Thoughts on Thinking

"When somebody persuades me that I am wrong, I change my mind. What do you do?" John Maynard Keynes

"If you're unhappy with your life, change your thinking." Charles Fillmore

"The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it." Eckhart Tolle

"People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them." Epictetus

"The unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates

"Consciousness is a terrible thing to waste." PunditGeorge

Monday, August 17, 2015

Some Folks Catch on Sooner

Alas, I’m not one of them, it seems.  I reflect back several decades and a conversation I had with a good friend who was one of those disgustingly cheerful, optimistic people.  I recall being shocked, shocked mind you, that my friend seemed to abdicate his adult responsibilities.  Yes!  He didn’t read the local newspaper, didn’t watch television news (this prior to the advent of 24 hours news streaming,  CNN, FNC, etc.) and didn’t pay attention to the news on the radio when he was listening.  How, I wondered, did he expect to be informed to make decisions at election time?  Or decide what organizations to support, or what groups to oppose, and so on.

“It’s not my business,” he remarked.  “Well, what is your business”, I challenged.  “Being happy,” he said with a grin.   Groan (thought yours truly.)

It’s taken a while for me to recognize the young adult genius the fellow possessed.  He had a focus most people I knew, including self, lacked – he knew what was most important to him.

Pondering over the years I came to understand that he wasn’t so much isolating himself from the state of affairs of others, but keeping himself tuned to those people and circumstances that resonated with him.  In other words, if something bothered him, he would change his focus so as not to be bothered.

My friend knew instinctively that whatever he gave attention, increased in his experience.  Focus on crime and you see more crime.  Focus on health, experience health.  Focus on illness and experience less health.  Focus on unhappy people and become unhappy.  Despite my deliberate efforts to be a good and honorable person I lacked, at that time, his wisdom on how best to assist others:  Be what you would like for others. 


It’s totally logical and in sync with great wisdom through the ages – a variation of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”    Be happy.  Isn’t that what you want for others?



I might be slow, but I get there.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

August

There are many, many, people who will comment on the decision to use atomic weapons on Japan in order to end the second world war.  Truman's merciful decision saved untold lives, both Japanese and allied.  I dare say, many of the people who distort that history are alive today because of the use of those weapons spared their parent/grandparent/great-grandparent.  The allies were prepared for one million casualties for the invasion of Japan.  The Japanese penchant for death would mean the destruction of most of its population.   An additional factor seldom noted, if the war had not ended when it did, the Soviet Union would have been in Japan.  So, terrible as the weapons were, they ultimately saved lives and the world is better for their use.  Thank you, Mr. Truman.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Energy.



IT is all connected.
It IS all connected.
It is ALL connected.
It is all CONNECTED.

The more one considers this, the more it confirms itself.




Read about it here.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Rights and Freedoms - Unalienable



This essay was written nearly a decade ago.  I could pen the same today.  Or, reprint the original.  It's a holiday, so I'll reprint.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  Declaration of Independence, 1776.

The (Shreveport) Times, page 8I, ran an article from the Gannet News Service July 2, 2006, entitled “Historian offers Insight into the Declaration of Independence” by Bill Theobald.  Referencing a historian at the Library of Congress, Gerard W. Gawalt, the article presents a question-and-answer format about the Declaration of Independence.

The questions were generally innocuous, such as “Why was Thomas Jefferson chosen to write the Declaration?” and “How many copies of the Declaration of Independence were made?”  However, lurking amidst the mundane was a bit of mischief:  “What do you think Jefferson meant by the term ‘pursuit of happiness’?”  And what did the historian “think” Jefferson meant?

“It meant the pursuit of a government that would bring happiness to the people; in other words, good governance.  It wasn’t happiness in terms of ‘I want a bigger SUV.’ ”  Yikes!  There is mischief afoot.

In the context of the Declaration, Jefferson et al are quite specific, as cited above.    The truths, which Jefferson originally considered “sacred” but Franklin changed to “self evident” (no need to debate something that is self-evident everywhere on Earth) are clearly presented:  all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.  Any discussion of governance follows this declaration of the inherent nature of mankind.

