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Title: Common Sense, How to Exercise It
Author: Yoritomo-Tashi, Mme. Blanchard
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                      THE MENTAL EFFICIENCY SERIES

                    COMMON SENSE HOW TO EXERCISE IT

                           By YORITOMO-TASHI

                      ANNOTATED BY: B. DANGENNES

        TRANSLATED BY: MME. LEON J. BERTHELOT DE LA BOILEVEBIB

                                 1916



ANNOUNCEMENT


The quality popularly designated as "Common Sense" comprehends, according
to the modern point of view, the sound judgment of mankind when
reflecting upon problems of truth and conduct without bias from logical
subtleties or selfish interests. It is one of Nature's priceless gifts;
an income in itself, it is as valuable as its application is rare.

How often we hear the expression "Why, I never thought of that!" Why?
Because we have failed to exercise Common Sense--that genius of mankind,
which, when properly directed is the one attribute that will carry man
and his kind successfully through the perplexities of life. Common Sense
is as a plant of delicate growth, in need of careful training and
continued watching so that it may bear fruit at all seasons. In the
teachings that follow, the venerable Shogun, Yoritomo-Tashi, points out
that Common Sense is a composite product consisting of (1) Perception;
(2) Memory; (3) Thought; (4) Alertness; (5) Deduction; (6) Foresight; (7)
Reason, and (8) Judgment. Discussing each of these separately, he
indicates their relations and how they may be successfully employed.
Further, he warns one against the dangers that lurk in moral inertia,
indifference, sentimentality, egotism, etc.

Common Sense is a quality that must be developed if it is to be utilized
to the full of its practical value. Indispensable to this development are
such qualifications--(1) Ability to grasp situations; (2) Ability to
concentrate the mind; (3) Keenness of perception; (4) Exercise of
the reasoning power; (5) Power of approximation; (6) Calmness;
(7) Self-control, etc. Once mastered, these qualifications enable one to
reap the reward of a fine and an exalted sense, and of a practical common
sense which sees things as they are and does things as they should be
done.

The desire for knowledge, like the thirst for wealth, increases by
acquisition, but as Bishop Lee has told us, "Knowledge without common
sense is folly; without method it is waste; without kindness it is
fanaticism; without religion it is death." But, Dean Farrar added: "With
common sense, it is wisdom; with method it is power; with charity
beneficence; with religion it is virtue, life, and peace."

In these pages, Yoritomo-Tashi teaches his readers how to overcome such
defects of the understanding as may beset them. He shows them how to
acquire and develop common sense and practical sense, how to apply them
in their daily lives, and how to utilize them profitably in the
business world.

To him common sense is the crown of all faculties. Exercised vigilantly,
it leads to progress and prosperity, therefore, says he "enthusiasm is as
brittle as crystal, but common sense is durable as brass."

THE PUBLISHERS.



PREFACE


Why should I hesitate to express the pleasure I felt on learning that the
public, already deeply interested in the teachings of Yoritomo-Tashi,
desired to be made familiar with them in a new form?

This knowledge meant many interesting and pleasant hours of work in
prospect for me, recalling the time passed in an atmosphere of that peace
which gives birth to vibrations of healthful thoughts whose radiance
vitalizes the soul.

It was also with a zeal, intensified by memories of the little deserted
room in the provincial museum, where silence alone could lend rhythm to
meditation, that I turned over again and again the leaves of those
precious manuscripts, translating the opinions of him whose keen and
ornate psychology we have so often enjoyed together.

It was with the enthusiastic attention of the disciple that once more I
scanned the pages, where the broadest and most humane compassion allies
itself with those splendid virtues: energy, will and reason.

For altho Yoritomo glorifies the will and energy under all their aspects,
he knows also how to find, in his heart, that tenderness which transforms
these forces, occasionally somewhat brutal, into powers for good, whose
presence are always an indication of favorable results.

He knows how to clothe his teachings in fable and appealing legend, and
his exotic soul, so near and yet so far, reminds one of a flower, whose
familiar aspect is transmuted into rare perfume.

By him the sternest questions are stripped of their hostile aspects and
present themselves in the alluring form of the simplest allegories of
striking poetic intensity.

When reading his works, one recalls unconsciously the orations of the
ancient philosophers, delivered in those dazzling gardens, luxuriant in
sunlight and fragrant with flowers.

In this far-away past, one sees also the silhouette of a majestic figure,
whose school of philosophy became a religion, which interested the world
because it spoke both of love and goodness.

But in spite of this fact, the doctrines of Yoritomo are of an
imaginative type. His kingdom belongs to this world, and his theories
seek less the joys of the hereafter than of that tangible happiness which
is found in the realization of the manly virtues and in that effort to
create perfect harmony from which flows perfect peace.

He takes us by the hand, in order to lead us to the center of that Eden
of Knowledge where we have already discovered the art of persuasion, and
that art, most difficult of all to acquire--the mastery of timidity.

Following him, we shall penetrate once more this Eden, that we may study
with Yoritomo the manner of acquiring this art--somewhat unattractive
perhaps but essentially primordial--called Common Sense.


B. DANGENNES.



CONTENTS


Announcement

Preface

    I. Common Sense: What Is It?

   II. The Fight Against Illusion

  III. The Development of the Reasoning Power

   IV. Common Sense and Impulse

    V. The Dangers of Sentimentality

   VI. The Utility of Common Sense in Daily Life

  VII. Power of Deduction

 VIII. How to Acquire Common Sense

   IX. Common Sense and Action

    X. The Most Thorough Business Man

   XI. Common Sense and Self-Control

  XII. Common Sense Does Not Exclude Great Aspirations



LESSON I

COMMON SENSE: WHAT IS IT?


One beautiful evening, Yoritomo-Tashi was strolling in the gardens of
his master, Lang-Ho, listening to the wise counsels which he knew so
well how to give in all attractiveness of allegory, when, suddenly, he
paused to describe a part of the land where the gardener's industry was
less apparent.

Here parasitic plants had, by means of their tendrils, crept up the
shrubbery and stifled the greater part of its flowers.

Only a few of them reached the center of the crowded bunches of the grain
stalks and of the trailing vines that interlaced the tiny bands which
held them against the wall.

One plant alone, of somber blossom and rough leaves, was able to flourish
even in close proximity to the wild verdure. It seemed that this plant
had succeeded in avoiding the dangerous entanglements of the poisonous
plants because of its tenacious and fearless qualities, at the same time
its shadow was not welcome to the useless and noxious creeping plants.

"Behold, my son," said the Sage, "and learn how to understand the
teachings of nature: The parasitic plants represent negligence against
the force of which the best of intentions vanish."

Energy, however, succeeds in overcoming these obstacles which increase
daily; it marks out its course among entanglements and rises from the
midst of the most encumbered centers, beautiful and strong.

Ambition and audacity show themselves also after having passed through
thousands of difficulties and having overcome them all.

Common sense rarely needs to strive; it unfolds itself in an atmosphere
of peace, far from the tumult of obstructions and snares that are not
easily avoided.

Its flower is less alluring than many others, but it never allows itself
to be completely hidden through the wild growth of neighboring branches.

It dominates them easily, because it has always kept them at a distance.

Modest but self-sustaining, it is seen blossoming far from the struggles
which always retard the blossoming of plants and which render their
flowering slower and, at times, short-lived.

A most absurd prejudice has occasionally considered common sense to be an
inferior quality of mind.

This error arises from the fact that it can adapt itself as well to the
most elevated conceptions as to the most elemental mentalities.

To those who possess common sense is given the faculty of placing
everything in its proper rank.

It does not underestimate the value of sentiments by attributing to them
an exaggerated importance.

It permits us to consider fictitious reasons with reservation and of
resolutely rejecting those that resort to the weapons of hypocrisy.

Persons who cultivate common sense never refuse to admit their errors.

One may truly affirm that they are rarely far from the truth, because
they practise directness of thought and force themselves never to deviate
from this mental attitude.

Abandoning for a moment his favorite demonstration by means of symbolism,
Yoritomo said to us:

"Common sense should be thus defined:

"It is a central sense, toward which all impressions converge and unite
in one sentiment--the desire for the truth.

"For people who possess common sense, everything is summed up in one
unique perception:

"The love of directness and simplicity.

"All thoughts are found to be related; the preponderance of these two
sentiments makes itself felt in all resolutions, and chiefly in the
reflections which determine them.

"Common sense permits us to elude fear which always seizes those whose
judgment vacillates; it removes the defiance of the Will and indicates
infallibly the correct attitude to assume."

And Yoritomo, whose mind delighted in extending his observations to the
sociological side of the question, adds:

"Common sense varies in its character, according to surroundings and
education.

"The common sense of one class of people is not the same as that of a
neighboring class.

"Certain customs, which seem perfectly natural to Japan would offend
those belonging to the western world, just as our Nippon prejudices would
find themselves ill at ease among certain habits customary among
Europeans."

"Common sense," he continues, "takes good care not to assail violently
those beliefs which tradition has transmuted into principles.

"However, if direct criticism of those beliefs causes common sense to be
regarded unfavorably, it will be welcomed with the greatest reserve and
will maintain a certain prudence relative to this criticism, which will
be equivalent to a proffered reproach.

"Common sense often varies as to external aspects, dependent upon
education, for it is evident that a diamio (Japanese prince) can not
judge of a subject in the same way as would a man belonging to the lowest
class of society.

"The same object can become desirable or undesirable according to the
rank it occupies.

"Must one believe that common sense is excluded from two such
incompatible opinions?

"No, not at all. An idea can be rejected or accepted by common sense
without violating the principles of logic in the least.

"If, as one frequently sees, an idea be unacceptable because of having
been presented before those belonging to a particular environment, common
sense, by applying its laws, will recognize that the point of view must
be changed before the idea can become acceptable."

And again, Yoritomo calls our attention to a peculiar circumstance.

"Common sense," he says, "is the art of resolving questions, not the art
of posing them.

"When taking the initiative it is rarely on trial.

"But the moment it is a case of applying practically that which
ingenuity, science or genius have invented, it intervenes in the happiest
and most decisive manner.

"Common sense is the principle element of discernment.

"Therefore, without this quality, it is impossible to judge either of the
proposition or the importance of the subject.

"It is only with the aid of common sense that it is possible to
distinguish the exact nature of the proposition, submitted for a just
appreciation, and to render a solution of it which conforms to perfect
accuracy of interpretation.

"The last point is essential and has its judicial function in all the
circumstances of life. Without accuracy, common sense can not be
satisfactorily developed, because it finds itself continually shocked by
incoherency, resulting from a lack of exactness in the expression of
opinions."

If we wish to know what the principal qualities are which form common
sense, we shall turn over a few pages and we shall read:

"Common sense is the synthesis of many sentiments, all of which converge
in forming it.

"The first of these sentiments is reason.

"Then follows moderation.

"To these one may add:

"The faculty of penetration;

"The quality consistency.

"Then, wisdom, which permits us to profit by the lessons of experience.

"A number of other qualities must be added to these, in order to complete
the formation of common sense; but, altho important, they are only the
satellites of those we have just named.

"Reason is really indispensable to the projection of healthy thoughts.

"The method of reasoning should be the exhaustive study of minute detail,
of which we shall speak later.

"For the moment we shall content ourselves by indicating, along the broad
lines of argument, what is meant by this word reason.

"Reasoning is the art of fixing the relativeness of things.

"It is by means of reasoning that it is possible to differentiate events
and to indicate to what category they belong.

"It is the habit of reasoning to determine that which it is wise to
undertake, thus permitting us to judge what should be set aside.

"How could we guide ourselves through life without the beacon-light of
reason? It pierces the darkness of social ignorance, it helps us to
distinguish vaguely objects heretofore plunged in obscurity, and which
will always remain invisible to those who are unprovided with this
indispensable accessory--the gift of reasoning.

"He who ventures in the darkness and walks haphazard, finds himself
suddenly confronted by obstacles which he was unable to foresee.

"He finds himself frightened by forms whose nature he cannot define, and
is often tempted to attribute silhouettes of assassins to branches of
trees, instead of recognizing the real culprit who is watching him from
the corner of the wild forest.

"Life, as well as the wildest wilderness, is strewn with pitfalls. To
think of examining it rapidly, without the aid of that torch called
reason, would be imitating the man of whom we have just spoken.

"Many are the mirages, which lead us to mistake dim shadows for
disquieting realities, unless we examine them critically, for otherwise
we can never ascribe to them their true value.

"Certain incidents, which seem at first sight to be of small importance,
assume a primordial value when we have explained them by means of
reasoning.

"To reason about a thing is to dissect it, to examine it from every
point of view before adopting it, before deferring to it or before
rejecting it; in one word, to reason about a thing is to act with
conscious volition, which is one of the phases essential to the conquest
of common sense.

"This principle conceded, it then becomes a question of seriously
studying the method of reasoning, which we propose to do in the following
manner but first it is necessary to be convinced of this truth."

Without reason there is no common sense.

Yoritomo teaches us that, altho moderation is only of secondary
importance, it is still indispensable to the attainment of common sense.

It is moderation which incites us to restrain our impatience, to silence
our inexplicable antipathies and to put a break on our tempestuous
enthusiasms.

Can one judge of the aspect of a garden while the tempest is twisting the
branches of the trees, tearing off the tendrils of the climbing vines,
scattering the petals of the flowers and spoiling the corollas already in
full bloom?

And now, Yoritomo, who loves to illustrate his teachings by expressive
figures of speech, tells us the following story.

"A Japanese prince, on awakening, one day, demanded lazily of his
servants what kind of weather it was, but he forbade them to raise the
awnings which kept a cool, dim light in his room and shielded his eyes
from the strong light from without. The two servants left him reclining
upon his divan and went into the adjoining room, where the stained-glass
windows were not hung with curtains.

"One of them, putting his face close to a yellow-tinted pane of glass,
exclaimed in admiration of the beautiful garden, bathed in the early
morning sunlight.

"The second one, directing his gaze to a dark blue pane and, looking
through the center, remarked to his companion, I see no sunshine, the day
is dreary and the clouds cast gloomy shadows upon the horizon.

"Each one returned to relate their impressions of the weather, and
the prince wondered at the different visions, unable to understand
the reason."

There, concluded the Shogun, that is what happens to people who do not
practise moderation.

Those, who see things through the medium of enthusiasm refuse to
recognize that they could be deprived of brilliancy and beauty.

The others, those who look upon things from a pessimistic standpoint,
never find anything in them save pretexts for pouring out to their
hearers tales of woe and misery.

All find themselves deceptively allured; some rush toward illusion,
others do not wish to admit the positive chances for success, and both
lacking moderation, they start from a basis of false premises from which
they draw deplorable conclusions, thus defeating future success.

The spirit of penetration, according to the old Nippon philosopher, is
not always a natural gift. "It is," said he, "a quality which certain
people possess in a very high degree but which in spite this fact should
be strengthened by will and discipline.

"One can easily acquire this faculty by endeavoring to foresee the
solution of contemporary events; or at least try to explain the hidden
reasons which have produced them.

"Great effects are produced, many times, from seemingly unimportant
causes, and it is, above all, to the significant details that the spirit
of penetration should give unceasing and undivided attention.

"Everything around us can serve as a subject for careful study; political
events, incidents which interest family or friends, all may serve as just
so many themes for earnest reflection.

"It is always preferable to confine this analysis to subjects in which we
have no personal interest; thus we shall accustom ourselves to judge of
people and things dispassionately and impersonally. This is the quality
of mind necessary to the perfect development of penetration.

"If, for any reason, passion should create confusion of ideas, clearness
of understanding would be seriously compromised and firmness of judgment,
by deteriorating, would cast aside the manifestation of common sense.

"The spirit consistency is perhaps more difficult to conquer, for it is a
combination of many of the qualities previously mentioned.

"Its inspiration is drawn from the reasoning faculty, it cannot exist
without moderation and implies a certain amount of penetration, because
it must act under the authority of conviction.

"If you strike long enough in the same place on the thickest piece of
iron, in time it will become as thin as the most delicate kakemono [a
picture which hangs in Japanese homes].

"It is impossible to define the spirit of consistency more accurately.

"It is closely related to perseverance, but can not be confounded with
it, because the attributes of consistency have their origin in logic and
reason which does not produce one act alone but a series of acts
sometimes dependent, always inferred.

"The spirit of consistency banishes all thought derogatory to the subject
in question; it is the complete investiture of sentiments, all converging
toward a unique purpose."

This purpose can be of very great importance and the means of attainment
multiform, but the dominant idea will always direct the continuous
achievements; under their different manifestations--and these at times
contradictory--they will never be other than the emanation of a direct
thought, whose superior authority is closely united to the final success.

Wisdom, continued the philosopher, should be mentioned here only as the
forerunner which permits us to analyze experience.

It is from this never-ending lesson which life teaches us that the wisdom
of old age is learned.

But is it really necessary to reach the point of decrepitude, in order to
profit by an experience, actually useless at that time, as is always a
posthumous conquest.

"Is it not much better to compel its attainment when the hair is black
and the heart capable of hope?

"Why give to old age alone the privileges of wisdom and experience?

"It is high time to combat so profound an error.

"Is it not a cruel irony which renders such a gift useless?

"Of what benefit is wisdom resulting from experience if it cannot
preserve us from the unfortunate seduction of youth?

"Why should its beauty be unveiled only to those who can no longer profit
by it?" This is the opinion of Yoritomo, who says:

"What would be thought of one who prided himself on possessing bracelets
when he had lost his two arms in war?

"It is, therefore, necessary, not only to encourage young people to
profit by lessons of wisdom and experience, but, still further, to
indicate to them how they can accomplish the result of these lessons.

"It is certain that he who can recall a long life ought to understand
better than the young man all the pitfalls with which it is strewn.

"But does he always judge of it without bias or prejudice?

"Does he not find acceptable pretexts for excusing his past faults and
does he not exaggerate the rewards for excellence, which have accorded
him advantages, due at times to chance or to the force of circumstances?

"Finally, the old man can not judge of the sentiments which he held at
twenty years of age, unless it be by the aid of reminiscences, more or
less fleeting, and an infinitely attenuated intensity of representation.

