Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’

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Philosophy Tuesday

April 18, 2017

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

Reality is what we take to be true.

What we take to be true is what we believe.

What we believe is based upon our perceptions.

What we perceive depends on what we look for.

What we look for depends on what we think.

What we think depends on what we perceive.

What we perceive determines what we believe.

What we believe determines what we take to be true.

What we take to be true is our reality.

Quantum Physicist David Bohm

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Philosophy Tuesday

April 11, 2017

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

There’s a distinction that Sifu has brought up a few times in our training I call the “Olympic Distinction”.

Which is to say that at the Olympics, things are decided by the 1/1000 of a second.  That little extra oomph of training and effort often makes all the difference.

In that way it’s not an unfamiliar distinction, and one propagated on countless motivational posters. BUT!  In a very Niels Bohr-ian way, there’s an even more powerful distinction here, especially for those, like me, who can or readily do fall prey to streaks of perfectionism:

“1/1000 only applies at the Olympics.” *

There are many times in life when we can get caught in our own mental traps that drive us to over polished—and ultimately unproductive—excess. We push and prod and try to make perfect and fret and expend time and effort and sweat and oomph and get nervous and distraught and stressed and all riled up and lose sleep and then… either…

never finish the darn thing,

have to cut it short to finish on time thus parts are left ironically underdone,

have to make changes and the extra effort is lost,

or all that extra effort didn’t make a difference in the final result or even in quality.

It’s hard thing to grasp sometimes.  It’s even hard for me to type it out.  It sounds so much like “be sloppy” or “don’t try your hardest” or “everyone else is a fool they won’t notice anyway”, or “cut corners”  or “never improve” or…

But it’s not really that.  It’s a reminder that good enough is still pretty frikken good.  That perfection can be an illusion.  That not everything we participate in is the Olympics.  And above all to be simply present to the cost that comes with perfectionism.

Sometimes that cost is that we don’t even start.  We see the amount of work it would take to reach that level of perfection and we think, “I’m never going to be able to get to an Olympic level to do that, so why bother, it’s not worth even starting.”  And so we abandon all the joy we’d have in the learning, the doing, and losing ourselves deeply in that activity.

We can get trapped on both ends, never starting or never finishing.  We can hinder our enjoyment of the task, and we can hinder our time to enjoy other things as we burn it all into this moment of perfectionism.  And, in the most counterintuitive way possible, it can even hinder the work.

Finding that middle path, and walking it, is where we, and our work, can shine.  We can play full out and avoid the Perils of Perfect(ion).**

And turn out some quite frikken good stuff.

 

* In many ways, this sentiment is also captured in the more common phrase “Perfect is the enemy of good” (or the more original phrase by Voltaire, “Le  mieux est l’ennemi du bien” – “The best is the enemy of good.”)

** Hmmm… Beware the PoP?

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Philosophy Tuesday

April 4, 2017

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

We talk about great many things in the same way we talk about gravity.

The economy, cultures, institutions, regions, groups and sub-groups (and sub-sub-groups)…  even individuals.  And even about ourselves.

All like gravity.  All like a physical law of the universe that operates in a strict, and predictable and unbending way.

“Gravity,” as the old* humorous saying goes, “is a harsh mistress.”

And perhaps it’s no surprise.

We know things like gravity (including gravity):  inviolable,  primal,  prone to landing us flat on our keister with no hesitation.

But the thing is, that’s just gravity.  It’s not all things.

If we look through a microscope, we can detect no influence of, for example,  “the economy” on the cells or molecules within.

If we look through a telescope, we can detect no influence of “the economy” on the movement of the planets, the stars, galaxies, or anything in the universe at large.

It’s not like gravity at all.

We’ve collapsed something.  We’ve made a mistake of classification and equivalency.

Many things are not as figured out as we speak them to be.

Many things are not as rigid as we speak them to be.

Many things are not as inviolable as we speak them to be.

How fascinating!

When we distinguish between that which is our own construct, and that which is a true law of the universe, things open up.

We gain freedom, and we grant others freedom.

We open the door to possibilities, to connection, and to creation.

And we get to land on our keisters a lot less often.

 

* Ok, not that old, it was from an episode of the Tick… but it was inspired by a classic Heinlein story “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” in which gravity did play a big role

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Philosophy Tuesday

March 28, 2017

This is a philosophical post, intended to spark thinking and examining.

Often, things are talked about like they are a light switch.

Either on, or off.

With each side paired off against the other:

You’re either an introvert or an extrovert.

You should always be assertive, otherwise you will be a pushover.

All boys should act and are like X.  All girls should act and are like Y.

You either have to be a complete shut in, or be a wild exhibitionist.

You must follow this precept, else be cast forever in sin.

You’re either with us, or against us.

It’s all you are/it is X or Y.

Whole worlds of divisions.

Light on.  Or light off.

Here’s the thing about lights, though.

They have things called dimmers.

Gradients are possible (and normal).

 

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Philosophy Tuesday

March 21, 2017

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

Today, it comes in the form of a quote:

In retrospect it may seem naive.

But then again, in retrospect, everyone looks naive.

That doesn’t mean we stop trying.

The Art Assignment

(Love it. I can read this on many levels.  For myself, I can go easy and be forgiving for what I have wrought, perhaps foolishly, in my past.  For others, I can be present and understanding and compassionate.  For the world, I can be courageous and self-expressed in striving towards a future that works for both everyone and all the wondrous creatures that surround us, with no one and nothing left out.)

