There are several different kinds of ′considering.′
On the most prevalent occasions a man [note that in the Russian
original, this is "human being"] is identified with what others
think about him, how they treat him, what attitude they show towards
him. He always thinks that people do not value him enough, are not
sufficiently polite and courteous. All this torments him, makes him
think and suspect and lose an immense amount of energy on guesswork,
on suppositions, develops in him a distrustful and hostile attitude
towards people. How somebody looked at him, what somebody thought of
him, what somebody said of him - all this acquires for him an
And he ′considers′ not only separate persons but society and historically constituted conditions. Everything that displeases such a man seems to him to be unjust, illegal, wrong, and illogical. And the point of departure for his judgment is always that these things can and should be changed. ′Injustice′ is one of the words in which very often considering hides itself. When a man has convinced himself that he is indignant with some injustice, then for him to stop considering would mean ′reconciling himself to injustice.′
There are people who are able to consider not only injustice or the failure of others to value them enough but who are able to consider for example the weather. This seems ridiculous but it is a fact. People are able to consider climate, heat, cold, snow, rain; they can be irritated by the weather, be indignant and angry with it. A man can take everything in such a personal way as though everything in the world had been specially arranged in order to give him pleasure or on the contrary to cause him inconvenience or unpleasantness.
All this and much else besides is merely a form of identification. Such considering is wholly based upon ′requirements.′ A man inwardly ′requires′ that everyone should see what a remarkable man he is and that they should constantly give expression to their respect, esteem, and admiration for him, for his intellect, his beauty, his cleverness, his wit, his presence of mind, his originality, and all his other qualities. Requirements in their turn are based on a completely fantastic notion about themselves such as very often occurs with people of very modest appearance. Various writers, actors, musicians, artists, and politicians, for instance, are almost without exception sick people. And what are they suffering from? First of all from an extraordinary opinion of themselves, then from requirements, and then from considering, that is, being ready and prepared beforehand to take offense at lack of understanding and lack of appreciation.
There is still another form of considering which can take a great deal of energy from a man. This form starts with a man beginning to think that he is not considering another person enough, that this other person is offended with him for not considering him sufficiently. And he begins to think himself that perhaps he does not think enough about this other, does not pay him enough attention, does not give way to him enough. All this is simply weakness. People are afraid of one another. But this can lead very far. I have seen many such cases. In this way a man can finally lose his balance, if at any time he had any, and begin to perform entirely senseless actions. He gets angry with himself and feels that it is stupid, and he cannot stop, whereas in such cases the whole point is precisely ′not to consider.′
It is the same case, only perhaps worse, when a man considers that in his opinion he ′ought′ to do something when as a matter of fact he ought not to do so at all. ′Ought′ and ′ought not′ is also a difficult subject, that is, difficult to understand when a man really ′ought′ and when he ′ought not.′ This can be approached only from the point of view of ′aim.′ When a man has an aim he ′ought′ to do only what leads towards his aim and he ′ought not′ to do anything that hinders him from going towards his aim.
As I have already said, people very often think that if they begin to struggle with considering within themselves it will make them ′insincere′ and they are afraid of this because they think that in this event they will be losing something, losing a part of themselves. In this case the same thing takes place as in attempts to struggle against the outward expression of unpleasant emotions. The sole difference is that in one case a man struggles with the outward expression of emotions and in the other case with an inner manifestation of perhaps the same emotions.
This fear of losing sincerity is of course self-deception, one of those formulas of lying upon which human weaknesses are based. Man cannot help identifying and considering inwardly and he cannot help expressing his unpleasant emotions, simply because he is weak. Identifying, considering, the expressing of unpleasant emotions, are manifestations of his weakness, his impotence, his inability to control himself. But not wishing to acknowledge this weakness to himself, he calls it ′sincerity′ or ′honesty′ and he tells himself that he does not want to struggle against sincerity, whereas in fact he is unable to struggle against his weaknesses.
Sincerity and honesty are in reality something quite different. What a man calls ′sincerity′ in this case is in reality simply being unwilling to restrain himself. And deep down inside him a man is aware of this. But he lies to himself when he says that he does not want to lose sincerity.
So far I have spoken of internal considering. It would be possible to bring forward many more examples. But you must do this yourselves, that is, you must seek these examples in your observations of yourselves and of others.
The opposite of internal considering and what is in part a means of fighting against it is external considering. External considering is based upon an entirely different relationship towards people than internal considering. It is adaptation towards people, to their understanding, to their requirements. By considering externally a man does that which makes life easy for other people and for himself. External considering requires a knowledge of men, an understanding of their tastes, habits, and prejudices. At the same time external considering requires a great power over oneself, a great control over oneself. Very often a man desires sincerely to express or somehow or other show to another man what he really thinks of him or feels about him. And if he is a weak man he will of course give way to this desire and afterwards justify himself and say that he did not want to lie, did not want to pretend, he wanted to be sincere. Then he convinces himself that it was the other man′s fault. He really wanted to consider him, even to give way to him, not to quarrel, and so on. But the other man did not at all want to consider him so that nothing could be done with him. It very often happens that a man begins with a blessing and ends with a curse. He begins by deciding not to consider and afterwards blames other people for not considering him. This is an example of how external considering passes into internal considering. But if a man really remembers himself he understands that another man is a machine just as he is himself. And then he will enter into his position, he will put himself in his place, and he will be really able to understand and feel what another man thinks and feels. If he can do this his work becomes easier for him. But if he approaches a man with his own requirements nothing except new internal considering can ever be obtained from it.
Right external considering is very important in the work. It often happens that people who understand very well the necessity of external considering in life do not understand the necessity of external considering in the work; they decide that just because they are in the work they have the right not to consider. Whereas in reality, in the work, that is, for a man′s own successful work, ten times more external considering is necessary than in life, because only external considering on his part shows his valuation of the work and his understanding of the work; and success in the work is always proportional to the valuation and understanding of it.