Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Noble behaviour

Here is the second text mentioned in my previous post ‘Modesty and kindliness’. There is a reference to the Talmud which gives us a clue to the possible source. For my women readers, I call upon your generosity in ‘swallowing the impure with the pure’ when you see yourselves mentioned in the same phrase as ‘arrogant people’. You will be somewhat soothed later when you read that a wise man spends above his means on honouring his wife and children (especially if he is not careful how he expresses himself!)

Noble behaviour

A wise man does not shout when he speaks, but chats with all people pleasantly. He meets everyone with a friendly greeting, so that all are kindly disposed towards him. He judges all men favourably, praising his fellow and never blaming him. He loves peace and pursues peace. If he feels that his words are helpful and heeded, he talks; otherwise, he keeps quiet.
A wise man does not attempt to pacify an angry person before the latter has calmed down and set his mind at ease. When his fellow is in disgrace, he looks away and does not show himself to him. He never misrepresents, neither overstating nor understating, except when peace is involved. In brief, he speaks only on subjects of learning and kindliness.
A wise man does not walk proudly, with head held high; nor does he step mincingly like women or arrogant people; nor does he run about in the street like a madman; nor does he stoop like a hunchback. The manner of a man’s walking shows whether he is wise and sensible, or foolish and ignorant.
A wise man should dress decently, and must not wear his clothes stained with grease and the like. He should not dress flashily to attract attention, nor shabbily to suffer disrespect. His garments should be modest, appropriate.
A wise man manages his affairs judiciously, eats and drinks and supports his family according to his means. The Talmud recommends that one should spend on food less than his means, on clothes up to his means, and on honouring his wife and children above his means.
Men of intelligence first acquire a livelihood, then a home, and then they marry. Fools, on the other hand, marry first, then they acquire a home if they can afford it, and at last they seek a trade or appeal to charity.A wise man is honest in all his transactions. When he says ‘no’ he means no, and when he says ‘yes’ he means yes. He does not encroach on another man’s occupation, and never mistreats anybody. In short, he prefers to be rather among the offended than among the offenders.

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Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)

Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)
Kiyomizudera Temple has a large veranda looking out over Kyoto and beyond