The Tao of Zen

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at Tue, Oct 7, 10.53.56 AM“The Tao of Zen is a nonfiction book by Ray Grigg. The work argues that what we recognize as traditional Chinese Ch’an/Japanese Zen Buddhism is in fact almost entirely grounded in Chinese Taoist philosophy, though this fact is well shrouded by the persistence of Mahayana Buddhist institutional trappings. Utilizing an array of scholarly commentary on the two traditions and historical deduction from what can be considered to be the best primary source material available, the author traces the development of Taoism and Buddhism in China and Japan for two millennia.” (Wikipedia)

I’ve read this book twice and expect to read it again but I wouldn’t know where to begin to describe it. The Wikipedia link above is a good start. As is my habit with nonfiction, I highlighted as I read.

Waking Up

waking-upJust finished Waking Up – A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion by Sam Harris. Amazon reviews here; more about Mr. Harris here. Ideas I found highlighter-worthy below.

Our minds are all we have. They are all we have ever had. And they are all we can offer others. Every experience you have ever had has been shaped by your mind.

It is your mind, rather than circumstances themselves, that determine the quality of your life.

Everything we want to accomplish is something that promises, if done, it would allow us to finally relax and enjoy our lives in the present. […] Each of us is looking for a path back to the present: We are trying to find good enough reasons to be satisfied now.

Twenty percent of Americans describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious.”

Is it possible to be happy before anything happens, before one’s desires are gratified, in spite of life’s difficulties, in the very midst of physical pain, old age, disease, and death?

One one level, wisdom is nothing more profound than an ability to follow one’s own advice.

A true spiritual practitioner is someone who has discovered that it is possible to be at east in the world for no reason, if only for a few moments at a time.

It is impossible for any faith, no matter how elastic, to fully honor the truth claims of another.

We manage to avoid being happy while struggling to become happy.

(Mindfulness is ) a state of clear, nonjudgmental, and undistracted attention to the contents of consciousness. […] Being mindful is not a matter of thinking more clearly about experience; it is the act of experiencing more clearly, including the arising of thoughts themselves.

The problem is not thoughts themselves but the state of thinking without knowing we are thinking.

Most people who believe they are meditating are merely thinking with their eyes closed.

Most of us spend every waking moment lost in the movie of our lives.

Meditation is a technique for waking up.

Investigating the nature of consciousness is the basis of spiritual life.

Consciousness is the one thing in this universe that cannot be an illusion.

If you shut your eyes at this moment, the contents of your consciousness change quite drastically, but your consciousness (arguably) does not.

Are we unconsciousness during sleep or merely unable to remember what sleep is like?

We are not aware of all the information that influences our thoughts, feelings, and actions.

I’ve forgotten most of what has happened to me over the course of my life.

Subjectively speaking, the only thing that actually exists is consciousness and its contents. […] Reality vastly exceeds our awareness of it.

(I am) a continuum of experience.

The feeling of “I” is a product of thought. […] Having an ego is what it feels like to be thinking without knowing that you are thinking.

(Thoughts are) transient appearances in consciousness.

We tell ourselves the story of the present, as though some blind person were inside our heads who required continuous narration to know what is happening.

Even if your life depended on it, you could not spend a full minute free of thought. […] We spend our lives lost in thought. […] Taking oneself to be the thinking of one’s thoughts is a delusion.

One must be able to pay attention closely enough to glimpse what consciousness is like between thoughts — that is, prior to the arising of the next one.

We imagine that we are conscious of our selves within our bodies. We seem to be riding around inside our bodies.

(The self) is the feeling that there is an inner subject, behind our eyes, thinking our thoughts and experiencing our experience.

It may be that an awareness of other minds is a necessary condition for an awareness of one’s own.

Consciousness is the prior condition of every experience; the self or ego is an illusory appearance within it; look closely for what you are calling “I,” and the feeling of being a separate self will disappear; what remains, as a matter of experience, is a field of consciousness — uncontaminated by its ever-changing contents.

Consciousness is intrinsically free of self.

That which is aware of sadness is not sad. That which is aware of fear is not fearful. Notice thoughts as they emerge and recognize them to be transitory appearances in consciousness. In subjective terms, you are consciousness itself — you are not the next, evanescent image or string of words that appears in your mind.

Consciousness is intrinsically undivided.

Nothing is intrinsically boring — boredom is simply a lack of attention.

