Sharing my fav Newsletter – weekly digest.

This is the weekly digest by Maria Popova. If you missed last week’s edition — Bertrand Russell on what makes a fulfilling life, an illustrated celebration of the many meanings and manifestations of love, an immigrant’s tale — you can catch up right here. And if you’d like to try something new/old, I’ve launched another newsletter that comes out every Wednesday, offering a midweek pick-me-up — something inspiring and uplifting culled from the twelve-year Brain Pickingsarchive. You can sign up for that here. If you’re enjoying my labor of love, please consider supporting it with a donation – each month, I spend hundreds of hours and tremendous resources on it, and every little bit of support helps enormously. If you already donate: THANK YOU.

Kahlil Gibran on the Courage to Weather the Uncertainties of Love

“Love is the quality of attention we pay to things,” poet J.D. McClatchy wrote in his beautiful meditation on the contrast and complementarity of love and desire. And what we choose to attend to — our fear or our faith, our woundedness or our devotion to healing — determines the quality of our love. How we navigate our oscillation between these inescapable polarities is governed by the degree of courage, openness, and vulnerability with which we are willing to show up for and to our own hearts. “The alternations between love and its denial,” philosopher Martha Nussbaum observed in contemplating the difficulty of knowing ourselves“constitute the most essential and ubiquitous structural feature of the human heart.”

That is what the great Lebanese-American poet, painter, and philosopher Kahlil Gibran (January 6, 1883–April 10, 1931) explores in one of the most stirring passages from The Prophet (public library) — the 1923 classic that also gave us what may be the finest advice ever offered on the balance of intimacy and independence in healthy relationships.

Kahlil Gibran, self-portrait

Speaking to the paradoxical human impulse to cower before the largeness of love — to run from its vulnerable-making uncertainties and necessary frustrations at the cost of its deepest rewards — Gibran offers an incantation of courage:

When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you.
Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.

But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.

Illustration from An ABZ of Love, Kurt Vonnegut’s favorite vintage Danish guide to sexuality

In a sentiment John Steinbeck would come to echo a generation later in his beautiful letter of advice on love to his teenage son, Gibran adds:

Think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.
Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

The Prophet remains a timeless trove of wisdom and a mighty clarifying force for the turbidity of the heart. Complement it with Gibran on why we make art and his stunning love letters, then revisit Adrienne Rich on how honorable relationships refine our truths, Erich Fromm on the art of loving and what is keeping us from mastering it, Leo Tolstoy on love and its paradoxical demands, and this wondrous illustrated meditation on the many meanings and manifestations of love.

The Hermetic Revival: 7 Ancient Principles For Self-Mastery

The Hermetic Revival: 7 Ancient Principles For Self-Mastery

via The Hermetic Revival: 7 Ancient Principles For Self-Mastery

I’m Right – You’re so Wrong – Nihilist Perspective today

William Shakespeare eloquently summarized the existential nihilist’s perspective when, in this famous passage near the end of Macbeth, he has Macbeth pour out his disgust for life:

Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more; it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

In real life, I have dealt with some pseudo-Nihilists and my experience is :

  1. Conscience is Conscience as long as it is favorable to me.
  2. I am always Right and you are ALWAYS wrong.
  3. Because you are a Non-Nihilist – you must be apologetic while Saying Sorry or apology is not Nihilist’s Tone or Tenor.
  4. As long as you play by Nihilist made “Rules” and “Hierarchical” system that favors Nihilists – You can play.  The moment you begin talking about your rules – Nihilists Clam up – go into deep silence, wait for an opportunity to strike back and put up a Facade called “Quietude”.

“A nihilist is a manor a woman who judges of the world as it is that it ought not to be, and of the world as it ought to be that it does not exist.” According to this view, our existence (action, suffering, willing, feeling) has no meaning: the pathos of ‘in vain’ is the nihilists’ pathos — at the same time, as pathos, an inconsistency on the part of the nihilists.

