Massimo Pigliucci refers to two passages on the fig tree. One is from the Gospels, where Jesus cursed a fig tree and it died completely. The second passage is from Epictetus, the stoic philosopher, who explained that it is wise to take advantage of what life has to offer; therefore it is foolish to desire the impossible.
Through the comparison of these two references, the author explains the difference between religion and stoicism as a philosophy.
It is a well written article, easy to read but profound. There is a freedom in picking religion over philosophy and vice versa. This choice, along many others, dictates our life in general.
Love, probably the most debated concept, is easy (it should be, right?) But complicated (for sure). The most natural feeling that ties people together has never been less than difficult, up to impossible sometimes.
Following a certain pattern of impossible loves, going from one impossible affair into another, is not a pure coincidence. Digging deeper, this pattern hides a subconscious (or unconscious) reason.
Falling for impossible loves more than once says a fear of commitment. Worse, it reveals a guilt feeling of betraying parents or closed loved ones. An impossible love doesn’t lead to commitment; so one is safe from commitment, guilt and betrayal.
Always falling for the “wrong” person is not a lack of chance. It is an unconscious choice. It is repeating the same experience over and over again. This repeated pattern of a person lies between the myth of Sisyphus and the Stockholm syndrome.
Emancipating oneself from the chain of the absurdity of this repeated heartbreaks requires a mind reset. And this is a long sinuous road of self discovery.
Perhaps you have heard someone talking of minds as computers. In Venezuela, it is common to hear people saying stuff like “let me process that” (déjame procesarlo) as if they were some sort of machine. But why do people sometimes think about themselves in this way? Why do some philosophers believe that minds are […]
The word “human” is often referred to as the conscious being and probably so far, the only one. Consciousness, as the French philosopher Henri Bergson defines it, is historicity. It is the capacity of being aware of time. Moreover, humans live consciously in the time and have a special relation to it. This is why, we invented the watch, the calendar and timetables; but also we have deadlines, memories, projections and so on.
Consciousness is memory, a link between the past, the present and the future which allows us to go back and forth and to anticipate the future while looking back at the past. in Bergson’s words:
“In reality, the past is preserved by itself automatically … the pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devouring the future. In truth, all sensation is already memory”.
Is this ability a heavy weight? Isn’t the cause of constantly saying to ourselves “what if”?
Mainly there are two consequences of this: resentment or pro-activity.
Resentment is the sum of negative feelings like regrets, remorse, jealousy and persecution. What if I did this instead of that? What if people hate me? What if I am fundamentally stupid? What if I will never make it? All are legitimate questions which can become psychologically lethal if one is entangled in this obsessive attitude, feeding all kinds of negative feelings. We can easily desire to be constantly feeling bad.
On the other hand, these questions can become the way to a better living only if there is a desire to change and face the new. Bergson said it better:
“To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly”.
As countries are preparing to go back to normal life, I can’t help looking back to the lockdown experience as a period of time where I was forced, like the rest of us, to new habits and ways to survive and live through this strange pause. I have learned important lessons for life whether there will be another wave of Covid-19 (I hope not) or not.
Here are the lessons I learned:
Step away from news. In stressful times like these, being constantly glued to your computer or phone and reading/watching news is not the best thing to do. In spite of being tempted to do it, and just for the record, fake news outnumbered the true ones. So, let alone being obsessive about knowing more can cause stress, but also not all is true. I limited myself to one hour per day to read or watch the news.
Don’t binge eating/drinking/smoking. This is the time not to mess with your body for the sake of immunity. adds stress to the body which decreases immunity.
Have an activity, a hobby that makes you happy doing it on your own. Whether it’s gardening or drawing or cooking etc., happiness is achieved first in solitude then shared. If you only rely on others to make you happy, then a lockdown will make you bored to say the least. Boredom is another word for anxiety.
Learn DIY skills to fix and repair things in times where you cannot bring in any helper to do it for you. And in general, learning new skills is good.
Don’t underestimate the importance of a great novel to make days/nights shorter and to shift your mind to a different world.
Keep the contact with the loved ones. Nothing beats human warmth even if it is virtual. Physical distancing is required, not social distancing.
Again, let’s hope and pray that a second wave of the corona virus will not show up. Until then, stay safe.
