Wednesday, December 28, 2005

thoughts about life

Lately I’ve been thinking about how the purpose of life can’t really be explained. A love for living can be found while doing any activity, provided that we are approaching the activity in the right way. In other words, the joy isn't really found in the activity, but in our freedom to act. We are free to choose to act however we want within the circumstances we are born into. I’d say that finding joy in that freedom is all the purpose that life really needs. Here are a few other thoughts I had about this subject:

It’s okay to be motivated by fame and glory. It’s just as okay to want to play Nintendo all your life. If that’s what makes you feel alive, then they’re both great ways to spend your time. But understand that dedicating yourself to a life of selflessness and serving others is in no way inherently different than dedicating yourself to say basketball or boxing. They both could bring earthly fame, and they both could help better the circumstances that others face.

But in the end, doesn’t it seem a little trivial to just care about basketball? Doesn’t our ability to create relationships with other people just seem to be on a higher level than loving to play basketball, or loving to do any other activity for that matter? But does loving others really just mean selflessness and serving them? Isn’t it more important to share in the joy of life with them?

Sharing in the joy of life can be done through any activity. The type of activity we choose to do may have an effect on the circumstances that others face. We can perhaps give them more time to live, better places to live, more political freedom, etc., but these are all just circumstances, and change nothing about the actual individuals. Changing these circumstances may bring us fame and the admiration of many, and that’s great. But experiencing the joy of life involves the approach we take towards our activities and has nothing to do with the type of activities we choose.

The truth is that all motivation, in some way, should be about sharing in the joy of life. Seek out that joy, that freedom to make your own choice about the situations that you face; and when you find it, you won’t be able stop yourself from wanting to share that joy and freedom with others. The two things are mutually inclusive: the joy in life can’t exist without the desire to share it. Likewise, in order to share that joy, you must first experience it in your own life. Our mistake is that we try to force the activities we have chosen to do on others and ridicule them for not choosing the same way as us. Sharing something never involves forcing it on someone else. Sharing in the joy of an activity means each person has freely chosen to do that activity because he finds it interesting and relevant to his life.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Why Matrix Revolutions is my favorite movie.

My last few posts have all dealt with pretty heavy topics i guess, so I'll try talking about something a little more "normal" this time: movies! It seems to most people go to movies these days because it allows them to escape from pressures and monotony of their lives. Therefore most movies are filled with cheap laughs or thrills, because these are the easiest way to provide an escape. A good story though can also provide an escape, a chance for us to examine a situation unrelated to our lives, while also showing us something about life in general: an approach that a hero takes that we can look up to and emulate, or maybe a realization that despite all the problems it's never as bad as we make it seem and there is still room for what we love about life. In other words, movies can also be works art in that they can tell something about life. I goes without saying that I try to judge movies as works of art instead of as a means of escape. I try to judge a movie not based on how good it makes me feel after watching, but rather based on what direction the movie points me. That being said, here's why Matrix Revolutions is my favorite movie (in case you haven't seen the movie, these are just some quotes from random scenes in the movie that I think relate to eachother to give a really strong message):

Oracle: I made a choice, and that choice cost me more than I wanted it to.
Morpheus: What choice?
Oracle: To help you to guide Neo. Now, since the real test for any choice is having to make the same choice again, knowing full well what it might cost - I guess I feel pretty good about that choice, 'cause here I am, at it again.

Neo: I just have never...
Rama-Kandra: ...heard a program speak of love?
Neo: It's a... human emotion.
Rama-Kandra: No, it is a word. What matters is the connection the word implies.

Oracle: That's it. That's the secret. You've got to use your hands.
Sati: Why?
Oracle: Cookies need love like everything does.

Oracle: I told you before. No one can see beyond a choice they don't understand, and I mean no one.
Neo: What choice?
Oracle: It doesn't matter. It's my choice. I have mine to make, same as you have yours.

Smith: Why, Mr. Anderson, why? Why, why do you do it? Why, why get up? Why keep fighting? Do you believe you're fighting for something, for more than your survival? Can you tell me what it is, do you even know? Is it freedom or truth, perhaps peace - could it be for love? Illusions, Mr. Anderson, vagaries of perception. Temporary constructs of a feeble human intellect trying desperately to justify an existence that is without meaning or purpose. And all of them as artificial as the Matrix itself. Although, only a human mind could invent something as insipid as love. You must be able to see it, Mr. Anderson; you must know it by now! You can't win; it's pointless to keep fighting! Why, Mr. Anderson, why, why do you persist?
Neo: Because I choose to.

What is the meaning of life? What does it mean to truly live? If there is an answer to these questions, is it possible for us to understand it? Is it possible for us to "see beyond" the meaning of our lives? The answer is, of course, no. The meaning of life can only be defined as life itself, because life's meaning is something beyond what definitions and logic can make clear. We only know that we are alive, and not just in the sense that our bodies are still functioning, but in the fact that there are activities that we love doing for the sake of the experience itself, because it somehow makes us feel more alive when we are doing it. The answer to the question of why we keep wanting to live more fully, instead of settling for the comfortable yet boring existence that is readily available to us provided we meet the expectations of those around us, will always come down to the fact that we choose to.

Monday, October 31, 2005

An invitation

In my last post I outlined the formation of and consequences of the western economic system, specifically how work that people are coerced into doing produces within them the desire to spend their free time in mindless activity. It doesn’t matter what type of coercion is used, whether it’s a Soviet system of the supreme authority of the state, or the western system of rewards. In both systems people are not motivated by their own personal choice, but rather by societal forces. “Work how we tell you to, or you are a traitor!” Our society is similar to such Soviet dogma. Our school system tells children that the only way to be a good member of society is to do what you are told. Sure we don’t tell this to them directly, but the grades they receive and the subsequent praise or criticism they receive is all they need to hear to get the idea. Either way, the motivation is coming from an external source.

Any type of outside coercion will create a barrier in an individual between their natural drives and their ability to act. Once our required work is done, we will not pursue our natural drives because we feel “we have exerted ourselves enough for the day”. “I deserve a break after all that work.” Such an attitude is in no way “bad” or lazy. It is a necessary consequence of acting on an external motivation. Without such a break from activity one would not be able to return to doing an activity that is motivated externally. Externally motivated activity requires the reward of mindless activity (or a break from real activity). Otherwise, no one would be willing to put up with coercion.

