Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

March 24, 2020

Another reason to practice being present is that if you’re not, you’re going to miss shit.  Shit that you do.  Moreover, shit you say you don’t do.  That you don’t want to do.  That you’re immune to doing.  That doesn’t represent who you are.  And yet, there you are, doing just that or those things.

And wow then are you ever wide open to some rather hypocritical shit.*

If you say you are committed to learning and mindfulness and philosophy and being a great human being, and yet you don’t practice it, yet you do not want to hear about it when you’re not, yet you are not even willing to be present to when you are not being present, then you are, quite simply, lying.

 

* And I, for the record, am completely fascinated by our human capacity for hypocrisy.  And I’m not being facetious here… I am genuinely fascinated that we can oh so easily flop around and speak out of both sides without even noticing it.  And that’s the kicker; we can so easily, readily, unintentionally, and automatically do it and that we are pretty much always completely oblivious to the fact that we have even done it.

We can and will and do proclaim and defend and argue and run up the ramparts about something on the one hand and then – sometimes even almost immediately – do the same for something that is completely the opposite.  And as above, this is even for things we say and vehemently assert that we hold fundamental to our core – beliefs, morals, theories, history, stories, ‘truths’, actions – they are all immensely and readably fungible at a moment’s notice.

Last week’s post is a prime way this can happen, but so too is this very much tied into our identities as well as various other things.  They all engage our rationalizing engines such that what we – unless we develop our mindfulness and bring being present to bear – say and do shit that in the moment feels ancient and pure and rock solid yet is anything but, born of the moment and as nebulous as vapour.  And in those moments, we undermine our authenticity, our integrity, our morality, our ideals, and our humanity.

As I said, I am fascinated by this capacity of ours… and inspired for when we, through mindfulness and being present and self-cultivation, interrupt it and instead create who we want to be, and live by our authentic, central, selves.

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

March 17, 2020

It is not a matter of either/or.  It is not a matter of rational versus emotional.  For is not that one is bad and the other good.  They are not the antithesis of each other.  True, that is often how we do present them:  pitted against each other, one scorned, the other lauded.

But we are human.  Awesomeness and capability come from integration.  Not separation.  It is about being knowledge intelligent as well as emotionally intelligent.  For without the two holding hands in tandem we are all too easily led astray.

Remember – we can rationalize anything.  Our consciousness and awareness come to us already pre-filtered.  Without integration, we don’t realize when we’ve been hooked and we hoodwink ourselves into beliefs and actions that, while we are ready to viciously defend them, are unproductive and even counter to that which we profess.  Sometimes even beliefs and actions that run counter to the very logic altar at which we claim we worship.

Remember – we can feel anything.  All sorts of things.  And that emotions and feelings come and go.  And that is great.  It is a delicious part of being human.  Without them we wouldn’t feel joy, delight, wonder, gratitude, happiness, fulfillment, satisfaction, lust, love…  Even better, shaped by our past, in any given moment emotions also provide to us valuable signals.  They are an indicator that something’s up.  That we might want to pay attention.  It is a signal, however, that can get very intense.  Without integration, if we give them full control of the wheel, it can lead to some pretty wild driving indeed.  Fishtails, spinouts, burnouts, and crashes easily follow.

With that we can step into the practice of integration.  Intertwining.  Letting our knowledge intelligence, emotional intelligence, social intelligence, and indeed all of our various intelligences speak to each other, collaborate, and operate together.  And together, in harmony, choosing the best mode to be in the moment, giving us being and actions that move us forward in the best of ways.

And to cap it off, we get to enjoy it all.

 

(I still blame Descartes…)

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

March 10, 2020

“Resentment is a fire that burns with more light than heat.”

— Shakespeare (Well, not really, but kinda)

There is much to commend in that quote.  Resentment, animosity, bitterness, rancor, anger, malice…  these can all be powerful motivators.  As in, they can really propel us to get a lot done.  Channeling them pushes us into action and make us productive.  Sometimes even very, very, productive.

The thing is though, just as there is a difference between being efficient and being effective, there is a difference between being productive and being fruitful.  Resentment may get a lot done, but the results are often crap.  It doesn’t produce outcomes or works of weight and worthiness that we can be proud of.

So, while it may give us that burning rush, it’s all just a light show, with nothing left to actually drive the engine.  It doesn’t move us forward.  Worse, we may well, unwittingly, instead lead ourselves backwards.

