At times the truth shines so brilliantly that we perceive it as clear as day. Our nature and habit then draw a veil over our perception, and we return to a darkness almost as dense as before. We are like those who, though beholding frequent flashes of lightning, still find themselves in the thickest darkness of the night. On some the lightning flashes in rapid succession, and they seem to be in continuous light, and their night is as clear as the day… By others only once during the whole night is a flash of lightning perceived… There are some to whom the flashes of lightning appear with varying intervals; others are in the condition of men, whose darkness is illumined not by lightning, but by some kind of crystal or similar stone, or other substances that possess the property of shining during the night; and to them even this small amount of light is not continuous, but now it shines and now it vanishes, as if it were “the flame of the rotating sword.” The degrees in the perfection of men vary according to these distinctions.
I pull Heidegger’s Introduction to Metaphysics out of my shoulder bag. This is the tome that opens with the stupefier, “Why are there things that are rather than nothing?” Whatever could have possessed me to lug this baby across the Atlantic to this remote island village? It must have been the inevitable thoughts of mortality that hover over me. Heidegger’s question seems to go beyond the start and stop of an individual life—say, mine— to being itself. What is that all about? I have this nagging suspicion that for the past fifty-odd years I have been dismissing Heidegger’s question as total twaddle without ever really trying it on for size. […]
Perhaps it is impossible to get one’s head around immutable nothingness: the mind just keeps collapsing in on itself. I can only barely get the idea of subtracting everything from the universe. But an eternal nothingness to which nothing could possibly be added escapes me. Maybe the positivists were right, after all: the reason I cannot think about this stuff is because it is utter nonsense. But what’s this? For an instant, I feel something like relief or even gratitude that being is. I even experience tinges of something that feels a wee bit like awe— awe that miraculously being has somehow triumphed over nothing. And that, astonishingly, I have been a part of that triumph: I have had the privilege of participating in being and of being conscious of that fact. And that is it— my yes! moment. It is over in a minute, and it was not even a full yes— more like a shiver of assent.
- Image: Robsohn via Schmackebaetzchen.
- Daniel Klein Book Recommendation: Thank you Michael Brown @ Real Learning, For A Change
Henry insists that he is not a spiritual man. He says religion is just hocus-pocus. And yet when we go to a symphony concert together— which is usually one with Mahler on the program —and I glance over at him, I often behold on his creased old face an expression of rapture. Henry is clearly elevated to a higher realm— his spirit soars. I have no doubt that in some meaningful sense Henry has left the building. I too listen to music more and more. Throughout my life, music has stirred me more than any other art form, and now, in old age, I find myself listening to it almost every evening, usually alone, for hours at a time. Lying on the couch in the dark, listening to, say, Mahler’s Ninth Symphony or the Fauré Requiem or Puccini’s “E lucevan le stelle” from Tosca, I too sometimes take off for a realm where self-consciousness and my separateness from everything in the universe fall away. I am lost in the stars. Like Henry, I am hesitant to name this a spiritual experience, but at times it feels awfully close to one. Eyes closed, breath stilled, listening to the exquisite melancholy of Cavaradossi’s romanza to Tosca under the stars as he awaits his execution crying out, “Never have I loved life more!” sometimes— just sometimes— I can feel my yearnings made sublime.
- Daniel Klein Book Recommendation: Thank you Michael Brown @ Real Learning, For A Change
- Portrait: Subliminous portrait of Bryan Diaz Arias. (No relation or connection to names in quote)
“I have, in my life, turned pages a million times more often than I have read them, and always derived from turning pages at least as much pleasure and real intellectual enjoyment as from reading. Surely it is better to read altogether only three pages of a four-hundred-page book a thousand times more thoroughly than the normal reader who reads everything but does not read a single page thoroughly, he said. It is better to read twelve lines of a book with the utmost intensity and thus to penetrate into them to the full, as one might say, rather than read the whole book as the normal reader does, who in the end knows the book he has read no more than an air passenger who knows the landscape he overflies. He does not perceive the contours. Thus all people nowadays read everything and know nothing. I enter into a book and settle in it, neck and crop, you should realize, in one or two pages of a philosophical essay as if I were entering a landscape, a piece of nature, a state organism, a detail of the earth, if you like, in order to penetrate into it entirely and not just with half my strength or half-heartedly, in order to explore it and then, having explored it with all the thoroughness at my disposal, drawing conclusions as to the whole. He who reads everything has understood nothing, he said. It is not necessary to read all of Goethe or all of Kant, it is not necessary to read all of Schopenhauer; a few pages of ‘Werther’, a few pages of ‘Elective Affinities’ and we know more in the end about the two books than if we had read them from beginning to end, which would anyway deprive us of the purest enjoyment.”
