Choosing Silence

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“I said to a friend that I have chosen rather to be silent than to speak because on most occasions good and bad words are scattered concurrently but enemies perceive only the latter. He replied: ‘That enemy is the greatest who does not see any good.’” 
(The Gulistan of Sa’di, by Sa’di Shirazi)
Continue reading “Choosing Silence”

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Duality in Life

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‘The more time I spend in New York, the more I realise the duality in life.’
Iron Fist

Sometimes, when surrounded and bombarded by multiplicity, it’s easy to begin slipping from the ideals we set for ourselves, and, it’s even possible for us to lose sight of our original and higher goals. We all have higher goals. That place we want to see ourselves years down the line. The person we want to become. The achievements we want under our belts. If we allow ourselves to be distracted and lured by the crowd for too long, we may end up altering our course and changing our objectives and values. This is of course only relevant to ideals, goals, objectives and values that have been developed after rigorous self-searching. Some situations can offer a new outlook and help us re-evaluate the details of our plan (for the better), but, we need to be careful that we distinguish between those circumstances and environments that contribute towards diverting us from our true journey.

Righteous War?

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‘A woman protested saying, “Of course it was a righteous war. My son fell in it.”’
– K. Gibran

It is almost always, essentially, a question of criteria and standard. A statement, belief, stance or action may be right or wrong, but by what criterion and by whose standard? What makes something right and wrong and what is accepted as right and wrong may not always correlate either, but the sophistry aside, how often do we stop to think about what guides our judgement. Continue reading “Righteous War?”

Universal Longings

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That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

A quote once relevant to books and literature, now possibly more relate-able for users of the internet.

Social media, relieving-ly or worryingly, fortunately or unfortunately, shows us that even in the most baffling and in-explainable of our habits, desires or characteristics, we are not alone. You can find a community online for almost anything. While the feeling is surreal (when we pause to absorb its initial absurdity), it also raises many interesting questions about human behaviour.  Continue reading “Universal Longings”

Soar

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You can’t discuss the ocean with a well frog – he’s limited by the space he lives in. You can’t discuss ice with a summer insect – he’s bound to a single season.

~ Master Zhuang

If you have greater aspirations for yourself, feel thirsty for more, are ambitious for greater things, yet find that you are limited by your company, and are unable to trigger a deeper desire within them, then do not settle. You can not remain stagnant while your soul wishes to soar. Your surroundings are your prison, but in most cases, you hold the key. If not always, occasionally, wonder out and search for those who engage you and help you realise the world is bigger and smaller than you imagined. Explore and broaden your horizons.

Unresolved Questions

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I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
Rainer Maria Rilke
If you have questions, look for answers. Look in the right way. Search until you find a convincing response that leaves you satisfied. Do not just embrace any answer or force yourself into accepting an insufficient reply. You can start from within and then reach out externally. It may take time, and some questions will occupy less of your thoughts than others, but getting the right answer is better than fooling yourself with an incorrect one.

Continue reading “Unresolved Questions”

The Business of Philosophy

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“Those who have handled sciences have been either men of experiment or men of dogmas. The men of experiment are like the ant, they only collect and use; the reasoners resemble spiders, who make cobwebs out of their own substance. But the bee takes a middle course: it gathers its material from the flowers of the garden and of the field, but transforms and digests it by a power of its own. Not unlike this is the true business of philosophy[.]”

Novum Organum Scientiarum [Book 1]

Francis Bacon

True intellectual brilliance is not in how many people we can quote, or how many ideas we have memorised, but rather how much original thought we are able to produce. It lies in our ability to push our minds to new horizons, venturing into possible life changing adventures, all in the pursuit of knowledge.

Think

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‘I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use…’

Galileo Galilei (in his ‘Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina’).

Do we prefer to be told what to think or taught how to think? This is a question that guided some major decisions in my life, including why I left university and joined the seminary and also what classes I attended or scholars I spent time with whilst there.  Continue reading “Think”

Explore to Learn

“Keep your language. Love its sounds, its modulation, its rhythm. But try to march together with men of different languages, remote from your own, who wish like you for a more just and human world.” (Hélder Câmara)

“If man is to survive, he will have learned to take a delight in the essential differences between men and between cultures. He will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, part of life’s exciting variety, not something to fear.” (Gene Roddenberry)

 

During a more naive period of my life, I made the decision to start diversifying my readings with the impression that everything I would read from others would be weak in comparison to that which I was already accustomed. I picked up books by people who wrote about issues I was familiar but hailed from different traditions. My thoughts before I began reading were that I would refute these essays and books (I would start Word documents for books I read to make notes), and show others how poor the content was; filled with mistakes and misunderstandings.

Much to my surprise, the works I began reading were actually of praiseworthy quality. I was amazed at the level of research and effort that the writer had exhorted. At times, I was even left in awe. It was then that I changed my intention for reading widely to ‘learning’ and exposing myself to other points of views objectively rather than to ‘refute’.

This is not to say everything I read was great and enlightening, but the overall benefit that this new approach brought was worth even those disappointing instances.

I have learned many other things since, but that can be kept for another time. 

Fish for Knowledge Where it is to be Found

 

I make no doubt but that I often happen to speak of things that are much better and more truly handled by those who are masters of the trade. You have here purely an essay of my natural parts, and not of those acquired: and whoever shall catch me tripping in ignorance, will not in any sort get the better of me; for I should be very unwilling to become responsible to another for my writings, who am not so to myself, nor satisfied with them. Whoever goes in quest of knowledge, let him fish for it where it is to be found; there is nothing I so little profess. These are fancies of my own, by which I do not pretend to discover things but to lay open myself; they may, peradventure, one day be known to me, or have formerly been, according as fortune has been able to bring me in place where they have been explained; but I have utterly forgotten it; and if I am a man of some reading, I am a man of no retention; so that I can promise no certainty, more than to make known to what point the knowledge I now have has risen.

Michel de Montaigne, The Essays of Michel de Montaigne, Chapter 10.