Temperance regulates, according to reason and the pursuit of virtue, the attraction to pleasure of the senses. Taste, touch, sight, hearing, and smell are all in accord with the pursuit of the “good life” and involve pleasure, but there is need of this virtue to moderate or order our desires.
Temperance is the virtue that moderates our attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of things of this world. It ensures the will’s mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is virtuous.
Control Over Our Emotions
SLAVE <—————————————————> MASTER
(to our emotions) (of our emotions)
Temperance (Sophrosyne in Greek) is defined as “moderation in action, thought, or feeling; restraint.” has been studied by religious thinkers, philosophers, and more recently, psychologists, particularly in the positive psychology movement. It is considered a virtue, a core value that can be seen consistently across time and cultures. It is considered one of the four cardinal virtues, for it is believed that no virtue could be sustained in the face of inability to control oneself, if the virtue was opposed to some desire. Temperance is generally defined by control over excess, so that it has many such classes, such as abstinence, chastity, modesty, humility, prudence, self-regulation, forgiveness and mercy; each of these involves restraining some impulse, such as sexual desire, vanity, or anger.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”There are no better cosmetics than a severe temperance and purity, modesty and humility, a gracious temper and calmness of spirit; and there is no true beauty without the signatures of these graces in the very countenance.” author=”Arthur Helps”/]
Temperance is a major Athenian virtue, as advocated by Plato; self-restraint (sôphrosune) is one of his four core virtues of the ideal city, and echoed by Aristotle. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, temperance is prolific. The Old Testament emphasizes temperance as a core virtue, as evidenced in both Solomon’s Proverbs and in the Ten Commandments, with its admonitions against adultery and covetousness. The New Testament does as well, with forgiveness being central to the theology and self-control being one of the Fruits of the Spirit. With regard to Christian theology, the word temperance is used by the King James Version in Galatians 5:23 for the Greek word ἐγκρατεία (enkrateia), which means self-control or discipline. Thomas Aquinas promoted Plato’s original virtues in addition to several others. For Islam, as well, moderation is advocated.
Confucius encouraged modesty and self-control for the humane life. In the Analects, speaks of those who “choose to live simply, refrain from self-aggrandizing boasts or extravagance, and place hard work before reward” as virtuous. In addition, the Taoist Lao-Tzu advocates temperance: He who becomes arrogant with wealth and power . . . sows the seeds of his own misfortune . . . he who boasts of his own achievements harms his credibility . . . he who is arrogant experiences no growth in wisdom . . . he who knows glory, but keeps to humility . . . is sufficient in the eternal virtue.
For Buddhism, temperance is an essential part of the Eightfold Path. The third and fifth of the five precepts (pañca-sila) reflect values of temperance: “misconduct concerning sense pleasures” and drunkenness are to be avoided. For Hinduism, as well, temperance is a crucial component, especially in the act of self-denial.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”Being forced to work, and forced to do your best, will breed in you temperance and self-control, diligence and strength of will, cheerfulness and content, and a hundred virtues which the idle will never know.” author=”Charles Kingsley”/]
Hercules and Temperance ( The story of Hercules at the crossroads)
For ancient greek athletes the mythical example of self-control was the hero Hercules. The story of Hercules at the crossroads originates from the greek story teller Prodikos of Keos (aprox 400. B.C.).
Hercules meets two women at a crossroads. These women are the personifications of Virtue (Arete) and Vice (Kakia..the goddess of evil). They both advise Hercules to follow the road they show him.
Virtue (Arete), points at a rocky and steep road. This isn’t a nice and easy road, it has on it many trials and tribulations. But at the end there will be a reward of fame and glory.
Vice (Kakia) points at a ‘better’, more attractive road, one which is much easier to travel…the path of vice.
Hercules can take the easy passable road, that is flat and where he can have a lot of fun, right now. Or the difficult road, with view on a beautiful, but far away future. It is hard to choose.
When the women have disappeared, Hercules chooses the hard path of temperance, discipline and self-control……the way Virtue (Arete) showed him.
Hercules remains the captain of his soul and the hero. Hercules remains the hero, also in this story.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”Temperance is a tree which as for its root very little contentment, and for its fruit calm and peace.” author=”Buddha”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Finish each day before you begin the next, and interpose a solid wall of sleep between the two. This you cannot do without temperance.” author=”Ralph Waldo Emerson”/]
The Greek Definition of Temperance (Sophrosune)
By Jack Crabtree
In “Charmides,” one of Plato’s early dialogues, Plato portrays a dialogue Socrates has with a young man and his uncle. The question being addressed is the definition of ‘sophrosune’. To begin the dialogue, Socrates asks, “. . . what, in your opinion, is sophrosune?” Their discussion proceeds with four different definitions. In each case Socrates, in his inimitable and aggravatingly absurd style of argument, rejects their definitions as fallacious or inadequate; he ends the dialogue professing that he has been “utterly defeated,” having “failed to discover what that is to which the lawgiver gave this name of ‘sophrosune’. . . .” All these failed attempts to define ‘sophrosune’ have great relevance for our goal of discovering its meaning. If I understand it correctly, Plato’s purpose was not to persuade us to reject the four definitions proposed in this dialogue. On the contrary, he knew that these four definitions contained important insights into the true nature of ‘sophrosune’. In fact, taken together as a connected cluster of concepts, they lead one to a true and accurate conception of this virtue.
In Charmides, the one who has ‘sophrosune’ is defined as (1) one who has quietness (‘hesuchia’), (2) one who has modesty [aidos], (3) one who does his own business, and (4) one who knows himself. At first glance, these definitions seem startlingly different. While purporting to define the same concept, they appear not to define the same concept at all. Accordingly, they invite us to discover a single concept that unites them. I think we can find such a virtue. ‘Sophrosune’, I would propose, is the state of mind wherein one experiences a settled, self-aware self-contentment-a kind of enlightened self-acceptance.
The person who has arrived at such self-contentment, or self-acceptance, will indeed be characterized by a distinctive quietness of soul. If I have come to be content with who I am, I will no longer be driven by the restlessness to “find out who I am” which characterizes the discontent person. No longer will I be engaged in a frantically urgent quest to “realize my potential” or to “improve myself.” The one who has ‘sophrosune’ has come to accept and to be satisfied with the particular person he is. He has no need, nor desire to be someone else or someone different. He is quite prepared to be just the person he is. As a consequence, contentment and a distinctive and remarkable tranquility of spirit settle over his life.
