When children have trouble learning, it is rarely because they are intellectually incapable., it is often because a one-size-fits-all educational process does not support their unique ways of learning. A system that requires them to fit a culturally expected norm, and often defeats them when they do not fit, delivers another blow to their faith in themselves. I suspect that many children who excel and are rewarded with good grades and special honors do so more as a survival reflex than because they experience a real joy in learning or because their souls are rejoicing at finding the support they need to express their innate genius. In any case, children subconsciously learn that they are valued for what they achieve and how they perform, not for whom they are. Once again the message, at least subconsciously, is “You are not sufficient as you are.”

Richard Moss in The Mandala of Being: Discovering the Power of Awareness

After all, you are what you are every moment of your life, but you are rarely conscious of it, except, maybe, at the point at awakening from sleep. All you need is to be aware of being, not as a verbal statement, but as an ever-present fact. The awareness that you are will open your eyes to what you are. It is all very simple. First of all, establish a constant contract with your self, be with yourself all the time. Into self-awareness all blessings flow. Begin as a centre of observation, deliberate cognizance, and grow into a centre of love in action. ‘I am’ is a tiny seed which will grow into a mighty tree — quite naturally without a trace of effort.”


Nisargadatta Maharaj in 'I Am That' Freedom from Self-Identification

New Humanist: Federico, what are you trying to say in your book by comparing work to religion?

Federico Campagna: When I first moved to Britain from southern Italy, I noticed this strange attachment to work, which contradicted the image I had of Anglo-Saxon rationalism. Instead of the activity of work being efficiently aimed at something, it was going round in a circle. People kept working overtime and I kept wondering, “Why do they do that? They are not going to get any praise, they are not going to get any money, they’re actually damaging their lives, so why do it?”

I noticed there was a religious element, in the sense that work gives you something that nothing else does, which is that you became part of something bigger than yourself. You sacrifice your life, but what you get is somehow immortality, you become part of capital, part of the nation, part of the everlasting glorious community, and so on.


There is no effort in meditation, but this is similar to saying we don’t make an effort to move our arms and legs when we walk. No effort goes into physical action, but exertion is taking place. Likewise, when we observe our thoughts, I believe it is an effortless, dynamic process, which is distinguishable from just simply resting, because I’m not being mindful when I sit and let go: that’s when I re-engage my thoughts, as if I were spontaneously flipping through TV channels.

simplystimpy @ reddit.com

An emotional beast

Emotions are … thought to be a kind of brute reflex, very often at odds with our rationality. The primitive part of your brain wants you to tell your boss he’s an idiot, but your deliberative side knows that doing so would get you fired, so you restrain yourself. This kind of internal battle between emotion and reason is one of the great narratives of Western civilization. It helps define you as human. Without rationality, you are merely an emo­tional beast.

Lisa Feldman Barrett


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