Monday, April 22, 2019
................................................John Bell Condliffe:
"The human race has made progress towards the good life as long as thought and economic activity were left free to cross national boundaries and creeds." "But now," he observed, "we face a new and more formidable superstition than the world has ever known, the myth of the nation-state, whose priests are as intolerant as those of the Inquisition. The struggle for the rights of the individual against the all-powerful and intolerant nation-state is the most difficult and crucial issue of our generation."
"the essential condition of effective planning is that the planners must be prepared to dragoon those who do not fit into their plans."
Condiliffe understood that unchecked state power was one of the root causes of poverty, not one of the solutions.
-as excerpted from William Easterly's The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, And The Forgotten Rights Of The Poor
When Epicurus defined happiness as the supreme good, he warned his disciples that it is hard work to be happy. Material achievements alone will not satisfy us for long. Indeed, the blind pursuit of money, fame, and pleasure will only make us miserable. Epicurus recommended, for example, to eat and drink in moderation, and to curb one's sexual appetites. In the long run, deep friendship will make us more content than a frenzied orgy. Epicurus outlined an entire ethic of dos and don'ts to guide people along the treacherous path to happiness.
Epicurus was apparently on to something. Being happy doesn't come easy. Despite out unprecedented achievements in the past few decades, it is far from obvious that contemporary people are significantly more satisfied than their ancestors in bygone years.
-Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
The people who radiate a permanent joy have given themselves over to lives of deep and loving commitment. Giving has become their nature, and little by little they have made their souls incandescent. There's always something flowing out of the interiority of our spirit. For some people it's mostly fear or insecurity. For the people we call joyful, it's mostly gratitude, delight, and kindness.
-David Brooks, The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life
Today's world is characterized by a ferocious competition for "moral authority". The attraction is the innate vanity and perceived power of domination and control over others. This competition applies to whole countries, political and philosophical systems, and entire cultures, all of which claim moral superiority and, therefore, justification for all actions. Victimology is the sly back door by which a "make wrong" becomes a manipulative level of moral blackmail and extortion.
In today's media-driven society, even the most extreme behaviors, as well as bizarre, delusional declarations, are given equal rank with truth. By this device, alleged rights and claims ensue that have the added value of being "righteous" and "superior", by which anything and everything can be justified or excused, or at least public opinion solicited for sympathy. The world now worships not Divinity but the ego and thus caters to aggrandized narcissistic rhetoric and blatant falsity of even a psychotic degree. . . .Society is now the arena for competition of self-proclaimed, aggrandized moral "rights" that are actually merely selfish egocentricity for gain.
-David R. Hawkins, Reality, Spirituality, and Modern Man
Not every day is going to turn out the way we want it to. All routines and to-do lists are aspirational. "You go diving for pearls," said Jerry Garcia, "but sometimes you end up with clams.
The important thing is to make it to the end of the day, no matter what. No matter how bad it gets, see it through to the end so you can get to tomorrow. After spending the day with his five-year-old son, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote in his diary, "We got rid of the day as well as we could." Some days you just have to get rid of as best as you can.
When the sun goes down and you look back on the day, go easy on yourself. A little self-forgiveness goes a long way. Before you go to bed, make a list of everything you did accomplish, and write down a list of what you want to get done tomorrow. Then forget about it. Hit the pillow with a clear mind. Let your subconscious work on stuff while you're sleeping.
A day that seems a waste now might turn out to have a purpose or use or beauty to it later on.
-Austin Kleon, Keep Going: 10 Ways To Stay Creative In Good Times And Bad
Sunday, April 21, 2019
To a visitor who described himself as a seeker after Truth the Master said, "If what you seek is the Truth, there is one thing you must have above all else."
"I know. An overwhelming passion for it."
"No. An unremitting readiness to admit you may be wrong."
-Anthony de Mello, One Minute Wisdom
But the world's problems are very simple. They are the lack of love between human beings, the lack of compassion, of tolerance, of humility, and of acceptance. They are the arrogance, hatred, and violence that have polluted human hearts. They are prejudice and intolerance. If a person has no peace in their heart, there can be no peace around them. Such a person will always find a reason to argue and fight. Only when a person's own heart is peaceful can their interactions be peaceful.
How to solve the problem of hatred? Is there any political solution? Can love and acceptance be legislated and enforced? Can any law change the human heart? The heart only changes when it decides to change. And that is a personal choice that each person must make for themselves. We cannot enforce it upon them. We can only inspire them and offer them the tools.
Therefore, rather than trying to transform others, let us devote ourselves to our own transformation. As for others, let us be nondemanding of them. Let us be content to love them as they are, to accept them as they are, and to be ever ready to serve them as we would members of our own family. This is the humanity that the world sorely needs.
Only love can make it possible to accept another person's flaws. Have you ever seen a mother give up on her children? Even if her child constantly misbehaves, getting thrown out of school or worse, the mother remains by their side, even after everyone else is fed up. This is due to the mother's love. Where there is love, there is forgiveness. Where there is love, there is compassion.
Love is the root of every noble quality. Therefore, when there is love, do you need any other quality? When love is present, acceptance, forgiveness, and compassion all become redundant. Love alone is sufficient. No other quality is required. We all know this. The great teachers of the past and present have all said so. But if teachings were enough, wouldn't we be transformed by now?