But more must be said about ‘sophrosune’. The self-acceptance of the one who has ‘sophrosune’ is an acceptance of who one actually is. This involves an awareness and acceptance of all one’s limitations, weaknesses, and mediocrities. ‘Sophrosune’ does not lead to contentment just because one excels at everything and is the best at everything. It leads to contentment in spite of the fact that one is not strong with every strength and excellent with every excellence. Indeed, ‘sophrosune’ would involve self-contentment even if one excelled at nothing and was mediocre at everything. Herein lies a second important aspect of ‘sophrosune’: modesty or humility. The one who has ‘sophrosune’ is aidos; that is, modest or humble. He is fully aware of and fully accepting of himself as limited and weak in certain respects and as without distinction in many respects. He can fully acknowledge his inadequacies, for his self-contentment and self-acceptance are not contingent upon him being better than he is.
3. Doing One’s Own Business
There is yet another important ramification of self-acceptance. The one who accepts himself will be content to live out the role that has been given him and will not try to take on a role or function that is not his to fill. The one who lacks ‘sophrosune’ is restless and frantic. He is trying to find himself and his role. In the course of his search, he interjects himself into roles and functions for which he is not fit nor intended; desiring a basis upon which he can like and accept himself, he seeks it in the status and honor of the role. The net effect, however, is the opposite. Not being fit for the role, he makes a fool of himself instead. He embarrasses himself and others. Everyone who seeks to assert himself into a more honorable role or function for which he is not suited nor destined will find dishonor. The one who will find honor is the one who, content to be who he is and to fill whatever role it is his destiny to fill, humbly and modestly accepts his station, his place, and his role without pretense of being something greater or more important than he is. The person who has ‘sophrosune’ strives to live in accordance with his own role and destiny and does not try to take on himself the role and destiny of another.
4. To Know Oneself
All of the above aspects of ‘sophrosune’ assume an underlying knowledge of oneself. It is no virtue to have accepted oneself if one is deluded as to who he really is. It is no virtue to humbly accept who one thinks he is if one has an inflated and exaggerated sense of his own abilities and importance. And how is one to go about “doing one’s own business” if he hasn’t a clue what his own business is? Hence, one simply cannot have ‘sophrosune’ without having an accurate knowledge and understanding of oneself. ‘Sophrosune’ requires a penetrating and honest self-knowledge.
Sophrosune is the virtue of enlightened self-acceptance, a self-acceptance based on an accurate understanding of who one really is, a self-acceptance which results in a humble and settled contentment with and pursuit of one’s destined role in human existence.
Temperance and Benjamin Franklin
Is there a less sexy idea today than temperance? Yet when Benjamin Franklin began his pursuit of the virtuous life, it was this virtue he chose to concentrate on first. The way in which Ben ordered his 13 virtues was deliberate. He selected temperance to kick off his self-improvement program because:
…it tends to procure that coolness and clearness of head, which is so necessary where constant vigilance was to be kept up, and guard maintained against the unremitting attraction of ancient habits, and the force of perpetual temptations.
In other words, first attaining self-discipline in the area of food and drink would make adherence to all of the other virtues easier.
Why is this? Hunger and thirst are some of the most primal of urges, and thus are some of the hardest to control. Therefore, when seeking to gain self-discipline, one must start with the most basic appetites and work up from there. A man must first harness his inward urges, before tackling the more external virtues. A clear mind and a healthy body are prerequisites to the pursuit of the virtuous life.
Eat Not to Dullness[do action=”vfquote” quote=”The glutton is much more than an animal and much less than a man.” author=”Honore de Balzac”/]
Have you ever noticed that the first few bites of a delicious food are the best? After chowing down on something for a while, the vibrant tastes become significantly dulled.
Today many people shovel food into their mouths so fast that their palate never has a chance to register this transition. Yet the shift is one of the ways your stomach tries to tell you that it is full and to stop eating. Unfortunately, people ignore this signal and continue to eat far past it. The consequence is not only a far less enjoyable eating experience, but an ever expanding gut.
Many people have noticed the paradox that gourmet cooks who spend their whole day around food are often in good shape. But it is really no mystery at all. These chefs eat only the best, most delicious foods, and when they dine, they really savor each bite.
There are a million diet books out there, but the only thing a person needs to know to maintain a decent waistline is this: eat when hungry, stop when full. Don’t eat in front of the TV or on the go. Sit down for a proper meal. Savor each mouthful, and think about the flavors you are experiencing. Put your fork down in between bites. When the flavors become less vibrant, and your stomach starts to feel full, stop eating.
Drink Not to Elevation[do action=”vfquote” quote=”Drinking makes such fools of people, and people are such fools to begin with, that it’s compounding a felony.” author=”Robert Benchley”/]
Many a virtuous person have enjoyed a drink or two. Yet somewhere along the way people began to think it was cool to guzzle their spirits through a funnel attached to their mouth. Yet there are truly few things less virtuous than getting tanked and passing out.
Virtuous people should not seek to numb themselves in the pursuit of a good time. For surely there is something to be said about being fully present in every moment. At the heart of acting virtuously is the belief in personal responsibility. But excess drinking and personal responsibility are at odds. When drunk, a person cannot be said to be 100% in control of their choices. So if something goes wrong, they often blame the alcohol. A truly virtuous person is in control of themselves in every situation.
People should also seek to rid themselves of any kind of dependencies. Alcohol can cause several, the most obvious one being outright alcoholism. But frequent boozing can also make a person dependent on liquor for confidence and for a good time. It becomes a crutch. The truly virtuous will be confident enough to not need liquid courage and dynamic enough to create their own good time through their personality and charm.
Temperance and Robert E. Lee[do action=”vfquote” quote=”I like whiskey. I always did, and that is why I never drink it.” author=”Robert E. Lee”/]
Robert E. Lee, general of the Confederate army during the American Civil War, lived the virtue of temperance. Lee was a masterful military tactician. He graduated second in his class at West Point and received no demerits while there. He led a rag tag Confederate army in outmatched battles against the Union and won several of them.
