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X) Curious Particularities of the Characteristics of the Soul


318. A wise man should not judge by appearances when a sniveller cries for mercy, pretends that he is oppressed, complains, twists and turns and laments. With a man who behaves like this I have become certain that he was the oppressor who went over the limit and committed excessive abuses. And likewise I have seen a man bearing an injustice speak calmly without complaining and only displaying a little anxiety. At first glance, without further examination, you would have taken him for the oppressor. In cases such as this it is important to establish the facts, fight resolutely against our inclination to take sides, not incline towards or against such attitudes as we have described, and seek to be impartial to all, as we are obliged to by justice.

319. A curious thing about human nature is that carelessness is bad when it is good to know how to make use of it sometimes. This can only be explained by the fact that a man who is naturally inclined to carelessness, makes use of it when he should be vigilant. It is absentmindedness with no sense of reality. His carelessness belongs under the heading of ignorance and that is why it is bad. On the other hand, a spirit which is vigilant by nature only makes use of carelessness for a good purpose when he should not study or research deeply into the subject. To pretend to ignore something in this case means to understand reality, to refuse to act precipitously, to use moderation and to prevent the worst happening. Thus it is praiseworthy to know how to pretend not to be listening, and bad to be naturally inattentive.

320. The same could be said about admitting one is afraid or concealing the fact. To make it obvious that one is troubled as soon as one begins to have difficulties is bad, because it means that you cannot control yourself and your display of emotion serves no useful purpose. Indeed, divine law counsels against it; it stops you doing what has to be done and to make the necessary arrangements in view of the events which one foresees and which may be more terrible than the present situation which has given risen to this fear.

321. Now, given that it is wrong to let your fear be seen, the opposite is good, that is, to display patience, because that means you are in control of yourself, you have turned away from useless actions and towards actions which are profitable and useful both immediately and in the future.

322. As for hiding your patience, that is wrong too, since it would look as if you were unfeeling, hardhearted and lacking in mercy. These faults are found only among wicked people, vicious natures, cruel and vile souls.

323. All this being very ugly, the opposite, which consists of concealing the fact that you are troubled, is praiseworthy because it is a mark of pity, gentleness, charity and compassion.

324. Thus one can say that the happy medium, for a man, is to have a sensitive soul but an impassive body, that is to say that neither on his face or in his comportment should there be any sign that he is troubled.

If a man whose own judgement is poor only knew what harm his false calculations had brought upon him so far, he would find success in the future if he stopped relying on his own judgement, Allâh guide us.

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