Will-power, a folksy, nebulous expression for self-regulation is a hot topic these days. Self control is the mark of a mature individual and a prerequisite for a leader. Our decision making is founded on self control, and with it, rational and logical perception of situations. Ultimately, the accuracy flowing from dispassionate judgments about the world around us and the thoughts within us are only possible with self control. To intuitively understand one's self, one must trust his or her own judgment about the observations he or she is making. By extension, if one's perceptions of the reality of a given situation are balanced and critically evaluated, not to mention carefully considered through knowledge and good counsel, and above all, accurate and true, it is no leap of faith to hold that person is in control of themselves and can be trusted. On the other side of the proverbial coin, would you trust someone that cannot control his or her own thoughts, words, and actions, let alone his or her emotions? The simple response to this rhetorical question is undoubtedly an emphatic NO!
Self-control as defined by the Oxford American Dictionary is (n.) the ability to control oneself in particular one's emotions and desires or the expression of them in one's behavior, especially in difficult situations.
Next, let's take a global look at how important self control and its development has been in the leadership and governance of self and others.
PART I - FROM EAST TO WEST
In our East to West cultural tour of the concept of self control, we find many examples of the importance of restraint in Japanese, Chinese, Indian and Persian sacred writings, literature, military manuals and expository texts.
In the Art of War, there are many contributing authors in addition to the progenitor of the text, Sun Tzu, including Zhuge Liang, an accomplished strategist, tactician and general. He wrote commentaries on the original text as well as an adjunct manual titled, "The way of the General: Essays on Leadership and Crisis management." In a particularly resonant section titled, "Self Exertion", Liang states, "Sages follow the rules of heaven; the wise obey the laws of the earth; the intelligent follow precedent. Harm comes to the the arrogant; calamity visits the proud. Few people trust those who talk too much; few people feel indebted to the self-serving. Rewarding the unworthy causes alienation; punishing the innocent causes resentment. Those whose appreciation or anger are unpredictable perish." (Thomas Cleary translation of the Art of War by Sun Tzu)
In Japan, the Bushido Code is an overarching behavioral framework of morals and ethics developed by Samurai. The way of the Samurai (Bushido) is founded on self control. "It was considered unmanly for a samurai to betray his emotions on his face. 'He shows no sign of joy or anger,' was a phrase used, in describing a great character. The most natural affections were kept under control. A father could embrace his son only at the expense of his dignity; a husband would not kiss his wife,--no, not in the presence of other people, whatever he might do in private!...Calmness of behavior, composure of mind, should not be disturbed by passion of any kind. (Bushido, the Soul of Japan, by Inazo Nitobe)
Next, we look to India in the general category of what is called, "Wisdom Literature", and specifically a book over 5,000 years old. This section, Self-Restraint, is from the book Mahabharata Santi Parva, Section CLX, Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli: "He who exhausts his merits (by actual enjoyment) without seeking to store them up, who casts an equal eye upon all creatures and practices a course of universal friendliness, attains to Brahman. As the track of birds along the sky or of fowl over the surface of water cannot be discerned, even so the track of such a person (on earth) does not attract notice. For him, O king, who abandoning home adopts the religion of emancipation, many bright worlds wait to be enjoyed for eternity. If, abandoning all acts, abandoning penances in due course, abandoning the diverse branches of study, in fact, abandoning all things (upon which worldly men set their hearts), one becomes pure in his desires, liberated from all restraints (such as distinctions of caste, of dress, of food, etc., etc.), of cheerful soul, conversant with self, and of pure heart, one then wins esteem in this world and at last attains to heaven. That eternal region of the Grandsire, which springs from Vedic penances, and which is concealed in a cave, can be won by only self-restraint."
Next we move a bit westward to Ancient Persia. Modern day Iran features one of the only non-Jewish leaders cast in a positive light by writers of the Old Testament. Cyrus the Great conquered much of the known ante-Roman ancient western world, including Sardis in Ancient Greece, Persia's chief rival, as well as Israel, Babylonia, Media and many other ancient Nations. Here is a map of his conquests:
Militarily, Cyrus was unparalleled. But the entire structure of his leadership began at the Persian capital and development of self control in the people of his city.
