“The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.” ―Jiddu Krishnamurti
A sage is someone who can put into words the aspects of our mysterious nature that most of us can only feel.
At times in my life I have been overwhelmed by the world and confused about the purpose of it all. I spent much time in anguish, behaving in self-destructive ways, wondering why happiness was so elusive.
In this struggle, I passed many years looking outward for the source of turmoil in my world, trying to tweak, upgrade and replace parts of my life that seemed culpable for my sorrows; a different job, new friends, more education, better stuff. This always led me back, of course, to where I started, still confused, still unsatisfied, still searching for someone and something to blame.
Words are more than just the sum of their meaning, they are powerful incantations, capable of conjuring up great inspiration or of casting damning spells. Philosophy is something that can heal, yet no doctor can prescribe it and no one can predict which words a person must hear to break through to a better place in life.
The potent words of the great Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti fell into my life at precisely the right time, ringing true enough in my mind and in my heart to carry me to brighter days.
Until then, no other spokesman of truth had challenged me so bluntly to take personal responsibility for everything that is wrong in my life and everything that is misaligned in the world, pointing out so truthfully that the world is as we create it. None other had demanded so fervently that I look deep within for the answers to suffering, pointing out the inattention I was giving to my own life. No one else had challenged everything I thought I knew about my personal history and my culture, exposing the conditioning of my own mind, compelling me to change.
And for this I share with you these 17 Krishnamurti quotes that will turn your world view outside in, urging you to reconsider your culture religion, politics and family, guiding you towards a new awareness, intelligence and the truest freedom.
Mostly taken from his public talks in the late 1960’s, these quotes have the power to unleash us from our chains and set us free into a powerful new present where our humanity can finally reign supreme over our fearfulness.
I hope you find solace in them as I have, and that you share them with those whom you love, stirring within them the deep truths that can liberate us from the pitfalls of our own consciousness and the fabrications of our culture.
1. Our minds are conditioned – that is an obvious fact – conditioned by a particular culture or society, influenced by various impressions, by the strains and stresses of relationships, by economic, climatic, educational factors, by religious conformity and so on. Our minds are trained to accept fear and to escape, if we can, from that fear, never being able to resolve, totally and completely, the whole nature and structure of fear. So our first question is: can the mind, so heavily burdened, resolve completely, not only its conditioning, but also its fears? Because it is fear that makes us accept conditioning.
2. I wonder why we divide life into fragments, the business life, social life, family life, religious life, the life of sport and so on? Why is there this division, not only in ourselves but also socially – we they, you and me, love and hate, dying and living? I think we ought to go into this question rather deeply to find out if there is a way of life in which there is no division at all between living and dying, between the conscious and the unconscious, the business and social life, the family life and the individual life.
These divisions between nationalities, religions, classes, all this separation in oneself in which there is so much contradiction – why do we live that way? It breeds such turmoil, conflict, war; it brings about real insecurity, outwardly as well as inwardly. There is so much division, as God and the devil, the good and the bad, ‘what should be’ and ‘what is.’
3. Man has always sought immortality; he paints a picture, puts his name on it, that is a form of immortality; leaving a name behind, man always wants to leave something of himself behind. What has he got to give – apart from technical knowledge – what has he of himself to give? What is he? You and I, what are we, psychologically? You may have a bigger bank account, be cleverer than I am, or this and that; but psychologically, what are we? – a lot of words, memories, experiences, and these we want to hand over to a son, put in a book, or paint in a picture, ‘me’. The ‘me’ becomes extremely important, the ‘me’ opposed to the community, the ‘me’, wanting to identify itself, wanting to fulfill itself, wanting to become something great – you know, all the rest of it. When you observe that ‘me’, you see that it is a bundle of memories, empty words: that is what we cling to; that is the very essence of the separation between you and me, they and we.
4. How is the mind, the brain included to be completely quiet? Some say breathe properly, take deep breaths, that is, get more oxygen into your blood; a shoddy little mind breathing very deeply, day after day, can be fairly quiet; but it is still a shoddy little mind.
