Posts Tagged ‘Psychology’

The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee. And I will pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun. – John D. Rockefeller

Compared to what we ought to be, we are only half awake. We are making use of only a small part of our physical and mental resources. Stating the thing broadly, the human individual thus lives far within his limits. He possesses powers of various sorts which he habitually fails to use. – Professor William James of Harvard

Education is the ability to meet life’s situations. – Dr. John G. Hibben, former president of Princeton University

The great aim of education is not knowledge but action. – Herbert Spencer

If you teach a man anything, he will never learn. – Bernard Shaw

  • Learning is an active process. We learn by doing… Apply these rules at every opportunity… Only knowledge that is used sticks in your mind.

Part One: Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

Principle 1: Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.

  • Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because of it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment.

As much as we thirst for approval, we dread condemnation. – Hans Selye

Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances. – Lincoln

  • When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.

I will speak ill of no man and speak all the good I know of everybody. – Benjamin Franklin

  • Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain – and most fools do.
  • Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness.
    • To know all is to forgive all.

God himself, sir, does not propose to judge man until the end of his days. – Dr. Johnson

Principle 2: Give honest and sincere appreciation.

The desire to be important. – Dr. Dewey

Everybody likes a compliment. The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated. – William James

I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement. – Charles Schwab

  • Appreciation is sincere – it comes from the heart out and it is unselfish.
    • Flattery is insincere – it comes from the teeth out and it is selfish.

I shall pass this way but once; any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.

Principle 3: Arouse in the other person an eager want.

  • The only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.
    • Before you speak, pause and ask yourself: “How can I make this person want to do it?”
    • Every act you have ever performed since the day you were born was performed because you wanted something.

If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own. – Henry Ford

  • Customers like to feel that they are buying – not being sold.

People who can put themselves in the place of other people, who can understand the workings of their mind, need never worry about what the future has in store for them. – Owen D. Young

First, arouse in the other person an eager want. He who can do this has the whole world with him. He who cannot walks a lonely way. – Professor Overstreet

Self-expression is the dominant necessity of human nature. – William Winter

  • When we have a brilliant idea, instead making others think it is ours, why not let them cook and stir the idea themselves. They will then regard it as their own; they will like it and maybe eat a couple of helpings of it.

Part Two: Six Ways to Make People Like You

1. Become genuinely interested in other people.

It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow men who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injury to others. It is from among such individuals that all human failures spring. – Alfred Adler

  • A tactic to show interest in other people: stage a debate and ask someone for his/her expertise.

We are interested in others when they are interested in us. – Publilius Syrus

2. Smile.

  • Actions speak louder than words, and a smile says, “I like you. You make me happy. I am glad to see you.”

Actions seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not. – William James

  • Happiness does not depend on outward conditions. It depends on inner conditions.

There is nothing either good or bad. But thinking makes it so. – Shakespeare

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. – Abe Lincoln

Whenever you go out-of-doors, draw the chin in, carry the crown of the head high, and fill the lungs to the utmost; drink in the sunshine; greet your friends with a smile, and put soul into every handclasp. Do not fear being misunderstood and do not waste a minute thinking about your enemies. Try to fix firmly in your mind what you would like to do; and then, without veering off direction, you will move straight to the goal. Keep your mind on the great and splendid things you would like to do, and then, as the days go gliding away, you will find yourself unconsciously seizing upon the opportunities that are required for the fulfillment of your desire, just as the coral insect takes from the ruining tide the element it needs. Picture in your mind the able, earnest, useful person you desire to be, and the thought you hold is hourly transforming you into that particular individual… Thought is supreme. Preserve a right mental attitude – the attitude of courage, frankness, and good cheer. To think rightly is to create. All things come through desire and every sincere prayer is answered. We become like that on which our hearts are fixed. Carry your chin in and the crown of your head high. We are gods in the chrysalis. – Elbert Hubbard

3. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

Good manners are made up of petty sacrifices. – Emerson

  • The name sets the individual apart; it makes him or her unique among all others.

4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.

Few human beings are proof against the implied flattery of rapt attention. – Jacky Woodford, Strangers in Love

There is no mystery about successful business intercourse… Exclusive attention to the person who is speaking to you is very important. Nothing else is so flattering as that. – Charles W. Elliot, former Harvard president

  • If you aspired to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. To be interesting, be interested. Ask questions that other persons will enjoy answering.

5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interest.

  • The royal road to a person’s heart is to talk about the things he or she treasures most.

6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

  • The law is this: Always make the other person feel important.

The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated. – John Dewey

  • Little courteous phrases that oil the cogs of the monotonous grind of everyday life:
    • I’m sorry to trouble you
    • Would you be so kind to … ?
    • Would you mind?

Talk to people about themselves and they will listen for hours. – Disraeli

Part Three: How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking

1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.

A man convinced against his will
Is of the same opinion still.

  • … the more I argued against it, the more my prospect argued in favor of it; and the more he argued, the more he sold himself on my competitor’s product.

Hatred is never ended by hatred but by love. – Buddha

  • A misunderstanding is never ended by an argument but by tact, diplomacy, conciliation and a sympathetic desire to see the other person’s viewpoint.

Better give your path to a dog than be bitten by him in contesting for the right. Even killing the dog would not cure the bite. – Lincoln

2. Show respect for the other person’s opinions.  Never say “You’re wrong.”

  • … but you will not alter their opinion, for you have hurt their feelings.

Men must be taught as if you taught them not
And things unknown proposed as things forgot. – Alexander Pope

A third kind of thinking is stimulated when anyone questions our belief and opinions. We sometimes find ourselves changing our minds without any resistance or heavy emotion, but if we are told that we are wrong we resent the imputation and harden our hearts. We are incredibly heedless in the formation of our beliefs, but find ourselves filled with an illicit passion for them when anyone proposes to rob us of their companionship. It is obviously not the ideas themselves that are dear to us, but our self-esteem, which is threatened… The little word “my” is the most important one in all human affairs, and properly to reckon with it is the beginning of wisdom. It has the same force whether it is my dinner, my dog, and my house, or my faith, my country, and my God. We not only resent the imputation that our watch is wrong, or our car shabby, but that our conception of the canals of Mars, of the pronunciation of “Epictetus”, of the medicinal value of salicine, or the date of Sargon I, are subject to revision… Few of us take the pains to study the origin of our cherished convictions; indeed, we have a natural repugnance to so doing. We like to continue to believe what we have been accustomed to accept as true, and the resentment aroused when doubt is cast upon any of our assumptions leads us to seek every manner of excuse for clinging to them. The result is that most of our so-called reasoning consists in finding arguments for going on believing as we already do. – James Harvey Robinson, The Mind in the Making

I have found it of enormous value when I can permit myself to understand the other person. The way in which I have worded this statement may seem strange to you… Very rarely do we permit ourselves to understand precisely what the meaning of the statement is to the other person. – Carl Rogers

3. If you’re wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.

  • There is a certain degree of satisfaction in having the courage to admit one’s errors.  It not only clears the air of guilt and defensiveness, but often helps solve the problem created by the error.
  • Any fool can try to defend his or her mistakes – and most fools do – but it raises one above the herd and gives one a feeling of nobility and exultation to admit one’s mistakes.

By fighting you never get enough, but by yielding you get more than you expected.

4. Begin in a friendly way.

If you come at me with your fists doubled, I think I can promise you that mine will double as fast as yours; but if you come to me and say, ‘Let us sit down and take counsel together, and if we differ from each other, understand why it is that we differ, just what the points at issue are,’ we will presently find that we are not so far apart after all, that the points on which we differ are few and that if we only have patience and the candor and the desire to get together, we will get together. – Woodrow Wilson

  • If a man’s heart is rankling with discard and ill feeling toward you, you can’t win him to your way of thinking with all the logic in Christendom. Scolding parents and domineering bosses and husbands and nagging wives ought to realize that people don’t want to change their minds. They can’t be forced or driven to agree with you or me. But they may possibly be led to, if we are gentle and friendly, ever so gentle and ever so friendly.

It is an old and true maxim that “a drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.” So with men, if you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey that catches his heart; which, says what you will, is the great high road to his reason. – Lincoln

5. Get the other person saying “Yes, Yes” immediately.

  • In talking with people, don’t begin by discussing the things on which you differ. Begin by emphasizing – and keep emphasizing – the things on which you agree.
  • The skillful speaker gets, at the outset, a number of “Yes” responses. This sets the psychological process of the listeners moving in the affirmative direction.