"And he would bring more modesty, he hoped, into the hearts of all men if it were plain that he himself reverenced all the world and would never say a shameful word to any man or woman or do a shameful deed. (28) He looked for this because he saw that, apart from kings and governors who may be supposed to inspire fear, men will reverence the modest and not the shameless, and modesty in women will inspire modesty in the men who behold them. (29) And his people, he thought, would learn to obey if it were plain that he honored frank and prompt obedience even above virtues that made a grander show and were harder to attain. (30) Such was his belief, and his practice went with it to the end. His own temperance and the knowledge of it made others more temperate. When they saw moderation and self-control in the man who above all others had license to be insolent, lesser men were the more ready to abjure all insolence of their own. (31) But there was this difference, Cyrus held, between modesty and self-control: the modest man will do nothing shameful in the light of day, but the man of self-control nothing base, not even in secret. (32) Self-restrain, he believed, would best be cultivated if he made men see in himself one who could not be dragged from the pursuit of virtue by the pleasure of the moment, one who chose to toil first for the happy hearted joys that go hand-in-hand with beauty and nobleness. (33) Thus, being the man he was, he established at his gates a stately company, where the lower gave place to the higher, and they in their turn showed reverence to each other, and courtesy, and perfect harmony. Among them all there was never a cry of anger to be heard, nor a burst of insolent laughter; to look at them was to know that they lived for honor and loveliness." (Cyropaedia: The Education of Cyrus, Zenophon)
It should be noted that the above book was held in high regard by the founding fathers of America. It is said that George Washington kept a pocket sized copy in the inside breast pocket of every jacket he wore.
Beyond a great social leader, the spirituality of ancient Persia offers an equally powerful set of examples. Zoroastrianism was once the most widely practiced (documented) religion of the ancient world. Zoroastrianism is one of the world's oldest monotheistic religions. It was founded by the Prophet Zoroaster (or Zarathustra) in ancient Iran approximately 3500 years ago.
For 1000 years Zoroastrianism was one of the most powerful religions in the world. It was the official religion of Persia (Iran) from 600 BCE to 650 CE and at its strongest, had over 1 million followers. It is now one of the world's smallest religions. In 2006 the New York Times reported that there were probably less than 190,000 followers worldwide at that time.
-Zoroastrians believe there is one God called Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord) and He created the world.
-Zoroastrians are not fire-worshipers, as some Westerners wrongly believe. Zoroastrians believe that the elements are pure and that fire represents God's light or wisdom.
-Ahura Mazda revealed the truth through the Prophet Zoroaster.
-Zoroastrians traditionally pray several times a day.
-Zoroastrians worship communally in a Fire Temple or Agiary.
-The Zoroastrian book of Holy Scriptures is called The Avesta.
-The Avesta can be roughly split into two main sections:
1.) The Avesta is the oldest and core part of the scriptures, which contains the Gathas. The Gathas are seventeen hymns thought to be composed by Zoroaster himself.
2.) The Younger Avesta is a set of commentaries on the older Avestavwritten in later years. It also contains myths, stories and details of ritual observances.
-Zoroastrians are roughly split into two groups:
1.) The Iranians
2.) The Parsis
Zoroaster recognized the existence and great power of evil in the world, from the beginning of all things, but was convinced that it could and would be overcome. Evil was continually to be fought and prayer was to be offered for the victory of the good. In the meanwhile, Ahura (Zoraster's deity) would help those who helped him answer such petitions through their active resistance to all wickedness. Zoroaster himself never tried to placate evil, and never taught his followers to bow before it, as though its presence was a dread necessity. Self-Control, rather than asceticism, was the means whereby it [Sic: Evil] might be confronted.
In his desire to attribute all things to Ahura, Zoroaster had taken a dangerous step in postulating that the deity was limited by his own evil principle, and the position was denied by later writers. The Prophet, however, had taught that though Ahura was good and beneficent, there existed in him the two primeval Spirits which are also in man, and between which a choice has to be made in every action. Moreover, it was sometimes the will of Ahura that evil should be sent for the discipline of men, that good might come of it. This thesis, found in the Gathas, is also shared by the Old Testament: it is the will of Jehovah to send a lying spirit into the mouths of four hundred prophets, says the compiler of the narrative of I Kings. In similar way, Amos declares that if the Assyrians descend on Israel, it is because Jehovah has sent them; thus he writes, "Shall evil befall a city, and the Lord hath not done it?" Isaiah also believes that although Jehova is good, he will use the enemy as the rod of his anger, for all things are under his (self) control." pg 62 (Zoroastrianism by John Waterhouse)
Man endowed with self control can choose between wickedness and righteousness.