Part of Lee’s success as a military leader can be attributed to the clear thinking that came with abstaining from alcohol. Speaking about the need to avoid alcohol, Lee said:
Did it ever occur to you that when you reach middle life, you may need a stimulant, and if you have accustomed yourself to taking stimulants in your early life it will require so much more to have the desired effect at a time when you may need it? How much better it would be if the young man would leave intoxicants in his student days.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”Temperance and labor are the two best physicians of man; labor sharpens the appetite, and temperance prevents from indulging to excess” author=”Jean-Jacques Rousseau”/]
People often try to numb themselves with food, alcohol, and drugs to avoid dealing with their real problems. Being a person of virtue involves facing one’s issues head on. Gaining the self-discipline to moderate your intake of food, alcohol, and drugs will give you the confidence to start making other improvements in your life.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”Abstinence is easier than temperance” author=”Seneca”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles” author=”Patrick Henry”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Perfect wisdom hath four parts: wisdom, the principle of doing things right; justice the principle of doing things equally in public and private; fortitude, the principle of not fleeing danger, but meeting it; and temperance, the principle of subduing ones animal instincts” author=”Plato”/]
GHENGIS KAHN AND HIS HAWK
One morning, when he was home from the wars, he rode out into the woods to have a day’s sport. Many of his friends were with him. They rode out in good spirits, carrying their bows and arrows. Behind them came the servants with the hounds. It was a merry hunting party. The woods rang with their shouts and laughter. They expected to carry much game home in the evening.
On the king’s wrist sat his favorite hawk, for in those days hawks were trained to hunt. At a word from their masters they would fly high up into the air, and look around for prey. If they chanced to see a deer or a rabbit, they would swoop down upon it swift as any arrow.
All day long Genghis Khan and his huntsmen rode through the woods. But they did not find as much game as they expected. Toward evening they started for home. The king had often ridden through the woods, and he knew all the paths. So while the rest of the party took the nearest way, he went by a longer road through a valley between two mountains. The day had been warm, and the king was very thirsty. His pet hawk had left his wrist and flown away. It would be sure to find its way home.
The king rode slowly along. He had once seen a spring of clear water near this pathway. If he could only find it now! But the hot days of summer had dried up all the mountain brooks. At last, to his joy, he saw some water trickling down over the edge of a rock. He knew that there was a spring farther up. In the wet season, a swift stream of water always poured down here; but now it came only one drop at a time. The king leaped from his horse. He took a little silver cup from his hunting bag. He held it so as to catch the slowly falling drops.
It took a long time to fill the cup; and the king was so thirsty that he could hardly wait. At last it was nearly full. He put the cup to his lips, and was about to drink. All at once there was a whirring sound in the air, and the cup was knocked from his hands. The water was all spilled upon the ground. The king looked up to see who had done this thing. It was his pet hawk. The hawk flew back and forth a few times, and then alighted among the rocks by the spring.
The king picked up the cup, and again held it to catch the trickling drops. This time he did not wait so long. When the cup was half full, he lifted it toward his mouth. But before it had touched his lips, the hawk swooped down again, and knocked it from his hands. And now the king began to grow angry. He tried again, and for the third time the hawk kept him from drinking.
The king was now very angry indeed. “How do you dare to act so?” he cried. “If I had you in my hands, I would wring your neck!” Then he filled the cup again. But before he tried to drink, he drew his sword.
“Now, Sir Hawk,” he said, “this is the last time.” He had hardly spoken before the hawk swooped down and knocked the cup from his hand. But the king was looking for this. With a quick sweep of the sword he struck the bird as it passed. The next moment the poor hawk lay bleeding and dying at its master’s feet.
“That is what you get for your pains,” said Genghis Khan. But when he looked for his cup, he found that it had fallen between two rocks, where he could not reach it. “At any rate, I will have a drink from that spring,” he said to himself.
With that he began to climb the steep bank to the place from which the water trickled. It was hard work, and the higher he climbed, the thirstier he became. At last he reached the place. There indeed was a pool of water; but what was that lying in the pool, and almost filling it? It was a huge, dead snake of the most poisonous kind.
The king stopped. He forgot his thirst. He thought only of the poor dead bird lying on the ground below him. “The hawk saved my life!” he cried, “and how did I repay him? He was my best friend, and I have killed him.”
He clambered down the bank. He took the bird up gently, and laid it in his hunting bag. Then he mounted his horse and rode swiftly home. He said to himself,
“I have learned a sad lesson today, and that is, never to do anything in anger.”
The Virtue of Temperance
Temperance is the first virtue that perfects man’s ability to act well with one’s self from within one’s self.
For it brings order to the concupiscible appetite, and thus to the emotions of love, hate, sensible satisfaction, desire, aversion and sorrow as they bear upon a pleasant good.
Temperance is primarily about desires for the greatest pleasures, and the greatest pleasures result from the most natural operations, which are those that have as their purpose the preservation of the individual and the preservation of the species. That is why the greatest pleasures are to be found in the consumption of food and drink and in the union of the sexes. And so temperance is properly about “pleasures of meat and drink and sexual pleasures.” These pleasures, moreover, result from the sense of touch. Thus, temperance is principally about the pleasures of touch, and secondarily about the pleasures of taste, smell, sight and sound insofar as the objects of these latter senses, i.e., the smell of food, the sight of a beautiful body, etc., are conducive to the pleasurable use of things that are related to the sense of touch.
The measure of temperance is the order of reason. The determination of the mean of reason depends upon the real needs of the present time. It depends upon intelligible human goods (life, truth, beauty, leisure, sociability, religion, etc.). As we said above, the good has the aspect of an end. Human goods are intelligible ends. A good life on the whole is one that is ordered to its proper end, which is the possession of virtue. The good of virtue consists in that order; for the proper end of a thing is the rule and measure of whatever is directed to the end, and everything within the human person is to be directed to the supreme end, which is the possession of the Supreme Good. But there are a number of intelligible human goods that motivate the human person who is himself ordered to this supreme end, and the pleasurable activities of eating and drinking are evidently ordered to the intelligible end of human life, that is, its preservation. The rule and measure of sexual desire will also be discovered in the intelligible ends of the sexual powers.