He who treads softly goes far. – Chinese proverb

6. Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.

  • Almost every successful person likes to reminiscent about his early struggles.

7. Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.

  • Example: I want you to do me a little favor. Here are some uncompleted sketches. Won’t you please tell me how we could finish them up in such a way that you could use them?
  • Example: They are not perfect. We know that, and we want to improve them. So we should be deeply obligated to you if you could find time to look them over and give us your ideas about how they can be made more serviceable to your profession.

The reason why rivers and seas receive the homage of a hundred mountain streams is that they keep below them.  Thus they are able to reign over all the mountain streams.  So the sage, wishing to be above men, putteth himself below them; wishing to be before them, he putteth himself behind them.  Thus, though his place be above men, they do not feel his weight; though his place be before them, they do not count it an injury. –  Laozi

8. Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.

  • … by becoming interested in the cause, we are less likely to dislike the effect.

Starting your conversation by giving the other person the purpose or direction of your conversation, governing what you say by what you would want to hear if you were the listener, and accepting his or her viewpoint will encourage the listener to have an open mind to your idea. – Dr. Gerald S. Nirenberg, Getting Through to People

9. Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.

10. Appeal to the nobler motives.

  • If you are satisfied with the result you are now getting, why change? If you are not satisfied, why not experiment?
  • … people are honest and want to discharge their obligations.

11. Dramatize your ideas.

  • Merely stating a truth isn’t enough. The truth has to be made vivid, interesting, dramatic. You have to use showmanship.

12. Throw down a challenge.

All men have fears, but the brave put down their fears and go forward, sometimes to death, but always to victory. – Motto of the King’s Guard in ancient Greece

  • Every successful person loves: the game. The chance for self-expression… The desire to excel.

Part Four: Be a leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation.

  • A barber lathers a man before he shaves him…

2. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.

  • Change the word from “but” to “and.”

3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.

4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.

  • “You might consider this,” or “Do you think that would work?” “What do you think of this?”
  • [Always giving people the opportunity to do things themselves and let them learn from their mistakes] A technique like this saves a person’s pride and gives him or her a feeling of importance. It encourages cooperation instead of rebellion.
  • Asking questions not only makes an order more palatable; it often stimulates the creativity of the persons whom you ask. People are more likely to accept an order if they have had a part in the decision that caused the order to be issued.

5. Let the other person save face.

I have no right to say or do anything that diminishes a man in his own eyes.  What matters is not what I think of him, but what he thinks of himself.  Hurting a man in his dignity is a crime.  – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

6. Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement.  Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”

Praise is like sunlight to the human spirit; we cannot flower and grow without it. And yet, while most of us are only too ready to apply to others the cold wind of criticism, we are somehow reluctant to give our fellows the warm sunshine of praise. – Jess Lair

  • … when criticism is minimized and praise emphasized, the good things people do will be reinforced and the poorer things will atrophy for lack of attention.
  • Because he had singled out a specific accomplishment, rather than just making general flattering remarks, his praise became much more meaningful to the person to whom it was given.
    • Specific praise comes across as sincere.
    • Remember, we all crave appreciation and recognition, and will do almost anything to get it.  But nobody wants insincerity.  Nobody wants flattery.
    • Abilities wither under criticism; they blossom under encouragement.

7. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.

Assume a virtue, if you have it not. – Shakespeare

  • If you want to improve a person in a certain respect, act as though that particular trait were already one of his or her outstanding characteristics.
    • It might be well to assume and state openly that other people have the virtue that you want them to develop.
    • Give them a fine reputation to live up to, and they will make prodigious efforts rather than see you disillusioned.
    • Example: I have respected the fact that you are always willing to listen and are big enough to change your mind when the facts warrant a change.

8. Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.

9. Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

  • Always make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

Keep the following guideline in mind when it is necessary to change attitudes or behavior:

  1. Be sincere.  do not promise anything that you cannot deliver.  Forget about the benefits to yourself and concentrate on the benefits to the other person.
  2. Know exactly what it is that you want the other person do.
  3. Be empathetic.  Ask yourself what it is the other person really wants.
  4. Consider the benefits that person will receive from doing what you suggest.
  5. Match those benefits to the other person’s wants.
  6. When you make your request, put it in a form that will convey to the other person the idea that he personally will benefit. (e.g. If it is done now, we won’t be faced with it later.)

Posted: February 28, 2011 in Quotes
Tags: ,

Humans have something akin to brain damage. To neurophysiologists, who research cognitive functions, the emotionally driven appear to suffer from cognitive deficits that mimic certain types of brain injuries. … Anyone with an intense emotional interest in a subject loses the ability to observe it objectively: You selectively perceive events. You ignore data and facts that disagree with your main philosophy. Even your memory works to fool you, as you selectively retain what you believe in, and subtly mask any memories that might conflict.

– Barry Ritholtz

[The Nine Insights]

  • All that any of us have to do is suspend our doubts and distractions just long enough…
  • Even though we occasionally have the clear insight that something more is going on in life, our habitual way of thinking is to consider such ideas unknowable and then to shrug off the awareness altogether.
  • History is not just the evolution of technology; it is the evolution of thought.
    • By understanding the reality of the people who came before us, we can see why we look at the world the way we do, and what our contribution is toward further progress. We can pinpoint where we come in, so to speak, in the longer development of Civilization, and that gives us a sense of where we are going.
  • Working to establish a more comfortable style of survival has grown to feel complete in itself as a reason to live, and we’ve gradually, methodically, forgotten why we are alive, what we’re surviving for.
    • People can’t slow down because they use their routine to distract themselves, to reduce life to only its practical considerations. And they do this to avoid recalling how uncertain they are about why they live.
    • Propelling it all was the call to progress, the desire of the individual to provide his own security, his own purpose while he was waiting for the truth.
    • We are reaching a climax in our cultural purpose. We are accomplishing what we had collectively decided to do – we have created the means of material security.
      • Now we seemed to be ready – poised, in fact – to find out why we had done it and waking up to something else.
  • The idea was to create an understanding of the universe that made the world seem safe and manageable, and the skeptical attitude kept us focused on concrete problems that would make our existence seem more secure.
    • With this attitude, science systematically removed the uncertain and the esoteric from the world. We concluded, following the thinking of Isaac Newton, that the universe always operated in a predictable manner, like an enormous machine, because for a long time that’s all it could be proved to be. Events which happened simultaneously to other events yet had no causal relationship were said to occur only by chance.
  • The whole of Einstein’s life’s work was to show that what we perceive as hard matter is mostly empty space with a pattern of energy running through it.
  • The human perception of energy first begins with a heightened sensitivity to beauty.
    • When you appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of things, you receive energy. When you get to a level where you feel love, then you can send the energy back just by willing it so.
    • The things that we perceive as beautiful may be different, but the actual characteristics we ascribe to beautiful objects are similar.
      • When something strikes us as beautiful, it displays more presence and sharpness of shape and vividness of color – it stands out; it shines.
  • We humans have always sought to increase our personal energy in the only manner we have known: by seeking to psychologically steal it from others – an unconscious competition that underlies all human conflict in the world.
    • Humans seek to outwit and control each other not just because of some tangible goal in the outside world that we’re trying to achieve, but because of a lift we get psychologically. This is the reason we see so many irrational conflicts in the world both at the individual level and at the level of nations.
      • Individuals can come away feeling strong or feeling weak, depending on what occurs in the interaction.
  • …Unfortunately, when she grows up, because of this early trauma, she will think she has to seize control and dominate others with the same intensity.
  • Occasionally, another person will voluntarily want us to define their situation for them, giving us their energy outright.
    • It makes us feel empowered, but this gift doesn’t usually last. Most people aren’t strong enough to keep giving energy.
    • Humans link up energy and then fight over who is going to control it – power struggle.
  • Humans are stuck in a kind of competition for each other’s energy.
    • When we can get others to acquiesce to our view, they identify with us and that pulls their energy into us and we feel stronger.
  • In order to totally absorb energy in food, the food must be appreciated and savored.
    • Taste is the doorway. You must appreciate taste. This is the reason for prayer before eating. It is not just about being thankful, it is to make eating a holy experience, so the energy from the food can enter your body.
  • You do not make yourself love. You allow love to enter you.
  • When one has already encountered a mystical experience, getting back into this state and raising one’s personal energy level comes much easier.
    • A stronger memory of the experience facilitates its re-creation.
  • When something occurs beyond chance to lead us forward in our lives, then we become more actualized people.
    • We feel though we are attaining what destiny is leading us to become. When this occurs, the level of energy that brought on the coincidences in the first place is instituted in us -> We have become a new person. We exist at a level of higher energy, a level of higher vibration.
  • Everyone manipulates for energy either aggressively, directly forcing people to pay attention to them, or passively, playing on people’s sympathy or curiosity to gain attention.
    • The order of dramas from aggressive to passive:
      • Intimidator, interrogator, aloof, poor me.
  • We are truly free to become more than the unconscious act we play. We can find a higher meaning for our lives, a spiritual reason…We can begin to get clear about who we really are.
  • We can’t progress by using logic alone. We have to attain a fuller consciousness, an inner connection with God, because only then can our evolution toward something better be guided by a higher part of ourselves.
  • Once you get the questions right, the answers always come.
  • The learned manipulations on the child’s part can be avoided if the adults give them all the energy they need no matter what the situation.
    • You should never take responsibility for more children than you can give attention to.