No one likes stillness; it is unnatural, taking into consideration that movement defines us. Stillness is socially abnormal since we are constantly asked to move, to be social, to commute, to be active. Consciously or not, stillness has not a great reputation socially speaking.
Why do we fear stillness? Does it remind us of death in a way? And what is the link with containment?
Yes it reminds us of death. Life is noise and action. Stillness is the anti-life.
However, the power of stillness occurs when there is a shift in perception. Take for an example the picture above, or any picture you have; it is an action or a moment that stood still in time. Without this stillness made possible by the camera, the moment refered to wouldn’t have been immortal. We wouldn’t have seen details, often blurred by movements. Worse, we wouldn’t have concrete memories.
Whoever tried a Yin yoga class knows what I am talking about. Yin yoga is a slow paced yoga where a pose can be held up to 3 minutes. It’s a test for the body and for the mind that can go crazy. Before almost crying, a shift in the mind can happen, a call for discipline and focus. Benefits will be felt at that moment of mind shifting.
Containment is a sort of spacial stillness, a self-imprisonment. Normally speaking, imprisonment is a punishment. Ironically, it has become the only way to save ourselves and the world! Just like in Yin yoga where the body and the mind feel in captivity, containment is quite the same painful experience. Only a mind shift can turn containment into something positive.
Then what is exactly this mind shift?
Simply put, it is focusing on ourselves, on our inner growth. On our intellectual developement by reading that book that we once bought and we never read. On our connection with the loved ones. On our inner child who wants to play and creates. On our plants. On everything that makes home the place we love to be in. But also, on our body by optimizing it and taking care of it. Last but not least, we need to focus on our mind, on our mental health. If you focus on all these daily, time will fly quickly.
Boredom is a state of mind. Anxiety is a state of mind too. Both are not needed. In time of crisis, positivity and reasonability can save us.
I have been on a lockdown (forced staying home) for two weeks now and no changes before the end of March. In order not to go crazy bored, here are some tips to help you stay sane and focused
If you have this option or if you want to work on your blog, this is a time killer, hours will pass by unnoticed.
This is a crucial for fitness in general and for immunity. Without noticing, you will see yourself sitting all day and this is bad. You can find millions of workout videos on youtube for all levels and all sessions, from 4 minutes and so on. Personally, I do my 20 minute yoga routine in the morning, on empty stomach and I workout in the afternoon for at least 30 minutes.
Intermittent fasting and proper nutrition:
It’s not the time to indulge in fast food and processed food and sugar crap, this is bad for immunity. In these days, we must give a break to the body to work, to regenerate itself and to fight anything it must fight. Personally I fast for 16 hours and my eating window is 8 hours.
And rearranging. Take the time to do it, it will help you know what you should keep and what you should give away. Another time killer activity. Everyday do a part of a room, so some is left for other days.
That’s a therapy, and a great way to keep you and your hands busy. You will be surprised how creative you are.
A good novel is always the best companion.
I hope my post will help you. Remember, don’t go out unless you must to. Take all the necessary precautions when going out and coming back. Much love and care are needed in this time. Corona united us all!
A therapeutical approach through philosophy is not a new subject. Long forgotten, philosophy has developped into an increasing fragmentation of the subject, based on rationality and somehow quasi-scientific. Although philosophy is to be addressed to the masses, unfortunately only academics and amateurs can read it and understand it. However, that was not the case in ancient Greece.
Greek philosophers believed that philosophy (the love of wisdom) could help for a better living both on the individual and the collective levels. it was eudemonisitc (eudemonia in greek means happiness); happiness achieved through virtue and higher thinking. To say it differently, it was a rational approach to life. It taught control over passions, and ethics.
Roman philosophers were on this path too. The brilliant Seneca offered, and still do, a life coaching through his writings and advices. Letters to Lucilius is the book to read if one wants some counceling (trust me on this!).
Fast forward many centuries later, a philosophical councelling or consultancy emerged in some countries such as in Germany with Gerd Achenbach, in France with Oscar Brenifier and in USA with Lou Marinoff who defines this branch of philosophy as:
” a therapy for the sane”
Each counceling has a different method: it goes from formal logic to Socratic maieutic to Wittgenstein’s philosophical reflection and so on, always based on philosophical theories.
The benefits of the philosophical therapy are many. Most importantly, it teaches people to think logically and find their own answers. Sounds easy right? Not really. Besides, it is a shorter therapy then other forms of psychotherapy.