So what can we do to reverse the trend of increasing amount of time spent on mindless activity? I believe the best answer lies in Education. The purpose of education should be to allow an individual to find a place in society. Modern education has lost sight of its purpose and strayed from its chief use to man. It has been a wonderful achievement of the past century that every individual has been given the opportunity to fill whatever role they prove themselves capable of. However, because of the coercive measures schools use to teach students, this benefit is by far outweighed by the harm that this system causes. This coercion creates students who spend their free in mindless activity. It follows that they will see their job only as a means for continuing this existence; the better the job, the more time they have to pursue whatever mindless activity draws their interest. Thus, to them whether their work contributes to society or not is insignificant. Their motivation for work is the external desire for mindless activity; a desire which was conditioned into them due to the coercion of the classroom.

The new system of education must be one which excludes the use of any type of external motivation or coercion. It should allow students to be motivated solely by their own interest in a subject without any fear of punishment or criticism, while still providing them with the opportunity to learn about every sphere of society. I believe this vision would best be accomplished if public schools (at least K-12) were to stop recording grades. Without any threat of consequence for poor work, all outside compulsion would be eliminated from the classroom. Students would still have the opportunity to learn the skills needed for whatever job the wished to have, but they would no longer be coerced into gaining these skills. The result would be that people would work in the sphere in which they thought they could contribute the most to society rather than in order to fill their desire for mindless activity. Not only this, but students will be able to learn at the right pace and will be able to gain a more complete understanding of the subjects they choose to study.

There are, of course, many issues that I still must address. What is the best way to insure people are properly qualified to do their job? Would not being forced to learn affect people’s ability to be able to pass certification tests? What about students who aren’t interested in learning anything in school? My quick responses would be that people may have more to learn going into a field, but would be better able to become good workers in that field, since they approach the work in the right way. And I would also claim that forcing students who aren’t interested to learn probably does more harm than just allowing them to be not interested, even though this may result in some people who don’t learn basic arithmetic, reading skills, etc.

I believe the elimination of recorded grades as means to evaluate an individual’s economic worth is a desperately needed reform in our society. Such a reform would destroy the root of much of our society’s anxiety related problems and allow individuals the freedom to develop a productive orientation in their lives. In order for such a change to happen, a large number people first need to become aware of the need for and the potential benefits of the change. Change occurs when individuals understand and react to the social forces which face them. The sooner that individuals react properly to the social forces of coercion, the sooner our society will be able to recover from the decay that is being caused.

For further reading on issues similar to the one I discussed here, I highly recommend To Have or To Be and The Art of Being both by Erich Fromm which sparked many my ideas for this essay.

Friday, October 28, 2005

well, started up only to stop again. i don't feel like defending my posts and i'm just not a motivated writer. tom will do a better job than i at making interesting posts.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

An observation

Certain aspects of society today are in a state of decay. The purpose of an economy should be to facilitate society’s ability to meet the natural demands of the people. However, rather than serving the people in this way, in modern society the people have been made to serve the economy. Due to the constant pressure to maximize the profits of an industry, modern society produces within people a need to relax and escape from the compulsory activities of the work day. This need creates within the commercial market a high demand for mindless activities, as is evident from the kinds of movies that continue to be popular, the amount of time spent watching TV, and the continuous consumption of the newest products, despite their being at best minimally better than the products people already possess. This demand for mindless activity requires mindless workers to meet it, because no truly sane person would spend their life working to meet the trivial needs of others (or would do so only when no other ways of earning a living were available). Thus a large part of our economy requires the systematic training of workers who, while skilled in producing certain goods and services, will not consider the social benefit of their work and will be eager to consume similar goods and services during their free time. Such people therefore work in order to fill a role in the economy, rather than a needed role in society.

In order to meet this vast need in our economy, the Western system of “education,” if it can still be called that, has acquired the chief goal of assigning an economic value to every citizen, according to how well he or she can fill a certain role in the economy. This goal is met through the system of recording the grades of each student. These records will be used to determine what university a student gets into, and then their records at university will be used to determine what job they get. In this way, the goal of the modern system of education is no longer to educate, but rather to train individuals to fill certain roles in the economy.

Undoubtedly much good has come out of the modern economy. The modern economy has provided a reliable source of income to a drastically higher percentage of the population than at any other time in human history, while requiring them to spend less time working at their job than in times past. What, then, could possibly be wrong with the system as it is now? Presumably, as technology continues to improve, standard of living should continue to increase and the work day could be made even shorter. As people have more free time to spend, they will theoretically be better able to pursue his natural drives and explore what it is to be alive. However, it is my claim that such an assumption is false. As long as people view their job as something they do only because they are required to, as long as the motivation for their work is something other than either the desire to fill a needed role in society or survival, people will spend nearly all their free time pursuing mindless activities.

This still leaves the question whether there is anything wrong with people spending all their time pursuing mindless activities. The 1932 Aldous Huxley novel Brave New World. Huxley creates a conceivably possible world in which all activity is mindless. Everyone seems pretty happy for the most part. One character in the society is unhappy but only because he is looked down upon by his fellow citizens due to his physical defects. He is an anomaly, by far the exception to the average citizen. Is there anything wrong with such a society? As Huxley did, I only know to leave this up to the reader to decide for him or her self. Perhaps we do have a clue though in the very way in which the society in Brave New World is set up. The society is by necessity set up in a way in which change for the better is not possible for both the society and the individual. In fact, any change at all would result in the disruption of the whole society. This stifles the drive to improve oneself, along with the drive to reach past any mindless activities and come to know other people as they are. Although society can attempt to cover up these drives through a constant barrage of other thoughts and activities, they can never be removed completely from mankind.

(Next post: my proposed solution)

Saturday, October 22, 2005


People tend to blind themselves when it comes to friendship. It's quite obvious that there is a gap between people that they constantly try to bridge. This attempt at bridging the gap comes in many forms of relationships, some good and some bad. Humans are communal beings at heart and basically spend their entire lives trying to unify with people. Reaching out to others is quite healthy and instinctual, however one should be careful that they do not reach out on the basis of attachment. Most people don't have a high sense of self worth, and as such are willing to basically delude themselves into thinking that "this is the best that they can get." This results in people hanging out with "friends" who don't really care about them, and this is done only to falsify a sense of acceptance.

Another big problem with false relationships is thinking of friends as property. For instance, saying something like: "I have a lot of friends." You don't actually "have" them, for you don't own them. Once one starts to think of friends on a non-attachmental basis, then they will enjoy them not as possession to be "consumed" but as true people who bring the most out of every moment with you. However when friends are not around one will not despair because nothing has been lost. Something must be possessed first in order to have lost it.

The very first person to look out for should be oneself before all others (I'll clarify this in later writings). In terms of relationships, the best way in which to do this is to freely love without thought of return. Doing so will result in those who are worth being friends with, responding in kind. Ironic isn't it that in being "selfish" will result in being unselfish. If someone does not respond to love in kind, then drop them and move on. You are better than that.

