When the Buddha meets Seneca


I love Michael Pollan’s work on food. He polished his observations throughout his books, and summarized his thoughts on eating into 7 words: “Eat food, not so much, mostly plants.”

I have been jumping around philosophies, from Stoicism to JonyIve-ism. Inspired by Pollan, I have arrived at 10 words that represent the current state of my intelligence quotient:

“Live in now, do only good, crave none, love all.”

Let me explain in 4 short paragraphs:

  1. Live in now”: Depression is living in the past; Anxiety is living in the future. (Lao Zi did not say this, contrary to Twitter and western Yogis’ believes.) Why is this important? There are two things I should spend my energy: First, the only thing that might be controllable by my actions is what’s happening right now. It is simply a waste of effort to try to action on the uncontrollable things in the past and the future. Second, the only thing that is truly controllable, is my perception. Therefore, “goodbye” the past, “hello” the future, “oh hey!” the now.
  2. Do only good”: Aim correctly in order to miss less incorrectly. Furthermore, a simplistic filter of “good” is notoriously powerful in forcing me to think hard and think like a kid.
  3. Crave none”: I chose “crave” because other similar words, such as desire, have markedly different considerations among philosophies. The essence is to not desire anything which the absence of it will chip away at my freedom.
  4. Love all”: I struggled with this last one, because I wanted to include a reminder that would stop me from becoming a hermit. I needed to remind myself, as a member of the collective, I must have skin in the game and participate. In the end, to love, seemed to be most useful: When love is experienced and applied, it seems to inspire and empower genuine courage to care. Therefore if I aim to love all, I have a better chance to care for more.

At this moment, I feel it is good enough, if I approach the rest of my life according to these directions.

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