On Man’s Ignorance

“There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

You don’t know what you have until it’s gone, especially if you’re ungrateful. It is in their absence that you finally acknowledge the weight of their presence. Yet, in their presence, you fail to concede and honour those who have done you well and good, not necessarily out of spite or scorn but out of a lack of attentiveness and mindful consideration. Gratitude is acknowledgement and if you are not capable of acknowledging what is worthy of your appreciation, you fail to notice what is favourable to you and of benefit. Acknowledgement is fair-minded and respectable, it is the mark of a decent person and is an act of altruism that is both charitable and noble. A person who is not capable of gratitude tends to be conceited and vain, he believes he is not entitled to pay recognition to those who have done him good and instead engages in pompous and snobbish behaviour that is contemptible and obnoxious. Such people are pessimists by nature, they get a kick out of undermining other people, it satisfies their diffidence and insecurity while making them feel on top of things. In reality, it is a game of self-deception which they are playing with themselves and any act of acknowledgement or appreciation on their part is depicted as weak or dangerous. Their pessimism has instilled in it a kind of disdain for everything around them, they swiftly identify all that is flawed and pay little notice to what is right and good. 

You see, their criticality and aversion to the good in others correspond to their inner fault-finding, judgemental and disparaging nature; they engage in the same behaviour with themselves. One could say that their self-importance is grounded in weakness, not strength. For, if it was found upon strength, they would possess a capacity for recognition and acknowledgement. A sense of self-importance that is grounded in strength is not overly self-critical or condemning of other people in a pedantic fashion – such attitudes are the result of unstable characters that are unhinged by false impressions, bitterness and resentment. Self-importance that is grounded in strength is well balanced and adjusted, it is not dismissive of its weakness nor arrogant of its goodness. The wise man is the one who is not blinded by ignorance, his awareness is clear and his prejudice does not warp his vision or deceive his judgement. Wisdom, then, is conscious of itself and reflective, it is evaluative but enlightened. 

On the other hand, when weakness and unawareness intersect, there is a cataclysm that may never be unwrapped. For, the very consequence of catastrophe, in this frame, is also the antagonist that obscures one’s acknowledgement of it. This is the intricate conundrum that often dooms people for life – one which the sensible person always guards himself against. A well-balanced person who is capable of an adequate degree of mindfulness can come to disentangle himself from such a problem, but it too requires a renunciation of hubris and wilful blindness. By and large, the average man lacks proper mindfulness because he goes through life moving in circles in a careless and unreasonable manner, his indiscriminate judgement does not compel him to give consideration or muse on those things which are making him miserable and enslaved.

So, instead of taking a step back and arranging what ought to be mapped out and repaired, he falls further into the terrible matrix and pretends to himself that everything is as should be and that there is nothing more that he can do that will be beneficial and of value to his cause; even worse is when a man has not identified his divine cause and he simply drifts from one domain to another with striking indecisiveness and uncertainty, waiting for death to take him. Drifting aimlessly from one realm to another is never going to lead you to the right place, it will only mislead you and leave you craving more of what you have already discovered. You know where the right place is and it isn’t the place you want to admit it is because doing so makes you feel insufficient of your current position. 

However, being honest with yourself and then opposing that part of you that deliberately runs away from what needs to be mended is crucial for your dissociation from an interminable trick you are deceiving yourself with. And think about it, accepting this truth, in the long haul, will be far less ruinous and painful than persisting in folly indefinitely. The wise are not devoid of errors, they simply have a clear outlook on how best to capitalize on them after they have been made and then use them to their advantage. Everyone will make a fool of himself every now and then, mistakes will be made and these are inevitable because they are indispensable to growth and heroism. What is important here, though, is the attitude with which you face them. If you are able to discern them for what they truly are; carriers of wisdom, you will derive from them the utmost benefit, and they will build up your experience so that you will not replicate them once more in the future. If you repeat an error, that means you have not thoroughly understood its basic lesson and further inquiry and attention should be directed towards this inaccuracy, to properly avert its manifestation. 

If you keep repeating the same mistakes, you are not moving forward, you are merely reproducing the same misjudgements. Those omissions, until they are identified and reversed, will hinder your progress. It is your job to single out inaccuracies and straighten them out with good reason and care. Don’t be ignorant and presume that omissions will resolve themselves, they will not. Omissions are there to signal and compel refinement and correction, they give you the opportunity to appraise your conduct and then do evaluate closely how they could be turned upside down and be of value and complementary with your good points. Rid yourself of an unduly self-sabotaging attitude towards failure and omission, such an attitude is neither productive nor illuminating. It is not a definite failing to stumble upon failure, the real failure happens when you fail to notice its underlying motive and you beat yourself up over your actions. Guilt and sabotage are unnecessary, they stimulate ample negative emotion and conceal from you the opportunity to observe an omission in its face. Self-reproach builds up anger and resentment and amidst such intense emotions, rational reasoning is not practicable. Good reason is only practicable when it is not impeded with passions of weakness and annoyance, such sensations leave no unobstructed space for a person to think things through properly and without emotional bigotry. 

When you engage in emotional reasoning, you become a neurotic woman, tripping on delusions and attempting to heedlessly justify or condemn yourself on your mistakes and fallacies without careful consideration. The way you subvert such irrational reasoning is through scrutiny without condemnation towards yourself, you must closely observe without diving into impulsive conclusions. The sensible man does not rely on spontaneous impressions, he observes carefully but doesn’t identify with it nor undermine his behaviour, he gazes and contemplates his errors without imposing labels or making swift deductions in the heat of the moment. Instead, he stands back and lets the temporary cloud of emotion pass, so as to preserve his rationality and not squander it through submitting and entertaining an irrational thought or a negative emotion, allowing it to grow uncontrollable to the point of coercing him into rash behaviour. 

So, in closing, a sensible nature stems from heightened awareness, attentive care, discretion and a lucid and wholly rational intellect. Furthermore, a sensible nature is not impulsively reactive to negative emotion, it is adequately detached and unwavering, it acknowledges but doesn’t submit. It stumbles but doesn’t despair, it accepts but doesn’t reproach. Thus, one’s sensible nature is preserved through mindful objectivity and a firm purpose grounded in wisdom and mastery.

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