5. We look at conditions prevailing in the world and observe what is happening there – the student’s riots, the class prejudices, the conflict of black against white, the wars, the political confusion, the divisions caused by nationalities and religions. We are also aware of conflict, struggle, anxiety, loneliness, despair, lack of love, and fear. Why do we accept all this? Why do we accept the moral, social environment knowing very well that it is utterly immoral; knowing this for ourselves – not merely emotionally or sentimentally but looking at the world and at ourselves – why do we live this way? Why is it that our educational system does not turn out real human beings but mechanical entities trained to accept certain jobs and finally die? Education, science and religion have not solved our problems at all.
Looking at all this confusion, why does each one of us accept and conform, instead of shattering the whole process in ourselves?
6. This is a very human, ordinary problem, which touches the life of everyone of us, rich and poor, young and old, why do we live this monotonous, meaningless life, going to the office or working in a laboratory or a factory for forty years, breeding a few children, educating them in absurd ways, and then dying? I think you should ask this question with all your being, in order to find out. Then you can ask the next question: whether human beings can ever change radically, fundamentally, so that they look at the world anew with different eyes, with a different heart, no longer filled with hatred, antagonism, racial prejudices, but with a mind that is very clear, that has tremendous energy.
Seeing all this – the wars, the absurd divisions which religions have brought about, the separation between the individual and the community, the family opposed to the rest of the world, each human being clinging to some peculiar ideal, dividing himself into ‘me’ and ‘you’, ‘we’ and ‘they’ – seeing all this, both objectively and psychologically, there remains only one question, one fundamental problem and this is whether the human mind, which is so heavily conditioned, can change. Not in some future incarnation, nor at the end of life, but change radically now, so that the mind becomes new, fresh, young, innocent, unburdened, so that we may know what it means to love and to live in peace.
7. To deny conventional morality completely is to be highly moral, because what we call social morality, the morality of respectability, is utterly immoral; we are competitive, greedy, envious, seeking our own way – you know how we behave. We call this social morality; religious people talk about a different kind of morality, but their life, their whole attitude, the hierarchical structure of religious organization and belief, is immoral. To deny that is not to react, because when you react, this is another form of dissenting through one’s own resistance. But when you deny it because you understand it, there is the highest form of morality.
In the same way, to negate social morality, to negate the way we are living – our petty little lives, our shallow thinking and existence, the satisfaction at a superficial level with our accumulated things – to deny all that, not as a reaction but seeing the utter stupidity and the destructive nature of this way of living – to negate all that is to live. To see the false as the false – this seeing is the true.
8. If people who say they love their children meant it, would there be war? And would there be division of nationalities – would there be these separations?
9. If the mind is unconditioned it is free. So we are going to find out, examine very closely, what makes the mind so conditioned, what are the influences that have brought about this conditioning, and why we accept it. First of all, tradition plays an enormous part in life. In that tradition the brain has developed so that it can find physical security. One cannot live without security, that is the very first, primary animal demand, that there be physical security; one must have a house, food, clothing. But the psychological way in which we use this necessity for security brings about chaos within and without. The psyche, which is the very structure of thought, also wants to be secure inwardly, in all its relationships. Then the trouble begins. There must be physical security for everybody, not only for the few; but that physical security for everybody is denied when psychological security is sought through nations, through religions, through the family.
10. Then there is the question of dying, which we have carefully put far away from us, as something that is going to happen in the future – the future may be fifty years off or tomorrow. We are afraid of coming to an end, coming physically to an end and being separated from the things we have possessed, worked for, experienced – wife, husband, the house, the furniture, the little garden, the books and the poems we have written or hoped to write. And we are afraid to let all that go because we are the furniture, we are the picture that we possess; when we have the capacity to play the violin, we are that violin. Because we have identified ourselves with those things – we are all that and nothing else. Have you ever looked at it that way? You are the house – with the shutters, the bedroom, the furniture which you have very carefully polished for years, which you own – that is what you are. If you remove all that you are nothing.
And that is what you are afraid of – of being nothing. Isn’t it very strange how you spend forty years going to the office and when you stop doing these things you have heart trouble and die? You are the office, the files, the manager or the clerk or whatever your position is; you are that and nothing else. And you have a lot of ideas about God, goodness, truth, what society should be – that is all. Therein lies sorrow. To realize for yourself that you are that is great sorrow, but the greatest sorrow is that you do not realize it. To see that and find out what it means is to die.