This was just a brief overview of the friendship relationship, I'll probably hit it again in more detail in the future.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Present

I have recently been thinking about the importance of living in the present. People these days tend to live in the future rather than in the Now. They worry about deadlines, tests, social events, and other things that really don't matter in life. I want you say the phrase "so what?" out loud. Go ahead. In regards to one's worries in life, 99% of them are not worth worrying about. So what if a test is failed. So what if a project is turned in late. So what if you don't get a date. Things such as these should have no affect on your happiness, for that comes within. This of course relates back to the several essays on attachments that I have already written about.

To go beyond the nonattachment mentality, we arrive at the state of being of "the now." One who inhabits the Now doesn't need to hear "stop and smell the roses", for their entire existence is all about the roses per se. One who lives in the Now truly sees reality, for no other thoughts or worries are present in their being. They truly see the tree by the road because it takes up all of their attention and concentration.

I'm reminded of a story found in The Song of the Bird by De Mello. A samurai was captured in battle in ancient Japan. He was stuck in a cell after being brought back to the enemy's castle and was sentenced to death on the next day. He tossed and turned the night before, unable to sleep until he remembered the words of his master: "There is no future, there is only now." Upon remembering this, he smiled and fell right asleep.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

insert witty title here

heh, i know that this is a philosphy blog but i just wanted to say that i can't wait to get back to school. i'm so psyched about this next year and about life. also, check out Bloc Party and the Editors if anyone is into indie rock. look out for a real post next time ;)

Monday, August 08, 2005


It seems to me that people in general have developed quite
an apathetic attitude towards their fellow man. This attitude
even often borders on billigerance. Easily observed in global
issues, what I am focusing on more is the obersavtion on a
local scale. In what people say, how they act, look at others,
drive their cars, and so on, all point to the surprising conclusion
that there is a mentality that is uncaring towards others.

The real question is why do people not care and even furthur,
should they care? I believe that the latter question is more
easily answered and as such, I shall start there. Simply put,
humans have congregated into great communities out of an
instinctual longing for company. It has also been realized,
over the year by people, that more people can complete big
tasks easier and in a faster fashion. Big tasks such as
irrigation, walls for defence, and mass farming are beneficial
for everyone in the area. This need for others readily lends
support to the idea that caring for others is essential in
working with others, for who would work or live with an
asshole? Caring for others means that people will get along
and work together better for the benefit of the whole.

This being said, why has it occured that people are now
overwhelmingly uncaring? It seems as if I have come upon
a split in my discussion. There are two different worlds
in which caring can be exhibited, the professional and the
social. Professionally, it is quite easy to see why it pays
to be kind towards others. Socially however, is where my
original train of thought was headed.

There are now incredible numbers of people inhabiting this
planet at six billion plus. Most people talk to and meet
many strangers throughout a week's time. Why care about
someone you are never going to see again? Indeed, why even
care about people who live halfway across the world? People
do not seem to care because they fail to realize that we
all affect one another. And this affection is very important
given the fact that we inhabit the planet, such an increasingly
confining sphere.

This "bubble consciousness" is the root of apathy. People do not
care about what happens outside of their little bubble because
they do not believe that anything will affect them. It is only
when actions tend to become extreme that people will take notice.
However even such notice will not lead to caring as people are
unaware of the causes of such extremes. Is it perhaps easier
to hate and lash out than it is to accept and understand? This
is a thought with which I cannot be complacent.

to be continued maybe

Saturday, August 06, 2005

faith discussion (from a friend's facebook wall)

Well, since I haven't posted too much lately, I thought I'd put up this discussion I've been having on one a friend's wall and I thought was pretty interesting (I even color coded the posters: ) I went ahead and included the whole discussion, so it's a little long, but I think some good points are made toward middle and the end. Feel free to continue the discussion with comments if there's anything you might want to add.


Question of the...

"Is faith a principle of condemnation?"
It´s fairly obvious to me that people can have genuine faith in Jesus, or their parents, or that the Qur´an is true, but can we have genuine faith that Jesus is NOT christ, or that the qur´an is NOT true?. Is faith always a positive force or can it be a force for negativity?

That depends on the "faith" we're discussing. Are we talking about purely religious faith or simply a more general faith? Religiously, I think that faith often does imply negatives, at least about everyone else's faith. The Qur'an (I believe) states that Jesus is not Christ, so in order to have faith in the Qur'an, I would think that you would have to hold a similar faith in the fact that Jesus is not Christ. If we're outside the bounds of religion, then I think it's even easier to see negative faiths. After all, I might say that I have faith that the sky will still be blue tomorrow. By the same token, I could say that my faith rests in the fact that the sky will not be yellow tomorrow. ~John

It seems to me like John's talking more about belief than faith. Faith is different from belief in a fact, even a religious one such as "Jesus rose three days after the crucifixion." When we say someone has faith in the truest sense, we mean that they are in touch with what it is to be human, with what is beautiful and meaningful in life. To say we have "faith in Jesus" or the Qu'ran or whatever simply means we understand how this idea or message has put us in touch with that quality that gives meaning to our lives. So when I say "I have faith in Jesus" I mean "I understand that Jesus through his resurrection into the living Body of Christ shows me what is meaningful to my life." This kind of faith is something we all have hopefully experienced at some point in life. Christopher Alexander talks about this quality in his book The Timeless Way of Building: "When we know those moments, when we smile, when we let go, when we are not on guard at all -- these are the moments when our most important forces show themselves; whatever you are doing at such a moment, hold on to it, repeat it -- for that certain smile is the best knowledge that we ever have of what our hidden forces are, and where they live, and how they can be loosed." I think "hidden forces" is a good description, because people are born with an idea of what these moments are, of what is meaningful to life; it's just a question of not letting them get covered up by other things. Faith in its truest sense is the positive act of searching for and holding on to those "most important forces" that give beauty and meaning to life. – Tom

In a way,I must admit, I feel guilty for having brought up such a semantically ambiguous topic. After all, people in different faiths (me as a Mormon as much as anyone) have entirely different definitions of what the word "faith" actually means. Still, hopefully we can come to some intuitive or telepathic mutual understanding of the term, since supposedly we have all experienced faith in our lives. Perhaps we can thus approach agreement.

John, I feel obligated to disagree with you. The Qur´an does indeed state that Jesus is not the Christ. However, I don´t think that having faith in the Qur´an implies faith in Jesus not being the Christ. Having faith in the Qur´an would rather imply that you don´t even Consider that Jesus is the Christ (since to do so would be grave blasphemy in the Muslim tradition). Having faith in the Qur´an might lead you to Disagree with Christians, or even kill them (if you interpret it particularly messily), but I don´t think that it means that you shape your own faith as an inverse to theirs. Rather, your faith must remain independent from theirs. Then again, I don´t really think that Islam and Christianity are any more than superficially different...

