted an unusual law in 594 B.C.  The essence of the law was that, in times of civil conflict or crisis, every citizen had to take one side or another.  Neutrality was not an option; one could not “sit on the sidelines” and wait things out.  Anyone doing so would run the risk of being declared an outlaw (atimos), and might have his property confiscated.

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Greed Is Always Their Undoing

In the first book of the Panchatantra (the classic Sanskrit collection of moral fables), the writer, Vishnu Sarma, mentions “five evils” that can befall an individual or a state:  absence or dearth; rebellion; addiction; calamities; and tactical inversions.  Each of these is explained in the following way.

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