Friedrich Nietzsche, KSA 12:9 [60], taken from The Will to Power, section 585, translated by Walter Kaufmann
The converse is true when it comes to Nihilists of the day are concerned – Action, suffering, willing and feeling is for them while the other person and his/ her perspective has no right to exist and has no meaning. They are so inconsistent and always out to prove One-Up man/woman ship over others.
The Pseudo-Nihilists I have encountered have one thing in common:
They believe that you are “Not the Sharpest Tool in the Shed””
Someone who isn’t witty or sharp, but rather, they are ignorant, unintelligent, or senseless.
And when you admit, it boosts their Superior Egos.
I had one such Terrifying incident with one of the mentees – a pseudo! Close But No Cigar
Coming close to a successful outcome only to fall short at the end.  And as was expected the blame was put on me as the Mentor while Mentee Nihilist showed no sense of remorse, was unapologetic and aggressive. 
Sadly enough, this assignment was shortlived.   To sum it up it can be said “It’s Not All It’s Cracked Up To Be””
Failing to meet expectations; not being as good as people say.
I may say it is All Greek To Me
Meaning: When something is incomprehensible due to complexity; unintelligble.
And Nihilist would readily agree – It is Greek Origin 🙂

Reality or Trickerty – Via Skeptic Newsletter


Astronomy is science; astrology is superstition, mythology, and pseudoscience. Depending on how surveys ask the question, anywhere from 22 percent to 73 percent of people believe astrology is valid. Horoscopes still appear regularly in newspapers. Over 90 percent of adults know their zodiac sign. It never occurs to some people to question whether horoscopes are valid, and if they do think to ask the question, they may not have the necessary critical thinking skills to find the answer.

Kimberly Blaker has written a delightful new book, Horoscopes: Reality or Trickery?, that encourages readers to ask those questions and gives them the tools to find the answers for themselves. It is aimed at children age 9-13 but is also suitable for adults. It is short, entertaining, easy to read, and is illustrated with cartoons. She begins with her own horoscope and shows how the description seemed to fit her perfectly. Then she asks if there is a scientific explanation for why it seemed so true.

She covers the 5000-year history of astrology, how it was originally used as a guide for when to plant crops and as a source of omens to guide the state, and how zodiac signs and horoscopes were a later development. She goes over the evidence for astrology and shows how it is flawed, based on unreliable testimonials and flawed reasoning. She says, “Scientific studies make it possible to examine a claim and determine its validity.” And then she goes over all the scientific studies that have shown no correlation between astrological bodies and personalities or life events. She points out that the position of the Sun shifts over time and is now off by one whole zodiac sign, and astrologers have not made any adjustments.

She reviews the psychology of how people are misled into thinking their horoscope is accurate for them. In one study, 94 percent of people recognized themselves in the horoscope of a serial killer! People remember the hits and forget the misses, they like to read things that make them feel good about themselves, they are looking for something to help them make decisions, and they react to a self-fulfilling prophecy by changing their behavior so that the prediction comes true.

She asks if there is any harm in believing in astrology and shows that yes, it can be harmful. It can waste money and can lead to poor decisions and illogical thinking.

Order the book for a child you know! Recommended for ages 9–13 (but also suitable for adults).

In a final chapter, she encourages readers to try a series of fun, informative activities to examine astrology for themselves. They can compare horoscopes from different sources to look for contradictions. They can follow their own horoscopes and tally how many predictions came true versus those that didn’t (“You’re prone to accidents today.” “You’ll get a big surprise.”). They can show a single horoscope to lots of people and tally how many agree that it describes them well. If astrology is valid, only one in 12 should agree, but most horoscopes are so vague that most people can see themselves in them.

Blaker provides a good explanation of how we know astrology doesn’t work and why some people still believe it does. In the process, she teaches valuable lessons in critical thinking. This book is the first in a planned series of Sleuthing for Explanations books from Grove Press. I look forward to seeing more in the series. In this age of fake news, it is vital that we teach critical thinking skills to our children at an early age, and books like this are a perfect way to get the job done.