Tom, I think I must (vaguely) agree with you.

In my own religion (perhaps I ought not call it a "faith" for the moment) faith is referred to as the "principle of power" that makes active living possible in all animate beings. As such, it is not only faith in the sun rising that tells me to get up in the morning, but also faith in my own capacity that allows me to physically move my own body, and faith in the inherent meaning of my current lifestyle that motivates me to continue studying and questioning. Faith, in my own sense, is that separates the sane man from the insane: a man with faith can continue.

In this sense, it´s rather significant that people often use the word "faith" to refer to their religious affiliation, rather than "church" or "religion". To affiliate oneself with the Christian faith, for example, would be to be motivated to continue progressing through the intended Christian paradigm, including cuiltivating humility, learning, obedience, and (above all) peace and love. Your membership doesn´t motivate it, but rather your faith.

In my own opinion, faith can only be a principle of progress. Since I consider myself (more than anything else) a Christian, I consider this path to include only positive views of the world and mankind. The principles of love and peace (only deeply held principles because my faith has assimilated them into my worldview) leave no room for condemnation. I find that if faith is a shield (as biblical sources suggest) then to focus on things that are not true (that is, things towards which you do not want to progress), even for the brief moment that it takes to disclaim them, is to lower the shield. If faith is a path leading up, condemnation is a descent.

I don´t exactly know where in this analysis to place the criminally malicious, the killers and faith-destroyers out there. Any suggestions?

I disagree with the idea that there is no room for condemnation. To hold a faith in something requires a faith that other things are not true. If I state that "God is Love" then I also firmly believe it is untrue to say "God is Hate." Furthermore, if comdemnation is bad, then how do you reconcile conflicting faiths? Personally, I am not comfortable with "Well, that's what you believe so it's ok for you." At least, not on big differences. (I realize I may be pushing this more theological than you'd like. If so, feel free to pull it back.) –John

I´ll create a whimsical analogy, since I can´t think of any other way to respond. Suppose faith is like reaching a hand out to touch a particularly beautiful flower (or better, lowering your nose to smell it). In my view, to condemn something (or someone) is more like retracting your hand from a thorn. That is, it is cowering back, retreating from an unpleasant object, standing away from it. One is love and one is hate. Love and hate both occupy the mind sufficiently that i´m not sure it´s possible to do both at the same time. –tristan

I don't agree that hate and condemnation are the same. I can condemn behavior or thoughts without having necessarily hating them. –John

John, I don´t know whether you´re right or not. I´ts awfully hard for me to draw a line between hate and condemnation, but it doesn´t necessarily mean there isn´t one. I do think I can say that they are similar. The reason I use them as synonyms here is that hate and condemnation are both methods of focusing negativity on something.
In a way, they exalt the negative as the defining feature of the subject at hand. In this sense, I think hate and condemnation are equally unproductive. I have no idea how I reconcile the fact that I am in effect condemning condemnation. Help?

Can faith be a source of condemnation? Alright words can take on many different meanings, so first I want to establish the difference between genuine faith and “false” faith in a social belief. Okay, let’s suppose that there is a real God in whom we can have genuine faith. Someone in 16th century England might say “I have faith in God” and they might really have genuine faith in God and be inspired to live a loving and creative life. Just as easily though, they might say “I have faith in God” and use that as a reason to burn someone for “witchery.” In the same way a Muslim today might say “I have faith in Allah.” It might be that they have come to know this real God, or maybe it is just their belief in their social conditioning that they are really talking about. My point is that a person’s words do not really tell us anything about their faith. As far as I know, the only way to tell about their faith is through their actions (as discussed in previous posts).
Tristan, about condemning condemnation. Of course, to condemn all types of condemnation would be a contradiction, but remember we are just talking about condemnation in the context of faith. Condemnation cannot come through faith because, as you said, faith is always a positive, building force. Therefore “condemnation through faith” is a false concept. Surely we should condemn what is false, right? Shouldn’t negativity be focused on something that is false? But, John, is it faith that is condemning what is false? Isn’t it always something else that does the condemning? Isn’t it logic, and not faith, that tells us “God is not hate”? Faith shows us what faith is, not what faith is not. –Tom

teehee, you boys are gonna love me, cuz i'm not gonna nearly address all of this. i just wanna submit my opinion that you don't necessarily have to condemn something that's false...can't it just be false? and besides that, i'm not entirely ready to concede that we can always *know* if something is indeed false...but i'm willing to discuss it :-d

love and kisses,


I agree that we cannot know whether somethings are false or not, but I think we probably should go ahead and condemn what we do know (through logic) to be false. One reason to condemn the terrorist bombings, for example, would be that 'condemnation in the name of faith' is false. It just seems to me that what is false always serves to deceive or destroy in some way or another. -Tom

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Summer thoughts

Habits spring from our desire to be active. When asked what we’re doing, people often might reply that they’re doing nothing, but really there is no such thing as doing nothing. The truth is that people have a need to always be doing something. This realization helped me to really feel more in control of myself and what I do. I didn’t really have a job this summer, so I spent a lot of time playing games and stuff like that. At first, I didn’t really understand what was driving me to play certain games, but the game would stay on my mind and I would eventually give in to the urge to play it. Sometimes I would waste hours mechanically trying to achieve one little goal within the game without really even being aware of it. I see now that I was often playing it out of habit rather than choice. Remembering that it's just a game and trying to focus on what makes the game fun allows me enjoy the game as a whole a lot more.

If you’re going to do something, make sure that you are fully engaged in it. What I mean is do not let your activity get stuck in a cycle. This is not to say you always have to be trying new things; on the contrary patterns of events form the foundation for many life’s activities. The difference is that patterns always involve stabilization or creativity, while cycles go from one extreme to another. With cycles (such as the one I just described about mechanically try to do one thing within a game for hours) you go through phases where a certain activity dominates your life, and then later you just want nothing to do with that activity, which eventually takes you back to the beginning of the cycle. I highly recommend reading Christopher Alexander’s The Timeless Way of Building, which gives an excellent explanation patterns present in the world, and listening to Pink Floyd’s The Wall, along with this analysis, which is about the cycles of isolation we are in danger of going through in life.

