Tag Archives: reading

Books, altars and faith

william t howell allchin open book and spectacles

Everything that I know, I am sure, I know not.
Everything that I have truly learned I have forgotten.
My own opinions I view with great suspicion.
Feeling that I am right I know that I am wrong.
Only in doubts I remain certain and assured.
Theories that I have proved I consider refuted.
Beliefs that I hold firmly I consider false.
Views with which I agree I regard as misguided.
I disregard the evidence that I have gathered.
My sight is blurred and my vision – myopic.
How could I cast the last stone?
How could I have the keys to every cave and alley?
My experiences are a spider’s web of prejudices and biases.
I abhor sentiments which reflect my own.
People that I regularly meet are strangers to me.
My brothers are ghosts and my sisters are shadows.
Books are the altars on which I sacrifice my hours
and all the letters in the world are the articles of my faith.

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Such love as this

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Today I started reading Franklin Foer‘s book “How Soccer explains the World: An unlikely theory of globalization“. When I opened the front cover, I saw this…   Continue reading

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You are a zero!

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A few days ago I was a sorry witness to an unusual conversation – if it can be called that. It was about noon time. The sun was doing her usual “life-giving and death-inflicting” thing. She was thoroughly engaged in killing off a few layers of Earth’s ozone. Simultaneously somehow she managed to promote photosynthesis in green plants and to support life – in all its diverse manifestations – on this cold, dreary and lonely dust-ball. Grilling the skin of a random passersby, producing mutagenic cancer cells in some, destroying healthy cells in others. The ways of the sun are unpredictable and wild. Like all nature – she’s a bitch. Giving pleasure and nurturing life but also carrying within herself all the seeds of rottenness, filth, death and disease. She gives life but also takes it away. Continue reading

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Gray Matters: Brain Science in the 21st Century

Fascinating and enlightening panel discussion on the human brain. All nice and clean, though, in my mind, where it gets tricky (and for that matter, sticky)  is when some of the honorable scientists start to flirt with various forms of spirituality –  transcendental meditation, Zen, mindfulness training or even the old-fashioned Catholic prayer being the paramount examples. (See the segment from min 47. to approx. 50) Meditation and other so-called spiritual exercises are not a Wunderwaffe.  In fact, they are terribly overrated. In terms of the “beneficial effects on the brain”, I believe there are no substantial difference between meditating on a Zen koan, watching a horror movie or reading Plato’s dialogues. In all of these cases, one’s attention is being directed to a particular image, thought or activity. Thus the universal aspect, which they all share is – enter the magic word –  attention. Now, we have a choice to make here, either you read a book and actually learn something new or watch a stupid movie and have a good laugh or sit silently for 20 minutes focusing on the inhalation of air in your bodily system. Now, why would you want to meditate? You may say: “But I want to find my inner bliss, I long for happiness, –  (or to put it more pompously) – I seek enlightenment. And to attain these lofty goals of mine, every now and then, I meditate for 20 plus minutes.” You could argue even further and state what the brain-scientists have discovered over the past decades, which would presumably give the scientific validity card in your hand to play. Continue reading

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October 11, 2012 · 12:42 pm