"Bliss shall flee from them that despise righteousness. In such wise do ye destroy for yourselves the spiritual life" (Ys. LII, 6)
"Hear with your ears the best things; look upon them with clear-seeing thought, for decision between the two Beliefs, each man for himself before the Great Consummation (Ys. XXX, 2).
"Let none of you listen to the liar's words and commands; he brings house and clan and district and land into misery and destruction. Resist them then with the weapon!" (Ys. XXXI, 28).
The enemy to the prophet is the Druj, or Lie, who attacked man from within, and was the foe of Truth. By extension, self control is having the inner moral compass to distinguish what is right or true and what is wicked or wrong.
There are parallels in the Old Testament found in the book of proverbs that are especially pertinent to self control when discussing free will and choosing an action based on whether it is righteous or wicked:
A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls (Proverbs 25:28)
-Without being prudent in your thoughts, words and actions, you risk compromising your integrity and trustworthiness, leading others to second guess you and murmur against you. When you are in control of yourself, vulnerabilities are few and assailants have a difficult time in successfully exploiting weakness.
There is one whose rash words are like a sword thrusts. But the tongue of the wise brings healing. (Proverbs 12:18)
-Failing to control what you say will do more damage than holding your tongue.
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22)
-Wrathful, intolerant and bigoted thoughts lead only to despair.
The Lord abhors dishonest scales, but precise weights are his joy. (Proverbs 11:1)
-Choice in impartiality versus coloring decisions with subjectivity and wicked thoughts. Honesty and plain dealing will preempt wickedness and prevent damage to your reputation and potential ceiling of well-being. The scales here can be thought of as one's judgment and evaluation of a given situation.
Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out (Proverbs, 10:9)
-Integrity is a choice. Without self control, one is susceptible to the base influences and passions inherent in our nature. By understanding this nature, its signs and signals, and measuring our behavior against examples and object lessons in how to and how not to behave with integrity, we can overcome these impulses and live a just and upright life.
Zorastrianism was supplanted by the Muslim conquest of Persia in the years following 654 B.C.E. But like all the texts mentioned before it, the Qur'an has many lessons in self control, here are handful:
And as for him who fears to stand in the presence of his Lord and forbids his own soul from its whims and caprices then surely Paradise is the abode. (79:40 & 41)
O David! …do not follow the whims of your own soul for they will lead you astray from God's path. (38:26)
O you who have faith! Be maintainers of justice and witnesses for the sake of God, even if it should be against yourselves or [your] parents and near relatives, and whether it be [someone] rich or poor, for God has a greater right over them. So do not follow [your] desires, lest you should be unfair, and if you distort [the testimony] or disregard [it], God is indeed well aware of what you do. (4:135)
Section II: HOW TO DEVELOP SELF-CONTROL
From the above citations, it is clear there is no one correct path to develop self control, only the destination matters. How we arrive at self control is a matter of birthplace, parentage and choice to follow the precedents of the wise who came before us. Regardless of your personal faith, it is essential to see that there is always a good or bad, righteous or wicked choice in thought, word and action. First you must be able to recognize which is which; whether by the lens of moral philosophy, religion or a wise teacher, as long as the distinctions are clear and the principles used to judge give correct results, you will have a sound foundation to move forward confidently.
By adherence to both an ethos and epistemic code of conduct that regulates your thoughts and actions, we practice the importance of laws, rules and order. By understanding and abiding by these, you can act with integrity and the peace of mind that your conduct is both meritorious and beyond reproach. If one fails to follow rules, disobeys orders and disregards policy for personal gain, integrity is lost. No matter what you think, your actions speak louder than rationalizing words or inner thoughts.