In the case of temperance, therefore, the real needs of this life constitute the rule of reason that makes temperance a virtue.
In the case of temperance, therefore, the real needs of this life constitute the rule of reason that makes temperance a virtue. Thomas writes: “Wherefore temperance takes the need of this life, as the rule of the pleasurable objects of which it makes use, and uses them only for as much as the need of this life requires.”
The mean of virtue here is not a real mean, as in the case of justice, but a mean of reason. The mean of justice is often a real mean, for instance, if one is robbed of twenty dollars, the real mean between excess and deficiency will be twenty dollars, not fifteen, and not fifty. But determining the mean of temperance is not so simple a matter. One cannot say that 8 ounces of Corn Flakes constitute the mean of temperance when it comes to eating a bowl of cereal for breakfast. The mean depends upon the needs of the individual person and his circumstances. A large breakfast may very well be reasonable for the mailman who is required to walk twenty kilometers that day, but it may be excessive for the one who is only required to drive a bus.
Furthermore, the mean of reason in this case does not refer to a measure that is based on the strict needs of this life. St. Thomas understands necessity in two ways. There is the necessity of that “without which something cannot be at all.” But there is also the necessity for something “without which a thing cannot be becomingly.”
Temperance embraces both meanings of necessity. Some things, Thomas argues, are a hindrance to a person’s health and to a “sound condition of body.” Temperance makes no use of these, despite the availability of Malox or any other medicines designed to combat the effects of unhealthy eating so as to allow others to continue to enjoy the foods that do so much harm to the stomach or the arteries, etc. But temperance makes moderate use of those things that are not a hindrance to health and a sound condition of body, and uses them according to the demands of the situation in which one finds oneself. It is thus not contrary to temperance to desire other pleasant things that are not strictly necessary for health, as long as they are congruent with the demands of place and time. So for instance, it is not necessarily immoderate to snack on potato chips or popcorn while watching a movie with some friends, or to enjoy some appetizers at a Christmas party.
Insensibility is one vice opposed to temperance. Pleasure itself is not evil, but is part and parcel of the natural operations that are necessary for man’s survival. Hence it is fitting and reasonable that we make use of these pleasures to the degree that they are necessary for our well-being (our own, or that of the species). To reject pleasure to the extent of omitting things that are necessary for our preservation is unreasonable and immoderate. Moreover, the use of reason depends upon the health of the body, and the body is sustained by means of food and drink. It follows that the good of human reason cannot be maintained were we to abstain from all pleasures.
Intemperance brings about an arrest of emotional development, a personality arrest, so to speak. Thomas refers to intemperance as a childish vice. Unchecked concupiscence is like a child in a number of ways. Anyone who has raised children knows that a child left to himself does not attend to the order of reason, for example in his choice of food, or in his choice of things to play with. Taking a child to a department store can be very taxing; for there is virtually no end to what a child thinks he needs. In the same way intemperance strays from the order of reason. Moreover, a child left to his own will becomes more self-centered. Similarly, the concupiscible power left to itself, without the governance of reason, gains strength and becomes less and less able to subject itself to the direction of reason, like the spoiled child. Finally, intemperance is like a child in its remedy. A child is corrected by being restrained. So too, it is by restraining concupiscence that we moderate it according to the demands of virtue. As we said above, failing this one cannot successfully cultivate the other three virtues, especially justice, which perfects the will. The will must be free, but a person who is at the mercy of his own concupiscence is not a free man, but a slave.
There is a certain beauty in the child, the beauty of innocence and docility. But there is nothing beautiful about a spoiled child. Similarly, temperance brings about a spiritual or moral beauty to the person who has cultivated it, a beauty that Thomas calls “honesty”. Intemperance destroys the clarity and beauty that belongs to temperance. Now beauty is the result of harmony and due proportion. Beautiful prose, for example, is harmonious and clear. It is the lack of clarity that diminishes the beauty of a piece of prose. Intemperance, in the same way, is a disorder, or lack of harmony between reason and the concupiscible appetite. This lack of due harmony gives rise to a certain disgracefulness. For intemperance is the most repugnant to human excellence, since genuine human excellence is essentially related to those abilities that are most characteristic of the human person, namely, intelligence and will. But intemperance is about pleasures that are common to man and brute animal. The intemperate man, as he moves away from reason, approaches the bestial level. Now as he moves away from reason towards the sentient level, the light of reason is increasingly dimmed. But it is from this source, the light of reason, that the clarity and beauty of virtue arises.
And so temperance brings about a spiritual beauty that in many ways overflows into the body, especially the face of a person. A woman might be, from a strictly physical point of view, stunningly beautiful and a perfect candidate for a successful modeling career. But often it happens that after a few moments of conversation with such persons, their beauty thins out and begins to ring hallow. As Thomas writes: “a thing may be becoming according to the senses, but not according to reason.” Conversely, the appearance of an average looking woman can begin to acquire a beauty and attraction that is not immediately evident from a consideration of her physical features alone. This is the spiritual beauty that comes from the excellence and honorable state resulting from the cultivation of the virtue of temperance, the beauty of a heart that recoils from the disgrace that is contrary to temperance and a love of the honor that belongs to it; in short, the beauty of an unselfish heart.
The Parts of Temperance
The first of the subjective parts of temperance is abstinence, which indicates a cutting back of food. Quoting Augustine, Thomas writes:
It makes no difference whatever to virtue what or how much food a man takes, so long as he does it with due regard for the people among whom he lives, for his own person, and for the requirements of his health: but it matters how uncomplainingly he does without food when bound by duty or necessity to abstain.
Inordinate appetite for food is more common than the imagination tends to allow. As an example, consider a Christmas party with a buffet lunch or supper. One will come across people if one hasn’t already, who when in the process of stacking their plates, have little regard for those in line behind them. It seems to matter little that there will not be enough for many others if they continue to take what they judge to be their need, a judgment no doubt clouded by inordinate appetite. Their ability to consider others has been drastically compromised, and where there should be a spirit of celebration and friendship in the air, one seems to detect a spirit of loneliness and alienation. Note also the current popularity of “All-You-Can-Eat” buffets. Here people feel they need to get their money’s worth, and so they believe it their right to eat until they can no longer so much as gaze at another plate without feeling ill. And how many would be surprised to read of Augustine speaking of abstaining uncomplainingly? It is very rare today that one will come across a person complaining of having to go without food, since most people simply choose not to.