About the Author
Dr. Harriet Hall, MD, the SkepDoc, is a retired family physician and Air Force Colonel living in Puyallup, WA. She writes about alternative medicine, pseudoscience, quackery, and critical thinking. She is a contributing editor to both Skeptic and Skeptical Inquirer, an advisor to the Quackwatch website, and an editor of, where she writes an article every Tuesday. She is author of Women Aren’t Supposed to Fly: The Memoirs of a Female Flight Surgeon. Her website is

TAGS: astrology, critical thinking, horoscopes, mythology, pseudoscience, skepticism, superstition

via Skeptic » Reading Room » Not in Your Stars


7 Thought Experiments that will make you question everything

The Veil of Ignorance

Justice is blind, should we be? (Mural of Lady Justice by Alex Proimos. (Wikimedia Commons))

This experiment was devised by John Rawls in 1971 to explore notions of justice in his book A Theory of Justice.

Suppose that you and a group of people had to decide on the principles that would establish a new society. However, none of you know anything about who you will be in that society. Elements such as your race, income level, sex, gender, religion, and personal preferences are all unknown to you. After you decide on those principles, you will then be turned out into the society you established.

Question: How would that society turn out? What does that mean for our society now?

Rawls argues that in this situation we can’t know what our self-interest is so we cannot pursue it. Without that guidepost, he suggests that we would all try to create a fair society with equal rights and economic security for the poor both out of moral considerations and as a means to secure the best possible worst-case scenario for us when we step outside that veil. Others disagree, arguing that we would seek only to maximize our freedom or assure perfect equality

This raises questions for the current state of our society, as it suggests we allow self-interest to get in the way of progressing towards a just society. Rawls’ ideas about the just society are fascinating and can be delved into here.

via Seven thought experiments to make you question everything | Big Think

The Genetic Fallacy and Double Helix

The Genetic Fallacy

If I am made up of DNA, am I a double helix?

If one thing comes from another, do they have to share traits? This might seem like a convenient bias to have. However, do redwood trees seem to have much in common with their seeds?  The genetic fallacy is the assumption that anything with an origin in one thing is highly likely to share traits.

What should I do?

This one is easy to do by accident, but also simple to overcome with a little extra thinking. Remember that things need not have the same traits as their origin. Think of the Volkswagen company; it was founded by the Nazi labor front. Does that make it a Nazi company now? Of course not, we would have to examine its present merits by themselves to determine that. The best thing to do for this fallacy is to try to examine why a thing has the traits it has without using its origin as an end-all answer.

via 10 logical mistakes you make every day, and what to do instead – StumbleUpon

Interesting Philosophies

Nihilism (/ˈnaɪ(h)ɪlɪzəm, ˈniː-/; from Latin nihil, meaning ‘nothing’) is the philosophical viewpoint that suggests the denial or lack of belief towards the reputedly meaningful aspects of life. Most commonly, nihilism is presented in the form of existential nihilism, which argues that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value.[1] Moral nihilists assert that there is no inherent morality, and that accepted moral values are abstractly contrived. Nihilism may also take epistemological, ontological, or metaphysical forms, meaning respectively that, in some aspect, knowledge is not possible, or reality does not actually exist.

The term is sometimes used in association with anomie to explain the general mood of despair at a perceived pointlessness of existence that one may develop upon realising there are no necessary norms, rules, or laws.[2]

Nihilism has also been described as conspicuous in or constitutive of certain historical periods: for example, Jean Baudrillard and others have called postmodernity a nihilistic epoch;[3] and some religious theologians and figures of religious authority have asserted that postmodernity[4] and many aspects of modernity[5] represent a rejection of theism, and that such rejection of theistic doctrine entails nihilism.

via Nihilism – Wikipedia

At 12, I was already a Single Parent kid, having lost my father and a child labour trying to find ways to earn to find my personal identity and dignity of labour.

I found a mentor who taught me some of these 100, 200 years old Greeko Roman Philosophies which I learnt but forgot in the ensuing years of learning to survive, find status, make a family etc. etc.

