Psychic Entropy and Fault Finding

Psychic Entropy

Playing games just to pass time may just make you feel worse in the long run. Killing time is one of the worst things you can do when you are looking to be happy, at least according to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, in his book Living Well, on this thing called Psychic Entropy:

[E]vidence shows that whereas people feel best when what they do is voluntary, they do not feel worst when what they do is obligatory. Psychic entropy is highest instead when person feel that what they do is motivated by not having anything else to do.

Fault Finding

Below is another quote, this time from the book Changing Destiny, which I have quoted before in Trying to Do What’s Good. I wonder if western thinking could ever come up with something like the following:

We need to find faults daily and to correct them immediately. If we are unable to detect our faults then we will think that everything we do is right. When we are unable to correct our faults, improvement will be impossible.

Empty. Empty. Empty.

I hurried out of my house, all the while thinking about how late I was. “It was the rain,” I would explain, and everything would be alright.

But I knew they wouldn’t buy my story — it stopped raining three hours ago! “What will I say?” I asked myself, again. “I had important matters.” Yes, that’s it. I had important matters. So important I had lost all sense of time. But better late than never, as they say, so I am late.

Yes, that’s it.

I reached the bus-stop. I don’t know why, but this feeling of nothingness suddenly enveloped me.

Allow me to explain: I was thinking about what to say about my being late. A few moments before I reached, my conclusion was reached — I knew what I was going to say, and at that point in time, I felt relieved.

But the second I exited the stage of relief… I felt this emptiness. This nothingness. An existential moment, if you may.

My thoughts concluded, I arrived with an empty mind.

I looked around me: I saw three indian men, a young woman, school girls, and a couple of teenage boys trying to get their attention.

Yes, I saw them. But what about? They meant nothing to me. I was perceiving everything, I sensed everything. I could hear, feel, see, smell — my senses were fine, but my thoughts refused to process the senses — I felt like an animal, with no self-awareness whatsoever.

My mind was empty.

I tried to think, but thoughts whizzed past me like lightning on steroids: quickly, with as much substance as a ghost, and gone before I could even comprehend what it was.

Then the bus came. Thankfully, so did my thoughts… life resumed.

I think I had died for a minute and a half.

Trying to Do What’s Good

I had an exhausting week, and was looking forward to the weekend. The last thing I needed were surprises that would keep me in camp any longer. So when the fact that someone had to be chosen to stay back in camp to help out in the live firing exercise (on Saturday) suddenly surfaced, I felt a sense morbid apprehension.

We were made to draw lots, the four of us, to decide who would be the one to go. A quick and simple affair, it was over within a minute; I wasn’t chosen.

I was ecstatic within, but showed nothing without, continuing with the stoic expression I had put on before the draw. There’s nothing like celebrating too early and having the thing blow up in your face, and nothing jinxes positive outcomes like celebration.

Besides, the relief I was feeling was laced with guilt; I knew I wasn’t the only one who detested the idea of staying a day longer, and my happiness was at the expense of the suffering of another.

My friend’s having to go for the live firing exercise though not caused directly be me, could have been prevented through my volunteering to go. He had pressing matters to attend to (or at least he claimed he did), while I simply wanted a rest; so, I thought, was I being selfish?

This brought to my mind some an ethical riddle that I’ve long given up trying to solve: how much is one supposed to lower one’s standard of living to improve the standard of living of others? How much does one have to sacrifice in the name of Charity?

If I buy a cup of coffee from Starbucks instead of, say, using that money to give to the poor, does that make me bad?

Po [as a provocation, let’s suppose that] it does…

So I give up my Starbucks, and donate the money I’d have used to buy the coffee. But wait, how about TV I have at home? or my new Asics shoes? I don’t need them. So do I sell those and donate the money from the proceeds? Just how much giving must one give for it to be “enough”?

Changing Destiny

Buddhism

I’m currently reading a Buddhist text called Changing Destiny — A Commentary on Liao-Fan’s Four Lessons by Venerable Master Chin Kung. You can find many versions of this text online, with and without the commentary.

