1. To be a good human being is to have a kind of openness to the world, an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control, that can lead you to be shattered in very extreme circumstances for which you were not to blame. That says something very important about the human condition of the ethical life: that it is based on a trust in the uncertain and on a willingness to be exposed; it’s based on being more like a plant than like a jewel, something rather fragile, but whose very particular beauty is inseparable from its fragility.

    Martha Nussbaum


  2. The Japanese Word, Mu


  4. Dirk Vermeirre

    No longer in a merely physical universe, man lives in a symbolic universe. Language, myth, art and religion are parts of this universe. They are varied threads which weave the symbolic net, the tangled web of human experience. No longer can man confront reality immediately; he cannot see it, as it were, face to face. Physical reality seems to recede in proportion as man’s symbolic activity advances. Instead of dealing with the things themselves man is in a sense constantly conversing with himself. He has so enveloped himself in linguistic forms, in artistic images, in mythical symbols or religious rites that he cannot see or know anything except by the interposition of this artificial medium.

    Ernst Cassirer
  5. A monologue by poet Ted Hughes on the experience and forms of thought.

  6. The greatest hazard of all, losing one’s self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly: any other loss - an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife etc - is assured to be noticed.

    - Soren Kierkegaard,
    The sickness unto death

  7. Peter Kingsley is a mystic and scholar internationally recognized for his groundbreaking work on the origins of western spirituality, philosophy and culture. His work is to bring back to life, and make accessible again, the extraordinary mystical tradition that lies forgotten right at the roots of the western world.

    We have a sugar coated version of Christianity. Now we have a sugar coated version of Rumi. It’s very satisfying to the ego, but basically love is destruction and dissolving of the ego. This is something I find so interesting with Empedocles, because when he refers to what we ordinarily think of as love he calls it “what humans call love.” He doesn’t say “what we call love”, and that’s because he was able to separate himself from the human condition. So is love, for Empedocles, the same as love is for us? And is what we call love really love? We have the comfortable idea that if we carry our ordinary feelings of love far enough then everything will become expansive and wonderful. But even in a human relationship, as most people know, if you really deeply love someone it’s not sweet. It opens up doors which are quite terrifying. Even below that, just to love a human being can be hell. People, if they are seriously in love, have to rush to a therapist and usually, just as with counseling for depression, the therapist will try to pull them out of the burning and heartbreak. But to me that is where the pearl is, right down there in the dark. That is where the treasure is.

    ~ Peter Kingsley

  8. Love and Attachments
    By Jonathan Haidt

    A hundred years of further studies have confirmed Durkheim’s diagnosis. If you want to predict how happy someone is, or how long she will live (and if you are not allowed to ask about her genes or personality), you should find out about her social relationships. Having strong social relationships strengthens the immune system, extends life (more than does quitting smoking), speeds recovery from surgery, and reduces the risks of depression and anxiety disorders. It’s not just that extroverts are naturally happier and healthier; when introverts are forced to be more outgoing, they usually enjoy it and find that it boosts their mood. Even people who think they don’t want a lot of social contact still benefit from it. And it’s not just that “we all need somebody to lean on”; recent work on giving support shows that caring for others is often more beneficial than is receiving help. We need to interact and intertwine with others; we need the give and the take; we need to belong. An ideology of extreme personal freedom can be dangerous because it encourages people to leave homes, jobs, cities, and marriages in search of personal and professional fulfillment, thereby breaking the relationships that were probably their best hope for such fulfillment.
    Seneca was right: “No one can live happily who has regard to himself alone and transforms everything into a question of his own utility.”
    John Donne was right: “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”
    Aristophanes was right: We need others to complete us. We are an ultrasocial species, full of emotions finely tuned for loving, befriending, helping, sharing, and otherwise intertwining our lives with others. Attachments and relationships can bring us pain: As a character in Jean-Paul Sartre’s play No Exit said, “Hell is other people.” But so is heaven.

  9. No! No one who was great in the world will be forgotten, but everyone was great in his own way, and everyone in proportion to the greatness of that which he loved. He who loved himself became great by virtue of himself, and he who loved other men became great by his devotedness, but he who loved God became the greatest of all. Everyone shall be remembered, but everyone became great in proportion to his expectancy. One became great by expecting the possible, another by expecting the eternal; but he who expected the impossible became the greatest of all. Everyone shall be remembered, but everyone was great wholly in proportion to the magnitude of that with which he struggled. For he who struggled with the world became great by conquering the world, and he who struggled with himself became great by conquering himself, but he who struggled with God became the greatest of all. Thus did they struggle in the world, man against man, one against thousands, but he who struggled with God was the greatest of all. Thus did they struggle on earth: there was one who conquered everything by his power, and there was one who conquered God by his powerlessness. There was one who relied upon himself and gained everything; there was one who in the security of his own strength sacrificed everything; but the one who believed God was the greatest of all. There was one who was great by virtue of his power, and one who was great by virtue of his hope, and one who was great by virtue of his love, but Abraham was the greatest of all, great by that power whose strength is powerlessness, great by that wisdom which is foolishness, great by that hope whose form is madness, great by the love that is hatred to oneself.

    ~ Søren Kierkegaard

  10. The Metaphysician’s Nightmare

    I, because of my philosophical eminence, was early given audience with the Prince of Darkness. I had read of Satan as der Geist der stets verneint, the Spirit of Negation. But on entering the Presence I realized with a shock that Satan has a negative body as well as a negative mind. Satan’s body is, in fact, a pure and complete vacuum, empty not only of particles of matter but also of particles of light.He is not immobile. On the contrary, the emptiness of which He is constituted is in perpetual motion. When anything annoys him, He swings the horror of His folded tail like an angry cat. Sometimes He goes forth to conquer new realms. Before going forth, He clothes Himself in shining white armour, which completely conceals the nothingness within. Only His eyes remain unclothed, and from His eyes piercing rays of nothingness shoot forth seeking what they may conquer. Wherever they find negation, wherever they find prohibition, wherever they find a cult of not-doing, there they enter into the inmost substance of those who are prepared to receive Him. Every negation emanates from Him and returns with a harvest of captured frustrations. The captured frustrations become part of Him, and swell His bulk until He threatens to fill all space. Every moralist whose morality consists of ‘don’ts’, every timid man who ‘lets I dare not wait upon I would’, every tyrant who compels his subjects to live in fear, becomes in time a part of Satan.

    ~ Bertrand Russell