Strategic Principles to Personal Serenity and Moral Direction Amid the Trials and Troubles of Life. (Part 3)


The relevance of faithfulness

  • The essence of faithfulness lies first in holding correct opinions and attitudes regarding the Ultimate.
  • Remember that the divine order is intelligent and fundamentally good.
  • Life is not a series of random, meaningless episodes, but an ordered, elegant whole that follows ultimately comprehensible laws.
  • The divine will exists and directs the universe with justice and goodness.
  • Though it is not always apparent if you merely look at the surface of things, the universe we inhabit is the best possible universe.
  • Fix your resolve on expecting justice and goodness and order, and they will increasingly reveal themselves to you in all your affairs.

Strategic Principles to Personal Serenity and Moral Direction Amid the Trials and Troubles of Life. (Part 1)

Strategic Principles to Personal Serenity and Moral Direction Amid the Trials and Troubles of Life. (Part 2)

  • Trust that there is a divine intelligence whose intentions direct the universe.
  • Make it your utmost goal to steer your life by the will of divine order.
  • When you strive to conform your intentions and actions with the divine order, you don’t feel persecuted, helpless, confused, or resentful toward the circumstances of your life.
  • You will feel strong, purposeful, and sure.

Faithfulness is not blind belief

  • It consists of steadfastly practicing the principle of shunning those things that are not within your control, leaving them to be worked out according to the natural system of responsibilities.
  • Cease trying to anticipate or control events.
  • Instead, accept them with grace and intelligence.
  • It is impossible to remain faithful to your ordained purpose if you drift into imagining that those things outside your power are inherently good or evil.
  • When this happens the habit of blaming outside factors for our lot in life inevitably sets in, and we lose ourselves in a negative spiral of envy, strife, disappointment, anger, and reproach.
  • For by nature, all creatures recoil from the things they think would do them harm and seek out and admire those things that seem good and helpful.
  • The second aspect of faithfulness is the importance of prudently observing the customs of your family, your country, and your local community.
  • Perform your community’s rituals with a pure heart, without greed or extravagance.
  • In doing so, you join the spiritual order of your people and further the ultimate aspirations of humanity.
  • Faithfulness is the antidote to bitterness and confusion. It confers the conviction that we are ready for anything the divine will intends for us.
  • Your aim should be to view the world as an integrated whole, to faithfully incline your whole being toward the highest good, and to adopt the will of nature as your own.

You are not an isolated entity, but a unique, irreplaceable part of nature.

  • Don’t forget this.
  • You are an essential piece of the puzzle of humanity.
  • Each of us is a part of a vast, intricate, and perfectly ordered human community.
  • But where do you fit into this web of humanity?
  • To whom are you beholden?
  • Look for and come to understand your connections to other people.
  • We properly locate ourselves within the cosmic scheme by recognizing our natural relations to one another and thereby identifying our duties.
  • Our duties naturally emerge from such fundamental relations as our families, neighbourhoods, workplaces, our state, or nation.
  • Make it your regular habit to consider your roles as parent, child, neighbour, citizen, and leader and the natural duties that arise from them.
  • Once you know who you are and to whom you are linked, you will know what to do.
  • When you are faithfully occupied with performing the acts of a wise and decent person, seeking to conform your intentions and acts to the divine will, you do not feel victimized by the words or deeds of others.
  • At worst, those words and deeds will seem amusing or pitiable.

Except for extreme physical abuse, other people cannot hurt you unless you allow them to.

  • And this holds even if the person is your parent, brother, sister, teacher, or employer.
  • Don’t consent to be hurt and you won’t be hurt this is a choice over which you have control.
  • Most people tend to delude themselves into thinking that freedom comes from doing what feels good or what fosters comfort and ease.
  • The truth is that people who subordinate reason to their feelings of the moment are slaves of their desires and aversions.
  • They are ill-prepared to act effectively and nobly when unexpected challenges occur, as they inevitably will.
  • Authentic freedom places a demand on us.
  • In discovering and comprehending our fundamental relations to one another and zestfully performing our duties, true freedom, which all people long for, is indeed possible.