Growing from childhood to adulthood, the best examples of self control flow from modeling others behavior into devoting a portion of your day to focus and concentration in the form of meditation, prayer or spiritual practices like yoga and certain martial arts (tai chi, shaolin gung-fu, aikido). Disconnecting from the world and reconnecting with your self and by extension, your connection to the energy that permeates and animates all creation, whatever you wish to call it, is central to self control. Quantum Physics describes the universe as a giant energy field composed of particles that are in more or less states of density, energy level, motion, and position. Tapping into that field and harmonizing with it is critically important. Whether by praying the rosary, praying to the East five times daily, meditation, or yoga, self control is developed out of the discipline required to dedicate yourself to these acts as well as the harmonizing influence they have on your mind, body and spirit.
Spirit is a scientifically unfriendly word. However, to truly understand it, one must look to its etymological roots. Spirit comes from the Latin word spiritus, "breathe", and generally refers to the subtle presence that animates things. It is also thought to be the part of the human mind associated with will and feelings.
Yoga literally means, "to yoke" (one's breath). Yoga and later, kung fu, which was developed by the Yogi Bodhi Dharma, link the body with the mind and spirit through focused movement and breath. Tai chi, also called "Supreme Ultimate Fist", or "Cosmos Kung Fu" was developed by (some say) Shaolin kung fu practitioners and is considered by many as, "moving meditation".
Meditation entered into the Western lexicon as we know it c. 1200, "contemplation; devout preoccupation; devotions, prayer," from Old French meditacion "thought, reflection, study," and directly from Latin meditationem (nominative meditatio) "a thinking over, meditation," noun of action from past participle stem of meditari "to meditate, think over, reflect, consider," from a frequentative form of PIE root *med- "take appropriate measures." Meaning "discourse on a subject" is early 14c.; meaning "act of meditating, continuous calm thought upon some subject" is from late 14c. The Latin verb also had stronger senses: "plan, devise, practice, rehearse, study." (https://www.etymonline.com/word/Meditation)
The principal act of meditation is breathing. Zen masters just breath while sitting, and brain scans reveal that their brain wave patterns are Theta waves, the same patterns found during deep relaxation and REM sleep (when the subconscious is most easily perceived).
By learning more about our own breath, the vital function it plays in both spiritual practice and everyday life, we can begin to master ourselves and apply the wise teachings of the ancients in earnest.
Pop Psychology recommends taking ten focused deep breaths when we are getting the sense that we are about to lose our temper. By breathing correctly during focused periods, we can train our bodies to lessen the chances of losing control of our emotions.
SECTION III: FROM DEVELOPING SELF CONTROL TO DEVELOPING GOOD JUDGMENT
In the Hebrew and Christian Bible, we find a historical touchstone: The Book of Judges (Hebrew: Sefer Shoftim ספר שופטים) is the seventh book of the Hebrew Bible and Christian Bible. It contains the history of the Biblical judges. Judges were the divinely inspired leaders whose direct knowledge of Yahweh allowed them to act as champions for the Israelites against oppression by foreign rulers as well as decide day to day affairs that created contention within the nation. Judges were models of the wise and faithful behavior required of the Israelites by their God Yahweh following the exodus from Egypt and the conquest of Canaan. They also served to marshal the Israelites against would be invaders sent by Pharaoh to recapture the lost territory of Canann. The stories in Kings I follow a consistent pattern: the people are unfaithful to Yahweh and he therefore delivers them into the hands of their enemies; the people repent and entreat Yahweh for mercy, which he sends in the form of a leader or champion (a "judge"); the judge delivers the Israelites from oppression and they prosper, but soon they fall again into unfaithfulness and the cycle is repeated. The last of the Judges of Israel, Samuel was born and weaned, then given to the priests at Shiloh to be raised in the temple. He later reluctantly anointed the first king of Israel, Saul, according to the wishes of the people but against his better judgment. Saul was later supplanted by David, who then had a number of sons, the most famous and wise of which was Solomon.
There are numerous Proverbs credited to both Solomon and David in the Old Testament. Wisdom is central to many of these proverbs . Justice and good judgment are likewise featured. These proverbs form an interconnected fabric of moral and intellectual strength that showcase why Solomon is still considered one of the wisest of kings in history. The underlying theme is wisdom through adherence to righteousness or right action in Buddhist terms and with it, respect for the law.