11. Can you observe anything – a tree, your wife, your neighbor, the politician, the priest, a beautiful face – without any movement of the mind? The images of your wife, of your husband, of your neighbor, the knowledge of the cloud or of pleasure, all that interferes, doesn’t it? So when there is interference by an image of any kind, subtle or obvious, then there is no observation, there is no real, total awareness – there is only partial awareness. To observe clearly there must be no image coming in between the observer and the thing observed. When you look at a tree, can you look at it without the knowledge of that tree in botanical terms, or the knowledge of your pleasure or desire concerning it? Can you look at it so completely that the space between you – the observer – and the thing observed disappears? That doesn’t mean that you become the tree! But when that space disappears, there is the cessation of the observer, and only the thing which is observed remains. In that observation there is perception, seeing the thing with extraordinary vitality, its color, its shape, the beauty of the leaf or trunk; when there is not the center of the ‘me’ who is observing, you are intimately in contact with that which you observe.
12. If I think I am very beautiful and you tell me I am not, which may be a fact, do I like it? If I think I am very intelligent, very clever, and you point out that I am actually a rather silly person, it is very unpalatable to me. And your pointing out my stupidity gives you a sense of pleasure, does it not? It flatters your vanity, it shows you how clever you are. But you do not want to look at your own stupidity; you want to run away from what you are, you want to hide from yourself, you want to cover up your own emptiness, your own loneliness. So you seek out friends who never tell you what you are. You want to show others what they are; but when others show you what you are, you do not like it. You avoid that which exposes your own inner nature.
13. Real freedom is not something to be acquired, it is the outcome of intelligence. You cannot go out and buy freedom in the market. You cannot get it by reading a book, or by listening to someone talk. Freedom comes with intelligence.
But what is intelligence? Can there be intelligence when there is fear, or when the mind is conditioned? When your mind is prejudiced, or when you think you are a marvelous human being, or when you are very ambitious and want to climb the ladder of success, worldly or spiritual, can there be intelligence? When you are concerned about yourself, when you follow or worship somebody, can there be intelligence? Surely, intelligence comes when you understand and break away from all this stupidity. So you have to set about it; and the first thing is to be aware that your mind is not free. You have to observe how your mind is bound by all these things, and then there is the beginning of intelligence, which brings freedom. You have to find the answer for yourself. What is the use of someone else being free when you are not, or of someone else having food when you are hungry?
To be creative, which is to have real initiative, there must be freedom; and for freedom there must be intelligence. So you have to inquire and find out what is preventing intelligence. You have to investigate life, you have to question social values, everything, and not accept anything because you are frightened.
14. Have you ever thought about why you are being educated, why you are learning history, mathematics, geography, or what else? Have you ever thought why you go to schools and colleges? Is it information, with knowledge? What is all this so-called education? Your parents send you here, perhaps because they themselves have passed certain examinations and taken various degrees. Have you ever asked yourselves why you are here, and have the teachers asked why you are here? Do the teachers know why they are here? Should you not try to find out what all this struggle is about – this struggle to study, to pass examinations, to live in a certain place away from home and not be frightened, to play games well and so on? Should your teachers not help you to inquire into all this and not merely prepare you to pass examinations?
15. So religion becomes a matter of belief, and belief acts as a limitation on the mind; and the mind then is never free. But it is only in freedom that you can find out what is true, what is God, not through any belief; because your belief projects what you think God ought to be, what you thinkought to be true. If you believe God is love, God is good, God is this or that, your very belief prevents you from understanding what is God, what is true.
16. A conditioned mind is not free because it can never go beyond its own borders, beyond the barriers it has built around itself; that is obvious. And it is very difficult for such a mind to free itself from its conditioning and go beyond, because this conditioning is imposed upon it, not only by society, but by itself. You like your conditioning because you dare not go beyond. You are frightened of what your father and mother would say, of what society and the priest would say; therefore you help to create the barriers which hold you. This is the prison in which most of us are caught, and that is why your parents are always telling you – as you in turn will tell your children – to do this and not do that.