We need not come to the end of the path to experience the benefits of walking it.

We read for the pleasure of thinking another person’s thoughts.

It is by ceasing to cling to the contents of consciousness — to our thought, moods, and desires — that we make progress.

There is experience, and then there are the stories we tell about it.

Consciousness is never improved or harmed by what it knows.

The Bone Clocks

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at Thu, Sep 4, 9.57.02 AMJust finished The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell and found it… gripping. Never thought much about that word as applied to stories, but this novel grabbed me me and held on, even when I wanted to put it down (as he described “a nuclear wilderness in 2043, after a deluge of viruses and natural disasters.”)

From the New York Times review: “You may not believe in telepathy, second sight or reincarnation, but if you enter Mitchell’s universe you can’t not believe in them either.”

How the World Can Be the Way It Is

how-the-worldHow the World Can Be the Way It Is: An Inquiry for the New Millennium into Science, Philosophy, and Perception Zen and Quantum Theory are really hard for me to wrap my head around, and Steve Hagen has big dollops of both in this book. I followed maybe 75 percent of the book. The stuff I highlighted won’t make much sense out of context but this is for my reference, so…

For it is sufficient, I think, to live by experience, and without subscribing to beliefs — Sextus Empiricus

(To believe, to hold an opinion) refers to a state of mind which we are powerless to choose.

His mind was changed because it was overwhelmed by a new awareness. In the moment in which he became aware of something new, his mind was different.

We must learn to rely solely on what we see rather than upon what we think.

We proselytize others because it makes us feel better. And the reason it makes us feel better is because we’re unsure of what we believe ourselves.

(Being fully awake is) Seeing without any mental bias — without concepts, beliefs, preconceptions, presumptions, or expectations.

You can’t choose to doubt.

We should always be prepared to take another look at what we believe and begin to doubt it. […] We should doubt until we no longer hold fast to any thing at all.

Whatever you think, is delusion.

“The world is not objectively real but depends on the mind of an observer.” — John von Neumann

The mind is what the brain does.

Apart from their functions, relationships, and components, we do not seem to know what things are at all. […] A thing receives its identity as much from what it is not as it does from what it is. […] When an object appears in the mind, we conceive it as a solitary thing unto itself. […] It is only as singular entities that our objects of consciousness can form in our mind. […] All things receive their identity as much from what they are not as from what they are. […] Spring can only be spring if we account for what it is not (e.g., summer) as an intrinsic part of its identity.

“How can one be ‘wrong’ about what one actually perceives?” — Roger Penrose

We simply have no direct experience of anything outside the mind. And to assume the existence (or, for that matter, he nonexistence) of anything outside the mind simply contradicts direct experience.

Three types of “recognition”
1) Naming a thing (labeling and categorizing. Purely conceptual)
2) What the thing does (function and utility)
3) Just seeing (pure perception, no conceptual overlay)

The more we learn about quantum physics, the more the universe appears like a thought rather than a thing. (Pointed out by Sir Arthur Edington)

Consciousness

It’s because we can easily conceive of (but never perceive) a time or place outside of our consciousness that we persist in holding this belief (that matter precedes consciousness) […] We never directly experience a time (or anything else) which precedes consciousness.

We don’t actually experience Consciousness Itself “originating” anywhere, or anywhen. Consciousness — the awareness that “something’s” happening — is ever-present and immediate. We never directly experience Nothing.

Consciousness (is) the originator, instead of the product, of place and time.

No one is ever conscious of not being (or not having been) conscious.

Consciousness is the conceiving (the making) of parts, or mind-objects, from the Whole. […] The “parts” — the physical and mental objects of consciousness, i.e., concepts — are merely appearances resulting from the working of Consciousness.

Consciousness splits the Whole, immediately creating and ego — an identity — which then sees all other things in opposition to it.

To gain information is merely to sink deeper into conceptual reality. […] We gain information at the expense of wisdom.

What you or I do right here, right now affects everything that ever was, is, or will be. Whatever you do is constantly affecting everything that has ever happened or will happen.

We “exist” not in being but in becoming — and in fading away.

We do not experience an I — we assume it. We only experience perception, thought, and consciousness.

The Book

The Book, Alan WattsThe Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are (1966). I like the way Alan Watts writes. Some of the sixties jargon sounds a little quaint but, hey, that’s the way we talked back then. If you haven’t read this book (and don’t intend to), you can skip this post. Won’t make any sense at all out of context. Admittedly, some of the ideas are hard to grasp within context. Posts like this one (excerpts from a book) are archival. A place for me to come back and locate an idea I could never find by flipping through the book.

