(1) Integrity: Do what you do well, according to the standards that matter to you. Other peoples’ standards are other peoples’ business; when you reach the end, you will answer to yourself, not to them.
(2) Journey: Work to improve what you do, not just how you do it. Continuing to find where and when to act is as important, if not more important, than knowing how to act.
(3) Stamina: Grit your teeth. Allow yourself to suffer if necessary in order to do the right thing. You are mortal. All suffering is temporary. But history is not. Your actions and decisions are forever. Put other people first and you’ll be able to live with yourself—and not be alone. Put yourself first and you’ll be alone—and unable to live with yourself.
(4) Wisdom: Allow things to be what they are. Don’t try to make the simple complex; don’t try to make the complex simple; don’t try to make the small large; don’t try to make the large small. Don’t fight reality.
(5) Knowledge: Force yourself to ask and to see what things are, including yourself. Yes, change is part of the fabric of life, but refusing to see things as they are makes right action impossible. Refusing to see yourself as you are makes doing right by yourself impossible. See what is, then embrace it. Otherwise, you yourself and everything you do become fiction.
(6) Patience and alertness: Make peace with time, and cooperate with it. Time must be your friend, since it is the substance of your existence. Time is also your enemy, since it will someday end your existence. Either way, it is more powerful than you. Of all the facets of reality, time is the one that you can fight least successfully. Follow time’s lead in all things. Understand this or face failure on every other count above.
(7) Perspective: Realize that a life is an aggregate, not a moment; you will not live it all at once. Continue when you fail. Redouble your efforts. Paradoxically, this includes your effort to accept things as they are, both yourself and others.
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“To understand everything is to forgive everything.”
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(8) Acceptance: The world is not just and it never will be. You will not be dealt with “fairly” because the nature of your existence, in a world with endings, living a life that will end, is unfair. You cannot save anyone. You cannot save yourself. You cannot “repair” anyone. You cannot “repair” yourself. There’s no point in demanding reparations because they repair nothing—nothing that has passed can be changed; nothing can be “repaired” once it is done. To fight this battle on these terms is to spend a lifetime striking out at shadows, only to realize at the end that you have missed everything that you might have had in the time that you were here. Learn from each moment, embrace it, then move on to the next.