The Man In The Well, And The Path Of Wisdom

In his allegorical work Kalila and Dimna, writer Ibn Muqaffa describes the journey to wisdom of one of his characters, a man named Barzouyeh.  Barzouyeh was the man sent by the king of Persia to India for the purpose of acquiring the precious text of Kalila and Dimna, which was reputed to contain a treasure-trove of worldly wisdom.  Ibn Muqaffa spends a good deal of time discussing Barzouyeh’s education and path to worldly wisdom; and it will be instructive for us to relate it here.

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The Eight Qualities Of The Man Of Understanding

One of the first and greatest classics of Arabic prose is the Book of Kalila and Dimna.  It is a collection of fables told with an allegorical purpose, but it is presented with such wisdom, poetic eloquence, and engaging humor as to make it one of the treasures of world literature.  Its pedigree verifies its merit.  The stories it contains were originally derived from a Sanskrit classic called the Panchatantra, but a Persian scholar and translator named Ibn Muqaffa’ (ابن المقفع‎‎), writing around 740 A.D., reworked the stories into something that was entirely original.

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Whether It Is Advisable To Change Religions, Or Remain With An Inherited Faith

It is well-known that there is great variability in religious practices across the world.  Climate, geography, and historical memory shape the outlook of man; and what may be routine and normal for one, may be seen as anathema to another.  Yet this variability in practices does not mean that morals, or beliefs, are irrelevant; it only means that man has proven himself infinitely creative in adapting customs to environment.

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Avoiding Irritating And Boorish Habits In Conversation

We are all acquainted with those people who have not sense enough to keep a conversation flowing smoothly.  They have never been taught the conversational arts; they have nothing of consequence to talk about; and they try to compensate for these deficiencies by taxing the patience of their interlocutors.  I have noticed a sharp rise in such boorish behavior in recent years; and it shows every indication of continuing its upward trend.  I felt motivated to write a few lines on this subject, if for no other reason than to record my own displeasure.

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The Sirens Seduced Not With Song Or Pleasure, But With The Prospect Of Knowledge

Many readers, no doubt, have heard the Homeric fable about the Sirens.  These were the alluring mythical creatures who, by using their advanced powers of song, were able to divert mariners who happened to sail by the rocks they inhabited in the Mediterranean Sea.  Their voices were supposed to be so seductive that sailors could not resist them.  And when they approached the Sirens’ rocks to get a better look, they ran aground and were destroyed.  This, at least, is what the Greek mythologists have told us.

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One Should Avoid Dangerous Places: The Rescue Of Euthymios And His Brethren

When considering tales from the lives of the great saints, we should be more mindful of the moral imparted by the story than strictly attentive to the accuracy of its details.  We must take into account the perspective of the writer, his proximity to the events he describes, and his moral purposes.  To do anything less would defeat the purpose of the anecdote.  Yet I am confident that many of the stories related by the biographer of Euthymios the Younger (823 A.D.?–898 A.D.) are based on actual events, and are not the idle speculations of the cloister.  One of these stories we will now relate.

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Euthymios Declares His Life’s Road

At some point in every man’s life, he must declare the road he wishes to follow.  This statement may be openly verbal, or it may be spoken indirectly, through actions and deeds.  It does not matter how the statement is made:  the point is that it is made, whether the man is aware of it or not.  There exists a need in every human heart to declare itself to the outside world, and this need cannot indefinitely be suppressed.  It must find a voice.

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