Quiet vs Talk? – Talk and Quiet!

sunset trees lake

Times can be tough, I have seen many and gone through a lot of such times. I still consider myself lucky, in many respects.

I find that talking can be overestimated. But so can quiet. As has been said similarly elsewhere:
there’s a time and place for everything.

Sometimes we talk to others in order to exchange ideas, or information.

Sometimes we talk to others to feel close by being understood and listened to.

Sometimes we talk to others so we can make the heart’s burden lighter, or to let off the steam of anger.

Sometimes we talk to others to clear up things or answer questions.

But often, there’s nothing of the above necessary. We are at one with ourselves and our emotions and ideas.

In such times, being quiet can be the order of the day. Know that our near and dear understand.

In hard or sorrowful times, a good cry can help. Or letting off steam by punching something

Hugging near and dear helps.

Work helps.

And laughter helps. Always.

Religion – Life – Philosophy – Strength of Mind

ancient-buddha-stucco-white-old-red-brick-thai-ancient-tradition-pagoda

I was raised as a Catholic, by parents who at the same time were enlightened philosophers, in the sense of the philosophical enlightenment founded in the 18th century in the middle of Europe, with British, French and German philosophers at the helm of it.

I have since had the luck to be part of a university’s body as a student and graduate, with famous researchers in religion, philosophy, language and culture close at hand. I have read and thought, and discussed matters of religion, philosophy and culture for decades. To me it became clear in the course of many years that for all the sorrow, cruelty and hardship a human being may go through and endure, one thing remains adamant and is the core concept to me:

Love.

Much has been written about it, songs been sung, and operas, poems, books , plays been published. Although money seems to be the one driving force in human life – love, in all its shapes, is the other.

And when hardship falls on us, loved ones die or we just have to face humans that have decided to go the other way, love can carry us through.

I also think it important that we find the love inside of us:
because if we only search for it outside, only half of all our potential will be made true.
That’s why I find the concept of ‘neighbourly love’ crucial as well as helpful, as we know it from Christianity: ‘love thy neighbour as you love thyself’.
Psychology actually supports this concept:
only if we like and support ourselves, body, mind and soul the same way we would our near and dear, will we have the strength to do it – support both, ourselves as well as others. And we endure hardship easier.

I am not the first to say it and certainly will not be the last. In the bible one of the most beautiful texts about love is this:
Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians, chapter 13.

Money vs Values? – Money, Dignity and Values!

silhouette of person in yoga post on top of cliff during sunset

Money seems similar to power: It corrupts… sometimes. I think the basic principle is the same as in other parts of life:
it depends on the perspective, on how you look at it.

Someone put it very nicely with these few words:
“If you believe it, it must be true.”

For some of those that read my blog, this is not news.
But I feel this to be an essential part of human life, indeed mankind and its history depend to a great extent on money and what it represents or means to different kinds of people.

Basic Concepts

The most important concepts in regard to money to me are: power, appreciation, wealth (and what it can buy as regards luxury).
Dignity.

Appreciation and Dignity

Appreciation as well as dignity go together in this context: many people exist who will accept and even admire someone who’s got lots of money.

In turn that person feels respected and draws on this apparent respect for their sense of self-esteem. And the term that is closely connected, even a synonym, is the idea of dignity.

Dignity

The idea deserves a closer look: dignity is the sense of any person they can have of themselves as being ‘respectable’ and ‘good’, therefore respected and part of the community around them.
And so, if dignity is forfeit, or seems to be, some people can react extremely aggressive and even cruelly towards those they hold responsible for that loss.

Find Distinctions

I would like to differentiate more, to ultimately make independence easier: we may be dependent to some extent on others, for money, for respect and thus simply their support.
But the dignity we retain always also depends on how we look at ourselves.

Money and Dignity?

If we connect these two ideas in a direct relation, namely: ‘money equals dignity’ and then at the first hint of losing money are convinced we’ve lost our dignity in the eyes of the world, this will be true.

Independence in Your Mind and Your Being

Again:
“If you believe it, it must be true.”

As long as you believe that money equals dignity, this will be true.

This is another way of saying that there are always two sides to this coin:
What others think about us.
What we think about ourselves.

