Power up with Proverbs

Proverbs store the refined wisdom of ages in short, memorable lines. Often they have several layers of understanding. This blog features a weekly proverb and explores its meaning. Sir Winston Churchill, the former British Prime Minister, war leader, writer, painter, historian, bon viveur, and very good bricklayer, recommended that people who lacked formal education should acquire a good stock of proverbs. "The Wisdom of Nations lies in their Proverbs... Collect and learn them". William Penn

Name: William Clark

Saturday, March 27, 2010

God who sends the wound sends the medicine

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In days gone by people believed in something called "the doctrine of signatures". This stated that a plant had some relationship to its use, and that could be determined from its shape or the location in which it grew.

The 17th-century herbalist, William Coles, believed walnuts were good for head ailments because, "they Have the perfect Signatures of the Head".

The modern scientist might be sceptical of this approach, preferring tests and experiment, but is there any wisdom we can gain from a contemplation of this general principle? If a problem exists does this mean that there must automatically be a solution that, if we seek, we will find?

Solutions to many of mankind's ills have been found, and we cling to a hope that whatever we suffer from someday someone somewhere will find a cure -- be they inspired by God or Mammon.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

It is hope alone that makes us willing to live

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There are times in everyone's life when all the negatives crowd in - the extreme example being depression, when life seems devoid of all meaning and purpose.

Experiencing the downside of life is part of the springboard to the upside so has to be understood as a natural phenomenon and not feared too much. We all know that nothing is constant, everything evolves and changes. There are trend lines and seasons that give a framework to our existence but within that, as individuals we are subject to the whims and caprices of chance - or so it seems.

The one thing that is our lifeline in the sea of doubts is hope. We can always hope that things will change for the better, and they usually do. We can be pulled back to the dry land and sunny climes of a happy existence. Hope springs eternal in the human breast.

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

Gold is the sovereign of all sovereigns

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An amusing play on the difference in meaning of sovereign as a monarch or sovereign as a gold piece incorporates a truth: cash is the king of kings.

Without money to pay their supporters, rulers, be they ancient kings or modern democratic governments, all fail.

Another meaning might refer to gold as a store of wealth that governments can not debase by printing money. Over time, gold tends to hold its value and adjust for inflation, whilst fiat money withers away and eventually becomes worthless.


Sunday, February 28, 2010

He is a fool that is not melancholy once a day

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Gurus abound with good advice on staying positive, banishing negative thoughts and promising everlasting happiness.

So why did the sage who coined this saying think being sad was a good thing?

It raises the question what is sadness, and what is it for?

A spell of melancholy is a time for reflection on the bad things in your life. You could simply try to ignore them, suppressing all thoughts. You could pretend they don't exist. At worst you could be taking pills in an attempt to blot them out.

This sage is encouraging us to face up to our difficulties and attempt to deal with them. After the thunder and rain we get the sunshine and it is them we can enjoy the benefits of a positive attitude.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Prettiness dies first

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"Beauty is but skin deep" is also said but anyone who has known true love is aware that a meeting of minds, if not souls, is the greatest part. We tend to recognise our natural matching type by sight but it is in exploring the deeper self that we fathom the depths of one of life's greatest mysteries: love.

As a lady ages, her prettiness begins to fade but the beauty of her soul and spirit continues to mature and grow. To see an aged couple, grey of hair and feeble of limb, who profess to love each other as much as when they were sweet sixteen is an inspiring sight.

To marry on the basis of looks alone is a short term outlook.

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Virtue, if she could be seen, would move great love

Here we have a philosopher, Plato, visualizing Virtue as a beautiful lady.

What is virtue and why should we love her personification? Moral excellence, goodness, conformity with morality or duty especially chastity in women is the nature of virtue. It appears to involve the discipline of the mind over the basic passions of the body.

This was something that through the ages had strong appeal as the consequence of unbridled lust was disease, pregnancy and bloody quarrels. A man valued a woman who would bear only his children and not lower him in the eyes of his fellows and force him into unnecessary conflicts. The invention of modern medicines and contraceptives removed many of these fears but humans are more than body and sensation-seeking minds.

Is it possible that the disregard for the former values of virtue leaves us not more satisfied but less?

A proper balance in all things is the usual conclusion of philosophers - a time to reap and a time to sow. Love has many aspects, and joy is to those who find her in due proportions and harmonies.
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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Game is cheaper in the market than in the fields and woods

Unless you are a professional hunter with a good territory you will likely spend so much of your time trying to hunt down your dinner that it would be better to buy it with the returns of your everyday job. This saying might also have been coined at a time when poaching was a serious offense with hapless Brits sent to Botany Bay.

Applied to today's conditions the underlying truth is telling us that using professionals can be cheaper in the long run. If you are not too good at home decorating you might be better getting an experienced person rather than ending up with a botched job.

When you need to save money you should weigh up the options carefully and don't be mislead by false economies.

For anyone interested in limericks you can vote on the Hallmark Cards UK Twitter competition here http://twtpoll/74v6v

I have added a page of Global limerick competitions

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