Something I wrote earlier this summer, and think it's worth including:

To love someone does NOT mean trying to end the causes of their suffering. Yes, that can be an important part of it, but if that’s all you’re doing you are missing the whole point. Because YOU cannot truly end the suffering of someone else. For a long time, it seemed that a “good” life would be one in which I lead some kind of movement that would achieve some profound effect in the world; that would eliminate the cause of a lot of people’s suffering. But really such a movement is not possible, because the true cause of people’s suffering is in themselves. I know it sounds heartless to say that given the horrible conditions people face in some parts of the world, but it is key to realize the truth in this statement. You may feel bad about the poor quality of life in Africa, but realize that people are still miserable growing up in middle class families in America. Yes, it’s important that we try and help those in Africa, but realize that doing so will not put an end to those people’s suffering. What’s even more important than helping to end those horrible conditions is to try and reach people as they really are, and not just some preconceived image we have of them.


Monday, July 11, 2005


For a while I've thought that people can be perfectly happy in solitude (whatever the reason) but lately I've come to think that that is not quite correct. While there is a huge spectrum of people ranging from invtrovert to extrovert, all have the capacity for happiness of course. The main belief in my changing view is that of humans being social creatures. Relationships are important for all kinds of reasons such help, support, fun, growth, etc. Tom has touched upon this once before so I'll be good enough to continue it for a little.

Problems that arise between people are breakdowns in their relationships. It is for this reason that relationships can be a double edged sword. Yet the good definitely outweighs the bad in my opinion. The way in which to avoid the bad is quite simple. Realize that relationships are not about what you get out of them but what you put into them! Having the need to get something (love, acceptance, etc.) out of a relationship begets attachment, which is certainly not the path to growth. People grow by the giving of themselves (time, possessions, and so on). To take it an extreme, I once heard that man does not need [to receive] love, he needs only to [give] love.

Kinda short post, I might be able to say more on this topic but I'm done for now. Also, I'm doing much better ^_^

Monday, June 27, 2005


haven't been able to post in a while due to medical problems. hopefully i'll continue to do better and feel like posting some time this or next week. take care.

Monday, June 13, 2005

To Play

I was playing warcraft 3 online the other day and my teamate
asked me how old I was. A rather odd thing to ask someone who's
on your team for a mere 20-30 minutes, but I answered nonetheless.
Upon hearing that I was 20, he said something to the effect of:
"wow, and you're still playing games."

Needless to say, this caught me by suprise. Not only do I play
games regularly but so do pretty much all of my friends. I'm
assuming that the kid was around 13-14, we won but he wasn't
that good...

Well his remark got me to thinking on the act of playing, whether
it be a video game, board game, in a sandbox, or what have you.
In observations, I believe that the act of playing is closely
related to happiness. I'm not saying that playing games all day
will truly make one happy, but there is a correlation I believe.

Time to break it down. People have jobs in order to survive. Fair
enough. Yet it is a fact that over 50% of all Americans (I'm not
sure about the rest of the world, but I would guess >50%) are
not happy with their job. This stems from mainly it being a crappy
job or people's lives are consumed by their jobs. I will be focusing
upon the latter.

Obsession with work is easily staved off if one finds an activity
at which they can play, even better, several activities! This in
itself helps to diversify a person's life and prevent obsession with
one sole thing. So while play isn't the answer to all problems, it
certainly can give someone to look forward to. The possibilities of
play are actually endless as well; everyone has a game or activity
available for their age and interests. Games need not be merely
shooters on a console but can engage the mind in puzzles, strategy,
memory, and imagination. The solving of problems or engaging of
imagination are very much needed in many fields of work from
physics to writing. Next time you're feeling bored or down on life,
try picking up a game that will stimulate you.

endnote: this one didn't flow us nicely as i like, so here's a wrap up.
playing is not just an activity for kids but for all people. ever heard
psychologists talk about an "inner child?" this is related. playing
help keeps a sort of naivety that can help one make better decisions
and view life with a different perspective. in fact, this ties in with
seeing, which tom and i have touched on before and doubtless
will again.

as marshall likes to say, just remember, all things in moderation.
while habits and tradition can be good for giving structure to a
lifestyle, variety can keep things interesting. striking a balance
is the beauty of life.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Parable: Label Makers

note: not mine, from a good book called The Song of the Bird by Anthony DeMello. i'll write some later this week since there's been a demand for them :P


Buddha once held up a flower to his disciples and asked each of them to say something about it.

One pronounced a lecture. Another a poem. Yet another a parable. Each trying to outdo the other in depth and erudition.

Mahakashyap smiled and said nothing. Only he had seen the flower.


author's additional commentary:

If I could only taste a bird,
a flower,
a tree,
a human face!

But, alas, I have no time! My energy is spent deciphering the label.


my commentary:
pretty straightforward i think. the parable observes how society likes to give labels to mostly everything (pretty, ugly, normal, strange, etc). perhaps people would get along more if we stopped judging/labelling persons and things and instead simply accepting them as who or what they are. the world is full of differences, learning to accept and respect them is a step towards seeing.

Monday, May 23, 2005


Thanks to being out for the summer, I have had a good deal of time to contemplate on what exactly success and work are. It is quite amusing to me to realize the social stigma that has been attached to "doing nothing." While I certainly do not condone lounging around one's home for the entirety of their time, taking a good portion of the day to do so is in fact a healthy activity.

The act of doing nothing is commonly thought of as not "working" at a job; Keep in mind the context of summer. A staggaring number of people are not happy at their jobs. If one is not happy, then it is certainly understandable that one would not work with much, if any, fervor in their profession. The mandatory attendence of such professions is made so only out of the necessity for survival; any other reason, such as greed or lust, are superfluous.

So then why such the negative connotation on not "working" when so many are in fact experienceing negative livelihoods while "working"? This boils down to the topic of success. To succeed in today's society is to achieve what has been tagged as important. Such items include
money, power, and fame. If given the choice between working in neonatal care (babies) for $55,000 and working for a tabloid for $100,000, most would go with the latter. Obviously, this choice would be made for the money. But let us consider the highly hypothetical jobs. One includes helping with the bringing of new life into the world. The other involves printing libel and invading the privacy of "important" people. This choice is absurd and stems from the societal values of success.

Although not everyone is to blame for these ideals, they are drilled into us at an early age. When most impressionable, we are bombarded with media telling us that celebrities and sports stars are the "important" people because they are wealthy or famous. We are told in school that good grades are vitally important for college acceptances. Graduate from a good college in order to get a well-paying job. Why not graduate in order to get a fun and enjoyable job?

Sure people need enough money for food and shelter, but anything past that is extra. "Time equals money" or "money will bring happiness" are two of the most hated phrases to me. For most people, money will bring attachment. As I have previously touched, attachment is the sure path away from happiness. I encourage all adults to first take care of their basic needs and those of their families, but then to take care of themselves. Finding a job that is enjoyable will reflect in your daily life with your family, affecting them much more than mere dollars can. To those still in the care of a family, enjoy your time as a child. Pursue your interests with vigor and work on finding inner peace so that you may touch all those with whom you come into contact. As an adult with true happiness, the necessary steps to survive will all fall into place effortlessly.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

On Meditation

The exercise of meditation is one that can be very beneficial to people. Note my emphasis on can. Humans ultimately decide what to take with them. Hopefully this short essay shall help those who are open and interested in learning.