Cultivate the habit of surveying and testing a prospective action before undertaking it.

  • Before you proceed, step back and look at the big picture, lest you act rashly on raw impulse.
  • Determine what happens first, consider what that leads to, and then act on what you’ve learned.
  • When we act without circumspection, we might begin a task with great enthusiasm; then, when unforeseen or unwanted consequences follow, we shamefully retreat and are filled with regret:
  • “I would have done this; I could have done that; I should have done it differently.”
  • A half-hearted spirit has no power.

  • Tentative efforts lead to tentative outcomes.
  • Average people enter into their endeavours headlong and without care.
  • Perhaps they meet with an exemplary figure like Euphrates and become inspired to excel themselves.
  • It is all well and good to do this, but consider first the real nature of your aspirations, and measure that against your capacities.
  • Be honest with yourself.

  • Assess your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Do you have what it takes to compete at this time?
  • It is one thing to wish to be a champion or to do something skilfully;
  • It is another to do it and to do it with consummate skill.
  • Different people are made for different things.
  • Just as certain capacities are required for success in a particular area, so too are certain sacrifices required
  • If you wish to become proficient in the art of living with wisdom, do you think that you can eat and drink to excess?
  • Do you think you can continue to succumb to anger and your habits of frustration and unhappiness?


  • If true wisdom is your object and you are sincere, you will have work to do for yourself.
  • You will have to overcome many unhealthy cravings and knee-jerk reactions.
  • You will have to reconsider whom you associate with.
  • Are your friends and associates worthy people?
  • Does their influence on their habits, values, and behaviour elevate you or reinforce the slovenly habits from which you seek to escape?
  • The life of wisdom, like anything else, demands its price.
  • You may, in following it, be ridiculed and even end up with the worst of everything in all parts of your public life, including your career, your social standing, and your legal position in the courts.
  • Once you have given due consideration to all of the constituent details that compose the effort to live the higher life, venture forth with your utmost effort.
  • Make the necessary sacrifices that are the price for the worthiest of goals: freedom, even-mindedness, and tranquillity.
  • If, however, upon honestly appraising your mettle, you are not fit or ready, free yourself from delusion and tread a different, more realistic road.
  • If you try to be something you’re not or strive for something completely beyond your present capacities, you end up as a pathetic dabbler, trying first to be a wise person, then a bureaucrat, then a politician, then a civic leader.
  • These roles are not consistent.
  • You can’t be flying off in countless directions, however appealing they are, and at the same time live an integrated, fruitful life.
  • You can only be one person either a good person or a bad person.

  • You have two essential choices.
  • Either you can set yourself to developing your reason, cleaving to truth, or you can hanker after externals.
  • The choice is yours and yours alone.
  • You can either put your skills toward internal work or lose yourself to externals, which is to say, be a person of wisdom or follow the common ways of the mediocre.

Don’t surrender your mind.

  • If someone were to casually give your body away to any old passerby, you would naturally be furious.
  • Why then do you feel no shame in giving your precious mind over to any person who might wish to influence you?
  • Think twice before you give up your mind to someone who may revile you, leaving you confused and upset.

Learn the will of nature. Study it, pay attention to it, and then make it your own.

  • The will of nature is revealed to us through everyday experiences common to all people.
  • For example, if a neighbour’s child breaks a bowl, or some similar thing, we readily say,
  • “These things happen.”
  • When your bowl breaks, you should respond in the same way as when another person’s bowl breaks.
  • Carry this understanding over to matters of greater emotional import and worldly consequence.
  • Has the child or spouse or other dear one of another person died?
  • Under such circumstances, no one would say, “Such is the cycle of life.
  • Death happens.
  • Some things are inevitable.”
  • But if our child or dearly beloved dies, we tend to cry out,
  • “Woe is me! How miserable I am!”
  • Remember how you feel when you hear the same thing concerning other people.
  • Transfer that feeling to your current circumstances.
  • Learn to accept events, even death, with intelligence.