17. Now, there are many people who will tell you the purpose of life; they will tell you what the sacred books say. Clever people will go on inventing various purposes of life. The political group will have one purpose, the religious group will have another, and so on and on. And how are you to find out what is the purpose of life when you yourself are confused? Surely, as long as you are confused, you can only receive an answer which is also confused. If your mind is disturbed, if it is not really quiet, whatever answer you receive will be through this screen of confusion, anxiety, fear; therefore the answer will be perverted. So the important thing is not to ask what is the purpose of life, but to clear away the confusion that is within you. It is like a blind man asking, “What is light?” If I try to tell him what light is, he will listen according to his blindness, according to his darkness; but from the moment he is able to see, he will never ask what is light. It is there.
Originally featured on Waking Times. Used here with permission.
9-Year-Old Mexican Girl With Higher IQ Than Albert Einstein Already Studying to be Astronaut
Adhara Pérez may only be nine years old, but she already has big dreams – which is only fitting, considering the Mexico City native has an IQ of 162, a score even higher than quantum scientists Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.
Adhara has been taking IQ tests since she was only four years old, and has been applying her considerable brain power to studying advanced subjects that some of us could only dream of grasping.
At the age of seven, she was already ranked by Forbes magazine in 2019 as one of the most powerful women in Mexico.
The young prodigy is already studying for two degrees: one is systems engineering at the Universidad CNCI, and the other is industrial engineering at UNITEC.
She’s also been invited to pursue a master’s degree in atmospheric science from the University of Miami; as well as an offer to study physics at the University of Israel.
To top it off, she’s been invited to join the Aeronautics Program in Alabama and to study Space Science at NASA, reports Telemundo. She hopes to eventually become an astronaut.
However, the youngster is aiming to continue her studies at the University of Arizona and is quickly learning English in hopes of preparing to pursue her dreams.
“I have to stay there for three months to learn and get accustomed to hearing and speaking English,” Adhara explained to NBC San Diego.
At the age of three, Adhara was diagnosed with autism and bullied by neighborhood kids in the Mexican capital for being different. The youngster eventually fell into a deep depression, but this also began her journey toward a brighter future.
Upon being placed in therapy by her mother, she underwent various IQ tests and got a score of 162 – two points higher than Einstein and Hawking, who each scored 160.
Upon finishing high school at the age of eight, she began working on her degrees online. She’s also already written a book about her experience being bullied and the need for perserverence.
“Do not give up, and if you don’t like where you are, start planning where you want to be!”
7 Powerful Books That Will Unleash The Hidden Potential Of Your Mind
“A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.” ~George R.R. Martin
There it is: your mind –all leashed-up, bored, bookless and chasing its own tail in the corner. It’s time to unleash it. It’s time to toss it back into the shocking waters of wonder and awe. It’s time to distract it from the all too familiar tail (or tale, to wit), and give it a juicy carrot to chase around instead. Seven juicy carrots, to be exact.
So, store that leash, open up your mind, curl up with your best friend, and dive right on in to the following mind-unleashing books. But keep the light on. As Groucho Marx wittily opined, “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”
1.) “The Beginning of Infinity” by David Deutsche
“We never know any data before interpreting it through theories. All observations are, as Popper put it, theory-laden, and hence fallible, as all our theories are.” ~David Deutsche
From epistemology and quantum fungibility to environmental ethics and societal evolution, David Deutsche takes us on a thought-provoking journey into answering a single question: Is there a limit to what can be understood? He comes at a mind-expending answer of “no” by diving deep into the expanding waters of epistemology and ontology. He profoundly claims that our understanding of anything is always at the “beginning of infinity” and there will always be an infinite amount more left for us to understand. Basically surmising that, with accurate and adaptable knowledge, anything is possible unless it is prohibited by the laws of physics.
Highly rational and integrating, The beginning of Infinity launches us into higher thinking on the path toward better and better explanations. He takes us from parochial, outdated ways of thinking to the concept of universality and updated ways of thinking about the universe as a thing to be progressively evolved into using ever-expanding technologies. Thus bridging the gap from man to overman. As he made clear, “There is only one way of thinking that is capable of making progress, or of surviving in the long run, and that is the way of seeking good explanations through creativity and criticism.”
