Thursday, May 29, 2008

The good life

"For Taoists, the good life is only the natural life lived skilfully. It has no particular purpose. It has nothing to do with the will, and it does not consist in trying to realise any ideal. Everything we do can be done more or less well; but if we act well it is not because we translate our intentions into deeds. It is because we deal skilfully with whatever needs to be done. the good life means living according to our natures and circumstances. There is nothing that says that it is bound to be the same for everybody, or that it must conform with 'morality'. "

"Seeing Clearly means not projecting our goals into the world; acting spontaneously means acting according to the needs of the situation. Western moralists will ask what is the purpose of such action, but for Taoists the good life has no purpose. It is like swimming in a whirlpool, responding to the currents as they come and go. 'I enter with the inflow, and emerge with the outflow, follow the Way of the water, and do not impose my selfishness upon it. This is how I stay afloat in it,' says the Chuang-Tzu. "

"For people in thrall to 'morality', the good life means perpetual striving. For Taoists it means living effortlessly, according to our natures. The freest human being is not one who acts on reasons he has chosen for himself, but one who never has to choose. Rather than agonising over alternatives he responds effortlessly to situations as they arise. He lives not as he chooses but as he must. Such a human being has the perfect freedom of a wild animal -- or a machine. As the Lieh-Tzu says: 'The highest man at rest is as though dead, in movement is like a machine. He knows neither why he is at rest nor why he is not, why he is in movement nor why he is not.'"

John Gray's, Straw Dogs, p.112-115

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


"The I is a thing of the moment, and yet our lives are ruled by it. We cannot rid ourselves of this inexistent thing. In our normal awareness of the present moment the sensation of selfhood is unshakeable. This is the primordial human error, in virtue of which we pass our lives as in a dream." pg 78

"If what is at issue is not truth but happiness and freedom, why must philosophy have the last word? Why should not faith and myth have equal rights? Formerly philosophers sought peace of mind while pretending to seek the truth. Perhaps we should set ourselves a different aim: to discover which illusions we can give up, and which we will never shake off. We will still be seekers after truth, more so than in the past; but we will renounce the hope of a life without illusion. Henceforth our aim will be to identify our invincible illusions. Which untruths might we be rid of, and which can we not do without? -- that is the question, that is the experiment."pg 83

John Gray, Straw Dogs

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Art, poetry, religion

"I can see no other reason for the existence of art and poetry and religion except as they tend to restore in us a freshness of vision and a more emotional glamour and more vital sense of life. For as we grow older in life, our senses become gradually benumbed, our emotions become more callous to suffering and injustice and cruelty, and our vision of life is warped by too much preoccupation with cold, trivial realities. Fortunately, we have a few poets and artists who have not lost that sharpened sensibility, that fine emotional response and that freshness of vision, and whose duties are therefore to be our moral conscience, to hold up a mirror to our blunted vision, to tone up our withered nerves. Art should be a satire and a warning against our paralyzed emotions, our devitalized thinking and our denaturalized living. It teaches us unsophistication in a sophisticated world. It should restore to us health and sanity of living and enable us to recover from the fever and delirium caused by too much mental activity. It should sharpen our senses, re-establish the connection between our reason and our human nature, and assemble the ruined parts of a dislocated life again into a whole, by restoring our original nature. Miserable indeed is a world in which we have knowledge without understanding, criticism without appreciation, beauty without love, truth without passion, righteousness without mercy, and courtesy without a warm heart!"
The Importance of Living, Lin Yutang, p141

Sentimental nature

"Somewhere in our adult life, our sentimental nature is killed, strangled, chilled or atrophied by an unkind surrounding, largely through our own fault in neglecting to keep it alive, or our failure to keep clear of such surroundings. In the process of learning "work experience," there is many a violence done to our original nature, when we learn to harden ourselves, to be artificial , and often to be cold-hearted and cruel, so that as one prides oneself upon gaining more and more worldly experience, his nerves become more and more insensitive and benumbed--especially in the world of politics and commerce. As a result, we get the great "go-getter" pushing himself forward to the top and brushing everybody asid; we get the man of iron will and strong determination, with the last embers of sentiment, which he calls foolish idealism or sentimentality, gradually dying out in his breast. It is that sort of person who is beneath my contempt. The world has too many cold-hearted people. If steralization of the unfit should be carried out as a state policy, it should begin with sterilizing the morally insensible, the artistically stale, the heavy of heart, the ruthlessly successful, the cold-heartedly determined and all those people who have lost the sense of fun in life--rather than the insane and the victims of tuberculosis. For it seems to me that whiel a man with passion and sentiment may do many foolish and precipitate things, a man without passion or sentiment is a joke and a caricature."
The Importance of Living, Lin Yutang, p.99

Monday, May 12, 2008

Never regret what you've done

Believing in yourself makes you sexy. Don't judge your own choices. Never regret what you've done. It's OK to apologize for unfortunate outcomes... but remember you are doing the best you can. All you can ever do is learn from choices and outcomes & it doesn't make sense to obsess over missteps.


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Comedy: an escape from illusions

"If comedy is an escape from anything, it is an escape from illusions. The comic, by using the Voice of Reason, reminds us of our True Reality, and in that moment of recognition, we laugh, and the reality of the daily grind is shown for what it really is - UNREAL... a JOKE. True comedy turns circles into spirals. What before seemed a tiresome, frightening, or frustrating wall, the comic deftly and fearlessly steps through, proving the absurdity of it all. The audience is relieved to know they're not alone in thinking, "This bullshit we see and hear all day MAKES NO SENSE. Surely I'm not the only one who thinks so. And surely there must be an answer..." Good comedy helps people know they're not alone. Great comedy provides an answer."
~Bill Hicks