Tag Archives: Philosophy

Shining souls

“The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is a man of high and heroic temper.”

~ Aristotle

The human spirit is mighty. Throughout our lives, we are faced with circumstances that force us to look deep within ourselves to find what is good so that we can do amazing things for others in need. When something bad happens to another person, whether you know them personally or not, you feel compelled to reach out to them from the depth of your heart and help them get to a place of comfort, safety and peace. You can do this through prayer, a financial contribution, or with a helping hand. This temperament is displayed often when tragedy strikes and is one of characteristics that make the human species unique from most all other earthly creatures. This very type of behaviour must also be used when we find ourselves in a difficult place in life. All too often, we neglect our own needs when we are faced with a tragedy, depression, weakness, etc. It’s very important to remember that as individuals, we need to be heroic for ourselves too. In doing so, we keep our own soul shining so that we are available to assist others in keeping their souls shining too. 

The Soul of a Flower

Special thanks to Tim Coffey for his use of this illustration.

Love thy enemy

“If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on the Isle of Wigh...

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

One of the hardest things to do is love your enemy. If you really ponder the fact that all our enemies are just like we are in that they desire the same things we desire. They want freedom, power, peace, love, a place to call their homeland, money, religious rights, etc. just like we do. But for many centuries, people have been fighting amongst themselves and with other cultures and nations creating havoc, unspeakable tragedies, and untold sufferings. What can we attribute this to? Is it because men dominate world affairs and women don’t? Is it because humans are more animalistic than they are spiritual? Is it because this is man’s destiny — to always be at war? Whatever the reason, it’s pitiful that people of all races, religions, and creed do not look for ways to live in harmony as much as they look for ways to become more powerful and destructive. If people in power took the time to look into the hearts of their “enemies” perhaps they would find the answers the perplexing questions posed above. Peace to all.

Managing mistakes

“The sages do not consider that making no mistakes is a blessing. They believe, rather, that the great virtue of man lies in his ability to correct his mistakes and continually make a new man of himself.”

~ Wang Yang-Ming (1472-1529) Chinese Philosopher

Wang Yangming (1472–1529), considered the most...

Wang Yangming (1472–1529), considered the most influential Confucian thinker since Zhu Xi.

Correcting mistakes you’ve made is more important than making them in the first place. We all know that life isn’t perfect, so there’s no point in trying not to make any mistakes. Instead, be very aware of all the mistakes you make in life so that you can make sure you don’t make them anymore. This is very simple in theory to understand but not so easy to physically do. I suppose it’s because humans are creatures of habit and can’t easily change or adapt themselves to a new environment. The ones that can will surely succeed in ways that most cannot. Part of being a wise person is knowing where and when to navigate in the path of life. The mistakes we have made (and will continue to make!) in life will teach us how to be wise as souls and happier as people. To me, life is simply about trying to be better human beings, and to be better we must constantly be sharpening our souls so that we can live renewed lives as much as possible.

The purpose of money

“Wealth still failed to impress him; the purpose of money was to purchase one’s freedom to pursue that which was useful and interesting.”

~ H. W. Brands, in his biography of Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin 1767

Benjamin Franklin 1767

Today’s Lesson: “Letting Go of Attachments”
This goes along with simplifying your life. And the act of simplifying certainly helps you recognize your attachments. You’ll see what I mean when you start to give away a perfectly good suit that you haven’t worn in ten years. Suddenly that suit looks really necessary. But once you do let go, you never look back. And suddenly you are lighter and freer than ever before.

Using this same thinking will help you to not be attached to money. The greatest asset money has is that it allows us to live our lives more richer because of the free time it gives us in life. Enjoying interesting and useful time with good friends, family and loved ones. One must remember to be wise when money and free time are available in excess because they can destroy a person very easily if one isn’t careful. Go find your purpose, and then be wealthy.

