It is right in front of you and yet you cannot see it

August 27, 2016

If I were to ask you to describe a room in your house, you would probably list the things in the room: for a kitchen you might list stove, refrigerator, counter-top, cabinets, floor, and so forth. You would probably—almost certainly—miss the most important part of the room: the space that allows all these things to be present. Without that space, none of those things could be present. The things in that space are continually changing, but the space itself is eternal.

If I were to ask you to describe who you are, you might talk about your goals, your personality, your thoughts, your emotions, and so forth. You would probably—almost certainly—miss the most important part of you: the “space” that allows you to have all those thoughts and emotions. Without that space, none of those things could be present. The things in that space are continually changing, but the space itself is eternal.

The above is a paraphrasing of some things that I have recently learned from listening to Eckhart Tolle videos.

Creative people

August 26, 2016

Creative people don’t hang it up. We don’t walk away,
we don’t want to sit in a lawn chair, we don’t want to
go out and play golf, we don’t want to travel the world.
We want to continue to work.

— Floyd Norman, 81, movie animator at Walt Disney Studios
 

Retire? No thanks says this 81 year old animator at Walt Disney Studios

August 26, 2016

Today on NPR they interviewed a guy by the name of Floyd Norman. He is 81 years old and is an animator at Walt Disney Studios. He’s been working there since the 1950s. When Norman turned 65, Disney tried to force him to retire, but he wouldn’t have it. “I wanted to continue to work,” he says. “You see, creative people don’t hang it up. We don’t walk away, we don’t want to sit in a lawn chair, we don’t want to go out and play golf, we don’t want to travel the world. We want to continue to work.”

http://www.wbur.org/npr/491370725/at-81-disneys-first-african-american-animator-is-still-in-the-studio

Incremental improvement

August 13, 2016

How does one incrementally improve in a physical skill? How does one incrementally improve in the mastery of a subject?

Suppose one desires to progress from an average skill level to a skill level that would be seen by most to be superhuman? How does one attain a physical skill that is on-par with the Olympic athletes? How does one attain a mastery of a subject that vaults one into world-authority level?

Let’s take two concrete examples.

Suppose you want to have a superhuman ability to perform pushups – you are able to knock off hundreds, even thousands of pushups. How would you get to that level? Would you simply do pushups every other day, trying to do a bit more with each passing week? Certainly that is part of it. But anyone who’s ever tried that strategy knows that after a while you plateau and get bored.

Suppose you want to be the world’s greatest programmer in, say, Lisp – you know every nook and cranny of the language and are able to employ any feature to craft beautiful code. How would you get to that level? Would you simply read lots of books on Lisp and write lots of programs, mastering a bit more with each passing week? Certainly that is part of it. But as the months go by you will start to forget the things you mastered at the beginning of the journey.

A straight linear approach to incremental improvement does not work.

One thing that I’ve learned from observing top athletes and top subject matter experts is that they are constantly going back to the basics – performing basic movements, reviewing fundamental concepts. Incremental improvement is not linear, it’s linear for a while and then you circle back to the start. On the second iteration you go linear a little further and then circle back. On the third iteration you go linear even further and then circle back. Over and over. Faster and faster.

Relish every minute of every day

August 10, 2016

When I exercise I typically set a certain number of reps as a goal. I then perform the reps, always focusing on the goal. Sigh. What a missed opportunity…

Oftentimes we focus on the goal and pay little or no attention to the journey to get to the goal. This includes big goals, such as graduating from college or getting married, as well as little goals such as getting to the top of the stairs or in an exercise finishing the desired number of reps.

The problem is that most of the time is spent in the journey. So if we ignore the journey then we miss most of life.

From now on I will make the journey the objective. I will walk up the stairs and consider each step the objective. I will exercise and make each rep the objective. I will stand in line at a store and focus on my breath. I will relish each minute of each day.

The origin of religion – someone has a deep insight

August 9, 2016

Eckhart Tolle (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M00VLswZdyc):

[1:03] Potentially religion is a wonderful thing. The origin of religion is usually somebody who has a deep insight into the oneness of all life and then attempts to teach that to others – compassion, love, and to recognize the other as yourself. Unfortunately, the beautiful original teaching often gets hijacked by the ego (mind/thoughts) and is then used for its own purposes. The result is that now we have, to a large extent (although not completely, there are pockets in religion that are deeply spiritual), religions that are divisive forces in our world rather than something that unites us.

How to stop thinking – give attention to your breathing

August 9, 2016

Eckhart Tolle has a really interesting perspective on thinking (thoughts). His perspective is that thoughts are a tool (a very useful tool, certainly, but a tool nonetheless). We either control the tool or it controls us. To bring about some measure of control to this tool, we need a way of turning it off (i.e., stop thinking). There is a simple way to achieve this: give attention to your breathing. It turns out that you can’t simultaneously attend to your breathing and think.

Perhaps constant, compulsive thinking brings on mental fatigue. By periodically stopping thinking, we can have more freshness in our thinking.

Fleeting life or immortality

August 2, 2016

I wish to live forever. Ray Kurtzweil (and others) say that with the rapid advances in medicine and technology, we will be able to live a very long time. (See my last blog)

I wish to be spiritually aware. Eckert Tolle talks beautifully about life as a series of changing forms. He says that our life is similar to a movie – a movie that relentlessly marches forward … until the end. The goal should be to work on realizing one’s true self, not pursuing endless forms.

My two wishes seem at odds with each other. One wish involves chasing immortality. The other wish accepts mortality and involves chasing the inner self.

Perhaps the two wishes are not as mutually exclusive as they seem at the moment. I welcome your thoughts.

3 bridges to cross to immortality

August 2, 2016

Ray Kurzweil:

Bridge 1: cherry-pick the most promising biomedical findings of today. This includes a low-calorie, low-carb diet, exercise and lots of sleep.

Bridge 2: exploit the accelerating biotech revolution to bring true enhancement at the cellular and genetic levels. This means increasing use of gene therapy, stem cells, therapeutic cloning and replacement cells, tissues and organs. Within a few decades, Kurzweil says, these will even allow us to turn back our biological clocks.

Bridge 3: merge nanotech and AI. This will allow swarms of specialized, programmable, communicating nanobots to replace old-fashioned neurons and blood cells with more efficient units that can destroy infections, reverse degenerative changes and rewrite genetic code.

More … http://crabsalloverhealth.blogspot.com/2010/12/ray-kurzweil-building-bridges-to.html

Transitioning from a grab for knowledge to reflecting on knowledge

July 25, 2016

For many years a was in a sort of land grab. But it wasn’t land that I was gobbling up, it was knowledge. I wanted to have as many check-marks on my resume as possible: I’ve mastered this, this, and this.

Recently there has been a shift. I no longer feel the need to gobble up knowledge. Time to slow down and smell the flowers. It’s time to reflect on what I’ve learned. I want to sit in awe of the big ideas, I want to be immersed in their profundity. I want to see how it all fits together.

I am transitioning from technology to philosophy. I think it’s a good progression.


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