use silence and keep distance to enhance respect


Sir Guillaume de Balaun was a troubadour who roamed the South of
France in the Middle Ages, going from castle to castle, reciting poetry, and
playing the perfect knight. At the castle of Javiac he met and fell in love
with the beautiful lady of the house, Madame Guillelma de J aviac, He sang
her his songs, recited his poetry, played chess with her, and little by little
she in turn fell in love with him. Guillaume had a friend, Sir Pierre de Barjac, who traveled with him and who was also received at the castle, And
Pierre too fell in love with a lady in Javiac, the gracious but temperamental

Then one day Pierre and Viernetta had a violent quarrel. The lady
dismissed him, and he sought out his friend Guillaume to help heal the
breach and get him back in her good graces. Guillaume was about to leave
the castle for a while, but on his return, several weeks later, he worked his
magie, and Pierre and the lady were reconciled. Pierre feit that his love
had increased tenfold-that there was no stronger love, in fact, than the
love that follows reconciliation. The stronger and longer the disagreement,
he told Guillaume, the sweeter the feeling that comes with peace and
As a troubadour, Sir Guillaume prided himself on experiencing all the
joys and sorrows of love.

 On hearing his friend's talk, he too wanted know
the bliss of reconciliation after a quarrel. He therefore feigned great anger
with Lady Guillelma, stopped sending her love letters, and abruptly left the
castle and stayed away, even during the festivals and hunts. This drove the
young lady wild.
Guillelma sent messengers to Guillaume to find out what had happened, but he turned the messengers away. He thought an this would make
her angry, forcing him to plead for reconciliation as Pierre had. Instead,
however, his absence had the opposite effect: It made Guillelma love him
all the more. Now the lady pursued her knight, sending messengers and
love notes of her own. This was almost unheard of-a lady never pursued
her troubadour. And Guillaume did not like it. Guillelma's forwardness
made him feel she had lost some of her dignity. Not only was he no longer
sure of his plan, he was no longer sure of his lady.
Finally, after several months of not hearing from Guillaume, Guillelma
gave up. She sent him no more messengers, and he began to wonder-perhaps she was angry? Perhaps the plan had worked after all? So much the
better if she was. He would wait no more-it was time to reconcile. So he
put on his best robe, decked the horse in its fanciest caparison, chose a
magnificent heImet, and rode off to Javiac.
On hearing that her beloved had returned, Guillelma rushed to see
him, knelt before him, dropped her veil to kiss him, and begged forgiveness for whatever slight had caused his anger. Imagine his confusion and
despair-his plan had failed abysmally. She was not angry, she had never
been angry, she was only deeper in love, and he would never experience
the joy of reconciliation after a quarrel. Seeing her now, and still desperate
to taste that jOY, he decided to try one more time: He drove her away with
harsh words and threatening gestures. She left, this time vowing never to
see hirn again.
The next morning the troubadour regretted what he had done. He
rode back to Javiac, but the lady would not receive hirn, and ordered her
servants to chase hirn away, across the drawbridge and over the hill. Guillaume fled. Back in his chamber he collapsed and started to cry: He had
made a terrible mistake. Over the next year, unable to see his lady, he experienced the absence, the terrible absence, that can only inflame love. He
wrote one of his most beautiful poems, "My song ascends for mercy praying." And he sent many letters to Guillelma, explaining what he had done,
and begging forgiveness.
After a great deal of this, Lady Guillelma, remembering his beautiful
songs, his handsome figure, and his skills in dancing and falconry, found
herself yearning to have hirn back. As penance for his cruelty, she ordered
hirn to remove the nail from the little finger of his right hand, and to send it
to her along with a poem describing his miseries.
He did as she asked. Finally Guillaume de Balaun was able to taste the
ultimate sensation-a reconciliation even surpassing that of his friend

Trying to discover the joys of reconciliation, Guillaume de Balaun inadvertently experienced the truth of the law of absence and presence. At the
start of an affair, you need to heighten your presence in the eyes of the
other. If you absent yourself too early, you may be forgotten. But once
your lover's emotions are engaged, and the feeling of love has crystallized,
absence inflames and excites. Giving no reason for your absence excites
even more: The other person assurnes he or she is at fault. While you are
away, the lover's imagination takes flight, and a stimulated imagination
cannot help but make love grow stronger. Conversely, the more Guillelma
pursued Guillaume, the less he loved her-she had become too present,
too accessible, leaving no room for his imagination and fancy, so that his
feelings were suffocating. When she finally stopped sending messengers, 

he was able to breathe again, and to return to his plan.
What withdraws, what becomes scarce, suddenly seems to deserve our
respect and honor. What stays too long, inundating us with its presence,
makes us disdain it. In the Middle Ages, ladies were constantly putting
their knights through trials of love, sending them on some long and arduous quest-all to create a pattern of absence and presence. Indeed, had
Guillaume not left his lady in the first place, she might have been forced to
send hirn away, creating an absence of her own.
Absence diminishes minor passions and inflames great ones,
as the wind douses a candle and fans a fire.
La Rochefoucauld, 1 613-1680
1' 1 \'1' 1 1 11'1'1 I', '; m
1'1 11: U)