2.) “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
“Most enjoyable activities are not natural; they demand an effort that initially one is reluctant to make. But once the interaction starts to provide feedback to the person’s skills, it usually begins to be intrinsically rewarding.” ~Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Thanks to Csikszentmihalyi, the idea of the “flow state” has become a vital aspect of our cultural awakening. The optimal experience is gained through deep discipline in a particular field/art/sport that provides intrinsic reward, challenge, and feedback, thus integrating confidence, concentration, control, adaptability, and connectivity. Time stops or slows down. Insecurities disappear. We stop caring about what others think of us. A creative unfolding of something larger manifests. Everything flows effortlessly in interconnected unison with us as its interdependent spearhead. In short: we stop thinking and just do.
By simply asking the question, “When are people most happy?” Csikszentmihalyi, through time tested research, pinpoints flow states as the answer. Athletes call it “being in the zone,” mystics have described it as “ecstasy,” and artists term it “rapture.” Unleashing optimal experience is about doing what we love as a pathway toward greater meaning, happiness, and a self of higher complexity. By doing what we love in challenging ways, we leverage optimal experience into our lives. This book powerfully explains the psychology of this vital process.
3.) “Phi: A Voyage from the Brain to the Soul” by Giulio Tononi
“Murky thoughts, like murky waters, can serve two purposes only: to hide what lies beneath, which is our ignorance, or to make the shallow seem deep” ~Giulio Tononi
Phi takes the reader on a mind-altering journey through the nature of consciousness. It interweaves science, art, and the imagination with golden ratios, Fibonacci sequences, and fractal cosmology. The reader has the joy of perceiving the world through such masters as Galileo, Alan Turing, Darwin and Francis Crick, among others. From neuroscience to pseudoscience, from deep introspection to mindful meditation, Tononi elucidates on how consciousness is an evolving, ever-deepening awareness of ourselves as finite, spiritual beings in an infinite universe.
We learn how consciousness is integrated information and how the power of that integration requires the utmost responsibility and credulity. It teaches how the brain is the seat of our perceptions, and is a creative force par excellence, and can even create new shapes and new qualia. It teaches how, by growing consciousness, the universe comes more and more into being, and synthesizes the one and the many, the ego and the eco, the individual and the interdependence of all things into a unified force of Nature.
4.) “The Art of Fear” by Kristen Ulmer
““Everything is fine” is actually a copout, a stuck place, an obstruction to the exploration of who and what you are expanding into higher and further, not to mention the evolution of humanity.” ~Kristen Ulmer
The Art of fear is about curiously embracing fear rather than conquering or repressing it. It’s about rebuilding our understanding of fear from the ground up. It’s about realizing that Fear is only one of 10,000 employees at You Incorporated, and how they all need a voice. But Fear most of all, lest all voices become repressed shadows. The key to fear, she explains, is being curious about it, thereby harnessing its power rather than conquering it. Between courage and curiosity is everything we need to be fearless.
Ulmer’s personal journey with fear eventually led her to study with Zen masters, from which she learned a mindfulness tool called “Shift” which shifts our perspective of fear from ignorant repression to proactive curiosity, thus aligning it authentically with our true nature. The basic tenet being this: Instead of repressing fear, empower it, by being curious and questioning rather than judgmental and accusing. Honor it with deep respect so it doesn’t operate covertly in twisted ways beneath the surface.
5.) “Endgame: The Problem of Civilization” by Derrick Jensen
“Premise One: Civilization is not and can never be sustainable. This is especially true for industrial civilization.” ~Derrick Jensen
Endgame will take everything you think you know about being a social being in a seemingly functional society and turn it on its head. Definitely not for the typical statist, nor the faithful law-abiding citizen. Endgame is about the imperative need to immediately dismantle the unhealthy civilization that surrounds us. Endgame is a scathing, raging critique against the unhealthy, unsustainable, and ecologically unsound man-machine that is our modern culture.
Breaking the book down into a series of simple but increasingly provocative premises, Jensen takes us on a mind-bending and convincing ride into the unhealthy belly of the violent, ecocidal beast that is modern day civilization. His basic premise is simple: Industrial civilization is unsustainable. It’s not a question of “if” but a question of “when” it’s going to fail.