As a Mentor, I did come across some pseudo Nihilists which I shall describe in coming posts. Pure Nihilists do not exist. They change with times.  The famous saying of Henry David Thoreau = “Things don’t change, We Change” , aptly describes a Nihilist.  Many of Nihilists I have met have self fulfilling Rules, Truths, morality which they make and change to suit themselves while denouncing those who try and impose upon them the socially established norms of behaviour such as sympathy, empathy, gratitude, conformity, obedience, non-diffidence but the pseudo Nihilist displays tendencies of Memory of convenience, Logic of Convenience to suit themselves and justifies it with Nihilism.

Such people deserve, deep peeling of their layers of masks painfully without even offering them plastic surgery as they need full and complete exposure in public for their misdeeds, misbehaviour, misdemeanour and hideous, hypocritic behaviour which can be detrimental to the people (including do-gooders) or the society in general.


Nihilistic’s delusion

nihilistic delusion
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to nihilistic delusion: delusion of poverty, delusion of negation, Cotard Syndrome
delusion [dĕ-loo´zhun]
a false belief that is firmly maintained in spite of incontrovertible and obvious proof to the contrary and in spite of the fact that other members of the culture do not share the belief. adj., adj delu´sional.
bizarre delusion one that is patently absurd, with no possible basis in fact.
delusion of control the delusion that one’s thoughts, feelings, and actions are not one’s own but are being imposed by someone else or some other external force.
depressive delusion a delusion that is congruent with a predominant depressed mood, such as a delusion of serious illness, poverty, or spousal infidelity.
erotomanic delusion a delusional conviction that some other person, usually of higher status and often famous, is in love with the individual; it is one of the subtypes of delusional disorder.
fragmentary d’s unconnected delusions not organized around a coherent theme.
delusion of grandeur (grandiose delusion) delusional conviction of one’s own importance, power, or knowledge, or that one is, or has a special relationship with, a deity or a famous person. It is one of the subtypes of delusional disorder.
delusion of jealousy a delusional belief that one’s spouse or lover is unfaithful, based on erroneous inferences drawn from innocent events imagined to be evidence and often resulting in confrontation with the accused. It is one of the subtypes of delusional disorder.
mixed delusion one in which no central theme predominates. It is one of the subtypes of delusional disorder.
delusion of negation (nihilistic delusion) a depressive delusion that the self, part of the self, part of the body, other persons, or the whole world has ceased to exist.
paranoid d’s an older term for delusion of grandeur and delusion of persecution; its use is discouraged.
delusion of persecution a delusion that one is being attacked, harassed, cheated, persecuted, or conspired against. It is one of the subtypes of delusional disorder.
delusion of reference a delusional conviction that ordinary events, objects, or behaviors of others have particular and unusual meanings specifically for oneself.
somatic delusion a delusion that there is some alteration in a bodily organ or its function. It is one of the subtypes of delusional disorder.
systematized d’s a group of delusions organized around a common theme; typical of delusional disorders or paranoid schizophrenia.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.
de·lu·sion of ne·ga·tion
a delusion in which one imagines that the world and all that relates to it have ceased to exist.
Synonym(s): nihilistic delusion
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012
nihilistic delusion
Etymology: L, nihil, nothing, icus, form of, deludere, to deceive
a persistent denial of the existence of particular things or of everything, including oneself, as seen in various forms of schizophrenia. A person who has such a delusion may believe that he or she lives in a shadow or limbo world or that he or she died several years ago and that only the spirit, in a vaporous form, really exists. See also delusion.
Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, 9th edition. © 2009, Elsevier.
A rare delusional disorder linked to depression, suicidal ideation, sleep deprivation or derealisation, in which a person believes he/she is dead or dying, doesn’t exist, is putrefying, or has lost his/her blood or internal organs
Management Tricyclic antidepressants, serotoninergics
Segen’s Medical Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.

via Nihilistic delusion | definition of nihilistic delusion by Medical dictionary