What do I write about? It’s been such a long time since I waxed poetic on this space. The unbridled zeal for blogging that I had when I was fresh out college faded, smothered by the unrelenting demands of the corporate slave ship. Sure, the self-destructive lure of hedonism and intoxication also had its hand in my dwindling interest. More on that later. Suffice it to say that bout after bout with personal demons drove writing way down in the list of priorities. My inner struggles have since settled down, somewhat. I want to be heard again. Maybe the pressure of having an audience will invoke something profound in me. Or maybe I’ll realize blogging was a phase, drop it, and move further along in this journey of self-discovery.
It doesn’t matter what you think you know. Reality doesn’t change. The facts remain as they are. And truth does not become a democracy; it’s not swayed by your whims. Or your grievances. Life has for a long time been personified as malevolent, oftentimes taking the form of that vindictive bitch Karma. The truth is life doesn’t care. It’s indifferent. Life only seems unfair if you harbor some preconceived notion that you are entitled to receiving some special favor from obscure deities.
Perhaps a more accurate statement is: life isn’t unfair…people are! Life as we know is nothing more than a series of cumulative causes and effects. At times (less often than we would want to admit) good or bad things happen to us because of something we did. More often things happen to us because of something we have no control over. Conclusion? Well, we can stop living in a fantasy world where we are the center of the universe, where our narcissistic attitudes forever paint us as victims or martyred messiahs. We can only do our best at any moment and live life on life’s terms. We need only accept reality for what it is and, for the optimists among us, what it could be.
The common phrase “time heals” has been used by many people as a way to not taking responsibility over their situations. Time, in itself, does nothing other than exist. It’s an illusion; a way for us to understand the reality around us.
Whatever agent it is that heals, it only does so within time, from our perspective. If the healing agent fails to act, healing does not take place. More often that not, for the healing agent to work, we have to actively use it.
As far as time is concerned. It does nothing. It’s indifferent. Otherwise, we would also claim that time kills, seeing as nothing lasts forever.
Source (Eliezer S. Yudkowsky ─ http://bit.ly/1cVKBX5)
The first virtue is curiosity. A burning itch to know is higher than a solemn vow to pursue truth. To feel the burning itch of curiosity requires both that you be ignorant, and that you desire to relinquish your ignorance. If in your heart you believe you already know, or if in your heart you do not wish to know, then your questioning will be purposeless and your skills without direction. Curiosity seeks to annihilate itself; there is no curiosity that does not want an answer. The glory of glorious mystery is to be solved, after which it ceases to be mystery. Be wary of those who speak of being open-minded and modestly confess their ignorance. There is a time to confess your ignorance and a time to relinquish your ignorance.
The second virtue is relinquishment. P. C. Hodgell said: “That which can be destroyed by the truth should be.” Do not flinch from experiences that might destroy your beliefs. The thought you cannot think controls you more than thoughts you speak aloud. Submit yourself to ordeals and test yourself in fire. Relinquish the emotion which rests upon a mistaken belief, and seek to feel fully that emotion which fits the facts. If the iron approaches your face, and you believe it is hot, and it is cool, the Way opposes your fear. If the iron approaches your face, and you believe it is cool, and it is hot, the Way opposes your calm. Evaluate your beliefs first and then arrive at your emotions. Let yourself say: “If the iron is hot, I desire to believe it is hot, and if it is cool, I desire to believe it is cool.” Beware lest you become attached to beliefs you may not want.
The third virtue is lightness. Let the winds of evidence blow you about as though you are a leaf, with no direction of your own. Beware lest you fight a rearguard retreat against the evidence, grudgingly conceding each foot of ground only when forced, feeling cheated. Surrender to the truth as quickly as you can. Do this the instant you realize what you are resisting; the instant you can see from which quarter the winds of evidence are blowing against you. Be faithless to your cause and betray it to a stronger enemy. If you regard evidence as a constraint and seek to free yourself, you sell yourself into the chains of your whims. For you cannot make a true map of a city by sitting in your bedroom with your eyes shut and drawing lines upon paper according to impulse. You must walk through the city and draw lines on paper that correspond to what you see. If, seeing the city unclearly, you think that you can shift a line just a little to the right, just a little to the left, according to your caprice, this is just the same mistake.