Proverbs 10:1-18:5New International Version (NIV)
Proverbs of Solomon
(10) The proverbs of Solomon:
2 Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value,
but righteousness delivers from death.
3 The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry,
but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.
4 Lazy hands make for poverty,
but diligent hands bring wealth.
5 He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son,
but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.
6 Blessings crown the head of the righteous,
but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.
7 The name of the righteous is used in blessings,
but the name of the wicked will rot.
8 The wise in heart accept commands,
but a chattering fool comes to ruin.
9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,
but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.
10 Whoever winks maliciously causes grief,
and a chattering fool comes to ruin.
11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
12 Hatred stirs up conflict,
but love covers over all wrongs.
13 Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning,
but a rod is for the back of one who has no sense.
14 The wise store up knowledge,
but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.
16 The wages of the righteous is life,
but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.
17 Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life,
but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.
18 Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips
and spreads slander is a fool.
19 Sin is not ended by multiplying words,
but the prudent hold their tongues.
20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver,
but the heart of the wicked is of little value.
21 The lips of the righteous nourish many,
but fools die for lack of sense.
22 The blessing of the Lord brings wealth,
without painful toil for it.
23 A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes,
but a person of understanding delights in wisdom.
24 What the wicked dread will overtake them;
what the righteous desire will be granted.
25 When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone,
but the righteous stand firm forever.
26 As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes,
so are sluggards to those who send them.
27 The fear of the Lord adds length to life,
but the years of the wicked are cut short.
28 The prospect of the righteous is joy,
but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.
29 The way of the Lord is a refuge for the blameless,
but it is the ruin of those who do evil.
30 The righteous will never be uprooted,
but the wicked will not remain in the land.
31 From the mouth of the righteous comes the fruit of wisdom,
but a perverse tongue will be silenced.
32 The lips of the righteous know what finds favor,
but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse.
11 The Lord detests dishonest scales,
but accurate weights find favor with him.
2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with humility comes wisdom.
3 The integrity of the upright guides them,
but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.
4 Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath,
but righteousness delivers from death.
5 The righteousness of the blameless makes their paths straight,
but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness.
6 The righteousness of the upright delivers them,
but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.
7 Hopes placed in mortals die with them;
all the promise of[c] their power comes to nothing.
8 The righteous person is rescued from trouble,
and it falls on the wicked instead.
9 With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbors,
but through knowledge the righteous escape.
10 When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices;
when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.
11 Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.
12 Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense,
but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.
13 A gossip betrays a confidence,
but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.
14 For lack of guidance a nation falls,
but victory is won through many advisers.
15 Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer,
but whoever refuses to shake hands in pledge is safe.
16 A kindhearted woman gains honor,
but ruthless men gain only wealth.
17 Those who are kind benefit themselves,
but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.
18 A wicked person earns deceptive wages,
but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.
19 Truly the righteous attain life,
but whoever pursues evil finds death.
20 The Lord detests those whose hearts are perverse,
but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.
21 Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished,
but those who are righteous will go free.
22 Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.
23 The desire of the righteous ends only in good,
but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.
24 One person gives freely, yet gains even more;
another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
25 A generous person will prosper;
whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
26 People curse the one who hoards grain,
but they pray God’s blessing on the one who is willing to sell.
27 Whoever seeks good finds favor,
but evil comes to one who searches for it.
28 Those who trust in their riches will fall,
but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.
29 Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind,
and the fool will be servant to the wise.
30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
and the one who is wise saves lives.
31 If the righteous receive their due on earth,
how much more the ungodly and the sinner!
12 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but whoever hates correction is stupid.
2 Good people obtain favor from the Lord,
but he condemns those who devise wicked schemes.
3 No one can be established through wickedness,
but the righteous cannot be uprooted.
4 A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown,
but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.
5 The plans of the righteous are just,
but the advice of the wicked is deceitful.
6 The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood,
but the speech of the upright rescues them.
7 The wicked are overthrown and are no more,
but the house of the righteous stands firm.
8 A person is praised according to their prudence,
and one with a warped mind is despised.