He argues that the longer it takes civilization to fall, the worse the tragedy will be. In that light, there are two things we should be doing: Bringing about the fall sooner rather than later; and preparing to survive it. His attitude is caustic and cavalier, but all the better for the shock value it provides. This book really flattens the box we’re all so desperately trying to think outside of. A complimentary (and perhaps less aggressive) read is Beyond Civilization by Daniel Quinn.
6.) Trickster Makes this World: Mischief, Myth, and Art by Lewis Hyde
“Better to operate with detachment, then; better to have a way but infuse it with a little humor; best, to have no way at all but to have instead the wit constantly to make one’s way anew from the materials at hand.” ~Lewis Hyde
Trickster Makes This World is a mythological cornerstone for Sacred Clowns and practicing trickster-gods the world over, digging into the guts of the primordial importance of sacred play and rowdy behavior. Hyde explores how trickster figures represent the “disruptive imagination” that inverts, rearranges, and overturns conventional wisdom. From Raven to Coyote, Monkey to Crow, Hermes to Loki, Eshu to Legba, Hyde reveals connections between mythological tricksters that form a hidden network that connects cultural divides.
The best part about this book is its ability to show how mythology becomes reality. “Trickster consciousness’” is a vital component of human imagination. It reveals that we are the gods of renewal and rebirth, if we choose to be. We are the creators of mischief and mayhem. We are the trickster gods in training. Trickster is us, and we are Trickster. We are the ultimate boundary-crossers. No manmade rules or laws can contain us, unless we let them. Even cosmic rules and laws can hardly contain us. Trickster makes this world by tearing the old world down through high humor, moral ambiguity, foolishness, and strategic transgression and then dances in the ashes of its destruction. But it is precisely from the dancing, the kicking up of dust and ash, where brave new worlds emerge.
7.) “Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them” by Joshua Greene
“We need a kind of thinking that enables groups with conflicting moralities to live together and prosper. In other words, we need a metamorality. We need a moral system that resolves disagreements among groups with different moral ideals, just as ordinary first-order morality resolves disagreements among individuals with different selfish interests.” ~Joshua Greene
Moral Tribes is hands-on moral psychology and a refreshing new take on utilitarianism. Greene wraps game theory, evolutionary biology, and neuroscience into a nice digestible package to bolster his theory of cognition, which builds elegantly into a theory of moral psychology. A sweeping synthesis of neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy, Moral Tribes opens a can of psychosocial worms that takes the concept of morality to the next level, revealing how we are exceptionally well-adept at solving the dilemma between “Me” and “Us,” through the concept of the “tribe,” but how we are ridiculously less-adept at solving the meta-dilemma between “Us” and “Them.”
Greene’s concept of metamorlity squares this psychosocial circle by counterintuitively applying utilitarianism to our base, knee-jerk reaction to morality (evolved morality) by becoming aware of our apathy in order to become more empathetic. By reinforcing humanity instead of nationalism, and worldly patriotism instead of patriotic nationalism, we turn the tables on both xenophobia and apathy and we become more compassionate and empathetic toward others. When we celebrate diversity instead of trying to cram the square peg of colonialism into the round hole of cultural affiliation, we turn the tables on the monkey-mind’s one-dimensional moral tribalism and we usher in Joshua Greene’s multi-dimensional metamorality.
10 Things You Don’t Wan’t To Know About Yourself
“Freedom is the right to tell people what they don’t want to hear.” ~George Orwell
Sick of all those self-affirmation articles? Tired of all the self-help gurus blowing sunshine up your skirt? Need something a little more grounding? More down-to-earth? More humbling? Here’s a fresh batch of wake-up calls and kicks-in-the-shin straight from the oven. Get it while its hot…
1.) You are an animal:
“What a chimera then is humankind. What a novelty; what a monster, what a chaos.” ~Blaise Pascal
This one is painfully obvious, but you probably need a reminder.
You are a naked ape. You are blood and bones and improbable apposable thumbs. You were born from the womb and you will one day be food for worms. In the womb, you went through all the phases of evolution: from a single-celled amoeba to a multicellular tadpole to a brain-wielding infant.
