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Life - a succession of lessons, and some of them to be understood.

Don't limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time. [Rabbinic saying]

The innocence that feels no risk and is taught no caution, can be more vulnerable than guilt, and oftener assailed. [With Nathaniel P. Willis]

Anyone who has passed through the regular gradations of a classical education, and is not made a fool by it, may consider himself as having had a very narrow escape. [William Hazlitt]

A land of dreams possesses only the pigmentation of fact.

Valuable wisdom can be nearer when we stoop than when we soar. [Cf. William Wordsworth]

That which seems the height of absurdity in one generation often becomes the height of wisdom in the next. [John Stuart Mill]

"Tough Enough"

Karl Friedrich Hieronymus Baron von Münchhausen (1720-97) was a real person. A very humorous fiction character was added to his name afterwards.

In contemplating good old fables, fairy tales, and even Munchausen stories, we may realise their "inner meanings" through "biting through" figurative mentions. It is fairly often like that.

Very clever decisiveness with integrity can bring good fortune. The fiction hero "Baron Munchausen" fancied along such veins. What is more, a large number of his tall tales reflect European conditions a few centuries ago, their impact-rich savoury and unsavoury experiences and can even be considered a sort of offhand-looking records that link up to facts and facets of the Old World's history.

Baron Munchausen and others illustrate or give vent to some of these life-serving lessons:

  • Insecurity, or maintaining the value of being carefully uncertain, is hardly a black art.
  • Moderation in war might be called imbecile. [Cf. John A. Fisher]
  • To survive by "habitat" is tough enough.
  • True interests consistently fulfil the lives involved.
  • One should refrain from inflicting loss of self-interests on lots of handy ones.
  • Life aims forwards; join what's favourable for life itself to benefit yourself.
  • Some have to walk consciously only part of the way toward their goals, and then leap in the dark to some success. Their chances of making headway may be accordingly.
  • One should avoid a popularity that has many snares and few real benefits. [Cf. William Penn] [More Baron Munchausen]

Further Words

Devotion stands supreme, and it is the search for one's own true nature that is meant by devotion. [Adi Shankara, The Crest-Jewel of Discrimination, v. 31]

When the supreme reality is not understood, the study of the scriptures is useless, and study of the scriptures is useless when the supreme reality has been understood. [Shankara, same place (Ibid), verse 59]

"In necessary things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, charity." [Richard Baxter (1615-91)]

When the newspapers have nothing else, young and happy ones are news and up to something - that's news. If they aren't up to something, that might be called news too. [With Kenneth Rexroth]


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