When love first happens, the two individuals are giving each other energy unconsciously and both people feel buoyant and elated. That’s the incredible high we all call being “in love.” Unfortunately, once they expect this feeling to come from the other person, they cut themselves off from the energy in the universe and begin to rely even more on the energy from each other – only now there doesn’t seem to be enough and so they stop giving each other energy and fall back into their dramas in an attempt to control each other and force the other’s energy their way. At this point the relationship degenerates into the usual power struggle.

  • The reason we can become addicted to someone of the opposite sex is that we’ve yet to access this opposite sex energy ourselves.
    • The mystical energy that we can tap as an inner source is both male and female.

Co-dependent relationship: We look like the letter “C.” We are very susceptible to a person of the opposite sex, some other circle half complete, coming up and joining with us – completing the circle that way – and giving us a burst of euphoria and energy that feels like the wholeness that a full connection with the universe produces. In reality, we have only joined up with another person who is looking for their other half on the outside too. The problem with this completed person, this “O,” that both people think they have reached, is that it has taken tow people to make this one whole person, one supply the female energy and one supplying the male. This one whole person consequently has two heads, or egos. Both people want to run this whole person they have created and so, just as in childhood, both people want to command the other, as if the other were themselves. This kind of illusion of completeness always breaks down into a power struggle.

  • Higher-relationship: when we connect romantically with another whole person, we create a super-person. It never pulls us from the path of our individual evolution.
    • First we have to complete the circle on our own. We have to stabilize our channel with the universe.
  • It is the same way with all addictions – one goes through someone or something else to connect with the universe.
  • Whenever people cross our paths, there is always a message for us. Chance encounters do not exist.
    • Once humans grasp this reality, our interaction will slow down and become more purposeful and deliberate.
  • The more we can love and appreciate others, the more energy flows into us.
    • The more we appreciate their wholeness, their inner beauty, the more the energy flows into them, and naturally, the more that flows into us.
  • Covert manipulations for energy cannot exist if you bring them into consciousness by pointing them out.
  • When you are appreciating someone at a deeper level, you can see their most honest self beyond any facades they may put up. When you really focus at this level, you can perceive that someone is thinking as a subtle expression on their face. This is perfectly natural.
  • Learn to interact consciously when in a group – as the members of a group talk, only one will have the most powerful idea at any one point in time. If they are alert, the others in the group can feel who is about to speak, and then they can consciously focus their energy on this person, helping to bring out his idea with the greatest clarity.
  • When we dislike someone, or feel threatened by someone, the natural tendency is to focus on something we dislike about the person, something that irritates us. Unfortunately, when we do this – instead of seeing the deeper beauty of the person and giving them energy – we take energy away and actually do them harm. All they know is that they suddenly feel less beautiful and less confident, and it is because we sapped their energy. Humans are aging each other at a tremendous rate out there with their violent competitions.
  • Sometimes in history one individual would grasp the exact way of connecting with God’s source of energy and direction and would thus become a lasting example that this connection is possible. E.g. Jesus.

He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how. – Nietzsche

  • Central theme of existentialism: to live is to suffer, to survive is to find meaning in the suffering. If there is a purpose in life at all, there must be a purpose in suffering and in dying.
  • Life holds a potential meaning under any conditions, even the most miserable ones.
  • For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.
    • Pleasure is, and must remain, a side-effect or by-product, and is destroyed and spoiled to the degree to which it is made a goal in itself.

Experiences in a Concentration Camp

  • No explanations are needed for those who have been inside, and the others will understand neither how we felt then nor how we feel now.
  • Delusion of reprieve: the condemned man, immediately before his execution, gets the illusion that he might be reprieved at the very last minute.

Man is a creature who can get used to anything, and I believe that is the very best way of defining him. – Fyodor Dostoevsky

There are things which must cause you to lose your reason or you have none to lose. – Gotthold Lessing

  • An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.
  • At such moment it is not the physical pain which hurts the most (and this applies to adults as much as to punished children); it is  the mental agony caused by the injustice, the unreasonableness of it all.
    • The most painful part of beatings is the insult which they imply.
  • At that moment I became intensely conscious of the fact that no dream, no matter how horrible, could be as bad as the reality of the camp which surrounded us…
  • Sensitive people who were used to a rich intellectual life may have suffered much pain (they were often of a delicate constitution), but the damage to their inner selves was less. They were able to retreat from their terrible surroundings to a life of inner riches and spiritual freedom.
  • The truth – that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire.
    • The salvation of man is through love and in love.
    • Love goes very far beyond the physical person of the beloved.
  • In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his suffering in the right way – an honorable way – in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment.
  • The intensification of inner life helped the prisoner find a refuge from the emptiness, desolation and spiritual poverty of his existence, by letting him escape into the past.
  • The attempt to develop a sense of humor and to see things in humorous light is some kind of a trick learned while mastering the art of living.
  • Suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind like the behavior of gas, no matter whether the suffering is great or little.
    • Therefore the “size” of human suffering is absolutely relative.
  • No man should judge unless he asks himself in absolute honesty whether in a similar situation he might not have done the same.
  • Everything that was not connected with the immediate task of keeping oneself and one’s closest friends alive lost its value. Everything was sacrificed to this end. A man’s character became involved to the point that he was caught in a mental turmoil which threatened all the values he held and threw them into doubt. Under the influence of a world which no longer recognized the value of a human life and human dignity, which had robbed man of his will and had made him an object to be exterminated (having planned, however, to make full use of him first – to the last ounce of his physical resources) – under this influence the personal ego finally suffered a loss of values. If the man in the concentration camp did not struggle against this in a last effort to save his self-respect, he lost the feeling of being an individual, a being with a mind, with inner freedom and personal value. He thought of himself then as only a part of an enormous mass of people; his existence descended to the level of animal life.
  • The prisoner would have preferred to let fate make the choice for him – escape from commitment.
  • The consciousness of one’s inner value is anchored in higher, more spiritual things, and cannot be shaken by camp life. But how many free men, let alone prisoners, possess it?
  • Since the prisoner continually witnessed scenes of beatings, the impulse toward violence was increased.
  • Human being is completely and unavoidably influenced by his surroundings.
    • Is that theory true which would have us believe that man is no more than a product of many conditional and environmental factors – be they of a biological, psychological or sociological nature? Is man but an accidental product of these?
    • Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress.
    • The last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to chooses one’s own way.
    • It is this spiritual freedom – which cannot be taken away –that makes life meaningful and purposeful.
  • The sort of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner decision, and not the result of camp influence alone.
    • Man’s inner strengths may raise him above his outward fate.

There is only one thing I dread: not to be worthy of my sufferings. – Dostoevski

  • An active life serves the purpose of giving man the opportunity to realize values in creative work, while a passive life of enjoyment affords him the opportunity to obtain fulfillment in experiencing beauty, art, or nature…But not only creativeness and enjoyment are meaningful. If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death human life cannot be complete.

Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it. – Spinoza

  • It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life – daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.
    • Long ago we had passed the stage of asking what was the meaning of life, a naïve query which understands life as the attaining of some aim through the active creation of something of value. For us, the meaning of life embraced the wider cycles of life and death, of suffering and of dying.
  • No situation repeats itself, and each situation calls for a different response.
    • Sometimes the situation in which a man finds himself may require him to shape his own fate by action. At other times it is more advantageous for him to make use of an opportunity for contemplation and to realize assets in this way. Sometimes man may be required simply to accept fate, to bear his cross.
  • There was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.
  • A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the “why” for is existence, and will be able to bear almost any “how.”

What you have experienced, no power on earth can take from you.

  • They must not lose hope but should keep their courage in the certainty that the hopelessness of our struggle did not detract from its dignity and its meaning.
  • No one has the right to do wrong, not even if wrong has been done to them.

Logotherapy in a Nutshell

  • Logotherapy focuses rather on the future – on the meanings to be fulfilled by the patient in the future – a meaning-centered psychotherapy.
    • Striving to find a meaning in one’s life is the primary motivational force in man.
    • Logotherapy deviates from psychoanalysis insofar as it considers man a being whose main concern consists in fulfilling meaning, rather than in the mere gratification and satisfaction of drives and instincts, or in merely reconciling the conflicting claims of id, ego and superego, or in mere adaptation and adjustment to society and environment.
  • Man’s search for meaning is the primary motivation in his life not a “secondary rationalization” of instinctual drives (Freudian psychoanalysis).
    • This meaning is unique and specific in that it must and can be fulfilled by him alone; only then does it achieve a significance which will satisfy his own will to meaning.
    • Man is able to live and even to die for the sake of his ideals and values!
  • One of the basic tenets of logotherapy is that man’s concern is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain but rather to see meaning in his life.
  • Not every conflict is necessarily neurotic; some amount of conflict is normal and healthy.
    • Rather than being a symptom of neurosis, suffering may well be a human achievement, especially if the suffering grows out of existential frustration.
  • Mental health is based on a certain degree of tension, the tension between what one has already achieved and what one still ought to accomplish, or the gap between what one is and what one should become. Such a tension is inherent in the human being and therefore is indispensable to mental well-being.
    • What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task.
    • What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.
  • The existential vacuum: No instinct tells him what he has to do, and no tradition tells him what he ought to do; sometimes he does not even know what he wishes to do. Instead, he either wishes to do what other people do (conformism) or he does what other people wish him to do (totalitarianism).
    • In actual fact, boredom is now causing more problems to solve than distress.
    • Sunday neurosis: depression which afflicts people who become aware of the lack of content in their lives when the rush of the busy week is over and the void within themselves becomes manifest.
    • In other cases, the place of frustrated will to meaning is taken by the will to pleasure. That is why existential frustration often eventuates in sexual compensation (sexual libido becomes rampant in the existential vacuum).
  • What matters is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment.
    • To question the meaning of life is comparable to the question posed to a chess champion: “Tell me, Master, what is the best move in the world?”
    • One should not search for an abstract meaning of life. Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.
    • Each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.
  • Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!
  • To put it figuratively, the role played by a logotherapist is that of an eye specialist rather than that of a painter. A painter tries to convey to us a picture of the world as he sees it; an ophthalmologist tries to enable us to see the world as it really is. The logotherapist’s role consists of widening and broadening the visual field of the patient so that the whole spectrum of potential meaning becomes conscious and visible to him.
  • The true meaning of life is to be discovered in the world rather than within man or his own psyche, as though it were a closed system.
  • The more one forgets himself – by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love – the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself.
    • Self-actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence.
  • According to logotherapy, we can discover meaning in life in three different ways:
    • By creating a work or doing a deed.
    • By experiencing something or encountering someone.
    • By the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.
  • Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him.
    • By his love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualized. Furthermore, by his love, the loving person enables the beloved person to actualize these potentialities.
  • Sex is justified, even sanctified, as soon as, but only as long as, it is a vehicle of love.
    • Love is not understood as a mere side-effect of sex; rather, sex is a way of expressing the experience of that ultimate togetherness which is called love.
  • The unique human potential to transform a personal tragedy into triumph, to turn one’s predicament into a human achievement.
    • When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
  • Suffering cease to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.
    • But in no way is suffering necessary to find meaning…To suffer unnecessarily is masochistic rather than heroic.

Our current mental-hygiene philosophy stresses the idea that people ought to be happy, that unhappiness is a symptom of maladjustment. Such a value system might be responsible for the fact that the burden of unavoidable unhappiness is increased by unhappiness about being unhappy…He is not only unhappy, but also ashamed of being unhappy. – Edith Weisskopf-Joelson

  • Are you sure that the human world is a terminal point in the evolution of the cosmos? Is it not conceivable that there is still another dimension, a world beyond man’s world; a world in which the question of an ultimate meaning of human suffering would find an answer?
    • This ultimate meaning necessarily exceeds and surpasses the finite intellectual capacities of man.
    • What is required is not to endure the meaningless of life, but rather to bear his incapacity to grasp its unconditional meaningfulness in rational terms.
  • Something which in itself is meaningless cannot be rendered meaningful merely by its perpetuation.
  • The transitoriness of our existence in no way make it meaningless. For, in the past, nothing is irretrievably lost but everything is irrevocably stored.
    • Man constantly makes his choice concerning the mass of present potentialities; which of these will be condemned to nonbeing and which will be actualized? Which choice will be made an actuality once and forever, an immortal “footprint in the sands of time”?
    • What will it matter to him if he notices that he is growing old? He can reflect with pride and joy on all the richness set down in these notes, on all the life he has already lived to the fullest…Instead of possibilities, he has realities in his past, not only the reality of work done and of love loved, but of sufferings bravely suffered.
    • The potentialities they have actualized, the meanings they have fulfilled, the values they have realized – these assets can never be removed from the past.
  • Paradoxical intention technique – fear brings about that which one is afraid of, and that hyper-intention makes impossible what one wishes.
    • The fear of sleeplessness results in a hyper-intention to fall asleep, which, in turn, incapacitates the patient to do so. To overcome this particular fear, I usually advise the patient not to try to sleep but rather to try to do just the opposite, that is, to stay awake as long as possible.
    • Anticipatory anxiety has to be counteracted by paradoxical intention; hyper-intention as well as hyper-reflection have to be counteracted by deflection; deflection, however, ultimately is not passable except by the patient’s orientation toward his specific vocation and mission in life.
  • Man is not fully conditioned and determined but rather determines himself whether he gives in to conditions or stands up to them. In other words, man is ultimately self-determining. Man does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment.
    • What he becomes – within the limits of endowment and environment – he has made out of himself.
    • Man is capable of changing the world for the better if possible, and of changing himself for the better if necessary.
  • Freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness.

The Case for a Tragic Optimism

  • Human potentials of a tragic optimist:
    • Turning suffering into a human achievement and accomplishment.
    • Deriving from guilt the opportunity to change oneself for the better.
    • Deriving from life’s transitoriness an incentive to take responsible action.
  • A human being is not one in pursuit of happiness but rather in search of a reason to become happy, last but not least, through actualizing the potential meaning inherent and dormant in a given situation.
  • The causation of the feeling of meaninglessness – people have enough to live by but nothing to live for; they have the means but no meaning.
    • Unemployment neurosis: being jobless was equated with being useless, and being useless was equated with having a meaningless life.
  • Doesn’t the final meaning of life reveal itself, if at all, only at its end, on the verge of death? And doesn’t this final meaning, too, depend on whether or not the potential meaning of each single situation has been actualized to the best of the respective individual’s knowledge and belief?
  • Meaning can be found not only in work but also in love.

But everything great is just as difficult to realize as it is rare to find. – Spinoza

  • Let us be alert – alert in a twofold sense:
    • Since Auschwitz we know what man is capable of.
    • And since Hiroshima we know what is at stake.
  • How and why do we numb ourselves to our own experiences? How and why do we deafen ourselves to the voices of others?
  • We are too afraid to explore the potential for life and love and happiness we each carry inside.