9 Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant
than pretend to be somebody and have no food.
10 The righteous care for the needs of their animals,
but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.
11 Those who work their land will have abundant food,
but those who chase fantasies have no sense.
12 The wicked desire the stronghold of evildoers,
but the root of the righteous endures.
13 Evildoers are trapped by their sinful talk,
and so the innocent escape trouble.
14 From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things,
and the work of their hands brings them reward.
15 The way of fools seems right to them,
but the wise listen to advice.
16 Fools show their annoyance at once,
but the prudent overlook an insult.
17 An honest witness tells the truth,
but a false witness tells lies.
18 The words of the reckless pierce like swords,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
19 Truthful lips endure forever,
but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.
20 Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil,
but those who promote peace have joy.
21 No harm overtakes the righteous,
but the wicked have their fill of trouble.
22 The Lord detests lying lips,
but he delights in people who are trustworthy.
23 The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves,
but a fool’s heart blurts out folly.
24 Diligent hands will rule,
but laziness ends in forced labor.
25 Anxiety weighs down the heart,
but a kind word cheers it up.
26 The righteous choose their friends carefully,
but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
27 The lazy do not roast[d] any game,
but the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt.
28 In the way of righteousness there is life;
along that path is immortality.
13 A wise son heeds his father’s instruction,
but a mocker does not respond to rebukes.
2 From the fruit of their lips people enjoy good things,
but the unfaithful have an appetite for violence.
3 Those who guard their lips preserve their lives,
but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.
4 A sluggard’s appetite is never filled,
but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.
5 The righteous hate what is false,
but the wicked make themselves a stench
and bring shame on themselves.
6 Righteousness guards the person of integrity,
but wickedness overthrows the sinner.
7 One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing;
another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.
8 A person’s riches may ransom their life,
but the poor cannot respond to threatening rebukes.
9 The light of the righteous shines brightly,
but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out.
10 Where there is strife, there is pride,
but wisdom is found in those who take advice.
11 Dishonest money dwindles away,
but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.
12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
13 Whoever scorns instruction will pay for it,
but whoever respects a command is rewarded.
14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life,
turning a person from the snares of death.
15 Good judgment wins favor,
but the way of the unfaithful leads to their destruction.
16 All who are prudent act with knowledge,
but fools expose their folly.
17 A wicked messenger falls into trouble,
but a trustworthy envoy brings healing.
18 Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame,
but whoever heeds correction is honored.
19 A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul,
but fools detest turning from evil.
20 Walk with the wise and become wise,
for a companion of fools suffers harm.
21 Trouble pursues the sinner,
but the righteous are rewarded with good things.
22 A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children,
but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.
23 An unplowed field produces food for the poor,
but injustice sweeps it away.
24 Whoever spares the rod hates their children,
but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.
25 The righteous eat to their hearts’ content,
but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry.
14 The wise woman builds her house,
but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
2 Whoever fears the Lord walks uprightly,
but those who despise him are devious in their ways.
3 A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride,
but the lips of the wise protect them.
4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty,
but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests.
5 An honest witness does not deceive,
but a false witness pours out lies.
6 The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none,
but knowledge comes easily to the discerning.
7 Stay away from a fool,
for you will not find knowledge on their lips.
8 The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways,
but the folly of fools is deception.
9 Fools mock at making amends for sin,
but goodwill is found among the upright.
10 Each heart knows its own bitterness,
and no one else can share its joy.
11 The house of the wicked will be destroyed,
but the tent of the upright will flourish.
12 There is a way that appears to be right,
but in the end it leads to death.
13 Even in laughter the heart may ache,
and rejoicing may end in grief.
14 The faithless will be fully repaid for their ways,
and the good rewarded for theirs.
15 The simple believe anything,
but the prudent give thought to their steps.
16 The wise fear the Lord and shun evil,
but a fool is hotheaded and yet feels secure.
17 A quick-tempered person does foolish things,
and the one who devises evil schemes is hated.
18 The simple inherit folly,
but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.
19 Evildoers will bow down in the presence of the good,
and the wicked at the gates of the righteous.
20 The poor are shunned even by their neighbors,
but the rich have many friends.