The principal purpose of fasting is to bridle the lusts of the flesh. Thomas refers to fasting as the guardian of chastity.
But the habit of abstaining from food is very important. Some professions require a great deal of patience, kindness and gentleness, such as the teaching or nursing professions. A necessary pre-condition for consistent patience and a genuine and consistent spirit of kindness and gentleness is a habitual detachment from the pleasures of touch. Love involves a real transcending of the self, for it involves loving the other not for my sake, but loving the other as another self, and thus as an end in himself. This cannot be consistently done nor done well unless one has cultivated this habit of reasonable detachment from the pleasures of touch, one mode of which is the pleasure of food.
The principal purpose of fasting is to bridle the lusts of the flesh. Thomas refers to fasting as the guardian of chastity. Contemporary popular culture has taken lust as “the mean” of virtue, the only criterion for sexual vice being the violation of a person’s will (rape). There are a number of reasons for this, but the principal reason has to do with what is commonly regarded as the ultimate end of human life (or that which gives life meaning). If the purpose of human existence is simply the complete and ongoing satisfaction of the self’s personal passions without reference to intelligible goods such as life, marriage, justice, or religion, then self-love is the only kind of love that is possible for the human person.
The failure of marriages today is testimony to our inability to achieve, as a culture, a disinterested love. But the battle against self-love is difficult, for it is a battle for personal freedom, the freedom to live for love — a disinterested and holy love. The way to begin this battle is to fast, for almost every aspect of our culture revolves around the celebration of food and sexual pleasure. Freedom from the negative influence of this culture as a condition of freedom for genuine love begins at the locus of the concupiscible passion for food.
Secondly, one fasts so that the mind may rise more freely to the contemplation of truth. As a culture, we tend to be indifferent to truth. In fact, the denial of truth in any objective sense of the word has become quite popular, in particular in the area of morality. No doubt this lack of interest in truth has its roots in popular culture’s almost exclusive preoccupation with sensible goods. For as one approaches the sensible, one at the same time moves away from the intelligible. Excessive sensuality compromises one’s interest in the realm of the intelligible. The sensual mind is darkened on account of its almost exclusive immersion into the realm of matter, and it thereby shares in matter’s opacity.
Gluttony and its Offspring
Gluttony is, of course, a vice against temperance. Principally, this vice regards not the quantity, but the desire for food and drink, a desire that is outside the order of reason. This is an important point, because although a person may seem to exceed in quantity of food, this may not pertain to gluttony; for it may not involve inordinate desire. So too, a person might rarely ever exceed in quantity of food, yet sin continually in this regard.
Gluttony can destroy the entire moral and emotional life of a person on account of the vices to which it gives rise. The glutton does not eat in order that he may live; rather, he has reorganized his life in such a way that he now lives primarily to eat. Food and drink are no longer a means to an end, but have become the end towards which almost everything else in his life is ordered.
Gluttony can destroy the entire moral and emotional life of a person on account of the vices to which it gives rise. The glutton does not eat in order that he may live; rather, he has reorganized his life in such a way that he now lives primarily to eat. Food and drink are no longer a means to an end, but have become the end towards which almost everything else in his life is ordered. One can bring about this reordering inconspicuously. This is so because gluttony is not limited to over-consumption. Inordinate concupiscence is at work in those who seek only the finest and sumptuous dishes. It is found in those who are impatient at the delay of food, and who eat hastily and greedily.
But in what way does gluttony bring virtue to naught? Inordinate desire for food and drink gives rise to a host of offspring. Firstly, on the part of the intellect. We have already seen that attachment to the pleasures of touch compromises one’s interest in the realm of the intelligible. But gluttony is already an immersion into matter that is unreasonable, and so the mind is dulled, for it has been drafted into the service of inordinate appetite. This affects prudence, for prudence has the intellect as its subject. And prudence is the mother of the virtues, for without prudence, there is no virtue.
Thomas includes “unseemly joy” as a vice arising from gluttony, a “random riotous joy,” he says in another place. This is the disingenuous joy of the “Jolly Rogers” type of fellow, a joy that the shrewd will find suspect. One easily detects that the slightest change of circumstance that causes inconvenience will quickly bring down this fragile house of cards, which is a false joy.
Loquaciousness, or inordinate words, is another offspring of the gluttonous heart. We all know people who can’t seem to “shut up”, or who “love to hear themselves talk.” Consider that the emotion of love (not the love that is an act of the will) amounts in the end to a love of self, for as St. Thomas says, we cannot say that we love that which we choose to destroy, such as the wine we consume or the apple we eat. It is the self that is loved in the love of these things. That is why inordinate love of food and drink amounts to inordinate self-love. And this is the root of the habit of loquaciousness. The loquacious love to be the center of attention and for some reason believe that others delight in them about as much as they delight in themselves. And so they employ their words to that end, namely, being the object of others’ attention. As long as they are talking, others have no choice but to listen, and so they prolong their discourse as long as circumstances allow, if not longer. And the matter of their conversation will almost always center around themselves in some way, either directly or indirectly.
Scurrility, or unbecoming words, is a vice that springs from gluttony, for it proceeds from a loss of sense and a lack of awareness that is also part and parcel of inordinate self-love. The self is so focused on itself that awareness of others as “other” has virtually disappeared. One is aware of the other as “spectator” or onlooker who cannot but delight in what he sees and hears. Consider what is implied in the expression: “If only you could hear yourself now.” They are too immersed in themselves to know how their words really affect others outside of themselves. This is especially the case with regard to alcoholic drink. As Thomas says: “…it hinders the use of reason even more than excessive eating.”