You may not destroy someone’s world unless you are prepared to offer a better one. – Franz Kafka

Our behavior is a function of our experience. We act according to the way we see things. If our experience is destroyed, our behavior will be destructive. If our experience is destroyed, we have lost our own selves. – R.D. Laing

  • When we do allow self-evident truths to percolate past our defenses and into our consciousness, they are treated like so many hand grenades rolling across the dance floor of an improbably macabre party. We try to stay out of harm’s way, afraid they will go off, shatter our delusions, and leave us exposed to what we have done to the world and to ourselves, exposed as the hollow people we have become. And so we avoid these truths, these self-evident truths, and continue the dance of world destruction.
  • Silencing is central to the workings of our culture. The staunch refusal to hear the voices of those we exploit is crucial to our domination of them.

The ordinary response to atrocities is to banish them from consciousness. Certain violations of the social compact are too terrible to utter aloud: this is the meaning of the word unspeakable. – Judith Herman

  • We live in a world of make-believe.
    • …he created the reality that he required in order to continue his behavior.
    • In attempting to describe the world in make-believe terms, we have forgotten what is real what isn’t. We pretend the world is silent, whereas in reality it is filled with conversations.
    • We pretend death is an enemy, although it is an integral part of life.
    • We pretend that anything we do not understand – anything that cannot be measured, quantified, and controlled – does not exist.
    • We pretend the animals are resources to be conserved or consumed, when, in reality, they have purposes entirely independent of us.
  • By substituting the illusion of disembodied thought from experience, by substituting mathematical equations for living relations, and most importantly by substituting control, or the attempt to control, for the full participation in the wild and unpredictable process of living, Descartes became the prototypical modern man.
    • Single most important rule of Western philosophy: if it doesn’t fit the model, it doesn’t exist.
  • We live our lives, grateful that things aren’t worse than they are. But there has to be a threshold beyond which we can no longer ignore the destructiveness of our way of living.

The condition of alienation, of being asleep, of being unconscious, of being out of one’s mind, is the condition of the normal man. Society highly values its normal man. It educates children to lose themselves and to become absurd, and thus to be normal. Normal men have killed perhaps 100,000,000 of their fellow normal men in the last fifty years. – R.D. Laing

The rite of passage into the scientific (modern) way of being centers on the ability to apply the knife to the vocal cords, not just of the dog on the table, but of life itself. Inwardly, he [the modern human] must be able to sever the cords of his own consciousness. Outwardly, the effect must be the destruction of the larynx of the biosphere, an action essential to the transformation of the world into a material object. – Neil Evernden

We are the land…That is the fundamental idea of Native American life: the land and the people are the same. – Paula Gunn Allen

  • Whether we are electrifying a kitten or petting a cat, if the purpose is specifically to collect data we’re still objectifying the cat…But the point is pursuing a relationship, not gathering data.

Today we took a little snake. I had to apologize to her for cutting her life off so suddenly and so definitely; I did what I did knowing that my own life will also be cut off someday in very much the same fashion, suddenly and definitely. – Jack Forbes

  • We have come to believe that violence equals aggression, and we have come to base our model of sexuality on our model of violence. This goes a long way toward explaining the prevalence of rape scenes in horror movies, art films, and blockbusters alike, the woman pushing at her attacker’s chest, until, by the end of the scene she has her arms wrapped around him, pulling him close to her. By enacting this transition, the filmmakers convert an act of aggression into an act of consensual sexuality. The ubiquity of rape in real life attests to the desire of many members of our culture to attempt this same transition.
  • To kill without emotion and without respect, or to ignore the intimacy inherent in the act, is to rob it of its dignity, and to rob the life you are ending of its significance.

All through school and University I had been given maps of life and knowledge on which there was hardly a trace of many of the things that I most cared about and that seemed to me to be of the greatest possible importance to the conduct of my life. I remembered that for many years my perplexity had been complete; and no interpreter had come along to help me. It remained complete until I ceased to suspect the sanity of my perceptions and began, instead, to suspect the soundness of the maps. – E.F. Schumacher

Sufficiently severe and enduring social isolation reduces these animals to a social-emotional level in which the primary social responsiveness is fear. – Harry Harlow

  • What is real? It is always possible to consciously or unconsciously “see” almost anything we want.
    • Perception is of course intimately tied to preconception.
  • It is up to us to determine for ourselves how closely the patterns we’ve been handed by our culture fit our experience of the world.
  • When my teacher told me how, I wanted to know why, and when they gave me abstractions, I asked them to make the lessons real.
    • To ask how without asking why might be dangerous.
  • The God of our culture has always been jealous, and whether going by the name of God the Father, Yahweh, Jesus Christ, Civilization, Capitalism, Science, Technology, Profit, or Progress, He has never been less than eager to destroy all those He cannot control.
  • Every morning when I wake up I ask myself whether I should write or blow up a dam…Anyone who lives in this region and who knows anything about salmon knows the dams must go. And anyone who knows anything about politics knows the dams will probably stay. Scientists study, politicians and businesspeople lie and delay, bureaucrats hold sham public hearings, activists write letters and press releases, I write books and articles, and still the salmon die. It’s a cozy relationship for all of us but the salmon.

God does not send us despair in order to kill us; he sends it in order to awaken us to new life. – Hermann Hesse

Don’t look at my finger, look at the moon. – Buddhist saying

  • I will no longer forget. I have learned that whether I choose to feel or not, pain exists, and whether we choose to acknowledge them or not, atrocities continue. I have grown to understand that in the shadow of the unspeakable I can and must speak and act against our culture’s tangled web of destructiveness, and stop the destruction at its roots.

The most striking difference between ancient and modern sophists is that the ancients were satisfied with a passing victory of argument at the expense of truth, whereas the moderns want a more lasting victory at the expense of reality. – Hannah Arendt

  • Scientific verification is impossible [for interspecies communication], because science is by definition the study of objects, and a conversation is an interaction between two or more subjects.
  • The nature of physical reality is not determined by popular vote. Many people sharing the same delusion does not make the delusion true, whether we are talking about interspecies communication, modern science, Christianity, or capitalism.

The press is the hired agent of a monied system, and set up for no other purpose than to tell lies where the interests are involved. – Henry Adams

Art is whatever you can get away with. – John Cage

  • The price of admission to public discourse is an optimistic denial pushed to absurd lengths.
  • When dams were erected on the Columbia, salmon battered themselves against the concrete, trying to return home. I expect no less from us. We too must hurl ourselves against and through the literal and metaphorical concrete that contains and constrains us, that keeps us from talking about what is most important to us, that keeps us from living the way our bones know we can, that bars us from our home. It only takes one person to bring down a dam.
  • …it is no longer possible to be lonely…and it is only our own fear that sets us apart.
  • Take responsibility for one’s own action, and to fight for egalitarianism. It is easier to listen to the voice of God than it is to listen to the voice of one’s conscience, suffering and outrage.
  • A claim to virtue” – It is not possible to commit deforestation, or any other mass atrocity – mass murder, genocide, mass rape, the pervasive abuse of women or children, institutionalized animal abuse, imprisonment, wage slavery, systematic impoverishment, ecocide – without first convincing yourself and others that what you’re doing is beneficial
    • First, the pattern itself is horrifying, too terrible to think about. Second, if we allow ourselves to recognize the pattern and fully internalize its implications, we would have to change it.
    • Rational discussion presupposes rational motivations, yet claims to virtue are always attempts to place rational masks over nonrational urges.
    • The way out of from these destructive frames of mind is to step in – experience, not thought or rationalization.
      • Thought divorced from experience is nonsense.
  • Fearing death, fearing life, fearing love, and fearing most of all the loss of control, we create social rules and institutions that mirror our fears and reinforce our destructive behaviors.
  • Perhaps in taking the world into our bodies we also need to dive into the body of the world, to dive down deep and let it pull us deeper still, until at last we not only consume but are consumed, until at last we are no longer separate – standing alone and lonely on the darksome heights to which only men aspire – but instead, simply living in commune with the rest of the world.
  • The primary function of grades is to offer an external reinforcement to coerce people to perform tasks they’d rather not do.
    • Grades, as is true once again for wages in later life, are an implicit acknowledgement that the process of schooling is insufficiently rewarding on its own grounds for people to participate of their own volition.
  • [School] Systematically – inherent in the process – direct personal experience is subsumed to external authority, and at every turn creativity, critical thought, and the questioning of fundamental assumptions are discouraged.
    • A primary purpose of school – and this is true for our culture’s science and religion as well – is to lead us away from our own experience.
    • The process of schooling does not give birth to human beings – as education should but never will so long as it springs from the collective consciousness of our culture – but instead it teaches us to value abstract rewards at the expense of our autonomy, curiosity, interior lives, and time.
    • Through the process of schooling, each fresh child is attenuated, muted, molded, made – like aluminum – malleable yet durable, and so prepared to compete in society, and ultimately to lead this society where it so obviously headed. Schooling as it presently exists, like science before it and religion before that, is necessary to the continuation of our culture and to the spawning of a new species of human, ever more submissive to authority, ever more pliant, prepared, by thirteen years of sitting and receiving, sitting and regurgitating, sitting and waiting for the end, prepared for the rest of their lives to toil, to propagate, to never make waves, and to live each day with never an original thought nor even a shred of hope.
  • We should not be surprised that our culture as a whole must destroy all life and that we as individuals must not dwell upon the horrors we visit not only upon others but upon ourselves, that we dwell instead upon the daily earning of our bread, and beyond that pile upon ourselves project after project to keep ourselves always occupied, always unconscious of the fact that we do not have to live this way, always blinded to alternatives. For if we looked we might see, if we saw we might act, and if we acted we might take responsibility for our own lives. If we did that, what then?