And if we find others to be right in this view, this perspective on us, then they will gain power over our thoughts, our reactions and ultimately we may lose our free will.

Money and Values

Self-respect or self-esteem are crucial for being aware of eternal values and living them. And the sense of our dignity translates into these two.

So, to become truly independent of all the dark sides of the want of appreciation or self-respect or dignity, such as greed, cruelty and selfishness, find out about the dignity inside.

Dignity Inside

So, I encourage again, once more, all who read this:
Look carefully into your heart – and find the dignity and appreciation in there, the part that is not dependent on anything the outside world could ever believe.
If you can do that, no one will ever ‘mess with your head’, they will not have power over you, because you have it over yourself. First and last.

The Willow Tree – and the Fight for Life

I like the saying: ‘when you fight you can loose. Not to fight means you have already lost.’

I also remember the principle from jujitsu many years ago, apparently part of its age-long tradition:
‘Be like the willow tree that bends before the storm – and then darts back. Yield in order to win.’

Fighting may sound like: ‘be strong – and hard.’

To me it’s more like this:
‘Persevere – hang in there. And: don’t forget about the breaks!’

Stereotypes – Images – Mistaken Judgement

In literature and philosophy one of the things you learn at an early stage is, to look beyond the obvious.
Or that which is apparently obvious.
The great works of art, especially in poetry, often have layers of meaning to them. And not just one or two layers. But several, in many cases.

In life, this kind of knowledge can be crucial: that the surface, the apparently obvious, the first impression, the things you hear and see with the ‘naked eye or ear’ can be completely misleading.
This fact is made use of in marketing: use images and ideas that are easy to grasp, are part of common knowledge and that way, sell – chocolate, cars, or clothes.

That’s why advertisements are often full of stereotypes, such as the wonderful housewife and mother. The cool and always superior father, the cute kids, who never complain, except when chocolate is becoming scarce… and so on, and on…

Why is this misleading, though? Aren’t there cute kids around? Aren’t there wonderful housewives and mothers? Or the superior father – not to say passionate lovers?
Of course there are!
But they are not always the only thing to know about or the most important aspect of a person.

Stereotypes exist everywhere and are almost countless.

A particularly impressive because very colourful one, connected with heaps of imagery and at the same time so easily dismantled is that of the passion of Spanish natives as opposed to that of the average European, supposed to be far more sedate in outlook:
bluntly put, unfortunately, that’s just complete bullshit.

Why, again?
What the emblematic image conjures up in the mind is the Flamenco dancer, clapping, stomping, scowling, accompanied by apparently fierce musicians strumming the guitar and the sad, sometimes fierce songs of, among other sources, the gypsies in Spain. They had been chased and abused for centuries and Flamenco, so the legend has it, expresses their fight for life.

The Flamenco as well as other dances considered to be passionate, such as the Tango or the Rumba, has seen for decades now a new appreciation and recognition in countries such as Switzerland or Germany.
Where people are considered to be less passionate, than in other regions of the world.
How is it possible then that among the famous and even in Spain recognized Flamenco dancers, there is a Swiss woman?

Because people take preconceptions and stereotypes for granted. They do not look beyond the image, the impressions, eye and ear seem to convey apparently.

But the truth is: we only understand and recognize what we know.
If our knowledge is marked by stereotypes, stereotypes is what we will see and find.

And that is a great pity!
The above example about apparently passionate as opposed to less passionate human beings is a striking one to make the point:
if we believe in it, the really passionate nature in ourselves, wherever we’ve been raised – and other more subtle aspects of people around us, may completely escape us!

So, go beyond stereotypes! Find the truth, not just the image!

 

Stephen Fry: “Playing Grafcefully With Ideas” – Oscar Wilde, Albert Einstein or Modern Heroes

I like to share this address here, Stephen Fry’s address to Oxford students on what to value very highly in life, especially as student or – I like to add, human being:
freedom of thought

Fry’s speeches and subtle humour are famous already, as actor as well as writer he can be said to practice the true art of understatement.

I will just put this here, it’s great fun and well-versed as well as read. Take a little time off your household chores, perhaps, get a breather from a working life of pressing tasks – and enjoy!

