Monday, July 27, 2009

The Buddhist approach to happiness, according to Pico Iyer

We can’t change the world except insofar as we change the way we look at the world — and, in fact, any one of us can make that change, in any direction, at any moment.
You make your way to happiness not by fretting about it or trafficking in New Age affirmations, but simply by finding the cause of your suffering, and then attending to it, as any doctor (of mind or body) might do.
Think in terms of enemies, he suggests, and the only loser is yourself.
Happiness is not pleasure, they know, and unhappiness, as the Buddhists say, is not the same as suffering. Suffering — in the sense of old age, sickness and death — is the law of life; unhappiness is just the position we choose — or can not choose — to bring to it.
True happiness, in that sense, doesn’t mean trying to acquire things, so much as letting go of things (our illusions and attachments).
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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Right Here, Right Now

Beautiful mash-up of Alan Watts & Chögyam Trungpa from YouTube:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mathematician sculpts "shadow" of 4th dimension

clipped from
New mathematics-based sculpture unveils fourth dimension

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From the linked story:
"The sculpture, designed by Adrian Ocneanu, professor of mathematics at Penn State, presents a three-dimensional 'shadow' of a four-dimensional solid object."
Wow. Just wow.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Seeing small, beautiful joys

This hangs over my desk at work, and I wanted to share it with all of you:

I am not accustomed to rejoicing in things that are small, hidden, and scarcely noticed by the people around me....

Somehow I have become accustomed to living with sadness, and so have lost the eyes to see the joy and the ears to hear the gladness that belongs to God and which is to be found in the hidden corners of the world....

[Seeing the small and beautiful] is a real discipline. It requires choosing for the light even when there is much darkness to frighten me, choosing for life even when the forces of death are so visible, and choosing for the truth even when I am surrounded by lies....The reward of choosing joy is joy itself....There is so much rejection, pain, and woundedness among us, but once you choose to claim the joy hidden in the midst of all suffering, life becomes celebration. Joy never denies the sadness, but transforms it to a fertile soil for more joy.

from The Return of the Prodigal Son, by Henri J. M. Nouwen

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The practice of mediocrity

By making un-extraordinary acts and behaviors our ordinary practice, we entrap ourselves from knowing how precious life really is. We don’t use opportunities that come our way as a means of expressing how special we really are. Instead, we walk the walk with the rest of the herd and soon find ourselves in such a deep rut of limitations we lose sight of our own value. We become trapped in mediocrity.

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I am guilty (more than I would like to admit) of making mediocrity my ordinary practice.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Important Truths, according to David @ Raptitude

David at Raptitude has posted a series of Nietzsche-esque aphorisms, most of which (OK --- all of which) are real gems.

Each one is worthy of serious reflection, but due to the word limit of Clipmarks (and because David wrote these, not me --- you must visit Raptitude for the whole shebang), I've only been able to post a sample.
clipped from

16. Cynicism is far too easy to be useful.

17. Every passing face on the street represents a story every bit as compelling and complicated as yours.

18. Whenever you hate something, it hates you back: people, situations and inanimate objects alike.

25. Putting something off makes it instantly harder and scarier.

27. Nobody knows more than a minuscule fraction of what’s going on in the world. It’s just way too big for any one person to know it well.

32. The greatest innovation in the history of humankind is language.

34. Everyone you meet is better than you at something.

35. Proof is nothing but a collection of opinions that match one’s own.

38. What makes human beings different from animals is that animals can be themselves with ease.

40. Whoever you are, you will die. To know and understand that means you are alive.

43. Almost every cliché contains a truth so profound that people have been compelled to repeat it until it makes you roll your eyes. But the wisdom is still in there.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Two salient comments on the passing of Michael Jackson

From The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan:

I grieve for him; but I also grieve for the culture that created and destroyed him. That culture is ours' and it is a lethal and brutal one: with fame and celebrity as its core values, with money as its sole motive, it chewed this child up and spat him out.

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From Julian Vigo, in Counterpunch:
I can only hope that Michael Jackson's death offers us all a moment of sobriety to reflect on how, what and why we believe the things we do as individuals and why our culture so often feeds off the fictions of negativity and violence produced by our media, rather than gravitate towards the dreams, the creativity and love that Jackson's music, dance, words and actions have given us all.

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For Michael Jackson, and for the anonymous billions on this planet whose lives are twisted and warped by the satanic values of the global corporate capitalist culture, we must work to build a new culture in the shell of the old. May we turn from judging one another in order to avoid our own flaws and miseries, and instead gravitate toward dreams, creativity, love, forgiveness, and kindness.