Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

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.


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.

Just came across a great kinetic typographic rendition of a Neil DeGrasse Tyson clip that I’ve always enjoyed.

Great video via Po-Chen Chia (link).

Check it out:

A Beautiful Paradox

Posted: July 16, 2011 in Philosophy, Quotes
Tags: , ,

“[Our] paradox is the ceaseless, constant drive to understand something that is inherently un-understandable. Now, of course, the paradox lies in the fact that we understand it is not to be understood, and yet we understand that we continue to try to understand. It’s a beautiful paradox.”

– Dr. William Rowlandson

via Matrix Masters (link)

Self-Image Leads to Pain

Posted: July 16, 2011 in Philosophy, Quotes
A great Krishnamurti quote came across my feed reader today:
“Why divide problems as major and minor? Is not everything a problem? Why make them little or big problems, essential or unessential problems? If we could understand one problem, go into it very deeply however small or big it is, then we would uncover all problems. This is not a rhetorical answer. Take any problem: anger, jealousy, envy, hatred&,we know them all very well. If you go into anger very deeply, not just brush it aside, then what is involved? Why is one angry? Because one is hurt, someone has said an unkind thing; and when someone says a flattering thing you are pleased. Why are you hurt? Self-importance, is it not? And why is there self-importance?
Because one has an idea, a symbol of oneself, an image of oneself, what one should be, what one is or what one should not be. Why does one create an image about oneself? Because one has never studied what one is, actually. We think we should be this or that, the ideal, the hero, the example. What awakens anger is that our ideal, the idea we have of ourselves, is attacked. And our idea about ourselves is our escape from the fact of what we are. But when you are observing the actual fact of what you are, no one can hurt you. Then, if one is a liar and is told that one is a liar it does not mean that one is hurt; it is a fact. But when you are pretending you are not a liar and are told that you are, then you get angry, violent. So we are always living in an ideational world, a world of myth and never in the world of actuality. To observe what is, to see it, actually be familiar with it, there must be no judgment, no evaluation, no opinion, no fear.
– J. Krishnamurti, The Book of Life