"Emotive perception being very much weakened, the integrity of memory
must be less exact.

"Then, in the recession of years, some details, which were at times
factors of the initial idea, are less vivid, thus weakening the power of
reason which was the excuse, the pretext, or the origin of the act.

"This is why, altho we may honor the wisdom of the aged, it is well to
acquire it at a time when we may use it as a precious aid.

"To those who insist that nothing is equivalent to personal experience,
we shall renew our argument, begging them to meditate on the preceding
lines, drawing their attention to the fact that a just opinion can only
be formed when personal sentiment is excluded from the discussion.

"Is it, then, necessary to have experienced pain in order to prevent
or cure it?

"The majority of physicians have never been killed by the disease
they treat.

"Does this fact prevent them from combatting disease victoriously?

"And since we are speaking of common sense we shall not hesitate to
invoke it in this instance, and all will agree that it should dictate
our reply.

"Then why could we not do for the soul that which can be done for the
body?

"It is first from books, then from the lessons of life that physicians
learn the principles underlying their knowledge of disease and its
healing remedies.

"Is it absolutely indispensable for us to poison ourselves in order to
know that such and such a plant is harmful and that another contains the
healing substance which destroys the effects of the poison?

"We may all possess wisdom if we are willing to be persuaded that the
experience of others is as useful as our own."

The events which multiply about us, Yoritomo says, ought to be, for each
master, an opportunity for awakening in the soul of his disciples a
perfect reasoning power, starting from the inception of the premises to
arrive at the conclusions of all arguments.

From the repetition of events, from their correlation, from their
equivalence, from their parallelism, knowledge will be derived and will
be productive of good results, in proportion as egotistical sentiment is
eliminated from them; and slowly, with the wisdom acquired by experience,
common sense will manifest itself tranquil and redoubtable, working
always for the accomplishment of good as does everything which is the
emblem of strength and peace.



LESSON II

THE FIGHT AGAINST ILLUSION


Common Sense such as we have just described it, according to Yoritomo, is
the absolute antithesis of dreamy imagination, it is the sworn enemy of
illusion, against which it struggles from the moment of contact.

Common sense is solid, illusion is yielding, also illusion never
issues victorious from a combat with it; during a struggle illusion
endeavors vainly to display its subterfuges and cunning; illusions
disappear one by one, crusht by the powerful arms of their terrible
adversary--common sense.

"The worship of illusion," says Yoritomo, "presents certain dangers to
the integrity of judgment, which, under such influence, falsifies the
comparative faculty, and sways decision to the side of neutrality.

"This kind of mental half-sleep is extremely detrimental to
manifestations of reason, because this torpor excludes it from imaginary
conceptions.

"Little by little the lethargy caused by this intellectual paralysis
produces the effect of fluidic contagion over all our faculties.

"Energy, which ought to be the principle factor in our resolutions,
becomes feeble and powerless at the point where we no longer care to feel
its influence.

"The sentiment of effort exists no longer, since we are pleased to
resolve all difficulties without it.

"In this inconstant state of mind, common sense, after wandering a moment
withdraws itself, and we find that we are delivered over to all the
perils of imagination.

"Nothing that we see thus confusedly is found on the plane which belongs
to common sense; the ideas, associated by a capricious tie, bind and
unbind themselves, without imposing the necessity of a solution.

"The man who allows himself to be influenced by vague dreams," adds the
Shogun, "must, if he does not react powerfully, bid farewell to common
sense and reason; for he will experience so great a charm in forgetting,
even for one moment, the reality of life, that he will seek to prolong
this blest moment.

"He will renounce logic, whose conclusions are, at times, opposed to his
desires, and he will plunge himself into that false delight of awakened
dreams, or, as some say, day-dreams.

"Those who defend this artificial conception of happiness, like to
compare people of common sense to heavy infantry soldiers, who march
along through stony roads, while they depict themselves as pleasant
bird-fanciers, giving flight to the fantastic bearers of wings.

"But they do not take into account the fact that the birds, for whom they
open the cage, fly away without the intention of returning, leaving them
thus deceived and deprived of the birds, while the rough infantry
soldiers, after many hardships, reach the desired end which they had
proposed to attain, thus realizing the joys of conquest.

"There they find the rest and security, which the possessors of fugitive
birds will never know.

"Those who cultivate common sense will always ignore the collapses which
follow the disappearance of illusions.

"How many men have suffered thus uselessly!

"And what is more stupid than a sorrow, voluntarily imposed, when it can
not be productive of any good?

"Men can not be too strongly warned against the tendency of embellishing
everything that concerns the heart-life, and this is the inclination of
most people.

"The causes of this propensity are many and the need for that which
astounds is not the only cause to be mentioned.

"Indolence is never a stranger to illusion.

"It is so delightful to foresee a solution which conforms to our desires!

"For certain natures, stained with moral atrophy, it is far sweeter to
hope for that which will be produced without pain.

"One begins by accelerating this achievement, so earnestly desired, by
using all the will-power, and one becomes accustomed progressively to
regard desires as a reality, and, aided by indolence, man discounts in
advance an easy success.

"False enthusiasm, or rather enthusiasm without deliberate reflection,
always enters into these illusions, which are accompanied by persuasion
and never combatted by common sense.

"Vanity is never foreign to these false ideas, which are always of a
nature to flatter one's amour propre.

"We love to rejoice beforehand in the triumph which we believe will win
and, aided by mental frivolity, we do not wish to admit that success can
be doubted.

"The dislike of making an effort, however, would quickly conceal, with
its languishing voice, the wise words of common sense, if we would listen
momentarily to them.

"And, lastly, it is necessary to consider credulity, to which, in our
opinion, is accorded a place infinitely more honorable than it deserves."

And now the sage, Yoritomo, establishes the argument which, by the aid of
common sense, characterized these opinions.

According to him, "It does not belong to new and vibrating souls, as many
would have us believe.

"When credulity does not proceed from inveterate stupidity, it is always
the result of apathy and weakness.

"Unhappiness and misfortune attend those who are voluntarily feeble.

"Their defect deprived them of the joy derived from happy efforts. They
will be the prey of duplicity and untruth.

"They are the vanquished in life, and scarcely deserve the pity of the
conqueror; for their defeat lacks grandeur, since it has never been
aurioled by the majestic strength of conflict."

Following this, the Shogun speaks to us of those whom he calls the ardent
seekers after illusion.

One evening he related the following story: "Some men started off for an
island, which they perceived in the distance.

"It looked like a large, detached red spot, amid the flaming rays of the
setting sun, and the men told of a thousand wonders about this unknown
land, as yet untrodden by the foot of man.

"The first days of the journey were delightful. The oars lay in the
bottom of the boat untouched, and they just allowed themselves to drift
with the tide. They disembarked, singing to the murmur of the waters, and
gathered the fruits growing on the shores, to appease their hunger.

"But the stream, which was bearing them onward, did not retain long its
limpidity and repose; the eddies soon entrapped the tiny bark and dragged
the men overboard.

"Some, looking backward, were frightened at the thought of ascending the
river, which had become so tempestuous.

"Escaping the wreckage of the boat as best they could, they entrusted
themselves again to the fury of the waters.

"They had to suffer from cold and hunger, for they were far from shore,
and as, in their imagination, the island was very near, they had
neglected to furnish themselves with the necessities of life.

"At last, after the fatigues which forethought would have prevented, they
found themselves one evening, at sundown, at the base of a great rock,
bathed in the rosy light of the departing sun.

"This, then, was the island of their dreams.

"Tired out and exhausted from lack of food, they had only the strength to
lie down upon the inhospitable rock, there to die!

"The disappearance of the illusion, having destroyed their courage and
having struck them with the sword of despair, the rock of reality had
proved destructive of their bodies and souls.

"The moral of this story easily unfolds itself.

"If the seekers after illusions had admitted common sense to their
deliberations, they would certainly have learned to know the nature of
the enchanted isle, and they would have taken good care not to start out
on their journey which must terminate by such a deception.

"Would they not have taken the necessary precaution to prevent all the
delays attendant upon travels of adventure, and would they have entrusted
their lives to so frail a skiff, if they had acquired common sense?"

We must conclude, with Yoritomo, that illusion could often be transformed
into happy reality if it were better understood, and if, instead of
looking upon it through the dreams of our imagination, we applied
ourselves to the task of eliminating the fluid vapors which envelop it,
that we might clothe it anew with the garment of common sense.

Many enterprises have been considered as illusions because we have
neglected to awaken the possibilities which lay dormant within them.

The initial thought, extravagant as it may appear, brings with it, at
times, facilities of realization that a judgment dictated by common sense
can alone make us appreciate.

He who knows how to keep a strict watch over himself will be able to
escape the causes of disillusion, which lead us through fatal paths of
error, to the brink of despair.

"That which is above all to be shunned," said the philosopher, "is the
encroachment of discouragement, the result of repeated failures.

"Rare are those who wish to admit their mistakes.

"In the structure of the mind, inaccuracy brings a partial deviation from
the truth, and it does not take long for this slight error to generalize
itself, if not corrected by its natural reformer--common sense.

"But how many, among those who suffer from these unhappy illusions, are
apt to recognize them as such?

"It would, however, be a precious thing for us to admit the causes
which have led us to such a sorry result, by never permitting them to
occur again.

"This would be the only way for the victims of illusion to preserve the
life of that element of success and happiness known as hope.

"Because of seeing so often the good destroyed, we wish to believe no
more in it as inherent in our being, and rather than suffer repeatedly
from its disappearance, we prefer to smother it before perfect
development.

"The greater number of skeptics are only the unavowed lovers of illusion;
their desires, never being those capable of realization, they have lost
the habit of hoping for a favorable termination of any sentiment.

"The lack of common sense does not allow them to understand the folly of
their enterprise, and rather than seek the causes of their habitual
failures, they prefer to attack God and man, both of whom they hold
responsible for all their unhappiness.

"They are willingly ironical, easily become pessimists, and villify life,
without desiring to perceive that it reserved as many smiles for them as
the happy people whom they envy.

"All these causes of disappointment can only be attributed to the lack of
equilibrium of the reasoning power and, above all, to the absence of
common sense, hence we cannot judge of relative values.

"To give a definite course to the plans which we form is to prepare the
happy termination of them.

"This is also the way to banish seductive illusion, the devourer of
beautiful ambitions and youthful aspirations."

And, with his habitual sense of the practical in life, Yoritomo adds the
following:

"There are, however, some imaginations which can not be controlled by the
power of reasoning, and which, in spite of everything, escape toward the
unlimited horizons of the dream.

"It would be in vain to think of shutting them up in the narrow prison
walls of strict reason; they would die wishing to attempt an escape.

"To these we can prescribe the dream under its most august form, that
of science.

"Each inventor has pursued an illusion, but those whose names have lived
to reach our recognition, have caught a glimpse of the vertiginous course
they were following, and no longer have allowed themselves to get too far
away from their base--science.

"Yes, illusion can be beautiful, on condition that it is not constantly
debilitated.

"To make it beautiful we must be its master, then we may attempt
its conquest.

"It is thus that all great men act; before adopting an illusion, as
truth, they have assured themselves of the means by the aid of which they
were permitted first to hope for its transformation and afterward be
certain of their power to discipline it.

"Illusion then changes its name and becomes the Ideal.

"Instead of remaining an inaccessible myth, it is transformed into an
entity for the creation of good.

"It is no longer the effort to conquer the impossible, which endeavor
saps our vital forces; it is a contingency which study and common sense
strip of all aleatory principles, in order to give a form which becomes
more tangible and more definite every day.

"We have nothing more to do with sterile efforts toward gaining an object
which fades from view and disappears as one approaches it.

"It is no longer the painful reaching out after an object always growing
more indistinct as we draw near it.

"It is through conscious and unremitting effort that we attain the
happy expression of successful endeavor and realize the best in life,
for slow ascension in winning this best leaves no room for satiety in
this noble strife.

"We must pity those who live for an illusion as well as those whose
imagination has not known how to create an ideal, whose beauty illumines
their efforts.

"It is the triumph of common sense to accomplish this transformation and
to banish empty reveries, replacing them by creating a desire for the
best, which each one can satisfy--without destroying it.

"The day when this purpose is accomplished, illusion, definitely
conquered, will cease to haunt the mind of those whom common sense has
illumined; vagaries will make place for reason and terrible disillusion
will follow its chief (whose qualities never rise above mediocrity) into
his retreat, and allow the flower of hope to blossom in the souls
already filled with peace--that quality which is born of reason and
common sense."



LESSON III

THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE REASONING POWER


When reading certain passages in the manuscripts of Yoritomo, one is
forcibly reminded of the familiar phrase: "Nothing is definitely finished
among men, for each thing stops only to begin again."

He says, "That many centuries before the great minds constructed altars
to the goddess of Reason, they were in search of a divinity to replace
the one they had just destroyed.

"If it were proposed to me to build temples which would synthesize my
devotion with certain sentiments, my desire would be that those dedicated
to the Will and to Reason should dominate all others, for then they would
be under the protection of powers for good."

In a few pages further on he insists again and again upon the necessity
of developing the worship of reason.

"Reasoning," he continues, "is a divinity, around which gravitate a whole
world of gods, important but inferior to it.

"Among this people of these idols, so justly revered, there is one god
which occupies a place apart from the others.

"This god is Common Sense, which gave birth to Reason, and has always
been its faithful companion.

"It is, in reality, the controlling force exercising its power to guard
reason against the predominating character and nefarious tendencies
created by self-interest.

"Common sense compels reason to admit principles whose justice it has
already recognized, and, at the same time, incites reason to reject those
whose absurdity it has demonstrated.

"Common sense allies itself with reason, in order to make that selection
of ideas which personal interest can either set aside entirely or modify
by illogical inference.

"Reason obeys certain laws, all of which can be united in one
sentiment--common sense."

This statement could be illustrated symbolically by comparing its truth
to a fan, whose blades converge toward a central point where they
remain fixt.

Applying the precept to the picture, the old Shogun gives the design
which we are faithfully copying.

"In this ideal fan," explains Yoritomo, "not only the true reproduction
of the qualities directing the progress of knowledge must be perceived,
but the symbol of their development must be traced.

"All of these qualities are born of common sense, to which they are
closely allied, unfolding and disclosing a luminous radiance.

"Altho each one may have its autonomy, they never separate, and, even as
a fan from which one blade has disappeared can only remain an imperfect
object little to be desired, even so, the symbolic fan of reasoning, when
it does not unite all the required qualities, becomes a mutilated power,
which can only betray the destiny originally attributed to it.

"Consequently, starting from common sense as the central point of
reasoning, we find, first, perception.

"This is the action by which exterior things are brought near to us.

"Perception is essentially visual and auditory, altho it influences all
our senses.

"For example, the fact of tasting a fruit is a perception.

"The seeing of a landscape is equally one.

"The hearing of a song is also a perception.

"In a word, everything which presents itself to us, coming in
contact with one of our senses, is a perception; otherwise, the
inception of an idea.

"This is the first degree of reasoning.

"Immediately following is memory, without which nothing could be proved.

"It is memory, which, by renewing the motive power of reason, allows us
to judge of the proportion of things, grasped by the senses in the
present as related to those which come to us from the past.

"Without memory it would be impossible to make a mental comparison.

"It would be most difficult to determine the true nature of an event,
announced by perception, if an analogous sensation, previously
experienced, had not just permitted us to classify it by close
examination or by differentiating it.

"Memory is a partial resurrection of a past life, whose reconstruction
has just permitted us to attribute a true value to the phases of
existence.

"It is in preserving the memory of things that we are called upon to
compare them and then to judge of them.

"Thought is produced immediately after perception, and the recollection,
very often automatic, that it creates within us.

"It is the inception of the idea which it engenders by a series of
results.

"Thought permits the mind to exercise its judgment without allowing
itself to be influenced by the greatness or humility of the idea.

"By virtue of corresponding recollections, it will associate the present
perception with the past representations, and will take an extension,
more or less pronounced, according to the degree of intellectuality of
the thinker, and according to the importance of the object of its
reflections.

"But rarely does the idea present itself alone.

"One thought almost always produces the manifestation of similar
thoughts, which group themselves around the first idea as birds of the
same race direct their flight toward the same country.

"Thought is the manifestation of the intellectual life; it palpitates in
the brain of men as does the heart in the breast.

"It is thought which distinguishes men from animals, who have only
instinct to guide them.

"It can be admitted, however, that this instinct is a kind of obscure
thought for these inferior beings, from which reflection is eliminated,
or, at least, reveals itself only as a vassal of material appetite.

"But with creatures who have intelligence, thought is a superior faculty,
which aids the soul to free itself from the bondage of vulgar and limited
impressions.

"When perception, memory, and thought unite to form judgment, activity of
mind will become necessary, in order to accelerate the production of
ideas in extending the field of imagination.

"Moral inertia is the most deplorable of all defects; it retards
intellectual growth and hinders the development of personality.

"It is, in this understanding, the enemy of common sense, for it will
admit voluntarily a reasoning power, existing per se, rather than make
the necessary effort which will set free the truth and constitute an
individual opinion.

"Vulgarity is, then, almost always the sign of mental sloth.

"It is not infrequent to see a mind of real capacity fall into error,
where an intelligence of mediocre caliber asserts its efficiency.
Indifference is the most serious obstacle to the attainment of judgment.

"Common sense demands a keen alertness of understanding, placed at the
disposal of a reflection which appears at times slow of action, but which
is long in being manifested only because of the desire to surround itself
by all the guaranties of truth concerning the object in question.

"The fifth blade of the fan is the quality of deduction--the most solid
basis for the judgments which are formed by common sense.

"By deduction we are able to solve all relative questions with
perfect accuracy.

"It is by abstracting reckless contingencies, and by relying only upon
the relativeness of facts, that we can succeed in discovering the truth
that there are too many representations as to these facts.

"Deduction is the great support of mental weakness. It helps in
discerning proportions, possibilities, even as it helps in skilfully
avoiding the fear of error."

We shall have occasion to speak more at length of deduction, for Yoritomo
devotes many pages to it. We shall, then, defer to a future chapter the
interesting developments that he discloses on this subject, and we shall
continue to study the fan of common sense with him.

