Mark Twain

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."

- Mark Twain

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Rules For Living

The Dalai Lama's 18 Rules For Living - YouTube: ""

on Oct 17, 2010

At the start of the new millennium the Dalai Lama issued eighteen rules for living.

1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
2. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
3. Follow the three Rs: 1. Respect for self 2. Respect for others 3. Responsibility for all your actions.
4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
6. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
7. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
8. Spend some time alone every day.
9. Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.
10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
11. Live a good, honourable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a second time.
12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don't bring up the past.
14. Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality.
15. Be gentle with the earth.
16. Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.
17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.


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Aristotle and Practical Wisdom

Nicomachean Ethics (c. 325 BC)

If there is some end of the things we do, which we desire for its own sake, clearly this must be the good. Will not knowledge of it, then, have a great influence on life? Shall we not, like archers who have a mark to aim at, be more likely to hit upon what we should?
If so, we must try, in outline at least, to determine what it is. (I.1094a18)

It is the mark of an educated man to look for precision in each class of things just so far as the nature of the subject admits; it is evidently equally foolish to accept probable reasoning from a mathematician and to demand from a rhetorician scientific proofs. (I.1094b24)

The life of money-making is one undertaken under compulsion, and wealth is evidently not the good we are seeking; for it is merely useful and for the sake of something else. (I.1096a5)
Piety requires us to honor truth above our friends. (I.1096a16)

For just as for a flute-player, a sculptor, or an artist, and, in general, for all things that have a function or activity, the good and the well is thought to reside in the function, so would it seem to be for man, if he has a function. (I.1097b25)

If ... we state the function of man to be a certain kind of life, and this to be an activity or actions of the soul implying a rational principle, and the function of a good man to be the good and noble performance of these, and if any action is well performed when it is performed in accordance with the appropriate excellence ... human good turns out to be activity of the soul in accordance with virtue, and if there are more than one virtue, in accordance with the best and most complete. (I.1098a13)

One swallow does not make a summer, nor does one day; and so too one day, or a short time, does not make a man blessed and happy. (I.1098a18)

For some identify happiness with virtue, some with practical wisdom, others with a kind of philosophic wisdom, others with these, or one of these, accompanied by pleasure or not without pleasure; while others include also external prosperity. Now ... it is not probable that these should be entirely mistaken, but rather that they should be right in at least some one respect or even in most respects. (I.1098b23)

For pleasure is a state of soul, and to each man that which he is said to be a lover of is pleasant.... Now for most men their pleasures are in conflict with one another because these are not by nature pleasant, but the lovers of what is noble find pleasant the things that are by nature pleasant; and virtuous actions are such... Happiness then is the best, noblest, and most pleasant thing in the world, and these attributes are not severed as in the inscription at Delos: Most noble is that which is justest, and best is health; but pleasantest is it to win what we love. (I.1099a6)

Everything that depends on the action of nature is by nature as good as it can be, and similarly everything that depends on art or any rational cause, and especially if it depends on the best of all causes. To entrust to chance what is greatest and most noble would be a very defective arrangement. (I.1099b22)

Quoted in Oxford Dictionary of Scientific Quotations (2005), 21:8.
The truly good and wise man will bear all kinds of fortune in a seemly way, and will always act in the noblest manner that the circumstances allow. (I.1101a)

May not we then confidently pronounce that man happy who realizes complete goodness in action, and is adequately furnished with external goods? Or should we add, that he must also be destined to go on living not for any casual period but throughout a complete lifetime in the same manner, and to die accordingly, because the future is hidden from us, and we conceive happiness as an end, something utterly and absolutely final and complete? If this is so, we shall pronounce those of the living who possess and are destined to go on possessing the good things we have specified to be supremely blessed, though on the human scale of bliss. (I.1101a10)

For the things we have to learn before we can do, we learn by doing. (II.1103a33)
Oxford Dictionary of Scientific Quotations (2005), 21:9.

For legislators make the citizens good by forming habits in them, and this is the wish of every legislator, and those who do not effect it miss their mark, and it is in this that a good constitution differs from a bad one. (II.1103b4)

It is well said, then, that it is by doing just acts that the just man is produced, and by doing temperate acts the temperate man; without doing these no one would have even a prospect of becoming good. But most people do not do these, but take refuge in theory and think they are being philosophers and will become good in this way, behaving somewhat like patients who listen attentively to their doctors, but do none of the things they are ordered to do. (II.1105b9)

Again, it is possible to fail in many ways (for evil belongs to the class of the unlimited ... and good to that of the limited), while to succeed is possible only in one way (for which reason also one is easy and the other difficult—to miss the mark easy, to hit it difficult); for these reasons also, then, excess and defect are characteristic of vice, and the mean of virtue; For men are good in but one way, but bad in many. (II.1106b28)

The vices respectively fall short of or exceed what is right in both passions and actions, while virtue both finds and chooses that which is intermediate. (II.1107a4)

Variant: Some vices miss what is right because they are deficient, others because they are excessive, in feelings or in actions, while virtue finds and chooses the mean.