The problem with intemperance is precisely this inordinate self-love, which is the reverse of a genuine love that loves the other as other. In genuine disinterested love, I become all others whom I love. I expand and become more than what I am in myself. With inordinate self-love, all others become me, and my love is thereby self-centered.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”Being forced to work, and forced to do your best, will breed in you temperance and self-control, diligence and strength of will, cheerfulness and content, and a hundred virtues which the idle will never know.” author=”Charles Kingsley”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Health consists with temperance alone.” author=”Alexander Pope”/]
THE LITTLE GENTLEMAN
Take your meals, my little man,
Always like a gentleman;
Wash your face and hands with care,
Change your shoes, and brush your hair;
Then so fresh, and clean and neat,
Come and take your proper seat;
Do not loiter and be late,
Making other people wait;
Do not rudely point or touch:
Do not eat and drink too much:
Finish what you have before
You even ask or send for more:
Never crumble or destroy
Food that others might enjoy;
They who idly crumbs will waste
Often want a loaf to taste!
Never spill your milk or tea,
Never rude or noisy be;
Never choose the daintiest food,
Be content with what is good:
Seek in all things that you can
To be a little gentleman.
Learning How to Grow Temperance
By Willie Horton
Normal people are out of control. This is not an observation, a theory or an opinion. This is a statement of scientific fact. Decades of research, all the way back to 1936, prove conclusively that the normal person is not in control of themselves, rather they are controlled by their subconscious mind. And, because all this happens automatically, there is, in fact, no real control at all being exerted in the ordinary behavior of everyday life.
Reflect on this for a few moments. Someone pulls out in front of you in traffic – someone you’ve never met, don’t know and are unlikely to ever come across again – and you automatically get agitated, annoyed, even stressed. Clients have said to me that the morning commute leaves them totally stressed out and exhausted before the working day ever gets going! Or, someone you claim to love – a husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend – does something silly like squeezing the toothpaste from the middle of the tube and you automatically lose your head. Indeed, it is a common fact that most domestic arguments, fights, even murders arise over something silly or insignificant.
As normal people, we spend our lives reacting. These reactions are automatic – driven by our subconscious mind in a way that is so deeply rooted that we seem to have no control. The reactions just happen, often making matters worse rather than better. In fact, the subconscious mind’s automatic processes (known as automaticity to psychologists) are a finely tuned set of responses that enable us complete habitual tasks without having to pay them any attention. Unfortunately, as we go through our adult lives, most things become habitual and, as a result, completely automatic. We are no more than robots, living lives created by reactions which are automatically dictated by our subconscious programming. We are out of control.
That subconscious programming was “installed” through “snapshot learning” when you and I were young and impressionable. People and events that made a big enough impression on us during our formative years were freeze-framed into our deep subconscious. Those snapshots are re-run every time we encounter similar events during our adult life and, as a result, automatically create our spontaneous, thoughtless, mindless, reaction. In other words, we react to what’s happening in the present moment based on programs that are decades out of date. Little wonder husbands beat wives, wives beat husbands, bosses bully workers, etc., etc., etc. The list is endless and, as normal people, we are completely unable to stop the cycle of reactive, destructive behavior.
We need to regain control. If we do regain control, something extraordinary happens. We start acting – doing the right thing, doing what is most important, most appropriate and most effective just at the right moment. We start creating a different set of behaviors, a different “chain reaction” – because if we change our behavior towards others, others (even if they never regain control of their minds) will at the very least react differently. We create a different experience – a different life.
We regain control by stopping. Stopping ourselves in our tracks, to see if we are behaving in the best possible way or if we are just knee-jerking reacting like all the other mindless morons. We cannot, however, stop ourselves in our tracks, or call ourselves to attention, unless we relearn how to pay attention. As children, we were attention experts. If we got a new toy, we used all our five senses to fully experience the toy – we saw, felt, heard, smelled and tasted it. As adults, I send my clients for a walk to experience their five senses and some of them return chewing bits of hedge or ivy because they couldn’t get a handle on the taste that was already there in their mouths beforehand!!
Normal adults cannot pay attention (scientific fact yet again) – and, yet, paying attention is the only key you need to open the door into creating a life free of reaction, the life that you really, really want. Paying attention enables you take control of your mind – because paying attention to what you are experiencing here and now stops your subconscious mind paying attention to the programs that are decades out of date (the programs which otherwise dictate your automatic reactions). You have to be “abnormal” to pay attention. You have to become again like a little child – childlike not childish.
So, starting right now, see, feel, hear, smell and taste where you are. Take five or ten minutes every day to do just this. It will be mechanical, seem pointless, at first. But, I can assure you (as can many Universities from Milan to Chicago from East London to Stanford) that doing something so simple will change the very fabric of your life and will enable you be the most effective, most efficient, most successful, most happy person you can be – effortlessly.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”Regularity in the hours of rising and retiring, perseverance in exercise, adaptation of dress to the variations of climate, simple and nutritious aliment, and temperance in all things are necessary branches of the regimen of health.” author=”Lord Chesterfield”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Temperance is a mean with regard to pleasures.” author=”Aristotle”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Temperance is simply a disposition of the mind which binds the passion.” author=”Thomas Aquinas”/]
(Latin temperare, to mingle in due proportions)
Temperance is here considered as one of the four cardinal virtues. It may be defined as the righteous habit which makes a man govern his natural appetite for pleasures of the senses in accordance with the norm prescribed by reason. In one sense temperance may be regarded as a characteristic of all the moral virtues; the moderation it enjoins is central to each of them. It is also according to St. Thomas a special virtue. Thus, it is the virtue which bridles concupiscence or which controls the yearning for pleasures and delights which most powerfully attract the human heart. These fall mainly into three classes: some are associated with the preservation of the human individual; others with the perpetuation of the race, and others still with the well-being and comfort of human life. Under this aspect temperance has for subordinate virtues, abstinence, chastity, and modesty. Abstinence prescribes the restraint to be employed in the partaking of food and drink. Obviously the measure of this self-restraint is not constant and invariable. It is different for different persons as well as for different ends in view. The diet of an anchorite would not do for a farm laborer. Abstinence is opposed to the vices of gluttony and drunkenness. The disorder of these is that food and drink are made use of in such wise as to damage instead of benefit the bodily health. Hence gluttony and drunkenness are said to be intrinsically wrong. That does not mean, however, that they are always grievous sins. Gluttony is seldom such; drunkenness is so when it is complete, that is when it destroys the use of reason for the time being. Chastity as a part of temperance regulates the sensual satisfactions connected with the propagation of the human species. The contrary vice is lust. As these pleasures appeal with the special vehemence to human nature, it is the function of chastity to impose the norm of reason. Thus it will decide that they are altogether to be refrained from in obedience to a higher vocation or at any rate only availed of with reference to the purposes of marriage. Chastity is not fanaticism; much less is it insensibility. It is the carrying out of the mandate of temperance in a particular department where such a steadying power is acutely needed.
