Never have I read a book that so completely encapsulates and furthers along my own philosophy. I know I will reread it hundreds of times in my life- aNever have I read a book that so completely encapsulates and furthers along my own philosophy. I know I will reread it hundreds of times in my life- and even that won't be enough. "It is different in the world of spirit. Here an eternal divine order prevails, here it does not rain both upon the just and upon the unjust, here the sun does not shine both upon the good and upon the evil, here it holds good that only he who works gets the bread, only he who was in anguish finds repose, only he who descends into the underworld rescues the beloved." "If he lacks this focus['the power to concentrate the conclusion of all his thinking into one act of consciousness'], his soul is dissipated in multiplicity from the beginning, and he will never find the time to make the movement; he will continually be running errands in life and will never enter into eternity, for in the very moment he approaches it, he will suddenly discover that he has forgotten something and therefore must go back. In the next moment, he thinks, it will be possible, and this is quite true, but with such observations one will never come to make the movement but with their help will sink deeper and deeper into the mire." "The deeper natures never forget themselves and never become anything other than what they were. The knight, then, will recollect everything, but this recollection is precisely the pain, and yet in infinite resignation he is reconciled with existence." "Infinite resignation is that shirt mentioned in an old legend. The thread is spun with tears, bleached with tears; the shirt is sewn in tears--but then it also gives protection better than iron or steel. The defect in the legend is that a third person can work up this linen. The secret in life is that each person must sew it himself, and the remarkable thing is that a man can sew it fully as well as a woman. In infinite resignation there is peace and rest and comfort in the pain." "There comes a moment in a person's life when immediacy is ripe, so to speak, and when the spirit requires a higher form, when it wants to lay hold of itself as spirit. As immediate spirit, a person is bound up with all the earthly life, and now spirit wants to gather itself together out of this dispersion, so to speak, and to transfigure itself in itself; the personality wants to become conscious in its eternal validity. If this does not happen, if the movement is halted, if it is repressed, then depression sets in" (Either/Or, Kierkegaard). "But in our age people are less concerned about making pure movements." “I am convinced that God is love, this thought has for me a primitive lyrical validity." "Precisely because resignation is antecedent, faith is no esthetic emotion but something far higher; it is not the spontaneous inclination of the heart but the paradox of existence." "Infinite resignation is the last stage before faith, so anyone who has not made this movement does not have faith, for only in infinite resignation does an individual become conscious of his eternal validity, and only then can one speak of grasping existence by virtue of faith." "Irony and humor are also self-reflective and thus belong to the sphere of infinite resignation; their elasticity is owing to the individual's incommensurability with actuality." "Faith begins precisely where thought stops." "With security in life, they live in their thoughts; they have a permanent position and a secure future in a well-organized state. They have hundreds, yes, even thousands of years between them and the earthquakes of existence." "If the one who is to act wants to judge himself by the result, he will never begin." "Every time the individual shrinks from it [the ethical], every time he withholds himself in or slips down again into the qualifications of feeling, mood, etc. that belong to interiority, he trespasses, he is immersed in spiritual trial." "Faith is preceded by a movement of infinity; only then does faith commence." "Only when the individual has emptied himself in the infinite, only then has the point been reached where faith can break through." "Even if a person were craven and base enough to want to become a knight of faith on someone else's responsibility, he would never come to be one, for only the single individual becomes that as the single individual, and this is the greatness of it." "God is the one who demands absolute love. Anyone who in demanding a person's love believes that this love is demonstrated by his becoming indifferent to what he otherwise cherished is not merely an egotist but is also stupid, and anyone demanding that kind of love simultaneously signs his own death sentence insofar as his life is centered in this desired love." "It may well be that there are those who need coercion, who, if they were given free rein, would abandon themselves like unmanageable animals to selfish appetites. But a person will demonstrate that he does not belong to them precisely by showing that he knows how to speak in fear and trembling, and speak he must out of respect for greatness, so that it is not forgotten out of fear of harm, which certainly will not come if he speaks out of a knowledge of greatness, a knowledge of its terrors, and if one does not know the terrors, one does not know the greatness, either." "The tragic hero relinquishes himself in order to express the universal." "Most men live in adherence to an ethical obligation in such a way that they let each day have its cares, but then they never attain this passionate concentration, this intense consciousness. The knight of faith is constantly kept in tension, he is the single individual, simply and solely the single individual without any connections and complications." "He knows that true greatness is equally accessible to all."