— Thomas Bernhard, Old Masters: A Comedy (University Of Chicago Press, 1992)
A 2012 share titled “Do What You Love” garnered more likes (393) and more views (8,396) than any other post on this blog. My thinking has evolved (you were naive!) since that time with a subsequent share titled: Do What You Love? Wrong! and this NY Times article by Professor Gordon Marino titled Life Beyond ‘Do What You Love’:
…But is “do what you love” wisdom or malarkey?
…the “do what you love” ethos so ubiquitous in our culture is in fact elitist because it degrades work that is not done from love. It also ignores the idea that work itself possesses an inherent value, and most importantly, severs the traditional connection between work, talent and duty.
…My father didn’t do what he loved. He labored at a job he detested so that he could send his children to college. Was he just unenlightened and mistaken to put the well-being of others above his own personal interests? It might be argued that his idea of self-fulfillment was taking care of his family, but again, like so many other less than fortunate ones, he hated his work but gritted his teeth and did it well.
…Our desires should not be the ultimate arbiters of vocation. Sometimes we should do what we hate, or what most needs doing, and do it as best we can.
Read full article: Life Beyond ‘Do What You Love’
Image Source: daiquiri-kisses (modified)
Genís Carreras, 27, is a graphic designer and entrepreneur based in London and born in Catalonia. He is the author of a book titled: Philographics. His book is all about explaining big ideas in simple shapes, merging the world of philosophy and graphic design. There are ninety-five designs, each depicting a different “–ism” using a unique combination of geometric shapes, colors, and a short definition of the theory. Find his book on Amazon here. Find his web site here.
Genís is Genius. Period.
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“At five, I had the intuitive, instinctive faith that my cosmos, my family and the world were good and true and beautiful. That somehow I had always been and always would be. And I knew in a way of a five-year-old that I had worth and dignity and individuality. Later, when I read Nietzsche’s statement that these are not given to us by nature but are tasks that we must somehow solve, I knew him to be wrong. We all had them once.”
~ George Sheehan, Running & Being
- Related Posts: George Sheehan bio and quote – Uneasiness. Inquietude. There is work to be done.
- Image Source. Thank you Mme Scherzo
“The smallest actions have the most profound ramifications. Confucius, Mencius, and other Chinese philosophers taught that the most mundane actions can have a ripple effect, and Puett urges his students to become more self-aware, to notice how even the most quotidian acts—holding open the door for someone, smiling at the grocery clerk—change the course of the day by affecting how we feel.
That rush of good feeling that comes after a daily run, the inspiring conversation with a good friend, or the momentary flash of anger that arises when someone cuts in front of us in line—what could they have to do with big life matters? Everything, actually. From a Chinese philosophical point of view, these small daily experiences provide us endless opportunities to understand ourselves. When we notice and understand what makes us tick, react, feel joyful or angry, we develop a better sense of who we are that helps us when approaching new situations. Mencius, a late Confucian thinker (4th century B.C.E.), taught that if you cultivate your better nature in these small ways, you can become an extraordinary person with an incredible influence, altering your own life as well as that of those around you, until finally “you can turn the whole world in the palm of your hand.”
~ CHRISTINE GROSS-LOH at The Atlantic: Why Are Hundreds of Harvard Students Studying Ancient Chinese Philosophy?
“Michael Puett, 48, is a professor of Chinese history at Harvard University. Puett’s course Classical Chinese Ethical and Political Theory has become the third most popular course at Harvard. The only classes with higher enrollment are Intro to Economics and Intro to Computer Science. The second time Puett offered it, in 2007, so many students crowded into the assigned room that they were sitting on the stairs and stage and spilling out into the hallway. Harvard moved the class to Sanders Theater, the biggest venue on campus. [Read more…]
Epictetus (AD 55–135) was a Greek sage and philosopher. He was born a slave in present day Turkey, and lived in Rome until his banishment, when he went to Nicopolis in northwestern Greece for the rest of his life. Philosophy, Epictetus taught, is a way of life and not just a theoretical discipline. To Epictetus, all external events are determined by fate, and are thus beyond our control; we should accept whatever happens calmly and dispassionately. However, individuals are responsible for their own actions, which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline. Suffering occurs from trying to control what is uncontrollable, or from neglecting what is within our power. As part of the universal city that is the universe, it is our duty to care for all our fellow men. Those who follow these precepts will achieve happiness and peace of mind. (Source: Wiki)