The Tao Te Ching & Taoism: A Chill Book, a Chill Philosophy

Depiction of Lao Tzu as deity. Photo Credit: Wiki Commons (Public Domain)

The Tao Te Ching is one old book. Like older-than-Jesus old. Written around the 6th century BC by the poet-philosopher Lao Tzu, the relatively short work is the fundamental text of Taoist philosophy. It’s also a stirring and delectable little read, 2600 years later.

Taoist teachings (along with other Oriental philosophy) seem to calm, stimulate, and refresh me, in part, I think, because they bear such a striking contrast to many of the ideas I was exposed to growing up in the Occident (the West)—i.e. the superiority of humankind, the glorification of force & control, the concept of a personal male deity, the desirability of individual accomplishment & recognition, etc.

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Thought Experiment: Would You Rather Have Experienced None of This?

Claustrophobia by Nina Valetova, 2003. Photo Credit: Wiki Commons

“Try to imagine what it will be like to go to sleep and never wake up… now try to imagine what it was like to wake up having never gone to sleep.”

The above quote from Alan Watts (superb human) describes a deliberate mental exercise. Watts thought that contemplating these scenarios—of moving from existence to non-existence or vice versa—was a kind of yoga that could drive one toward the understanding that one does not begin existing or cease to exist. That is, that one is not separate from the universe, but is, in fact, one with something eternal that has always existed and will forevermore. You = cosmos = belly button lint… or something.

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Desiderata: A Serene Poem & Philosophy

日本語: Sakura Rothental AG. Photo Credit: Wiki Commons.

“Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.”

In January of this year, I spent several days on an enchanted little island off the coast of Cambodia, relaxing, moving infrequently, and feasting my senses upon the ravishing goodness of glistening beach and sprawling ocean. On the warm, clear morn of my departure, I wandered into Vagabonds, one of the quaint cabana-like dives sprinkled upon the beachfront.

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When We Die: A Story of Naked Humanity & the Unanswerable

Graffiti in Amsterdam by ZEEG. Photo Credit: Wiki Commons

“In encounters with others, asking the right question can sometimes bring you into the presence of someone new, and entirely unexpected.”

The above quote was shared two weeks ago by a Jungian psychoanalyst whom I follow, and it immediately reminded me of an instance that occurred while I was traveling in Cambodia.

I was on the idyllic island of Koh Rong off the western coast of Cambodia. It was nighttime, and a heavy fog of darkness hung over the island—the type of darkness I’m not used to in metropolitan Korea, the type of darkness in which I was able to plop down on my back and stare straight into the heart of that luminous ghost, Via Lactea, sprawled across the night’s canvas in inscrutable magnificence.

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Cigarettes & Chaos: How I Quit Smoking

The Unburied Meat-Mechanic II by Kobaooka Gyarmati Zsolt. 2012. Photo Credit: Wiki Commons

“I have always tried my best to let wisdom guide my thoughts and actions. I said to myself, ‘I am determined to be wise.’ But it didn’t work. Wisdom is always distant and difficult to find. I searched everywhere, determined to find wisdom and to understand the reason for things. I was determined to prove to myself that wickedness is stupid and that foolishness is madness.”
― Ecclesiastes 7.23-25

It’s amazing how much of our lives are influenced by the smallest of occurrences.

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The Reddit Mind: 44 Smart, Thought-Provoking Subreddits

Photo Credit: dj. hughman (Creative Commons)

If you’ve been living in an underground cavern for the past few years, you might not know that reddit.com is a glorious forest of beauty and magic.

Reddit is a sort of community square of the Internet, a place for people from all over the world to get together, respect one another, laugh, and discuss pertinent topics. To my mind, cohesive online super-communities like Reddit are an integral step toward the sort of unified and peaceful planet that Carl Sagan once envisioned.

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Viktor Frankl’s Roadmap to the Human Search for Meaning

manssearch

What is all this stuff? What does it mean? Why is it here and why am I here? What the hell should I do? 

These are a few of the largest and most troubling queries of human existence—questions which have tantalized and terrified our sophisticated ape-brains since time immemorial. Philosophy, religion, art, and science—the classic cornerstones of human culture and society—were all born from our desire to explore and/or solve these fundamental-yet-inscrutable puzzles.

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10 Reasons You Might Want to Make Some Freaking Art

Babushka by Sandra Kastås. Via Wikimedia Commons


“We have art in order not to die of the truth.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

I love making things. I always have. I remember as a youngster spending hours drawing pictures of Spider-Man and Dragonball Z characters. As a kid I also played piano (a skill I hope to reclaim) and more recently, I dabble in acoustic guitar. In college I started and continue to write fiction and poetry. A year and a half ago I began creating this blog. As of a few months ago I also make weird rap songs about philosophers, 90s cartoons, and chupacabras.

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Spike Jonze’s Film ‘Her’ Brilliantly Addresses Our Relationship to Technology

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

On the crowded subway trains in South Korea, it can be challenging to spot a single individual (Where’s Waldo?) not engulfed-via-smartphone in the world of the Internet. At the Korean elementary school where I work, a persistent problem I face is how to get the kids to put away their phones (a sixth grader once attacked me for snatching up his precious portal).

When seen through our 21st-century lens (particularly for us younger folks), these situations seem mostly commonplace, perhaps mildly off-putting. Our brains have internalized that information-technology is ubiquitous now—Internet in the palm of everyone’s hand, 5-year-olds with smartphones and 2-year-olds with iPads. So what? Many people hardly raise an eyebrow.

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In Touch With Time & Possibility: Travel as Mind-Altering Substance

Jeanne d'Arc arrivant à L'Île-Bouchard by Arnaud Courlet de Vregille, 2008. Photo Credit: Wiki Commons

“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”
― Jack Kerouac

“Travel abroad!” seems to be a nearly omnipresent meme in our era—a viral buzz-topic associated with ‘free-spiritedness’, adventure, ‘soul-searching’, alternative living, and cultural exploration.

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