In cases of this sort, let us say adultery, rightness and wrongness do not depend on committing it with the right woman at the right time and in the right manner, but the mere fact of committing such action at all is to do wrong. (II.1107a15)

Any one can get angry — that is easy — or give or spend money; but to do this to the right person, to the right extent, at the right time, with the right motive, and in the right way, that is not for every one, nor is it easy. (II.1109a27)

We must as second best, as people say, take the least of the evils. (II.1109a34)

Without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods. (VIII.1155a5)

When people are friends, they have no need of justice, but when they are just, they need friendship in addition. (VIII.1155a26)

After these matters we ought perhaps next to discuss pleasure. For it is thought to be most intimately connected with our human nature, which is the reason why in educating the young we steer them by the rudders of pleasure and pain; it is thought, too, that to enjoy the things we ought and to hate the things we ought has the greatest bearing on virtue of character. For these things extend right through life, with a weight and power of their own in respect both to virtue and to the happy life, since men choose what is pleasant and avoid what is painful; and such things, it will be thought, we should least of all omit to discuss, especially since they admit of much dispute. (X.1172a17)

And happiness is thought to depend on leisure; for we are busy that we may have leisure, and make war that we may live in peace. (X.1177b4)

Now the activity of the practical virtues is exhibited in political or military affairs, but the actions concerned with these seem to be unleisurely. Warlike actions are completely so (for no one chooses to be at war, or provokes war, for the sake of being at war; any one would seem absolutely murderous if he were to make enemies of his friends in order to bring about battle and slaughter); but the action of the statesman is also unleisurely, and-apart from the political action itself-aims at despotic power and honours, or at all events happiness, for him and his fellow citizens-a happiness different from political action, and evidently sought as being different. So if among virtuous actions political and military actions are distinguished by nobility and greatness, and these are unleisurely and aim at an end and are not desirable for their own sake, but the activity of reason, which is contemplative, seems both to be superior in serious worth and to aim at no end beyond itself, and to have its pleasure proper to itself (and this augments the activity), and the self-sufficiency, leisureliness, unweariedness (so far as this is possible for man), and all the other attributes ascribed to the supremely happy man are evidently those connected with this activity, it follows that this will be the complete happiness of man, if it be allowed a complete term of life. (X.1177b6)

Life in the true sense is perceiving or thinking.

To be conscious that we are perceiving or thinking is to be conscious of our own existence.

With regard to excellence, it is not enough to know, but we must try to have and use it.

Young people are in a condition like permanent intoxication, because youth is sweet and they are growing.


A tragedy, then, is the imitation of an action ... with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish its catharsis of such emotions. (1449b24)

A whole is that which has beginning, middle, and end. (1450b26)

Poetry is finer and more philosophical than history; for poetry expresses the universal, and history only the particular. (1451b6)

Poetry demands a man with a special gift for it, or else one with a touch of madness in him. (1455a33)

But the greatest thing by far is to have a command of metaphor. This alone cannot be imparted by another; it is the mark of genius, for to make good metaphors implies an eye for resemblances. (1459a4)

Homer has taught all other poets the art of telling lies skillfully. (1460a19)

Variant: It is Homer who has chiefly taught other poets the art of telling lies skillfully.
For the purposes of poetry a convincing impossibility is preferable to an unconvincing possibility. (1461b11)


Aristotle (384 BC – 7 March 322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and a scientist.

All human actions have one or more of these seven causes:
  1. - chance
  2. - nature
  3. - compulsion
  4. - habit
  5. - reason
  6. - passion
  7. - desire


"For well-being and health, again, the homestead should be airy in summer, and sunny in winter. A homestead possessing these qualities would be longer than it is deep; and its main front would face the south".
Economics (Oeconomica) 1345a.20, Greek Texts and Translations, Perseus under PhiloLogic.