This summer, I have adopted an almost daily routine of meditation. I find that like many things, repetition is key. But first let us start with: Why even meditate? It is used for many things such as relaxation, clarity of thought, reaching nirvana/enlightenment, prayer, and honing the Self. Despite one’s reason for meditating, the results will be positive physically, mentally, and spiritually when performed correctly.

It can be performed incorrectly you might ask? Absolutely! This brings us to the next point: How to meditate? Physically, one’s positioning does not matter in the slightest. I would recommend a sitting position, however, standing works just fine. Lying down is probably an invitation for sleep in our sleep-deprived society. A quiet place is naturally preferred as well.

Now, when actually in meditation, closing your eyes helps with internal focus. From here, there are several avenues to take. One which I enjoy is to focus my thoughts on my goal in life and to let them flow from there. Another way is to not even focus on a goal but to simply clear you mind and relax.

Lastly, there is focus on the spirit and oneness of life. Start out by aligning mind, body, and spirit if you feel that they are not already one. Decisions are made on three different levels, the mental, the physical, and the spiritual. If a person is not at peace within, then a discord is reached and decisions are different and disharmonious. Unfortunately, people tend to neglect this aspect of ourselves and even in their discord, people will listen to the mind or body almost all of the time, ignoring the spirit.

After one has reached a state of contentment within, it is time to move outward. During the second part of the meditation, join your oneness with the oneness that is larger; the cycle of life, all living things, the universe, God, Nirvana. Whatever the name, everyone and everything are interconnected. Meditation is a very useful tool to realizing this. After this level of awareness(!) is reached, one’s actions will be not only the best for themselves, but also for the Whole as well.

For beginners, meditation can be frustrating at times. It is important to remember to not force anything. If your thoughts wander, let them wander; they do so for a reason. While focusing on a goal is helpful, do not attach your happiness to reaching that goal. Think upon meditation not as a means to and ends but instead as a process. Enjoy the process, enjoy life.

Saturday, May 07, 2005


All right, forget my exam; I'm in a writing mood.

Today, it seems a lot of people spend time doing something just to "relax" or "escape from reality for a while." I know I have throughout the past 10 or more years. But why do we feel the need to relax? Surely no one would say that it would be good to spend all their time relaxing and escaping from the world. A desire to escape from reality can't be a fundamental part of our humanity, can it? What is it that we feel the need to escape from?

I believe the answer is that our attempts at "escaping from the world" are an attempt to deal with the relationships we have in which we have to fulfill the expectations of others. We naturally hate being in this position, I think. Hasn't everybody hated having to do what seemed like a very silly and pointless homework assignment at some time? We hate having to base our actions on the expectations of others, because it sometimes forces us to go against what we naturally want to do. So then the question is, how do we deal with being in this position that we hate being in?

It seems to me we deal with this situation by taking the other role in the relationship in other aspects of our life. Isn't this what we are doing when we play a video game or watch a sitcom "to relax"? Just like the teacher who says "I will accept those students who complete this certain assignment" or "work in this certain way", aren't we really saying "I will accept anyone who also watches this TV show" or "plays this video game"? I realize now this is exactly what often motivated me to spend time playing a video games and look at sports on the internet. We deal with what we hate by becoming it. In order to deal with the expectations others put on us, we in response find our escape in being the one who lays down the expectations.

Okay, I won't say anthing else yet, because I don't want posts to be too long and complicated and all and I think I've said what I wanted to say. (And I really need to start thinking about my exam in 11 hours.)

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


What really sometimes scares me is that I could spend life doing nothing but playing games. I realize that the only reason I want to play the games is to establish relationships with other people, but this does not really end my desire of playing them. Of course, that’s all life is to many people, a series of different games: mimic what the teacher says, gain the approval of a group of people, etc.

But now, I see the foolishness in this. When a relationship is based on a game, it misses the point. Games are something that we can learn from and enjoy together. But the instant you start to play a game of any kind for the purpose of developing a relationship with someone else, you are necessarily imposing an expectation on them. This completely turns the purpose of games upside down. The presence of an expectation necessarily excludes the ability to learn from a game. All of sudden the game becomes about meeting the expectation rather than learning something about life. Relationships should never be built upon expectations, but rather a mutual trust and desire for understanding. This is the type of relationship we all truly desire.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Thought vs. Action

I've been thinking recently about what leads to action. What determines the actions we make? Most people I think would say simply the decision to do something. But if you think about this, you would see that this is not true. Have you ever decided to do something, and then just never got around to it? I know I have done this many times even when I honestly thought it was a good thing and really wanted to do it. That proves for me at least that decision does not necessarily lead to action.

When I read this quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer I realized the answer:

“We have spent too much time in thinking, supposing that if we weigh in advance the possibilities of any action, it will happen automatically. We have learnt, rather too late, that action comes, not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility. For thought and action will enter on a new relationship; your thinking will be confined to your responsibilities in action.”

This quote has given me a new understanding of how we choose our actions. We have no natural impulse toward any one action, because goodness can exist in any course of action. When we make a decision to do something we are merely saying "I see goodness in this course of action." This same thing can be said of just about any action that we make. Like the quote says, action comes only when we choose to accept the responsibility that comes with that action. Of course we think there are a lot of things that would be good to do; the question is what are we willing to accept responsibility for. That is what we must answer before we can change our behavior.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

On Happiness

It seems to me that at the root of human dissent is happiness, or the lack thereof. This concept is so simple that it almost makes me weep. No person who is truly happy would ever do harm to another. Balance with one’s environment is easily achieved when one has balance within. It appears that most, if not all, problems are caused because people are not happy.

Wars are started over riches, land, and beliefs. The most basic of these are material goods, money, oil, etc. But the only reason that people hunger for these goods is because they believe that having them will make them happy. What they do not see is that true riches come from within. These are the riches that truly make on happy (to be touched on later). Again is the misconception that land will make on happy. This idea is quite funny considering that land cannot truly be owned. History has shown us land changing hands many times due to various reasons. People can certainly occupy a space of land, but it can no more be owned than the air that we breath. Lastly, beliefs tend to be such a touchy subject these days. I’m right! No I’m right! These concepts simply melt away with the awakened person. The awakened one is at peace because they see things for what they are. No attachments are made. Beliefs do not define the individual. Indeed, it is the other way around. While I’m not saying that there wouldn’t be some conflict if people were truly happy, the world would be a much more peaceful place.

