Preserving Something For Time To Make Better

Before I explore the main subject of this essay, I wanted to relate a tale about Alexander the Great’s leadership acumen.  The historian Arrian relates an event that he believes best distills Alexander’s genius for command.  It can be found in VI.26 of his History of Alexander.  When Alexander and his army were passing through the Gedrosian desert (a part of what is now Baluchistan), they ran low on water and began to be tormented by extreme thirst.  Water was almost nowhere to be found, and it would be some time before they could reach a reliable aquifer.

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A Man Is Often The Cause Of His Own Misfortune

A reasonable amount of experience in life teaches us that we are often the source of the wrongs that fall upon our shoulders.  This is not always true, of course; but even a short period of honest reflection will reveal to us, if we examine the details of things, that we might have handled some situations better than we in fact did.  Learning does not take place without honest examination; and the first person who is in need of this honesty is ourselves.

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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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