He who has overcome his fears will truly be free.
Variant: I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who overcomes his enemies.
Quoted in Florilegium by Joannes Stobaeus

In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.
Parts of Animals I.645a16

We should venture on the study of every kind of animal without distaste; for each and all will reveal to us something natural and something beautiful.
Parts of Animals I.645a21

Nature flies from the infinite, for the infinite is unending or imperfect, and Nature ever seeks amend.
Generation of Animals I.715b15

Concerning the generation of animals akin to them, as hornets and wasps, the facts in all cases are similar to a certain extent, but are devoid of the extraordinary features which characterize bees; this we should expect, for they have nothing divine about them as the bees have.
Generation of Animals III.761a2

Just as it sometimes happens that deformed offspring are produced by deformed parents, and sometimes not, so the offspring produced by a female are sometimes female, sometimes not, but male, because the female is as it were a deformed male.
Generation of Animals as translated by Arthur Leslie Peck (1943), p. 175

Misfortune shows those who are not really friends.
- Eudemian Ethics VII.1238a20

Time crumbles things; everything grows old under the power of Time and is forgotten through the lapse of Time.
- Physics


All men by nature desire to know. An indication of this is the delight we take in our senses; for even apart from their usefulness they are loved for themselves; and above all others the sense of sight. For not only with a view to action, but even when we are not going to do anything, we prefer sight to almost everything else. The reason is that this, most of all the senses, makes us know and brings to light many differences between things. (I.980a21)

Variant: All men by nature desire knowledge...
The first sentence is in the Oxford Dictionary of Scientific Quotations (2005), 21:10.

If, then, God is always in that good state in which we sometimes are, this compels our wonder; and if in a better this compels it yet more. And God is in a better state. And life also belongs to God; for the actuality of thought is life, and God is that actuality; and God's self-dependent actuality is life most good and eternal. (XII.1072b24)

Those who assert that the mathematical sciences say nothing of the beautiful or the good are in error. For these sciences say and prove a great deal about them; if they do not expressly mention them, but prove attributes which are their results or definitions, it is not true that they tell us nothing about them. The chief forms of beauty are order and symmetry and definiteness, which the mathematical sciences demonstrate in a special degree. (XIII.1078a33)

The single harmony produced by all the heavenly bodies singing and dancing together springs from one source and ends by achieving one purpose, and has rightly bestowed the name not of "disordered" but of "ordered universe" upon the whole. (399 a DE MUNDO)

Lives of Eminent Philosophers

Assertions attributed to Aristotle in Lives of Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laƫrtius

Education is the best provision for old age.

Hope is a waking dream.

I have gained this by philosophy: that I do without being commanded what others do only from fear of the law.

Liars when they speak the truth are not believed.

To the query, "What is a friend?" his reply was "A single soul dwelling in two bodies."

Variants: Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.
A true friend is one soul in two bodies.

Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.

What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.

To the query, in the same text, "what is love?" he replied "What is life without love? Love is like the sun; without light, there's no life"

Often repeated:

We are what we repeatedly do, excellence is therefore, not an act, but a habit.


We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

Variant: We are what we repeatedly do, therefore excellence is not an act, but a habit.

Source: Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World's Greatest Philosophers (1926) [Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books, 1991, ISBN 0-671-73916-6] Ch. II:

Aristotle and Greek Science; part VII: Ethics and the Nature of Happiness:

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation: we do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have these because we have acted rightly; 'these virtues are formed in man by his doing the actions'; we are what we repeatedly do.

Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit: 'the good of man is a working of the soul in the way of excellence in a complete life... for as it is not one swallow or one fine day that makes a spring, so it is not one day or a short time that makes a man blessed and happy'" (p. 76).

The quoted phrases within the quotation are from the Nicomachean Ethics, Book II, 4; Book I, 7.

The misattribution is from taking Durant's summation of Aristotle's ideas as being the words of Aristotle himself.

"We live in deeds, not years: In thoughts not breaths; In feelings, not in figures on a dial. We should count time by heart throbs. He most lives Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best."

This is actually from the poem "We live in deeds..." by Philip James Bailey. This explains the strange pattern of capitalization.

The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.

This first appears in 1974 in an explanation of Aristotle's politics in Time magazine, before being condensed to an epigram as "Aristotle's Axiom" in Peter's People (1979) by Laurence J. Peter.

Boxing is not a Sport or a GAME. BOXING IS A CONTEST.

ON BOXING. By Joyce Carol Oates.
By Christopher Lehmann-Haupt
Published: March 2, 1987

ON BOXING. By Joyce Carol Oates. With Photographs by John Ranard. 118 pages. Dolphin/Doubleday. $14.95.

