Diffusion of Useful Knowledge

My desire for knowledge is intermittent, but my desire to bathe my head in atmospheres unknown to my feet is perennial and constant. The highest that we can attain to is not Knowledge, but Sympathy with Intelligence.

I do not know that this higher knowledge amounts to anything more definite than a novel and grand surprise on a sudden revelation of the insufficiency of all that we called Knowledge before — a discovery that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in our philosophy. It is the lighting up of the mist by the sun. Man cannot know in any higher sense than this, any more than he can look serenely and with impunity in the face of the sun: “You will not perceive that, as perceiving a particular thing,” say the Chaldean Oracles. (Thoreau)

Testing Human Potential

“Perhaps the genius of ultra running is its supreme lack of utility. It makes no sense in a world of space ships and supercomputers to run vast distances on foot. There is no money in it and no fame, frequently not even the approval of peers. But as poets, apostles and philosophers have insisted from the dawn of time, there is more to life than logic and common sense. The ultra runners know this instinctively. And they know something else that is lost on the sedentary. They understand, perhaps better than anyone, that the doors to the spirit will swing open with physical effort. In running such long and taxing distances they answer a call from the deepest realms of their being—a call that asks who they are.”
—David Blaikie

Source: the Barefoot running book (PDF)

Dead Man’s Zazen

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While living, one sits up and lies not,
When dead, one lies and sits not;
A set of ill-smelling skeleton!
What is the use of toiling and moiling so?

When alive, one keeps sitting without lying down:
When dead, one lies down without sitting up.
In both cases, a set of stinking bones!

What has it to do with the great lesson of life?

A living man who sits and does not lie down,
A dead man who lies down and does not sit!
After all these are just dirty skeletons.

This Idea Must Die

We know the self is constructed because it can be so easily deconstructed — through damage, disease, and drugs. It must be an emergent property of a parallel system processing input, output, and internal representations. It’s an illusion because it feels so real, but that experience is not what it seems. The same is true for free will.

Although we can experience the mental anguish of making a decision… the choices and decisions we make are based on situations that impose on us. We don’t have the free will to choose the experiences that have shaped our decisions.

This Idea Must Die: Some of the World’s Greatest Thinkers Each Select a Major Misconception Holding Us Back | Brain Pickings.