Freedom, the Eagle and the Relativity of Terms

Freedom – a big term, most often associated with flying, the eagle in the sky – the absolute lack of all fetters, shackles or limitations. Is it?

A dream. Even more than that: it is in these contexts – a human emotion.
There are these moments in life – when one is at peace with oneself and one’s surroundings – a fire outdoors in the night, surrounded by friends, music, good food and drink, perhaps.
The mountain top and a beautiful countryside on a day where vision seems endless.
A peaceful day at home, rain splattering against the windows, the rich fragrance of fresh home-made biscuits in the air.
These peaceful moments can convey a kind of freedom, and rich and full living. Perhaps at the core of the yearning: no ties and no responsibilities to be taken care of.
All’s well in the universe.

Yet, actually, there’s more to the idea of freedom. It also makes sense to differentiate. What I have put above is the personal freedom in a human’s life that can happen as an emotion on such occasions. Peace. Or exhilaration.
The exhilarating feeling that high above the world the sky is the limit…

To me, first and last, the definition and from there a repeated emotion of freedom is twofold: define what it is exactly, and why. Find out where it can be found, again.

So, first there’s personal freedom, a feeling perhaps, a strong emotion. There’s also the freedom in political and social life. It actually is the basis for the emotional situations I described above:

In a country, where it is not possible to try and reach your potential, to say what you think where and when you like, to dress how you like or go where you want – just the feeling of freedom, can be hard to find in personal life.

So next comes the question: what if all’s granted, but still, responsibilities are to be taken care of? The responsibility of taking care of a family can be difficult and weigh heavily on the mind.
Where is freedom then?

Freedom is in knowing your own limitations and your ‘escapes’ from routine, if there is one. And, in a community life, compromise. To go for what is good for many.

To find happiness in the small things, because you have figured out or seen what you don’t need to be happy, here and now. Your limitations.
The fragrance of a flower, the peaceful garden.
Dancing with friends, telling jokes and sharing thoughts – that’s what I found to be happiness in everyday life. Conveying the emotion of being carefree and lightweight.

Most importantly I realized that treasuring any moments given to us we feel this way, makes for a freedom that is independent of long trips, travelling the globe, the Bunjee jumping line – or flying into the skies: to know that it’s valuable, to you, your friends, your loved ones, now.

Sun, Rain, Weather, Water – and a Little Lightness of Being

In many European countries for some time now sun is being considered to be a feature, even rather special or valuable. Sunny days are called ‘good weather’, rainy or cloudy days are ‘bad weather’. And some people think it necessary to even brag about the fact that they have the means and opportunity to travel into (more) sunny regions than the ones they live in.

In other parts of the world, the sun is a very dubious luxury. You need so much water or liquids to drink in order to stay healthy. Not even the recommended 1,5 l per day are available there. People would perhaps like to make themselves a tea or coffee. Or have a nice soup for a cold. Apart from cooking other kinds of food! Or keeping clean – clothes, the house – themselves!

The sun in those parts can be damnable or at least unwelcome.

The movie ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ has a number of very graphic scenes shot in the desert, with appropriate soundtrack, that make abundantly clear, what it can mean to be victim to a grim climate involving a lot of sun.

Although the desert has always had a fascination for many Europeans, partly because it is so different, next time the weather turns bad over here, think again, perhaps. I remember a visitor of ours, who came from the Near East ‘only’, with enough water for everyday use, vividly, to this day, over 25 years ago, when she visited Germany for the first time. Driving with us through half of it, you might say, from Frankfurt/Main to the South of Germany, she was amazed at how green everything was! Over and over she repeated, ‘look at this countryside, so much green, so many trees, so many pastures – incredible!’

So, next time in these parts, before you complain about the weather turning ‘bad’ – perhaps you could instead think of what it would be like if you came from some part in the world where water is scarce, like the big deserts in Africa (I yet have to see personally). Where you often have not enough water even to wash yourself, much less, to cook – or just drink whatever you like, as much as you like, anytime. And you may come to appreciate tap water again: it’s the best controlled water in the middle of Europe and can be drunk from the tap without any further ado…