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Book Freak #63: The Wisdom of Insecurity

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Sponsor message: I recommended Dictanote a few weeks ago. It’s a Chrome-based application that conver
 

Book Freak

August 10 · Issue #63 · View online
Short pieces of advice from books

Sponsor message: I recommended Dictanote a few weeks ago. It’s a Chrome-based application that converts speech to text. It’s faster and less buggy than my Mac’s built-in dictation. Recently, Dictanote released a Google Chrome extension that lets you use Dictanote within almost any website. Now I’m using it to answer emails in Gmail, which has been a big time saver. It doesn’t work with Google Docs, which is unfortunate, but for longer form speech-to-text writing I use Dictanote’s notebook and copy and paste the text (in fact, I’m using the notebook to write this recommendation). It’s $19, and because I’m such a terrible typist, it paid for itself within the first day or two. – Mark

My new newsletter!
Before we get started with this issue of Book Freak, I wanted to let you know about a new newsletter I started, call The Magnet. Every week in The Magnet I’ll write about tips I find useful, things that interest me, what I’ve learned, interviews, recipes, quotations, and more. I’ll also include excerpts from my favorite newsletters. I hope you’ll check it out!
Alan W. Watts is best remembered as an interpreter of Zen Buddhism. He earned the reputation of being one of the most original and “unrutted” philosophers of the twentieth century. Watts was the author of some twenty books on the philosophy and psychology of religion that have been published in many languages throughout the world. Here are four pieces of advice from his book, The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety 
The desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing
“To put is still more plainly: the desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing. To hold your breath is to lose your breath. A society based on the quest for security is nothing but a breath-retention contest in which everyone is as taut as a drum and as purple as a beet.”
There is a price to be paid for every increase in consciousness
“This, then, is the human problem: there is a price to be paid for every increase in consciousness. We cannot be more sensitive to pleasure without being more sensitive to pain. By remembering the past we can plan for the future. But the ability to plan for the future is offset by the ‘ability’ to dread pain and to fear of the unknown. Furthermore, the growth of an acute sense of the past and future gives us a corresponding dim sense of the present. In other words, we seem to reach a point where the advantages of being conscious are outweighed by its disadvantages, where extreme sensitivity makes us unadaptable.”
One of the highest pleasures is to be more or less unconscious of one’s own existence
“Indeed, one of the highest pleasures is to be more or less unconscious of one’s own existence, to be absorbed in interesting sights, sounds, places, and people. Conversely, one of the greatest pains is to be self-conscious, to feel unabsorbed and cut off from the community and the surrounding world.”
You do not feel feelings, think thoughts, or sense sensations
“There is simply experience. There is not something or someone experiencing experience! You do not feel feelings, think thoughts, or sense sensations any more than you hear hearing, see sight, or smell smelling. ‘I feel fine’ means that a fine feeling is present. It does not mean that there is one thing called an 'I’ and another separate thing called a feeling, so that when you bring them together this 'I’ feels the fine feeling.”
Book Freak is published by Cool Tools Lab, a small company of three people. We run the Cool Tools website, a podcast, a video review YouTube channel, and a couple other newsletters, including Gareth’s Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales, What’s in my bag? and Recomendo. I hope you’ll check them out. You can support our work by becoming a patron via Patreon.
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