This sweet video shows Mr. Sugathapala, security guard at the New Monis, on the Galle Road just before Beruwela. I think I’ve seen him, energetically directing traffic. In this touching video, it shows him just smiling and enjoying his day. Most security guards aren’t so nice, but some of them really are. It’s sweet to see this gentlemen featured online, and his words of advice are really quite sincere and relevant to us all.
Archive for the 'Philosophy' Category
Richard Dawkins (scientist and popular writer) spoke at the Galle Literary Festival. His talk covered evolution, alien life, Buddhism and – of course – organized religion. I think that religion is part of human evolution, like any other trait, not something opposed to it. But anyways, here are a few videos and tweeted quotes from Dawkins presentation before we get into it. He’s damn interesting and the crowd was electric and packed.
I got a book in the mail today, ‘Religion In Human Evolution’. I should say a tome, it’s pretty hefty. The cover had a word I didn’t understand on it, but an interesting one. Axial, as in Axial Age. The subheading of the book is ‘From The Paleolithic To The Axial Age’. So what does axial mean? Age of the axe?
In this video, Andrew Sullivan (a gay, HIV positive, conservative Catholic blogger) talks about why he started meditating. In his case, it was precipitated by Internet overload and rather scattered thought. For me, each time I restart meditation it’s much the same thing. Not the Internet so much, but if you sit and just listen, there’s a huge amount of cacophony and noise in your head. In mine at least. If you listen long enough, it kinda fades away and you’re left with a stillness. As they say in Eat, Pray, Love, if you leave a vacuum, God can rush in.
People say speak truth to power. I don’t think that really works. Just speak truth to each other and take power. People ask the President or government for this and that, without realizing that they actually have precious little personal control. It’s not like they’re going to turn around and say, ‘Hey, I’m an asshole’. These guys may have nicer cars than you or I, but they are still bound by even more societal constraints. Attacking them is interesting but almost pointless. It’s more useful to pull on the strings that bind them.
One of the landlord’s many cats had kittens. Two shivered, wobbled and died. One survived. The kid took her in for the night and they were sleeping together, which was cute. He started tossing and turning and the cat had to be moved. Then I noticed that the animal was pacing around unusually. Oh God, it was pooping.
Why do civilizations collapse? I would posit that they, like humans, simply get old and die. Basically, they get cancer. 1/3 of women and 1/2 of men get cancer as they age. Broadly, cancer is when a group of cells exhibits uncontrolled growth, gradually killing the host. One theory of why civilizations collapse is much the same. A group of people begins growing their wealth out of control, eventually outgrowing the resources that the society has. That society eventually collapses.
In short, because we’re connected. Because we live together. Because we need each others help. There are a few studies detailing why we’re altruistic, but few explaining how. To that I would posit, because we have an identity and a face. For example, we went to this alley bar in Mount Lavinia that actually serves a decent lunch. On the way out our car was boxed in by two guys. This would often be a problem, but this time it wasn’t. People were so nice that it left me confused. Why?
Science has all the elements of a good creation and destruction myth. It is awesome, and it does come with pictures. Still, for most people it does not spiritually satisfy. Even most scientists. Go to a hospital and you’ll see very few people clutching the Origin Of Species. Why? Why does science not comfort? I’d say it’s because the science we know does not accurately describe reality. What it accurately describes are illusions. The order of Newtonian physics is an illusion, a metaphor. It tells you enough to fly a plane but not an intergalactic spaceship. Einstein’s Relativity tells you more, but even that breaks down at higher and lower extremes. As such, popular science does not describe fundamental reality, which is impermanence and change.
Charlie Sheen is in the news for being a degenerate playboy. This, to me, illustrates the bipolar nature of Western morality or, more accurately, mores. In the case of celebrities, this is found through two magazines. Vogue and People. One shows celebs as they’d like to be portrayed and the other as they actually are. It’s neurotic. When Charlie Sheen says that doing drugs, partying, and sleeping with porn stars is winning, in a sense he’s right. In one particular pole of American norms, that is winning. I grew up in Middle America and the rites of adult passage were drinking, doing drugs and trying to get laid. It was only later that I realized that this wasn’t really for me, but even in Sri Lanka the pull of those norms is strong.