Tagged: meaning of life

Happiness by Comparison

A student who frequently writes to me about her efforts to overcome self-doubts and develop a more moderate, reasonable way of life, told me of an exchange she had recently with a friend who was trying to persuade her that she ought to be happier. The friend offered three specific arguments, which my student summarized as follows: 1. You have no disorder in...

Guidance and Independence

It is not weak, nor any contradiction of the desire for independence, to look to others’ opinions in assessing one’s own thoughts and behavior. The mistake or weakness is in looking to others’ opinions at random — looking to the crowd, or to the popular, or to the powerful. One has already made a great advance in self-knowledge and independence who is able...

Reflections From A Great Distance

As you back away from a mirror, your reflection becomes smaller, and therefore less minutely detailed — but also, in another sense, more complete and true, due to the widening context. For a man seeking the truest image of himself, the goal is to hone his eyesight and maintain perfect focus, while viewing his reflection in ever more distant surfaces. The smaller he...

Spiritual Substitution

Feeling small compared to the cosmos is not an illness, but rather a sign of higher health, the strong soul’s humility. Seeking smaller surroundings to insulate oneself against that feeling of cosmic smallness is an illness. The need to feel “big enough” for one’s environment at all costs indicates a fundamental fear of the beautiful, the rare, and the great, which is to...

Plato’s Gorgias in 200 words

It takes more than an hour to make stuffed peppers. At best, that hour’s effort will give me, or perhaps one or two other people, five minutes of vanishing sensory pleasure. A student sends me a message asking how to handle her anger with a rude coworker. I reply that being spoken to rudely is annoying, but causes you no essential harm, whereas...

Preferences

I prefer feeling anxiously alone to feeling safely swaddled within a crowd. I prefer ideas that leave me uncomfortable in my weakness to ideas that satisfy my weakest inclinations. I prefer looking at things squarely to rounding off the edges of my vision for the sake of stability. I prefer the constant hum of disquiet that comes of acknowledging the vast unknown to...

A Soul Trapped in Time: Two Dreams

I am not one who often dreams vividly, or typically remembers his dreams. However, since childhood, I have occasionally had extremely clear, easily memorable dreams, some of them recurring ones, of the sort that seem to highlight my spiritual condition at a certain time. Strangely, I have experienced two dreams of this type recently, which I will relate to you now, as accurately...

Seoul Mayor Commits Suicide

I don’t do “breaking news” here in Limbo, but since I live in Korea, perhaps a word or two of first impressions would be in order, in light of the news that long-time Seoul mayor Park Won-soon has committed suicide after being accused of sexual harassment by a former secretary. This accusation is especially humiliating, in this nation built on pretenses of spotless...

It’s the end, but…

We are watching something remarkable, namely a civilization committing suicide. Those of us who see clearly what is happening have traveled, in the course of just a few short weeks, through several stages of realization: from bemusement at people’s susceptibility to media manipulation, to frustration at their deference to excessive authority, to alarm at their willingness to sacrifice societal foundations in the name...

What Not to Do

Popular sages and life-advice dispensers are very good at issuing ready-made, one-size-fits-all commandments on how to live well. They tend not to be quite so good at following their own advice, however, partly for the obvious reason that most easily-synopsized “rules for living” must be kept so nebulous or generic in form that one who is clever enough, and motivated enough, will always...