Now, what does it mean to be truly happy? Happiness, I believe, is the equivalence of awareness. Awareness of what you ask? Awareness of life! Our society has imploded upon itself to create zombies out of people. The conditioning that subjugates people can cause them to walk through life with their eyes closed. Be aware of knowledge, attachments, and labels. All of these can stop one from seeing, for seeing is the path to righteousness, to awareness. See things and people simply for what they are. This is achieved by dropping your labels, your attachments, your preconceived notions. Once one is walking through life with their eyes open, they see, they are aware. Awareness such as this will lead, most importantly, to seeing yourself. It will lead you to drop your ideas and labels of who you are. Once one sees themselves simply for who they are, they will realize that nothing can hurt them emotionally and spiritually. How can you be hurt when you have no attachments to trivial things such as pride and beliefs? Once it is all dropped, the natural state of happiness will ensue.

It is this particular statement to which I have given thought recently. The natural state of people is one of happiness; not the common misconceptions of elation or joy, but mere happiness. Contentment might be a more apt choice of words. Just what is this particular state like? It is simply experiencing all the natural emotions of life while not identifying with them. Realizing that one is not the emotions that they experience, all worry and anxiety will fall. Only contentment will remain. And how can happiness not be the most basic feeling when there is so much beauty in the world? Not just sunsets and flowers but simply wood and rock too. When all things are seen for what they are, a sense of great wonder will prevail. Such wonder I myself experience at taking in the view of something such as grass. Live each and every day in this state of wonder through seeing; happiness will permeate your existence. That is the key.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

To Die

Another little parable that I found on my computer that I had written a few weeks ago. It is the exchange between a Master and a Student.

"Master, what does it mean to live?"

"You must first die to realize that answer."

"What do you mean die?"

"Tell me, do you feel alive when you receive your pay. When you are with your lover. Do you feel lonely when ignored, angry when wronged?"

"Yes of course!"

"Then you must die."

Monday, March 21, 2005

Parable, The City of Sand

Something I thought of last night. It's not the best but I think it gets the point across pretty well.
At an elementary school, the kids had a 45 minute recess every day.
One child usually spent the recess alone in the sandbox since he didn't
have many friends.

Every day he would carefully sculpt a city of
sand, but he never had enough time to finish.

A group of kids would come by the sandbox on their way back to the
classroom everyday and destroy his unfinished city. They thought
it was great fun to keep the child from his goal of completing it.

One day while he was making the buildings anew, another kid came
up to him and asked him: "why do you spend such time building
your city every day when you know that it won't be there tomorrow
to complete?"

Sitting in the sandbox with a big smile on his face, the child
responded "sure it'd be nice to complete it, but it's just fun
building it."
like enlightenment, it is not the goal that should consume us,
it is the process. do not base happiness on reaching the goal,
for doing so will already defeat onself.

Sunday, March 20, 2005


Enlightenment is not a change in me. It is not a new world, not a new state of being. I am still myself. All that has changed is my outlook on the world. The world does not become perfect with enlightenmnet. It is already perfect. People are not annoying, not rude, not moody, these are labels. Each is perfect in their own way. View the world not in the terms of good and bad, right and wrong, cool and uncool; instead, view it simply as it is, the perfect state of being that it inhabits.

The great thing about the world is that it is naturally beautiful. As soon as we drop all preformed thoughts about people, objects, and ideas, we see them for just what they are. Beautiful. People spend their entire lives looking for God, a higher being, a calling. It is funny that they look in churches, mosques, books and religious authorities. All that one needs to do is simply go outside and take a look around. Look at a tree. Don't think about it, it's type, it's placement, simply look at it. Life is such a wonder. This planet is such a wonder it boggles my mind. Not only that, the wonder and beauty of a God can been seen in everything; the roundness of a cup, the crease of a well-read book. Simply take a look.

Monday, March 14, 2005

I don't think many people have a sufficient understanding of what true freedom really is. When most people think of freedom they think of a political freedom or the right to do something without any consequencs. However, freedom can involve so much more than this. It's the difference Neill makes in Summerhill between license and freedom. License is the right to do something without consequences, but freedom means not reacting to external influences, not being jerked around by situations you cannot control. This internal freedom, something far greater and far more liberating than simple license, involves being free from the external influences that we have been programmed to react to.

It is one thing to consciously know that something is waste of time, but it's a whole other thing to understand the reasons you want to do something. This is what "sleeping through life" means: you are not aware of the true reasons for your actions, and instead deceive yourself with vague reasons like "it helps me to relax" or "I just feel like doing it". Isn’t the main reason we spend so much time watching sports or listening to music (or whatever it is we waste time doing) to gain the approval of others? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that these are always necessarily a waste of time or that that is the only reason we do these things. We can get genuine enjoyment from these and maybe sometimes learn something about life through the beauty within these things. But so often we don’t see the beauty in these things or the good that we get out of it, and our clinging reliance on these things prevents us form seeing the beauty and good within the rest of life around us.

I have found I often waste time doing something because of my subconscious desire for the approval and respect of others. And the tragedy is I am only deceiving myself, because I tell myself that these things I am doing are the greatest things in the world and convince myself that my happiness comes from the thrill and excitement I get from them. To be more specific, I know I have wasted a lot of time looking at sports on the internet or playing Nintendo because of this subconscious need I had for others’ approval. The truth is my motivation to finish a game or to know about what’s going on in sports comes, not from any sort of desire for happiness, but from my subconscious desire to impress others with my ability or knowledge and thereby get their approval and respect. Isn’t this the real reason so many people are so worried about getting high grades, or get so worked up about politics or their religious affiliations? Don’t we want to show people our ability and gain their approval and respect?

Life should consist of much more than depending on the randomness of circumstances and others’ opinions, and luckily for us, it can. As Anthony De Mello says “What you are aware of you are in control of; what you are not aware of is in control of you. You are always a slave to what you’re not aware of. When you’re aware of it, you’re free from it. It’s there, but you’re not affected by it. You’re not controlled by it; you’re not enslaved by it. That’s the difference."

It can be a good thing to do something because of others' expectations. It's a lot easier to live with people that you can trust to do certain things. The key though is that you are aware of why people expect that action from you and that you do something only when you understand and agree with their reasons. When we are only aware of people's expectations on a subconscious level (as we often are), that is when we are controlled by by those expectations. When we become consciously aware of people's expectations, then we have the choice to fulfill them or not.