It can be work to find a fuel that burns warmer than that of resentment and its ilk, but it is worth it.  It may not churn out things as fast, and it may feel less viscerally intense, but that which it produces endures… solid, authentic, beautiful, and worthy of who we truly are.

 

* For an additional take on this, here’s a video by John Green

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

March 3, 2020

Many years ago, I read about a research project* that was studying people’s opinions and decision-making processes, and specifically the speed at which they/we came to those conclusions.  What initially caught my attention was that the research was about web sites:  How long did it take someone to decide whether they liked a web page or not?

From the conclusions in the research paper, very fast.  As in on the order of a fraction of a second fast.  Webpage loads, and boom: like or dislike.

That’s how quick this happens.  That’s how short the window can be before our filters (a new one, in this case, but also heavily influenced by many already existing ones) come slamming down to colour our perception going forward.

And colour them they do, for the even more interesting bit was when the researchers followed up to show the participants a different site that was, in some way, better or more functional.  Most stuck with their initial choice, even if it was harder to use or to accomplish what they wanted from the site.  Partially in a “devil you know…” kind of way, but mostly very much in the “filtered view” kind of way.  Having decided it was a good site, so it remained.**

Our filters are amazingly powerful things.  And they’re not bad per se… but it is highly useful to know they are there.  Know that they can and do influence our feelings, thoughts, and emotions.  Know how they hook into our rationalization engine.  Know how they can figuratively blind us to what’s in front of our eyes, limiting possibilities and potentially making our lives much more arduous than it needs to be. And to know just how quickly they can come into being and lock us down, without us even being conscious that it happened.

When we do the work to go beyond just knowing about our filters and practice being mindful and present about them and their impact, we gain freedom:  freedom to take what our filters give us, or to set it aside and take a fresh and clear second (or third, or fourth) look.  And the freedom to do that at any time, no matter how long the filter has been in place.

 

* That for the life of me my Google-fu is not strong enough to find again…

** In a lot of ways, it could also be tied to “othering” – having decided we like this site, the site becomes part of the tribe, and so everything else becomes an outsider and therefore unconsciously viewed in a harsher light.

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

February 18, 2020

As we go through life – and this is doubly so when we are young, for it starts very early on – we hear things, see things, and learn things about the world and about living in it.  Things that we ourselves are years away from having to actually live through or to deal with.  Even in the cases where we experience some aspect(s) of it directly, like being a child of a parent, we are not on that end of it yet.  It is still some other world that lives out there in our, potential, future.

But we’re still getting ready for it.  Not deliberately… no, our minds are simply always vacuuming in all the data it can and vacuuming it in from everywhere.  Some comes from directly observing those around us, some comes from hearing what they say and describe, some comes from education, and a surprising amount comes from the stories we hear.  Just by the sheer amount and presence of media (be it books, movies, TV, etc) and, especially, due to the narrative structures they use to make it compelling, the stories we consume play a big role in what goes into our vacuum.

And like that our minds continue to pull it all in, cross-referencing, checking which ones agree with each other, bolstering those that are repeated, and all the while forming its model of the world.  A model that turns out to be invisible to us and that is, to our day-in and day-out lived experience, simply reality.  It’s how things are.

Until that one day when BAM!  In an instant we cross that bridge and are now confronted with a whole ‘new’ situation.  BAM, married.  BAM, a parent.  BAM, in the workforce.   BAM, an adult.  BAM, (fill in the blank here).  All of a sudden, we’re thrust into it.  We’ve never been there.  We’ve never done this.  We’ve never been in this position before.  There’s nothing for our prediction engine to guide us on how to behave/be/act.

Except, of course, for those realities, all those things about the world and living in it that, for years, our mind has dutifully been storing and crafting.  And so we immediately pull from it, and likewise immediately begin living it out.  We perpetuate it.  It becomes a self-fulfilling story.  Even if the outcome may not be great or bring us or those around us joy, freedom, love, or peace of mind, it’s how it IS… we’ve even got all this evidence for it.  How could we act or be in any other way?  It’d be like breaking the laws of physics, right?

Not at all.  No physics breaking required.  Just being present, mindful, and remembering that many of the ways we experience things and many of the ways we be in life are not intentional on our part.  We weren’t squeezed out of the womb with it.  Rather, we are just repeating a pattern that we automatically cobbled together over time.  And, most importantly, it doesn’t have to be that way, nor do we have to be that way.  It is interruptable.

