When Data is God

July 21, 2014

From The New Yorker, 7.21.14, an extensive piece about cheating in Atlanta, GA, and the pressures which caused it – pressures which may be summed up by the term “data driven” results:

John Ewing, who served as the executive director of the American Mathematical Society for fifteen years, told me that he is perplexed by educators’ ”infatuation with data,” their faith that it is more authoritative than using their own judgment. He explains the problem in terms of Campbell’s law, a principle that describes the risks of using a single indicator to measure complex social phenomena: the greater the value placed on a quantitative measure, like test scores, the more likely it is that the people using it and the process it measures will be corrupted. “The end goal of education isn’t to get students to answer the right number of questions,” he said. “The goal is to have curious and creative students who can function in life.” In a 2011 paper in Notices of the American Mathematical Society, he warned that policymakers were using mathematics “to intimidate—to preëmpt debate about the goals of education and measures of success.”


#5219 – Dan Harris by Sam Harris on meditation (Part 2 of 2)

May 25, 2014

downstreamer:

Truly learning to meditate is not like going to the gym and putting on some muscle because it’s good for you and makes you feel better. There’s more to it than that. Meditation—again, done correctly—puts into question more or less everything you tend to do in your search for happiness. But if you lose sight of this, it can become just another strategy for seeking happiness—a more refined version of the problem you already have.

Originally posted on Nonduality Talk Radio & Newsletter:

Thursday, May 15th, 2014 – Editor: Dustin LindenSmith

(Ed. note: I apologize for the extra message that subscribers to our Yahoo Groups list may have received from me earlier this morning. It was unintended. Also, this post is Part 2 of 2 on this topic; for Part 1, please click here.)

When we stopped yesterday, Sam Harris was pointing to the direct insight that can be gleaned into the true nature of the self as a result of a properly-focused meditation practice. He said: “It’s possible to look for the one who is looking and to find, conclusively, that no one is there to be found.”

At this point in the interview, Sam assertively discarded the notion that you have to “go deep” in order to discover this truth. “Non-duality is not deep,” he insisted. “It’s right on the surface.” He used the same window analogy to illustrate that looking more…

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#5218 – Dan Harris by Sam Harris on meditation (Part 1 of 2)

May 15, 2014

downstreamer:

It’s this thunderous truism: We all know on some level that we are thinking all the time, that we have this voice in our heads, and the nature of this voice is mostly negative. It’s also repetitive and ceaselessly self-referential. We walk around in this fog of memory about the past and anticipation of a future that may or may not arrive in the form in which we imagine it. This observation seemed to describe me. I realized that the things I’d done in my life that I was most ashamed of had been as a result of having thoughts, impulses, urges, and emotions that I didn’t have the wherewithal to resist.

Originally posted on Nonduality Talk Radio & Newsletter:

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 – Editor: Dustin LindenSmith

I suppose I’m fleshing out a theme on meditation here, with this week’s and last week’s issue. And perhaps I have an ulterior motive: I’ve long thought that nonduality holds the key to the resolution of all types of worldly and interpersonal conflict, and I also believe that meditation can help us to transcend our petty notions of self that can entrench us so deeply into particular positions that foment further conflict.

We received some negative feedback about last week’s issue that covered the meditation practice of Los Angeles-based television and radio personality Shadoe Stevens. Granted, it’s fairly easy to level judgment against a low-minded celebrity like him for arriving so late to the meditation party. It’s even easier to discount the worth of whatever awakening experiences he describes having had, particularly if he’s not overly lucid in how he describes…

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Old Iguana

March 22, 2014

Some really good advice on how to “do art” from Kurt Vonnegut, which starts like this:

Transcript

November 5, 2006

Dear Xavier High School, and Ms. Lockwood, and Messrs Perin, McFeely, Batten, Maurer and Congiusta:

I thank you for your friendly letters. You sure know how to cheer up a really old geezer (84) in his sunset years. I don’t make public appearances any more because I now resemble nothing so much as an iguana.

read the rest here.


“It is spring a…

March 22, 2014

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
—Rainer Maria Rilke


Endless thinking ..

February 8, 2014

I picked this up from “The Mountain Path”, July 2006, and it’s a breath of fresh air on this cold February morning:

The problem, however, lies in the teaching that it is through thinking and through study of the scriptures (shastras) that we will gain enlightenment. Endless scriptural study is a serious error because it strengthens the habit of thinking. Such study is founded on a fundamental error, different from an error in mathematics, or physics, because it assumes that (a) one has a ‘self’ and is an individual person; and that (b) one needs something external to oneself to help one to get rid of this ‘truly existing’ selfhood. The moment you depend on the thinking mind to guide you, you implicitly assume that your Reality is not here and now, and that to discover our Reality will take time. All this is mental delusion. How can you get at Reality by seeking it in the future, when it is already here right now?

The more you study and the more you reflect on concepts in order to gain enlightenment, the more you indirectly assert that you are not Reality. In thinking like this, you are falsely conditioning your mind, reinforcing your ignorance. Because, as long as the thinking mind is in full swing, Advaita is out of question. To realize Non-Duality through thinking is an impossibility.

 

 


In Praise of Boredom

January 4, 2014

I found myself re-reading this wonderful essay by Evgeny Morozov in the New Yorker, called Only Disconnect:Two Cheers for Boredom.  It’s wide ranging, exploring our state of “permanent receptivity” due to connectivity (smartphones, etc.)   This quote, below, about how constant, permanent receptivity to the newest thing, newest update, newest gadget to buy .. how this receptivity robs us of the ability to distinguish between the new and the same old, same old.  We are apparently bored without even recognizing it, but it’s the low grade variety of boredom we now experience, not the productive kind, where kids would spend summers just looking at clouds in the sky.  The Circlers are people from the new Dave Eggers novel.  The quote I like is the part that starts “One reason …

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