Notes from the Library

Thu, 01 Oct 2015

How an 18th-Century Philosopher Helped Solve My Midlife Crisis

Thu, 24 Sep 2015

Someone on reddit asks about meditation making it harder to quit cannabis:

So I am trying to quit smoking weed because I think it’s a waste of money, makes me super lazy, and I don’t want to keep hanging around sketchy people like drug dealers and such.

Today I was thinking about it all evening, and fighting myself not to go pick up an eighth that I had my dealer prep for me earlier. Eventually (just an hour ago actually) I decided I wasn’t going to go pick it up, and that I was gonna break my pipe and delete my dealer’s number.

…Then I meditated for about 20 minutes…

And felt amazing. So now I’m like fuck it, I’m gonna go pick that shit up.

A reply uncovers some facts about the connection between motivation to change our lives and our day-to-day emotions, which I found very insightful:

When feeling shitty, usually the mind is also in a negative, fault-finding state; bent on criticism: “This is a waste of money, it makes me lazy, I don’t wanna hang with bad people, ugh, I have to change this”

When feeling happy, the mind isn’t interested in finding faults, so whatever behavior that was motivated by negativity, goes out the window.

I’d say the problem is that the desire to change comes from self-loathing. It’s basically impossible to loathe if you’re happy.

There are plenty of good reasons to quit weed, and it would be good for you to do it, but what if you did it out of genuine compassion for your own well-being instead?

Then you would feel good doing it, because it would be an act of kindness towards yourself.


Thu, 13 Aug 2015

I’m reading On the Genealogy of Norms by Shaun Nichols.

Most genealogical accounts of norms focus on moral norms, and the most familiar attempts to explain the genealogy of morals strive to give an account of the origin of moral norms in our cultural past. The problem with such origin explanations is not that we don’t have any good explanations, but rather that we have too many good explanations, and not enough historical evidence to decide between them. … Here is a quick and incomplete catalog of some candidate explanations of the cultural origins of moral norms prohibiting harming others.

  1. Nietzsche’s “slave morality” …
  2. Reciprocal altruism: …

The list continues.

If there’s no way to ever find out whether it’s true bar time travel, is it worth studying Nietzsche’s genealogy of morals? Most people who has studied it would have an intuitive conviction that it was worth it. Can we say why? Is it enough to say that even if it’s false it has implications which are true of certain norms in certain contexts and we can learn from this?

Tue, 26 May 2015

Beyond Boredom and Depression

Have you ever considered that perhaps we need not be bored with any situation? If we have some understanding and control over the mind, maybe we don’t have to be bored. Without changing the conditions, we can overcome boredom. Could it be just a matter of changing our attitude? Could it be simply seeing the way things are now and being able to accept them as they are, without being overwhelmed by an excessive thirst for something new? Then, in that moment of accepting the ways things are now, we can experience fulfillment and peace.

Everything is interesting if you look closely and open your mind to it. There is fascination in the smallest thing: a grain of sand, a flower, the light of the sun through the trees, the stars at night, in the silence or in the noise. It can all be interesting once the mind arouses that interest. Notice that the mind arouses interest rather than arousing craving for something else. The mind can generate interest with equal ease. If you generate the interest, you have the gratification of being interested. In other words you feel alive, you feel animated, you may even feel excited.

Really? I can’t yet convince myself of this.

Sun, 01 Feb 2015

Six Kinds of Loneliness | Pema Chödrön

Reading this on Friday has been helping me over the weekend to see loneliness and boredom too as just passing clouds. I was already making some progress on doing that for anger, but I wasn’t doing so well on life dissatisfaction on a wide scale; that is, dissatisfaction with job, living standards etc. rather than dissatisfaction with the present moment.

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