"Foresight," he continues, "is rightly looked upon as one of the
indispensable elements in cultivating common sense.

"The faculty of foresight always accompanies common sense, in order to
strengthen its qualities of skill and observation.

"One must not confound, as many people are tempted to do, foresight and
conjecture.

"The first consists in taking great care to prevent the repetition of
unhappy facts which have already existed.

"Foresight will exert an influence on future events by establishing an
analogy between them and the actual incidents which, of necessity, will
lead to the adoption or rejection of present projects.

"It is to be observed that all these faculties are subordinate, one to
the other, and, in proportion to the unfolding of the fan, we can prove
that all the blades previously mentioned have concurred in the formation
of the blade of which we are now speaking.

"In order to foresee disasters it is necessary that the
perception--visual or auditory--of said disasters should already have
imprest us.

"We have kept intact the memory of them, since it is reconstructed
emotion which guides our thoughts.

"These same thoughts, in extending themselves, form groups of thoughts
harmonious in character, all relative to the one, which is the object of
the debate.

"Our mind becomes more active in recalling the incidents, the remembrance
of which marks the time which has elapsed between the old perception and
the present state of mental absorption.

"The faculty of deduction, which is born of these different mental
conflicts, permits me to foresee that circumstances of the same nature
will lead to others similar to those we have already mentioned.

"We have merely sketched rapidly the scale of sensations which follow
each other, in order to reach the explanation of how foresight is formed,
this faculty of which we are now speaking.

"By assimilating these present facts with those of the past, we are
permitted to draw a conclusion, relating to the same group of results,
because of the conformity of those past facts to the present questions.

"Foresight is passive; between it and precaution there is the same
difference as between theory and practise.

"Precaution is preeminently active, and it marks its first appearance by
means of foresight, but does not stop in this effort until it has
rendered foresight productive.

"It is well to foresee, but it is precious to preclude.

"The second part of the act of precaution can, however, only be
accomplished after having permitted the brain to register the thoughts
which determine the first part of this act."

In order to understand this very subtle difference, but very important
one, which classifies these two sentiments, the old sage gives us the
following example:

"Let us suppose," he says, "that, on a beautiful day in spring, a man
starts out for an excursion which will last until the dawn of the
following day.

"If he has common sense, he will say to himself that the sun will not be
shining at the time of his return, that the nights of spring are cold,
and that this one will be no exception to the rule.

"This is foresight.

"If common sense, with all its consequences, takes possession of him, it
will increase his power of reasoning. He will think that, in order to
avoid suffering from the change of temperature, it would be well to cover
himself with a cloak.

"And, even tho the sun shone, he would not hesitate to furnish himself
with this accessory, which in fact will render him the greatest service.

"This is precaution.

"This quality is indispensable to the formation of the reasoning power;
for, in addition to the necessity of foreseeing certain results, it
permits also of directing their course, if it be impossible to exempt
them completely.

"Reasoning is the art of developing, to the highest degree, the
suppositions resulting from deduction.

"One is usually mistaken as to the exact meaning of the words 'to
reason,' and people seldom attach the importance to them which
they should.

"One is apt to think that the gift of reasoning is bestowed upon
every one.

"Perhaps; but to reason, following the principles of justice and truth,
is an operation which can only be performed by minds endowed with
common sense.

"In order to arrive at this result, it is essential to impress upon
oneself the value of the words, 'to deduct accurately,' after having
produced the radiation of thoughts which depend upon the object in
question, and to foresee the consequences of the facts that a resolution
could determine.

"Above all, to avoid contentment with the approximate, which conceals
many pitfalls under false appearances.

"Without permitting oneself to express useless trivialities, not to
neglect to become impregnated with those axioms which have been
rightfully baptized, 'wisdom of nations.'

"They are generally based on a secular observation, and are the product
of many generations.

"It would be puerile to attach vital importance to them, but one would
surely regret having entirely scorned their counsel.

"Too much erudition is at times detrimental to reason, based on common
sense. Altho fully appreciating science, and devoting serious study to
it, one would do well to introduce the human element into his knowledge.

"There are some essential truths which modify daily life without, for
this reason, lessening their importance.

"Some of them are of premature development; others are of
miniature growth.

"To reason without offending common sense, it is, therefore,
indispensable to consider time, place, environment, and all the
contingencies which could arise to undermine the importance of
reasoning."

After having reviewed all these phases, we shall then extend, in accord
with Yoritomo, the last blade of this rudimentary fan, and we shall
find judgment.

"This one is the index to that quality of mind called conviction.

"This mental operation consists in drawing together many ideas that their
relative characteristics may be determined.

"This operation takes the place contiguous to reasoning, of which it is
the result.

"Judgment determines its character after having registered the reasons
which ought to indicate its position; it deducts the conclusions imposed
by the explanatory principle, and classifies the idea by submitting it to
the valuation placed upon it by judgment.

"All judgment is either affirmative or negative.

"It can never be vascillating nor neutral.

"In this last case it will assume the title of opinion, and will
attribute to itself the definite qualities which characterize judgment.

"It is, however, at times subjected to certain conditions, where the
principles on which it is based are not sufficiently defined, and,
therefore, becomes susceptible to a change, either of form or of nature.

"It is possible, without violating the laws of common sense, to establish
a judgment whose terms will be modified by the mutation of causes.

"But common sense demands that these different influences should be
foreseen, and that these eventualities should be mentioned when
pronouncing the judgment."

We have reached the last blade of the symbolic fan, described by the
philosopher, for many secondary qualities may be placed between the
principle blades.

But faithful to his explanatory method, he wished to indicate to us the
broad lines first, and also to state the indispensable faculties
constituting common sense, by teaching us their progression and
development.

He desired to demonstrate to us also how much all these qualities would
be lessened in value if they were not united and bound together in the
order in which they ought to manifest themselves.

"We have all possest," said he, "some fans whose point of reunion was
destroyed in part or altogether lost.

"What becomes of it, then?

"During a certain length of time, always rather short, the blades, after
having remained bound together by the thread which holds them, separate,
when it is severed because of the lack of harmony and of equilibrium at
their base.

"Very soon, one blade among them detaches itself, and the mutilated fan
takes its place in the cemetery where sleep those things deteriorated
because of old age or disuse.

"It is the same with the qualities which we have just enumerated. As long
as they remain attached to their central point, which is common sense,
they stand erect, beautiful and strong, concurring in the fertilization
of our minds, and in creating peace in our lives.

"But if the point of contact ceases to maintain them, to bind them
together, to forbid their separating, we shall soon see them fall apart
after having escaped from the temporary protection of the secondary
qualities.

"For a while we seek to evoke them; but recognizing the ruse existing in
their commands, we shall soon be the first to abandon them, in order to
harmonize our favors with the deceptive mirage of the illusions; at
least, if we do not allow ourselves to be tempted by fallacious arguments
of vanity.

"In the one as in the other case, we shall become, then, the prey of
error and ignorance, for common sense is the intelligence of truth."



LESSON IV

COMMON SENSE AND IMPULSE


Impulsive people are those who allow themselves to be guided by their
initial impressions and make resolutions or commit acts tinder the
domination of a special consciousness into which perception has
plunged them.

Impulse is a form of cerebral activity which, forces us to make a
movement before the mind is able to decide upon it by means of reflection
or reasoning. The Shogun deals with it at length and defines it thus:

"Impulse is an almost direct contact between perception and result.

"Memory, thought, deduction, and, above all, reason are absolutely
excluded from these acts, which are never inspired by intellectuality.

"The impression received by the brain is immediately transmuted into an
act, similar to those acts which depend entirely on automatic memory.

"It is certain in making a series of movements, which compose the act of
walking upstairs or the action of walking from one place to another, we
do not think of analyzing our efforts and this act of walking almost
limits itself to an organic function, so little does thought enter into
its composition.

"In the case of repeated impulses, it can be absolutely affirmed that
substance is the antecedent and postulate of the essence of being.

"Substance comprises all corporal materialities: instinctive needs,
irrational movements, in a word, all actions where common sense is
not a factor.

"Essence is that imponderable part of being which includes the soul, the
mind, the intelligence, in fact the entire mentality.

"It is this last element of our being which poetizes our thoughts,
classifies them, and leads us to common sense, by means of reasoning
and judgment.

"He who, having received an injury from his superior, replies to it at
once by corresponding affront, is absolutely sure to become the victim of
his impulses.

"It is only when his act is consummated, that he will think of the
consequences which it can entail; the loss of his employment first, then
corporal punishment, in severity according to the gravity of the offense;
lastly, misery, perhaps the result of forced inactivity.

"On the contrary, the man endowed with common sense will reflect in a
flash, by recalling all the different phases which we have described. His
intelligence, being appealed to, will represent to him the consequences
of a violent action.

"He will find, in common sense, the strength not to respond to an injury
at once; but will not forego the right, however, of avenging himself
under the guise of a satisfaction which will be all the more easily
accorded to him as his moderation will not fail to make an impression in
his favor."

"There is, between common sense and impulse," says Yoritomo, "the
difference that one would find between two coats, one of which was bought
ready-made, while the other, after being cut according to the proportions
of the one who is to wear it, was sewed by a workman to whom all the
resources of his art are known."

If impulses adopt the same character for every one, common sense adapts
itself to the mind, to the sensitiveness, to the worth of him who
practises it; it is a garment which is adjusted to the proportions of its
owner, and, according to his taste, is elaborate or simple.

Certain people have a tendency to confound intuition and impulse.

These two things, really very different in essence, are only related by
spontaneity of thought which gives them birth.

But whereas intuition, a sensation altogether moral, concisely stated, is
composed of mental speculations, impulses always resolve themselves into
acts and resolutions to act.

Intuition is a sort of obscure revelation, which reason controls only
after its formation.

Impulse never engages common sense in the achievements which it
realizes. It never decides upon them in advance, and almost always
engenders regrets.

It is the result of a defeat in self-control, which will-power and the
power of reasoning alone can correct.

Intuition is less spontaneous than impulse.

It is a very brief mental operation, but, nevertheless, very real, which,
very indistinctly, touches lightly all the phases of reasoning, in order
to reach a conclusion so rapidly that he who conceives it has difficulty
in making the transformations of the initial thought intelligible.

It is none the less true that intuition is always inspired by a predicted
reflection, but, in spite of this fact, an existing reflection.

Impulse, on the contrary, only admits instinct as its source of
existence.

It is the avowed enemy of common sense, which counsels the escape from
exterior insinuations that one may concentrate, in order to listen to the
voice which dictates to us the abstinence from doing anything until after
making a complete analysis of the cause which agitates us.

Some philosophers have sought to rank inspiration under the flag of
impulse, which they thought to defend; yes, even to recover esteem under
this new form.

"We should know how to stand on guard," says Yoritomo, "against this
fatal error."

"Inspiration," says he, "is rarely immobilized under the traits which
characterized its first appearance.

"Before expressing itself in a work of art or of utility, it was the
embryo of that which it must afterward personify.

"The ancients when relating that a certain divinity sprang, fully armed,
from the head of a god, accredited this belief to instantaneous creation.

"If musicians, painters, poets, and inventors want to be sincere, they
will agree that, between the thought which they qualify as inspiration,
and its tangible realization, a ladder of transformations has been
constructed, and that it is only by progressive steps that they have
attained what seemed to them the nearest to perfection."

Impulse, then, is only distantly related to inspiration and intuition.

Let us add that these gifts are very often only the fruit of an
unconscious mental effort, and that, most of the time, the thoughts,
which in good faith one accepts as inspiration or intuition, are only
nameless reminiscences, whose apparition coincides with an emotional
state of being, which existed at the time of the first perception.

There, again, the presence of reasoning is visible, and also the presence
of common sense, which tries to convert into a work of lasting results
those impressions which would probably remain unproductive without the
aid of these two faculties.

Impulses are, most of the time, the vassals of material sensations.

Definite reasoning and impartial judgment, inspired by common sense, are
rarely the possession of a sick man.

Sufferings, in exposing him to melancholy, make him see things in a
defective light; the effort of thinking fatigues his weak brain, and the
fear of a resolution which would force him to get out of his inactivity
has enormous influence upon the deductions which dictate his judgment.

Before discussing the advantages of conflict, he will instinctively
resign himself to inertia.

If, on the contrary, his temperament disposes him to anger, he will
compromise an undertaking by a spontaneous violence, which patience and
reflection would otherwise have made successful. It is possible also that
a valiant soul is unable to obey a weak body, and that instinct, awakened
by fear, leads one on to the impulsive desires of activity.

Inadequate food or excessive nourishment can produce impulses of a
different nature, but these differences are wholly and completely
distinct as to character.

The most evident danger of impulses lies in the scattering of mental
forces, which, being too frequently called upon, use themselves up
without benefiting either reason or common sense.

The habit of indulging in movements dictated only by instinct, in
suppressing all the phases of judgment leaves infinitely more latitude to
caprice, which exists at the expense of solid judgment.

Perception, being related to that which interests our passions, by
getting in direct contact with the action which should simply be derived
from a deduction, inspired by common sense, multiplies the unreflected
manifestations and produces waste of the forces, which should be
concentrated on a central point, after having passed through all the
phases of which we have spoken.

In addition, the permanency of resolutions is unknown to impulsive
people.

Their tendency, by leading them on toward instantaneous solutions, allows
them to ignore the benefits of consistency.

"They are like unto a peasant," said the old Nippon, "who owned a field
in the country of Tokio. Scarcely had he begun to sow a part of the field
when, under the influence of an unhappy impulse, he plowed up the earth
again in order to sow the ground with a new seed.

"If he heard any one speak of any special new method of cultivation,
he only tried it for a short while, and then abandoned it, to try
another way.

"He tried to cultivate rice; then, before the time for harvesting it, he
became enthusiastic for the cultivation of chrysanthemums, which he
abandoned very soon in order to plant trees, whose slow development
incited him to change his nursery into a field of wheat.

"He died in misery, a victim of his having scorned the power of
consistency and common sense."

Now Yoritomo, after having put us on our guard against impulses, shows us
the way to conquer these causes of disorder.

"To control unguarded movements, which place us on a level with inferior
beings. That is," said he "in making us dependent on one instinct alone.
This is," said he, "to take the first step toward the will to think,
which is one of the forms of common sense.

"In order to reach this point, the first resolution to make is to escape
from the tyranny of the body, which tends to replace the intellectual
element in impulsive people.

"When I was still under the instruction of my preceptor, Lang-Ho, I saw
him cure a man who was affected with what he called 'The Malady of the
First Impulse.'

"Whether it concerned good actions or reprehensible ones, this man always
acted without the least reflection.

"To launch a new enterprise, which the most elementary common sense
condemned, he gave the greater part of his fortune in a moment of
enthusiasm.

"He allowed himself to commit acts of violence which taught him
severe lessons.

"Finally, vexed beyond measure, dissatisfied with himself and others, he
so brutally maltreated a high dignitary in a moment of violent anger that
the latter sent for him that he might punish him. Learning of this, the
man, crazy with rage, rushed out of his house in order to kill the prince
with his own hand.

"It was in this paroxysm of passion that my master met him. Like all
impulsive people, he was full of his subject, and, joining the perception
of the insult to the judgment of it, which his instinct had immediately
dictated to him, he did not conceal his murderous intentions.

"My master, by means of a strategy, succeeded in dissuading him from
accomplishing his revenge that day. He persuaded him that the prince was
absent and would only return to town upon the following day.

"The man believed him, and allowed himself to be taken to the house
of Lang-Ho.

"But it was in vain that Lang-Ho unfolded all his most subtle arguments.
Neither the fear of punishment, nor the hope of pardon, could conquer the
obstinacy which can always be observed in impulsive people when their
resolution has not accomplished its purpose.

"It was then that my master employed a ruse, whose fantastic character
brings a smile, but which, however, demonstrates a profound knowledge of
the human heart when acting under the influence of common sense.

"During the sleep of his guest, Lang-Ho took off his robe, replacing it
by a garment made of two materials. One was golden yellow, the other a
brilliant green. After attacks of terrible anger, in spite of the
solicitation of his impulsive nature which incited him to go out, he did
not dare to venture into the streets in such a costume.

"That which the most subtle arguments had been unable to accomplish, was
obtained through fear of ridicule.

"Two days passed; his fury was changed into great mental exhaustion,
because impulsive people can not withstand the contact with obstacles for
any length of time.

"It was this moment which my master chose to undertake the cure, in which
he was so vitally interested.

"With the most delicate art, he explained to the impulsive man all the
chain of sentiments leading from perception to judgment.

"He caused common sense to intervene so happily that the man was
permeated by it. My master kept him near by for several weeks, always
using very simple arguments to combat the instinctive resolutions which
were formulated in his brain many times a day.

"Common sense, thus solicited, was revealed to the impulsive one, and
appeared like a peaceful counselor.

"The ridiculous and odious side of his resolution was represented to him
with such truth that he embraced Lang-Ho, saying:

"'Now, Master, I can go away, and your mind can be at rest about me.

"'The arguments of common sense have liberated me from bondage in which
my lack of reflection held me.

"'I return to my home, but, I beg of you, allow me to take away this
ridiculous costume which was my savior.

"'I wish to hang it in my home, in the most conspicuous place, that, from
the moment my nature incites me to obey the commands of impulse, I may be
able to look at once upon this garment, and thus recall your teachings,
which have brought sweetness and peace into my life.'"

All those who are inclined to act by instinct should follow this example,
not by dressing up in a ridiculous robe half green and half yellow, but
by placing obstacles in the way of the accomplishment of impulsive acts,
which the dictates of common sense would not sanction.

"For those whose mind possess a certain delicacy," again says the old
master, "these obstacles will be of a purely moral order, but for those
who voluntarily allow themselves to be dominated by a diseased desire for
action, obstacles should adopt a tangible form; the difficulty in
conquering anything always makes impulsive people reflect a little.

"Under the immediate impression of the perception of an act they are
ready for a struggle to the death; but this ardor is quickly
extinguished, and inertia, in its turn, having become an impulse, makes
them throw far away from them the object which determined the effort.

