Shame and the illusion of free will

"Shame does serve a psychological function. I mean, you wouldn't want to be a primate without a capacity for shame. That doesn't work well. We call those people psychopaths. But, the question is how much shame is it useful and pragmatic to feel in your life. If shame is an issue for you, realizing that you didn't make yourself and that you're not deeply responsible, on some level, for who you were yesterday, all you can do is go forward into the mystery of who you may yet become. You can't see the limits of who you might yet become. You really don't know how much you can change in the future. That frees you from continually punishing yourself for who you were yesterday."

-Sam Harris

Illusion of continuity

"The cells in your body are turning over quite often, so your red blood cells only last 120 days. Your hair gets turned over every few years, your skin cells only last 2 or 3 weeks, the colon and the stomach, it's only 4 or 5 days before all of those cells get replaced. Now, neurons, the cells in your brain, those don't die and get replaced, but the atoms that make them up are constantly turning over. So when you look at your friends and loved ones, atomically, they've completely turned over from when you last saw them, let's say 5 years ago. Memories can drift around a little bit . . . When you have a very salient emotional event, those memories are unerasable. But, these flash bulb memories are no more reliable than other types of daily memories (because each time we think about them we corrupt them). Even trauma memories eventually fade . . .  the rate of your heartbeat, the architecture of your brain, even your DNA changes over the course of a lifetime. We have all these things that make us feel as though we have a consistent identity through our life and, in fact, you are not staying the same. You are changing all the time. We have this illusion of continuity."

- David Eagleman, Baylor College of Medicine neuroscientist 


David Foster Wallace on worshipping

"There is no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship . . . If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you . . . Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. The insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they are evil or sinful, it's that they are unconscious. They are default settings."

David Foster Wallace


Jung on the spiritual problem of the modern individual

"Under the influence of scientific assumptions, not only the psyche but the individual man and, indeed, all individual events whatsoever suffer a leveling down and a process of blurring that distorts the picture of reality into a conceptual average. We ought not to underestimate the psychological effect of the statistical world-picture: it thrusts aside the individual in favor of anonymous units that pile up into mass formations...As a social unit he has lost his individuality and become a mere abstract number in the bureau of statistics. He can only play the role of an interchangeable unit of infinitesimal importance."

- Carl Jung

no self

According to the teaching of the Buddha, the idea of self is an imaginary, false belief which has no corresponding reality, and it produces harmful thoughts of 'me' and 'mine', selfish desire, craving, attachment, hatred, ill - will, conceit, pride, egoism, and other defilements, impurities and problems. It is the source of all the troubles in the world from personal conflicts to wars between nations. In short, to this view can be traced all the evil in the world. 

- Walpole Rahula


Physicist David Deutsch on entertainment

There is a concept of being entertained by other people or by scenes or by heroin or by T.V. programs or whatever that is a mistake. We may subjectively feel or we may interpret what’s happening as the other thing entertaining us, but really the only thing that entertains us is our own creative engagement with it and, without that creative engagement, nothing can entertain us. When people get this wrong idea about what entertainment is, that’s the kind of mistake where they think something mechanical, such as heroin, can entertain them.  There are these clichéd situations where someone wins the lottery and is miserable. I think the generic trap that one can fall into in this sort of situation is by thinking that money can entertain you, not realizing that only you can entertain you.


- David Deutsch

Frankl on self - actualization

“By declaring that man is responsible and must actualize the potential meaning of his life, I wish to stress that the true meaning of life is to be discovered in the world rather than within man or his own psyche, as though it were a closed system. I have termed this constitutive characteristic "the self-transcendence of human existence." It denotes the fact that being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone, other than oneself--be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself--by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love--the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself. What is called self-actualization is not an attainable aim at all, for the simple reason that the more one would strive for it, the more he would miss it. In other words, self-actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence.” 
― Viktor E. FranklMan's Search for Meaning

Steve Jobs on mindfulness

If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there's room to hear more subtle things - that's when your intuition starts to blossom and you can start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before.

-Steve Jobs

Jordan Peterson

If you actually want something, you can have it. the question then is what do you mean by actually want? and the answer is, you reorient your life in every possible way to make the probability that that will occur as certain as possible. and that’s a sacrificial idea right? it’s like, you don’t get everything, obviously… but maybe you can have what you need, and maybe all you have to do to get it is ask; but asking isn’t a whim, or today’s wish. you have to be deadly serious about it.

-Jordan Peterson