True and False Simplicity
Simplicity is an uprightness of soul that has no reference to self; it is different from sincerity, and it is a still higher virtue.
We see many people who are sincere, without being simple; they only wish to pass for what they are, and they are unwilling to appear what they are not;
they are always thinking of themselves, measuring their words, recalling their thoughts, and reviewing their actions, from the fear that they have done too much or too little.
These persons are sincere, but they are not simple; they are not at ease with others, and others are not at ease with them; they are not free, ingenuous, natural;
we prefer people who are less correct, less perfect, and who are less artificial. This is the decision of man, and it is the judgment of God, who would not have us so occupied with ourselves, and thus, as it were, always arranging our features in a mirror.
To be wholly occupied with others, never to look within, is the state of blindness of those who are entirely engrossed by what is present and addressed to their sense; this is the very reverse of simplicity.
To be absorbed in self and in whatever engages us, whether we are laboring for our fellow being or for God-to be wise in our own eyes reserved, and full of ourselves, troubled at the least thing that disturbs our self-complacency, is the opposite extreme.
This is false wisdom, which, with all its glory, is but little less absurd than that folly, which pursues only pleasure.
The one is intoxicated with all it sees around it; the other with all that it imagines it has within; but it is delirium in both.
To be absorbed in the contemplation of our own minds is really worse than to be engrossed by outward things, because it appears like wisdom and yet is not,
we do not think of curing it, we pride ourselves upon it, we approve of it, it gives us an unnatural strength, it is a sort of frenzy, we are not conscious of it, we are dying, and we think ourselves in health.
Simplicity consists in a just medium, in which we are neither too much excited, nor too composed. The soul is not carried away by outward things, so that it cannot make all necessary reflections; neither does it make those continual references to self, that a jealous sense of its own excellence multiplies to infinity.
That freedom of the soul, which looks straight onward in its path, losing no time to reason upon its steps, to study them, or to contemplate those that it has already taken, is true simplicity.