The fourth virtue is evenness. One who wishes to believe says, “Does the evidence permit me to believe?” One who wishes to disbelieve asks, “Does the evidence force me to believe?” Beware lest you place huge burdens of proof only on propositions you dislike, and then defend yourself by saying: “But it is good to be skeptical.” If you attend only to favorable evidence, picking and choosing from your gathered data, then the more data you gather, the less you know. If you are selective about which arguments you inspect for flaws, or how hard you inspect for flaws, then every flaw you learn how to detect makes you that much stupider. If you first write at the bottom of a sheet of paper, “And therefore, the sky is green!”, it does not matter what arguments you write above it afterward; the conclusion is already written, and it is already correct or already wrong. To be clever in argument is not rationality but rationalization. Intelligence, to be useful, must be used for something other than defeating itself. Listen to hypotheses as they plead their cases before you, but remember that you are not a hypothesis, you are the judge. Therefore do not seek to argue for one side or another, for if you knew your destination, you would already be there.
The fifth virtue is argument. Those who wish to fail must first prevent their friends from helping them. Those who smile wisely and say: “I will not argue” remove themselves from help, and withdraw from the communal effort. In argument strive for exact honesty, for the sake of others and also yourself: The part of yourself that distorts what you say to others also distorts your own thoughts. Do not believe you do others a favor if you accept their arguments; the favor is to you. Do not think that fairness to all sides means balancing yourself evenly between positions; truth is not handed out in equal portions before the start of a debate. You cannot move forward on factual questions by fighting with fists or insults. Seek a test that lets reality judge between you.
The sixth virtue is empiricism. The roots of knowledge are in observation and its fruit is prediction. What tree grows without roots? What tree nourishes us without fruit? If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? One says, “Yes it does, for it makes vibrations in the air.” Another says, “No it does not, for there is no auditory processing in any brain.” Though they argue, one saying “Yes”, and one saying “No”, the two do not anticipate any different experience of the forest. Do not ask which beliefs to profess, but which experiences to anticipate. Always know which difference of experience you argue about. Do not let the argument wander and become about something else, such as someone’s virtue as a rationalist. Jerry Cleaver said: “What does you in is not failure to apply some high-level, intricate, complicated technique. It’s overlooking the basics. Not keeping your eye on the ball.” Do not be blinded by words. When words are subtracted, anticipation remains.
The seventh virtue is simplicity. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said: “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” Simplicity is virtuous in belief, design, planning, and justification. When you profess a huge belief with many details, each additional detail is another chance for the belief to be wrong. Each specification adds to your burden; if you can lighten your burden you must do so. There is no straw that lacks the power to break your back. Of artifacts it is said: The most reliable gear is the one that is designed out of the machine. Of plans: A tangled web breaks. A chain of a thousand links will arrive at a correct conclusion if every step is correct, but if one step is wrong it may carry you anywhere. In mathematics a mountain of good deeds cannot atone for a single sin. Therefore, be careful on every step.
The eighth virtue is humility. To be humble is to take specific actions in anticipation of your own errors. To confess your fallibility and then do nothing about it is not humble; it is boasting of your modesty. Who are most humble? Those who most skillfully prepare for the deepest and most catastrophic errors in their own beliefs and plans. Because this world contains many whose grasp of rationality is abysmal, beginning students of rationality win arguments and acquire an exaggerated view of their own abilities. But it is useless to be superior: Life is not graded on a curve. The best physicist in ancient Greece could not calculate the path of a falling apple. There is no guarantee that adequacy is possible given your hardest effort; therefore spare no thought for whether others are doing worse. If you compare yourself to others you will not see the biases that all humans share. To be human is to make ten thousand errors. No one in this world achieves perfection.
The ninth virtue is perfectionism. The more errors you correct in yourself, the more you notice. As your mind becomes more silent, you hear more noise. When you notice an error in yourself, this signals your readiness to seek advancement to the next level. If you tolerate the error rather than correcting it, you will not advance to the next level and you will not gain the skill to notice new errors. In every art, if you do not seek perfection you will halt before taking your first steps. If perfection is impossible that is no excuse for not trying. Hold yourself to the highest standard you can imagine, and look for one still higher. Do not be content with the answer that is almost right; seek one that is exactly right.
The tenth virtue is precision. One comes and says: The quantity is between 1 and 100. Another says: the quantity is between 40 and 50. If the quantity is 42 they are both correct, but the second prediction was more useful and exposed itself to a stricter test. What is true of one apple may not be true of another apple; thus more can be said about a single apple than about all the apples in the world. The narrowest statements slice deepest, the cutting edge of the blade. As with the map, so too with the art of mapmaking: The Way is a precise Art. Do not walk to the truth, but dance. On each and every step of that dance your foot comes down in exactly the right spot. Each piece of evidence shifts your beliefs by exactly the right amount, neither more nor less. What is exactly the right amount? To calculate this you must study probability theory. Even if you cannot do the math, knowing that the math exists tells you that the dance step is precise and has no room in it for your whims.
