Archive for the ‘Philosophising’ Category


Philosophy Tuesday

March 13, 2018

“Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement.

In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success.

You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them.

To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.”

Bill Watterson (emphasis mine)


Philosophy Tuesday

March 6, 2018

In the realm of contribution, there is no such thing as a greater, or lesser, contribution.  Contribution isn’t about size, or magnitude.  It is about, and there is only, contribution.  Or not.

It’s worth recognizing this.  Because it can be all too easy to slip into the world of judgment and get hung up on assessing and rating our contribution(s).  It can be easy to see the action that makes the big difference and see things begin to shift and think “Well darn… they did that thing there and now things are altering;  I guess I wasn’t the one.”

Except that you are… you are the one of the many.  Without your contribution, that “final” tipping point that is so visible and seems so momentous may never have happened.  Every bit is a contribution, and every bit makes the next contribution possible, and every bit cements the previous contribution.  Every brick helps build the building.  Your contribution was integral to the big shift starting.

When we keep our gaze only on the capstone, when we limit our view only to that final moment, we lose sight of our power.  Why bother!?  it seems like.  My actions clearly don’t matter.  Things are intractable.  I tried but… it didn’t make a difference.  I knew it!  Might as well move on to other things and cross my fingers.

Which is, of course, the most surefire to ensure that indeed we’ll have no impact.   We will definitively not be a contribution.*

When we focus on contribution as contribution, free from magnitude, we likewise gain freedom to participate and contribute everywhere in our lives.  Opportunities open up.

And we get to aim ourselves.  There is contribution and not contribution.  Aimlessly, without care or reflection, we may be missing out on contribution, or contributing towards a direction we don’t want it to be.  It’s no contribution.  Mindfulness is still vital.

Moments of contribution are a gift.  To contribute is to get the joy and fulfillment of building something. To be contributed to is to receive love and worthiness.  And contribution can be everywhere.  Every moment, every interaction, every choice, can be a contribution.

It’s a big responsibility.  But we’re big people.  Let’s play.


* And it’s worth remembering that not taking action is still taking an action that still produces a result – a result that likely will be supporting the opposite of the contribution we would want to make…


Philosophy Tuesday

February 27, 2018

There is a difference between mental health, and mental illness.

Our bodies can be in poor health without an actual illness or pathogen acting up on us.  Poor eating, stress, lack of sleep, overwork, exhaustion, rough environmental conditions, all of these can sap us of our vitality and wellbeing, leaving us weakened.

There’s nothing “wrong” to treat.  We’re just weakened.

So too it is with our mental (to which I am encompassing whole wide realm of mental/emotional/’spiritual’) health.  It is very possible to be in a weakened mental health state without a physical/brain impingement acting up on us.  Stress, environment, lack of sleep, social atmospheres, interactions, exposure, messaging, stories, all of these can sap us of our mental vitality and wellbeing, leaving us weakened.

It is, perhaps, an apt description for one of the ways Buddhism describes the term Dukkha, or dis-ease.

And when we are weakened, we are, in all manners of ways, not going to perform our best.  Our thoughts, feelings, judgments, decisions, and actions are all going to be impaired.  We can act out in ways we truly don’t want to, be rash, get into arguments, make logic errors, buy the wrong things, say terrible things, make poor choices, overreact, get into accidents, be violent, all manners of ways and actions that are far from the noble truths of our authentic desires.

It is vitally important to know this difference between mental illness and mental health.  Because when we focus only on the former, and get into binary “have/don’t have” mental illness thinking, we can greatly miss that which affects us and millions like us.  We can take what’s so and think it is the norm.  We can dismiss our own troubles and unwellness, rendering ourselves susceptible to the fallout of the unwellness while blinding us to the steps we can take to lead ourselves back to health.

Most importantly, without holding this difference out in front of us we can miss all the influences that are making us all unwell, and so miss having the conversations and taking the actions necessary to lead our collective selves back towards wellness and even strength.

And within a community, that strength is what we want.  When those in our community are well, we are well.  It is a foundation that supports individual lives, with greater freedom, peace, and peace of mind.



