Coming Full Circle

As a man hopefully grows in experience and knowledge, he will begin to notice a curious thing.  The knowledge that he continues to acquire, and the sights that he continues to see here and there, subtly redirect him back to where he first departed.  It is almost as if some grand cosmic joke is at work.  Now when I say we return to where we first started, I do not mean that we return as ignorant as when we first left.  We have grown, matured, and become more complete; there is no going back to the old ways and old days.  And yet, as knowledge grows, we begin to long for the places of our youth:  the sights and sounds of our younger days, and the pleasant connections to eras past.  Wisdom reduces all things to their essentials.

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Treachery Ensnares Some, But Is Defeated By Others

Every man who goes about his business must be attuned to the realities of his surroundings.  He should not close his eyes to what lies within his field of vision; and he must not delude himself by rationalizing the treacherous intentions of others.  The prudent man will not see plots and conspiracies everywhere, for this is the mentality of a craven fool; but he will still maintain a healthy alertness and awareness of his environment.  Such a policy might have saved the life of the camel in the tale that follows, as we will see.

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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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