I am convinced after finishing the Brothers Karamazov that Dostoevsky is undeniably a sage who was somehow able to retain all the knowledge he gainedI am convinced after finishing the Brothers Karamazov that Dostoevsky is undeniably a sage who was somehow able to retain all the knowledge he gained from his many past lives and infuse it in his books. Proof of this statement can be found below (spoilers ahead!):
"Go, and fear not. Be not bitter against men. Be not angry if you are wronged. Forgive the dead man in your heart what wrong he did you. Be reconciled with him in truth. If you are penitent, you love. And if you love you are of God. All things are atoned for, all things are saved by love. Love is such a priceless treasure that you can redeem the whole world by it, and expiate not only your own sins but the sins of others. Go, and be not afraid." --- "Strive to love your neighbor actively and indefatigably. Insofar as you advance in love you will grow surer of the reality of God and of the immortality of your soul. If you attain to perfect self-forgetfulness in the love of your neighbor, then you will believe without a doubt, and no doubt can possibly enter your soul. This has been tried. This is certain." --- "Ivan Fyodorovich added in parenthesis that the whole natural law lies in that faith, and that if you were to destroy in mankind the belief in immortality, not only love but every living force maintaining the life of the world would at once be dried up. Moreover, nothing then would be immoral, everything would be lawful. "'That was my contention. There is no virtue if there is no immortality.' 'You are blessed in believing that, or else most unhappy.' 'Why unhappy?' Ivan Fyodorovich asked smiling. 'Because in all probability you don't believe yourself in the immortality of your soul, nor in what you have written yourself in your article on Church jurisdiction.' 'Perhaps you are right! But I wasn't altogether joking,' Ivan Fyodorovich suddenly and strangely confessed, flushing quickly. 'You were not altogether joking. That's true. The question is still fretting your heart, and not answered. But the martyr likes sometimes to divert himself with his despair, as it were driven to it by despair itself. Meanwhile, in your despair, you, too, divert yourself with magazine articles, and discussions in society, though you don't believe your own arguments, and with an aching heart mock at them inwardly....That question you have not answered, and it is your great grief, for it clamors for an answer.' 'But can it be answered by me? Answered in the affirmative?' Ivan Fyodorovich went on asking strangely, still looking at the elder with the same inexplicable smile. 'If it can't be decided in the affirmative, it will never be decided in the negative. You know that there is the peculiarity of your heart, and all its suffering is due to it. But thank the Creator who had given you a lofty heart capable of such suffering; of thinking and seeking higher things, for our dwelling is in the heaven. God grant that your heart will attain the answer on earth, and may God bless your path.'" (Zosima and Ivan) --- "'For our children--that is, not your children, but ours--the children of the poor gentlemen looked down upon by everyone--know what justice means, sir, even at the age of nine. How should the rich know? They don't explore such depths once in their lives. But at the moment in the square when he kissed his hand, at the moment when my Ilyushka had grasped all that justice means, sir. That truth entered into him and crushed him forever, sir.'" (Ilyushka's father, to Alyosha) --- "There has been a continual look of expectation in your eyes, and I can't endure that. That's how it is I've kept away from you. But in the end I have learned to respect you. The little man stands firm, I thought. Though I am laughing, I am serious. You do stand firm, don't you? I like people who are firm like that whatever it is they stand by, even if they are such little fellows as you. Your expectant eyes ceased to annoy me, I grew fond of them in the end, those expectant eyes. You seem to love me for some reason, Alyosha?" (Ivan to Alyosha) --- "'People talk sometimes of bestial cruelty, but that's a great injustice and insult to the beast; a beast can never be so cruel as a man, so artistically, so artfully cruel. The tiger only tears and gnaws, that's all he can do.' 'I think if the devil doesn't exist, but man has created him, he has created him in his own image and likeness.' 'Let me tell you, novice, that the absurd is only too necessary on earth. The world stands on absurdities, and perhaps nothing would have come to pass in it without them.'" (Ivan to Alyosha) --- "'Thou wouldst go into the world, and art going with empty hands, with some promise of freedom which men in their simplicity and their natural unruliness cannot even understand, which they fear and dread- for nothing has ever been more insupportable for a man and a human society than freedom.' 