The basic premise is that all our fates are destined, but that our destiny can be changed through the cultivation of “good deeds”. I leave you here with a couple of passages of the text that I found interesting, the text in bold the things I found particularly intriguing:

We need to change from our minds and hearts, to refrain from wrongdoing and to cultivate goodness. The master also said “work to accumulate many hidden merits and virtues.” These are good deeds that others do not know about. If we did something that was good and then made it widely known, so that others praised us, we would lose our merits and virtues as these have now turned into praise. To do what is good but to cancel its benefits at the same time will prevent us from accumulating merits and virtues. It is much better to practice goodness without letting anybody know and even better if some people reproached us, for this will help to reduce our negative karma. It would be best if our negative karma and retributions were reduced and even eradicated, while our merits and virtues remained hidden.

***

If a person thinks it is uncomfortable to have two or three people living together in a room, it then becomes easy for them to think, “I do not want to live with that person.” Then he or she will be unable to achieve the state of Constant Mindfulness of Buddha Amitabha. Why? They have discriminatory and impure minds; the mind that still has dislikes and evades unpleasantness. How can that person achieve anything? Where then and how do we cultivate? We cultivate purity and the non-discriminatory mind in the place we dislike the most.

Read more about the word Po, invented by Edward de Bono[+]

Trying to Do What's Good

I had an exhausting week, and was looking forward to the weekend. The last thing I needed were surprises that would keep me in camp any longer. So when the fact that someone had to be chosen to stay back in camp to help out in the live firing exercise (on Saturday) suddenly surfaced, I felt a sense morbid apprehension.

We were made to draw lots, the four of us, to decide who would be the one to go. A quick and simple affair, it was over within a minute; I wasn’t chosen.

I was ecstatic within, but showed nothing without, continuing with the stoic expression I had put on before the draw. There’s nothing like celebrating too early and having the thing blow up in your face, and nothing jinxes positive outcomes like celebration.

Besides, the relief I was feeling was laced with guilt; I knew I wasn’t the only one who detested the idea of staying a day longer, and my happiness was at the expense of the suffering of another.

My friend’s having to go for the live firing exercise though not caused directly be me, could have been prevented through my volunteering to go. He had pressing matters to attend to (or at least he claimed he did), while I simply wanted a rest; so, I thought, was I being selfish?

This brought to my mind some an ethical riddle that I’ve long given up trying to solve: how much is one supposed to lower one’s standard of living to improve the standard of living of others? How much does one have to sacrifice in the name of Charity?

Cup of coffee

If I buy a cup of coffee from Starbucks instead of, say, using that money to give to the poor, does that make me bad?

Po [as a provocation, let’s suppose that] it does…

So I give up my Starbucks, and donate the money I’d have used to buy the coffee. But wait, how about TV I have at home? or my new Asics shoes? I don’t need them. So do I sell those and donate the money from the proceeds? Just how much giving must one give for it to be “enough”?

Changing Destiny

Buddhism

I’m currently reading a Buddhist text called Changing Destiny — A Commentary on Liao-Fan’s Four Lessons by Venerable Master Chin Kung. You can find many versions of this text online, with and without the commentary.

The basic premise is that all our fates are destined, but that our destiny can be changed through the cultivation of “good deeds”. I leave you here with a couple of passages of the text that I found interesting, the text in bold the things I found particularly intriguing:

We need to change from our minds and hearts, to refrain from wrongdoing and to cultivate goodness. The master also said “work to accumulate many hidden merits and virtues.” These are good deeds that others do not know about. If we did something that was good and then made it widely known, so that others praised us, we would lose our merits and virtues as these have now turned into praise. To do what is good but to cancel its benefits at the same time will prevent us from accumulating merits and virtues. It is much better to practice goodness without letting anybody know and even better if some people reproached us, for this will help to reduce our negative karma. It would be best if our negative karma and retributions were reduced and even eradicated, while our merits and virtues remained hidden.

***

If a person thinks it is uncomfortable to have two or three people living together in a room, it then becomes easy for them to think, “I do not want to live with that person.” Then he or she will be unable to achieve the state of Constant Mindfulness of Buddha Amitabha. Why? They have discriminatory and impure minds; the mind that still has dislikes and evades unpleasantness. How can that person achieve anything? Where then and how do we cultivate? We cultivate purity and the non-discriminatory mind in the place we dislike the most.

Read more about the word Po, invented by Edward de Bono[+]