“You don’t need more time. You just need to decide” __Seth Godin
Yes that’s defence as in the sport of Cricket. Defence is important, that’s the way you protect yourself from getting out to good deliveries but I just realized that I’ve been playing too much defence for too long.
A good delivery needs to be respected and defended against but most deliveries are not that good, they need to be sent to the boundary and yet I have continued to play defence because it seems safer.
It’s tough to get out of the zone that I am in right now because I fear going into a suckier zone. Really, is that possible? Well it depends on what the zone feels like, is it mind numbing, uninspiring, monotonous, meaningless, or is it great but just super hard? If it’s any of the former reasons, then doing something you like and want to do will definitely feel better.
If it’s the latter reason (great work but hard work), then welcome to being an adult. There is nothing to change here but your attitude. You are late, get going and good luck.
“You can paint a horse with numbers but you can’t whisper to the horse like a real artist!” __Madhav SBSS
There is a trend now a days of talking about percentages, numbers and quantified wisdom. Trust me, I love numbers; at MIT, everything was numbers including our restrooms, desks, computers and classrooms. The issue with trying to explain how to live a good life with numbers is like “paint with numbers”. You can paint a horse with numbers but you can’t whisper to the horse like a real artist could!
Only machines might understand what 1% daily improvement really means. To say, “improve your craft by 1% every day” is a bad advice for humans because humans don’t think in terms of percentages when living their day to day lives. When was the last time you said, how can I make my coding skills 1% better or cooking veggie chili 1% better, probably never.
A better way to put this concept of improving every day in every thing we do is to say “put one foot in front of the other” and keep moving forward. I understand this “cliche” lacks the cool sounding percentages, it sounds cheesy and less analytical and it does not say anything about improvement. What does it mean to say put one foot in front of the other when I am learning to paint or swim or cook?
The way I see it, one foot in front of the other means two things, first, just doing it and second, doing it in a way that makes the next step slightly better in some meaningful way, actually doing it consistently is a big win in itself, it doesn’t always have to be about efficiency, it can be consistency or a qualitative improvement e.g.
“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” –Carl Jung
I’d have never thought I will be interested in entropy ever again after my thermodynamics classes during high school. Well who knew!
I am reading up a bit of literature around entropic brain, psychedelics and experiments. Johns Hopkins, UC Davis and others schools are pursuing psychedelic experiments in treating diseases of the mind, addiction and cancer, it’s super fascinating. I came to know of this paper on Entropic Brain from one of Tim Ferris’s podcasts and I’ve read it, it’s hard to understand but it is a good starting point to get an overarching idea of the topic.
“It does not seem to be an exaggeration to say that psychedelics, used responsibly and with proper caution, would be for psychiatry what the microscope is for biology and medicine or the telescope is for astronomy. These tools make it possible to study important processes that under normal circumstances are not available for direct observation.”
Psychedelics have been observed to help humans relinquish ego’s primary hold on reality, bringing us to our “primary state of consciousness”. The idea that psychedelics cause more entropy (disorder or uncertainty) in our brain and when there is entropy in the brain, it seems to make us not have boundaries and delineation of “me” and “not me” and yet be able to observe the unity of “me” and “not me”. Yes, it sounds crazy and it might be. It might even be that people hallucinate and have this self-fulfilling outcome they were told would be experienced. I don’t know, I have not done LSD or psychedelics but I am intrigued by the prospect of feeling one with this cosmos around us and not feel like I’m living a small, “me me me”, self-centered life.
Enough of feeling one with the super consciousness. What might be the coolest thing is if psilocybin (a psychedelic) could help here and now in treating cancer, depression, addiction or OCD.
“Specifically, it is proposed that psychedelics work by dismantling reinforced patterns of negative thought and behavior by breaking down the stable spatiotemporal patterns of brain activity upon which they rest.”
Above all else, treating diseases, unifying with super consciousness and everything in between, the most interesting thing I am learning as I read about psychedelics is that meditation can bring about these exact experiences in us if we are open to experimenting with it and are patient enough to sit quietly amidst all the wonderfully magnetic distractions of this physical and not-so-physical worlds.
(Just as we steadily grow our desires, we can eliminate them by steadily nipping at them) –Padakavitha Pitamaha Sri Tallapaka Annamacharya
Attachment to stuff hurts. You are in the Apple store, someone looking at an iPhone drops it on the ground and shatters the glass. You might say “Uh oh” but you won’t lament over it. Suppose, you had just bought that iPhone and dropped it on the floor, how would you react?. It’s the same device a couple of minutes ago, now that it’s “yours”, you lament that it’s broken. Attachment to that phone causes grief.
Annamacharya, thoughtful poet, writer and philosopher from South Indian sings about how one can eliminate attachment to things just as one grew attachment to them in the first place. Reducing it slowly, steadily and bit by bit. He calls out for practicing a ceiling on desires in this beautiful krithi “Veggalamintha Vrida“
“The amount of life we truly live is small. For our existence on Earth is not Life but merely time“
We won’t let a stranger walk into our home but we welcome all kinds of thoughts to enter our mind and rob us of our true nature. We let our eyes and ears go wherever they please or wherever they are directed by online recommendation algorithms.
Examining one’s own life is not about the external world, it’s about introspection. Who am I? Why am I here? Where did I come from? Where am I going? Questions often dismissed as time-wasters because they sound daunting, they require thinking, experimenting, learning, failing, falling, getting up and trying again. We don’t want to go through that strenuous process, sleepwalking through life aimlessly is simpler and easier, it’s the path of least resistance.
Socrates says that an unexamined life – life devoid of love of wisdom – is not worth living. He believed that logically questioning and experimenting in the pursuit of wisdom is the sole purpose of Life.
Some might say, seeking wisdom is for the elite. Is it elitist to seek wisdom? Isn’t seeking wisdom an inherent human quality? Isn’t it true that children ask hard questions? Would you consider children elite? No. They are being human, curious, empathetic, innocent and self-examining. Why is it that we lose that child-like curiosity?. Wisdom is not just about exploring life’s hard questions, it is learning about yourself.
I believe it’s best to think from first principles and not rely on “common” knowledge. There are exceptions. Common knowledge is usually wrong. Earth is round, gravity pulls things towards the earth, fire burns, these are first principles and it’s beneficial to leverage them.
What is our (your) true nature? To burn is fire’s inherent nature, whether you believe it or not. One may say I don’t believe in fire, I am going to jump into it, you know what, fire doesn’t care whether you believe in it or not, it will still burn.
Every element in this universe has an inherent quality, for humans, it’s the Dharma, pursuit of right living. So, unexamined life is not just some exotic stoic concept, it’s about living a good life, life that you are satisfied with, life that you created for yourself, not dictated by others. Life where animal qualities – lust, greed, anger, attachment, arrogance, pride – take the backseat and reasoning, compassion, kindness, love and joy take the driver’s seat.
“A life that is in service of others. A life that recognizes and lives by the principle of oneness in everything. Bulbs are many but the electric current that lights them up is one. Cows are many but the milk is one, sweets are many but sugar is one. Humans are many but the consciousness is one, it is the same consciousness in the microcosm and in the macrocosm.”
Sathya Sai Baba
Well that’s my thinking, these are not first principles, so I urge you to not accept my take but instead examine life for yourself, question and experiment. Live a life you consider worth living, not according to someone else sitting on a pedestal and pontificating how you should live your life.