When the oppressors give me two choices, I always take the third. – Meir Berliner

  • One method Nazis used to control Jews was to present them a series of meaningless choices…In making these choices victims felt the illusion of control over their destinies, and often failed to reject the entire system. Resistance to exploitation was diminished.
  • I sometimes called in sick when it was a nice day, rationalizing the lie by telling myself I was sick of work, which was true enough.
  • Selling the hours of my life was no different from selling my fingers one by one. We’ve only so many hours, so many fingers; when they’re gone, they’re gone for good.
  • It should not be terribly surprising that people would ignore the world to rationalize exploitation. In order to exploit, we must deafen ourselves to the voices of those we are victimizing. The justification of this exploitation would demand that we continue with our selective deafness, selective blindness, and selective stupidity.
  • We all – humans and nonhuman alike – are refugees from the war zone that is civilization – that we cannot longer survive unless we cooperate with those around us.

The world of the concentration camps…was not an exceptionally monstrous society. What we saw there was the image, and in a sense the quintessence, of the infernal society into which we are plunged every day. – Eugene Lonesco

  • In a concentration camp, it is better to be the killer than the killed, better to be a collaborator than a resister, a guard than a collaborator, a supervisor than a guard, and better still to be the boss. But of course it would be better to not be in the camp at all.
  • In order to make equations manageable (thus allowing the pretension that life is manageable) economists must disregard or fudge variables that may be difficult or impossible to quantify.
  • Not much that we do in our personal lives makes much economic sense, just as most things we do for money make no sense in personal terms.
  • Our economics, as is true for our science, represents the triumph of product over process, and form over content. It is the triumph of selective deafness and blindness over conscience and relationship.
    • One of the problems with our economic system is that money is valued over all else.
    • So long as money is valued – and in fact necessary – a great percentage of people will end up spending a great deal of time doing things they don’t want to do.
  • Because our cash economy is predicated on the idea of a society composted of atomistic individuals pulling in selfish directions, it can do no other than reward selfish behaviors.
  • Our economics promises a life of increasing ease…For those of us rich enough to reap its benefits, our economic system offers a life devoid of experience; as though life, and experience, were a hassle.
  • Negative experiences can lead to joy and understanding. Life is untidy. When we reject this messiness – and in doing so reject life – we risk perceiving the world through the lens of our economics or our science. But if we celebrate life with all its contradictions, embrace it, experience it, and ultimately live with it, there is the chance for a spiritual life filled not only with pain and untidiness, but also with joy, community, and creativity.
  • To believe any one thing is “the problem” would be to believe that if we simply reform our economic system, everything will be okay, or if we reform science, or Christianity, then everything will suddenly be fine.
    • We need to look beyond, to the urges that inform, to the hidden wounds and presumptions that lead first to the conceptualization and late implementation of our economics, our science, our religion, our misogyny and child abuse.
    • An economics like ours can emerge only from a consciousness like ours, and only a consciousness like ours can give rise to an economics like ours.
    • We must fundamentally change our consciousness, and in so doing fundamentally change the way we perceive the world.
  • It is unavoidable: so long as we value money more highly than living beings and more highly than relationships, we will continue to see living beings as resources, and convert them to cash; objectifying, killing, extirpating.
    • If monetary value is attached to something it will be exploited until it’s gone.
    • Money perfectly manifests the desires of our culture. It is safe. It neither lives, dies, nor rots. It is exempt from experience. It is meaningless and abstract. By valuing abstraction over living beings, we seal not only our own fate, but the fates of all those we encounter.

It’s life that matters, nothing but life – the process of discovering, the everlasting and perpetual process, not the discovery itself, at all. – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

  • Your faith must be strong enough that you can walk the path blindfolded.
    • Wherever you put your foot, there is the path. You become the path.
  • Develop – to cause to become gradually fuller, larger, better.
  • I’m more of a practical man, so rather than write papers about being kaitiaki, I just do it. I don’t trust words. I’m frightened of the intellectualism that can insulate us from action and turn the problems and solutions into puzzles or fantasies…The work has got to be done.
  • We rescue a piece of beautiful wood out of an old building, and as we restore it and put it in place, we rescue and restore ourselves.
  • We are suffering from a great illness, and the way to get better is serve others. We should all be in service. It makes us well. I serve the birds and trees, the earth, the water.
  • As with everything else, our lawns manifest our cultural desire: they are static, they are artificial, and they are kept sexually immature.
  • How much richness do we deprive ourselves of by accepting the default decisions handed to us by our elders?
  • The tree had made it clear to me that the price of diversity is death.
    • Transitions by definition involve pain, loss, sorrow, and even death.
  • Part of their personal identities includes their habitat – their human and nonhuman surroundings. Thus they are not working to save something out there, but responding in defense of their own lives.
  • Activation energy – the amount of energy that must be present before a certain reaction can proceed.
    • How much – and what – will it take for you to  begin to act?
  • Violations come not only in paroxysms of rage, spasms of violence and violent orgasms. They come more often with constant erosion, with an incessant imparting of the full knowledge that there is nothing, no one, nowhere, no thought, no action, that the violator will not seek out and attempt to control.
  • The central question of our time: What are sane and appropriate responses to insanely destructive behavior?
    • Gandhi wrote a letter to Hitler asking him to stop committing atrocities, and was mystified that it didn’t work.
  • It is desperately true that we each need to look inside, to make ourselves right.
    • The Old One says you must put your house in order before you can have guests.

You didn’t set up the system. Do what you can, but don’t identify with the problem. If you internalize what is not yours, you fight not only them but yourself as well. Take responsibility only for that which you’re responsible – your own thoughts and actions.Jeannette Armstrong

  • We’re responsible not only for what we do, but also for what is in our power to stop.

We kill when we close our eyes to poverty, affliction, or infamy. We kill when, because it is easier, we countenance, or pretend to approve of atrophied social, political, educational, and religious institutions, instead of resolutely combating them. – Hermann Hesse

  • Because life feeds off life, and because every action causes a killing, the purpose of existence cannot be to simply avoid taking lives. That isn’t possible. What is possible, however, is to treat others, and thus ourselves, with respect, and to not unnecessarily cause death or suffering.
  • The finitude of the planet guarantees that running away is no longer a sufficient response. Those who destroy must be stopped.
  • …but their democracy is our dictatorship…
  • I asked what the MRTA wants for Peru. He replied, “I am not sure what you mean. We are Peru. We want nothing from Peru. There are others who want plenty from Peru: our oil, wood, fish, gold. Our lives. Capitalism is taking away what is elemental to our lives: our land, rivers, forests are being violated by institutions and individuals who have deafened themselves to the meanings they have for us.”
  • The children of Peru continued to starve, the forests continued to fall, and the fisheries continued to be depleted. In other words, Fujimori continued his policy of committing genocide and ecocide to benefit transnational corporations. In other words, it was business as usual in the civilized, industrialized world.
  • Time and again we show ourselves willing to die or to live to support ecological and economical justice and sanity, and time and again our enemies – the indecent ones, the destroyers – show themselves willing to lie and to kill to maintain control.

