Archive for February, 2021

Quotes from famous thinkers on the nature of truth, its rejection, and acceptance over time

February 27, 2021

It seems to take a generation for scientific truths to be accepted as facts. Even in today’s political arena, science and its findings are either accepted or rejected depending on vested interests. Each group holds on to its version of the truth and is threatened by opposing views. Same thing occurs in the scientific realm.

What is it that turns the tables from non-truth to truth, from fiction to fact, from illusion to reality? Time, and the evolutionary growth of knowledge and understanding, which becomes the conventional wisdom.

This phenomenon is known as a paradigm shift, a concept identified by the American physicist and philosopher Thomas Kuhn. It is a fundamental change in the basic concepts and experimental practices of a scientific discipline. Even though Kuhn restricted the use of the term to the natural sciences, the concept of a paradigm shift has also been used in numerous non-scientific contexts to describe a profound change in a fundamental model or perception of events. (Wikipedia)

Throughout the ages, now famous scientists and philosophers experienced this kind of repression during their lifetime. Since their findings could potentially shake up the status quo, challenge current authority, like the church, they were threatened, and their work was not allowed to see the light of day. Here are a few wise quotes about this unfortunate situation in the history of human thought.

All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them. — Galileo Galilei (1564–1642)

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. — Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. — Max Planck (1858-1947)

Two versions of understanding and living life by Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)

It is perfectly true, as philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards.

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.

See more here: Two kinds of knowledge about living and learning.

Understanding the physical universe with consciousness

When it comes to the unseen yet measurable influence of large group meditation on stressful societies, the same resistance shows up with many scientists not accepting this phenomenon, even when demonstrated by a growing series of scientific studies.

This all depends on their worldview, whether they see consciousness as the epiphenomenon of physiology, or the other way around, with consciousness being primary. Same with the natural extension of the different ways we can influence our surroundings.

In his comprehensive review of a new book, An Antidote to Stress: Evaluating the Evidence, by authors Barry Spivack and Patricia Saunders, David Orme-Johnson, Ph.D., concludes his comments with a description of how knowledge progresses, challenging the current worldview, in this case, The Maharishi Effect, and its ability to reduce negative trends in society. He writes:

The Maharishi Effect is not everyone’s cup of tea, and this is how it should be. Science advances through a dialectic between conservative forces that try to hold on to the prevailing worldview, and evolutionary forces that try to expand knowledge to a more comprehensive framework that encompasses more of reality into a consistent picture, in this case integrating our understanding of the physical universe with consciousness.

Source: A thoughtful and well documented account of the greatest scientific discovery of our time.

Also related: Rainer Maria Rilke and Carl Jung on learning how to live with life’s unanswerable questions.

The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry

February 27, 2021

Wendell Erdman Berry (born August 5, 1934) is an American novelist, poet, essayist, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer. He has published more than 50 books. Berry is an elected member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, a recipient of The National Humanities Medal, and the Jefferson Lecturer for 2012. He lives in Port Royal, Kentucky. Click here to listen to him read this poem, and 5 others posted at the On Being website.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

(The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry, Counterpoint, March 1, 2009)

Two other poems of his posted on this blog: Wendell Berry’s stepping over stones in a stream shows us how he writes a poem and takes a stand | Wendell Berry’s “No going back” is about the generosity of the evolving self through time.

Another great American nature poet is Mary Oliver. I created a memorial post after I discovered she had passed. It contains links to some of her beautiful poems that I liked and posted over the years, as well as articles, interviews, and readings: RIP: Mary Oliver. Thank you for sharing your poetic gifts with us. They are a national treasure!

Rainer Maria Rilke and Carl Jung on learning how to live with life’s unanswerable questions

February 22, 2021

Sometimes, certain questions about life grip us, but we have no answers for them. In time, with more of life’s experiences, understanding may grow, and some questions will eventually get answered, resolved.

On the other hand, some of those questions may no longer seem relevant, and will be replaced by other more practical pressing problems.

In Letters to a Young Poet, I remember the now famous wise advice Rainer Maria Rilke gave a young man who wrote to him looking for answers to life’s unanswerable questions.

I recently came across a similar notion in a quote by Carl Gustav Jung. What they both said makes sense, each from their own perspective.

Read what Rilke and Jung had to say about this idea and let us know if you agree or disagree. Leave your comments below.


“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

― Rainer Maria Rilke (December 4, 1875 – December 29, 1926)

Read more quotes from Rainer Maria Rilke. Read these profound poems by Rilke posted on this blog.


“The greatest and most important problems of life are all in a certain sense insoluble…. They can never be solved, but only outgrown…. This ‘outgrowing’, as I formerly called it, on further experience was seen to consist in a new level of consciousness. Some higher or wider interest arose on the person’s horizon, and through this widening of view, the insoluble problem lost its urgency. It was not solved logically in its own terms, but faded out when confronted with a new and stronger life-tendency.”

― Carl Jung (July 26, 1875 – June 6, 1961)

Read selected powerful quotes from C.G. Jung


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An unforgettable incident 50 years ago during intermission at a Montreal Place Des Arts concert

February 11, 2021

I remember this incident as if it was yesterday, even though it happened around 50 years ago. I had purchased a ticket to see a well-known rock group perform that evening at Place Des Arts, Montreal’s newest and most beautiful arts center at the time.

I had learned Transcendental Meditation a few years earlier and was conscientious about getting both meditations in every day. The morning one was easy, but fitting in the evening session could sometimes be a bit of a challenge depending on where I was.

There was a long intermission between performances, when people could go to restrooms or get refreshments on the mezzanine. As audience members around me got up to leave, I decided to stay and do my evening meditation. I closed my eyes and meditated undisturbed. I could hear the buzz of people socializing on the other side of the closed doors to the concert hall, but it didn’t bother me.