He pretends that he is you and I and all the people in the world, all the animals, all the plants, all the rocks, and all the stars. In this way he has strange and wonderful adventures, some of which are terrible and frightening. But these are just like bad dreams, for when he wakes up they will disappear. […] It takes him a long time to remember where and how he hid himself. […] We are God in disguise, pretending not to be himself.

God is the Self of the world, but you can’t see God for the same reason that, without a mirror, you can’t see your own eyes.

He isn’t really doing this to anyone but himself. […] In the Vedanta philosophy, nothing exists except God. […] But Vedanta is much more than the idea or the belief that this is so. It is centrally and above all the experience, the immediate knowledge of its being so.

You don’t die because you were never born. You had just forgotten who you are.

All information will come in by super-realistic television and other electronic devices as yet in the planning stage or barely imagined. In one way this will enable the individual to extend himself anywhere without moving his body— even to distant regions of space. But this will be a new kind of individual— an individual with a colossal external nervous system reaching out and out into infinity. And this electronic nervous system will be so interconnected that all individuals plugged in will tend to share the same thoughts, the same feelings, and the same experiences. […] If all this ends with the human race leaving no more trace of itself in the universe than a system of electronic patterns, why should that trouble us? For that is exactly what we are now!

No one thing or feature of this universe is separable from the whole, the only real You, or Self, is the whole.

Most people think of themselves as separate from their thoughts and experiences.

Memory is an enduring pattern of motion, like the whirlpool, rather than an enduring substance, like a mirror, a wax tablet, or a sheet of paper.

Society is our extended mind and body.

(You are) one particular focal point at which the whole universe expresses itself. […] Every individual is a unique manifestation of the Whole,

The death of the individual is not disconnection but simply withdrawal. The corpse is like a footprint or an echo— the dissolving trace of something which the Self has ceased to do.

The only real “I” is the whole endless process.

Every organism is a process: thus the organism is not other than its actions. To put it clumsily: it is what it does. More precisely, the organism, including its behavior, is a process which is to be understood only in relation to the larger and longer process of its environment. […] The whole is a pattern, a complex wiggliness, which has no separate parts. Parts are fictions of language.

Apart from your brain, or some brain, the world is devoid of light, heat, weight, solidity, motion, space, time, or any other imaginable feature.

This little germ with its fabulous brain is evoking the whole thing, including the nebulae millions of light-years away. […] A structure of such fabulous ingenuity that it calls the whole universe into being.

No valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now.

Making an effort to be ego-less is like “beating a drum in search of a fugitive.”

You are nothing at all apart from everything else. […] Each organism is the universe experiencing itself in endless variety.

Don’t try to get rid of the ego-sensation. Take it, so long as it lasts, as a feature or play of the total process — like a cloud or wave, or like feeling warm or cold, or anything else that happens of itself. Getting rid of one’s ego is the last resort of invincible egoism! It simply confirms and strengthens the reality of the feeling. But when this feeling of separateness is approached and accepted like any other sensation, it evaporates like the mirage that it is.

Meditate just to meditate.

When this new sensation of self arises, it is at once exhilarating and a little disconcerting. It is like the moment when you first got the knack of swimming or riding a bicycle. There is the feeling that you are not doing it yourself, but that it is somehow happening on its own, and you wonder whether you will lose it— as indeed you may if you try forcibly to hold on to it. In immediate contrast to the old feeling, there is indeed a certain passivity to the sensation, as if you were a leaf blown along by the wind, until you realize that you are both the leaf and the wind. The world outside your skin is just as much you as the world inside: they move together inseparably, and at first you feel a little out of control because the world outside is so much vaster than the world inside. Yet you soon discover that you are able to go ahead with ordinary activities— to work and make decisions as ever, though somehow this is less of a drag. Your body is no longer a corpse which the ego has to animate and lug around. There is a feeling of the ground holding you up, and of hills lifting you when you climb them. Air breathes itself in and out of your lungs, and instead of looking and listening, light and sound come to you on their own. Eyes see and ears hear as wind blows and water flows. All space becomes your mind. Time carries you along like a river, but never flows out of the present: the more it goes, the more it stays, and you no longer have to fight or kill it.