The virtue of modesty, as ranged under temperance, has as its task the holding in reasonable leash of the less violent human passions. It brings into service humility to set in order a man’s interior. By transfusing his estimates with truth, and increasing his self-knowledge it guards him against the radical malice of pride. It is averse to pusillanimity, the product of low views and a mean-spirited will. In the government of the exterior of a man modesty aims to make it conform to the demands of decency and decorousness (honestas). In this way his whole outward tenor of conduct and method of life fall under its sway. Such things as his attire, manner of speech, habitual bearing, style of living, have to be made to square with its injunctions. To be sure the cannot always be settled by hard and fast rules. Convention will often have a good deal to say in the case, but in turn will have its propriety determined by modesty. Other virtues are enumerated by St. Thomas as subordinate to temperance inasmuch as they imply moderation in the management of some passion. It ought to be noted, however, that in its primary and generally understood sense temperance is concerned with what is difficult for a man, not in so far as he is a rational being precisely, but rather in so far as he is an animal. The hardest duties for flesh and blood are self-restraint in the use of food and drink and of the venereal pleasures that go with the propagation of the race. That is why abstinence and chastity may be reckoned the chief and ordinary phases of this virtue. All that has been said receives additional force if we suppose that the self-control commanded by temperance is measured not only by the rule of reason but by the rule of virtue. It is called a cardinal virtue because the moderation required for every righteous habit has in the practice of temperance a specially trying arena. The satisfactions upon which it imposes a check are at once supremely natural and necessary in the present order of human existence. It is not, however, the greatest of moral virtues. That rank is held by prudence; then come justice, fortitude, and finally temperance.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”There are no better cosmetics than a severe temperance and purity, modesty and humility, a gracious temper and calmness of spirit; and there is no true beauty without the signatures of these graces in the very countenance.” author=”Arthur Helps”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Bad men cannot make good citizens. It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom. No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.” author=”Patrick Henry “][do action=”vfquote” quote=”Health consists with temperance alone.” author=”Alexander Pope”/][/do] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”The highest virtue found in the tropics is chastity, and in the colder regions, temperance.” author=”Christian Nevell Bovee”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; / And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; / And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.” author=”Bible”/]
Sôphrosunê is the Greek virtue of self-control, or temperance, a virtue that Aristotle says lies between self-indulgence (akolasia) on the one hand and insensibility (anaisthêsia) on the other. In its earliest uses (Homer) the word means “soundness of mind,” “prudence,” “discretion,” and is related to the verb sôphronein, combining sôs, safe, and phronein, to think, a verb related to phrên, an archaism for mind (literally, “midriff,” “heart,” “the seat of thought,” according to the Greeks).
Although Plato dedicated an entire dialogue to a discussion of the meaning of sôphrosunê, the notion of self-mastery is central to his ethical theory and he invokes it in many contexts, ranging from the Gorgias to the Republic to the Laws. Plato’s central claim is that self-mastery is more than the mere abstention from certain forms of physical pleasure—that was the popular and sophistic characterization of the virtue—he “exalts” it by equating it with phronêsis, practical wisdom. Already in the so-called “early” or “Socratic” dialogues Plato had spoken not only of self-control but of all the virtues as reducible, in some way, to knowledge of one kind or another. Like the other “early” dialogues, the Charmides ends in aporia, puzzlement, about what sôphrosunê “really” is, but the suggestion is quite clear that it has to do with knowledge of what is the objectively best way for one to live. When Callicles scorns self-control as a mere convention valued only by stupid, foolish people, Socrates mounts an argument to show that those who cannot master their own desires and inclinations cannot master anything, a theme he takes up again in the Republic.
Aristotle regards temperance as moderation regarding pleasures and pains, and he loosely associates this virtue with courage as the two virtues of the non-rational part of the soul. Aristotle notes that temperance applies more to physical pleasures and pains than mental, and rather more to pleasure than to pain. On Aristotle’s account, the temperate person does not crave pleasures more than is right, nor does he crave the wrong sorts of pleasures. The self-indulgent, by contrast, will crave either greater quantities of physical satisfaction than is right, for example, more food than he needs for healthy sustenance, or else he will crave the wrong sorts of physical satisfaction. Aristotle maintains that the other vice opposed to temperance, insensibility, is not merely rare but quite unnatural in humans as well as other animals. The point of both temperance and self-indulgence is the satisfaction of desire, in the one case correctly achieved in the pursuit of human flourishing, in the other a disordered pursuit of pleasure for its own sake rather than for one’s natural end. Insensibility, by contrast, is an outright denial of one’s basic physical needs and, by extension, a contravention of one’s natural end.
Post-Aristotelian philosophy is quite heterogeneous in its treatment of ethical issues. The central conception of the virtue of self-control still has to do with controlling one’s desires, though in certain cases it is connected more directly to the foregoing of pleasures. For the Stoics, sôphrosunê was counted among the cardinal virtues along with courage, prudence, and justice. Since their highest good was a life lived in accordance with nature the wise person is one whose understanding of nature and his place in it leads him to a kind of unity with nature, and they defined sophrosynê very generally as practical wisdom concerned with choice and avoidance. The Epicureans, according to Cicero, associated self-control with peace of mind and harmony, by freeing us from the disruptions and consequences of an unbridled pursuit of pleasure. This has value, according to them, not in itself, but because it secures greater pleasure over the long run.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”Abstinence is as easy to me, as temperance would be difficult.” author=”Samuel Johnson”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Frugality may be termed the daughter of Prudence, the sister of Temperance, and the parent of Liberty” author=”Samuel Johnson”/]
THE TWELVE STEPS OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Three Eastern Techniques for Building Temperance
1. Surrender Self-Righteousness
The first of these techniques is giving up your attachment to having always to be right. Right in your opinions, judgments, or interpretations. You know this inner experience of attachment to being right; you are all puffed up with judgment and rigid in your convictions. You may feel flushed or indignant, defensive, or martyred when confronted with varying opinions. This practice means renouncing the need to be right in your interactions with those around you-your significant other, colleagues at work, even your children. It also means forsaking your attachment about being right about your story, which may involve having been wronged or not receiving proper care or recognition in the past. In this practice, you release your attachment to that story even though you still feel it is the truth. You renounce being right in regard to the future and monitor yourself for ways in which you set yourself up so that you can say to yourself or others, “I was right all along!”