While serving llnder
the Duke Ai o[ Lu,
T'ien Jao, rescnting hi .... '
ohscure position, said
to his master, "I am
going to wander [ar
away Iike a snow
" What do YOll mean h)'
that? " inquired the
"Do you see the cock? "
saiti T'ien Jao in reply.
"Its cresl is a symhol of
civi/ir)'; its power/i;!
talons suggest slrenglh;
irs daring to fixht any
enemy denotes
cuuraxe; its instinc! to
in vite others whcnever
[ood is ohlaincd shows
henevolence; {lmi, lasl
hut nOl leasl, its punelua!ity in keepi"g the
time through Ihe niXfzl
gives us an example of
veracity In spile.
however, of Ihese live
virtues, the cock i,' daily
killed to lill a dish on
your tahle. Why? The
reason is Ihat it is
[ound wirhin our reach,
On the other hand, the
snow go(}se traverses in
one jlixht a Ihousand li.
Restinx in VOllr garden,
il prey,; on YOllr fishcs
ami tllrlle," and pecks
volIr millel, Though
devoid u[ any of Ihe
cock's five virtues, yel
YOll prize (his hird f(Jr
Ihe sake of ils scarcil)'
This heing so. r shall jly
far Iike a snow goose, "
Yli HSIl! SEN, Hl.,
1 974
LAW 16 117
1 18 LAW 16
For many centuries the Assyrians ruled upper Asia with an iron fist. In the
eighth century B.C., however, the people of Medea (now northwestem
Iran) revolted against them, and finally broke free. Now the Medes had to
establish a new govemment. Determined to avoid any form of despotism,
they refused to give ultimate power to any one man, or to establish a
monarchy. Without a leader, however, the country soon fell into chaos,
and fractured into small kingdoms, with village fighting against village.
In one such village lived a man named Deioces, who began to make a
name for hirnself for fair dealing and the ability to settle disputes.
He did this so successfully, in fact, that soon any legal conflict in the
area was brought to hirn, and his power increased. Throughout the land,
the law had fallen into disrepute--the judges were corrupt, and no one entrusted their cases to the courts any more, resorting to violence instead.
When news spread of Deioces' wisdom, incorruptibility, and unshakable
impartiality, Medean villages far and wide tumed to hirn to settle all manner of cases. Soon he became the sole arbiter of justice in the land.
At the height of his power, Deioces suddenly decided he had had
enough. He would no longer sit in the chair of judgment, would hear no
more suits, settle no more disputes between brother and brother, village
and village. Complaining that he was spending so much time dealing with
other people's problems that he had neglected his own affairs, he retired.
The country once again descended into chaos. With the sudden withdrawal of a powerful arbiter like Deioces, crime increased, and contempt
for the law was never greater. The Medes held a meeting of all the villages
to decide how to get out of their predicament. "We cannot continue to live
in this country under these conditions," said one tribal leader. "Let us appoint one of our number to rule so that we can live under orderly govemment, rather than losing our hornes altogether in the present chaos."
And so, despite all that the Medes had suffered under the Assyrian despotism, they decided to set up a monarchy and name a king. And the man
they most wanted to rule, of course, was the fair-minded Deioces. He was
hard to convince, for he wanted nothing more to do with the villages' infighting and bickering, but the Medes begged and pleaded-without him the
country had descended into a state of lawlessness. Deioces finally agreed.
Yet he also imposed conditions. An enormous palace was to be constructed for him, he was to be provided with bodyguards, and a capital city
was to be built from which he could rule. All of this was done, and Deioces
settled into his palace. In the center of the capital, the palace was surrounded by walls, and completely inaccessible to ordinary people. Deioces
then established the terms of his rule: Admission to his presence was forbidden. Communication with the king was only possible through messengers. No one in the royal court could see him more than once a week, and
then only by permission.
Deioces ruled for fifty-three years, extended the Medean empire, and
established the foundation for what would later be the Persian empire,

 under his great-great-grandson Cyrus. During Deioces' reign, the people's
respect for hirn gradually tumed into a form of worship: He was not a mere
mortal, they believed, but the son of a god.
Deioces was a man of great ambition. He determined early on that the
country needed a strong ruler, and that he was the man for the job.
In a land plagued with anarchy, the most powerful man is the judge
and arbiter. So Deioces began his career by making his reputation as a man
of impeccable fairness.
At the height of his power as a judge, however, 

Deioces realized the
truth of the law of absence and presence: By serving so many clients, he
had become too noticeable, too available, and had lost the respect he had
earlier enjoyed. People were taking his services for granted. The only way
to regain the veneration and power he wanted was to withdraw completely, and let the Medes taste what life was like without hirn. As he expected, they came begging for hirn to rule.
Once Deioces had discovered the truth of this law, he carried it to its
ultimate realization. In the palace his people had built for hirn, none could
see hirn except a few courtiers, and those only rarely. As Herodotus wrote,
"There was a risk that if they saw him habitually, it might lead to jealousy
and resentment, and plots would follow; but if nobody saw hirn, the legend
would grow that he was a being of a different order from mere men."
A man said to a Dervish: ""Why do I not see you more often ?" The Dervish
replied, "Because the words '"Why have you not been to see me ?' are
sweeter to my ear than the words '"Why have you come again ?'"
Mulla Jami, quoted in ldries Shah 's Caravan 01' Dreams, 1 968

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