 

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Philosophy Tuesday

March 14, 2017

Years ago, I helped edit Sifu’s first book (on Iron Palm training).  As I was passing along my comments to the team I said, “The description of the four strikes used in the exercise seems a bit thin to me.  I think they could be explained more.”

Sifu replied, “Ok.  Go ahead and write it.”

After mentally freaking out for a moment*, I agreed.  I wrote the expanded section, it was reviewed by others in the editing team, and into the book it went.  Boom, published, out into the world.

Fast forward a number of years.

We’re in class, having a conversation with Sifu, and the subject of Iron Palm and the training comes up.  “The palm strike is the most internal of the strikes,” Sifu says.  “Wait…” I interrupt, “isn’t the backhand the most internal?”  “No, it’s the palm strike.”

Cue more mentally freaking out.  This time because I was positive I had heard it was the backhand.  My understanding was that it was the backhand.  Which means… did I write it into the book wrong?  Did I screw up horribly, confuse and mislead everyone who bought the book (and maybe cause injury!), and above all that, make Sifu look bad?

I raced home as soon as class was finished, dropping all my stuff unceremoniously at the door to rush and grab the book from the shelf.  Flip, flip, flip, find the page and….

Sifu was, of course, right.  The palm is the most internal strike.  The backhand has more of an external component to it.  That’s exactly what it says in the book… and thus exactly what I wrote.

I was relieved.  And, at the same time, a whole mess of perplexed, angry, and weirded out.  How did I get it so wrong?

But in the next moment, I realized what a great example it was of just how fallible, of how malleable, of how downright unreliable our memories are.  I literally wrote (part of) the book on the darn thing!  And yet, somehow, somewhere, I’d twisted it around in my mind until I was rotely spouting something incorrect.  I let go the worry and laughed.

Ca-razy.

We like to think our memory operates just like a superdimensional audio/video recording system that perfectly and forever captures sights, sounds, our feelings, our views, and, if we really tell the truth to ourselves, we also think it captures other people’s moods, thoughts, and even intentions.  All accurately and that can play it back anytime with perfect fidelity.

Alas, no.

In that moment, book in hand, I got just how even something as straightforward as a simple piece of instruction or information could get miss-remembered so much that I’d built an entire body of understanding around it.  This freakout-inducing potential-mistake opened a whole world of inquiry for me, because if I was capable of doing that with such a simple event, what did that mean for my other well-held beliefs based on much more complicated events in my past… ?**

The answers to this question have been most fruitful, almost always leading me to greater freedom and peace of mind.

And, as a bonus, I now have a much deeper understanding of Iron Palm.

 

* I freaked out because I was still young at the school and didn’t expect to be brought into this important a project even as an editor, let alone asked to write what amounts to generations of distilled knowledge (and this was all before I got my start down my path of mindfulness, transformation, and ontology, so I was waaayyyyy more prone to freaking out).

** This has been made even more profound as modern neuroscience research continues to show us just how hilariously not-fixed our memory is

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Philosophy Tuesday

March 7, 2017

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

In a kind of continuation from last week’s post… given how poor we often are at noticing our patterns and biases and all those moments we hijack ourselves away from being effective at going after what we really want, what can we do in order to check in on ourselves?  How can we pierce the veil?

One way is to ask another person what they see.

The other, is to explore following inquiry:

There’s who I proclaim myself to be, and what I say I am doing in life.

yet,

What do my actions say about what I’m ACTUALLY doing?  What do my actions say about how I ACTUALLY am acting in the world?

Amazingly (or maybe not so amazingly) they don’t always match up.

It can be quite funny too, when we write down all the actions we’ve been taking and work our way backwards and ask, “if I saw these actions in a stranger, what would I say they are doing?”

“They are just trying to score points and be right.  They are willing to be totally dismissive.”  (Yet we thought we were being open and engaged)

“They are spending all their time gathering more information, and are really avoiding taking the hard actions needed.”  (Yet we thought we were honestly pursuing love/a job/excellence)

“They are always annoyed, and are being fully righteous about it.” (Yet we thought we were being smart and aware)

“They are letting themselves get super distracted on the web.”  (Yet we’ve been decrying we don’t have enough time in the day)

“They are always on edge, waiting for that person to do that thing so they can explode.”  (Yet we said we were being loving)

Hmmmm.

Wherever we see a disconnect, there’s a chance for us to see, and grow.

Especially since most of the time these actions are automatic, completely on autopilot, showing up before we even realize it.  They’re so familiar, they feel right.  So we do it.  Again and again.  Even if it’s not what we want.

To break out, we can take an opportunity to look.  Be present.  Notice the disconnects.

Perhaps we’re not so committed to those things we’ve been saying.  Maybe we don’t really want to finish that project, or we don’t really care about behaving a certain way.  OK!  Great to know this.  Let’s reconsider things.

Or*, maybe we truly ARE committed to being a certain way, to uphold certain values, to comport ourselves in a way that speaks our most basic and deep convictions about what we all want in life.  Maybe we truly ARE committed to those goals, those projects, those futures.

Either way, there’s some work to be done.  We can do the work of setting aside and inventing anew, and following through by taking the actions that do speak to our central self and our authentic core.

And when our intentions, ways of being, and actions are all aligned, our lives begin to sing.

 

* More often than not, I’d wager…