You will never earn the same rewards as others without employing the same methods and investment of time as they do

  • Is someone enjoying the privileges, opportunities, or honour you desire?
  • If the advantages that person has secured are good, then delight in that person enjoying them.
  • It is his or her time to prosper.
  • If those advantages turn out to be bad, then don’t be troubled that they didn’t come your way.
  • It is unreasonable to think we can earn rewards without being willing to pay their true price.
  • Those who “win” at something have no real advantage over you because they had to pay the price for the reward.
  • It is always our choice whether or not we wish to pay the price for life’s rewards.
  • And often it is best for us not to pay the price, for the price might be our integrity.
  • We could be forced to praise someone whom we don’t respect.

Worry and dread are a waste of time and do not set a good example for others.

  • This is especially true regarding your reputation and influence.
  • Why live in fear about things such as whether you will gain public recognition in your profession or community?
  • Or whether you will get the opportunities and perquisites that others do?
  • Don’t be bothered by such concerns as “People don’t think well of me,” and “I’m a nobody.”
  • Even if your reputation matters, you’re not responsible for what others think of you.
  • What real difference does it make to your character and well-being if you have a powerful position or get invited to fancy parties?
  • None at all.
  • So how is there any discredit in not being a power broker or a celebrity?
  • And why should you worry about being a nobody when what matters is being somebody in those areas of your life over which you have control and in which you can make a real difference?
  • “But without power and repute I won’t be able to help my friends,” you might say.

  • Indeed, you won’t give them access to money or the halls of power.
  • But who expects that such assistance is yours to give and not for others to provide?
  • Who can be expected to give anything that they don’t have?
  • “Still, it would be great to have money and power and to be able to share them with my friends.”
  • If I can get rich and powerful while preserving my honour, faithfulness to family, friends, principles, and self-respect, show me how and I’ll do it.
  • But if I have to sacrifice my integrity, it’s stupid and silly to urge me on.
  • Besides, if you had to choose between having a certain amount of money and having a loyal and honourable friend, which would you choose?
  • It’s better if you help me become a good person than to push me to do things that threaten my good character.
  • “Well, what about my obligations to my country?”

  • What do you mean?
  • If you’re talking about making grand charitable donations or putting up fancy buildings, is that an issue?
  • A metalworker doesn’t make shoes, and a shoemaker doesn’t make weapons.
  • It is enough if everyone does well what he or she is supposed to do.
  • “Well, what if someone else were to do the same thing as me?”
  • That’s fine.
  • It doesn’t make your contribution any less valuable.
  • “But what about my position in society?” you ask.

  • Whatever position you can hold while preserving your honour and your fidelity to your obligations is fine.
  • But if your desire to contribute to society compromises your moral responsibility, how can you serve your fellow citizens when you’ve become irresponsible and shameless?
  • It’s better to be a good person and fulfil your obligations than to have renown and power.

Conduct Yourself with Dignity

  • No matter where you find yourself, comport yourself as if you were a distinguished person.
  • While the behaviour of many people is dictated by what is going on around them, hold yourself to a higher standard.
  • Take care to avoid parties or games where thoughtless revelry and carousing are the norm.
  • If you find yourself at a public event, remain rooted in your purposes and ideals.

Through vigilance, we can forestall the tendency to excess.

  • Your possessions should be proportionate to the needs of your body, just as the shoe should fit the foot.
  • Without moral training, we can be induced to excess.
  • In the case of shoes, for instance, many people are tempted to buy fancy, exotic shoes when all that is needed is comfortable, well-fitting, durable footwear.
  • Once we fall, however slightly, into immoderation, momentum gathers and we can be lost to whim.

Strategic Principles to Personal Serenity and Moral Direction Amid the Trials and Troubles of Life. (Part 1)

Strategic Principles to Personal Serenity and Moral Direction Amid the Trials and Troubles of Life. (Part 2)

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