3 quotes for June 11, 2021

Thich Nhat Hanh. de Mello. George Leonard.

We're in such a rush, looking for happiness in one place and then another. We walk like sleepwalkers, without any enjoyment of what we are actually doing. We are walking, but in our minds we are already doing something else: planning, organising, worrying. There is no more need to run. Every time we return our attention to our breath and our steps, it's as if we wake up. Every step brings us back to the here and the now. We can touch the Earth and see the sky and notice all the wonders in between. In each step there is the possibility of mindfulness, concentration, and insight.

— Thich Nhat Hanh

Since last March, I've been reading a lot of Thich Nhat Hanh and practicing meditation and mindfulness. From being completely and utterly clueless, I have advanced to "mostly clueless". A year ago, the above quote would've made no sense to me. But today, I've tried some simple drills to ensure I don't get carried away all the time - which still happens but the win is that  I recognise it and thus it happens lesser. Something as simple as a bell ringing every 30 minutes (there's an app for that) and I pause and take 2 breaths has been wonderful punctuation to my day.

Walking is a hard battle. I always seem to find myself rushing, wanting to get out of the noise or the heat. Or putting something on and shutting the world out. Like dishwashing, this is a frontier I hope to understand better.


Something has upset you. Did you hear that expression? Something has upset you. That's the way the English language is. That's the way all languages are. "Something upset me." Nothing upset you. The accurate way to speak would be, "I upset myself on the occasion of something." But who speaks like that? You say, "You upset me." No. "Your behaviour caused me to get upset." We hate that, don't we? We love to make the world responsible, or people responsible, or life responsible, or God responsible: "You did it." Not the upset.

— Anthony de Mello

How we frame things is so powerful. Framing things, not guilting ourselves or blaming others, and taking responsibility and just letting go. As I hover in "mostly clueless", the few times when I do some of these things, my mind is blown.


Early in life, we are urged to study hard, so that we'll get good grades. We are told to get good grades so that we'll graduate from high school and get into college. We are told to graduate from high school and get into college so that we'll get a good job. We are told to get a good job so that we can buy a house and a car. Again and again we are told to do one thing only so that we can get something else. We spend our lives stretches on an iron rack of contingencies.

— George Leonard, in Mastery

Keep your options open is another term. How long are you gonna keep your options open? It is well-meaning but ultimately silly advice, I think. I am in my third career. Closing my options by doing computer science did not close anything much. Further closing my options by doing an MS in Interaction Design, something no one knew much about 16 years ago, was the gateway to opening my mind. I think everything feeds into everything else. Mindlessly being a drone is the issue. Whatever we do, as long as we are not a hacker, or a dabbler, or an obsessive - it will arm you well for whatever we are gonna do next.

Thanks for reading.