"In proportion as they encounter obstacles, which they have taken the
precaution to raise, the encroachment of the impression will make itself
less felt.

"The mere fact of having foreseen will become a matter for
reflection for them.

"The feeling of the responsibilities will be roused in them, and they
will understand how difficult it is to escape the consequences of
impulsive acts."

Would one not say that these lines had been written yesterday?

More than ever our age of unrest makes us the prey of impulses, and to
the majority of our contemporaries, the robe, half green and half yellow
(by recalling to them the worship of common sense), will become a fetish,
more precious than all the amulets with which superstition loves to adorn
logic, or to incorporate fantastic outline in the classic setting of
beautiful jewels.



LESSON V

THE DANGERS OF SENTIMENTALITY


The Shogun says: "There are sentimentalities of many kinds, some present
less dangers than others, but from every point of view they are
prejudicial to the acquisition and exercise of common sense. To cultivate
sentiment over which the Will has no control is always to be regretted.

"Sentimentality is multiform.

"It presents itself, at times, under the aspect of an obscure appeal to
sensuality and brings with it a passing desire of the heart and of the
senses, which produces an artificial appreciation of the emotion felt.

"In this first case sentimentality is an unconscious manifestation of
egotism, because, outside of that which provokes this outward
manifestation, everything is alienated and becomes indistinct.

"The incidents of existence lose their true proportion, since everything
becomes relative to the object because of our preoccupation.

"The impulse reigns supreme there when sentimentality establishes itself,
and the desire of judgment, if it makes itself apparent, is quickly
shunned, to the profit of illusory reasons, in which pure reason does not
intervene.

"This sentimentality amalgamating the springs of egotism bereaves the
soul's longing of all its greatness.

"The anxiety to attribute all our impressions to emotion is only a way of
intensifying it for our personal satisfaction, at the expense of a
sentiment far deeper and more serious, which never blossoms under the
shadow of egotism and of frivolous sentimentality.

"Never will common sense have the chance to manifest itself in those who
permit such ephemeral and enfeebling impressions to implant themselves in
their souls.

"However they must be pitied because their artificial emotion often
results in a sorrow which is not lessened by repetition, but whose
manifestation is none the less prejudicial to the peace of their being.

"All those who do not harmonize common sense and the emotions of the
heart become passive to the investiture of a sentimentality which does
not wait to know if the object be worthy of them before it exists in
consciousness.

"From this state of mind arise disillusions and their recurrence entails
a defect in the conception.

"Men who are often deceived in allowing themselves to feel a sorrow which
is only based on the longings of sentimentality become pessimists quickly
and deny the existence of deep and enduring affection judged from its
superior expression.

"This superior expression of sentiment is freed from all personality and
such judgment which differentiates it from other sentiments.

"If we wished to appeal to common sense we should acknowledge, too often,
that in the search for expansion we have only recognized the opportunity
to satisfy the inclination which urges us to seek for pleasure.

"Sentiment reasons, and is capable of devotion. Sentimentality excludes
reflective thought and ignores generosity.

"We are capable of sacrificing ourselves for sentiment.

"Sentimentality exacts the sacrifice of others.

"Therefore, profiting by the principles already developed, he who
cultivates common sense will never fail to reason in the following
manner:

"Opening the symbolic fan, he will encounter, after perfection, the
memory which will suggest to him the recollections of personal and
strange experiences and he will record this fact: abegation is rarely
encountered.

"The inclination of our thoughts will suggest to us the difficulties
there are in searching for it.

"Deduction will acquaint us with the temerity of this exaction, and
precaution will attract our thoughts to the possibility of suffering
which could proceed from disillusion.

"Following this, reasoning and judgment will intervene in order to hasten
the conclusion formulated by common sense.

"It follows then that, abnegation being so rare, common sense indicates
to me that it would be imprudent for me to allow my happiness to rest
upon the existence of a thing so exceptional.

"For this reason this sentimental defect will find common sense armed
against this eventuality.

"There is another form or sentimentality not less common.

"It is that which extends itself to all the circumstances of life and
transforms true pity into a false sensibility, the exaggeration of which
deteriorates the true value of things.

"Those who give publicity to this form of sentiment are agitated (or
imagine themselves to be agitated) as profoundly on the most futile of
pretexts as for the most important cause.

"They do not think to ask themselves if their ardor is merited; also
every such experience, taking out of them something of their inner
selves, leaves them enfeebled and stranded.

"Every excursion into the domain of sentimentality is particularly
dangerous, for tourists always fail to carry with them the necessary
coinage which one calls common sense."

After having put ourselves on guard against the surprizes of mental
exaggeration, Yoritomo warns us of a kind of high respectable
sentimentality which we possess, that is none the less censurable
because under an exterior of the purest tenderness it conceals a
profound egotism.

It concerns paternal love from which reasoning and common sense
are excluded.

"Nothing" said he, "seems more noble than the love of parents for their
children, and no sentiment is more august when it is comprehended in all
its grandeur.

"But how many people are apt to distinguish it from an egotistical
sentimentality.

"I have seen some mothers oppose the departure of their sons, preferring
to oblige them to lead an obscure existence near to them, rather than
impose upon themselves the sorrow of a separation.

"These women do not fail to condemn the action of others, who, filled
with a sublime abnegation, allow their children to depart, hiding from
them the tears which they shed, because they have the conviction of
seeing them depart for the fortune and the happiness which they feel
themselves unable to offer them.

"Which of these are worthy of admiration? Those who condemn their
children to a life of mediocrity in order to obey an egotistical
sentimentality, or those who, with despair in their hearts, renounce the
joy of their presence, and think only of their own grief in order to
build upon it the happiness of their dear ones.

"The common sense of this latter class inspiring in them this magnificent
sentiment, and forcing them to set aside a sentimentality which is, in
reality, only the caricature of sentiment, has permitted them to escape
that special kind of egotism, which could be defined thus: The
translation of a desire for personal contentment.

"Ought we then to blame others so strongly?

"It is necessary, above all, to teach them to reason about the ardor of
their emotions, and only to follow them when they find that they are
cleansed from all aspiration which is not a pledge of devotion."

Now the Shogun speaks to us with that subtlety of analysis which is
characteristic and refers to a kind of sentimentality the most frequent
and the least excusable.

"There are," he tells us, "a number of people who, without knowing that
they offend common sense in a most indefensible manner, invoke
sentimentality in order to dispense with exercising the most vulgar pity,
to the profit of their neighbor.

"A prince," he continues, "possest a large? tract of land which he had
put under grain.

"For the harvest, a large number of peasants and laborers were employed
and each one lived on the products of his labor.

"But a prolonged drought threatened the crop; so the prince's overseer
dismissed most of the laborers, who failed to find employment in the
parched country.

"Soon hunger threatened the inmates of the miserable dwellings, and
sickness, its inseparable companion, did not fail to follow.

"Facing the conditions the prince left, and had it not been for two
or three wealthy and charitable people the laborers would have
starved to death.

"This pitiful condition was soon changed, abundance replaced famine, and
the master returned to live in his domain.

"But amazement followed when he addrest his people as follows: Here I am,
back among you, and I hope to remain here a long time; if I left you, it
was because I have so great an affection for all my servants and because
even the bare thought of seeing them suffer caused me unbearable sorrow.

"I am not among those who are sufficiently hard-hearted to be able to
take care of sick and suffering people and to be a witness of their
martyrdom. My pity is too keen to permit of my beholding this spectacle;
this is why I had to leave to others, less sensitive, the burden of care
which my too tender heart was unable to lavish on you."

And that which is more terrible is that this man believed what he said.

He did not understand the monstrous rent which he made in the robe of
common sense, by declaring that he had committed the vilest act of
cruelty due to excessive sensitiveness since it represented a murderous
act of omission.

Examples of this form of sentimentality are more numerous than we think.

There exist people who cover their dogs with caresses, gorging them with
dainties, and will take good care not to succor the needy.

Others faint away at sight of an accident and never think of giving aid
to the wounded.

One may observe that for people exercising sentimentality at the expense
of common sense, the greatest catastrophe in intensity, if it be far away
from us, diminishes, while the merest incident, a little out of the
ordinary, affects them in a most immoderate manner if it be produced in
the circle of their acquaintances.

It is needless to add that, if it touches them directly, it becomes an
unparalleled calamity; it seems that the rest of the world must be
troubled by it.

This propensity toward pitying oneself unreasonably about little things
which relate to one directly and this exaggerated development of a
sterile sentimentality are almost always artificial, and the instinct of
self-preservation very often aids in their extermination.

"Among my old disciples," pursues the Shogun, "I had a friend whose son
was afflicted by this kind of sentimentality, the sight of blood made him
faint and he was incapable of aiding any one whomsoever; that which he
called his good heart, and which was only a form of egotistical
sentimentality, prevented him from looking at the suffering of others.

"One day, a terrible earthquake destroyed his palace; he escaped, making
his way through the ruins and roughly pushing aside the wounded who told
about it afterward.

"I saw him some days after; instead of reproaching him severely for his
conduct, I endeavored to make him see how false was his conception of
pity, since, not only had he not fainted at the sight of those who,
half-dead, were groaning, but he had found in the egotistical sentiment
of self-preservation the strength to struggle against those who clung to
him, beseeching him for help.

"I demonstrated to him the evident contradiction of his instinctive
cruelty to the sentimentality that it pleased him to make public.

"I made an appeal to common sense, in order to prove to him the attitude
which he had, until then, assumed, and I had the joy of seeing myself
understood.

"My arguments appealed to his mentality, and always afterward, when he
had the opportunity to bring puerile sentimentality and common sense face
to face, he forced himself to appeal to that quality, which in revealing
to him the artifice of the sentiment which animated him, cured him of
false sensibility, which he had displayed up to that time."

Sentimentality is in reality only a conception of egotism, under the
different forms which it adopts.

Yoritomo proves it to us again, in speaking of the weakness of certain
teachers, who, under the pretext of avoiding trouble, allow their
children to follow their defective inclinations.

"It is by an instinctive hatred of effort that parents forbid themselves
to make their children cry when reprimanding them," said he.

"If the parents wish to be sincere to themselves, they will perceive that
the sorrow in seeing their children's tears flow, plays a very small part
in their preconceived idea of indulgence.

"It is in order to economize their own nervous energy or to avoid
cleverly the trouble of continued teaching, that they hesitate to provoke
these imaginary miseries, the manifestation of which is caused by the
great weakness of the teachers.

"Common sense, nevertheless, ought to make them understand that it is
preferable to allow the little ones to shed a few tears, which are
quickly dried, rather than to tolerate a deplorable propensity for these
habits which, later in life, will cause them real anxiety."

And the philosopher concludes:

"A very little reasoning could suffice to convince one of the dangers of
sentimentality, if the persons who devote themselves entirely to it
consented to reflect, by frankly agreeing to the true cause which
produces it.

"They would discover in this false pity the desire not to disturb their
own tranquility.

"They would also perceive that, in order to spare themselves a few
unpleasant moments in the present they are preparing for themselves great
sorrow for the future.

"In parental affection, as in friendship or in the emotions of
love, sentimentality is none other than an exaggerated amplification
of the ego.

"If it be true that all our acts, even those most worthy of approbation,
can react in our personality, at least it is necessary that we should be
logical and that, in order to create for ourselves a partial happiness or
to avoid a temporary annoyance, we should not prepare for ourselves an
existence, outlined by deception and fruitless regrets.

"Sentimentality and its derivatives, puerile pity and false
sensitiveness, can create illusion for those who do not practise the art
of reasoning, but the friends of common sense do not hesitate to condemn
them for it.

"In spite of the glitter in which it parades itself, sentimentality will
never be anything but the dross of true sentiment."



LESSON VI

THE UTILITY OF COMMON SENSE IN DAILY LIFE


As our philosopher explains, the influence of common sense is above all
appreciation of daily events. "We have," he continues, "very rarely in
life the opportunity of making grave decisions, but we are called upon
daily to resolve unimportant problems, and we can only do it in a
judicious way, if we are allowed to devote ourselves to certain kinds of
investigation.

"This is what may be called to judge with discrimination, otherwise, with
common sense.

"Without this faculty, it is in vain that our memory amasses the
materials, which must serve us in the comparative examination of facts.

"And this examination can only be spoiled by decrepitude, if common sense
did not succeed in dictating its conclusions to us.

"Thanks to this faculty, we possess this accuracy of mind which permits
us to discern truth from falsehood.

"It is this power which aids us in distinguishing what we should consider
as a duty, as a right, or as a thing conforming to equity, established by
the laws of intelligence.

"Without common sense we should be like an inexperienced gardener, who,
for want of knowledge, would allow the tares to grow and would neglect
the plants whose function is to nourish man.

"In order to conform to the habit of judging with common sense, one ought
first to lay down the following principle:

"No fact can exist, unless there is a sufficient motive to determine
its nature.

"It is when operating on the elements furnished us by common sense that
we are able to discern the quality of the object of our attention.

"One day, a sage, whom people gladly consulted, was asked by what means
he had learned to know so well the exact proportion of things, so that he
never failed to attribute to them their real value.

"'Why' they added, 'can you foresee so exactly the evil and direct us to
that which is right and just?'

"And the superstitious people added:

"'Are you not in communication with the spirits, which float in space,
which come from the other world?

"Would you not be counseled by voices which we have not the power to
hear, and do you not see things which are visible to you alone?'

"'You are right,' replied the saintly man, smiling:

"'I have indeed the power to hear and to see that which you do not
perceive; but sorcery has no relation to the power which is
attributed to me.

"If you wish, you will be able to possess it in your turn, for my means
are not a secret.

"'I keep my eyes and ears open.'

"And as every one burst out laughing, believing it a joke, the sage
began again:

"'But this is not all; after having seen and heard, I call to my aid all
the qualities which constitute common sense and, thanks to this faculty,
I draw my conclusions from my experience, from which enthusiasm, fancy,
as well as personal interest are totally excluded.

"'This done, and my judgment being formulated in my thought, I adapt it
to the circumstances, and especially to the material situation and to the
mentality of those who consult me.'

"From these counsels," thinks the Shogun, "we must draw a precious
lesson.

"It is true that an exigency, physical or moral, can determine, in
different individuals, a very different resolution.

"According to the manner of life adopted, or the direction given to one's
duties, different resolutions can be made without lacking common sense.
It is indisputable that what represents social obligations does not
demand the same conduct from the peasant as from the prince.

"We should outrage common sense in presenting a workman with a gorgeous
robe suitable for great ceremonies, in which to do his work, but reason
would be equally outraged if one put on a shabby costume to go to the
palace of the Mikado."

The nature of resolutions inspired by common sense varies according to
environment, the time, and the state of mind in which one is.

These conditions make of this quality a virtue really worth acquiring,
for it is more difficult to conquer than many others and its effects are
of infinite variety.

But as always, Yoritomo, after having signaled the danger, and indicated
the remedy, gives us the manner of its application.

That which follows is marked by that simplicity of conception and
facility of execution which render the doctrine of the Nippon philosopher
absolutely efficacious.

Instead of losing himself by digressing from his subject and by placing
himself on the summits of psychology, he remains with us, puts himself on
the level of the most humble among us, and says to us all:

"The best way to use common sense in daily life consists in declaring
one's honest intentions.

"What should I do if I were in the place of the person with whom I am
discussing?

"I found myself one day on the slope of a hill named Yung-Tshi, and I
remarked that the majority of the trees were stript of their foliage.

"The season seeming to me not sufficiently advanced for this condition of
vegetation, I exprest my astonishment to a passer-by, who replied to me:

"'Alas! This occurs every year at the same time, and it is not well to
cultivate trees on the height of Yung-Tshi, for the sun, being too hot,
dries them up before the time when the foliage ought to fall.'

"A few days afterward my steps lead me on the opposite slope of the
same hill.

"There the trees were covered with foliage, still green but uncommon, and
their appearance indicated an unhealthy condition of growth.

"'Alas!' said a man who was working in the hedges to me, 'it is not well
to cultivate trees on the height of Tung-Tshi, for the sun never shines
there, and they can only acquire the vigor they would possess if they
were planted in another country.'

"And, altho recognizing the truth of these two opinions, so
contradictory, I could not help thinking that they were the reproduction
of those which men, deprived of common sense, express every day.

"The same hill produced a vegetation, affected in different ways, by
reason of different causes; and the people, instead of taking into
consideration how carelessly they had chosen the location of their
plantation, preferred to attribute the defect to the site itself, rather
than to their lack of precaution.

"Both of them were suffering from a hurtful exaggeration, but each one
explained it in a way arbitrarily exclusive.

"He of the north made out that the sun never shone on the summit of
Yung-Tshi, and the inhabitant of the south affirmed that the
health-giving shade was unknown there."

This is why it is indispensable to the successful resolution of the
thousand and one problems of daily life, both those whose sole importance
is derived from their multiplicity and those whose seriousness justly
demands our attention, to employ the very simple method which prescribes
that we place ourselves mentally in the position and circumstances of the
person with whom we are discussing.

If each one of the inhabitants of Yung-Tshi had followed this precept,
instead of declaring that the hill never received the sun or that shade
never fell upon it, they would each one have thought for himself.

"At what conclusions should I arrive, if I had planted my trees on the
opposite side?"

From the reasoning which would have ensued, the following truth would
most certainly have been revealed.

"If I were in the other man's place, I should certainly think as he
does."

This premise once laid down, the conclusion would be reached; all the
more exact, because, without abandoning their arguments, each one would
present those which it is easy to turn against an adversary.

Before solving a problem, he who desires to avoid making a mistake must
never fail to ask himself this question:

What should I do if my interests were those of the opposite party?

Or, yet again:

What should I reply if my adversaries used the same language to me as I
purpose using when addressing them?

This method is valuable in that it raises unexpected objections, which
the mind would not consider if one had simply studied the question from
one's own point of view.

It is a self-evident fact that, according to the state of mind in which
we are, things assume different proportions in the rendering of
judgment on them.

We must not argue as children do, who, not having the sense of
calculating distances, ask how the man standing near to them will be able
to enter his house, which they see far away, and which seems to them of
microscopic dimensions.