Philosophy Tuesday

February 20, 2018

It is often best

to not think about those things

about ourselves

that aren’t the way we’d want them to be

that don’t work out the way we’d want them to

that we don’t like acting in that particular way

that we don’t want going in that predictable, particular way

that can, in hindsight, seem nasty, petty, and even weird

and that lead to outcomes that we don’t actually want

all those things

best not to think of them as BAD

or, even more commonly,

to view ourselves as BAD

and most certainly WRONG

but rather

to think about our faults and foibles


they are UNPRODUCTIVE ways of BEING

that when they arise

hijack everything

and lead us down those paths

that we’d really rather not go down

because if we are BAD

what else can we be?

judge, jury, and executioner

we’ve committed ourselves

to a prison of blame

and a continuation of BADNESS

but if we have ways of BEING


then it’s a different story

ways of BEING

are eminently examinable


and a domain of creation

that which triggers us

into those realms of predictability


blank slates can be created

and by stepping into

a new way of BEING

new realms of POSSIBILITY open up

for new accesses

new actions

and new outcomes

owning our future

and walking the paths

towards who we truly want to be

and to what we truly want


Philosophy Tuesday

February 13, 2018

“In most of our human relationships,

we spend much of our time reassuring one another

that our costumes of identity are on straight.”

– Ram Dass

(I like this quote for that reminder of how easy it is not only for us to get caught up into the world of our own identities, but also into that of others… and how much that social construct and social contract (both between individuals but also the wider view of what’s “normal” within a society) invades into our interactions.  A reminder of how quickly we can become puppets playing out the typical game.  We project out into the world an identity, and then, once it gets accepted by the world/others, we need to spend all our time protecting, living up to, and maintaining that image of identity.  At the same time, others behave towards us based on that projected identity, keeping us further locked in (and, of course, we do the same in reverse — relating to others based on their identity costume).  Without specifically agreeing to it, we’ve decided to relate to each other as that (seemingly fixed) identity.  And then we get kinda trapped…)

(I also like this for it shines a light on just how much energy (one reason we can be so darn tired at the end of the day… it’s exhausting to protect something all day!) and creative juice this consumes.  The productivity it eliminates.  We’re less capable of self-expression not only because we’ve tied ourselves to our constructed identities, but also because there’s no time (or brain power) left to explore.  And it speaks to the excitement and expansiveness of what’s possible when we (collectively) let that go…)


Philosophy Tuesday

February 6, 2018

There is a difference between a Possibility, and an Expectation.  And it’s a good one.

An expectation holds a high regard as to what will likely happen.  An expectation holds dear that something will happen.  An expectation demands that something should happen.

An expectation is a possible future coupled with an attachment.

It should go this way… or else.

A possibility, on the other hand, acknowledges that is a creation.

A possibility calls towards the future and puts a vision out there, without  clinging.  A possibility aims broader, foregoing a specific outcome and specific paths to get there.  Possibilities live in the world of intents, recognizing the broader avenues of fulfillment.

And here’s the fun part:

If you have an expectation, and it goes unmet, then you’re left with disappointment.

If you have a possibility, and it goes unmet, then what you’re left with is…  a possibility.

No upset.  No frustration.  Only a place of clarity and power and creation from which to spring forward into what’s next and towards the fulfillment of your possibilities, and the joy therein.


Philosophy Tuesday

January 30, 2018

A few years ago, a friend of mine was sharing about her battle against cancer.  Needless to say, it was an ordeal, and her daily experience was not pleasant in the slightest.*  “Oy,” I said, “I can only imagine what it must be like for you right now.”

“Thank you,” she replied.  But the way she said ‘thank you’ went well beyond a pleasantry… there was a depth to it, a certain fire around it mixed in with appreciation.  I must have given her a quizzical look, for she explained.  “I’ve had a lot of people tell me ‘Oh, I know how you feel.’  But they really don’t.  Unless you’ve gone through it, you don’t know at all what it feels like.”

Later on that evening, that exchange got me thinking.

Imagination is the path into empathy.  It allows us to envision other worlds and other people, and get a glimpse for ourselves what things could be like given the place, past, and experience of another.  It calls to us to get out of our own frame and get into that of another.

Imagination is of prime importance in the realm of being human.

But perhaps, in an opposite-side-of-the-same-coin sort of way, it is by putting aside our imagination and recognizing that imagination is just that – an ephemeral visualization of make believe – that even greater empathy is gained.

Realizing that no matter how great and creative we are, no matter how powerful our imagination, there exists still worlds and possibilities and experiences and feelings we haven’t visited, or are not (yet) capable of visiting, in our mind. **

And so  it may well be presumptuous to think we know something, and that we know the lows, or highs, that is and are possible to experience.

We can imagine what it might be like;  and then leave open the possibility that it might even be so much more.

Imagination is the start of empathy.  Going beyond Imagination into No Imagination could well be its fulfillment.


* Fortunately, she was a facile with the distinguishing of pain and uncomfortableness vs suffering.  Her spirits stayed lofty even as her body went sideways.

** Such as the experiences of those in the recent eclipse, or even my trip to Japan and visiting the works of Tadao Ando on Naoshima Island