The eleventh virtue is scholarship. Study many sciences and absorb their power as your own. Each field that you consume makes you larger. If you swallow enough sciences the gaps between them will diminish and your knowledge will become a unified whole. If you are gluttonous you will become vaster than mountains. It is especially important to eat math and science which impinges upon rationality: Evolutionary psychology, heuristics and biases, social psychology, probability theory, decision theory. But these cannot be the only fields you study. The Art must have a purpose other than itself, or it collapses into infinite recursion.
Before these eleven virtues is a virtue which is nameless.
Miyamoto Musashi wrote, in The Book of Five Rings:
“The primary thing when you take a sword in your hands is your intention to cut the enemy, whatever the means. Whenever you parry, hit, spring, strike or touch the enemy’s cutting sword, you must cut the enemy in the same movement. It is essential to attain this. If you think only of hitting, springing, striking or touching the enemy, you will not be able actually to cut him. More than anything, you must be thinking of carrying your movement through to cutting him.”
Every step of your reasoning must cut through to the correct answer in the same movement. More than anything, you must think of carrying your map through to reflecting the territory.
If you fail to achieve a correct answer, it is futile to protest that you acted with propriety.
How can you improve your conception of rationality? Not by saying to yourself, “It is my duty to be rational.” By this you only enshrine your mistaken conception. Perhaps your conception of rationality is that it is rational to believe the words of the Great Teacher, and the Great Teacher says, “The sky is green,” and you look up at the sky and see blue. If you think: “It may look like the sky is blue, but rationality is to believe the words of the Great Teacher,” you lose a chance to discover your mistake.
Do not ask whether it is “the Way” to do this or that. Ask whether the sky is blue or green. If you speak overmuch of the Way you will not attain it.
You may try to name the highest principle with names such as “the map that reflects the territory” or “experience of success and failure” or “Bayesian decision theory”. But perhaps you describe incorrectly the nameless virtue. How will you discover your mistake? Not by comparing your description to itself, but by comparing it to that which you did not name.
If for many years you practice the techniques and submit yourself to strict constraints, it may be that you will glimpse the center. Then you will see how all techniques are one technique, and you will move correctly without feeling constrained. Musashi wrote: “When you appreciate the power of nature, knowing the rhythm of any situation, you will be able to hit the enemy naturally and strike naturally. All this is the Way of the Void.”
These then are twelve virtues of rationality:
Curiosity, relinquishment, lightness, evenness, argument, empiricism, simplicity, humility, perfectionism, precision, scholarship, and the void.
You’ve definitely been in a situation where someone important to you like your boss, girl, man, mom, etc is mad at you and lashes out you seemingly for no reason. And it ends up ruining your day. Or worse, their foul mood lasts for days and since you spend most of your time with them, you’re also infected with their toxic attitude. Or even worse, everyone you know seems to be like this and it’s becoming an annoying pattern in your life. Then you start thinking that maybe you are the problem. This can be really upsetting at best and depressing at worst.
But here’s the rub: you can never change these people! You can, however, learn how to deal with these circumstances through finesse so that you get what you want from people despite their ugly attitudes. The answer lies in understanding human nature and, of course, developing some thick skin. Let me explain.
There are a few among us who get by in life through ignoring people’s “negativity” and seem to go on with their lives happy. They’ve given up. This is not a solution. Some resort to gossiping, bitching about how their life sucks to friends, and drinking among other useless coping strategies that usually end up making things worse. Then there are those who try more socially acceptable ways such as reading self-help motivational books or listening to Joel Osteen Joyce Meyer sermons on self improvement. But they only feel rejuvenated energized strong powerful that evening then the next morning when they go to work and meet their vile boss or later that evening when they meet their emotional, manipulative girl, all those “positive attitudes” come crashing down.
Attorney general Njeru Githae in one Nation article says that self help books are useless. I agree with him, for the most part. If you’re planning on buying one of these books, CDs, etc or going for workshops or seminars let me save you time and money by telling you that the recurring theme in these books, sermons, seminars is “positive thinking”, which is misleading!
Objective thinking is a better strategy because it is more balanced and realistic. And this is why this country will forever be ruled by sociopaths who understand the human mind and use us as pawns in their power games. Yes. Life is all about power; power over self and others. I digress.