One departs from common sense when one attributes to insignificant things
a fundamental value.

We neglect to consider it in a most serious way when we adopt principles
contrary to the general consensus of opinion accredited in the
environment in which we are living.

"A high dignitary of the court," says Yoritomo, "would be lacking in
common sense if he wished to conduct himself as a peasant and, on the
other hand, a peasant would give a proof of great folly were he to
attempt the remodeling of his life on the principles adopted by
courtiers.

"He who, passing his life in camps, wished to think and to act like the
philosopher, whose books are his principal society, would cause people to
doubt his wisdom; and the thinker who should adopt publicly the methods
of a swashbuckler would only inspire contempt."

In ordinary life, one ought to consider this faculty of common sense as
the ruling principle of conduct.

One can be lacking in thought, in audacity, in brilliant qualities, if
only one possesses common sense.

It takes the place of intelligence in many people, whose minds,
unaccustomed to subtle argument, only lend themselves to very simple
reasoning.

A versatile mentality rarely belongs to such minds, because it is not
their forte to unfold hidden truths.

It walks in the light and keeps in the very middle of the road, far from
the ambushes which may be concealed by the hedges of the cross-roads.

Many people gifted with common sense but deprived of ordinary
intelligence have amassed a fortune, but never, no matter how clever he
may be, has a man known success, if he has not strictly observed the laws
of common sense.

It is not only in debates that the presence of this virtue should make
itself felt, but every act of our life should be impregnated with it.

There are no circumstances, no matter how insignificant they may appear,
where the intervention of common sense would be undesirable.

It is only common sense which will indicate the course of conduct to be
pursued, so as not to hurt the feelings or offend the prejudices of
other people.

There are great savants, whose science, freed from all puerile beliefs,
rises above current superstition.

They would consider it a great lack of common sense if they expounded
their theories before the humble-minded, whose blind faith would be
injured thereby.

Of two things one is certain: either they would refuse to believe such
theories and this display of learning would be fruitless, or their
habitual credulity would be troubled and they would lose their
tranquility without acquiring a conviction sufficiently strong to give
them perfect peace of mind.

Even in things which concern health, common sense is applicable to
daily life.

It is common sense which will preserve us from excesses, by establishing
the equilibrium of the annoyances which result from them, with reference
to the doubtful pleasure which they procure.

Thanks to common sense, we shall avoid the weariness of late nights and
the danger of giving oneself up to the delights of dissipation.

"It is common sense," says the philosopher, "which forces us at a banquet
to raise our eyes to the hour-glass to find out how late it is.

"It is under the inspiration of this great quality of mind that we shall
avoid putting to our lips the cup already emptied many times.

"Common sense will reflect upon the mirror of our imagination the specter
of the day after the orgy; it will evoke the monster of the headache
which works upon the suffering cranium with its claws of steel; and, at
some future day, it will show us precocious decrepitude as well as all
bodily ills which precede the final decay of those who yield to their
passions. It will also impose upon us the performance of duty under the
form which it has adopted for each individual.

"Common sense represents for some the care of public affairs; for others
those of the family; for us all the great desire to leave intact to our
descendants the name which we have received from our fathers.

"For some of those still very young, it is like a lover long desired!

"For sages and warriors, it blows the trumpet of glory.

"Finally, common sense is the chosen purpose of every one, courted,
demanded, desired or accepted, but it exists, and under the penalty of
most serious inconveniences it does not permit us to forget its
existence."

Coming down from the heights where he allows himself to be transported at
times for a brief moment, Yoritomo tells us the part played by common
sense with reference to health.

"Common sense" he assures us, "is the wisest physician whom it is
possible to consult.

"If we followed its advice, we should avoid the thousand and one little
annoyances of illnesses caused by imprudence.

"The choice of clothing would be regulated according to the existing
temperature.

"One would avoid the passing at once from extreme heat to extreme cold.

"One would never proffer this stupid reflection: Bah! I shall take care
of myself, which impudent people declare when exposing themselves
carelessly to take cold.

"We should understand that disease is a cause of unparalleled disorder
and discord.

"In addition to the thought of possible sufferings, that of grief for
those whom we love, joined to the apprehension of a cessation of social
functions, on whose achievement depends our fortune, would suffice to
eliminate all idea of imprudence, if we had the habit of allowing common
sense to participate in all our actions of daily life.

"To those who walk under its guidance; it manifests itself without
ceasing; it dominates all actions without their being compelled to
separate themselves from it.

"It is unconsciously that they appeal to common sense and they have no
need of making an effort to follow its laws.

"Common sense is the intelligence of instinct."



LESSON VII

POWER OF DEDUCTION


Before entering the path which relates directly to the intellectual
efforts concerning the acquisition of common sense, the Shogun calls our
attention to the power of deduction.

"It is only," said he, "where we are sufficiently permeated with all the
principles of judgment that we shall be able to think of acquiring this
quality, so necessary to the harmony of life.

"The most important of all the mental operations which ought to be
practised by him who desires common sense to reign supreme in all his
actions and decisions, is incontestably deduction.

"When the union of ideas, which judgment permits, is made with perception
and exactness, there results always an analysis, which, if practised
frequently, will end by becoming almost a mechanical act.

"It is, however, well to study the phases of this analysis, in order to
organize them methodically first.

"Later, when the mind shall be sufficiently drilled in this kind of
gymnastics, all their movements will be repeated in an almost unconscious
way, and deduction, that essential principle of common sense, will be
self-imposed.

"In order that deductions may be a natural development, the element
relating to those which should be the object of judgment should be
grouped first.

"The association of statements is an excellent method for it introduces
into thought the existence of productive agents.

"We have already spoken of the grouping of thoughts, which is a more
synthetical form of that selection.

"Instead of allowing it to be enlarged by touching lightly on all that
which is connected with the subject, it is a question, on the contrary,
of confining it to the facts relating to only one object.

"These facts should be drawn from the domain of the past; by comparison,
they can be brought to the domain of the present in order to be able to
associate the former phenomena with those from which it is a question of
drawing deductions.

"It is rarely that these latter depend on one decision alone, even when
they are presented under the form of a single negation or affirmation.

"Deduction is always the result of many observations, formulated with
great exactness, which common sense binds together.

"That which is called a line of action is always suggested by the
analysis of the events which were produced under circumstances analogous
to those which exist now.

"From the result of these observations, the habit of thinking permits of
drawing deductions and common sense concludes the analysis.

"The method of deduction rests upon this.

"One thing being equal to a previous one should produce the same effects.

"If we find ourselves faced by an incident that our memory can assimilate
with another incident of the same kind, we must deduce the following
chain of reasoning:

"First, the incident of long ago has entailed inevitable consequences.

"Secondly, the incident of to-day ought to produce the same effects,
unless the circumstances which surround it are different.

"It is then a question of analyzing the circumstances and of weighing the
causes whose manifestation could determine a disparity in the results.

"We shall interest ourselves first in the surroundings for thus, as we
have said, habits of thought and feeling vary according to the epoch and
the environment.

"A comparison will be established between persons or things, in order to
be absolutely convinced of their degree of conformity.

"The state of mind in which we were when the previous events were
manifested will be considered, and we shall not fail to ascertain
plainly the similarity or change of humor at the moment as related to
that of the past.

"It is also of importance to observe the state of health, for under the
affliction of sickness things assume very easily a hostile aspect.

"It would be wrong to attribute to events judged during an illness the
same value which is given to them at this present moment.

"When one is absolutely decided as to the relation of new perceptions and
mental representations, one can calculate exactly the degree of
comparison.

"The moment will then have arrived to synthesize all the observations and
to draw from them the following deductions:

"First, like causes ought, all things being equal, to produce like
effects.

"Secondly, the event which is in question will therefore have the same
consequences as the previous one, since it is presented under the same
conditions.

"Or again:

"Being granted the principle that like causes produce like effects, as I
have just affirmed, and that there exist certain incompatibilities
between the contingencies of the past and those of to-day, one must allow
that these incompatibilities will produce different results.

"And, after this reasoning, the deductions will be established by
constituting a comparison in favor of either the present or past state
of things."

But the philosopher, who thinks of everything, has foreseen the case
where false ideas have obscured the clearness of the deductions, and he
said to us:

"The association of false ideas, if it does not proceed from the
difficulty of controlling things, is always in ungovernable opposition to
the veracity of the deduction.

"What would be thought of a man of eighty years who, coming back to
his country after a long absence, said, on seeing the family roof from
a distance:

"'When I was twenty years old, in leaving here, it took me twenty
minutes to reach the home of my parents, so I shall reach the threshold
in twenty minutes.'

"The facts would be exact in principle.

"The distance to be covered would be the same; but legs of eighty
years have not the same agility as those of very young people, and in
predicting that he will reach the end of his walk in the same number
of minutes as he did in the past, the old man would deceive himself
most surely.

"If, on the contrary, on reaching the same place he perceived that a new
route had been made, and that instead of a roundabout way of approach, as
in the past, the house was now in a straight line from the point where he
was looking at it, it would be possible to estimate approximately the
number of minutes which he could gain on the time employed in the past,
by calculating the delay imposed upon him by his age and his infirmities.

"Those to whom deduction is familiar, at times astonish thoughtless
persons by the soundness of their judgment.

"A prince drove to his home in the country in a sumptuous equipage.

"He was preceded by a herald and borne in a palanquin by four servants,
who were replaced by others at the first signs of fatigue, in order that
the speed of the journey should never be slackened.

"As they were mounting, with great difficulty, a zigzag road which led up
along the side of a hill, one of these men cried out:

"'Stop,' said he, 'in the name of Buddha, stop!'

"The prince leaned out from the palanquin to ask the cause of this
exclamation:

"'My lord,' cried the man, 'if you care to live, tell your porters to
stop!'

"The great man shrugged his shoulders and turning toward his master of
ceremonies, who was riding at his side, said:

"'See what that man wants.'

"But scarcely had the officer allowed his horse to take a few steps in
the direction of the man who had given warning when the palanquin, with
the prince and his bearers, rolled down a precipice, opened by the
sinking in of the earth.

"They raised them all up very much hurt, and the first action of the
prince, who was injured, was to have arrested the one who, according to
him, had evoked an evil fate.

"He was led, then and there, to the nearest village and put into a cell.

"The poor man protested.

"'I have only done what was natural,' said he. 'I am going to explain it,
but I pray you let me see the prince; I shall not be able to justify
myself when he is ill with fever.'

"'What do you mean,' they replied, 'do you prophesy that the prince will
have a fever?'

"'He is going to have it.'

"'You see, you are a sorcerer,' said the jailer, 'you make predictions.'

"And then he shut him in prison, to go away and to relate his
conversation to them all.

"During this time, they called in a healer who stated that the wounds of
the great nobleman were not mortal in themselves, but that the fever
which had declared itself could become dangerous.

"He was cured after long months.

"During this time the poor man languished in his prison, from whence he
was only taken to appear before the judges.

"Accused of sorcery and of using black magic, he explained very simply
that he had foreseen the danger, because in raising his eyes he had
noticed that the part of the ground over which the herald had passed was
sinking, and that he had drawn the following conclusions:

"The earth seemed to have only a medium thickness.

"Under the feet of the herald he had seen it crumble and fall in.

"He had deduced from this that a weight five times as heavy added to that
of the palanquin, would not fail to produce a landslide.

"As to the prediction concerning the fever, it was based on what he had
seen when in the war.

"He had then observed that every wound is always followed by a
disposition to fever; he therefore could not fail to deduce that the
serious contusions occasioned by the fall of the prince would produce the
inevitable consequences.

"The judge was very much imprest with the perspicacity of this man; not
only did he give him his liberty, but he engaged him in his personal
service and in due time enabled him to make his fortune."

We do not wish to affirm--any more than Yoritomo, for that matter--that
fortunate deductions are always so magnificently rewarded as were those
of this man.

However, without the causes being so striking, many people have owed
their fortune to the faculty which they possest of deducing results
where the analogy of the past circumstances suggested to them what
would happen.

He warns us against the propensity which we have of too easily avoiding a
conclusion which does not accord with our desires.

"Too many people," said he, "wish to undertake to make deductions by
eliminating the elements which deprive them of a desired decision.

"They do not fail either to exaggerate the reasons which plead in favor
of this decision; also we see many persons suffer from reasoning, instead
of feeling the good effects of it."

Those who cultivate common sense will never fall into this error, for
they will have no difficulty in convincing themselves that by acting thus
they do not deceive any one except themselves.

By glossing over truth in order to weaken the logical consequences of
deductions they are the first to be the victims of this childish trick.

That which is called false deduction is rarely aught save the desire to
escape a resolution which a just appraisement would not fail to dictate.

It might be, also, that this twisting of judgment comes from a person
having been, in some past time, subjected to unfortunate influences.

By devoting oneself to the evolution of thought, of which we have already
spoken when presenting the symbolical fan, and above all, by adopting the
precepts which, following the method of Yoritomo, we are going to develop
in the following lessons, we shall certainly succeed in checking the
errors of false reasoning.

"The important thing," said he, "is not to let wander the thought, which,
after resting for a moment on the subject with which we are concerned and
after touching lightly on ideas of a similar character, begins to stray
very far from its basic principles.

"Have you noted the flight of certain birds?

"They commence by gathering at one point, then they describe a series of
circles around this point, at first very small, but whose circumference
enlarges at every sweep.

"Little by little the central point is abandoned, they no longer approach
it, and disappear in the sky, drawn by their fancy toward another point
which they will leave very soon.

"The thoughts of one who does not know how to gather them together and to
concentrate them are like these birds.

"They start from a central point, then spread out, at first without
getting far from this center, but soon they lose sight of it and fly
toward a totally different subject that a mental representation has
just produced.

"And this lasts until the moment when, in a sudden movement, the first
one is conscious of this wandering tendency.

"But it is often too late to bring back these wanderers to the initial
idea, for, in the course of their circuits, they have brushed against a
hundred others, which are confounded with the first, weaken it, and take
away its exact proportions.

"The great stumbling-block again is that of becoming lost in the details
whose multiplicity prevents us from discerning their complete function in
the act of practising deduction.

"It is better, in the case where our perception finds itself assailed by
the multitude of these details, to proceed by the process of elimination,
in order not to become involved in useless and lazy efforts.

"In this case we must act like a man who must determine the color of a
material at a distance where the tiny designs stand out in a relief of
white on a background of black.

"Suppose that he is placed at a distance too great to perceive
this detail.

"What should he do to be able to give the best possible description?

"He will proceed by elimination.

"The material is neither red nor green; orange and violet must be set
aside, as well as all the subordinate shades.

"It has a dull appearance, hence, it is gray; unless.... And here mental
activity comes into play and will suggest to him that gray is composed of
black and white.

"He will then be sure to form a judgment which will not be spoiled
by falsity, if he declares that the material is a mixture of black
and white.

"Later, by drawing nearer, he will be able to analyze the designs and to
convince himself of their respective form and color, but by deducing that
the material was made up of the mixture of two colors he will have come
as near as possible to the truth:

"Deduction never prejudges; it is based on facts; only on things
accomplished; it unfolds the teaching that we ought to obtain as a
result."

Again the Shogun recommends to us the union of thoughts and the
continuous examination of past incidents in the practise of deductions.

"If on entering a room," said he, "we are at times confused, it happens
also that we correct this impression after a more attentive examination.

"The gilding is of inferior quality; the materials are of cotton, the
paintings ordinary, and the mattings coarse.

"At first sight we should have deduced, judging from appearances, that
the possessor of this house was a very rich man, but a second examination
will cause us to discover embarrassment and anxiety.

"It is the same with all decisions that we must make.

"Before devoting ourselves to deductions inspired by the general aspect
of things, it is well to examine them one by one and to discover their
defects or recognize their good qualities.

"We shall be able thus to acquire that penetration of mind whose
development, by leading us toward wise deductions, will bring us to the
discovery of the truth."



LESSON VIII

HOW TO ACQUIRE COMMON SENSE


Common Sense is a science, whatever may be said; according to Yoritomo,
it does not blossom naturally in the minds of men; it demands
cultivation, and the art of reasoning is acquired like all the faculties
which go to make up moral equilibrium.

"This quality," said the philosopher, "is obscure and intangible, like
the air we breathe.

"Like the air we breathe, it is necessary to our existence, it surrounds
us, envelops us, and is indispensable to the harmony of our mental life.

"To acquire this precious gift, many conditions are obligatory, the
principle ones being:

"Sincerity of perception.

"Art of the situation.

"Attention.

"Approximation.

"Experience.

"Comparison.

"Analysis.

"Synthesis.

"Destination.

"Direction.

"And lastly the putting of the question.

"It is very clear that without exactness of perception we could not
pretend to judge justly; it would then be impossible for us to hear the
voice of common sense, if we did not strive to develop it.

"Perception is usually combined with what they call in philosophical
language adaptation.

"Otherwise it is difficult, when recognizing a sensation, not to
attribute it at once to the sentiment which animated it at the time of
its manifestation.

"The first condition, then, in the acquiring of common sense is to
maintain perfection in all its pristine exactness, by abstracting the
contingencies which could influence us.

"If we do not endeavor to separate from our true selves the suggestions
of sense-consciousness, we shall reach the point where perception is
transformed into conception, that is to say, we shall no longer obtain
reality alone, but a modified reality.

"With regard to perception, if we understand its truthfulness; it will be
a question for reawakening it, of placing ourselves mentally in the
environment where it was produced, and of awakening the memory, so as to
be able to distinguish, without mistake, the limits within which it is
narrowly confined.

"The art of situation consists in reproducing, mentally, past facts,
allowing for the influence of the surroundings at that time, as compared
with the present environment.

"One must not fail to think about the influences to which one has been
subjected since this time.

"It is possible that life during its development in the aspirant to
common sense may have changed the direction of his first conceptions
either by conversation or by reading or by the reproduction of divers
narrations.

"It would then be a lack of common sense to base an exact recollection of
former incidents on the recent state of being of the soul, without
seeking to reproduce the state of mind in which one was at the epoch when
those incidents occurred.

"Activity of mind, stimulated to the utmost, is able to give a color to
preceding impressions, which they never have had, and, in this case
again, the recollection will be marred by inexactness.