After I finished, I went out to see what was happening. People were milling about and talking. There were several oval-shaped bars located on the floor with a few servers behind them. Some people had formed separate lines on all sides leading up to them to purchase drinks or snacks. I joined one of the lines closest to me. I felt calm, relaxed and refreshed, and was in no hurry.

We were moving slowly. Some people spoke casually among themselves. The lady in front of me was antsy. She kept looking at the barman at the front of our line serving customers, wanting him to hurry up and get to her. Frustrated, she blurted out, “He’s everywhere, but in front of him.”

“He’s everywhere, but in front of him.”

I looked and noticed the barman taking an order from the person in front of him. He then ran to serve a drink to someone further down the bar. Next, he gave change to a customer who had just paid for their drink from another side. He was all over the place.

After seeing how busy he was, I rearranged her own words with a different perspective and said, “But, everywhere is in front of him!”

“But, everywhere is in front of him!”

She anxiously looked again, and this time noticed that he was quickly trying his best to serve as many people as possible. My observational joke had broken the tension. She laughed and said, “That’s a good one.”

I was just as surprised as her at what had spontaneously come out of my mouth. I smiled and said, “You like it? It’s yours.”

Visibly relaxed, she smiled and thanked me. Good thing I had done my TM! Just goes to show you the effect we can have on each other for good.

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Cartoon wisdom from Karl Stevens appears in this week’s print edition of The New Yorker

February 1, 2021

When I saw this wise cartoon by Karl Stevens on his Twitter and Instagram feeds I had to share it. I posted comments on both and Karl replied. Turns out there’s a TM connection. See our conversation below.

The New Yorker Cartoons have now also posted it on their Instagram.

I was so taken with this cartoon, I had to share a comment on Twitter and on Karl’s Instagram: “Love this! So funny and so true!!”

Surprisingly, Karl replied to both! Here’s a compilation: “Thanks, Ken! By the way, (You know) I’ve been doing TM for the past 7 years. Completely changed my life for the better! Thanks for all our work.”

I’ve been doing TM for the past 7 years. Completely changed my life for the better!

I had a suspicion this may have been the case when I saw a page from Karl’s forthcoming book, Penny, A Graphic Memoir. This colorful graphic novel features the philosophical and existential musings of a cat named Penny. It’s due out Apr 13, 2021.

In this frame on his Instagram, Penny says: “No, true transcendence comes from within. There is an oasis of happiness inside of me waiting to be unlocked. I just need to find the right key.” The second frame shows the cover of this new book, his fourth.

I had asked Karl if I could post his cartoons and he replied: “You can absolutely use that Penny comic for your blog. I’ve been meaning to be more vocal regarding my TM practice. Use the links for the Penny graphic novel in my profile, and my IG and Twitter handle,” which I’ve done.

I looked up Karl Stevens’ books on Amazon, and Time Out Boston wrote on the back of his book, Failure, “Karl Stevens may be the closet thing to a Charles Bukowski equivalent working in comic art. Except Stevens is way classier….” I mentioned it to Karl and told him that Charles Bukowski had learned TM later in his life. Karl was excited to learn about this. He said when he was working on Failure, “I was struggling with alcoholism which I think was where the comparison lies. I stopped drinking a couple months before beginning to learn TM. Obviously the practice was crucial to helping me focus on living a cleaner life.”

I stopped drinking a couple months before beginning to learn TM. Obviously the practice was crucial to helping me focus on living a cleaner life.

Karl Stevens is a Boston-based comic strip artist. He’s written four graphic novels, and his comics have appeared regularly in the New Yorker, Village Voice, and Boston Phoenix. His comic strips appeared in the Boston Phoenix between 2005 and 2012. His work has been well received all around, and The Lodger was a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist.

Find out more about Karl Stevens at https://linktr.ee/karlstevens, and follow him on Twitter @KarlStevensart and Instagram @karlstevensart.

UPDATE: After reading this blog post my niece found a cartoonist profile on Karl and sent it to me. He mentions his TM practice further down under Misc. It was posted May 22, 2019 on A Case For Pencils. The blog, created/edited/run by Jane Mattimoe, is a peek inside the pencil bags and minds of New Yorker cartoonists, where they talk about their art supplies and drawing process.

Cartoonists sit and concentrate on drawing for long periods of time. In that profile, Karl describes the benefits of exercise and TM. He says:

It’s important to take breaks during the day, especially exercise. At the risk of sounding like David Lynch, I would also recommend learning Transcendental Meditation. I’ve been doing it for five years, and have never felt more creative. Slacking off twice a day for 20 minutes each really does help your mind and body recharge.

Karl also recommended The Winner, published May 23, 2018. He did it after he started TM. He said, “It’s on the lighter side, basically a love letter to my wife Alex.” I took a Look inside at the book preview on Amazon and it’s beautiful! Some of the panels are like miniature paintings. I can see why this book garnered rave reviews.

When I asked Karl what or who inspired him and his wife to learn TM he said that a friend of his had started six months before they did. He also said, “it was because of David Lynch. Well, Howard Stern too. We were/are regular listeners and would hear about the benefits from him too.” I sent him a link to a conversation Howard Stern and Jerry Seinfeld had about their TM practice.

Speaking of slacking off twice a day for 20 minutes to meditate, Jim Carrey, in his 2014 Commencement address at MUM/MIU mentions a similar thing at this point in his talk. Very funny!

Mark Wooding animated some highlights of Jim’s wise advice to the Class of 2014 for his After Skool site, which I’ve also posted, with links to the full talks and news coverage.

Here’s another post on cartoonists: Good cartoons teach us a lot if we’re willing to learn and laugh at our little foibles and neuroses.


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