Suffering fools gladly

Of course, the norm is not to suffer fools gladly. It is even the subject of boasts and admiration – we often have at least a sneaking regard for those who do not suffer fools gladly. After all, fools are fools. However, the Bible, where the phrase originated, looked at it quite differently:

For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing you yourselves are wise. (Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, xi, 19)

Perhaps Paul was being ironic, although humour was never his strong suit. Of course, folly is not always what it appears. When the Earl of Rochester proposed the following (premature) epitaph for Charles II:

Here lies a great and mighty king,
Whose promise none relies on;
He never said a foolish thing,
Nor ever did a wise one

His Majesty replied,

This is very true, for my words are my own and my actions are my ministers

But there are still more telling reasons for seeming folly. Zen masters’ method with madness in it. It appears foolish because it is we who are too sophisticated – or rather, too primitive – to appreciate its utter logic.

Altogether more dangerous is method with madness in it – economic apologetics, scientism, etc.

More of RJ Robinson at

Leave a Reply