Thursday, February 26, 2009

The fig tree always produces figs

There are some people, no matter how you treat them liberally, no matter how you give them no offence, they regularly have a wounding comment for you. A little, uncalled-for snide remark. Nothing that you can really take offence at and call them out for: you will immediately come off as seeming sensitive, touchy, childish. Such snide people are always quicker with the tongue than you are. But it is so unnecessary, I feel. It bothers me. I suppose I must admit I have a vindictive, judgmental tendency. And perhaps I am sensitive. But it takes a real philosophical effort for me to get past such snide comments. I have to bring myself in mind of some quotation or other. From Marcus Aurelius perhaps:

Begin the morning by saying to thyself, I shall meet with the busybody, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial. All these things happen to them by reason of their ignorance of what is good and evil…
Remember that as it is a shame to be surprised if the fig-tree produces figs, so it is to be surprised if the world produces such and such things of which it is productive; and for the physician and the helmsman it is a shame to be surprised if a man has a fever, or if the wind is unfavorable.

Today I came across this new-to-me quotation from the Bible in a Google search:

There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword,
But the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12.18

It comes from, and along with the different translated versions of the quote was this telling, insightful commentary on proverbs 12:16 to 12:23, through which sincerity and healing virtues run like a golden thread.

Mathew Henry’s Concise Commentary
12:16. A foolish man is soon angry, and is hasty in expressing it; he is ever in trouble and running into mischief. It is kindness to ourselves to make light of injuries and affronts, instead of making the worst of them. 17. It is good for all to dread and detest the sin of lying, and to be governed by honesty. 18. Whisperings and evil surmises, like a sword, separate those that have been dear to each other. The tongue of the wise is health, making all whole. 19. If truth be spoken, it will hold good; whoever may be disobliged, still it will keep its ground. 20. Deceit and falsehood bring terrors and perplexities. But those who consult the peace and happiness of others have joy in their own minds. 21. If men are sincerely righteous, the righteous God has engaged that no evil shall happen to them. But they that delight in mischief shall have enough of it. 22. Make conscience of truth, not only in words, but in actions. 23. Foolish men proclaim to all the folly and emptiness of their minds.

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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