'Turn them into bread, and mankind will run after Thee like a flock of sheep, grateful and obedient, though for ever trembling, lest Thou withdraw Thy hand and deny them Thy bread." But Thou wouldst not deprive man of freedom and didst reject the offer, thinking, what is that freedom worth if obedience is bought with bread? Thou didst reply that man lives not by bread alone. They will find us and cry to us, "Feed us, for those who have promised us fire from heaven haven't given it!" And then we shall finish building their tower, for he finishes the building who feeds them. And we alone shall feed them in Thy name, declaring falsely that it is in Thy name. Oh, never, never can they feed themselves without us! No science will give them bread so long as they remain free. In the end they will lay their freedom at our feet, and say to us, "Make us your slaves, but feed us." They will understand themselves, at last, that freedom and bread enough for all are inconceivable together, for never, never will they be able to share between them! They will be convinced, too, that they can never be free, for they are weak, vicious, worthless, and rebellious. Thou didst promise them the bread of Heaven, but, I repeat again, can it compare with earthly bread in the eyes of the weak, ever sinful and ignoble race of man? ' 'Yet in this question lies hid the great secret of this world. Choosing "bread," Thou wouldst have satisfied the universal and everlasting craving of humanity- to find someone to worship. So long as man remains free he strives for nothing so incessantly and so painfully as to find someone to worship. But man seeks to worship what is established beyond dispute, so that all men would agree at once to worship it. For these pitiful creatures are concerned not only to find what one or the other can worship, but to find community of worship is the chief misery of every man individually and of all humanity from the beginning of time. For the sake of common worship they've slain each other with the sword. They have set up gods and challenged one another, "Put away your gods and come and worship ours, or we will kill you and your gods!" And so it will be to the end of the world, even when gods disappear from the earth; they will fall down before idols just the same. Thou didst know, Thou couldst not but have known, this fundamental secret of human nature, but Thou didst reject the one infallible banner which was offered Thee to make all men bow down to Thee alone- the banner of earthly bread; and Thou hast rejected it for the sake of freedom and the bread of Heaven. Behold what Thou didst further. And all again in the name of freedom! I tell Thee that man is tormented by no greater anxiety than to find someone quickly to whom he can hand over that gift of freedom with which the ill-fated creature is born. But only one who can appease their conscience can take over their freedom. Nothing is more seductive for man than his freedom of conscience, but nothing is a greater cause of suffering. They will cry aloud at last that the truth is not in Thee, for they could not have been left in greater confusion and suffering than Thou hast caused, laying upon them so many cares and unanswerable problems.' 'They are little children rioting and barring out the teacher at school. But their childish delight will end; it will cost them dear.' 'Then we shall give them the quiet humble happiness of weak creatures such as they are by nature. Oh, we shall persuade them at last not to be proud. We shall show them that they are weak, that they are only pitiful children, but that childlike happiness is the sweetest of all. They will marvel at us and will be awestricken before us, and will be proud at our being so powerful and clever, that we have been able to subdue such a turbulent flock of thousands of millions. Their minds will grow fearful. Yes, we shall set them to work, but in their leisure hours we shall make their life like a child's game, with children's songs and innocent dance. Oh, we shall allow them even sin, they are weak and helpless, and they will love us like children because we allow them to sin. And we will all be happy, all the millions of creatures except the hundred thousand who rule over them. For only we, we who guard the mystery, shall be unhappy. There will be thousands of millions of happy babes, and a hundred thousand sufferers who have taken upon themselves the curse of the knowledge of good and evil. But we shall keep the secret, and for their happiness we shall entice them with the reward of heaven and eternity.' 