Leo Babauta – USA

A simplicity manifesto in the Age of Distraction
Part five

Limiting the stream

Henry David Thoreau

Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.”
Henry David Thoreau

The stream of news, information, and messages we get these days is enough to drown us. It’s staggering in its volume.

Read more: Focus

Earth Expected To Be Habitable For Another 1.75 Billion Years

earth habitable

Habitable conditions on Earth will be possible for at least another 1.75 billion years - according to astrobiologists at the University of East Anglia.

Read more: Earth Expected To Be Habitable For Another 1.75 Billion Years

Notes on the Number Seven

The number seven is regarded as special all over the world. Sevens are all around us: days of the week, colors in the spectrum, notes of the scale, and planets in Ptolemaic astronomy. Our lives are sectioned by sevens: seven is the age of reason, at fourteen we reach puberty, at twenty-one we come of age, and later there is a seven-year itch. There are seven directions (up, down, front, back, right, left, and here).

The Japanese have seven Gods of Luck. The Zoroastrians have seven Ameshaspentas, who are like the Judeo-Christian seven Spirits before the Throne. There are seven liberal arts, and seven virtues. The Big Dipper has seven stars, and so does the Pleiades.

Read more: Notes on the Number Seven

Karma and Calder

Distributive Karma and Alexander Calder

In The Key to Theosophy, H. P. Blavatsky talks about something she calls “distributive karma.” Most of us have a fairly simple and straightforward view of Karma — what we might call the Santa Claus view. We think of karma as something like St. Nick, a force or power that knows whether we have been naughty or nice, and punishes or rewards us accordingly. But karma is a good deal more complex than that. Part of its complexity lies in the way we influence one another karmic ally.

Because all living beings are interconnected, we all influence one another by our actions, that is, by our karma. That term is from a Sanskrit word, karman, meaning “action, effect.”  There are, however, no karmic hermits. We do not live in isolation from one another, but rather in a vast network of mutual effects. Whatever one person does affects all other beings, and the way we are linked together through our actions and their results is what HPB called “distributive karma.” It can be illustrated by an analogy.

Alexander Calder

The artist Alexander Calder (an American sculptor, 1898-1976) created sculptures of a kind called “mobiles.” They consist of metal plates of various shapes suspended by chains from rods that are connected with one another. The construction is very carefully balanced, so if any part of the structure is pushed or even moved by a breeze, the resulting motion is transmitted to the whole construction. Its parts swing and rotate, moving up and down until the energy of the initial push is exhausted and the mobile returns to a balanced position of equilibrium. That position will, however, be different from the one the parts had before the motion began.

Read more: Karma and Calder


Leo Babauta – USA
A simplicity manifesto in the Age of Distraction
Part four

Focus rituals

“My only ritual is to just sit down and write, write every day.”
Augusten Burroughs

Focus and creating are about more than just disconnecting. You can be connected and focus too, if you get into the habit of blocking out everything else and bringing your focus back to what’s important.

One of the best ways of doing that is with what I like to call “Focus Rituals”.

Read more: Focus

Christians Tweet More Happily, Less Analytically Than Atheists

A computer analysis of nearly 2 million text messages (tweets) on the online social network Twitter found that Christians use more positive words, fewer negative words and engage in less analytical thinking than atheists. Christians also were more likely than atheists to tweet about their social relationships, the researchers found.

The findings are reported in the journal Social Psychological & Personality Science.

"Whether religious people experience more or less happiness is an important question in itself," the authors of the new analysis wrote. "But to truly understand how religion and happiness are related we must also understand why the two may be related."

To identify Christian and atheist Twitter users, the researchers studied the tweets of more than 16,000 followers of a few prominent Christian and atheist personalities on Twitter. They analyzed the tweets for their emotional content (the use of more positive or negative words), the frequency of words (such as "friend" and "brother") that are related to social processes, and the frequency of their use of words (such as "because" and "think") that are associated with an analytical thinking style.

Read more: Christians Tweet More Happily, Less Analytically Than Atheists


David Bruce – USA

[As a young child, David Bruce learned about Theosophy from his mother, Vera Bruce. In 2003 he joined the staff of the Theosophical Society in America where he worked as the director of education until 2010, at which time he assumed the responsibilities of national secretary, a position he holds to this day.]

Aristotle, Facebook, and Friendship

I’ll begin with a question: “Who doesn’t need friends?” To pose that question is to beg the obvious, because the need for friendship is so deeply ingrained in human nature. The young need friends . . . and so do the elderly. The poor need friends . . . as do the prosperous. Ordinary people need friends . . . and so do celebrities. People in positions of power need friends . . . as do the rest of us. So, to rephrase the original question: Who needs friends? The answer, of course, is everybody.

It may be said that a life of wealth without friends would be a sad and lonely existence; but a life filled with the laughter and love of dear friends would be a life that is rich indeed. Throughout the ages, this has been one of those enduring truths of human existence. But what exactly is friendship? And who can define it? Ask ten people and you will likely get ten definitions, similar perhaps, but not identical. Even Plato, in his dialogue on friendship, Lysis, does not provide us with a conclusive definition.

Read more: Friendship

Reflections on the meaning of life

With Professor P. Krishna from India


•    Generally the big questions about life arise out of grief, illness, death and seldom during happy moments– which we all chase. What is happiness for you?

Happiness is a by-product of right living, which in turn requires wisdom. Theosophy literally means the quest for wisdom, which is the same as the quest for truth since the perception of truth ends illusion. The perception of what is true and what is false is self-knowledge which is the key to wisdom and therefore to happiness. Only then is happiness not dependant on circumstances.

Read more: Reflections on the meaning of life

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