"The art of situation requires the strictest application and on this
account it is a valuable factor in the acquirement of common sense.

"Attention vitalizes our activity in order to accelerate the development
of a definite purpose toward which it can direct its energy.

"It could be analyzed as follows:

"First, to see;

"Secondly, to hear.

"The functions of the other senses come afterward, and their
susceptibility can attract our attention to the sensations which they
give us, such as the sense of smell, of touch, of taste.

"These purely physical sensations possess, however, a moral
signification, from which we are permitted to make valuable deductions.

"The first two have three distinct phases:

"First degree, to see.

"Second degree, to look.

"Third degree, to observe.

"If we see a material, its color strikes us first and we say: I have seen
a red or yellow material, and this will be all.

"Applying ourselves more closely, we look at it and we define the
peculiarities of the color. We say: it is bright red or dark red.

"In observing it we determine to what use it is destined.

"The eye is attracted by:

"The color.

"The movement.

"The form.

"The number.

"The duration.

"We have just spoken of the color.

"The movement is personified by a series of gestures that people make or
by a series of changes to which they subject things.

"The form is represented by the different outlines.

"The number by their quantity.

"The duration by their length; one will judge of the length of time it
takes to walk a road by seeing the length of it.

"The act of listening is divided into three degrees.

"First degree, to hear.

"Second degree, to understand.

"Third degree, to reflect.

"If some one walking in the country hears a dog bark he perceives first a
sound: this is the act of hearing.

"He will distinguish that this sound is produced by the barking of a dog;
this is the act of understanding.

"Reflection will lead him then to think that a house or a human being is
near, for a dog goes rarely alone.

"If the things which are presented to our sight are complex, those which
strike our ears are summed up in one word, sound, which has only one
definition, the quality of the sound.

"Then follow the innumerable categories of sound that we distinguish only
by means of comprehension and reflection, rendered so instinctive by
habit that we may call them automatic, so far as those which relate to
familiar sounds.

"The example which we have just given is a proof of this fact.

"Let us add that this habit develops each sensitive faculty to its
highest degree.

"The inhabitants of the country can distinguish each species of bird by
listening to his song; and the hermits, the wanderers, those who live
with society on a perpetual war footing, perceive sounds which would not
strike the ears of civilized people.

"Approximation is also one of the stones by whose aid we construct the
edifice of common sense.

"Concerning the calculations of probabilities, the application of
approximation will allow us to estimate the capacity or the probable
duration of things.

"We can not say positively whether a man will live a definite number of
years but we can affirm that he will never live until he is two hundred.

"There are, for approbation, certain known limits which serve as a basis
for the construction of reasoning, inspired by common sense.

"It can be affirmed, in a positive way, that, if the trunk of a tree were
floating easily, without sinking to the bottom of the water, it would not
float the same if thirty men were to ride astride of it.

"The initial weight of the tree permits it to maintain itself on the
surface; but if it be increased to an exaggerated total, we can, without
hesitation, calculate indirectly the moment when it will disappear,
dragging with it the imprudent men who trusted themselves to it.

"Everything in life is a question of approximation.

"The house which is built for a man will be far larger than the kennel,
destined to shelter a dog, because the proportions have been calculated,
by approximation, according to the relative difference between the
stature of the human and canine species.

"Clothing is also suited to the temperature.

"One naturally thinks that, below a certain degree of cold, it is
necessary to change light clothes for those made of thicker material.

"As with the majority of the constructive elements of common sense,
approximation is always based on experience.

"It draws its conclusions from the knowledge of known limitations, whose
affirmation serves as a basis for the argument which determines deduction
in a most exact manner.

"Experience itself depends on memory, which permits us to recall
facts and to draw our conclusions from them, on which facts reasoning
is based."

The Shogun does not fail to draw our attention to the difference between
experience and experimentation.

"This last," said he, "only serves to incite the manifestation of
the first.

"It consists of determining the production of a phenomenon whose
existence will aid us in establishing the underlying principles of an
observation which interprets the event.

"That is what is called experience.

"Comparison is a mental operation which permits us to bring things that
we desire to understand to a certain point.

"It is comparison which has divided time according to periods, which the
moon follows during its entire length.

"It is by comparing their different aspects and by calculating the
duration of their transformations, that men have been able to divide time
as they do in all the countries of the world.

"The science of numbers is also born of comparison, which has been
established between the quantities that they represent.

"This is the art of calculating the differences existing between each
thing, by determining the relativeness of their respective proportions.

"Comparison acts on the mind automatically, as a rule.

"It is indispensable to the cultivation of common sense, for it furnishes
the means of judging with full knowledge of all the circumstances.

"Analysis is an operation, which consists of separating each detail from
the whole and of examining these details separately, without losing sight
of their relationship to the central element.

"Analysis of the same object, while being scrupulously exact, can,
however, differ materially in its application, according to the way that
the object is related to this or that group of circumstances.

"There are, however, immutable things.

"For example: the letters of the alphabet, the elementary sounds, the
colors etc., etc.

"It suffices to quote only these three elements; one can easily
understand that the most elaborate manuscript is composed of only a
definite number of letters always repeating themselves, whose
juxtaposition forms phrases, then chapters, and finally the
complete work.

"Music is composed only of seven sounds whose different combinations
produce an infinite variety of melodies.

"Elementary colors are only three in number.

"All the others gravitate around them.

"Therefore, these same letters, these same notes, these same colors,
according to their amalgamation, can change in aspect and cooperate in
the production of different effects.

"The same letters can express, according to the order in which they are
placed, terror or confidence, joy or grief.

"The same is true of notes and colors.

"Common sense ought then, considering these rules, to know how to analyze
all the details and, having done this, to coordinate and to classify
them, in order to distinguish them easily.

"Coordination and classification form an integral part of common sense."

And Yoritomo, who delights in reducing the most complex questions to
examples of the rarest simplicity, says to us:

"I am supposing that one person says to another, I have just met a negro.
The interlocutor, as well as he who mechanically registers this fact,
without thinking, gives himself up to analysis and to coordination which
always precedes synthesis.

"Without being aware of this mental action, their minds will be occupied
first with the operations of perception then of classification.

"This negro was a man of a color which places him in a certain group of
the human race.

"It is always thus that common sense proceeds, its principal merit being
to know how to unite present perceptions with those previously cognized,
then to understand how to coordinate them so as to be able to group them
concretely, that is to say, to synthesize them.

"Destination is defined as the purpose or object, born of deduction and
of classification.

"Destination does not permit of losing sight of the end which is
proposed.

"It allows the consideration of the purpose to predominate always, and
directs all actions toward this purpose, these actions being absolutely
the demonstrations of this unique thought.

"Habits, acquired in view of certain realizations, ought to be dropt from
the moment the purpose is accomplished, or that it is weakened."

It is by absolutely perpetuating those habits, whose pretext has
disappeared, that one sees the achievement of certain actions which have
been roughly handled by common sense.

"There are," again says the philosopher, "certain customs, whose origin
it is impossible to remember; at the time of their birth, they were
engendered by necessity, but even tho their purpose be obliterated,
tradition has preserved them in spite of everything, and those who
observe them do not take into consideration their absurdity.

"People of common sense refrain from lending themselves to these useless
practises, or, if they consent to allow them a place in their thoughts it
is that they attribute to them some reason for existence, either
practical or sentimental."

Direction is indicated by circumstances, by environment, or by necessity.

There is direction of resolutions as well as direction of a journey; it
is necessary, from the beginning, to consider well the choice of a good
route, after having done everything possible to discriminate carefully
between it and all other routes proposed.

It happens, however, that the way leads also through the cross-roads; it
is even indispensable to leave the short cuts in order to trace the
outline of the obstacles.

Direction is, then, an important factor in the acquiring of common sense.

The putting of the question takes its character from comparison, from
experience, and principally from approximation; but it is in itself a
synthesis of all the elements which compose common sense.

He who wishes to acquire common sense should be impregnated with all that
has preceded.

Then he will discipline himself, so as to be able to judge, by himself,
of the degree of reason which he has the right to assume.

He will begin by evoking some subject, comparing its visual forms with,
those forms which he understands the best, in other words, to the
perceptions which are the most familiar to him.

If it concerns a question to be solved, he will try to recall some
similar subject, and establish harmony, by making them both relative to a
common antecedent.

Yoritomo advises choosing simple thoughts for the beginning.

"One will say, for example:

"Such a substance is a poison; the seeds of this fruit contain a weak
dose of it; these seeds could then become a dangerous food, if one
absorbed a considerable quantity.

"Common sense will thus indicate a certain abstaining from eating of it.

"Then one may extend his argument to things of a greater importance, but
taking great care to keep within the narrow limits of rudimentary logic.

"One must be impregnated with this principle:

"Two things equal to a third demand an affirmative judgment or decision.

"In the opposite case the negative deduction is enjoined.

"It is by deductions from the most ordinary facts that one succeeds in
making common sense intervene automatically in all our judgments.

"What would be thought of one who, finding himself in a forest at the
time of a violent storm, would reason as follows:

"First: The high summits attract lightning.

"Secondly: Here is a giant tree.

"Thirdly: I'm going to take refuge there.

"Then it is that common sense demands that the state his three
propositions as follows:

"First: High summits attract lightning.

"Secondly: Here is a giant tree.

"Thirdly: I'm going to avoid its proximity because it will surely be
dangerous.

"If he acted otherwise; if, in spite of his knowledge of the danger, he
took shelter under the branches of the gigantic tree, exposing himself to
be struck by lightning, one could, in this case, only reproach him with
imprudence and lay the blame to the lack of common sense which allowed
him to perform the act that logic condemned."

Now the old Nippon speaks to us of the means to employ, that we may avoid
pronouncing too hasty judgments, which are always, of necessity, weakened
by a too great indulgence for ourselves and at the same time too great a
severity for others.

"I was walking one day," said he, "on the shores of a lake, when I
discovered a man sitting at the foot of a bamboo tree, in an attitude of
the greatest despair.

"Approaching him, I asked him the cause of his grief.

"'Alas!' said he to me, 'the gods are against me; everything which I
undertake fails, and all evils crush me.

"'After the one which has just befallen me only one course of action is
left to me, to throw myself in the lake. But I am young, and I am weeping
for myself before resolving to take such a step.'

"And he related to me how, after many attempts without success, he had at
last gained a certain sum of money, the loss of which he had just
experienced.

"In what way did you lose it?" I asked him.

"'I put it in this bag.'

"'Has some one stolen it?'

"'No, it has slipt through this rent.'

"And he showed me a bag, whose ragged condition confirmed, and at the
same time illustrated his statement.

"'Listen,' said I, sitting down beside him, 'you are simply devoid of
common sense, by invoking the hatred of the gods! You alone are the cause
of your present misery.

"'If you had simply reasoned before placing your money in this bag, this
would not have happened to you.'

"And as he opened his eyes wide:

"'You would have thought this,' I resumed:

"'The material, very much worn, is incapable of standing any weight
without tearing.

"'Now, the money which I possess is heavy, my bag is worn out.

"'I shall not, therefore, put my money in this bag or, at least, I shall
take care to line it beforehand with a solid piece of leather.

"'From this moment,' I proceeded, 'there only remains one thing for you
to do, always consult common sense before coming to any conclusion, and
you will always succeed.

"'As for your opinion concerning the hatred of the gods for you, if
you will once more call common sense to your assistance you will
reason as follows:

"'Gracious divinities protect only wise people.

"'Now, I have acted like a fool.

"'It is, therefore, natural that they should turn away from me.'

"How many useless imprecations would be avoided," adds the Shogun, "if it
were given to men to know how to employ the arguments which common sense
dictates, in order to distribute the weight of the mistakes committed
among those who deserve the burden, without, at the same time, forgetting
to assume our own share of the responsibility if we have erred.

"Nothing is more sterile than regrets or reproaches when they do not
carry with them the resolution never again to fall into the same error."

Afterward the philosopher demonstrates to us the necessity of abstracting
all personality from the exercises which combine for the attainment of
common sense.

"There is," said he, "an obstacle against which all stupid people
stumble; it is the act of reasoning under the influence of passion.

"Those who have not decided to renounce this method of arguing will never
be able to give a just decision.

"There are self-evident facts, which certain people refuse to admit,
because this statement of the truth offends their sympathies or impedes
their hatreds, and they force themselves to deny the evidence, hoping
thus to deceive others regarding it.

"But truth is always the strongest and they soon become the solitary
dupes of their own wilful blindness.

"The man of common sense knows how to recognize falsehood wherever he
meets it; he knows how vain it is to conceal a positive fact and also how
dangerous it is to deceive oneself, a peril which increases in power, in
proportion to the effort made to ignore it.

"He does not wish to imitate those pusillanimous people who prefer to
live in the agony of doubt rather than to look misfortunes in the
face. He who is determined to acquire common sense will use the
following argument:

"Doubt is a conflict between two conclusions.

"So long as it exists it is impossible to adopt either.

"Serenity is unknown to those whom doubt attacks.

"To obtain peace, it is necessary to become enlightened.

"However, it is wise always to foresee the least happy issue and to
prepare to support the consequences.

"The man who thinks thus will be stronger than adversity and will know
how to struggle with misfortune without allowing it to master him."

It is in these terms that Yoritomo initiates us into what he calls the
mechanism of common sense; in other words, the art of acquiring by the
simplest reasoning this quality dull as iron, but, like it, also solid
and durable.



LESSON IX

COMMON SENSE AND ACTION


These qualities are two relatives very near of kin; but, just for this
reason, they must not be confounded.

While common sense is applied to all the circumstances of life, practical
sense is applicable to useful things.

Common sense admits a very subtle logic which is, at times, a
little complex.

Practical sense reasons, starting from one point only; viz., material
conveniences.

It is possible for this sense to be spoiled by egotism, if common sense
does not come to its assistance.

It is by applying the discipline of reasoning to practical sense that it
modifies simple sense perception by urging it to ally itself with logic,
which unites thought to sentiment and reason.

"The association of common sense and practical sense is necessary," says
Yoritomo, "in order to produce new forms, at the same time restraining
the imagination within the limits of the most exact deductions and of the
most impartial judgment."

Science is, in reality, a sort of common sense to which the rules of
reasoning are applied, and is supported by arguments which practical
sense directs into productive channels.

That which is called great common sense is none other than a quality with
which people are endowed who show great mental equilibrium whenever it is
a question of resolving material problems.

These people are generally country people or persons of humble
position, whose physical organism has been developed without paying
much attention to their intellectual education; they are, in fact,
perfect candidates for the attainment of common sense, without having
been educated to this end.

Their aptitude results from a constant habit of reflection which,
rendering their attention very keen, has permitted them to observe the
most minute details, therefore they can form correct conclusions, when it
is a question of things that are familiar to them.

A peasant who has been taught by nature will be more skilled in
prophesying about the weather than others.

He will also know how to assign a limit to the daily working hours, at
the same time stating the maximum time which one can give without
developing repulsion, which follows excesses of all kinds.

In his thought, very simple, but very direct, will be formulated this
perfect reasoning:

Health is the first of all blessings, since without it we are incapable
of appreciating the other joys of life.

If I compromise this possession I shall be insensible to all others.

It is, therefore, indispensable that I should measure my efforts, for,
admitting that a certain exaggerated labor brings me a fortune, I shall
not know how to enjoy it if illness accompanies it.

This is the logic which is called practical sense.

Yoritomo continues, saying that there is a very close connection between
the faculty of judging and that of deducing.

"Practical sense, allied to common sense, comes to the assistance of the
latter, when it is tempted to reject the chain of analogy, whose
representation too often draws one far from the initial subject.

"It facilitates coordination, clearness, and precision of thought.

"It knows how to consider contingencies, and never fails to have a clear
understanding of relative questions."

And to illustrate his theory, he cites us an example which many of our
young contemporaries would do well to remember.

"There was," said he, "in the village of Fu-Isher, a literary man, who
wrote beautiful poems.

"He lived in great solitude, and no one would have heard of his existence
if it had not been that my master, Lang-Ho, while walking in the woods
one day, was attracted by the harmonious sounds of poetry, which this
young man was reciting, without thinking that he had any other listeners
than the birds of the forest.

"Lang-Ho made himself known to him and began to question him.

"He learned that he did not lack ambition, but, being poor, and having no
means of approaching those who would have been able to patronize him, he
was singing of nature for his own pleasure, waiting patiently until he
should be able to influence the powerful ones of the earth to share his
appreciation.

"Lang-Ho, touched by his youth and his ardor, pointed out to him the
dwelling of a prince, a patron of the arts, and, at the same time, told
him how he ought to address the nobleman, assuring him that the fact of
his being a messenger from a friend of the prince would open the doors of
the palace to him.

"The next day the young poet presented himself at the home of the
great lord, who, knowing that he had been sent by Lang-Ho, received
him in spite of the fact that he was suffering intensely from a
violent headache.

"He learned from the young man that he was a poet and treated him with
great consideration, making him understand, however, that all sustained
mental effort was insupportable to him on that day.

"But the poet, not paying attention to the prince's exprest desire,
unrolled his manuscripts and began reading an interminable ode without
noticing the signs of impatience shown by his august hearer.

"He did not have the pleasure of finishing it.

"The prince, seeing that the reader did not understand his importunity,
struck a gong and ordered the servant who appeared to conduct the young
man out of his presence.

"Later, he declared to Lang-Ho that his protégé had no talent at all, and
reprimanded him severely for having sent the poet to the palace.

"But my master did not like to be thus criticized.

"So, a little while after that, one day, when that same prince was in an
agreeable frame of mind, Lang-Ho invited him to the reading of one of
his works.

"The nobleman declared that he had never heard anything more beautiful.

"'That is true,' said Lang-Ho, 'but you ought to have said this the first
time you heard it.'

"And he revealed to the prince that these verses were those of the young
man whom he had judged so harshly."

From this story two lessons may be drawn:

The first is, that if common sense indicates that judgment should not
change from scorn to enthusiasm, when it is a question of the same
object, practical sense insists that one should be certain of
impartiality of judgment, by avoiding the influence of questions which
relate to environment and surrounding circumstances.