An excellent idea

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but rather we have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

~ Aristotle

Aristotle (1811) Galleria dell'Accademia, Venice

Aristotle

Such a poignant statement that sums up how we should truly measure ourselves. As I celebrate my 54th birthday today, I will take these words by Aristotle with me as a reminder to live my life each day as someone who lives rightly. Doing so will help me be an excellent human being who has chosen to develop habits that are conducive to a life of excellence. After all, isn’t that what we all want to achieve with our lives? Today, choose to be an excellent person who inspires others to live their life in excellence. This is a most excellent idea. 

Golf balls, pebbles, sand and coffee

“The Mayonnaise Jar and Two Cups of Coffee”

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with GOLF BALLS. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of PEBBLES and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of SAND and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous “yes.”

The professor then produced TWO CUPS OF COFFEE from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that:

1. This JAR represents your life.

2. The GOLF BALLS are the important things–your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions–and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

3. The PEBBLES are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.

4. The SAND is everything else–the small stuff. “If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

“Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Spend more time enjoying your hobbies. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the sink disposal. TAKE CARE OF THE GOLF BALLS FIRST–THE THINGS THAT REALLY MATTER. Set your priorities. THE REST IS SAND.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the COFFEE represented. The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

People should spend more of their time thinking about what is most important in their lives and about those who are closest to them, then spend the remainder of their time doing things for and with those people.

The treasure within you

“Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant.”

~ Horace (65-8 BC) Roman Poet 

The Treasure

When you are at your worst emotionally and physically, you tend to find something that has been hidden deep inside you that you never knew you had — the wherewithal to work your way through the pain you are so burdened by. Like anything that has a luster to it, the process of getting that shine that is so appealing requires many years of wear and tear, and pain and suffering. So, always remember that when you’re experiencing discomfort, agony, sorrow, loneliness, displeasure and turmoil, just realize that you are getting closer to discovering the treasure that lies within you. Once found, the sparkle and awe that people now see in you will bring so much pleasure, strength, hope, and appeal to not only yourself but to those who can see the treasure within you. Have you found the treasure within you yet?

I am dynamite!

“I know my fate. One day my name will be associated with the memory of something tremendous — a crisis without equal on earth, the most profound collision of conscience, a decision that was conjured up against everything that had been believed, demanded, hallowed so far. I am no (mere) (wo)man, I am dynamite.”  

~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche

How do you overcome and trascend your own life challenges? It’s only done by withstanding the immense pressures and difficulties of life. It’s also accomplished by having undergone a refining and shaping process which leaves you shining like a bright star in the deepest of night. Strive everyday to be a beacon of light in someone’s dark world and you’ll see your own world be void of darkness.

There is an interesting soliloquy in the play ‘Hamlet’ by William Shakespeare that captures the vicissitudes and promethean challenges of our life’s own challenges and experiences:

“To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to dream; Ay, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause….”

~ Hamlet Act 3: Scene 1 (Hamlet speaking this on his entry to Act 3, Scene 1)

Questions or Answers?

“We do not grow by knowing all of the answers, but rather by living with the questions.”

~ Anonymous

When you think about it, having unanswered questions leave us more curious than actually knowing the answers to them. What questions do you seek to know the answers to in your life? For me, the most intriguing question is: “If there is a divine purpose to our lives, then what is mine?” If I’m here for a specific purpose, then I want to know what it is so that I can accomplish it thereby fulfilling my duty as a spiritual being. I think that by knowing the answer to this question, most all of my other questions will be answered, even if in part. I encourage you to share your most intriguing questions with me that you would like the answers to. Then, perhaps we can know the answer to the question: “What is more important, the answer or the question?

Blossoming Knowledge

Special thanks to Tim Coffey for use of his illustration.

Why do you live?

