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Common Sense, How to Exercise It

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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....