“Sitting quietly, doing nothing, Spring comes and grass grows by itself.” Zenrin Kushû It is notoriously difficult to define Zen Buddhism. For one, Zen has been co-opted and disfigured by countless ‘new age’, ‘spirit science’ types, transformed into quasi-religious tripe. Furthermore, Zen “masters” themselves have disagreed for centuries as to the importance and validity of various Zen […]

“We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning.” Jean Baudrillard I think an interesting and fruitful metaphor for the Internet is this: a man-made multiverse of information, intellect, and imagination. I say “multiverse” for no reason apart from it being more fun and mysterious and futuristic-sounding; “universe” could be inserted […]

A collection of methods, ranging from the sorta-ordinary to the unorthodox, of learning via direct experience. A couple weeks ago, I published part one of this essay, in which I considered Arthur Schopenhauer’s ideas of “natural” versus “artificial” education. I summarized Schopenhauer’s contrasting concepts of education as follows:

“Instead of developing the child’s own faculties of discernment, and teaching it to judge and think for itself, the teacher uses all his energies to stuff its head full of the ready-made thoughts of other people.” Arthur Schopenhauer, if you’re unfamiliar, was a 19th-century German philosopher and a rather cantankerous pessimist. He basically hated Hegel, his contemporary, […]

I’ve been traveling in the Philippines and Indonesia for about twenty-five days, but it feels like much longer than that. As per usual, time curiously expands when familiarity and routine are exchanged for novelty and daily choose-your-own-adventure games. The distinction between weekdays and weekends, one week and the next week, ceases to exist, and in […]

Learning to Let Go of Fear and Enjoy Life

When I was three years old, my mother tried to leave me at preschool, but I was so scared of strangers that I kicked and fought until I made myself physically ill. When I was four, I started school and the same problem continued. Through the days I was afraid of people and germs, and […]

I firmly believe that reading poetry daily, even if it is only one poem a day, is one of the best things you can do for your mind.  For someone who considers themselves a lover of philosophy and thought to be ignorant of poetry is a great crime.  Before we get started though, I’d like […]

Imaginative strategies for when you have no idea what to do with your life. It’s incontrovertible that you’ve thought at least once about what you want to do with your life. That society-permeating question of what you want to “be” when you grow up has probably incited feelings ranging from gently-provoked questioning to full-blown panic […]

Reflections on the “cosmic perspective” and what to remember when feeling powerless to change the world. I finally started watching the new Cosmos series the other day. You know, the remake of Carl Sagan’s classic 1980s science documentary-show? The one about science and the universe with Neil deGrasse Tyson as intergalactic guide? Yeah, that one. I’m […]

In Nietzsche’s most popular book, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, he described what would become one of his most memorable theories—that of the Übermensch. In English versions of the work of Nietzsche, “Übermensch” is translated as “Superman” or “Overman”. The term “Superman” has adopted many connotations as a result of the comic book hero in popular culture, so for most […]

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