IF it betrays a bias on my part to be surprised at the combination of Joyce Carol Oates and the subject of boxing, I can only plead what she herself writes in this penetrating book on the subject: ''Boxing is a purely masculine activity and it inhabits a purely masculine world. . . . Boxing is for men, and is about men, and is men. A celebration of the lost religion of masculinity all the more trenchant for its being lost.'' And: ''Men fighting men to determine worth (i.e., masculinity) excludes women as completely as the female experience of childbirth excludes men. And is there, perhaps, some connection?''

Yet to judge from the few autobiographical remarks she lets drop in her remarkable book, Ms. Oates has been a fan of boxing most of her life. Her father took her to a Golden Gloves tournament in Buffalo in the early 1950's, and it's evident she watched the Friday night matches that were televised in the early 1960's.

Certainly she's at home with the subject. Though she refers to ''On Boxing'' as ''mosaic-like,'' it resembles more a spiral, touching history, lore and anecdote as it circles in on the essential, and disquieting, issues that lie at the heart of boxing. She reminds us that in the bare-knuckle era that preceded the development of gloves, it was the fighters' hands that kept breaking, not their heads.

She makes the cogent point that what with the greater authority that the referee has assumed recently, ''the bloody 'great' fights of boxing's history'' - Jack Dempsey's triumph over Jess Willard in 1919, for instance, or Sugar Ray Robinson's sixth and final fight with Jake LaMotta in 1951 - would be ''inconceivable'' today.

She is eloquent in her judgments: ''Has there ever been a fighter quite like the young Dempsey? - the very embodiment, it seems, of hunger, rage, the will to do hurt; the spirit of the Western frontier come East to win his fortune.'' Or: ''Sonny Liston occupies a position sui generis for the very truculence of his boxing persona - the air of unsmiling menace he presented to the Negro no less than the white world.'' Or: It was Muhammad Ali's style ''when confronted with a 'deadly' puncher like Sonny Liston to simply out-think and -maneuver him: never before, and never since, has a heavyweight performed in the ring with such style -an inimitable combination of intelligence, wit, grace, irreverence, cunning.''

But this is a good deal more than a book that establishes its author's credentials to ''talk boxing.'' Though no defense of prizefighting, it speaks eloquently and profoundly about the fascination of watching two human beings hit each other in the ring. ''How can you enjoy so brutal a sport, people sometimes ask me,'' she writes. ''And it's too complex to answer. In any case I don't 'enjoy' boxing in the usual sense of the word, and never have; boxing isn't invariably 'brutal'; and I don't think of it as a 'sport.' ''

''There is nothing fundamentally playful about it; nothing that seems to belong to daylight, to pleasure,'' she continues later in the book. ''At its moments of greatest intensity it seems to contain so complete and so powerful an image of life - life's beauty, vulnerability, despair, incalculable and often self-destructive courage - that boxing is life, and hardly a mere game. During a superior boxing match (Ali-Frazier I, for instance) we are deeply moved by the body's communion with itself by way of another's intransigent flesh. The body's dialogue with its shadow-self - or Death. Baseball, football, basketball - these quintessentially American pastimes are recognizably sports because they involve play: they are games. One plays football, one doesn't play boxing.''

Unsurprisingly enough, the one activity she compares with boxing is the craft of writing, at least so far as the fighter's training is involved, or the ''fanatic subordination of the self in terms of a wished-for destiny.'' She writes: ''One might compare the time-bound public spectacle of the boxing match (which could be as brief as an ignominious forty-five seconds - the record for a title fight!) with the publication of a writer's book. That which is 'public' is but the final stage in a protracted, arduous, grueling, and frequently despairing period of preparation.''

''Indeed,'' she continues, ''one of the reasons for the habitual attraction of serious writers to boxing . . . is the sport's systematic cultivation of pain in the interests of a project, a life-goal: the willed transposing of the sensation we know as pain (physical, psychological, emotional) into its polar opposite. If this is masochism - and I doubt that it is, or that it is simply - it is also intelligence, cunning, strategy. It is an act of consummate self-determination - the constant re-establishment of the parameters of one's being.''

Yet lest she be accused of romanticizing the fight game, it should quickly be added that she also compares it to pornography - the willful ''violation of a taboo'' - although ''boxing, unlike pornography, is not theatrical. . . . it is altogether real: the blood shed, the damage suffered, the pain (usually suppressed or sublimated) are unfeigned.''

There is nothing about ''On Boxing'' that attempts to redeem its subject. Its most eloquent passages are damning in one way or another. ''Yet,'' as Ms. Oates concludes, ''we don't give up on boxing, it isn't that easy. Perhaps it's like tasting blood. Or, more discreetly put, love commingled with hate is more powerful than love. Or hate.''

''Boxing has become America's tragic theater.''

'via Blog this'


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Phil Ochs: What are you fighting for? - YouTube

Phil Ochs: What are you fighting for? - YouTube: ""

'via Blog this'

Look To This Day

And I won't be laughing at the lies when I'm gone
And I can't question how or when or why when I'm gone
Can't live proud enough to die when I'm gone
So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here.

--Phil Ochs

*source: ( )

Look to this day:

For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence.

The bliss of growth,
The glory of action,
The splendour of achievement
Are but experiences of time.

For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision;
And today well-lived, makes
Yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well therefore to this day;
Such is the salutation to the ever-new dawn!

View: Kalidasa Poems

An Indian poet and dramatist, Kalidasa lived sometime between the reign of Agnimitra, the second Shunga king (c. 170 BC) who was the hero of one of his dramas, and the Aihole inscription of AD 634 which praises Kalidasa's poetic skills. Most scholars now associate him with the reign of Candra Gupta II (reigned c. 380-c. 415).

Little is known about Kalidasa's life. According to legend, the poet was known for his beauty which brought him to the attention of a princess who married him. However, as legend has it, Kalidasa had grown up without much education, and the princess was ashamed of his ignorance and coarseness. A devoted worshipper of the goddess Kali (his name means literally Kali's slave), Kalidasa is said to have called upon his goddess for help and was rewarded with a sudden and extraordinary gift of wit. He is then said to have become the most brilliant of the "nine gems" at the court of the fabulous king Vikramaditya of Ujjain. Legend also has it that he was murdered by a courtesan in Sri Lanka during the reign of Kumaradasa.

Kalidasa's second play, generally considered his masterpiece, is the Shakuntala which tells the story of another king, Dushyanta, who falls in love with another girl of lowly birth, the lovely Shakuntala. This time, the couple is happily married and things seem to be going smoothly until Fate intervenes. When the king is called back to court by some pressing business, his new bride unintentionally offends a saint who puts a curse on her, erasing the young girl entirely from the king's memory. Softening, however, the saint concedes that the king's memory will return when Shakuntala returns to him the ring he gave her. This seems easy enough--that is, until the girl loses the ring while bathing. And to make matters worse, she soon discovers that she is pregnant with the king's child. But true love is destined to win the day, and when a fisherman finds the ring, the king's memory returns and all is well. Shakuntala is remarkable not only for it's beautiful love poetry, but also for its abundant humor which marks the play from beginning to end.

The last of Kalidasa's surviving plays, Vikramorvashe or Urvashi Conquered by Valor, is more mystical than the earlier plays. This time, the king (Pururavas) falls in love with a celestial nymph named Urvashi. After writing her mortal suitor a love letter on a birch leaf, Urvashi returns to the heavens to perform in a celestial play. However, she is so smitten that she misses her cue and pronounces her lover's name during the performance. As a punishment for ruining the play, Urvashi is banished from heaven, but cursed to return the moment her human lover lays eyes on the child that she will bear him. After a series of mishaps, including Urvashi's temporary transformation into a vine, the curse is eventually lifted, and the lovers are allowed to remain together on Earth. Vikramorvashe is filled poetic beauty and a fanciful humor that is reminiscent of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

In addition to his plays, Kalidasa wrote two surviving epic poems Raghuvamsha ("Dynasty of Raghu") and Kumarasambhava ("Birth of the War God"), as well as the lyric "Meghaduta" ("Cloud Messenger"). He is generally considered to be the greatest Indian writer of any epoch.


THE autumn comes, a maiden fair
In slenderness and grace,
With nodding rice-stems in her hair
And lilies in her face.
In flowers of grasses she is clad;
And as she moves along,
Birds greet her with their cooing glad
Like bracelets' tinkling song.
A diadem adorns the night
Of multitudinous stars;
Her silken robe is white moonlight,
Set free from cloudy bars;
And on her face (the radiant moon)
Bewitching smiles are shown:
She seems a slender maid, who soon
Will be a woman grown.
Over the rice-fields, laden plants
Are shivering to the breeze;
While in his brisk caresses dance
The blossomed-burdened trees;
He ruffles every lily-pond
Where blossoms kiss and part,
And stirs with lover's fancies fond
The young man's eager heart.

This English translation of "Autumn" was composed by Arthur W. Ryder (1877-1938)