Monday, January 28, 2013

Art of Worldly Wisdom - more

98. Write your intentions in cipher.
The passions are the gates of the soul. The most practical knowledge consists in disguising them. He that plays with cards exposed runs a risk of losing the stakes. The reserve of caution should combat the curiosity of inquirers: adopt the policy of the cuttlefish. Do not even let your tastes be known, lest others utilize them either by running counter to them or by flattering them.

141. Do not listen to yourself.
It is no use pleasing yourself if you do not please others, and as a rule general contempt is the punishment for self-satisfaction. The attention you pay to yourself you probably owe to others. To speak and at the same time listen to yourself cannot turn out well. If to talk to oneself when alone is folly, it must be doubly unwise to listen to oneself in the presence of others. It is a weakness of the great to talk with a recurrent "as I was saying" and "eh?" which bewilders their hearers. At every sentence they look for applause or flattery, taxing the patience of the wise. So too the pompous speak with an echo, and as their talk can only totter on with the aid of stilts, at every word they need the support of a stupid "bravo!"

158.  Make use of your friends.
This requires all the art of discretion. Some are good afar off, some when near. Many are no good at conversation but excellent as correspondents, for distance removes some failings which are unbearable in close proximity to them. Friends are for use even more than for pleasure, for they have the three qualities of the Good, or, as some say, of Being in general: unity, goodness, and truth. For a friend is all in all. Few are worthy to be good friends, and even these become fewer because men do not know how to pick them out. To keep is more important than to make friends. Select those that will wear well; if they are new at first, it is some consolation they will become old. Absolutely the best are those well salted, though they may require soaking in the testing. There is no desert like living without friends. Friendship multiplies the good of life and divides the evil. ’Tis the sole remedy against misfortune, the very ventilation of the soul.

Number 98 sounds cynical but it can also be an exercise in limiting the ego in that we do not indulge ourselves with bothering everyone with our opinions, thoughts and tastes.  Chogyam Trungpa urges the adaptation of "inscrutability" as one of the traits of what he calls a warrior.

Number 141 also tends to undermine the ego, we don't try to double check ourselves when it is only necessary to be natural and at ease.

Number 158 starts off sounding cynical but then turns rather cuddly for Gracian.  He recognizes man as a social creature who needs the give and take of true friendship.

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