When those in power lie, the only way to conduct a meaningful dialogue with them is to have in your hands a way to force them to be accountable. Even then you can only be sure they will remain true so long as you continue to hold them tightly in your hands. – Isaac Velazco

  • Readers may more closely recognize our own culture in Fromm’s description of the Dobus, Kwaikutl, Aztecs, and others he put into the category of “destructive.” These cultures, he said, are “characterized by much interpersonal violence, destructiveness, aggression, and cruelty, both within the tribe and against others, a pleasure in war, maliciousness, and treachery. The whole atmosphere of life is one of hostility, tension, and fear. Usually there is a great deal of competition, great emphasis on private property, strict hierarchies, and a considerable amount of war-making.”
  • The social forms and institutions of nonaggressive cultures positively reinforces acts that benefit the group as a whole while negatively reinforcing acts (and eliminating goals) that harm some members of the group.
    • The social forms of aggressive cultures, on the other hand, reward actions that emphasize individual gain, even or especially when that gain harms others in the community.
  • One of the primary problems with our system of social rewards is its tautological nature. We grant communal responsibility and esteem to those who have accumulated and maintained power; but the primary motivation for those who are responsible for decisions affecting the larger community lies in the accumulation and maintenance of power.
  • Although I cannot predict the future, I do know that any culture that consumes its natural environmental base will eventually collapse under the weight of its own strengths.
  • Cultural convention is merely cultural invention. It does not have to be this way, that not all cultures have as their trajectory centralized control and ultimate annihilation.

What I fear is being in the presence of evil and doing nothing. I fear that more than death. – Otilia deKoster

I have never been able to conceive how any rational being could propose happiness to himself from the exercise of power over others. – Thomas Jefferson, Owner of Slaves

  • I’m not certain the language is raw enough. My language is too fine, the sentences too lyrical, to describe things neither child nor adult should have to describe at all.
    • It is not the writing that must change, but the reality.
  • I understand now that somewhere inside of each of us – some more than others – still survives that person who would not and will not rape, who would not and will not coerce, that person who understands what it means to be alive and to be a part of a relationship, a family, a community of both human and nonhuman.

Happiness is love, nothing else. A man who is capable of love is happy. – Herman Hesse

  • It was the bees who provided me my first real somatic understanding of cooperation and compliance: work against bees and they sting; work with them as they work with themselves and they reward you with honey, joy, and sore muscles.

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it. – Abraham Lincoln

  • We’re so good at getting along that we do so at the expense of actions that would in a meaningful sense bring a change in those original circumstances that cause our suffering.
  • What you value is what you create.
    • We do what we reward, and we reward what we value.
  • Underlying the different forms of coercion is a unifying factor: Silence. The necessity of silencing victims before, during, and after exploitation or annihilation, and the necessity at these same times of silencing one’s own conscience and one’s conscious awareness of relationship is undeniable.
    • The perpetrators of these atrocities share a deeply unifying belief in their own separateness and superiority, and a tightly rationalized belief in the rightness of their actions.
    • Fearful of life, the perpetrators forget that one can affect another with love, by allowing another’s life to unfold according to its own nature and desires and fate, and by giving to the other what it needs to unfold. One can affect another by merely being present and listening intently to that other.
  • Our religion, philosophy, science, economics, politics, and so on are manifestations of cultural desire, that means these fields have as their purpose the rationalization of exploitation, what makes you think we could expect anything different from a revolution that comes from this same culture?

The greatest virtue between heaven and earth is to live. – ‘The Great Treatise’ of the I Ching

  • Economic production requires that resources be funneled toward producers, while ecosystemic production requires that resources be returned to all members of the natural community, including, especially, the ground.

Our goal should be not the emulation of the ancients and their ways, but to experience for ourselves the aspects of human existence out of which arose those ancient forms which we we see them elicit such a feeling of longing. Otherwise the modern will remain forever superficial while the real will remain ancient, far away, and therefore, outside of ourselves. – Mr. Aoki

On the terms imposed by technocratic society, there is no hope for mankind except by ‘going with’ its plans for accelerated technological progress, even though man’s vital organs will all be cannibalized in order to prolong the megamachine’s meaningless existence…But for those of us who have thrown off the myth of the machine, the next move is ours: for the gates of the technocratic prison will open automatically, despite their rusty hinges, as soon as we choose to walk out. – Lewis Mumford

  • For an entire community to disentangle itself from that web may be well-nigh impossible, given the modern economy’s interconnected nature as well as overpopulation, resource depletion, and environment degradation that comes with civilization.

The advantage of one individual becomes a victory over another, and the majority who are not victorious must shift as they can. – Ruth Benedict

  • An emphasis on production requires an emphasis on private ownership requires a means to protect this ownership requires, in the end, murder.
  • When a slave rebels without challenging the entire notion of slavery, he merely encounters a new boss. But if all the blood is painfully squeezed away, what emerges is a free man, and not even death can stop those who are free.
  • Like an iceberg, or the entrance to a cave, or like the ocean itself, there is so much more beneath only hinted at by the surface.

The body’s carbon is simply carbon. Hence, ‘at bottom’ the psyche is simply ‘world.’ – Carl Jung

  • For scientists to give up predictability means they have to give up control, which means they have to give up Western culture, which means it’s not going to happen until civilization collapses under the weight of its own ecological excesses.
  • There is a language older by far and deeper than words. It is the language of the earth, and it is the language of our bodies. It is the language of dreams, and of action. It is the language of meaning, and of metaphor.
    • This language of symbol is the umbilical cord that binds us to the beginning, to whatever is the source of who we are, where we come from, and where we return.
    • We suffer from misperceiving the world. We believe ourselves separated from each other and from all other by words and by thoughts. We believe – rationally, we think – that we are separated by rationality, and that to perceive the world “rationally” is to perceive the world as it is. But perceiving the world “as it is” is also to misperceive it entirely, to blind ourselves to an even greater body of truth.

A man may be born, but in order to be born he must first die, and in order to die he must first awake. – George Gurdjieff

  • Everyone understands that for there to be growth, there must always be a dying away.
    • To let part of your life die so another may emerge.

The part of the mind that is dark to us in this culture, that is sleeping in us, that we name ‘unconsciousness,’ is the knowledge that we are inseparable from all other beings in the universe. – Susan Griffin

  • It is no more possible to cheat fate than it is to resolve the nonrational through the purely rational.

The significant problems of the world cannot be solved at the same level of consciousness at which they were created. – Albert Einstein

All the greatest and most important problems of life are fundamentally insoluble…They can never be solved, but only outgrown. This ‘outgrowing’ proved on further investigation to require a new level of consciousness. Some higher or wider interest appeared on the patient’s horizon, and through this broadening of his or her outlook the insoluble problem lost its urgency. It was not solved logically in its own terms but faded when confronted with a new and stronger life urge. – Carl Jung

  • We do not easily give up our acquired ways of being, even when they’re killing us.
    • Only when that mindset had, like a plant in a too-small pot, exhausted its own possibilities did I begin casting about for another way to be; only when I no longer had any real choice, far past the time when what little choice there was – death or change – had become all-too-painfully obvious, did I begin to reject the earlier mindset. This is why I don’t think our culture will stop before the world has been impoverished beyond our most horrifying imaginations.

It seems to me that anything that can be taught to another is relatively inconsequential, and has little or no significant influence on behavior…I have come to feel that the only learning which significantly influences behavior is self-discovered, self-appropriated learning. Such self-discovered learning, truth that has been personally appropriated and assimilated in experience, cannot be directly communicated to another. As soon as the individual tries to communicate such experience directly, often with a quite natural enthusiasm, it becomes teaching, and its results are inconsequential… When I try to teach, as I do sometimes, I am appalled by the results, which seem a little more than consequential, because sometimes the teaching seems to succeed. When this happens I find that the result is damaging. It seems to cause the individual to distrust his [or her] own experience, and to stifle significant learning. Hence I have come to feel that the outcomes of teaching are either unimportant or hurtful. When I look back at the results of my past teaching, the real results seem the same – either damage was done, or nothing significant occurred… As a consequence, I realize that I am only interested in being a learner, preferable learning things that matter, that have some significant influence on my own behavior… I find that one of the best, but most difficult ways for me to learn is to drop my own defensiveness, at least temporarily, and to try to understand the way in which experience seems and feels to the other person. I find that another way of leaning is for me to state my own uncertainties, to try to clarify my puzzlements, and thus get closer to the meaning that my experience actually seems to have…It seems to mean letting my experience carry me on, in a direction which appears to be forward, toward goals that I can but dimly define, as I try to understand at least the current meaning of that experience. – Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person

  • The people in my class, including me, did not need to be controlled, managed, nor even taught. What we needed was to be encouraged, accepted, and loved just for who we are…to be given time in a supportive space to explore who we were and what we wanted, with the assistance of others who had our best interests at heart.
    • All we want, whether we are honeybees, salmon, trash-collecting ants, ponderosa pines, coyotes, human beings, or stars, is to love and be loved, to be accepted, cherished, and celebrated simply for being who we are. Is that so very difficult?

