Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’

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.


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.

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

I was thinking about posting this a while back, but The Rookie Cynic beat me to it!

A great Carl Sagan video – This Pale Blue Dot:

I love this short film entitled “Fallen”.  In just a 4 minute clip of a “meteorite/creature” plummeting towards the earth – the producers & animators do an incredible job of portraying some key insights into the human condition.

From the vimeo description:

“A little meteor learns the biggest lesson of life on it’s way down to earth. ” 

Realized by Wolfram Kampffmeyer and myself.
Compositing by Sebastian Nozon.
Music and sound design by David Christiansen.

Produced by Stina McNicholas at Filmakademie Baden Württemberg.

And from a fellow blogger reviewing the short film (h/t GRCP 101 blog):

This short film is only just under four minutes long. It is called “Fallen” and is about a meteorite that comes to life. The short film follows his path from outer space to the ocean. As soon as he hits the atmosphere he comes to life. At first he seems to be in awe and then he seems to be trying to figure things out. After he has been falling awhile he sees the ocean below him and becomes afraid. He tries to stop falling and climb back up, but of course fails. After he falls some more he starts to get used to it and starts to enjoy it.

Once he starts to enjoy it he starts flying around clouds, going in spirals and diving strait down. As he gets closer to the ocean he seems to know that it is about to end and seems to be at peace with it. He eventually hits the ocean and stops moving as the water cools him. I can only assume that it is the end of him because he is no longer able to move.

It is fun and interesting to see him experience falling down, going from being in awe, to afraid, to happy, to being at peace with hitting the ocean. I think the authors did a great job of showing all of the emotions the creature was going through.