21 It is a sin to despise one’s neighbor,
but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy.
22 Do not those who plot evil go astray?
But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness.
23 All hard work brings a profit,
but mere talk leads only to poverty.
24 The wealth of the wise is their crown,
but the folly of fools yields folly.
25 A truthful witness saves lives,
but a false witness is deceitful.
26 Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress,
and for their children it will be a refuge.
27 The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,
turning a person from the snares of death.
28 A large population is a king’s glory,
but without subjects a prince is ruined.
29 Whoever is patient has great understanding,
but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.
30 A heart at peace gives life to the body,
but envy rots the bones.
31 Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker,
but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.
32 When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down,
but even in death the righteous seek refuge in God.
33 Wisdom reposes in the heart of the discerning
and even among fools she lets herself be known.
34 Righteousness exalts a nation,
but sin condemns any people.
35 A king delights in a wise servant,
but a shameful servant arouses his fury.
15 A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
2 The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge,
but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.
3 The eyes of the Lord are everywhere,
keeping watch on the wicked and the good.
4 The soothing tongue is a tree of life,
but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.
5 A fool spurns a parent’s discipline,
but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.
6 The house of the righteous contains great treasure,
but the income of the wicked brings ruin.
7 The lips of the wise spread knowledge,
but the hearts of fools are not upright.
8 The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked,
but the prayer of the upright pleases him.
9 The Lord detests the way of the wicked,
but he loves those who pursue righteousness.
10 Stern discipline awaits anyone who leaves the path;
the one who hates correction will die.
11 Death and Destruction lie open before the Lord—
how much more do human hearts!
12 Mockers resent correction,
so they avoid the wise.
13 A happy heart makes the face cheerful,
but heartache crushes the spirit.
14 The discerning heart seeks knowledge,
but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.
15 All the days of the oppressed are wretched,
but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.
16 Better a little with the fear of the Lord
than great wealth with turmoil.
17 Better a small serving of vegetables with love
than a fattened calf with hatred.
18 A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict,
but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.
19 The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns,
but the path of the upright is a highway.
20 A wise son brings joy to his father,
but a foolish man despises his mother.
21 Folly brings joy to one who has no sense,
but whoever has understanding keeps a straight course.
22 Plans fail for lack of counsel,
but with many advisers they succeed.
23 A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—
and how good is a timely word!
24 The path of life leads upward for the prudent
to keep them from going down to the realm of the dead.
25 The Lord tears down the house of the proud,
but he sets the widow’s boundary stones in place.
26 The Lord detests the thoughts of the wicked,
but gracious words are pure in his sight.
27 The greedy bring ruin to their households,
but the one who hates bribes will live.
28 The heart of the righteous weighs its answers,
but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.
29 The Lord is far from the wicked,
but he hears the prayer of the righteous.
30 Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart,
and good news gives health to the bones.
31 Whoever heeds life-giving correction
will be at home among the wise.
32 Those who disregard discipline despise themselves,
but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.
33 Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord,
and humility comes before honor.
16 To humans belong the plans of the heart,
but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue.
2 All a person’s ways seem pure to them,
but motives are weighed by the Lord.
3 Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and he will establish your plans.
4 The Lord works out everything to its proper end—
even the wicked for a day of disaster.
5 The Lord detests all the proud of heart.
Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.
6 Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;
through the fear of the Lord evil is avoided.
7 When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way,
he causes their enemies to make peace with them.
8 Better a little with righteousness
than much gain with injustice.
9 In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.
10 The lips of a king speak as an oracle,
and his mouth does not betray justice.
11 Honest scales and balances belong to the Lord;
all the weights in the bag are of his making.
12 Kings detest wrongdoing,
for a throne is established through righteousness.
13 Kings take pleasure in honest lips;
they value the one who speaks what is right.
14 A king’s wrath is a messenger of death,
but the wise will appease it.
15 When a king’s face brightens, it means life;
his favor is like a rain cloud in spring.
16 How much better to get wisdom than gold,
to get insight rather than silver!
17 The highway of the upright avoids evil;
those who guard their ways preserve their lives.
18 Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.
19 Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed
than to share plunder with the proud.
20 Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers,
and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.