The reason positive thinking doesn’t work is most problems cannot be solved by simply ignoring them. Some can, like attention seeking trolls on twitter or Facebook, but most can’t. You need problem-specific solutions. That said, put away those inspirational books, CDs, tweets, Status Updates, etc and read up on human nature – psychology, sociology, marketing, etc – so that you understand why people do what they do and you will have power over them because you can only control that which you understand.
I guarantee you that through objective thinking you will find the solution your vile boss, nagging girl, overbearing friend etc. Either that or you will realize they have some unchangeable character defect or have been through some shit you can’t change and this, dear friend, can give you true peace. Serenity.
Think about this. If your DSTV signal is messed up or there’s a black out and you know it’s because of the heavy rain, you won’t bore people on twitter/fb with your ranting to the Kenya Power’s or DSTV’s Facebook or twitter accounts about how your paying a lot of money for a shitty services. You’ll just switch of the decoder and watch the rerun of the BBA shower hour later as you do something productive like writing a blog that helps people. The serenity prayer below summarizes the answer to all your problems.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
1. Give up trying to be perfect.
– The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists; it rewards people who get things done.
2. Give up comparing yourself to others.
– The only person you are competing against is yourself.
3. Give up dwelling on the past or worrying too much about the future.
– Right now is the only moment guaranteed to you. Right now is life. Don’t miss it.
4. Give up complaining.
– Do something about it.
5. Give up holding grudges.
– Grudges are a waste of perfect happiness.
6. Give up waiting.
– What we don’t start today won’t be finished by tomorrow. Knowledge and intelligence are both useless without action.
7. Give up lying.
– In the long-run the truth always reveals itself. Either you own up to your actions or your actions will ultimately own you.
8. Give up trying to avoid mistakes.
– The only mistake that can truly hurt you is choosing to do nothing simply because you’re too scared to make a mistake.
9. Give up saying, “I can’t.”
– As Henry Ford put it, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right.”
10. Give up trying to be everything to everyone.
– Making one person smile can change the world. Maybe not the whole world, but their world. Start small. Start now.
11. Give up thinking you’re not ready.
– Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises. Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first.
12. Give up setting small goals for yourself.
– Many people set small goals because they’re afraid to fail. Ironically, setting these small goals is what makes them fail.
13. Give up trying to do everything by yourself.
– You are the sum of the people you spend the most time with. If you work together, you will be far more capable and powerful than you ever could have been alone.
14. Give up buying things you don’t need.
– Manage your money wisely so your money does not manage you. Do not spend to impress others. Do not live life trying to fool yourself into thinking wealth is measured in material objects.
15. Give up blaming others for your troubles.
– The extent to which you can live your dream life depends on the extent to which you take responsibility for your life. When you blame others for what you’re going through, you deny responsibility – you give others power over that part of your life.
16. Give up making mountains out of molehills.
– One way to check if something is worth mulling over is to ask yourself this question: “Will this matter in one year’s time? Three years? Five years? If not, then it’s not worth worrying about.
17. Give up trying to live up to the expectations of others.
– Work on it for real and exceed your own expectations. Everything else will fall into place.
18. Give up the ‘easy street’ mentality.
– There is too much emphasis on finding a ‘quick fix’ in today’s society. For example taking diet pills to lose weight instead of exercising and eating well. No amount of magic fairy dust replaces diligent, focused, hard work.
19. Give up making promises you can’t keep.
– Don’t over-promise. Over-deliver on everything you do.
20. Give up letting your thoughts and feelings bottle up inside.
– People are not mind readers. They will never know how you feel unless you tell them.
21. Give up beating around the bush.
– Say what you mean and mean what you say. Communicate effectively.
22. Give up avoiding change.
– However good or bad a situation is now, it will change. That’s the one thing you can count on. So embrace change and realize that change happens for a reason. It won’t always be easy or obvious at first, but in the end it will be worth it.
23. Give up your sense of entitlement.
– Nobody is entitled to anything in this world. We are all equal. We breathe the same air. We get what we give. We get what we earn.
24. Give up waiting until the last minute.
– Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.
25. Give up being dramatic.
– Stay out of other people’s drama and don’t needlessly create your own.
26. Give up being anti-athletic.
– Get your body moving! Simply take a long, relaxing walk or commit 30 minutes to an at-home exercise program.
27. Give up junk food.
– You are what you eat.
28. Give up eating as a means of entertainment.
– Don’t eat when you’re bored. Eat when you’re hungry.
29. Give up foolish habits that you know are foolish.
– Don’t text and drive. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t smoke. Etc.