We so often base our actions on other people's expectations of us without having any choice in the matter. And when people's expectations of us come into conflict, we grow confused about what we are supposed to be doing in life and we end up accomplishing nothing. True freedom is about giving ourselves a choice in what we do by becoming aware of what is expected of us and why. When we realize what is expected of us and why we then can make a choice whether we want to fulfill those expectations or not. Before we realize these things, the choice is not available to us and we only feel the subconscious pushes of others' expectations.

We do not need to keep being subordinate to these unconscious pushes and basing our happiness on our ability to meet everyone's expectations. When we understand the motivations behind our actions, we will not only know when something is a waste of time, but also subconsciously feel that it is a waste of our time. (In other words our conscious and subconscious thoughts will be the same.) It can be good sometimes to meet others' expectations, but only when you are aware of the full extent of what your doing and are doing it for a purely internal reason because you see and agree with the good that comes from that expectation. You won't care whether you actually succeed in meeting the expectation because you know that you are acting on good reasons and are giving it your best attempt. As De Mello says we already have true happiness and true love within ourselves; it’s only a matter of clearing out all our false perceptions and becoming aware of our subconscious drives. Then love and happiness will come to the surface.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Summerhill School

For awhile I have thought that there is room for many improvements to be made in the standard education most people receive today. I recently finished reading Summerhill School: A New View of Childhood by A.S. Neill, and I am convinced of the importance of total freedom in regards to education. As Neill says we should not tell children how to live. However, I also strongly believe in the importance of each subject and the strong connection they all share. Perhaps not requiring class attendance would be successful given the right environment, but clearly attendance has to be required in most real life situations today; otherwise many children would not ever attend school. I believe the solution is to make attendance in classes required, but to not require any work on the part of the students whatsoever, for all levels of school. Students could still do projects and share with the class and teachers could still suggest assignments and review students’ work, but the student would only do any of the work when they wanted to learn about the subject. The choice to do (or not to do) any work at all would be theirs. In the middle and at the end of the semester, there would be an optional exam or final paper, but it would be for statistical purposes only. The grade would exist only as a reflection of the student’s understanding of a subject.

This is key to a successful grading system: optional competitiveness. Just like sports, science bowl, or chess club are optional, grades should be optional too. Ideally students would be motivated solely by a desire to learn, but reality is a long ways from that. Students will in reality want to be recognized for what they have accomplished and an optional grading system is helpful for that reason. Otherwise recognition would go only to the most athletic and most popular students.

Colleges could still look at the grades students want them to see, just like students list their extracurricular activities on college applications now. Students would have no GPA though because they might only have a couple grades total throughout high school. Grades would be inherently tied to the class in which they were received.

Admittedly, this is not the complete freedom Neill talks about that will leave people “free to be themselves without hate and fear.” Instead it is just a compromise, but a necessary compromise and still a step in the right direction.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

I've recently finished reading Awareness by Anthony De Mello. It's easily some of the best writing I have ever read. It is so insightful and also expressed so clearly that I will probably dedicate the next few posts to his writing. Every page of that book is filled with ideas that just illuminate things for what they are for me at least.

The overall goal of this book is to uncover the misconceptions that we all share about reality. Here I'm just giving one idea that the book explains. Next, I will probably just go through the book from the beginning giving my thoughts about the ideas I find most useful.

In the book De Mello says that the deepest truth about life and about who we are is not something that can properly be expressed in words. I thought it is interesting that a similar conclusion was reached in the novel Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, that truth cannot be adequately expressed in words. Rather we naturally see things as they really are, but because we misuse concepts and develop corrupt ideas, we lose sight of reality. We will again be able to see reality when we understand what it is not.

De Mello explains: "Every time I have a concept, it is something that I could apply to a number of individuals. We're not talking about a concrete, particular name like Mary or John, which doesn't have a conceptual meaning. A concept applies to any number of individuals, countless individuals. Concepts are universal. For instance, the word "leaf" could be applied to every single leaf on a tree; the same word applies to all those individual leaves. Moreover, the same word applies to all the leaves on all trees, big ones, small ones, tender ones, dried ones, yellow ones, green ones, banana leaves. So if I say to you taht I saw a leaf this morning, you really don't have an idea of what I saw.
"Let's see if you can understand that. You do have an idea of what I did not see. I did not see an animal. I did not see a dog. I did not see a human being. I did not see a shoe. So you have some kind of a vague idea of what I saw, but it isn't particularized, it isn't concrete. "Human being" refers not to primitive man, not to civilized man, not to grown-up man, not to a child, not to a male or a female, not to this particular age or another, not to this culture or the other, but to the concept. The human being is found concrete; you never find a universal human being like your concept. So your concept points, but it is never entirely accurate; it misses uniqueness, concreteness. The concept is universal.
"When I give you a concept, I give you something, and yet how little I have given you. The concept is so valuable, so useful for science. For instance, if I say that everyone here is an animal, that would be perfectly accurate from a scientific viewpoint. But we're something more than animals. If I say that Mary Jane is an animal, that's true; but because I've omitted something essential about her, it's false; it does her an injustice. When I call a person a woman, that's true; but there are lots of things in that person that don't fit into the concept "woman." She is always this particular, concrete, unique woman, who can only be experienced, not conceptualized. The concrete person I've got to see for myself, to experience for myself, to intuit for myself. The individual can be intuited but cannot be conceptualized" (Awareness 119-120).

"The guru cannot give you the truth. Truth cannot be put into words, into a formula. That isn't the truth. That isn't reality. Reality cannot be pur into a formula. The guru can only point out your errors. When you drop your errors, you will know the truth. And even then you cannot say" (Awareness 99).

This seems to be true to me, and is something most people probably don't realize (at least I didn't until just recently).

Anyway, this is a little abstract compared to the rest of the book. I'll start from the beginning next post.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

The purpose of life

It seems to me that the meaning of life can best be described as our attempt to see reality. I would claim that this attempt contains all the truly meaningful aspects of life. This might seem strange to you as I am claiming the purpose of life is not in any way defined by action, but rather the attaining of a vision. I claim this because I think that upon seeing reality, we will no longer have the desire to do any action that does not result in good. All our actions will conscious actions designed to improve the situations we face.

To begin this process however, the first conscious action we need to take is something I know that we all have done at some point, because I know that children have the desire to learn. This is why they will believe what adults tell them; they want to understand things for what they truly are. However, as we begin to develop ideas of how life works, it is easy to forget the questions we were trying to answer in the first place. I know it happened to me in high school with all the external pressures from school and family. Of course, it is good to be involved and active with these things, but they can lose their goodness if we stop trying to distinguish between the truth or falsehood of our ideas about our life. I think we must all try to remember the curiosity we had as children. The most basic and therefore most important action we can consciously choose in life, is to make the attempt to see our life for what it really is; to try to see reality.