-Kamlesh D. Patel and Joshua Pollock, The Heartfulness Way: Heart-Based Mediations for Spiritual Transformation
Most investors assume that risk is a form of "I know it when I see it." Unfortunately, risk is nearly impossible to define because it has so many permutations. To some it's volatility. To others it's losing money. Longevity risk—outliving your money—is probably the biggest risk of all. Then you have all the risks within each investment class: duration, interest rates, earnings shortfalls, recessions, permanent impairment, innovation, competition, and so on. The list cold seemingly go on forever.
If there is an ironclad rule in the world of investing, it's that risk and reward are always and forever attached at the hip. . . . understand that there is no such thing as a free lunch.
-Ben Carlson, A Wealth of Common Sense
But still, this was his hometown, his home state. He had played for the mighty Buckeyes and then, albeit briefly, the Cleveland Browns. He was a product of the Midwest. He never got too high and never got too low. He looked at the world realistically. He was a jeans and beer kind of guy. He could never fit inside a Ferrari, not that he would ever want to. He always tried to do the right thing. He helped others when they needed it.
-David Baldacci, as found on page 298 of Redemption
Saturday, April 20, 2019
Nothing appalls me more than to hear people refer to the drinking of wine as it it were a forbidden and fascinating way of sneaking alcohol into one's system. My flesh creeps when I hear the legitimate love of the fruit of the vine treated as if it were a longer-winded way of doing what the world does with grain neutral spirits and cheap vermouth. With wine at hand, the good man concerns himself, not with getting drunk, but the drinking in all the natural delectabilities of wine; taste, color, bouquet; its manifest graces; the way it complements food and enhances conversation; and its sovereign power to turn evenings into occasions, to lift eating beyond nourishment to conviviality, and to bring the race, for a few hours at least, to that happy state where men are wise and women beautiful, and even one's children begin to look promising. If someone wants to bare effects of alcohol in his bloodstream, let him drink the nasty stuff neat, or have a physician inject it. But do not let him soil my delight with his torpedo-juice mentality.
Wine is not—let me repeat—in order to anything but itself. To consider it otherwise is to turn it into an idol, a tin god to be conjured with. Moreover, it is to miss its point completely. We were made in the image of God. We were created to delight, as He does, in the resident goodness of creation. We were not made to sit around mumbling incantations and watching our insides to see what creation will do for us. Wine does indeed have subjective effects, but they are to be received gratefully and lightly. They are not solemnly important psychophysical adjustments, but graces, super-added gifts. It was St. Thomas, again, who gave the most reasonable and relaxed of all the definitions of temperance. Wine, he said, could lawfully be drunk usque ad hilaritatem, to the point of cheerfulness. It is a happy example of the connection between sanctity and sanity.
-Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb
photo via Kelsey Knight/Unsplash
To transcend the world requires compassion and acceptance. They are the result of inner humility by which the world is surrendered to God with increased peace of mind. One of the most valuable spiritual tools about which, historically, little has been said is the great value of humor. Comedy arises as a result of the comparison that is made between perception and and essence, and the resolution is a consequence of the acceptance of the ambiguity.
Humor is quite different from ridicule or malice as it is compassionate in that it accepts human limitations and foibles as being intrinsic. It therefore assists 'wearing the world like a light garment' and illustrates that in being like the reed that bends in the wind, one survives instead of being broken by rigidity.
-David R. Hawkins, Reality, Spirituality, and Modern Man
A general Dissolution of Principles & Manners will more surely overthrow the Liberties of America than the whole Force of the Common Enemy. While the People are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their Virtue they will be ready to surrender their Liberties to the first external or internal Invader.
-Samuel Adams, from a 1779 letter to James Warren
Friday, April 19, 2019
On a refreshingly brisk, beautifully clear fall evening, Amos Decker was surrounded by dead bodies. Yet he wasn't experiencing the electric blue light sensation that he usually did when confronted with the departed.
-David Baldacci, Redemption
To the disciples' embarrassment the Master once told a bishop that religious people have a natural bent for cruelty.
"Why?" demanded the disciples after the bishop had gone.
"Because they all too easily sacrifice persons for the advancement of a purpose," said the Master.
-Anthony de Mello, One Minute Wisdom
"Your essence is changeable, like your mind. Every action you take, every thought you have, changes you, even if just a little, making you a little more elevated or a little more degraded."
-David Brooks, from his introduction to The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life
Thursday, April 18, 2019
The subject of this memoir is revered by multitudes of his countrymen as the preserver of their commonwealth. This reverence has grown with the lapse of time and the accumulation of evidence. It is blended with a peculiar affection, seldom bestowed upon the memory of statesmen. It is shared today by many who remember with no less affection how their own fathers fought against him. He died with every circumstance of tragedy, yet it is not the accident of his death but the purpose of his life that is remembered.
-Lord Charnwood, Abraham Lincoln: A Complete Biography
Understanding the limits of your own competence is very valuable. Venture capitalist Fred Wilson put it simply: "The only way you win is by knowing what you're good at and what you're not good at, and sticking to what you're good at." Munger similarly believes that investors who get outside of what he calls their circle of competence can easily find themselves in big trouble. . . .
The idea behind the circle of competence is so simple that it is arguably embarrassing to say it out loud: when you do not know what you're doing, it is riskier than when you do know what you're doing. What could be simpler?
-Tren Griffin, Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor
"The question we need to ask ourselves is whether there is any place we can stand in ourselves where we can look at all that's happening around us without freaking out, where we can be quiet enough to hear our predicament, and where we can begin to find ways of acting that are at least not contributing to further destabilization."
-Ram Dass, as quoted from here