The great way has no gate; there are a thousand paths to it. If you pass through the barrier, you walk the universe alone. – Wu-Men

The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting. – Milan Kundera

  • Isolated from the rest of nature, isolated from each other by walls of fear, isolated from our own bodies, and isolated most of all from our own horrifying experience, is it any wonder that we are all crazy?

Atrocities are actions so horrifying they go beyond words. For people who witness or experience atrocities, there is a kind of silencing that comes from not knowing how to put these experience into speech. At the same time, atrocities are the crimes perpetrators most want to hide. This creates a powerful convergence of interest: no one wants to speak about them. No one wants to remember them. Everyone wants to pretend they didn’t happen. – Dr. Judith Herman

  • In order to escape accountability the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting.
    • The more extreme the crimes, the more determined the efforts to deny the crimes happened.
  • Once you’ve forced a person to violate his or her moral codes, to break faith with him or herself – the fact that it’s done under duress does not remove the shame or guilt of the experience – you may never again even need to use threats. At that point the victim’s self-hatred, self-loathing, and shame will be so great that you don’t have to beat her up, because she’s going to do it herself.
    • A man who had knowingly compromised himself did not revolt against his masters, no matter what idea had driven him to collaboration: too many mutual skeletons in the closet.

The universe is composed of subjects to be communed with, not objects to be exploited. Everything has its own voice. Thunder and lightning and stars and planets, flowers, birds, animals, trees – all these have voices, and they constitute a community of existence that is profoundly related. – Thomas Berry

The future of mankind lies waiting for those who will come to understand their lives and take up their responsibility to all living things. – Vine Deloria, Jr.

  • All of us who participate in a system that “makes” money at the expense of our ecological base – upon which not only our economics but our lives depend – are signing our own death warrants. Allowing our crazy system to destroy our land base is not merely unethical and unwise but suicidal.

Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself? – Tao Te Ching

  • Perhaps we will awaken in an exterior landscape that is barren and lonely enough to match the landscape of our hearts and minds.
  • It is not possible to recover from atrocity in isolation. It is, in fact, precisely this isolation that induces the atrocities. If we wish to stop the atrocities, we need merely step away from the isolation. There is a whole world waiting for us, ready to welcome us home. It has missed us sorely as we have missed it. And it is time to return. Godspeed.
  • The name given to the one dramatic moment in an epidemic when everything can change all at once is the Tipping Point.
    • The Tipping Point is the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.
  • Contagiousness is an unexpected property of all kinds of things.
    • Yawning is incredibly contagious.
  • Epidemics are examples of geometric progression.
    • As human beings we have a hard time with this kind of progression, because the end result – the effect – seems far out of proportion to the cause.
  • 80/20 Principle – in any situation roughly 80% if the “work” will be done by 20% of the participants.
  • When people are in a group, responsibility for acting is diffused.
  • The Three Rules of the Tipping Point
    • Law of the Few
    • The Stickiness Factor
    • The Power of Context
  • Six degrees of separation is the result of the psychologist Stanley Milgram’s experiment.
    • A very small number of people are linked to everyone else in a few steps, and the rest of us are linked to the world through those special few.
  • In general, people choose friends of similar age and race. But if the friend lived down the hall, then age and race became a lot less important.
    • Proximity overpowered similarity.
    • We are friends with the people we do things with, as much as we are with the people we resemble.
    • We don’t seek out friends – we associate with people who occupy the same small, physical spaces that we do.
  • Maven – one who accumulates knowledge.
    • A maven’s motivation is not to persuade, it is to educate and to help.
    • Mavens are information brokers, sharing and trading what they know.
  • What make someone eloquent is the subtle, the hidden, and the unspoken.
  • Motor mimicry – we imitate each other’s emotions as a way of expressing support and caring and, even more basically, as a way of communicating with each other.
  • Emotion goes inside-out. Emotional contagion, though, suggests that the opposite is also true.
    • If I can make you smile, I can make you happy.
  • Educational experts describe television as “low involvement”.
  • The average American is now exposed to 254 different commercial message in a day, up nearly 25% since the mid-1970s, according to the New York-based firm Media Dynamics.
  • We don’t have to understand what we are looking at, or absorb what we are seeing, in order to keep watching.
    • We watch when we are stimulated by all the whizzes and bangs of the medium. And we look away, or turn the channel, when we are bored.
  • Perceptual span – human eye is capable of focusing on only a very small area at one time.
  • Broken Windows theory argues that crime is the inevitable result of disorder.
    • Minor, seemingly insignificant quality-of-life, are Tipping Point for violent crime.
  • There are specific situations so powerful that they can overwhelm our inherent predispositions.
    • A trait like honesty is considerably influenced by the situation.
    • The convictions of your heart and the actual contents of your thoughts are less important, in the end, in guiding your actions than the immediate context of your behavior.
    • All of results strongly suggest that our environment plays as big – if not bigger – a role as heredity in shaping personality and intelligence.
    • We are actually powerfully influenced by our surroundings, our immediate context, and the personalities of those around us.
  • Fundamental Attribution Error – when it comes to interpreting other people’s behavior, human beings invariably make the mistake of overestimating the importance of fundamental character traits and underestimating the importance of the situation and context.
    • There is something in all of us that makes us instinctively want to explain the world around us in terms of people’s essential attributes.
    • We do this because we are a lot more attuned to personal cues than contextual cues.
  • The reason that most of us seem to have a consistent character is that most of us are really good at controlling our environment.
  • Judith Harris has convincingly argued that peer influence and community influence are more important than family influence in determining how children turn out.
  • Once we are part of a group, we are all susceptible to peer pressure and social norms.
    • Peer pressure is much more powerful than a concept of a boss – people want to live up to what is expected of them.
  • If you want to bring about a fundamental change in people’s belief and behavior, a change that would persist and serve as an example to others, you need to create a community around them, where those new beliefs could be practiced and expressed and nurtured.
  • Small, close-knit groups have the power to magnify the epidemic potential of a message or idea.
  • Man evolved to feel strongly about few people, short distances, and relatively brief intervals of time; and these are still the dimensions of life that are important to him. – S.L. Washburn, Evolutionary Biologist
  • Brains evolve, they get bigger, in order to handle the complexities of larger social groups.
  • Even a relatively small increase in the size of a group creates a significant additional social and intellectual burden.
  • The Magic of 150– the figure 150 seems to represent the maximum number of individuals with whom we can have a genuinely social relationship, the kind of relationship that goes with knowing who they are and how they relate to us.
    • At this size, orders can be implemented and unruly behavior controlled on the basis of personal loyalties and direct man-to-man contacts.
    • What happens when you get big is that the group starts, just on its own, to form a sort of clan.
    • Examples: Gore AssociatesHutterite
  • Wegner argues that when people know each other well, they create an implicit joint memory system – a transactive memory system – which is based on an understanding about who is best suited to remember what kinds of things.
    • Relationship development is often understood as a process of mutual self-disclosure.
  • In order to create one contagious movement, you often have to create many small movements first.
  • What Mavens and Connectors and Salesmen do to an idea in order to make it contagious is to alter it in such a way that extraneous detail are dropped and others are exaggerated so that the message itself comes to acquire a deeper meaning.
  • Contagiousness is in larger part a function of the messenger. Stickiness is primarily a property of the message.
  • What must underlie successful epidemics, in the end, is a bedrock belief that change is possible, that people can radically transform their behavior or belief in the face of right kind of impetus.
  • When people are overwhelmed with information and develop immunity to traditional forms of communication, they turn instead for advice and information to the people in their lives whom they respect, admire, and trust.
  • Connectors are the sorts of people who don’t need to be found. They make it their business to find you. But Mavens need to be found through Maven traps.