The second concerns opportunity.

We have already had occasion to say how much some things, which seem
desirable at certain times, are questionable when the situation changes.

Bad humor creates ill-will; therefore it is abominably stupid to
provoke the manifestation of the second when one has proved the
existence of the first.

In order that there may be a connection between the faculty of judgment
and that of deduction, it is essential that nothing should be allowed to
interpose itself between these two phases of the argument.

Harmony between all judgments is founded on common sense, but it is
practical common sense, which indicates this harmony with precision.

It is also practical common sense which serves as a guide to the orator
who wishes to impress his audience.

He will endeavor first to choose a subject which will interest those who
listen to him.

In this endeavor he ought, above all, to consult opportunity.

And, as we have remarked on many occasions, the Shogun expresses theories
on this subject, to which the people of the twentieth century could not
give too much earnest consideration.

"There are," said he, "social questions, as, for example, dress
and custom.

"With time, opinions change, as do forms and manners, and this is quite
reasonable.

"The progress of science by ameliorating the general conditions of
existence, introduces a need created by civilization which rejects
barbarous customs; the mentality of a warrior is not that of an
agriculturist; the man who thinks about making his possessions productive
has not the same inclinations as he whose life is devoted to conquest,
and the sweetness of living in serenity, by modifying the aspirations,
metamorphoses all things.

"In order to lead attention in the direction which is governed by reason,
it is indispensable for the orator that he should expound a subject whose
interpretation will satisfy the demand of opportunity, which influences
every brain.

"Practical sense will make him take care to speak only of things that he
has studied thoroughly.

"It will induce him to expound his theory in such a way that his hearers
will have to make no effort to assimilate it.

"That which is not understood is easily criticized, and practical sense
would prevent an orator from attempting to establish an argument whose
premises would offend common sense.

"He would be certain of failure in such a case.

"His efforts will be limited, then, to evoking common sense, by employing
practical sense, so far as what refers to the application of principles
which he desires to apply successfully."

Yoritomo recommends this affiliation for that which concerns the struggle
against superstition.

"Superstition," he says, "offends practical sense as well as common
sense, for it rests on an erroneous analysis.

"Its foundation is always an observation marred by falsity, establishing
an association between two facts which have nothing in common.

"There are people who reenter their homes if, when they reach the
threshold, they perceive a certain bird; others believe that they are
threatened with death if they meet a white cat."

Without going back to the days of Yoritomo, we shall find just as many
people who are the victims of superstitions concerning certain facts,
which are only the observance of customs fallen into disuse, and whose
practise has been perpetuated through the ages, altho, as we have said in
the preceding chapter, the purpose of the custom has disappeared, but the
custom itself has not been forgotten.

It is in this way that the origin of the superstition concerning salt
dates back to the time of the Romans, who (while at variance with the
principles of contemporary agriculture) sowed salt in the fields of their
enemies and thought that by so doing they would make them sterile.

To that far-distant epoch can be traced the origin of the superstition
concerning the spilling of salt.

Whatever may have been its cause, superstition is the enemy of common
sense, for, when it does not originate in an abolished custom, it is the
product of a personal impression, associating two ideas absolutely
unconnected.

"Practical sense," Yoritomo continues, "is a most valuable talent to
cultivate, for it prevents our judging from appearances.

"Frivolous minds are always inclined to draw conclusions from passing
impressions; they adopt neither foresight, nor precaution, nor
approximation.

"There are people who will condemn a country as utterly unattractive,
because they happened to have visited it under unfavorable circumstances.

"Others, without considering what a country has previously produced, and
that at present the grain has not been planted, will declare unfertile
the soil which has been untilled for some months.

"On the other hand, if they visit a house on a sunny day, it would be
impossible for them to associate it with the idea of rain.

"It would be most difficult to make these people alter their judgment,
prematurely formed, and, in spite of the most authoritative assertions
and the most self-evident proofs, their initial idea will dominate all
those which one would like to instil into their minds.

"One moment would, however, suffice for reason to convince them that the
variations of atmosphere and the conditions of cultivation can modify
the aspect of a country, of a field, and of a house, to the extent of
giving them an appearance totally different from the one which they
seemed to have.

"But he who judges by appearances never rejoices in the possession of
that faculty which may be called reason in imagination.

"This is a gift, developed by practical sense and which common sense
happily directs in right channels.

"Those who are endowed with this faculty can, with the help of reasoning,
and by means of thought, build up a future reality based on a judgment
whose affirmation admits of no doubt.

"It is not a question of hypothesis, no matter how well-founded it is.

"Experience, in this case, is united with deduction to form a
preconceived but certain idea.

"By cultivating practical sense, we shall escape the danger of
idealization which, with people of unbalanced mentality, often sheds an
artificial light upon the picture."

There is still another point to which Yoritomo calls our attention, in
order to encourage us to cultivate the twin reasoning powers whose
advantages we are trying to commend in this chapter:

"Practical sense," says he, "sometimes puts common sense apparently in
the wrong, while acting, however, without the inspiration of the latter.

"This happens when it is an advantage, for the perfect equilibrium of the
projects in question, that it should be maintained at the same pitch, in
order that it may be understood by all.

"In the legendary days, snow the color of fire once fell on the
inhabitants of a little village, who were all about to attend a
religious ceremony.

"One man alone, an old philosopher, had remained at home because, at the
time they were to leave, he suddenly fell ill.

"When his sufferings were relieved, he started out to join the others and
found them committing all sorts of follies.

"Two among them were reviling one another, each one claiming that he was
the only king.

"Some were weeping because they thought that they were changed
into beasts.

"Others were screaming, without rime or reason, now embracing each other,
now attacking one another furiously.

"Soon the wise man recognized that they had been affected by the fall of
snow, which had made them crazy, and he tried to speak to them in the
language of reason.

"But all these crazy people turned on him, crying out that he had just
lost his reason and that he must be shut away.

"They undertook the task of taking him back to his home, but, as that was
not to be accomplished without rough usage, he assumed the part indicated
by practical sense; this man of common sense feigned insanity, and from
the moment the insane people thought that he resembled them they let him
alone and ceased to torment him.

"The philosopher profited by this fact to disarm their excitement, and,
little by little, all the time indulging in a thousand eccentricities,
which had no other object than to protect himself against them, he
demonstrated their aberration to them."

Could not this story serve as an example to the majority of
contemporary critics?

Is it not often necessary to appear to be denuded of common sense, to
make the voice of reason dominate?

In the fable of Yoritomo, his philosopher proved his profound knowledge
of the human heart, while he put in practise the power of practical sense
in apparent opposition, however, to common sense.

We said this at the opening of the chapter: practical sense and common
sense are two very near relatives, but they are two and not one.



LESSON X

THE MOST THOROUGH BUSINESS MAN


One of the principle advantages of common sense is that it protects the
man who is gifted with it from hazardous enterprises, the risky character
of which he scents.

Only to risk when possessing perfect knowledge of a subject is the sure
means of never being drawn into a transaction by illusory hopes.

An exact conception of things is more indispensable to perfect success
than a thousand other more brilliant but less substantial gifts.

"However," says Yoritomo, "in order to make success our own, it is
not sufficient to have the knowledge of things, one must above all
know oneself.

"On the great world-stage, each one occupies a place which at the start
may not always be in the first rank.

"Nevertheless, work, intelligence, directness of thought and, above all,
common sense, can exert a positive influence on the future superiority of
the situation.

"Before everything else, it is indispensable that we should never delude
ourselves about the position which we occupy.

"To define it exactly, one should call to mind the wise adage which says:
Know thyself.

"But this knowledge is rare.

"Presumptuous persons readily imagine that they attract the eyes of every
one, even if they be in the last rank.

"Timid persons will hide themselves behind others and, notwithstanding,
they are very much aggrieved not to be seen.

"Ambitious persons push away the troublesome ones, in order that they
themselves may get the first places.

"Lazy persons just let them do it.

"Irresolute persons hesitate before sitting down in vacant places and
are consumed with regrets from the time they perceive that others,
better prepared, take possession of them; the more so as they no longer
get back their own, for, during their hesitation, another has seated,
himself there.

"Enthusiasts fight to reach the first rank, but are so fatigued by their
violent struggles that they fall, tired out, before they have attained
their object.

"Obstinate people persist in coveting inaccessible places and spend
strength without results, which they might have employed more
judiciously.

"People of common sense are the only ones who experience no nervous
tension because of this struggle.

"They calculate their chances, compute the time, do not disturb
themselves uselessly, and never abandon their present position until they
have a firm grasp on the following place.

"They do not seek to occupy a rank which their knowledge would not permit
them to keep; they draw on that faculty with which they are gifted to
learn the science of true proportion.

"They do not meddle in endeavors to reform laws; they submit to them, by
learning how to adapt them to their needs, and respect them by seeking to
subordinate their opinion to the principle on which they are based.

"Persons who have no common sense are the only ones to revolt against the
laws of the country where they live.

"The wise man will recognize that they have been enacted to protect him
and that to be opposed to their observance would be acting as an enemy
to oneself."

However, people will say, if laws are so impeccable in their right
to authority, how is it that their interpretation leads so often
to disputes?

It is easy to reply that lawsuits are rarely instituted by men of common
sense; they leave this burden to people of evil intent, who imagine thus
to make a doubtful cause triumph.

It must be conceded that this means succeeds at times with them, when
they are dealing with timid or irresolute persons; but those who have
contracted the habit of reasoning, and who never undertake anything
without consulting common sense, will never allow themselves to be drawn
into the by-paths of sophistry.

If they are forced to enter there temporarily, in order to pursue the
adversary, who has hidden himself there, they will leave these paths as
soon as necessity does not force them to remain there longer and with
delight regain the broad road of rectitude.

A few pages further on we find a reflection which the Shogun, always
faithful to his principles of high morality, specially addresses to those
who make a profession of humility.

"Obedience," he says, "ought to be considered as a means; but, for the
one who wishes to succeed, in no sense can it be honored as a virtue.

"If it be a question of submission to law, that is nothing else but the
performance of a strict duty; this is a kind of compact which the man
of common sense concludes with society, to which he promises his
support for the maintenance of a protection from which he will be the
first to benefit.

"This obedience might be set down as selfishness were it not endorsed by
common sense.

"There are people, it is true, who, even altho wishing to support their
neighbor when called upon to do so by the law, seek to evade this duty if
left to themselves.

"These are pirates who have broken completely not only with the spirit of
equity, but also with simple common sense.

"It is always foolish to set the example of insubordination, for, if it
were followed, it would not be long before general disorder would appear.

"Some men were sitting one day on the edge of an inlet and were trying
with a net to catch fish, whose playful movements the men were following
through the limpid water.

"According to their character, their perseverance, their cleverness, and
the ingenuity of the means employed, they caught a proportionate number
of fish; but those who caught the least had one or two.

"This success encouraged them, and they began again in good earnest,
each one in his own way, when a stranger appeared; he was armed with a
long branch of a tree, which he plunged in the pond, touching the bottom
and stirring up the mud, which, as it scattered, rose to the surface of
the water.

"The limpidity of the water was immediately changed; one could no longer
see the fish, and the fishermen decided to discontinue their sport.

"But the man only laughed at their discomfiture and, brandishing a large
net, he threw it in his turn, chaffing them at the patient cunning by
which they had, he said, taken such a poor haul.

"He brought up some fish, it is true, but at each haul he was obliged to
lose so much time in removing the impurities, the débris, and the weeds
of all kinds from the net that very soon the fishermen had the
satisfaction of seeing him punished for his mean conduct.

"What he took was scarcely more than what the smartest among them had
taken, and his net, filthy from the mud, torn by the roots that he was
unable to avoid, was soon good for nothing."

Might it not be from this fable that we have taken the expression, "to
fish in troubled waters," of which without a doubt the good Yoritomo
furnished the origin many, many centuries ago?

His prophetic mind is unveiled again in the following advice that not a
business man of the twentieth century would reject.

"Common sense," he says, "when it is a question of the relations of men
as to what concerns business or society, ought to adopt the
characteristic of that animal called the chameleon.

"His natural color is dull, but he has the gift of reflecting the color
of the objects on which he rests.

"Near a leaf, he takes the tint of hope.

"On a lotus, he is glorified with the blue of the sky.

"Is this to say that his nature changes to the point of modifying his
natural color?

"No; he does not cease to possess that which recalls the color of the
ground, and the ephemeral color which he appropriates is only a
semblance, in order that he may be more easily mistaken for the objects
themselves.

"The man who boasts of possessing common sense, altho preserving his
personality, ought not to fail, if he wants to succeed, to reflect that
of the person whom he wishes to aid him in succeeding."

Let it not be understood for a moment, that we advise any one to act
contrary to the impulses of justice.

But cleverness is a part of common sense in business, and assimilation is
essential to success.

It is not necessary to abandon one's convictions in order to
reflect principles which, without contradicting them, give them a
favorable color.

Common sense can remain intact and be differently colored, according as
it is applied to the arts, politics, or science.

It would not deserve its name if it did not know how to yield to
circumstances, in order to adorn the momentary caprice with flowers
of reason.

In the primitive ages, common sense consisted in keeping oneself in a
perpetual state of defense; attack was also at times prescribed, by
virtue of the principle that it is pernicious to allow one's rights to be
imperiled.

Attack was also at times a form of repression.

It was also a lesson in obedience and a reminder not to misunderstand
individual rights.

In later times, common sense served to make the advantages of harmony
appreciated.

It directed the descendants of peoples exclusively warlike toward the
secret place where science unfolds itself to the gaze of the vulgar; then
it taught them to provide for their existence by working.

It has demonstrated to them the necessity of reflection, by inciting
them to model their present course of life on the lessons which come
from the past.

It has given them the means to evoke it easily and effectively.

It has injected into their veins the calmness which permits them to draw
just conclusions and to adopt toward preceding reasonings the attitude
of absolute neutrality, without which all former presentiments are
marred by error.

Each epoch was, for common sense, an opportunity to manifest itself
differently.

At the moment when poetry was highly honored, it would have been
unreasonable to have ignored it, for the bards excited great enthusiasm
by their songs which gave birth to heroes.

And now, imbued with the principles which in his day might be taken to
represent what we to-day call advanced ideas, Yoritomo continues:

"Common sense can, then, without renouncing its devotion to truth, take
various forms or shades, for the truth of yesterday is not always the
truth of to-day.

"The gods of the past are considered simply as idols in our day and the
virtues of the distant past would be, at present, moral defects which
would prevent men from winning the battle of life, whose ideal is The
Best for which all the faculties should strive."

The Shogun also touches lightly on a subject which, already discust in
his time, has become, in our day, a burning truth; it is a question of a
fault, which in the world of practical life and in that of business can
cause considerable injury to him who allows it to be implanted in him.

We refer to that tendency which has been adorned or rather branded
successively with the names of hypochondria, pessimism, and lastly
neurasthenia, an appellation which comprises all kinds of nervous
diseases, the characteristic of which is incurable melancholy.

"There are people," he says, "who are afflicted with a special
color-blindness.

"Everything they look at assumes immediately to their eyes the most
somber hues.

"They see in a flower only the germ of dry-rot; the most ideal
beauty appears to them only like the negligible covering of some
hideous skeleton.

"However, they hang on to this life which they do not cease to
calumniate, and people of common sense are rarely found who will try to
reason with them from a common-sense standpoint:

"'Since life is so insupportable to you, why do you impose upon yourself
the obligation to struggle with it?

"'Only insane people try to prolong their sojourn in a place where they
suffer martyrdom.'

"It is true that when, perchance, this argument is placed before them,
they do not fail to reply by invoking the shame of desertion.

"'Well, is not then the interest of the struggle to which we are
subjected a sufficient attraction to keep us at our post?'"

And, always enamored with the doctrine, which we are now assiduously
maintaining, he concludes:

"Common sense is, at times, the unfolding of a magnificent force which
incites us to attune our environment to actualities.

"One must not, however, fall into excess and draw a huge sword to pierce
the clouds, which obscure the sun.

"If struggle is praiseworthy when we have to face a real enemy, it
becomes worthy of scorn and laughter if we attack a puerile or imaginary
adversary.

"But the number of people incapable of appreciating the true color of
things is not limited to those who enshroud them in black.

"There are others, on the contrary, who obstinately insist upon
surrounding them with a halo of sunlight only existing in their
imagination.

"For such deluded people, obstacles seen from a distance take on the most
attractive appearance; they would be readily disposed to enjoy them and
only consent to allow them a certain importance if they absolutely
obstruct the way.

"But until the moment when impossibility confronts them, do they deny its
existence or underrate its importance by attributing a favorable
influence to it.

"This propensity to see all in the ideal would be enviable if it did not
wound common sense, which revenges itself by refusing to these
improvident people the help of the reasoning power necessary to sustain
them in the crisis of discouragement which brings about irresistibly the
establishment of error.

"These unbalanced people rarely experience success, for they are unable,
as long as their blindness lasts, to mark out a line of serious conduct
for themselves.

"All projects built on the quicksands of false deductions will perish
without even leaving behind them material sufficient to reconstruct them.

"It is impossible to combat strongly enough this tendency to
self-delusion, which inclines us to become the prey of untruth, by
preventing the birth of faith, based on preceding success.

"Sincere conviction, on the contrary, will lead us to refute strongly
all the false arguments, which impede thought and would choke it in
order to allow unadulterated pleasure to be installed on the ruins of
common sense.

"The battle of life demands warriors and conquerors as well as critics,
less brilliant, perhaps, but just as worthy of admiration, for their
mission is equally important, altho infinitely more obscure.

"Whether he be a peasant tilling his field or a rich capitalist
manipulating his gold, he who works in order to satisfy the needs or
luxury of his existence is a fighter whose hours are spent in occupations
more or less dangerous.

"From time to time, however, a cessation of hostilities is produced; such
always follows the appearance of common sense which, by giving to things
their true proportions, causes the greater part of inequalities to
disappear.

"Finally, he who cultivates this virtue unostentatiously will always be
protected from the caprices of fortune; if he is poor, common sense will
indicate to him the way to cease to be poor, and, if chance has given him
birth in opulence, the counsels of experience will demonstrate to him the
frailty of possessions that one has not acquired by personal effort."