21 The wise in heart are called discerning,
and gracious words promote instruction.
22 Prudence is a fountain of life to the prudent,
but folly brings punishment to fools.
23 The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent,
and their lips promote instruction.
24 Gracious words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
25 There is a way that appears to be right,
but in the end it leads to death.
26 The appetite of laborers works for them;
their hunger drives them on.
27 A scoundrel plots evil,
and on their lips it is like a scorching fire.
28 A perverse person stirs up conflict,
and a gossip separates close friends.
29 A violent person entices their neighbor
and leads them down a path that is not good.
30 Whoever winks with their eye is plotting perversity;
whoever purses their lips is bent on evil.
31 Gray hair is a crown of splendor;
it is attained in the way of righteousness.
32 Better a patient person than a warrior,
one with self-control than one who takes a city.
33 The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the Lord.
17 Better a dry crust with peace and quiet
than a house full of feasting, with strife.
2 A prudent servant will rule over a disgraceful son
and will share the inheritance as one of the family.
3 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
but the Lord tests the heart.
4 A wicked person listens to deceitful lips;
a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.
5 Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker;
whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.
6 Children’s children are a crown to the aged,
and parents are the pride of their children.
7 Eloquent lips are unsuited to a godless fool—
how much worse lying lips to a ruler!
8 A bribe is seen as a charm by the one who gives it;
they think success will come at every turn.
9 Whoever would foster love covers over an offense,
but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
10 A rebuke impresses a discerning person
more than a hundred lashes a fool.
11 Evildoers foster rebellion against God;
the messenger of death will be sent against them.
12 Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs
than a fool bent on folly.
13 Evil will never leave the house
of one who pays back evil for good.
14 Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam;
so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.
15 Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent—
the Lord detests them both.
16 Why should fools have money in hand to buy wisdom,
when they are not able to understand it?
17 A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
18 One who has no sense shakes hands in pledge
and puts up security for a neighbor.
19 Whoever loves a quarrel loves sin;
whoever builds a high gate invites destruction.
20 One whose heart is corrupt does not prosper;
one whose tongue is perverse falls into trouble.
21 To have a fool for a child brings grief;
there is no joy for the parent of a godless fool.
22 A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
23 The wicked accept bribes in secret
to pervert the course of justice.
24 A discerning person keeps wisdom in view,
but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.
25 A foolish son brings grief to his father
and bitterness to the mother who bore him.
26 If imposing a fine on the innocent is not good,
surely to flog honest officials is not right.
27 The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint,
and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.
28 Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent,
and discerning if they hold their tongues.
18 An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends
and against all sound judgment starts quarrels.
2 Fools find no pleasure in understanding
but delight in airing their own opinions.
3 When wickedness comes, so does contempt,
and with shame comes reproach.
4 The words of the mouth are deep waters,
but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.
5 It is not good to be partial to the wicked
and so deprive the innocent of justice.
By simply reading and more importantly, practicing the above, one can increase his or her wisdom and improve his or her chances of having a joy filled life.
If you were tempted to skip to the end to get a summary of the contents of this article, prepare to be disappointed. The only conclusion I can offer is that there is no shortcut. Too Long Didn't Read (TLDR) does not apply to this aspect of life. Self control begins with discipline and the willingness to humble one's self to the teachings of another, whether its your deity, mother, father, guru, priest, rabbi, imam, what truly matters is, the lesson of serving others before your self and controlling your desires to align your thoughts, words and actions with that collective wisdom. To repeat, there is no shortcut. By constant study and daily practice, you will eventually master yourself and with it, gain a better place in the world for yourself and your surroundings.
On the other hand, if you have read and re-read the contents of this article, put into place or redoubled your efforts to master self control, and are still reading this, congratulations! You have reached the end of the beginning. The arduous process of developing self control leads to good judgment, good judgment leads to discovering truth, truth is the crown and glory of wisdom and wisdom is the way in which we may get closer to God. Ergo, self control leads one on a spiritual journey to get closer to one's creator.
May you depart in peace to be a light and enlighten the world. Please feel free to link or share this article.
Warmest Fraternal Regards,
Summit Lodge #213, Twinsburg, Ohio