Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
It was on a coast bound train, Mieczyslaw was slumped in his seat and every few moments he sighed and cried, “Ah my! Ah my!” Forbes, sitting nearby, heard him cry but did not butt in, thinking the fellow was troubled by some great personal tragedy.
The next day it was the same cry of, “Ah my! Ah my!” and again the same the day after.
Finally, Forbes leaned over and whispered, “Anything seriously wrong?”
“Ah my, yes!” said the Polack. “For three days now, I have been on the wrong train!”
This is exactly the situation of humanity: everybody, almost everybody, is on the wrong train; hence there is so much misery. Misery simply indicates that you are not where you are supposed to be, that you are not moving towards your own destiny, that you are not flowering into your own potential, that you have been diverted by others, distracted by others. Maybe those others were not intending any wrong to you, but they were unconscious people just like you.
Every parent distracts the child from his essential being, leads him astray. Every teacher, every priest goes on doing the same. Nobody respects the individual. They have already decided what is right and what is wrong, and for all!
Each individual is a unique phenomenon. Hence no law, no morality can be applicable to all. Of course, we have to agree on a few minimums, just to exist together, but those minimums have to be the nonessentials.
That is the fundamental message of Desiderata. Desiderata means the fundamentals, the essentials. About the essentials there should be no compromise at all, with nobody, not even with God, because you don’t know anything about God. The priest goes on speaking on behalf of some God which nobody knows. It is the priest, the cunning priest, who pretends that his voice is God’s voice.
One of the most ancient scriptures in the world is the Hindu scripture, Rig Veda. Ninety-nine percent of it is sheer nonsense, not only nonsense but irreligious too – not even religious nonsense! All the prayers in the Rig Veda are prayers for the nonessential. People are asking for money – from God! – asking for power, prestige, more cows, more horses, more land; not only that but for the death of their enemies and the prosperity of their friends. And this scripture is worshipped by the Hindus as religious.