'I left the proud and went back to the humble, for the happiness of the humble. What I say to Thee will come to pass, and our dominion will be built up.'" (Ivan to Alyosha) --- "It's the great mystery of human life that old grief gradually passes into quiet tender joy." --- "'Why, the isolation that prevails everywhere, above all in our age--it has not fully developed, it has not reached its limit yet. For everyone strives to keep his individuality as apart as possible, whishes to secure the greatest possible fullness of life for himself; but meantime all his efforts result not in attaining fullness of life but self-destruction, for instead of self-realization he ends by arriving at complete isolation. He heaps up riches by himself and thinks, 'how strong I am now and how secure,' and in his madness he does not understand that the more he heaps up, the more he sinks into self-destructive impotence.'" ****** THE RUSSIAN MONK AND HIS POSSIBLE SIGNIFICANCE They have science; but in science there is nothing but what is the object of sense. The spiritual world, the higher part of man's being is rejected altogether, dismissed with a sort of triumph, even with hatred. The world has proclaimed the reign of freedom, especially of late, but what do we see in this freedom of theirs? Nothing but slavery and self-destruction! For the world says: "'You have desires and so satisfy them, for you have the same rights as the most rich and powerful. Don't be afraid of satisfying them and even multiply your desires." That is the modern doctrine of the world. In that they see freedom. And what follows from this right of multiplication of desires? In the rich, isolation and spiritual suicide; in the poor, envy and murder; for they have been given rights, but have not been shown the means of satisfying their wants. They maintain that the world is getting more and more united, more and more bound together in brotherly community, as it overcomes distance and sets thoughts flying through the air.' 'Alas, put no faith in such a bond of union. Interpreting freedom as the multiplication and rapid satisfaction of desires, men distort their own nature, for many senseless and foolish desires and habits and ridiculous fancies are fostered in them. They live only for mutual envy, for luxury and ostentation. To have dinners visits, carriages, rank, and slaves to wait on one is looked upon as a necessity, for which life, honour and human feeling are sacrificed, and men even commit suicide if they are unable to satisfy it. 'And it's no wonder that instead of gaining freedom they have sunk into slavery, and instead of serving, the cause of brotherly love and the union of humanity have fallen, on the contrary, into dissension and isolation, as my mysterious visitor and teacher said to me in my youth. And therefore the idea of the service of humanity, of brotherly love and the solidarity of mankind, is more and more dying out in the world, and indeed this idea is sometimes treated with derision. For how can a man shake off his habits? What can become of him if he is in such bondage to the habit of satisfying the innumerable desires he has created for himself? He is isolated, and what concern has he with the rest of humanity? They have succeeded in accumulating a greater mass of objects, but the joy in the world has grown less.' 'It is different with the upper classes. They, following science, want to base justice on reason alone, but not with Christ, as before, and they have already proclaimed that there is no crime, that there is no sin. And that's consistent, for if you have no God what is the meaning of crime? They aim at justice, but, denying Christ, they will end by flooding the earth with blood, for blood cries out for blood, and he that taketh up the sword shall perish by the sword.' 'Young man, be not forgetful of prayer. Every time you pray, if your prayer is sincere, there will be new feeling and new meaning in it, which will give you fresh courage, and you will understand that prayer is an education.' 'If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love. Love the animals: God has given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled. Do not trouble it, don't harass them, don't deprive them of their happiness, don't work against God's intent. Man, do not pride yourself on superiority to the animals; they are without sin, and you, with your greatness, defile the earth by your appearance on it, and leave the traces of your foulness after you--alas, it is true of almost every one of us! Love children especially, for they too are sinless like the angels; they live to soften and purify our hearts and, as it were, to guide us. Woe to him who offends a child!' 'Always decide to use humble love. If you resolve on that once for all, you may subdue the whole world. Loving humility is marvellously strong, the strongest of all things, and there is nothing else like it.' 