Nothingness vs Infinity

Modern thinkers and philosophers, many of them are getting reduced to thoughts about transcending the rat race, rising above the many distractions that plague our attention.

Many questions that ancient philosophers have posed are the questions that modern thinkers and philosophers need to be revisiting.

Or the other way of looking at it is, that I don’t know of many modern philosophers and their works. Are we as a society doing a poor job of transmitting knowledge that leads to finding some purpose and meaning?

I still try to ask myself many difficult questions, a lot of questions that I don’t have the answers to yet. A lot of questions that bring me looking within. Over and over… some answers lie within and through gaining the knowledge of the self. While most are discovered through learning and compounding on learnt knowledge so it grows into wisdom and practice.

How is it that a layman knows that his knowledge of the self is sufficient enough to grant the wisdom to know what is in the outer world?

How do I know that what I know is evident enough and is the truth and gospel?

While reading those questions above may denote confusion on my part and it might sound like I am lost. I am only posing these questions for the wider audience and asking these questions from the collective society.

Space race… modern science…. brick walls…. disconnected from nature. Many of us only see the nature on television. National Geographic, Animal Planet, Discovery. Most of lack the resources to venture out into the forest and wilderness.

Writing this article is igniting the sparks for me to read more books on philosophy. Find out what questions were asked in those books? What would my answer be with the little knowledge that I have? And how will it change after reading and understanding the philosopher’s perspective.

Here’s a list of books that I am looking to gain new insights from, new questions and new answers….

Shows about Nothing, Thomas S. Hibbs (Baylor University Press, 2012)

The World beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction, Matt B. Crawford (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015)

Here’s a quote by Thomas Hibbs that I can relate so much to.

If you don’t have the vocabulary to describe what you’re experiencing, you are to some extent insensitive to what you’re experiencing, or at least you can’t experience it on the deepest level.” — Thomas Hibbs

When I lacked the vocabulary I was surrounded by confusion and chaos. Knowledge is truly empowering. Vocabulary is truly a gift. Sometimes I use word that I don’t in every day life but they just click in the moment. Like the other day when I was speaking about pain I said, “This has abated some of it but not fully relieved it.”

The vocabulary just clicked in the moment and I am not the garrulous one that gets to utilise learnt vocabulary on a daily basis. Blogging helps more I guess haha 😄

Writing helps me find clarity.

Here’s the other quote that inspired me to write this blog:

“The human being straddles these two abysses: the abyss of nothingness from which he came and the abyss of infinity by whom he came.… It seems that nihilism is people who are looking at the nothing and forget about the infinity.” — Hamza Yusuf

Books worth visiting again

The physical heart, which houses the spiritual heart, beats about 100,000 times a day, pumping two gallons of blood per minute and over 100 gallons per hour. If one were to attempt to carry 100 gallons of water (whose density is lighter than blood) from one place to another, it would be an exhausting task. Yet the human heart does this every hour of every day for an entire lifetime without respite. The vascular system transporting life-giving blood is over 60,000 miles long – more than two times the circumference of the earth. So when we conceive of our blood being pumped throughout our bodies, know that this means that it travels through 60,000 miles of a closed vascular system that connects all the parts of the body – all the vital organs and living tissues – to this incredible heart.- Purification of the heart Translated by Hamza Yusuf.

Have you ever tried carrying 2 packs of water crates (6 × 2L) from the shop to your house? One pack in each hand? That’s not even close to 100 gallons of water and yet the human heart pumps ~ 2880 litres of blood 24/7 as long as there is life and soul in us. Isn’t this more than a miracle?

Anyhow I just found this fact about the heart amazing. The modern science has also gathered evidence that heart has its own neurons capable of feelings and perhaps thoughts. Ancient Chinese tradition and Judaism, Christianity and Islam all pay special attention to the state of one’s heart.

I have previously talked quite a lot about spiritual heart. I am reading this book again and this time I would like to share things I learn. This will help me perhaps better remember them.

Humans by nature are forgetful. We forget what we learn. Humans by nature are an ocean of emotions. Not all emotions we express are helpful in our pursuits. Reading this book before helped me tame my anger outbursts with the help of continuing practice of martial arts.

I am at that stage once more where I am falling back into my old self. Impulses and urges are over powering and over riding my rational self. For example losing my temper to someone who is screaming at me when I know they are just reflecting their own insecurities and low self-esteem. My retaliation brings me down to that same level.