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

~ Friedrich Nietzsche

As long as we have a reason to live, then we can live through anything. This is the secret to a life that is full of zeal, power, energy, and influence. People who do great things in life overcome any and all obstacles they encounter because they keep their eyes focused on the thing(s) that help them endure to the end. Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines to achieve, but victory comes to the one who can endure. One way you can obtain the energy and passion for life is to look at life differently than you have done in the past. Attitude is everything when it comes to the things you encounter in life, so if you can change the way you view circumstances, then you just might find that living is more enjoyable than ever before. Always strive to find a positive reason to live and you will achieve what you want from your life. There are thousands of reasons to live, all you have to do is look for them.

A New Perspective in Life

Special thanks to Tim Coffey for use of his illustration.

Manufacturing good thoughts

“Be curious always! For knowledge will not acquire you: you must acquire it.”

~ S. Back

If you want to be smarter than most people, then you need to be like a factory producing knowledge. If you want to be happier than most people, then you need to produce optimism. Researchers have found that optimistic people had a 50% decreased risk of early death compared with those who leaned more toward pessimism. The researcher’s results make sense: Those with a positive outlook on life are probably less stressed, better equipped to deal with adversity and, consequently, healthier. Optimists also tend to have lower blood pressure than pessimists, which, again, is most likely related to how positive thinkers respond to stress. So therefore, you must produce good thoughts that lead to a happier and healthier you!

Flower Factory

Special thanks to Tim Coffey for use of his illustration.

Say nothing and hear everything

“Don’t speak unless you can improve on the silence.”

~ Spanish Proverb

visions

Vision of Silence

This is a very powerful statement if you really stop to ponder it. How many of us can remain silent for the sake of not saying something that is better than the silence itself. In silence, we can find inner peace, listen to our soul, hear all the things around us, and most of all we can rest our mind. When was the last time you said nothing while in the presence of others or even when alone? Try listening to yourself today and everyday for at least 15 minutes and see yourself transform into something lovely. While in this meditative state, listen carefully to your mind and soul for an awe inspiring message that could lead you to somewhere beautiful in your life. I can’t hear you and it’s a good thing. Shhh…stop now and listen to yourself. 

Happily-ever-after forever

“It is only possible to live happily-ever-after on a day-to-day basis.”

~ Margaret Bonnano

Be Happy

Living a happy life requires a daily devotion to it. This means going to bed with the hope of a better tomorrow and acting on having a better day as you go through the motions of your daily routine. It also means waking up with joy for the chance to live another day that can make your world better and the world around you better. Life is a gift, so we must make the choice to live it with happiness, hope, health and harmony. As you live your happy life, be sure and tell all those around you how happy you are and you will soon see their happiness shine back at you. This is something that lasts forever if you give your happy attitude away for free to everyone. Being high on happiness is the best kind of high for all of us. Remember, happiness is only real when shared.

One giant leap for…you!

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence is the key to unlocking our potential.”

~ Liane Cardes

“Big jobs usually go to the men who prove their ability to outgrow small ones.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

It takes a lot more than being smart and flexing your muscles to get you what you want in life. It requires that you use all your wisdom, persistence, skills, patience and timing to achieve this task. In using all these abilities, you must outlast and overcome all the struggles that come your way as you rise to the top. You must prove to others and yourself that you can conquer the obstacles that you are faced with before you can elevate to the next level or position you seek for yourself. So, if you really want that promotion you’ve been jockeying for, or to lose weight, or get the attention of that person you’ve been admiring for ages, then you’re going to have to make the big step upward. Engage yourself in such a manner that you’re always moving forward no matter how slowly you move until you’ve reached your final destination. Then you can relish and cherish your accomplishment, but not for too long; you have other achievements to acquire.

Soul fast. Soul slow.

“The soul is made for action, and cannot rest till it be employed. Idleness is its rust.”

~ Thomas Traherne

Thomas Traherne

The soul is the engine of our body. It was made to operate at all speeds and provide us with all the power we need to excel in our life. It needs to be nourished with high-octane fuel that can generate peak performance and longevity. It should be maintained properly so that if can go the distance without fail as we travel along life’s many roads. Is your soul a mo-ped engine or a big block V-8 that can produce more than enough horsepower to get you through life’s many steep hills and treacherous valleys? Whatever size and power your soul’s engine is, make sure you don’t let it sit idle for too long. Not using your body’s engine is the worst thing you can do; it will prevent you from getting you where you need to go in life dependably. Ladies and gentleman…start your engines!