In your short life, you will piss and shit and bleed. You will rage and cry and sleep. You will go through all the profane motions of being a mortal mammal within an amoral universe. And here’s the real kick in the teeth: it’s going to hurt like hell. Hope you have a good sense of humor, because you’re going to need it.
2.) You are fallible:
“Things fall apart. The center cannot hold.” ~W.B. Yeats
You are terribly imperfect. You will make mistakes. More so, you are mistaken about a great many things. Most of which you will probably never admit to yourself, because admitting you are wrong is one of the most difficult things a human being can do.
But it goes deeper than that. There are fallibilities within fallibilities. It’s a veritable fractal forest of fallibility. A fractal wrongness, if you will.
You are more wrong about things than you can possibly imagine, and yet you insist. You force your wrongness. You are fierce with it, ruthlessly certain with it. You are so hungry for rightness that you bludgeon the Truth with your wrongness. All the while imagining that you are right.
As it turns out, you are more likely to be right by admitting that you are probably wrong than by declaring that you are probably right.
3.) You are a hypocrite:
“You have not learned to play and mock the way a man ought to play and mock. Are we not always seated at a great table for play and mockery? Learn to laugh at yourselves as a man ought to laugh. Learn to laugh beyond yourselves, and learn to laugh well.” ~Nietzsche
You are a hypocrite by nature. By the fact that you perceive an unfathomable reality with fallible faculties. It’s not even your fault. Just the fact that you are a “you” precludes hypocrisy. The self is smoke and mirrors, masks and mayhem. More akin to a chaotic theater of actors than a single personality.
Indeed, the self is masks all the way down perceiving delusions all the way up. Hypocrisy was always inevitable. Merely the biproduct of a fallible self.
Amidst this mayhem of fallible selfhood, you will experience dissimulation and self-deception, dishonesty and deep pretension, inauthenticity and artificiality. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The rest is hidden beneath layer upon layer of subconscious/unconscious double-dealings, feigned sincerity, two-faced unctuousness, and the mealymouthed choruses of canting contradictions.
Your hypocrisy knows no bounds, so you might as well own up to it.
4.) You will fail:
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” ~Samuel Beckett
Failure is a given when you are merely a fallible, hypocritical animal going through the motions of living life in an uncertain universe.
But there is wisdom hidden in failure if you are keen to it. Setbacks can be transformed into steppingstones. Tragedy can be hardwired into comedy. Catastrophe can be whittled into accomplishment. You can build a ladder out of the shattered pieces of your life and climb out of the abyss.
But guess what? You will probably fail again. The higher you climb the farther you may fall. When it comes to failure, there is always a deeper abyss. Defeat, hard luck, and utter collapse are right around the corner. Disappointment is Accomplishment’s kissing cousin. Tragedy is Triumph’s red-headed stepchild. Today’s achievement could very well be tomorrow’s tripwire. So be it. Use it all as a sharpening stone for your all-too-mortal soul.
5.) You are never not broken:
“We adore chaos because we love to produce order.” ~M.C. Escher
Wholeness does not imply perfection. It infers embracing brokenness as an essential part of being human. There is never a state in which you are not broken.
You are a walking, talking broken heart going through the motions of breaking apart and coming back together again. This also applies to the mind, the body, and the soul. You are constantly in a state of repair.
Your suffering is sufferable. What’s insufferable is your ideal of perfection. There will always be pain. There will always be heartache. There will always be existential angst. We wreck ourselves against these. Then we knock out the dents, mend the cracks, and heal the wounds. We do this in the hope that it will make us stronger. But perhaps it won’t.
The wound may or may not become a sacred wound. All you can do is hurt, heal, and hope. Hurt, heal, and hope. From fragility to robustness to antifragility, you will always be in a state of falling apart and coming back together again. Embrace it.
6.) You have a dark side:
“There are no shortcuts to wholeness. The only way to become whole is to put our arms lovingly around everything we know ourselves to be: self-serving and generous, spiteful and compassionate, cowardly and courageous, treacherous and trustworthy. We must be able to say, ‘I am all of the above.’” ~Parker J. Palmer
You have a shadow. Even your shadow has a shadow called the golden shadow. Your shadow is your repressed or unconscious self, struggling to be liberated and more conscious. Awareness is key. Becoming aware of our shadow side is shining a light into the darkness and giving our dark side permission to shine its blacklight back into the blinding light, which creates a unity of opposites.