In other pursuits not being able to exercise patience and just sitting on my hands has been proving difficult lately. I have disregarded my set of rules and principles. I have broken them only to slide down the ladder. It’s feels like I fell off the mountain that I was climbing. Funny how my subconscious and unconscious minds warned me of this beforehand.

Well at least, I am back to being my spontaneous self again. Blogging really helps put out all thoughts flowing through my mind. Although I may not always put them exactly how they are in my mind. That’s my introverted nature. Still when I read I am able to tell what exactly was on my mind. I was talking about dreams when referring to the unconscious and subconscious minds.

Anyway…. I can keep blabbering and I will forget why I started writing this blog.

I started writing it to explore the different diseases that plague the spiritual heart. This pursuit of cleansing one’s heart is an every day work. Complacency and laziness will put you back where you started. There is no finish line. It’s a constant work in progress. Or maybe I am saying that because my heart is not pure or maybe even if it was… it wouldn’t make sense if I were to say that about myself. No one knows what’s in the hearts except God.

I can only continue to work to polish it and if I fall off track, I have to pick myself back up. Get back on track…

Follow the light. Light guides and darkness leaves you wandering.

So here are the few common ailments of spiritual heart that I’d personally like to reflect on and in doing so hopefully remove these blemishes from my heart and self. Removing any of these blemishes is a difficult task. What I learnt from the book is that, protection from these blemishes is more powerful. Heavenly protection… I will still struggle enough so that perhaps, through Mercy some divine protection comes my way too.

Negative thoughts– the critic in my head. The little voice- doubt, fear and anxiety.

Anger– losing my composure and calmness for any reason

Heedlessness– not acting upon learnt knowledge. It can be applied to all fields. If you acquire some expertise or skills in any arts, it becomes imperative that you practise it diligently with focused attention. Otherwise you fall into heedlessness.

Boasting & Arrogance– I don’t think that I have these traits but you can never dismiss stuff like this because that’s exactly when it creeps back in. And even maybe if I didn’t write about it, that might have been boasting and arrogance in itself.

Obliviousness to Blessings– Being ungrateful. Gratitude is a must… there is always more to be grateful for in life. A lot of the times I forget to do it.

Envy, Rancour, Hatred- I am putting all these together because their roots are same. One amplifies the other and they feed off of each other. It’s easy to possess these traits. Just start comparing your life to others on Instagram and Facebook lol 😆 You will surely feel one of those at least. Or read the comment section on political posts 🤣

There are many other symptoms and ailments detailed in the book that plague the heart. I am going to work on these few and take time to reflect. Work on my habits and whether those habits help me with these goals.

Get back into deep meditation that should surely help. Help cleanse the heart and help live in the present moment.

5 Things I Learnt From The Book ‘Think Again’

If you aren’t interested in the title of the book Think Again. You might want to reconsider and duh Think Again!

Or realistically speaking at least check out the last chapter Actions for impact and then listen to the prologue. It will just make you want to listen or read the whole book. I am just saying this for those who might not be interested in this book. Personally, I am a big fan of Adam Grant’s work. I won’t say that I know all of his work but some of it has helped me think and think again, and that doesn’t just go for this book.

So, here’s the 5 Things I think I got out from the book.

1. Instead of asking why? Question yourself how?

The Why can more often than not, make you fall into a deep rabbit hole and instead of seeking out new ways to do things. You deepen your reasons for your beliefs and embed them in your subconscious.

2. Out of the boxing thinking is difficult because it exposes you and sheds your identity. Refer to the firefighter example mentioned in the epilogue.

3. To persuade others, it’s better to ask rational questions that help see the situation through different lenses and big picture views than piling up the facts alone. Lesson from the 8 year old in Think Again.

4. Less is more! It’s better to have 3 days of solid work out routine rather than 7 days of sub par days. It’s better to have 3 focused hours of deliberate practise than 7 hours of gruelling underperformance.

5. Coaching involves helping others reach their own decisions, it’s not about trying to dictate or control other person’s decisions. Great mentors, coaches and motivational speakers are better listeners. They know how to listen and respond with appropriate questions. They guide others by empowering them with knowledge, self-discovery and helping others reach their own conclusions rather than providing them with answers or suggesting what others ought to do.

There’s much more in this book. In this moment however, these 5 ideas can help me ask the right questions of myself and those around me, in order to improve and overcome fear and anxiety. 

Image Credit: Bookcover Think Again