And with that we instantly gain a measure of freedom and choice.  In that clearing, we can reorient ourselves towards new and glorious possibilities, possibilities that enliven us and all those around us.

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

February 11, 2020

Someone once shared with me the story about a woman who had long been a triathlete.  She did all the things a triathlete would do:  she trained diligently every day (often in the early morning), she traveled to and entered several races every year, she tracked her progress and adjusted things as needed, read magazines, bought all the clothes, had the sticker on her car, and on and on.  It was a big part of her life.  Being a triathlete was her thing!  She WAS a triathlete!  She told people she loved it.  And through all that she indeed did quite well at it.

One day though, doing the kind of philosophical work that unconceals our barriers and blind spots, she saw for herself what had her be so ambitious and so single-minded when it came to triathlons.  Many, many years ago, through circumstances that involved her father, she had made a decision:  “I will be a triathlete, and I will crush it.”  She also remembered that soon thereafter is when she began training, and how quickly it grew to the prominent (and priority) place it now held in her life.  How all encompassing it had become.

And, no doubt, that decision gave her drive, it gave her tenacity, and it pushed her onward when things were tough, whether in training, on the field, or in other areas of her life.  It was motivation, and, well, it motivated, always moving things forward as a powerful force in her life that helped her achieve a lot of results she liked.

But it gave her no freedom.  It wasn’t a possibility, it was a position, quickly forged into her identity with all the rigidness and protection that entailed.  She wasn’t in it for herself.  It may have originated from an initial desire, yes, but it became about her father, about those circumstances, about the world, and all about something that happened in her past.  Everything she did in that area came with a big dose of “in order to”, an ulterior (albeit hidden) motive.

And so, even though she was successful, there was little fulfillment in it all.

Years later, sitting in that workshop, the memory of that decision vivid.  But in that moment of clarity and insight, she put aside her decision.  She let it go, and in so doing, a clearing was created, inside of which a choice arose:  to swim/bike/run, or not to swim/bike/run.

She chose to be a triathlete.

Now, it may seem like there’s no switch there, or that it was the easy choice, but it was so much more than that.  Because for first time she, authentically, from a place of freedom, was choosing to be a triathlete.  In a way that was totally in line with who she wanted to be.  And inside of that choice, something amazing happened.  For the first time she began to enjoy the training, the competitions, and the whole world of being a triathlete both to a level that she never knew was possible, and in a way that she hadn’t realized before how much she hadn’t been enjoying it.  The lid had been blown off on her experience, and it was awesome.

To the outside observer, it may seem that nothing had changed.  But for her, the whole world shifted.  She was expressing herself fully through the act of the triathlon.  She gained fulfilment, passion, joy, excitement, elation.  And, as a sweet, sweet bonus, her performance rocketed to new heights almost instantly.  Unbridled, she soared, in both meanings of the word.

Mindfulness, ontological digging, and transformation are wonderful for those areas of our lives where something isn’t working or isn’t working as well as we’d like to.  But the impact they can have on those areas of life that are already going great can be even more exciting and amazing.  Not to mention definitively surprising!  After all, it was already good, how much better can it be?

Bucketloads better, it turns out.

Ready to reach for the stars?  Let’s go…

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

February 4, 2020

Our great desire and need to be known and heard and related

Often shows up to us as “attention being paid to me.”

And yet, so much of our life now is about that not happening.

Through phones interrupting interactions,

Or communication happening online,

Or through some game or thing,

There is always something mediating & hiding whether attention is being paid,

Or displacing the attention,

Or reducing it through memes and emojis and entirely common

(And thus non personal/attention giving)

Modes, means, and methods of communication.

And so we seek it, seek that attention, seek it hard.

And we desire and pursue fame,

Because we think famous people are payed attention.

And we desire and pursue the likes, hearts, reblogs, etc,

Because, gosh, wouldn’t that be grand.

So much attention!

Of course, and unfortunately,

It still wouldn’t be the attention of the type we seek.

We’d be left still wanting,

With a whole host of other, new, barriers and pitfalls.

As the saying goes,

“There’s no cheese down that tunnel.”

Fame, likes, and similar are all and the only the tools we see,

But they’re not the tools that will work.

There are other, more fruitful, ways to spend our energies,

To create the bonds and relations we want.

A chance to leave behind straitjacket systems & tools & their trap of currency,

And simply be present, pay attention, listen, and connect.