An empowered dark side balances out the equation of the complicated human condition. Without this balance, you risk fragile one-dimensionality and a brittle ego terrified of taking responsibility for its shadow and thus fearful of the shadow of others.
You cannot fully know yourself without knowing your dark side and embracing your shadow. Such wholeness breeds wisdom and the ability to experience the full range of what it means to be human.
7.) Your beliefs limit you:
“If you adopt an idea or perception as the absolute truth, you close the door of your mind. Attachment to views, attachment to ideas, attachment to perceptions are the biggest obstacle to truth.” ~The Buddha
Your beliefs are incredibly restricting. You’ve been indoctrinated to think that you need to believe. Even worse, you’ve been brainwashed to believe more than you think.
In the battle against bewitchment, all beliefs, no matter how powerful or well-intended, are a hinderance to clear thought and self-improvement.
tter to think rather than believe. Thinking that something might be true allows for error, fallibility, and wrongness. Believing that something is certainly true cuts us off from all other possibilities. Belief is all or nothing, predicated upon faith despite facts or evidence. Thought is open-ended, taking beliefs, facts, and evidence into deep consideration and then using probability and validity to discover the truth.
More importantly, thinking rather than believing allows for skepticism and questioning. It is considered blasphemous to question a belief. Whereas questioning a thought is considered appropriate. Might as well just skip belief altogether and simply take things into thoughtful consideration.
8.) You are culturally conditioned:
“When war turns whole populations into sleepwalkers, outlaws don’t join forces with alarm clocks. Outlaws, like poets, rearrange the nightmare.” ~Tom Robbins
You are programmed to think a certain way. This programming has propped-up your identity into perceiving a particular worldview that may or may not be based in reality. It might not even be healthy. This identity tied up in your worldview is an abstraction of an abstraction, a story within a story that you’ve convinced yourself is true.
But you have the power to reprogram your programming.
We are all conditioned by culture. The key is to become aware of it and to weigh our conditioning against the truth of reality. Then recondition the conditioning. We each have our own Plato’s Cave to navigate.
The extent to which you can become aware of your own “cave” will be the extent of your flexibility, open-mindedness, and personal freedom.
9.) You know less than you think:
“Some people are more certain of everything than I am of anything.” ~Robert Rubin
You think you know more than you actually do. Your certainty about a great many things limits your imagination, creative thinking, and ability to question. It leads to dogmatic reasoning and close-mindedness.
ou are just so certain, aren’t you? Your certitude is so powerful that you cannot see past your beliefs. Hung up on what you’ve found, you have given up the search. Your journey has come to an end. Your certainty has led you to a dead-end. You are stuck. And the only way out is to question what you think you know.
The more you question, the more you realize that the only answer that makes any sense is to keep questioning. When you stop questioning the journey for truth comes to an end and stagnation, sloth, and dogmatism begin to rule your world. Keep things in perspective by accepting that you know less than you think you do and keep questioning.
10.) Your life is terribly inconsequential:
“Don’t slip on the banana peel of nihilism, even while listening to the roar of Nothingness.” ~Lawrence Ferlinghetti
When it comes down to it, your life is a flash in the pan. It’s dust in the cosmic wind. It’s an infinitesimally insignificant spark in an unfathomably dark, unforgiving, and meaningless universe. But it is a spark.
What you do won’t matter in the grand scheme of things. But it’s very important that you do it anyway. Why? Because you are the universe attempting to become aware of itself. You are an awareness machine in an otherwise unaware cosmos. You are a meaning-generator in a reality void of meaning. You might be nothing more than a speck in the universe, but you are also the entire universe in a speck.
Either way, you will one day be dust. Your tiny insignificant life will end. Face that fleetingness with a fierceness. Laugh into the abyss. Face fear with fearlessness. Climb the highest mountain and kick God in the nuts. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Or not. None of it will matter in the end. You will still be the butt-end of the cosmic joke. It’s all laughable. So you might as well have a laugh.
Gary Z McGee, Self-inflicted Philosophy, republished here with permission.
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