'Every day and every hour, every minute, walk round yourself and watch yourself, and see that your image is a seemly one. You pass by a little child, you pass by, spiteful, with ugly words, with wrathful heart; you may not have noticed the child, but he has seen you, and your image, unseemly and ignoble, may remain in his defenceless heart. You don't know it, but you may have sown an evil seed in him and it may grow, and all because you were not careful before the child, because you did not foster in yourself a careful, actively benevolent love. Brothers, love is a teacher; but one must know how to acquire it, for it is hard to acquire, it is dearly bought, it is won slowly by long labour. For we must love not only occasionally, for a moment, but for ever.' 'All is flowing and blending; a touch in one place sets up movement at the other end of the earth.' 'And let not the sin of men confound you in your doings.' 'There is only one means of salvation, then take yourself and make yourself responsible for all men's sins, that is the truth, you know, friends, for as soon as you sincerely make yourself responsible for everything and for all men, you will see at once that it is really so, and that you are to blame for everyone and for all things. But throwing your own indolence and impotence on others you will end by sharing the pride of Satan and murmuring against God.' 'Many of the strongest feelings and movements of our nature we cannot comprehend on earth. Much on earth is hidden from us, but to make up for that we have been given a precious mystic sense of our living bond with the other world, with the higher heavenly world, and the roots of our thoughts and feelings are not here but in other worlds. That is why the philosophers say that we cannot apprehend the reality of things on earth. 'What grows lives and is alive only through the feeling of its contact with other mysterious worlds. If that feeling grows weak or is destroyed in you, the heavenly growth will die away in you. Then you will be indifferent to life and even grow to hate it. That's what I think.' 'Remember particularly that you cannot be a judge of anyone. If I had been righteous myself, perhaps there would have been no criminal standing before me. If you can take upon yourself the crime of the criminal your heart is judging, take it at once, suffer for him yourself, and let him go without reproach. And even if the law itself makes you his judge, act in the same spirit so far as possible, for he will go away and condemn himself more bitterly than you have done. If he goes away untouched, mocking at you, do not let that be a stumbling-block to you. It shows his time has not yet come, but it will come in due course. And if it come not, no Matter; if not he, then another in his place will understand and suffer, and judge and condemn himself, and the truth will be fulfilled. Believe that, believe it without doubt; for in that lies all the hope and faith of the saints.' 'Work without ceasing. If you remember in the night as you go to sleep, "I have not done what I ought to have done," rise up at once and do it.' 'If the evil-doing of men moves you to indignation and overwhelming distress, even to a desire for vengeance on the evil-doers, shun above all things that feeling. Go at once and seek suffering for yourself, as though you were yourself guilty of that wrong.' 'You are working for the whole, are acting for the future. Seek no reward, for great is your reward on this earth: the spiritual joy which is only vouchsafed to the righteous man. Fear not the great nor the mighty, but be wise and ever serene. Know the measure, know the times, study that. When you are left alone, pray. Love to throw yourself on the earth and kiss it. Kiss the earth and love it with an unceasing, consuming love. Love all men, love everything. Seek that rapture and ecstasy. Water the earth with the tears of your joy and love those tears. Don't be ashamed of that ecstasy, prize it, for it is a gift of God and a great one; it is not given to many but only to the elect.' ''What is hell?' I maintain that it is the suffering of no longer being able to love. ---------- "...forming a crisis and turning point in his (Alyosha) spiritual development, giving a shock to his intellect, which finally strengthened it for the rest of his life and gave it a definite aim."
Reading Dialogue: The Art of Thinking Together by William Isaacs has had reverberating affects on my way of thinking, seeing, and participating with tReading Dialogue: The Art of Thinking Together by William Isaacs has had reverberating affects on my way of thinking, seeing, and participating with the interconnected world around me. It has left me wondering why we collectively pretend, as a culture and as a species, to know what we are supposed to be doing here in this world with the time we have been granted. We stroll through the streets of our brilliantly constructed societies with a contrived sense of ease and understanding that what we are doing—whether it is going to work, school, or participating in some other cultural norm, is exactly what we are supposed to be doing.
