The Art of Philosophy

The impulse of conformity.

“We have more faith in what we imitate than in what we originate. We cannot derive a sense of absolute certitude from anything that has its roots in us. The most poignant sense of insecurity comes from standing alone; we are not alone when we imitate. It is thus with most of us! We are what other people say we are.” –Bruce Lee.

Nobody likes to feel lonely. And often people put being alone equals feeling lonely. So we fear being alone. We want to escape the feeling of loneliness. So we conform, and imitate, so to feel belong.

The thing is they are two totally different thing. Loneliness is an emotion. It means being sad because there’s no one else around. You feel isolated or even abandoned. It correlates with insecurity, fear and depression.

Being alone is being on your own, in the absence of others. And that, is when we originate. When we are still with being ourselves. It can be fearful too because no one is around, but that’s exactly it, everyone of us is different, and unique, there can never be a copy of you. So being alone can give a sense of joy and peace, when you are aware of it, and embrace it, because you are at present of who you really are.

So,

Do not let other people tell you who you are. You are the only custodian of your own integrity.

Be you.

 

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The Art of Philosophy

Knowledge.

“The person who says he knows what he thinks but cannot express it usually does not know what he thinks.” -Mortimer Adler.

There are 2 types of knowledge – knowing the name of something and knowing something. The former is called chauffeur knowledge, you know a bit of it, and you can bluff it so to make an impression. The latter is called Plank knowledge, that is, the stuff that you really know, you have paid your dues, and you have the aptitudes.

Real knowledge comes from the people who do their work, chauffeurs are the ones that don’t, but they pretend. They learned to put on a good show, but they lack understanding. They can’t answer questions that don’t rely on memorisation or explain things without using jargon or vague terms. They have no idea how things interact. They can’t predict consequences. In Chinese it’s called “throw schoolbags”.

So how do you know whether someone really know what they are talking about. Ask them “why”. Make them describe what the concept they said they know without using that very word.

Trust me. Many will just have their mouth opened wide.

Unable to discern between what we know and what we pretend to know, we ultimately become victims of our own laziness and intellectual dishonesty.

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The Art of Philosophy

Where do feelings come from?

Often we say, our feelings come from the heart. E.g. when you are feeling joy, you feel the whole body electrifying and a lightness in the heart. And when you are down, you feel a heaviness in the heart, and also a crunch that seems to burn.

And then there’s the feeling of right – which often describes as the “gut feeling”. Something that people often say “follow the heart” or “follow your gut feeling”.

What does that really mean? How do you know what you are feeling is coming from the heart? or it’s a thinking that comes from the brain? Sometimes following the heart may means feeling right, and at the same time feeling scared not sure whether it’s right. Who is talking here, the brain or the heart?

And so which one do you follow? The feeling of right or the feeling of scared?

How do you know what means following the heart?

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The Art of Philosophy

Talent.

How do you know that you are talented at something?

Because people tell you that you are?

Because you find it easy?

Because you can do it better than most people?

But with reference to what?

If it’s a group of friends that tell you that you are talented, then are you talented? Or a well known photographer tells you that you are talented, then you are talented? Now. How do you define well-known? And are all well-known talented?

So you find it easy. In relation to what? E.g. I find it easy to take photographs than to read maps. But that just tells you that you need less effort to do one than the other. Now you compare yourself with others. Say I can take great pictures 5/10 frames, while others 1/10 frames. Now, how do you define great? Does easily taking great images means talented?

You do it better than most people. Who are the “most people”? In the same example, are “most people” friends? Or other photographers? And what is “better”? More recognised? More sales of prints? Winning competitions? Do all these means you are better?

So, how do you know whether you are good at something?

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The Art of Philosophy

The spaces between flowers (2)

It is the spaces between flowers that make it a flower. If there weren’t any spaces, it won’t be a flower.

Following with the concept of “have” and “don’t have” in Taoism, “don’t have” yes it makes you realise the importance of “have”, but at the same time there needs an equilibrium between “have” and “don’t have”, the importance of “have” also makes “don’t have” important.

For example, with photography, yes it is the passion, yes it is something you want, but making your life 100% fully indulge into photography you will forget what passion means. Because there was no space for passionless. Or with a different perspective, you love photography because it makes you happy, but there must be bad times to make you feel the joy of photography. If everything is the same, then there’s no happiness in photography.

The point is,

you can’t have it all. Because when you have it all, you forget you have it all.

How often do you remember and be blessed that you are healthy? And have four limbs, and a working body?

You remember when you have an accident, or you are sick, or that your body is sore and have pain in parts of your body.

So when you feel sad, it’s okay. Because sadness makes you understand joy.

When you feel bored, it’s okay, Because boredom makes you understand excitement.

When you feel hopeless, it’s okay. Because hopeless makes you understand hopeful.

So embrace what you have, and what you don’t have, because they make each other important. It’s all relative.

You can’t have it all, but you can choose which one you want more. How you play with the equilibrium, that’s your choice.

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The Art of Philosophy

Right and Wrong.

Why do people like to talk about what’s right or who’s wrong all the time?

And when you think about right and wrong, emotions come with it. When you think about being right, you feel great and you feel like you “won”! But when you think about being wrong, you feel sorry and shameful.

And how do you define right and wrong? From the society? From religion?

So the society says e.g. it’s wrong to steal. Then we accepted that stealing is wrong. And when you steal, you feel sorry and shameful.

What if the society says stealing is the way of living? What if the world tells you stealing is the currency? Then you won’t think that is wrong, and you would feel great to steal because you did it to survive.

That’s just an what-if scenario.

But on our day to day lives, how do you define right and wrong? And should you define right and wrong?

At the end of the day, it’s only a difference in perspective.

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The Art of Philosophy

Possessions.

How many pairs of shoes do you own? 5? 10? 20?

And when people ask you, “do you need all 10 pairs?”

You say “yes, few for work so I can change up the styles, then 1 sport shoes, 2 pair of boots, 2 flats, flipflops… ” and you find reasons to reason the needs of those 10 pair of shoes.

But really, do you actually wear those 10 pair of shoes? Regularly?

Why do we possess things? The camera, the next model of the phone, the handbag… Advertising makes you think that “hey the current model of your phone is outdated, here is what a new one can do.” or “This camera has much better function than the one you have now.” Oh. and don’t forget seasonal sales, which used to be twice a year and now it’s turned to twice a month. We feel like we are in deprived, and that we needed to update, upgrade and get the new. This doesn’t just apply to things. It also apply to our mind.

When we start getting rid of things, letting go, when we see how little we actually need to survive physically, the magic also apply to what we need mentally, it makes us realize how much more we can do when we strip down to only what we need, to hang on only to what we can’t do without.

What we need, not just to survive, but to thrive.

So,

what are the very things that you cannot live without?

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The Art of Philosophy

The reality.

What is the reality? Is the the very things we see, touch, smell, taste, hear when the moment we open our eyes and wake from the day? When we are in conscious, does everything we make sense of at that time and space make it a reality?

Everyday we consume with our eyes, our ears, our noses, our tongues and our bodies other than through our mouth. And for every second our brain can only consume 20 information at a given time and space. Without us being aware of the whole process, every second we subconsciously choose and decide what we want to see and hear and smell etc to shape our reality.

Reality.

Everyone of us has our own version of it. And there’s no identical match. Some overlapping reality, but no 100% the same.

And now this is the fun part.

People often think, reality is the truth. But in fact we can all change our own reality, when you tweak the process above. When you begin to actively choose and select what you consume and what you think. It’s like choosing what to wear for the day from your closet.

The whole picture changes.

The mind tricks you, but you can also trick the mind.

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