30. Give up relationships with people who bring you down.
– Saying “no” to right people gives you the time and resources required to say “yes” to right opportunities. Spend time with nice people who are smart, driven and like minded.
31. Give up being shy.
– Network with people. Meet new people. Ask questions. Introduce yourself.
32. Give up worrying about what others think of you.
– Unless you’re trying to make a great first impression (job interview, first date, etc.), don’t let the opinions of others stand in your way. What they think and say about you isn’t important. What is important is how you feel about yourself.
33. Give up trying to control everything.
– Life is an unpredictable phenomenon. No matter how good or bad things seem right now, we can never be 100% certain what will happen next. So do your best with what’s in front of you and leave the rest to the powers above you.
34. Give up doing the same thing over and over again.
– In order to grow, you must expand your horizons and break free of your comfort zone. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.
35. Give up following the path of least resistance.
– Life is not easy, especially when you plan on achieving something worthwhile. Don’t find the easy way out. Do something extraordinary.
36. Give up persistent multi-tasking.
– Do one thing at a time and do it right.
37. Give up thinking others are luckier than you.
– The harder you work, the luckier you will become.
38. Give up filling every waking moment with commitments and activities.
– It’s okay to be alone. It’s okay to do nothing sometimes. Think. Relax. Breathe. Be.
39. Give up making emotional decisions.
– Don’t let your emotions trump your intelligence. Slow down and think things through before you make any life-changing decisions.
40. Give up doing the wrong things just because you can get away with it.
– Just because you can get away with something doesn’t mean you should do it. Think bigger. Keep the end in mind. Do what you know in your heart is right.
41. Give up focusing on what you don’t want to happen.
– Focus on what you do want to happen. Positive thinking is at the forefront of every great success story. If you awake every morning with the thought that something wonderful will happen in your life today, and you pay close attention, you’ll often find that you’re right.
42. Give up taking yourself so seriously.
– Few others do anyway. So enjoy yourself and have a little fun while you can.
43. Give up spending your life working in a career field you’re not passionate about.
– Life is too short for such nonsense. The right career choice is based on one key point: Finding hard work you love doing. So if you catch yourself working hard and loving every minute of it, don’t stop. You’re on to something big. Because hard work ain’t hard when you concentrate on your passions.
44. Give up thinking about the things you don’t have.
– Appreciate everything you do have. Many people aren’t so lucky.
45. Give up doubting others.
– People who are determined do remarkable things. Remember, the one who says it can’t be done should never interrupt the one doing it.
46. Give up trying to fit in.
– Don’t mold yourself into someone you’re not. Be yourself. Oftentimes, the only reason they want you to fit in is that once you do they can ignore you and go about their business.
47. Give up trying to be different for the sake of being different.
– Nonconformity for the sake of nonconformity is conformity. When people try too hard to be different, they usually end up being just like everyone else who is trying to be different. Once again, be yourself.
48. Give up trying to avoid risk.
– There’s no such thing as ‘risk free.’ Everything you do or don’t do has an inherent risk.
49. Give up putting your own needs on the back burner.
– Yes, help others, but help yourself too. If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, that moment is now.
50. Give up fussing with every beauty product on the market.
– Good looks attract the eyes. Personality attracts the heart. Be proud to be you. That’s when you’re beautiful.
Trying to understand God exclusively on the logical dimension is bound to be frustrating. I imagine it’s like trying to see the entire universe using a simple magnifying glass. Here’s the thing though: I’m not trying to understand Him entirely — I just want to feel His presence and be aware of Him.
This is how I see it:
To be aware of God, you have to silence your thoughts and feelings. True awareness of Him comes from transcending the mental and physical plane, and stepping into the spiritual plane. Zen Buddhists call this state of awareness Kensho or Satori; the highest state of realization and enlightenment where you are aware of everything because you are connected with everything. They achieve this state through hours of meditation.
As Christians, we achieve this state through hours of prayer and studying of the Bible, as well as worship. It is in this state that we say we are in true fellowship with God. We “feel” his presence because we ARE in His presence, spiritually.
I’ve never achieved this state. Only imagined it, which doesn’t work because you use your mind to imagine; and to feel God’s presence, you’re supposed to let go of your carnal mind and “see” and “hear” with your spirit. I have faith that I will at some point be able to achieve this state of fellowship with Him — true, genuine fellowship!
I emphasize “true fellowship” because I believe the subconscious, carnal mind can trick you into thinking you’re hearing God’s voice when you are, in fact, hearing yourself…your inner desires. It won’t always be easy telling which voice is mine and which one is God’s. I guess it takes some learning to be able to recognize His voice.