We put on the air that we believe that what we are doing is the natural order of things, and that this procession of actions which we take part in and perpetuate is merely us playing our part in collectively working towards reaching the zenith of human potential. We are forging ahead, going further than any of our ancestors were able to, and embodying what it means to be a successful human being within a successful society. Through our technological advances and with the inventions of our countless machines and artifacts which simplify our lives, we free up precious time that we would otherwise be spending on inane tasks. And with all of this freed time, we transcend the previously imagined limits of human potential with our flourishing knowledge, understanding, and participation—right?
Why are we not constantly marveling at this strange existence that we have been given? Earnestly bemusing to ourselves and others the myriad of questions that every facet of our lives should enliven in us? We are all sick with the parsimonious character of a capitalistic society which turns us all against each other. This drive to reach the highest point of ‘success’ breeds a competitive spirit which infects us all, fabricating an unreachable point of prosperity where all of our dreams can come true. In our consumption of pleasures and luxuries on our way towards this inaccessible apex of achievement, true happiness becomes ever more elusive and faraway. But we convince ourselves, when surrounded by our material goods and distractions, that we have attained it and continue to attain it with every newly obtained extravagance. We are trying to own the world because we cannot even begin to reign our own minds.
We objectify the cosmos and falsify an understanding of it. The answers all lie in human knowledge and the mechanistic and observable functions which science has uncovered for us all. We have largely solved the great mystery, and can now focus on satisfying our own desires. This shallow, flighty lifestyle is pervading our culture, our practices, our beliefs, our minds, and our spirits. We “protect ourselves from intensity by creating intensity. Creating artificial experiences of intensity [i.e. entertaining, exciting, risky, and/or emotionally arousing] can shield us from our real, personal intensity. They can keep us from having to face the pain, anger, guilt, uncertainty, and doubt as well as the beauty that are deep inside of us” (Isaacs, 1999). These artificial forces at work keep us ensconced in our own lives and allow us to see with only our limited vision, turning others into possible threats to our cushioned lifestyle rather than potential friends or sources of mutual understanding and insight. The primacy of the whole and the awareness of interconnectedness of everything—our thoughts, behaviors, beliefs, cultures, practices, and nature have nearly been lost. We are all so distracted by this promise of happiness through personal success that our vision of what is good, what is beautiful, and what is true is clouded by this unquenchable thirst for more.
We are constantly distracted; truly living in the moment is a foreign concept to us, and it is only through true dialogue that we can transform our current systems of thought that at once connect us all and fragment our reality through our current ways of thinking. Dialogue has the transformative power to change the way we participate in the world. Participation is seeing yourself always in regards to the natural world and other beings within it, and dialogue fosters this way of being and forces us all to live within the realm of the present, together. We all know that this is the only route to true happiness and to realizing human potential. We have always known this, and now is the time to seize it by dropping this façade of nonchalance in the face of all of this abounding wonder. Instead of good answers, we need good questions, and to muster these questions we must humble ourselves to the perplexity of the universe and lose ourselves in it. We must trust in our collective capacity to truly discover what it means to be a part of this reciprocal and interconnected existence.
“And what is good, Phaedrus? And what is not good? Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?” ...more
Although the writing was a bit repetitive, this was only mildly distracting when coupled with the plot which ran seamlessly-- the people who Eggers foAlthough the writing was a bit repetitive, this was only mildly distracting when coupled with the plot which ran seamlessly-- the people who Eggers focused on are those who are living in a futuristic, dystopian society not too far in our future, who collectively and without any inhibitions give into a shallow, empty life of hyper-awareness of others and your place within your society. Honestly, this was a really ominous book to read, but it could also have been so much more. At times the dialogue and the character development seemed a bit juvenile, but it really had so much potential; it seemed as if Eggers may have rushed this book, perhaps to meet a deadline-- but the story was still very interesting, though not completely novel, I enjoyed it....more
I should give this 4 stars because it probably deserves it, but I just can't because my life philosophy is so very different from Csikszentmihalyi. SoI should give this 4 stars because it probably deserves it, but I just can't because my life philosophy is so very different from Csikszentmihalyi. Some helpful tips and definitely insightful, but he would be such a Dawkins fanatic, I can tell. Not really my cup of tea, got much more from reading similar books by Deepak Chopra. ...more