Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Another Little Bit of Philosophy

Two More Books

In Ecclesiastes 12:11-12 (New International Version) we read “The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one Shepherd. Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.

Aware of this salutary warning, I yet again return to another two interesting books I have recently been reading.  Another wise saying, to balance this rather negative one I have quoted at the outset, and which is worth reflecting on, is: “Always beware of the man who has only studied one book.”  I think it might well be a translation of an Irish proverb, “fear aon leabhair amháin” (“the man of one book”).  The books in question are by the populariser extraordinaire of philosophy, especially in its self-help mode, namely Alain de Botton.  Mr. de Botton is not a professional philosopher at all, his qualifications being rather in history.  However, he writes with wit and a profound understanding of philosophical ideas with respect to how they might help us live our lives in a more effortless and less stressful way.  Mr. de Botton is a writer, essayist and an effective and formidable broadcaster.  Indeed, almost all his books accompany a television programme of the same name.  He is certainly possessed of a marvelously full and sweet English Oxford (where he needless to say studied) accent, but this latter is a treat to listen to – I could listen to him all night.  His popularity is deserved as I have found the two books I have read both stimulating and helpful, not to mention witty, humorous, intelligent, wise, practical and pragmatic.  His website is http://www.alaindebotton.com/index.asp and is worth exploring.  One interesting feature of this wonderful site is that you can download chapters of his books in audio and can listen to his dulcet tones reading from his various books or indeed watch snippets of his TV shows.  The two books I refer to are Status Anxiety and The Consolations of Philosophy.  I will write a review of each of them in future posts over the next few days.
I have yet again published above a peaceful shot I took on the banks of the wonderful Garravogue.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Words of Wisdom

Words of Wisdom

I don’t usually publish a post with anything other than my own musings, but here is a piece of wisdom a friend recently sent me.  It’s worth quoting and meditating upon!

The paradox of our time is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less. We buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems; more medicine but less wellness. We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life, not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbour. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things. We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the Soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less. These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce; fancier houses, but broken homes. These are the days of quick trips, disposable nappies, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. It is also a time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete. Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
The above is a beautiful shot I took on the banks of the Garravogue in Sligo City at a recent poetry convention. It represents the Still Point of Being, which is the essence of meditation, the very name of my Blog!

Words to Uplift

Words to Uplift
I very seldom dedicate a post to anything other than my own musings, but here below are some encouraging and positive words we all need to hear.  I don’t know who composed them, but they were sent to me by a good friend, Tom Gleeson.
  1. At least 5 people in this world love you so much they would die for you.

  2. At least 15 people in this world love you in some way.

  3. The only reason anyone would ever hate you is because they want to be just like you.

  4. A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone, even if they don’t like you.

  5. Every night, SOMEONE thinks about you before they go to sleep.

  6. You mean the world to someone.

  7. Without you, someone may not be living.

  8. You are special and unique, in your own way.

  9. Someone that you don't know even exists loves you.

  10. When you make the biggest mistake ever, something good comes from it.

  11. When you think the world has turned its back on you, take a look, you most likely turned your back on the world.

  12. When you think you have no chance at getting what you want, you probably won't get it, but if you believe in yourself, you probably sooner or later will get it.

  13. Always remember complements you received, forget about the rude remarks.

  14. Always tell someone how you feel - then they'll know.

  15. If you have a great friend, take the time to let them know that they are great.

  16. You must be a great friend, because someone gave this to you. 
A picture I took once again on the banks of the Garravogue. I don't know the name of this flower growing up through the water. Is there anyone out there who can name it for me? It is very reminiscent of the lotus so beloved of Buddhist meditation!