know the universe as yourself


 

Favor

and disgrace are

equally problematic. Hope

and fear are phantoms

of the body.

 

What

does it mean that

“favor and disgrace are

equally problematic”? Favor

lifts you up; disgrace knocks you down.

Either one depends on the opinions

of others and causes you to

depart from your

center.

 

What

does it mean that

“hope and fear are phantoms

of the body”? When you regard your

body as your self, hope and fear have real

power over you. If you abandon the

notion of body as self, hope

and fear cannot

touch you.

 

Know

the universe as

your self, and you can live

absolutely anywhere in comfort.

Love the world as your self,

and you’ll be able

to care for it

properly.

 

from The Tao te Ching of Lao Tzu,

Chapter 13

 

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strength of character


 

Our task

as humans is to find

the few principles that will calm the

infinite anguish of free souls. We must mend

what has been torn apart, make justice imaginable

again in a world so obviously unjust, give happiness

a meaning once more to peoples poisoned by

the misery of the century. Naturally, it is

a superhuman task. But superhuman

is the term for tasks [we] take

a long time to accomplish,

that’s all.

 

Let us

know our aims then,

holding fast to the mind, even if

force puts on a thoughtful or a comfortable

face in order to seduce us. The first thing is not to

despair. Let us not listen too much to those who proclaim

that the world is at an end. Civilizations do not die so easily,

and even if our world were to collapse, it would not have

been the first. It is indeed true that we live in tragic

times. But too many people confuse tragedy with

despair. “Tragedy,” [D.H.] Lawrence said,

“ought to be a great kick at misery.”

This is a healthy and immediately

applicable thought. There are

many things today

deserving such

a kick.

 

If we are

to save the mind we must

ignore its gloomy virtues and celebrate

its strength and wonder. Our world is poisoned

by its misery, and seems to wallow in it. It has utterly

surrendered to that evil which Nietzsche called

the spirit of heaviness. Let us not add to this.

It is futile to weep over the mind,

it is enough to labor

for it. 

 

But where

are the conquering virtues

of the mind? The same Nietzsche listed

them as mortal enemies to heaviness of the spirit.

For him, they are strength of character, taste, the “world,”

classical happiness, severe pride, the cold frugality of

the wise. More than ever, these virtues are

necessary today, and each of us can

choose the one that suits

him best.

 

Before the

vastness of the undertaking,

let no one forget strength of character.

I don’t mean the theatrical kind on political

platforms, complete with frowns and threatening

gestures. But the kind that through the virtue of its purity

and its sap, stands up to all the winds that blow in

from the sea. Such is the strength of character

that in the winter of the world

will prepare the

fruit.

 

Albert Camus 

 

beautiful things grow out of shit


 
“What would be really interesting for people to see is how beautiful things grow out of shit, because nobody ever believes that, you know. Everybody thinks that Beethoven had his string quartets completely in his head, they somehow appeared there and formed in his head, and all he had to do was write them down and they would be kind of manifest to the world.

“But what I think what’s so interesting, and what should be a lesson everybody should learn, is that things come out of nothing. Things evolve out of nothing. You know, the tiniest seed in the right situation turns into the most beautiful forest. And then the most promising seed, in the wrong situation, turns into nothing.

“And I think that this would be important for people to understand because it gives people confidence in their own lives to know that that’s how things work. If you walk around with the idea that there are some people who are so gifted, they have these wonderful things in their head, but you’re not one of them, you’re just sort of a normal person, you could never do anything like that, then you live a different kind of life, you know.

“You could have another kind of life where you can say, where you say, ‘Well, I know that things comes from nothing very much and start from unpromising beginnings, and I’m an unpromising beginning, and I could start something.'”

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