Granted, this was a dramatic statement.  At the time the notion of unalienable Rights from Creator was limited.  Memory recalled only that “rights,” “freedoms,” property, and such, are given to a person by a Lord, King, Noble, government, etc.  The Declaration was indeed a political separation from the King of England, and also a dramatic departure from the concept of “government.”  As the Constitution stated quite clearly:  “We, the People…”

Therefore I must disagree with the writer and cited Historian that the “pursuit of Happiness” meant creating a good government that would “bring happiness to the people.”  There lies the mischief – who decides?  Who decides your pursuit of Happiness?  Already you know that a “bigger SUV” is not in your future.  This is political correctness conditioning the thinking of the peasants.  Give me break – only the individual can know, and thus pursue, his/her Happiness.  It is not a government function.

Words do mean things.  The authors of our celebrated Declaration of Independence didn’t toss words and language about carelessly or in search of catchy “read bites.”  The penned a precise document which presented a profound premise for the individual person and his/her authority to construct and/or deconstruct government; to cast away any government that trespasses on the unalienable Rights.  Then, as now, “control freaks” use every means possible to leach away the inherent freedom of each person  - being zero-sum types, they believe they can only be enhanced by another’s loss – therefore they gravitate towards systems that limit, suppress, and outright eliminate individual Rights and Freedom.

To equate wanting a “bigger SUV” as the meaning of pursuit of Happiness is shallow, insulting, and a calculated phrase to diminish the Right of the individual to determine his/her Happiness and fate.  Whose business is it if someone believes they would be much happier if they drove a Hummer?  More power to the person!  It is not the province of “government” to decide what is “best” for you.  Government decides only what is best for it.  In modern times these dictates are couched in friendly terms of “for the children” or for the health of folks.  Lurking behind these positions and efforts is an undeniable erosion of your inherent, unalienable, Rights.

Who decides?  There are legions of busy-bodies working non-stop to come up with a formula for your good life.   If you are smart, you’ll sign on.  If you’re hesitant, or resistant, well, you’re taxed.  You want that car?  Okay, pay the tax.  You’ve got more rooms in your house than you need (which means someone is homeless because of your greed!) so pay a tax.  Stand by – how many old homes (150 + years) have no closets?  Easy enough to build – but if a closet is considered a “room” and subject to a tax, well, no closets!  We’ve been there, done that.  And here it comes again.

Always remember that several years ago millions of Americans went to bed one night, slept soundly, and woke up the next morning clinically obese.  No long night of sleepwalking binging, just an adjustment of Federal guidelines for body-fat ratios.  Overnight millions of “fat” people were created – all needing some form of government “help” for their new condition.

Who decides?  The Declaration of Independence is correct – you decide, from the self-evident truths which include your right to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Epicurean Delight



As a self-proclaimed Cognitive Philanthropist, how did I miss second century Greek philosophical philanthropist, Diogenes of Oinoanda?  Fortunately, I caught up with him while reading the current issue of Archaeology magazine.  The article is "In Search of a Philosopher's Stone" by Eric A. Powell.  It's a summary of a remarkable find in 1884 by two French epigraphers exploring the Turkish town of Oinoanda.  Scattered among the Greco-Roman ruins were inscriptions in stone, written by Diogenes of Oinoanda, an Epicurean who wished to share with the rank and file, his formula for living a successful and happy life.    As he wrote:  "The majority of people suffer from a common disease, as in a plague, with their false notions about things, and their number is increasing...I wished to use this stoa to advertise publically the (medicines) that bring salvation."  The "medicine" is Epicurean thought.

The inscriptions on the stoa were huge - 25,000 words designed to be ready by anyone and everyone.  What's curious is that there are no known contemporary references to Diogenes.  Certainly this unconventional gift to his fellow man was well known at the time.  Although a man of means and conscience, Diogenes didn't have to spend part of  his estate on the treatise.  He wanted to do it as a philanthropic service.

Epicurus
Diogenes knew that people were not disturbed by situations but by their thinking about the situation.  A version of  "a thing is neither good nor bad but thinking makes it so."  To improve one's life experience meant changing one's thinking.  Epicurus had explored a viable philosophy some four hundred years before.  In essence, happiness is the highest goal of life.  The pursuit of happiness is the purpose of life.  Happiness could be derived from an understanding of  how the Universe functioned, how nature was governed, and Man's place in the whole.  Then, as now, those that got it, got it.  Those that didn't, couldn't.  Diogenes at least wanted all to have access to such thinking.


Powell tags his article with an inscription:  "Not least for those who are called foreigners, for they are not foreigners, for, while the various segments of the Earth give difference people a different country, the whole compass of this world gives all people a single country, the entire Earth, and a single home, the world."

Fine fellow, this Diogenes of Oinoanda.

If you have the time, here's a translation of much of what Diogenes had inscribed: