On the human heart – the fact is that men almost never act in natural conformity to their characters but from a momentary secret passion that has taken refuge in the farthest recesses of his heart (fear / self-interest are the underlying motives of all behavior)
On the political order – do you know what I admire most in the world? It’s the total inability of force to organize anything. There are only two powers in the world – the power of the sword and the spirit…In the long run, the sword is always beaten by the spirit
On the art of ruling – my character possesses all those qualities that are capable of strengthening my power and deceiving those who imagine they know me. A true master of politics is able to calculate, down to the smallest fraction, the advantages to which he may put his very faults
On law and social order – man is entitled by birthright to a share of the earth’s produce sufficient to fill the needs of his existence
Napoleon accepted peace from the outset. Cosmic problems stimulated his fancy without causing him unrest. God, to him, was the solution of a sociopolitical problem, and in religion he saw the mystery of the social order – little time for metaphysics or ideologies, a true man of action
How can there be a state without any religion? Society cannot exist without inequality of fortune, and inequality of fortune cannot exist without religion
In Spinoza, each thought is a step to another thought; in Napoleon, each thought is a step to an action
Luck is the ability to exploit accidents. A series of great actions is never the result of chance and luck, always the product of planning and genius
Napoleon had ruthless consistency and the ability of his mind to apply what he’d learned in any problem with almost instantaneous results. My policies are the result of meditation and strength
Work, I was built for work. I have known the limitations of my legs, I have known the limitations of my eyes, I have never known the limitations of my working capacity
Tirelessness, concentration, and speed – these were the characteristics of his mechanism
I know that men have always been the same, that nothing chan change their nature. It is from the past that I will draw my lessons in order to shape the present
Destiny is carried out, fate is suffered
A revolution can neither be made nor stopped
I am a poet in action
What is a theory? Mere nonsense if you want to apply it to human masses
I was sure of being understood by the last drummer boy
Each looks through his own prism, which often misleads him
There is little merit in copying or imitating
Silence often produces the same effect as wisdom
I see further into the future than others
I always lived 2 years ahead of the present
I start out by believing the worst
One must have the will to live and be willing to die
I had few really definite ideas, and the reason for this was that, instead of obstinately seeking to control circumstances, I obeyed them, and they forced me to change my mind all the time. Thus it happened that most of the time, to tell the truth, I had no definite plans but only projects
He who fears to lose his reputation is sure to lose it
History I conquered rather than studied: that is to say, I wanted from it and retained of it only what could add to my ideas, I spurned what was of no use, and I seized upon certain conclusions that pleased me
Frederick was great above all at moments of crisis. This is the highest praise that can be given his character
Liberty is a need felt by a small class of people whom nature has endowed with nobler minds than the mass of men. Consequently, it may be repressed with impunity. Equality, on the other hand, pleases the masses
This is an incredibly deep insight – the French motto of Liberty, Fraternity, Equality was deconstructed by Napoleon – he understood he could do away with liberty and fraternity, but appealed to the masses’ desire for equality
When custom and reason are at odds, custom always wins out
One should never attempt to forbid what one lacks the power to prevent
Avoid everything that might give false ideas of the truth
We are here to guide public opinion, not to discuss it. They must be guided without their noticing
I always went along with the opinion of the masses and with events. I always paid little attention to individual opinions and a great deal to public opinion
What do I care for the opinion of drawing room gossips? I don’t listen to them. For me, only one opinion counts – that of the rich peasants. All the rest is nothing
Absolute power has no need to lie: it is silent. Responsible government, on the other hand, being obliged to speak, dissimulates and lies shamelessly
This famous division of labor, which in our age has brought mechanical pursuits to perfection, is absolutely fatal to the perfection of intellectual production. The quality of a production of the mind is in direct ratio to the universality of its creator
I am sensitive only to the forcefulness of thought
My policies are frank and open, because they are the results of long meditations of strength
True politics is merely the calculus of combinations and of chances
The policies of all the powers are inherent in their geography
Great men are never cruel without necessity
You must know that I am not in the least afraid of committing an act of cowardice if it were useful to me
A true man never hates. A man made for public life and authority never takes account of personalities; he only takes account of things, of their weight and of their consequences
Force is the law of animals; men are ruled by conviction
Men who have changed the world never achieved their success by winning the chief citizens to their side, but always by stirring the masses
Between meditating an action and carrying it out, you must put an interval of 3 years
I know all of Caprara’s defects: I recommend him to you
The great art of governing consists in not letting men grow old in their jobs
The art of choosing men is not nearly so difficult as the art of enabling those one has chosen to attain their full worth
The art consists in making others work rather than in wearing oneself out
War – an immense art which comprises all others
When an enemy army is in flight, you must either build a golden bridge for it or stop it with a wall of steel
As a rule it is easy to find officers, but it is sometimes very hard to find noncomissioned officers
We should do as the Spartan did: the generals ought to mess with the ranks
Napoleon said that war consists of nothing but accidents and that a commander, though he must always adjust himself to general principles, should never overlook anything that might enable him to exploit these accidents. The vulgar would call this luck, but in fact is is the characteristic of genius
My great and most distinctive talent is to see everything in a clear light
I shall be credited with great profundity and subtlety in things which perhaps were simplicity itself
The French people has two equally powerful passions which seem opposed to each other but which in fact derive from the same sentiment – love of equality and love of distinctions. A government cannot satisfy those two needs except by being exceedingly just. In its laws and actions, the government must be the same for all; honors and rewards must be given to those men who, in the eyes of the government, are most worthy of them
My son should read much history and meditate upon it: it is the only true philosophy
Greatness has its beauties, but only in retrospect and in the imagination
I had a taste for founding, not for owning
What I got out of it
His bias for action, ability to simplify things, fickleness were amazing to read about and I found it interesting that he described in himself a lack of ambition, but more being in the right place at the right time and being perfectly suited for what he did. Not ambition, but natural gifts, he couldn’t help but do what he did
Pirsig’s goals with his books was to raise people’s awareness of quality to its central place
I want to emphasize that when that idea came, there was no preparation for it. It arrived out of my own circumstances, rather than out of a deliberate desire on my part to sit down and write. I wasn’t being separate from what I was doing; this was arising out of what I was doing.
Write about what you know. If you do that well enough, it’ll be exotic enough for others
In any creative project, you can’t imagine what the end is going to be, unless it is a very small thing you’re doing
Normally one’s ability to see what is good marches far ahead of one’s ability to produce it
The ultimate goal in the pursuit of excellence is enlightenment. After that there are no goals, for one realizes emotionally as well as intellectually that all experience is of equal quality
Quality = in tune with reality
Quality, selection, creates the world
I used to give students the advice, “First you just ‘see’ what has quality, then you figure out why. Do’t reverse the process, or you will get all confused”…
The difference between a good mechanic and a bad one, like the difference between a good mathematician and a bad one, is precisely this ability to select the good facts from the bad ones on the basis of quality. He has to care! This is an ability about which formal traditional scientific method has nothing to say
Whatever we love has quality, whatever has quality we love. They always go together.
You can ‘practice’ and find quality in all that you do
Quality is at the center of existence, self-evident to all
Dharma = Quality = Duty to self and a duty to quality
Zen meditation is the best route to discovery Quality
What I got out of it
A beautiful, inspiring book. Short snippets on Pirsig’s expanded thoughts on Quality and how his books and philosophy came to be
Definitiveness of purpose – Beware drifting, losing your definiteness of purpose. Keep your highest aspirations always top of mind
Mastery over self
Learning from adversity
Controlling environmental influences
Letting time play its role – What you dwell upon you attract. Let it be your aspirations and not your fears
Harmony – letting definitiveness of purpose pervade everything you do and surrounding yourself with others who share your definiteness or purpose
Caution – think through your plan before you act and be cautious of whom you surround yourself with
What I got out of it
I enjoyed the “conversation” between the author and the “devil”. Interesting to note that the manuscript was written more than 70 years ago but only recently released because of the author’s fear of criticism and retribution.
Yet another belief: Happiness will come if you manage to change the situation you are in and the people around you. Not true. You stupidly squander so much energy trying to rearrange the world. If changing the world is your vocation in life, go right ahead and change it, but do not harbor the illusion that this is going to make you happy. What makes you happy or unhappy is not the world and the people around you, but the thinking in your head.
If people want happiness so badly, why don’t they attempt to understand their false beliefs? First, because it never occurs to them to see them as false or even as beliefs. They see them as facts and reality, so deeply have they been programmed. Second, because they are scared to lose the only world they know: the world of desires, attachments, fears, social pressures, tensions, ambitions, worries, guilt, with flashes of the pleasure and relief and excitement which these things bring.
And when you are depressed and miserable, the cause is there for all to see: Life is not giving you what you have convinced yourself you cannot be happy without. Almost every negative emotion you experience is the direct outcome of an attachment.
In order to be genuinely happy there is one and only one thing you need to do: get deprogrammed, get rid of those attachments.
Now the tragedy of an attachment is that if its object is not attained it causes unhappiness. But if it is attained, it does not cause happiness—it merely causes a flash of pleasure followed by weariness; and it is always accompanied, of course, by the anxiety that you may lose the object of your attachment.
There is only one way to win the battle of attachments: Drop them. Contrary to popular belief, dropping attachments is easy. All you have to do is see, but really see, the following truths. First truth: You are holding on to a false belief, namely, the belief that without this particular person or thing you will not be happy. Take your attachments one at a time and see the falseness of this belief.
Second truth: If you just enjoy things, refusing to let yourself be attached to them, that is, refusing to hold the false belief that you will not be happy without them, you are spared all the struggle and emotional strain of protecting them and guarding them for yourself.
The third and final truth: If you learn to enjoy the scent of a thousand flowers you will not cling to one or suffer when you cannot get it. If you have a thousand favorite dishes, the loss of one will go unnoticed and leave your happiness unimpaired. But it is precisely your attachments that prevent you from developing a wider and more varied taste for things and people.
Who decides what will finally make its way to your conscious mind from all the material that is pouring in from the world? Three decisive filters: first your attachments, second your beliefs and third your fears.
True happiness is uncaused. You are happy for no reason at all. And true happiness cannot be experienced. It is not within the realm of consciousness. It is unself-consciousness.
Change is only brought about by awareness and understanding. Understand your unhappiness and it will disappear—what results is the state of happiness.
How can you achieve this? Through an important realization, namely, that every time you strive to improve on Nature by going against it, you will damage yourself, for Nature is your very being.
with a view to making it learn something. If what you attempt is not to change yourself but to observe yourself, to study every one of your reactions to people and things, without judgment or condemnation or desire to reform yourself, your observation will be nonselective, comprehensive, never fixed on rigid conclusions, always open and fresh from moment to moment. Then you will notice a marvelous thing happening within you: You will be flooded with the light of awareness, you will become transparent and transformed.
The royal road to mysticism and to Reality does not pass through the world of people. It passes through the world of actions that are engaged in for themselves without an eye to success or to gain—or profit actions.
How does one attain this quality of love? Anything you do will only make it forced, cultivated and therefore phony, for love cannot be forced. There is nothing you can do. But there is something you can drop. Observe the marvelous change that comes over you the moment you stop seeing people as good and bad, as saints and sinners and begin to see them as unaware and ignorant. You must drop your false belief that people can sin in awareness. No one can sin in the light of awareness. Sin occurs, not, as we mistakenly think, in malice, but in ignorance.
The cause of my irritation is not in this person but in me.
Apply this now to every image that people have of you and they tell you that you are a genius or wise or good or holy, and you enjoy that compliment and in that minute you lose your freedom; because now you will be constantly striving to retain that opinion.
So the first ingredient of love is to really see the other. The second ingredient is equally important to see yourself, to ruthlessly flash the light of awareness on your motives, your emotions, your needs, your dishonesty, your self-seeking, your tendency to control and manipulate. This means calling things by their name, no matter how painful the discovery and the consequences. If you achieve this kind of awareness of the other and yourself, you will know what love is. For you will have attained a mind and a heart that is alert, vigilant, clear, sensitive, a clarity of perception, a sensitivity that will draw out of you an accurate, appropriate response to every situation at every moment.
It is in that act of seeing that love is born, or rather more accurately, that act of seeing is Love.
It is the desire for “the more” that prevents clear thinking, whereas if we are discontented, not because we want something, but without knowing what we want; if we are dissatisfied with our jobs, with making money, with seeking position and power, with tradition, with what we have and with what we might have; if we are dissatisfied, not with anything in particular but with everything, then I think we shall find that our discontent brings clarity. When we don’t accept or follow, but question, investigate, penetrate, there is an insight out of which comes creativity, joy.
The final disappearance of insecurity feelings will only come when you have attained that blessed ability of the birds of the air and the flowers of the field to live fully in the present, one moment at a time.
Each time you attempt that task you will understand that what clear thinking calls for is not intelligence—that is easily come by—but the courage that has successfully coped with fear and with desire, for the moment you desire something or fear something, your heart will consciously or unconsciously get in the way of your thinking.
Effort does not lead to growth; effort, whatever the form it may take, whether it be willpower or habit or a technique or a spiritual exercise, does not lead to change. At best it leads to repression and a covering over of the root disease. Effort may change the behavior but it does not change the person.
What I got out of it
Surrender your attachment to desires, realize it’s your reaction to things that make you happy or not and you have control over that, be aware and truly see yourself and others (the act of seeing is Love)
Found that algorithms performed most interestingly without an explicit objective function and argues the same holds true for life
Many objectives are admirable, but we should question their dominance in our culture. Sometimes it may be better to surrender.
Interestingly, the most ambitious goals may be best reached without objectives. It’s useful to think of achievement as a process of discovery. Stepping stones are portals to the next level of possibility.
Ambitious goals are deceptive, so the next stepping stone to get to the final end state are unclear. The greatest achievements are less likely when they have objectives, so the optimal path for these great achievements is to have no objective at all as relevant stepping stones aren’t obvious and would be missed if too focused on the objective – the stepping stone doesn’t resemble the final product. In other words, no matter how tempting it is to believe in it, the distant objective cannot guide you to itself – it is the ultimate false compass
Sometimes the best way to achieve something great is to stop trying to achieve a particular great thing. In other words, greatness is possible if you are willing to stop demanding what greatness should be…We’re missing out on a lot by clinging to objectives
The genius of the Wright brothers wasn’t to invent every necessary component from flight from scratch, it was to recognize that we were only a stepping stone away from flight given past innovations. Great invention is defined by the realization that the prerequisites are in place, laid before us by predecessors with entirely unrelated ambitions, just waiting to be combined and enhanced. The flash of insight is seeing the bridge to the next stepping stone by building from the old ones. And the story of those stepping stones is not a story of intentional objective-driven building, one piece at at time towards some distant uber-invention as conceived by an overarching plan. On the contrary, just like in natural evolution and just like in Picbreeder, the stepping stones are laid in their own context for their own independent reasons, not because a visionary foresaw their role in future greatness
Unstructured play is vital for kids and adults – you have the right to pivot and follow your passions. The point is that novelty can often act as a stepping stone detector because anything novel is a potential stepping stone to something even more novel. In other words, novelty is a rough shortcut for identifying interestingness: interesting ideas are those that open up new possibilities. And while it might sound wishy-washy to go looking for “interesting” things, interestingness is a surprisingly deep and important concept
Novelty search accumulates information well, moves naturally from simple to complex
often possible to achieve more by not trying to achieve it
Nothing can reliably reach target objectives. We can find something amazing, we just can’t say what those somethings are. Great discoveries are possible if they’re left undefined…The strange paradox, where trying is a curse and not a blessing, sets the stage for a more realistic understanding of what is achievable and how. It means that ambitious goals can’t be reliably achieved by trying – unless they are one stepping stone away, where they come within reach. Otherwise, the only choice that remains is not trying. And while this treasure-hunting approach will not ensure reaching any particular objective, what it will do is accumulate stepping stones that lead to unfamiliar places. The treasure hunter is an opportunistic explorer – searching for anything and everything of value, without a care for what might be found. To be a treasure hunter, you have to collect as many stepping stones as you can, because you never know which one might lead somewhere valuable
The best way to harness the power of a group of people in the non-objective world isn’t through brainstorming sessions or meetings or big ambitious projects. It’s not about sitting down and coming to a consensus on what to do. That’s not the treasure hunter – consensus is exactly the cultural tendency that we need to scale. We don’t want “Top 40” lists where everyone tries to agree what the best songs are, nor “design by committee” where any interesting vision for a new product is watered down by consensus. No, the way to unleash the treasure hunter is to actually through separating people from each other, like in Picbreeder, where people only interact by taking off from where someone else left off. While many participants in such a treasure-hunting system might arrive with their own personal objectives, the system as a whole ends up lacking a unified objective because people’s objectives differ…With instantaneous global communication, it becomes easier than ever to organize people all over the world to build off each other’s creations
Having no plan might be the best plan – explore widely without objectives
When there is no destination, there can’t be a right path. Instead of judging every activity for its potential to succeed, we should judge our projects for their potential to spawn more projects…So, if you’re wondering how to escape the myth of the objective, just do things because they’re interesting
To achieve our highest goals, we must be willing to abandon them
Search is at its most awesome when it has no unified objective
Perhaps then it would make sense sometimes to reward maximal disagreement instead of agreement. It’s possible that anti-consensus may be more interesting than bland agreement. After all, attracting a unanimous vote in science could be a sign of nothing more than echoing the status quo. If you’re doing whatever is hot and parrot the right buzzwords, you might be able to attract wide support. On the other hand, an interesting idea is likely to split votes. At the border between our present knowledge and the unknown are questions whose answers remain uncertain. That’s why the opinions of experts should diverge in such uncharted territory. It’s in the wild borderland between the known and the unknown that we should want our greatest minds probing, rather than within the comfortable vacation-spot of maximal consensus. Just think, which project is likely more revolutionary, one that receives, excellent, excellent, poor, poor, or the one that receives excellent, excellent, excellent, excellent? Splitting experts may be more of an achievement than unifying them
If you’re looking to invest in visionaries, find those who wander in nearby shadows
The successful inventor asks where we can get from here rather than how ewe can get there
Competition should play a secondary role to creativity
Natural evolution can be seen as novelty-generating search with local competition…A key insight from thinking non-objectively in this chapter is that although evolution can be seen as a competition, out-competing other creatures on the “objective” of surviving and reproducing is less important than escaping from competition to form new niches.
What I got out of it
The idea of being a curious explorer, following and optimizing for novelty and interestingness strikes me deeply. Importantly, this is for ambitious, audacious ideas and not for to-do lists or day to day life. You have to concede control of the final destination. There is risk in this, but the reward is worthwhile
The 3 big distractions from the seat of our soul – the outside world, our thoughts, our emotions.
All external movement is striving to make ourselves feel good inside. Aim to fix the internal rather than try to patch through the external
Come to understand that nothing that happens is personal. You are witness to a tiny fraction of all the things that are happening, yet you think the one thing you’re a part of is happening to you. It isn’t
Don’t surrender life, surrender resistance to life. Resistance or the clinging to positive things brings suffering
Personal preferences get in the way of your ability to objectively view reality. The highest plane is to be able to observe, learn, grow, and accept from all of life’s experiences. Accept whatever reality throws at you
Most people identify most closely with their thoughts, but realize these are padding as well. You can recognize them and then let them go. They need not rule your life
Letting go of yourself rather than serving yourself is the real paradigm shift
Every experience makes you a greater person if you don’t resist it
Accepting an emotion is the midway between suppressing and expressing
If you are wise, you’ll change your reactions to reality rather than fighting reality
What I got out of it
A beautiful book that left me feeling grounded. Nothing new, but many simple, powerful reminders
Anthony discusses various elements of awareness and waking up
You have to be willing to wake up, to challenge every belief
The wise guru never tries to wake anybody up
Clarity of perception leads to accuracy of response
Life is not the problem. You are the problem. Once you can dissociate, peace and happiness is on the other side.
You see things not as they are, but as you are. When you change, everything changes
Understanding your obstacles drops them
When the heart and mind are unobstructed, you become aware and this leads to love
You become happy by moment to moment contact with reality
The ability for self observation is a superpower. To be truly happy. You don’t have to do anything, simply remove. Remove the association with “me” and with the feelings that incurs. The true “I” is the observer, not the me
What I got out of it
A book worth reading and re-reading! The audible version in this case was amazing since it is de Mello himself speaking and you get such a sense for his joy and personality
General Semantics is a system to retrain our nervous system so that we can keep our sanity, also to become sane again – the scientific method for our personal and social lives. Using GS, we’re concerned with understanding how we evaluate, with the non-verbal, inner life of each individual, with how each of us experiences and makes sense of our experiences, including how we use language and how language ‘uses’ us.
Lead a life with minimal expectations, enjoy the process, embody and act things out (can’t just think)
Alfred Korzybski – map not terrain, map no the thing, time binding (ability to build upon previous progress –> culture –> unlimited potential)
Learning = profiting from experience (opposite of insanity)
In today’s world, often can’t rely on common sense – the common sense that worked for our ancestors is very much outdated in certain fields. We behave “all of a piece.” We cannot divorce ourselves from our beliefs. We cannot divorce our actions from our expectations. We cannot divorce our reactions from our environment. Uncommon sense involves recognizing and accepting these connections.
We do best by viewing life and learning as an ongoing process, since we live in a world of change. We do best by holding our conclusions tentatively. As we get comfortable with this notion of “tentative forever”, what Korzybski called the “General Principle of Uncertainty”, we can use Popper’s notion of falsifiability in our everyday problem-solving. Instead of looking for ways to prove our pet theories or beliefs, we can look for evidence that might disprove them. We can look for “black swans”. It is much easier to learn, change, adapt when you are not fighting your own beliefs and expectations
To be is to be related – need contrast (mapping) in order to understand, but have to understand that the map is not the terrain and that the map is reflexive (we have to describe language using language)
Contemplation (silence, non-verbal thinking) is key to work into our day
Structure of language so powerful – where do you find yourself coming up with additional words to describe the context? Inuit have dozens of word for “snow”, for example. Be mindful of the power of labeling…
For you need a sense not only of your internal landscape, but the external landscape in which it works. – Jerome Bruner
What I got out of it
The connection that learning is the opposite of insanity is powerful and I like the “tentative forever” mindset
The problem most of us face isn’t that our goals are too audacious, but that we aren’t using our mind properly. Carnegie classified his approach into three broad principles: Creative Vision, Organized Thought, Controlled Attention
Creative Vision – the ability to spot opportunities and act upon them
Focus your mind intently on one or a few problems and your subconscious mind will reward you with solutions. It also prepares you to recognize the solution once you see it or stumble upon it. Persistence and obsession is vital
Must have a definite purpose, an obsessive mission, plans to follow, make use of the mastermind principle (learning from other greats), using the power of applied faith
The man who helps the greatest number to succeed is himself the greatest success
The road to riches is well known, but long. You cannot get something for nothing
Focus more on the services rendered than the riches you shall receive
The most important skill needed is the ability to negotiate with others with the least amount of friction so as to get the maximum of friendly cooperation. In other words, win/win human relations
Man of vision recognize that sound ideal oh best investments one can make
10 principles of creative vision
Recognizes opportunities favorable to his own advancement.
Moves with definiteness of purpose in embracing opportunities.
Plans every move he makes….
Provides himself with….the knowledge of others.
Removes limitations from his own mind.
Adopts and follows the habit of Going the Extra Mile.
Keeps his mind….attuned to the circumstances and conditions of those around him.
Moves on his own personal initiative, without being urged to do so.
Assumes full responsibility for his own deeds and depends upon the soundness of his own judgement.
Develops and uses….the faculties of imagination.
Those with creative vision make their work look effortless. They achieve what they want with the minimum amount of effort
Organized Thought – self-discipline, perseverance, definitiveness of purpose
You must make your mind and willpower the master over emotions
The mind comes to believe any idea which it is repeatedly presented, whether sound or on sound. Make sure you feed your mind with as accurate and foundational facts as possible. Habit and social heredity and mimicry play an incredibly important role. Be aware of each of their effects on your life and thinking
Remove procrastination, stimulate the subconscious mind, become self-reliant, learn from others
Controlled Attention – With Creative Vision and Organized Thought, you’re able to pinpoint your attention fiercely onto any goal you set
Controlled attention magnetized the brain with the nature of one’s dominating thoughts, aims, and purposes, thus causing one to be always in search of every necessary thing that is related to one’s dominating thoughts.
What I got out of it
“New Age” thinking but from 1908. Interesting to see how Carnegie outlines why and how he succeeded – setting ambitious goals (creative vision), setting a definiteness of purpose (organized thought), and then having the perseverance and focus to follow through (controlled attention).