Stoicism: Elements of Good Judgement


Your Will

Your greatest element to cultivate is your faculty of will, it is the one element that should never be neglected, your most precious jewel that no one can burgle. There is a price to be paid if you disregard it, it’s called unhappiness. Conversely, be watchful and considerate of it and your happiness is assured. In the same light, you must neither be ignorant nor bluffed by other peoples’ aptitudes. You should take a step back and observe their worth for what it is without letting it restrain you. Good judgement is capable of discerning the authority that governs peoples’ judgement, whether it be an external attachment or their body.

Upon starting your day, hold yourself responsible, subjecting yourself to observation and paying it close attention. You should then proceed to generate answers that are derived from posing the right questions, for example, does a woman’s body have any impact on my character? Does her beauty influence my actions? If the answer is ‘no’, then it is not your business to own or control her; instead, be indifferent to things beyond your control. A lack of awareness happens when the air that encircles your virtue and intellect is lessened. Heightened awareness has clear air surrounding it, signifying its intelligible and unclouded nature. Furthermore, it is capable of a distinctive moral judgement that is trustworthy and principled.

Resolve your will, so it is in line and harmonious with the natural course of events, so nothing will fail to happen as it ought to happen by divinity. Adapting yourself as such, neither your avoidance nor your intention will fail because you are in accord with your inherent substance. This is the sound means to occupying a favourable role in society as a superior man. Do not seek other means among the unexceptional mainstream for idols to model yourself after, you will not have much good fortune. When you adapt yourself accordingly, your sense of terror towards things beyond your power diminishes, and you are not heedlessly getting attached to things which you do not own.


Agitation and Attachment

Agitation stems from the craving to control what is outside your will, for instance, you want to have a good performance, but you also want to make a good impression and be well-received from the audience. The former is within your will, but the latter is not and that is precisely where the difficulty lies. You are in a predicament where you desire what is not yours, and reject what is. If you knew the variance between the two, you wouldn’t be upset with what is indifferent to you intentionally. You could evaluate that one’s agitation is, to a significant degree, a result of a lack of awareness because as discussed earlier, a lack of awareness muddles you to the point of obscurity, and you cannot exactly make a rational distinction between internal power and external authority. This sense of confusion causes people to reject their inner authority to be enslaved by the outer. In other words, to turn down their most costly power for outside authority that is not theirs.

Don’t be innocent in your judgement, don’t resort to emotional deductions to give grounds for your difference of opinion. Put an end to presumptuous reasoning to comfort your preconceptions and biases, for it will only enforce your foggy logic. People always tend to have a reaction towards externals, thus remember to treat the uneducated with some rapport and avoid trying to convert them as it will all be futile. Furthermore, shun away from being too cruel as that will only serve the evidence of your unneeded indecency.


A comment on Anger

To briefly comment on anger; when you suppress rash urges, the impulse grows less recurrent. Give yourself a moment to recuperate, poor recovery will open up unrecovered wounds and then aggravate them. Wounds heal more wholly when they are given time to regain their strength. Do not turn a discussion into a heated argument. If someone offends you, do not return the slander. It is not wise to inflame an insult with more warmth. Why would you reflect his inferior judgement and let down your own? Vulgar manners should be avoided and substituted for civility and respect as such qualities are more admirable and stately. You want to be polite and tactful to the point where you are capable of ending an argument straight away, not out of timidity, but out of fine judgement and salvaging time.


Ignorance, Pleasure and Strong Character

It is your imagination that effects terror, thoughts weigh down your sensations and awareness. Thoughts govern people, for they are often misapprehensions of reality that contain you in ways you are not conscious of, and seeing beyond them is often unthinkable due to their intoxication. Thus, a detachment from everything that is not yours is worthwhile and productive. It is pivotal to guard yourself against attachment. Do away with your terror of death, and you’ll find that the adversity you confront will be undergone in a calm and composed demeanour indifferent to your anxiety. There is a worn saying that if you make a bad opening, you will compete with the troubles for good and all. Start on an affirmative note, and tackle everything with neither reluctance nor terror. To be accomplished and competent means upholding your godly elements; unrefined, assured, wise, resolute, not easily refuted or unsettled. Nevertheless, attachment to the body and externals must be given up for the cultivation of the noble elements. Attachment hinders progress, for it fruitlessly enslaves you to what is ungovernable.

Do not be arrogant to the point of taking pride in momentary delight. Pleasures are to be appreciated but not dragged out and pretentious, and there is no reason to validate pleasure, after all, you do not own it. Furthermore, you can’t lay your trust in anything transient, its temporary nature lacks stability. By way of illustration, here is a typical scenario; as you are endeavouring on your journey, an appealing pleasure arises, and you find consolation in it. As you savour it, you grow attached to it and as a result, you grow aimless. You see, that momentary delight restrained you and made you gradually lose sight of your ambition, disregarding your integrity in the process. Great careers have been wrecked as a result, and continue to do so. Do not lose your precious resources over externals, it is disastrous.

weak character cannot be trusted, it is indecisive and easily won over, for weakness is a lack of certainty and an incapacity to be decisive without hesitation. Weak people are hard to trust, their lack of resolve makes them jump from one thing to the next without forethought, doing things which would otherwise not be beneficial for them. A strong character is one that is resolved and trustworthy, not easily swayed by the external world and come to a decision through assuredness, not uncertainty. Strength of character stems from the firmness of purpose and noble dignity. This is the mark of good judgement, a rational discernment of the internal from the external, from your essential power and the world outside it.

You won’t be hearing anyone acknowledge their lack of intelligence as that would humiliate a person. On the contrary, you do encounter people who are ostentatious and like to strike an attitude, growing pitiful towards themselves. A fool cannot be compelled to renounce his folly. This is a rather bitter reality, but you cannot talk fools out of their delusions, they must, if their awareness serves them, acknowledge their foolishness and then correct it with rationality and become wiser as a consequence. This is not a probable case due to their cluelessness but the perceptive ignorant are not doomed indefinitely by it. Furthermore, the more engrained their delusions, the more conditional correction they require to overcome their illusions.


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