Discover and share your abilities

Amercian philosopher Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915...

Elbert Hubbard

“It is a fine thing to have ability, but the ability to discover ability in others is  the true test.”

~ Elbert Hubbard

How much time do you spend looking for your own abilities to improve yourself compared to the time you spend looking for the abilities in others? Those who are close to you can inspire you more than you can inspire yourself if you just let them. Even those who aren’t close to you can inspire you as well, so it’s better to look for the abilities in others so that you may improve your own abilities through the understanding and appreciation of their abilities. Incorporating other’s abilities into your life will increase your capabilities. And being more capable makes you more stable and able.

Struggling for a better life

Solo Golden Tree

“It’s far better to struggle for the future than not to and have regret for the past.”

~ James Filbird

Most everyone aspires for a life that is easy-going, worry-free, full of joy, health and happiness. The idea of suffering, experiencing sorrow, and having to struggle to get by in life is not what humans desire but what most experience. Since struggling in life for most of us is a norm and not an exception, we should accept this fact and do our best to aspire for what we can control as we deal with our adversities  – living a life without regret. The pains you suffer from as you struggle through life are usually forgotten or erased by the joys, accomplishments, and the peace you find along the path of life. Do your best to bear the pains of struggling as you live your life and without regret, and you’ll live a life that is admirable, attractive, abundant, astonishing and accomplished. Amen!

Dare to be a hero!

Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo

Man’s greatest actions are performed in minor struggles. Life, misfortune, isolation, abandonment and poverty are battlefields which have their heroes – obscure heroes who are at times greater than
illustrious heroes.

~ Victor Hugo (1802-1885) French Writer

Are you a hero? You are if you’re active in helping people that need care in order to have a healthier, happier existence. To these people, you’re everything to them: their spiritual life support, their hope for a better tomorrow, and/or their daily source of emotional encouragement. These people may not be well-known, popular, rich or beautiful looking. They are just normal people who are struggling or suffering in life in some manner and need some human contact to help them become better people. It takes a lot more courage, devotion and nobility to help those who aren’t admired by many or adorned with wealth than it does to help someone who can bring you some instant benefit or reward. So, go on and continue helping those around you in need and know that you are a hero in their hearts. Who will you be a hero to today?

I’ll pass on the pleasure

“Maturity is achieved when a person postpones immediate pleasures for long-term values.”

~ Joshua L. Liebman

You can’t grow into a wise, admirable and capable person if you’re not willing to invest in the time and energy it takes to learn the necessary requirements to become a mature being. As we travel along life’s path, we encounter situations and circumstances that allow us to mature. Sometimes, we are faced with making choices that involve doing something that would mature us over doing something that would bring us instant gratification and/or some reward. If you accept the instant pleasures, then you are short-changing yourself. Choose to grow through maturity, which is always more rewarding, more inspirational, and more fulfilling.

You want me to do what?

Malcolm Forbes

Malcolm Forbes

“You can easily judge the character of others by how they treat those who can do nothing for them or to them.”

~ Malcolm Forbes (1919-1990) American Publisher

The hardest thing to do for most anyone is to help others who cannot or will not help them in return. It is human nature to do something for someone with an expectation of getting something in return from them. This is the way we are taught as children and it’s also the way business is done. You receive goods and services in exchange for money. In today’s world, nothing is rarely done for free. When something is done for free, people think there must be a catch attached to the favor. When there isn’t a catch, then they are grateful for the favor. Doing something for someone else without any expectation is one of the greatest experiences you can give to yourself. So, in effect, when doing this you gain satisfaction for yourself and earn respect from others who see your selfless actions.