2. Stop Measuring Your Worth
The second technique is giving up measuring how successful your life is by how well your desires are met. Most people measure the success of their lives in this manner-are they getting what they want in material objects, relationship, recognition, or personal health? It takes so little reflection to see for yourself that this is an unreliable manner for measuring the worth of your life. I am not saying you should give up your desires or forsake moving toward them. Desires are useful for creating goals, for organizing your time. You can have skillful goals, ones that keep you in a healthy balance and change and mature with your life experience. It is just that you shouldn’t determine your self-worth by the outcome or success you have in reaching those goals. Instead, you should measure the success of your life by how well your actions work to build relationships with others. We are all subject to conditions beyond our control. This is an overwhelmingly reliable guideline for life choices, yet it is so hard to accept. You cannot control outcome, but you can be responsible for how you react to them. To assume more is not only unrealistic, it is absurd. By focusing on your reactions to things that are out of your control you also free yourself from the endless greed to have things just as you want them.
3. Give Up Being the Star
The third technique is to give up being the star of your own movie. Without ever thinking about it, most people experience each arising moment from the point-of-view that it is happening to them. Have you ever noticed that when you get on the highway at rush hour that it is everyone else who is the traffic, never you? This perspective leads you to make personal much of what is in fact impersonal. It causes you to make small things important which you later realize were not important. It adds tension to many moments of your daily life that is not inherently there. It is your movie, you are definitely in it, and it is critical that you play your part. You certainly want to do it as best you are able. But the center of the movie is not you; rather, your part is arising in a much greater panorama of family, country, culture, time, and circumstances. When you start to realize that there is a “star” feeling in you, no matter how little you may think of yourself at times, new understanding becomes available. You realize that much of your anxiety about what might happen is self-induced pressure that comes from identifying with the perspective from which you are experiencing an event, like the traffic example. You mistakenly believe you are somehow supposed to make everything turn out just right. You are not the star!
Each moment of life really weighs almost nothing, despite how heavy we often feel. The heaviness comes from our delusions about our-self, which causes us to try to either hold onto the moment if it is pleasant or push it away if it is unpleasant. We need to lose the drama!
Temperance, Teens, and Phones
By Emily Strahle
Teenagers and phones have been paired together for decades. Parents have long argued with their teens and tweens over spending too much time talking on the phone. Today, however, instead of feuding over a land line, parents battle with teens over cell usage. Research shows that nearly 75 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds have a cellphone (Pew Internet, 2010) and they’re not just using them to talk.
After checking on the time, texting is the No. 2 use of cellphones, coming in ahead of the original intention of the phone: talking. Studies show that 88 percent of teens who have phones are texting and that texting is now their preferred method of communication.
Teens send an average of 3,146 texts per month, and kids ages 9 to 12 send 1,146 (Nielsen, 2010). These numbers have risen rapidly in just the past few years. With the rise in use comes the rise of responsibility. Some important texting guidelines for parents to share with teens and tweens include:
- No texting after bed time — late-night texts interfere with healthy sleep patterns.
- No texting during important events such as dinner, school, church and other events, where proper texting etiquette is required.
- No texting while studying — distractions should be limited until studying is finished.
- Remind teens that text messages can’t be retrieved, so they should always think twice before sending a text.
- Never send a text that could be considered a form of harassment or bullying.
- Absolutely no texting while driving.
- Texting is a privilege and will be revoked if used inappropriately.
- Many major cellphone providers offer some form of parental control features. Some of these features allow parents to set a limit on the number of texts a specific phone line can send and receive per month. This teaches responsibility and a good lesson about budgeting.
- Some providers also allow parents to restrict the hours in which their teens can receive text messages. This feature blocks all text messages sent to your teen’s phone after your predetermined time.
- A nice safety feature about this option is that you can set it so that texts to and from the parent’s line are received at any hour.
- Another nice parental control feature allows parents to block specific numbers from calling or texting their teen’s line. In addition, these settings can allow parents access to their teen’s text messages. This is a great way to monitor not only the content of the messages sent and received, but the recipients and senders of the messages.
- Cell phones are a great way for teens to learn responsibility and gain individuality. They have become a rite of passage and a way of life for many teens and tweens. With the growth in cellphone usage, it’s more important than ever to teach teens the responsibility that comes with having their own cellphones.
- Parents should stay alert and informed, always knowing the current texting lingo and the current 4-1-1 on text messaging. BFN-TTYL, that’s text for Bye For Now and Talk to You Later.
- Did you struggle to translate that one? If your answer was yes, it’s time to become more informed. Don’t let a mere 160-character message bring bad character into your home.
THE GREEDY MOUSE
A greedy mouse saw a basket full of corn. He wanted to eat it. So he made a small hole in the basket. He squeezed in through the hole. He ate a lot of corn. He felt full. He was very happy.
Now he wanted to come out. He tried to come out through the small hole. He could not. His belly was full. He tried again. But it was of no use.
The mouse started crying. A rabbit was passing by. It heard the mouse’s cry and asked: “Why are you crying my friend?”
The mouse explained: “I made a small hole and came into the basket. Now I am not able to get out through that hole.”
The rabbit said: “It is because you ate too much. Wait til your belly shrinks”. The rabbit laughed and went away.
The mouse fell asleep in the basket. Next morning his belly had shrunk. But the mouse wanted to eat some corn. So he ate and ate. His belly was full once again. He thought: “Oh! Now I will go out tomorrow”.
The cat was the next passerby. He smelt the mouse in the basket. He lifted its lid. He ate the mouse.