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Showing posts from April, 2016

Humor as a response to the human condition

Ford Madox Ford:"Why, I remember on that afternoon I saw a brown cow hitch its horns under the stomach of a black and white animal and the black and white one was thrown right into the middle of a narrow stream. I burst out laughing. ... Because it does look very funny you know to see a black and white cow land on its back in the middle of a stream. It is just so exactly what one doesn’t expect of a cow.
"Wendy Plump:"I think my angel is drunk. That would explain everything."Sherwin T. Wine:”Life has an absurdity to it. It sometimes traps us in existential stairwells with no exit. We cannot figure out why we are there. And we cannot change what has happened. There are three alternatives. We can resign ourselves piously to the situation and pray, knowing that in some mysterious way getting stuck in a stairwell is for our own good. We can cry, wail and scream, hoping that some rescue force will hear our cry, take pity on us and save us. Or we can laugh.Laughter is n…

Quotes on the drive for a romantic relationship

Abigail Heyman:"In spite of what I've experienced and observed, I still cling to the image of a relationship between a man and a woman in which each can function better, and grow further, and love more because of the other. Sometimes all this has seemed so close that I believe it's possible.But always, as those relationships became more intimate, I felt instead how they limited my growth, how the compromises required to keep the relationship alive were deadening important parts of me, and I decided that my wholeness was more important than the love. But I miss that kind of love a lot.And I still wonder what's so radically wrong with me, so absolutely unlovable about me, that no man has ever loved me in a way that I can now respect as love.How then do I want to love again? How then do I want to be loved? I only know I don't want to be loved in the irresponsible way that I could only respect when I didn't love myself. Or in the possessive way that seemed right w…

Rats and other fearsome things

Tara Brach:”Who doesn’t know the experience of fear? Fear is waking up in the night, like Barbara, terrified that we can’t go on. Fear is the jittery feeling in our stomach, the soreness and pressure around our heart, the strangling tightness in our throat. Fear is the loud pounding of our heart, the racing of our pulse. Fear constricts our breathing, making it rapid and shallow. Fear tells us we are in danger, and then urgently drives our mind to make sense of what is happening and figure out what to do. Fear takes over our mind with stories about what will go wrong. Fear tells us we will lose our body, lose our mind, lose our friends, our family, the earth itself. Fear is the anticipation of future pain.”Stephen Batchelor:“Disease, ageing, and death are forms of an internal violence that afflicts all creatures; whereas natural disasters, viral infections, and terrorist attacks are examples of an external violence that threatens to break out anywhere. The globalized, interconnected w…

From suffering to healing

“Undergoing suffering isn't a virtue at all, and it's unlikely to create any,” wrote Susan Neiman.Nonetheless, we are all wounded somehow, and we have to admit it to heal ourselves. "He who conceals his disease cannot be cured,
" holds an Ethiopian proverb. Furthermore, internalizing the perspective granted by our suffering enables us to empathize with others. Erich Neumann wrote, “As the myth puts it, only a wounded man can be a healer, a physician. Because in his own suffering the creative man experiences the profound wounds of his collectivity and his time, he carries deep within him a regenerative force capable of bringing forth a cure not only for himself but also for the community.”Diana Butler Bass: “We practice healing, and as we practice it, we learn the quiet dimensions of shalom, the unheralded dimensions of salvation, of compassion and charity.”SourcesSusan Neiman. Moral Clarity: A Guide for Grownup Idealists. Quoted in Nikki Stern. Because I Say So: …

The reality of myths

Hilda Doolittle wrote:"The dog is now a myth, for that reason he appears in dreams, unmistakably and in the most satisfactory manner. He wallows in snowdrifts, his ears are like the knitted mittens on that long tape than [sic] ran through the sleeves of our winter coats; he carries, of course, the barrel strapped to his collar, and as I fling my arms about his neck – he is larger than a small pony – I am in an ecstasy of bliss. The snow gives back whatever an anesthetic may have once given.Mythology is actuality, as we now know. The dog with his gold-brown wool, his great collar and the barrel, is of course none other than our old friend Ammon-Ra, whose avenue of horned sphinxes runs along the sand from the old landing-stage of the Nile barges to the wide portals of the temple at Karnak. He is Ammon or he is Amen, forever and ever. I want you to know he is as ordinary as the cheap lithograph that used to hang in nursery bedrooms; he is even as ordinary as the colored advertisemen…

How ideas take root

Osborn Segerberg, Jr.:"The search for truth – or understanding – is not simply an indulgence of curiosity nor merely an intellectual exercise. It is a sophisticated means to survive. ... Survival (which often requires domination) is the ultimate test we have for efficacy, or congruence with reality, whether applied to a belief, an idea, a system of thought, a way of doing things, or an individual and his descendants, his group, his species."Max Lerner:"A doctrine does not spread by itself – because of its own inner beauty or logic or consistency. It spreads because it is a response to deeply experienced needs. It spreads because of strong impulsions from the system of production and from the alignment of economic power. It spreads when there is something in it that is a response to the ethos of a period. It spreads when there are powerful groups willing to spread it because they are able to use it."Noam Chomsky:"The smart way to keep people passive and obedien…

Ideas in tension

The essayist Joseph Joubert wrote, "It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it." Sometimes the wisdom is in the debate itself, or at least in the perception of two or more alternatives. "A wise man of our own time," wrote Gilbert Highet, "was once asked what was the single greatest contribution of Greece to the world's welfare. He replied 'The greatest invention of the Greeks was men and de. For men means 'on the one hand,' and de means 'on the other hand.' Without these two balances, we cannot think."However – or, to borrow a phrase, on the other hand – Lee Siegel warned that if we always silo ideas that are in tension and focus on the resulting dichotomies, we will never be able to make connections, find common ground, and help each other move forward. He wrote:"Now just about every political debate comes down to one phrase: economic policy.* * *What we never hear abou…

The wisdom of your enemies

"Remember the good things that you hear, and do not consider who says them," counseled Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century. The source of an apparent pearl of wisdom is often irrelevant. Yeats highlighted our universal connection: "If what I say resonates with you, it's merely because we are both branches on the same tree."Those who appear to be "enemies" may be better understood as social critics who have important feedback to give us. Jeff Schmidt wrote:"Professionals generally avoid the risk inherent in real critical thinking and cannot properly be called critical thinkers. They are simply ideologically disciplined thinkers. Real critical thinking means uncovering and questioning social, political and moral assumptions; applying and refining a personally developed worldview; and calling for action that advances a personally created agenda. An approach that backs away from any of these three components lacks the critical spirit."Nikki Stern…