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Never be for — or against

I just got a table at Starbucks and sitting down to continue work on a new project — TBA.  But during my walk up to the coffee shop, I was listening to some TEDTalks podcasts, and was struck dumb by something that Dan Gilbert said in his presentation, “How we are deceived by our own miscalculations of the future.”  Quoting a Zen master, he said…

If you want truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against.  The struggle between ‘for’ and ‘against’ is the mind’s worst disease.” — Sent-ts’an

Perhaps the hardest disease we’ll ever fight…


  • http://quoteflections.com Paul Cornies

    So much about acceptance of truth seems to be of letting go of ego and preconceived notions. It is not about being right but of being open.

    Truth only reveals itself when one gives up all preconceived ideas. ~Shoseki

    You provide an excellent quote with many applications.

  • http://colincampbellcurriculum.wordpress.com/ Colin Campbell

    John Dewey expresses a related view when opening “Experience and Education” with “Mankind likes to think in terms of extreme opposites. It is given to formulating its beliefs in terms of Either-Ors, between which it recognises no intermediate possibilities.” He then calls for us to define our ideas but what they are rather than what they are not. Thanks for your post, got me thinking.

  • http://userpages.uni-koblenz.de/~dkauwaer/blogline/ Andreas Auwaerter

    David your post got me thinking too. But anyhow I cannot share its meaning in total. Thinking about our glocal challenges we will have in near future (just to mention global warming as an example) – I would agree about time and how we waste time – and in fact it is the time of our children we are wasting. In those situations – dealing with dead or alife – there could be the good reason for action. But in other contexts I prefer the tradition of dialectic – the feasability to turn the coin in mind – getting the opposite argument – looking for better reasons …. So in this state – having the mind in the middle of “pro” and “con” it is a good stage to anticipate other’s argues or develop the feeling of the dimension of the action ahead. Those things have to do a lot with sustainability and responsibility too? But to be honest – those deep thoughts mainly are after I innerly had a decision.

  • http://gnuosphere.wordpress.com Peter

    So what do you think of the Zen master’s quote? Are you for it or against it?

  • http://blog.genyes.com sylvia martinez

    I’d interpret this as urging people not be be closed-minded, because I think it’s important to know what you are “for” and “against” and stand up for those principles, even as you remain open to new ideas. Otherwise how will you make a difference?

    The most important part of the quote is the first part – the goal is to find truth, to find out what you believe, and then, hopefully, work to make that reality.

    When the choice is to stand around saying, “… on the other hand…” or do SOMETHING, I’ll choose the doing.

  • http://www.funnelbrain.com/ Laura Zaillian

    Great post! I am a college sophomore with a dual major in Physics and Mathematics @ University of California, Santa Barbara. By the way, i came across these excellent language flashcards. Its also a great initiative by the FunnelBrain team. Amazing!!!

Photo taken by Ewan McIntosh in a Taxi in Shanghai

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Cultivating Your Personal Learning Network
2nd Edition (2012)

Redefining Literacy 2.0 (2008)
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Raw Materials for the Mind

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