On Truth and Falsehood

Truth and falsehood exist only in the relation between propositions and actual states of affairs in the universe to which they either correspond (truth) or do not (falsehood). A meaningful proposition says something about the world; a false proposition can still be meaningful, that is, we can understand what it claims: e.g. “apples are furry…

On Elements or Basic Fundamentals across Disciplines

The question of metaphysical fundamentals or elements is a fascinating subject to contemplate.  I believe that our answer to the question “what are the basic fundamentals in the world?” depends on the disciplinary lens that we are looking through. In my current paradigm, the basic chemical ‘building blocks’ of the universe are the elements delineated in…

On “Nothing is Free” and “The Best Things in Life are Free”

In English, we seem to have two contradictory idiomatic expressions that point to different facets of human experience, namely, “nothing is free” and “the best things in life are free.”  Which is true?  How can we find out? I think the only way we can make sense of these expressions in terms of their actual…

On Compassion and Obstacles to its Cultivation

Attachment is not necessary for compassion, only the ability to recognize and open oneself to suffering. For those who recognize the interdependence of all beings and the illusory nature of all mind-fabricated separations, compassion is a natural correlate. In fact, cruelty and indifference are inconsistent with these realizations. This is because there is no real…

On the Inconsistency of Most Individual Relativists

I’ve never met a consistent individual relativist in my life. The same person who claims in one breath that “what’s wrong is only what’s wrong for you…” complains about being lied to in the next, attacks the perpetrators of genocide in Darfur, and lashes out at rapists and pedophiles. One can hold the view of…

On the Teachings of the Buddha and the Stoics

The Buddha and the Stoics would agree that part of wisdom is realizing what we have power over and what we do not.  Our mind is one thing over which we can have power, provided that we cultivate it.  It is principally this insight and the guidance that these great human beings offer into how to…

Ignorance is Suffering, Knowledge is Bliss

It can be blissful to be ignorant about some things, but painful to be ignorant of others. For instance, if one does not know the causes of one’s own suffering–clinging, aversion, mistaking the impermanent for the permanent–one remains a slave to them, suffering far more than necessary. Mindful awareness of these things loosens their hold…

On Consumerism’s Reduction of Happiness

Consumerism reduces happiness to consumption. It tells us ‘you are happy so long as you keep buying.’ It worries us that we will ‘fall behind’ our peers. Well, this is utter nonsense. So long as we postpone our happiness until we purchase the next new thing, we will never be happy. So long as we…

On Pride and Confidence

Pride is an exaggeration of confidence. Wise confidence is a measure of one’s ability, knowledge, experience, and place within the universe. Pride is an exaggeration of confidence based on these things. When we say that there is value in some pride, what we really mean is there is value in balanced, appropriate confidence. When people are…