Below is repost of a concise, yet powerful post from a site I recently came across and recommend checking out – The Art of Living.


(Originally published in ‘The Art of Living’)

A centuries-old Japanese tradition among Zen monks and Haiku poets is the jisei, or death poem, written when on the verge of dying; the idea being that in the final moments of life, these thoughts on death are especially lucid and so are also important reflections on life.

During his last moments, Shinsui’s followers requested that he write a death poem. He grasped his brush, painted the image (above), and died.



Jordon Peterson on Order & Chaos

Posted: January 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

A short clip of Professor Jordan Peterson talking about the necessity of both order AND chaos. In particular, he talks about the importance of being on the edge of chaos, much like a surfer does when he or she is riding a wave that is breaking.

I recently stumbled upon a great collection of resources by The Institute for New Economic Thinking.

From INET’s “About” page:

The Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) was created to broaden and accelerate the development of new economic thinking that can lead to solutions for the great challenges of the 21st century.

The havoc wrought by our recent global financial crisis has vividly demonstrated the deficiencies in our outdated current economic theories, and shown the need for new economic thinking – right now.

INET is supporting this fundamental shift in economic thinking through research funding, community building, and spreading the word about the need for change. We already are a global community of thousands of new economic thinkers, ranging from Nobel Prize winning economists to teachers and students who have emerged out from the shadows of prevailing economic thought, attracted by the promise of a free and open economic discourse.

Having graduated from business school in 2007, just before the monetary/financial/economic crisis really kicked into high gear, I’ve grown increasingly interested in how the economics profession (among other culpable professions/schools of thought) could fail so miserably at seeing what was coming and how it would impact our societies.  Granted, I only studied economics & finance in the context of a general business administration education, but I realized that economic theory was the intellectual bedrock upon which many important theories taught in business school rested.  If the intellectual foundation of economics resembled a castle made of sand, then I figured that, as Jimi Hendrix sang, it would “fall into the sea, eventually.”  Whether or not mainstream economic thinking has fallen into the sea, is open to debate.  But I would argue that organizations like INET, the New Economics Foundation, and others, are a clear indication that there is a growing appetite for a major re-thinking of economics.

Although I just found out about INET, I must say that I’m impressed with the quality of content & thinkers profiled on its website.  I still have more to explore about INET, but the fact that I found recorded interviews and talks by thinkers like Thomas Homer-Dixon, Satyajit Das, and William Rees, makes me confident that there is a wealth of relevant, and leading-edge thought going on in this community.

On that note, I wanted to embed a video of a talk given by one of the major intellectual influences of this blog – Thomas Homer-Dixon.  The talk, given at the 2011 Bretton Woods Conference called Crisis & Renewal: International Political Economy at the Crossroads (link), discusses Homer-Dixon’s recent thinking on complexity theory as it pertains to economics & public policy.

More on Thomas Homer-Dixon:

More on the Institute for New Economic Thinking:

More on other organizations & schools of thinking related to heterodox economics:

  • Institute for Integrated Economic Research (link)
  • New Economics Foundation (link)

Great RSA talk by Cambridge economist – Ha-Joon Chang.

You can find out more about Professor Chang at his website (link)

Below, I’ve embedded a talk given by Tomas Sedlacek at the RSA in London.  Sedlacek is a young, Czech economist/historian/philosopher who has written and spoken about the problems of economics in both it’s current & historical context.

Something that is noticeable in Sedlacek’s economic thinking is the moral philosophy aspect.  Most economists often speak with a lot of “shoulds”, but very few have any real background in the history or moral philosophy behind economics.  In this regard, Sedlacek is a refreshing break from a lot of the economic thinkers who focus too narrowly, or don’t incorporate historical thinking.

In any case, it’s worth checking out.

A few take-aways from Sedlacek’s talk:

  • Economics is now a religion – we ask it today, the same questions that we asked Gods in earlier days.
  • Compares the dicey relationship of monetary policy & fiscal policy to JRR Tolkien’s Ring in Lord of the Rings.  A force that is too powerful to be allowed to exist.
  • How interest is analogous to alcohol.  Interest & alcohol are similar in that that they allow us to make energy time-travel from the future to the present for the purposes of current consumption (and leverage).
  • Talks about the wisdom of Aristotle, the Islamic tradition & the Pharaohs with respect to interest rates & business cycles.

Additional Resources:

Does Economics Trump Ethics? Does it Pay to Be Good? (link)

Thomas Sedlacek’s site

I’ve heard of V.S. Ramachandran before, but I’ve never actually read or seen any of his work.

I’m glad I changed that.  Below is a talk that Ramachandran gave at a 2009 TED Talk in India.  Ramachandran is a Professor of Psychology & Neurosciences at the University of California at San Diego.

I particularly like how he brings in the discussion of mirror neurons and ties it into Eastern philosophical principles of non-duality.  He calls mirror neurons “Gandhi neurons.”

Definitely a great, info-packed talk by an influential mind on a very important topic.

It seems to me that, although there might be an objective reality, we will probably never know it.  Our world, let alone the universe, is simply too complex & weird to understand completely.

So, while there might be something called “the Truth” with a capital “T”, in reality, all we can ever know are “truths” with a lower-case “t”.

It seems like nobody really knows what the hell is going on right now.  We might think we know, but in actuality, all we know is some small subset of reality.  We see the world in what Robert Anton Wilson called reality tunnels.

The way I think about this idea that we’re all seeing a different subset of reality, is with reference to the parable of the blind monks trying to describe what they don’t know is an elephant.

About the parable, Wikipedia says:

The story of the blind men and an elephant originated in India from where it is widely diffused. It has been used to illustrate a range of truths and fallacies. At various times it has provided insight into the relativity, opaqueness or inexpressible nature of truth, the behaviour of experts in fields where there is a deficit or inaccessibility of information, the need for communication, and respect for different perspectives.

As the blind monks illustrate, we all have our own reality tunnels through which we see the world.  Depending on our lens (i.e. ones position vis-a-vis the elephant), we might think what we’re touching is a tree trunk, or a rope, or a fan, but if you’re only seeing your reality through that one lens (of touch), it’s easy to miss that it’s an elephant.  To the able-eyed observer – someone who sees the situation from a different dimension – it wouldn’t be an issue to identify the object as an elephant.

The trick is to recognize that, like a digital SLR camera, there are multiple lenses, filters, and hence, reality tunnels through which we can view the world.  Having multiple perspectives from which we can describe and approach a situation allows us to get a more holistic sense of what’s actually going on.

Given how many pundits & gurus have been proven dead wrong over the years due to their rigid views, a good analyst nowadays knows to look at phenomenon from a variety of different angles.  By taking a multi-dimensional & evolutionary view, and by studying the different forces that influence a system, one gets a much better sense of how a system operates than would applying rigid organizational plan and operation philosophies.

If only the machine minds of the world could broaden their thinking about causality & the nature of reality – perhaps we could then see the elephant in the room.