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, December 22, 2008


The new monk is assigned to copy the old texts by hand. Noticing that he’ll be copying from copies and not from the original manuscripts, he tells an elderly monk, “If there was an error in the first copy, that error would be continued in all subsequent copies.”

The elderly monk agrees and goes to the cellar with a copy to check it against the original. Hours go by and nobody sees him. Concerned, the new monk searches for him in the cellar. Hearing wailing, he finds the old monk leaning over one of the original books. Looking up, he sobs, “The word is celebrate.”

It’s a joke, appearing in the “Laugh” section of the January 2009 issue of Reader’s Digest. Like many points of humor, the humor stems from an inherent truth. It’s always fun to find philosophy entangled in popular culture. This tale of the old monk certainly hits home.

An irrational idea, passionately held, is still an irrational idea. Ditto an erroneous belief. Action based on the irrational cannot succeed. Action guided by an erroneous belief can never satisfy. Such machinations are one step removed from the classic definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different outcome.

How far removed are we from the “original?” In the monk’s tale it’s a copy error of a major lifestyle – instead of celebrating life, the monks fought that inherent desire and forced a suffering on themselves in pursuit of better life. It’s a formula for frustration. Which is why the joke works. If only I had known…

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments welcome. You know the etiquette.