This conclusion is strikingly true, for it is certain that prosperity
attained by personal effort is less likely to fade away than an inherited
fortune, whose owner can only understand the ordinary pleasure of a
possession which he has not ardently desired.

He who is the maker of his own position is more able to maintain it; he
knows the price of the efforts which he had to make in order to construct
it, and, armed with common sense, he is as able to defend his treasure as
to enjoy the sweet savor of a thing which he has desired, longed for, and
won by the force of his will and judgment, placed at the service of
circumstances and directed toward success.



LESSON XI

COMMON SENSE AND SELF-CONTROL


"Where life manifests itself," says Yoritomo, "antagonism always
springs up."

"In the eternal struggle between the individual and social soul, each of
which, in its turn, is victorious or vanquished, a truce is declared only
if self-control is allied to common sense, in order to maintain the
equilibrium between individual sentiment, natural to each one of us, and
the ideas of mankind as a whole.

"All classes of society are subject to this law, and, from the proudest
prince to the humblest peasant, every one is obliged to harmonize their
social duties with their personal obligations.

"Those who understand how to imbibe thoroughly the lessons of common
sense, never ignore the fact that morality is always closely related to
self-interest.

"If each one of us would observe this rule individual happiness would not
be long in creating a harmony from which all men would benefit.

"One thing we should avoid, for the attainment of universal
tranquility, and that is the perpetual conflict between individual and
social interest.

"The day when each one of us can comprehend that he is a part of this
'all,' which is called society, he will admit that sinning against
society may be considered the same as sinning against oneself.

"Passing one day before an immense cabin, built of bamboo, which stood
near a rice-plantation, I perceived a man who hid himself from my view,
without however being able to escape my notice altogether. I went
resolutely to him, to ask him the explanation of his suspicious movement.

"After an unsuccessful attempt to escape, he resigned himself to allow me
to approach him, and I understood the reason of his apprehension:

"He was carrying several pieces of bamboo which he had detached from the
house. He wanted, he said, to make a little blaze because the dampness
was chilling him.

"Without replying to him, I led him by the hand to the place where the
branches taken away had left a large space, a kind of opening in the side
of the house, through which a keen wind was rushing.

"'Look,' I said to him, 'the blaze that you are going to make will warm
you for a few minutes, but, during the whole night the cold wind will
freeze you--you and your companions.

"'In order to procure for yourself an agreeable but passing sensation you
are going to inflict upon them continued sufferings, of which you can not
escape your share.'

"The man hung his head and said: 'I had not thought of this; I was cold
and I allowed myself to be tempted by the anticipated pleasure of warming
myself, even if only for a few minutes.'

"And, convinced by common sense, he repaired the harm which he had done,
first by reason of selfishness, then by thoughtlessness, but, above all,
by lack of self-control.

"To dominate oneself to the point of not allowing oneself to become the
slave of miserable contingencies which appear as temptations to
self-indulgence, and conceal from their pettiness the beauty of the
consistent action--this is only given to the chosen few and can only be
understood by those who cultivate common sense."

Is this to say that reasoning should be a school for abnegation.

Such a thought is far from our minds.

Neither habitual abnegation nor modesty is among the militant virtues,
and for this reason the critics ought often to relegate them to their
proper place, which is the last, very close to defects to which they
closely approach and among whose ranks one must sometimes go in order to
discover them.

But, apart from the question of a sterile abnegation, we must foresee
that it may be important not to overestimate one's individual interests,
to the visible detriment of the general interest.

This is a fault common to all those who have not been initiated into the
practise of self-control by means of reasoning based on solid premises.

They are ready to sacrifice very great interests, which do not seem to
concern them directly, for some immediate paltry gratification.

"They act," said the philosopher, "like a peasant who should risk
his harvest in order to avoid paying the prince the rent which
belongs to him.

"Common sense teaches us that we should call to our assistance
self-control, in order to repress the tendencies which tempt men to
sacrifice the general interest to some personal and vehement desire.

"Rarely do these people find their advantage in separating themselves
from the mass, and the prosperity of the greatest number is always the
cradle of individual fortunes."

Leaving questions of primary importance to come to the subtleties of
detail in which, he delights, Yoritomo speaks to us of self-control
allied to common sense, extolling to us its good effects in practical
questions of our every-day life.

"We too often confound," said he, "self-control and liberty.

"We are tempted to believe that a slave can not possess it, inasmuch as
it is the special possession of all those to whom riches give a superior
position in the world.

"How profound is this error!

"The lowest slave can enjoy this liberty, which is worth all others:
self-control, which confers intellectual independence more precious than
the most precious of possessions, whereas the most powerful prince may be
altogether ignorant of this blessing.

"There are dependent souls who, for want of the necessary strength to
escape from vassalage to the external impressions will always drag on,
feeble and opprest by the exactions of a mental servitude from which they
can not free themselves.

"Others rise proudly, ready to command circumstances, which they dominate
with all the power of their volition governed by reason.

"It is common sense which will guide them in this ascent by keeping them
within the limits assigned to those things pertaining to reason and
rectitude of mind.

"Before everything, it is well not to forget that this faculty invites
those who cultivate it to seek always for exact facts.

"Knowledge, in all its aspects is, then, a perfect educator for those who
do not wish to build on the flimsy foundation of approximate truth.

"In pronouncing the word knowledge, we do not wish to speak of abstract
studies which are only accessible to a small number; we wish to express
the thought of instruction embracing all things, even the most humble
and ordinary.

"A man from the city was walking in the country one day, not far from a
vast swamp.

"All around it were a few miserable huts, the shelter of some peasants
whose business it was to gather the reeds from the borders, weaving them
into large baskets to be sold afterward in the neighboring country.

"Little by little twilight descended, slowly enveloping all things in a
mist of ashy gray, and vapors arose from afar over the stagnant water.

"The man from the city trembled, believing that he recognized fantoms in
this moving vapor; he sought to flee, but, unfamiliar with the locality,
he ran along the side of the swamp without finding the end of it.

"Exhausted from fatigue and trembling with fear, he resolved to knock at
one of the cabins.

"He was welcomed by a basket-maker, to whom he related his fright, adding
that he was unable to understand how this man found the courage to live
in a place haunted in such a terrible way.

"The peasant smiled and explained to the man, whose intellectual culture
was, however, infinitely superior to his own, by what phenomenon of
evaporation these mirages were produced.

"He demonstrated to him that these fantoms were only harmless vapors, and
the city man admired the knowledge which common sense had taught the
ignorant one."

And Yoritomo concluded:

"This peasant gave there a proof of what self-control allied to common
sense can do.

"Instead of allowing himself to be influenced by appearances, he confined
himself to reflection, and observation aided by attention led him to a
deduction resting on truth.

"The essential factor of control is cool-headedness, which permits of
seeing things in their true light, and forbids us to gild them or to
darken them, according to our state of mind at the time."

The Shogun adds:

"Fear, hideous fear, is a sentiment unknown to those whose soul communes
with self-control and common sense.

"The first of these qualities will produce a fixt resolution tending to
calmness, at the same time that it makes a powerful appeal to
cool-headedness, which permits of reflection.

"Fear is always the confession of a weakness which disavows struggle and
wishes to ignore the name of adversary.

"Cool-headedness is the evanescent examination of forces, either physical
or intellectual, with reference to supposed danger.

"Without self-control cool-headedness can not exist; but it only develops
completely under the influence of common sense which dictates to it the
reasons for its existence.

"Cool-headedness, by leaving us our liberty of thought, enlightens us
undoubtedly on the nature of danger, at the same time that it suggests to
us the way to avoid it, if it really exists.

"There can not be a question of fear for those who possess the faculties
of which we have just spoken, for it is well known that, from the moment
when the cause of fear is defined it ceases to exist; it becomes stupid
illusion or a real enemy.

"In the one case, as in the other, it ought not to excite anxiety any
longer, but contempt or the desire to fight it.

"For those whose mind is not yet strong enough to resolve on one or other
of these decisions it will be well to take up again the argument
indicated in the preceding pages, and to say:

"Either the object of my fear really exists, and, in this case, I must
determine its nature exactly, in order to use the proper means first to
combat it and then to conquer it.

"Or it is only an illusion, and I am going to seek actively for that
which produces it, in order never again to fall into the error of which
my senses have just been the dupes."

Looking over these manuscripts, so rich in valuable advice, we find once
more the following lines:

"Self-control and cool-headedness are above all necessary to aid in
dissimulating impressions.

"It is very bad to allow one of the speakers in a dialog to read the mind
of him who speaks to him like an open book.

"He whose thoughts are imprest vividly on the surface is always placed at
a glaring disadvantage.

"The thought of glorifying hypocrisy is far from our minds, for it has
nothing to do with the attitude which we recommend.

"The hypocrite strives to assume emotions which he does not feel.

"The man gifted with cool-headedness is intent on never allowing them
to be seen.

"It keeps his adversary in ignorance of the effect produced by his
reasoning and allows him to take his chance, until the moment when, in
spite of this feigned indifference, he reveals himself and permits his
mind to be seen.

"Now, to know the designs of a rival, when he is ignorant of those that
we have conceived, is one of the essential factors of success.

"In every way, he who is informed about the projects of his adversary
walks preceded by a torch of light, while the adversary, if he can not
divine his opponent's plans, continues to fight in darkness."

The most elementary common sense counsels then cool-headedness
when exchanging ideas, even when the discussion is of quite an
amicable nature.

From this habit there will result a very praiseworthy propensity to
exercise self-control, which is only a sort of superior cool-headedness.

It is also the cause of a noble pride, because it is more difficult to
win a victory over one's passions than to conquer ordinary enemies, and
he who, with the support of common sense, succeeds in ruling himself, can
calculate, without arrogance, the hour when he will reign over the minds
of others.



LESSON XII

COMMON SENSE DOES NOT EXCLUDE GREAT ASPIRATIONS


"A very common error," says Yoritomo, "is that which consists in
classifying common sense among the amorphous virtues, only applicable to
things and to people whose fundamental principle is materiality.

"This is a calumny which is spread broadcast by fools who scatter their
lives to the four winds of caprice and extravagance.

"Not only does common sense not exclude beauty, but it really aids in its
inception and protects its growth by maintaining the reasons which
produced its appearance.

"Without it, the reign of the most admired things would be of short
duration, granting that the want of logic had not prevented their
production.

"What is there more commendable than the love of work, devotion to
science, ambition to succeed?

"Could all this exist if common sense did not intervene to permit the
development of the deductions on which are based the resolutions that
inspired in us these aspirations.

"But this is not all; without logic, which permits us to give them
solidity, the most serious resolutions would soon become nothing but
vague projects, shattered as soon as formed.

"In common sense lies the cause and the object of things.

"It is common sense which makes us realize that difference that
few persons are willing to analyze, and which lies between
judgment and opinion.

"We almost always succeed in readily confounding them, and from this
mistake results a too-frequent cause of failures.

"Opinion is a conviction which is capable of modification.

"In addition to this, as it is based on mere indications and probability,
it is rarely free from the personal element.

"Opinion depends upon the favorite inclination, upon the mood of the
moment, upon sundry considerations, which direct it almost always toward
the desired solution.

"Also it depends often on thoughtfulness or on the inexactness of the
initial representation, which we are pleased to disguise slightly at
first, then little by little to color in accordance with our desires.

"Falsehood does not necessarily enter into this process of tricking
things out; it is, three-quarters of the time, the result of an illusion
which we are prone to perpetuate within us.

"We are too often in the position of the three wise men who, while
rummaging in an old sarcophagus, discovered a vase whose primitive
function they were unable to determine with any certainty.

"One of them was a poet and an idealist.

"The second only prized positive things.

"The third belonged to the category of melancholy people.

"After a few days devoted to special research work, they met together
again in order to communicate to each other their different opinions
about the exhumed vase.

"'I have found the secret,' said the first.

"'I also,' affirmed the second.

"'I equally have found it,' replied the third.

"And each one based his opinion on preconceived notions which reflected
their bent of mind:

"'This vase,' said the first, 'was intended to hold incense, which
they burned a that epoch, in the belief that the smoke dispelled the
evil spirits.'

"'Nonsense!' cried out the second; 'this vase is a pot which at that time
served as a receptacle for keeping spices.'

"'Not so!' insisted the third, 'it is an urn of antiquated design used
for receiving tears; that is all.'

"These three serious men were certainly sincere in giving explanations
which each one of them declared decisive. They exprest opinions which
they believed implicitly and which their respective natures directed
irresistibly toward their peculiar bents of mind.

"Judgment, in order to be free from all which is not common sense, ought
then to put aside all personal predilections, all desire to form a
conclusion to humor our inclinations.

"Absolute impartiality of judgment is one of the rarest gifts and at the
same time is the noblest quality which we can possess."

We should then conclude, with the Shogun, that common sense aids in the
production of noble aspirations, and is not concerned only with that
which relates to materiality, as so many people would have us understand.

The Nippon philosopher teaches us also the part which he assigns to the
habitual practise of goodness.

"We are too easily persuaded," he says, "that goodness, like beauty, is a
gift of birth.

"It is time to destroy an error rooted in our minds for too many
centuries.

"Goodness is acquired by reasoning and logic, as are so many other
qualities, and it is common sense which governs its formation.

"Have we ever reflected over the sum total of annoyances that people, who
are essentially wicked, add every day to those imposed upon them by
circumstances?

"Are we capable of appreciating the joys of life when impatience makes
the nerves vibrate or when anger brandishes its torch in the bends and
turns of the brain?

"People who lack goodness are the first to be punished for their defect.
Serenity is unknown to them and they live in perpetual agitation, caused
by the irritation which they experience on the slightest provocation."

Common sense indicates then in an irrefutable way that there is every
advantage in being good.

And Yoritomo proves it to us, by using his favorite syllogism:

"Happiness," he says, "is above all a combination of harmony and absence
of sorrow.

"Wickedness, by inspiring us with discontent and anger, disturbs
this harmony.

"We must, therefore, banish wickedness, that we may cultivate goodness,
which is the creator of harmony."

Continuing still further the same argument, he adds:

"Common sense would have the tendency even to make us promise to be good,
so as to satisfy our own egotism.

"Goodness creates smiles; to sow happiness around one, is a way of having
neither eyes nor heart offended by the sight of people in tears; it is
the eliciting of an agreeable joy, whose rays will shed a golden light
over our life; is it not more pleasing to hear the ring of laughter than
to listen to painful sobs?"

So, we should never lose an opportunity of being good and that without
mental reservation.

Gratitude is not the possession of every soul and he who does good may
expect to receive ingratitude.

He will not suffer from it, if he has done good, not in the way a
creditor does who intends to come on the very day appointed to claim his
debt, but as a giver who fulfils his mission from which he is expecting
a personal satisfaction, without thinking of any acknowledgment for what
he has done.

If the debtor is filled with gratitude, the joy of being good is that
much increased.

There is a species of common sense of a particularly noble quality that
is called moral sense and which the Shogun defines thus:

"The moral sense is the common sense of the soul; it is the superior
power of reasoning which stands before us that we may be prevented from
passively following our instincts; it is by its assistance that we
succeed without too much difficulty in climbing the steep paths of duty.

"This sense discerns an important quality, which puts us on our guard
against the danger of certain theories, whose brilliancy might seduce us.

"It is the moral sense which indicates to us the point of delimitation
separating legitimate concessions from forbidden license.

"It allows us to go as far as the dangerous place where the understanding
with conscience might become compromised and, by reasoning, proves to us
that there would be serious danger in proceeding further.

"It is the moral sense which distinguishes civilized man from the brute;
it is the regulator of the movements of the soul and the faithful
indicator of the actions which depend on it."

We must really pity those who are deprived of moral sense for they are
the prey of all the impulses created in them by the brute-nature, which
sleeps in the depths of each human creature.

The man whose moral sense is developed will live at peace with himself,
for he will only know the evil of doubt when he realizes the satisfaction
of having conquered it.

Moral sense, like common sense, is formed by reasoning and is fostered by
the practise of constant application.

It is the property of those who avoid evil, as others avoid the spatter
of mud, through horror of the stains which result from it.

Those who do not have this apprehension flounder about, cover themselves
with mud, sink in it and finally are swallowed up.

Yoritomo again takes up the defense of common sense, with reference
to the arts.

"Can one imagine," he says, "a painter conceiving a picture and grouping
his figures in such a way as to violate the rules of common sense?

"We should be doomed, if this were true, to see men as tall as oak-trees
and houses resembling children's toy constructions, placed without
reference to equilibrium among green or pink animals, whose legs had
queer shapes.

"Madmen represent nature thus, which seems to them outlined in
strange forms.

"But people of common sense reproduce things just as sound judgment
conceives of them; if they throw around them at times the halo of beauty
which seems exaggerated, let us not decry them.

"Beauty exists everywhere; it dwells in the most humble objects, makes
all around us resplendent and, if we refuse to see it, we are blinded by
an unjust prejudice, or our minds are not open to the faculty of
contemplation.

"It is revealed above all to those who cultivate common sense and reject
the sophistries of untruth that they may surround themselves with truth.

"Such people scorn trivial casualties; they adopt an immutable
rule, reasoning, which permits them to deduce, to judge, and
afterward to produce.

"All beautiful creations are derived from this source.

"The most admirable inventions would never have been known if common
sense had not helped them to be produced, strengthening those who
conceived them by the support of logic, which demonstrated to them the
truth of their presumptions.

"Authority follows, based on the experience which, by maintaining the
effect of judgment, has armed them with the strength of the mind, the
true glory of peaceful conquerors."

Would one not say that the Shogun, in writing these lines, foresaw the
magnificent efforts which we are witnessing each day and that from the
depths of time he caught a glimpse of these brave conquerors of the
air and of space, whose great deeds, seeming at times the result of a
crazy temerity, are in reality only homage rendered to common sense,
which has permitted them to calculate the value of their initiative
without mistake?

And one can not be denied the pleasure of entering once more into close
communion of thought with the old philosopher when he says:

"Enthusiasm is of crystal but common sense is of brass."





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