“Never take things against the grain, no matter how they come. Everything has a smooth and a seamy side. The best of weapons wounds if taken by the blade, while the enemy’s spear may be our best protection if taken by the staff. Many things cause pain that would cause pleasure if you regarded their advantages. There is a favorable and an unfavorable side to everything- cleverness consists in finding out the favorable. The same thing looks quite different in another light; look at it therefore on its best side and do not exchange good for evil. Thus it happens that many find joy, many grief, in everything. This remark is a great protection against the frowns of fortune, and a weighty rule of life for all times and conditions.”
-Balthasar Gracian (Translated by Joseph Jacobs)
The Art of Worldly Wisdom
I have come here tonight to explore another pearl of wisdom from a book we have talked about before. What positivity we find in these words! Not all wisdom is that of seeing things in an optimistic fashion; much is from a more realistic perspective. What we can understand from this passage is that it takes work, ie ‘cleverness,’ but it is undoubtedly worth the effort to find joy in everything we do; to look for the favorable amongst the unfavorable, and to regard the advantages of any situation in order to experience pleasure over pain. When we are in a position to see the angle where the light is best, then we are ready to hold true to our convictions of positivity and good favor.
I mean to instill cleverness within yourself. What is cleverness but a method of thinking that is relatable to constant problem solving. However, a clever man does not see situations as problems, but rather as opportunities. Now to see the world from the perspective of someone who can take full advantage of everything they are given, is to be clever. What cleverness is used for is quite another story. In relation to the passage above, cleverness is not used for manipulation and selfish desire, but rather for acceptance and the pursuit of well-being for all.
Find Joy in Everything
We can’t pick our lives. Well, so far as we are aware in this human form at least. So what then, do we control at all? The answer, if you haven’t heard it before, is to master your reaction to any given situation. To take it a step further, one could say that reaction should not even be necessary. To merely observe, to allow things to be, to accept what IS; allows us to see the whole picture, and to take our entrance as whatever role we choose to fill. When we step into that role, we are living authentically and being our true selves. When that happens, there is no longer anything to doubt or fear, which only leaves room for boundless joy in even the most mundane of tasks.
Look for the Favorable
The world can be painted as an ugly place. People’s fears splash mud and filth onto a world that should really be viewed as beautiful and pristine. The image of the world through the eyes of the collective unconscious has been tarnished, or so many sources would have you believe. The truth is, you choose what you see or more-so the angle from which you see it. If you release judgment; letting go of labels, stereotypes, or even expectations, you allow the world to live freely; to surprise you with synchronicity, to baffle you with moments of bliss, and to overwhelm you with experiences of true beauty. All it takes is the time to look for it. When you have found it, that time seems lost amongst the scattered thoughts and worries of yesterday. The present moment takes over, and the Universe always knows how to put on a show for those who live in the Now.
Regard the Advantages
Anyone can pick out something to complain about. That’s why I despise the term “I’m Bored.” We have nothing to be bored about if only we picked out what was GOOD about any given situation. Even stripping the label of good, and just saying that a situation could be taken advantage of; to go with the grain, or can be fought; to go against the grain. As we read at the beginning, we should “never take things against the grain, no matter how they come.” This tells us one thing: there is no reason to fight. Let what is happening happen. Realize that what IS right NOW, is exactly what is meant to be. Trust the Universe, trust the flow, go with the grain. It is here that you will see all the opportunities flying at you from every corner of space. Your potential is limitless, if only you would open the door beyond your mind.
Protection from the Frowns of Fortune
We live in a world of duality. Where there is light, there must also be darkness. Pain and pleasure both exist. Grief and joy walk hand in hand. Every passing moment we experience something we haven’t prepared for. Our minds, if accustomed to this type of experience, will label it, categorize it, and store it in our memory banks until a relatable experience can stir up similar emotions that trigger electrical signals in the brain; just like muscle memory. To avoid repeatedly storing experiences and labeling them, we can let go of our need to know and control everything in our world, and instead protect ourselves from the worst that could possibly happen. That sounds grim, doesn’t it? Well, only if you put it that way 😉 The point is, we can either accept that we will get a healthy dose of good and bad in this existence, and to see it all as one life, OR we can fight every moment that comes and push it deep down inside of us so we don’t have to deal with the change that has occurred. For the only constant is change, and to embrace this is to be entirely free.
I wish you love and light in your newfound life of freedom. Namaste loved ones. Until next time.