On wisdom

The following excerpts from two ancient foreign texts talk about wisdom.

Excerpt 1:

“The man of character lives at home without exercising his mind and performs actions without worry. The notions of right and wrong and the praise and blame of others do not disturb him. When within the four seas all people can enjoy themselves that is happiness for him. When all people are well provided, that is peace for him. Sorrowful in countenance, he looks like a baby that has lost its mother. Appearing stupid, he goes about like one who has lost his way. He has plenty of money to spend and does not know where it comes from. He drinks and eats just enough and does not know where the food comes from. This is the demeanour of the man of character.

The hypocrites are those people who regard as good whatever the world acclaims as good and regard as right whatever the world acclaims as right. When you tell them that they are men of dao then their countenances change with satisfaction. When you call them hypocrites they may look displeased. All their life they call themselves men of dao and all their lives they remain hypocrites. They know how to make a good speech and tell appropriate anecdotes in order to attract the crowd. But from the very beginning to the very end they do not know what it is all about. They put on the proper garb and dress in the proper colours and put up a decorous appearance to make themselves popular but refuse to admit that they are hypocrites.”
– Chuang Tzu, On the behaviour of the high form of man, as narrated by Alan Watts in one of his talks

Excerpt 2:

“Characteristics of the rational soul:
Self-perception, self-examination, and the power to make of itself whatever it wants.

It reaps its own harvest, unlike plants (and, in a different way, animals) whose yield is gathered in by others.

It reaches its intended goal, no matter where the limit of its life is set. Not like dancing and theater and things like that, where the performance is incomplete if it’s broken off in the middle, but at any point – no matter which one you pick – it has fulfilled its mission, done its work completely. So that it can say, “I have what I came for.”

It surveys the world and the empty space around it, and the way it’s put together. It delves into the endlessness of time to extend its grasp and comprehension of the periodic births and and rebirths that the world goes through. It knows that those who come after us will see nothing different, that those who came before us saw no more than we do, and that anyone with forty years behind him and eyes in his head has seen both past and future – both alike.

Also characteristics of the rational soul:
Affection for its neighbors, Truthfulness. Humility. Not to place anything above itself – which is characteristic of law as well. No difference here between the logos of rationality and that of justice.”
– Marcus Aurelius, Book 11 of ‘Meditations’, translated by Gregory Hays