The universe is at root a magical illusion and a fabulous game, and that there is no separate “you” to get something out of it, as if life were a bank to be robbed. The only real “you” is the one that comes and goes, manifests and withdraws itself eternally in and as every conscious being. For “you” is the universe looking at itself from billions of points of view, points that come and go so that the vision is forever new. What we see as death, empty space, or nothingness is only the trough between the crests of this endlessly waving ocean.

The Self is playing its most far-out and daring game— the game of having lost Itself completely and of being in danger of some total and irremediable disaster.

We are merely bolting our lives— gulping down undigested experiences as fast as we can stuff them in— because awareness of our own existence is so superficial and so narrow that nothing seems to us more boring than simple being.

How is it possible that a being with such sensitive jewels as the eyes, such enchanted musical instruments as the ears, and such a fabulous arabesque of nerves as the brain can experience itself as anything less than a god?

It seems to be the special peculiarity of human beings that they reflect: they think about thinking and know that they know.

For so long as I am trying to grasp IT, I am implying that IT is not really myself.

I return in every baby born. […] It matters not whether the interval be ten seconds or billions of years. In unconsciousness all times are the same brief instant.

In looking out upon the world, we forget that the world is looking at itself— through our eyes and IT’s.

The Loudest Voice in the Room

loudest-voiceThe Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News–and Divided a Country (Amazon)

I rarely read biographies. And I never watch Fox News. But the excerpts from this book really hooked me and the book did not disappoint. I literally had trouble putting the book down. It read like a novel.

The image I had of Roger Ailes — before reading this book — was very superficial. Pretty much the right wing boogyman lurking in the wings of Fox News. Author Gabriel Sherman shows us a complex, talented man who is deeply flawed.

Ailes is only seven years older than I so I witnessed some of the history he helped make, starting with The Mike Douglas Show (he produced); helping Richard Nixon and two Bush’s get elected; the creation of Fox News and its evolution as the propaganda arm of the modern Republican Party.

I won’t look at TV news or politics in quite the same way after readying the book. The author lifted the edge of the tent just enough to see what rubes we are.

It’s difficult to imagine the world won’t be/become a different place after Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes leave the playing field. Has anybody in the last 20 years had a greater impact on the news business (and, by extension, the world) than these guys?

The TV news business that Roger Ailes helped change seems to be changing again. Will the great instincts about television carry over to the world of Netflix and YouTube? Ailes is old and sick and will — hopefully — be on the sidelines.

The Roger Ailes we see in this book is not a happy guy. Rich, powerful, talented, influential… without a doubt. But not happy. I’d give a hundred dollars to know if Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch read this book.

Why something instead of nothing?

whydoestheworldexistI’m not losing any sleep over this question, unless you count some late nights reading books like Jim Holt’s Why Does the World Exist? Holt is an American philosopher, author and essayist. Mr. Holt tells his “existential detective story” by talking with “philosophers, theologians, particle physicists, cosmologists, mystics and one very great American novelist.”

This is one of those books I found myself rewinding every few pages in an effort to simply understand the words, the sentences. So I can’t review it but here’s what the NYT had to say.

I do manage to come away with something from books like this. First, an appreciation for how long really smart people have been thinking about questions like why-something-not-nothing. Second, how little I really know and understand about… everything. Okay, here’s a third thing: nothing that happens in our (humans) blink-of-an-eye existence is of much consequence when viewed against the backdrop of a 14 billion year old universe. Global warming; Rush Limbaugh; a nuclear Iran. Specs of dust. A few excerpts:

“For the vast majority of Americans there is no such thing as the “mystery of existence.” If you ask them why the universe exists, they’ll say it exists because God made it. If you then ask them why God exists, the answer you get will depend on how technologically sophisticated they are. They might say that God is self-caused, that He is the ground of His own being, that His existence is contained in His essence. Or they might tell you that people who ask such impious questions will burn in hell.”

The life of the universe, like each of our lives, may be a mere interlude between two nothings.

Perhaps we see too little of reality to be aware of the reason behind it, or because any such reason must lie beyond the intellectual limits of humans.

Nothing is popularly held to be better than a dry martini, but worse than sand in the bedsheets. A poor man has it, a rich man needs it, and if you it for a long time, it’ll kill you. On occasion, nothing could be further from the truth, but it is not clear how much further.

Nothingness – A possibility reality, a conceivable state of affairs: that in which nothing exists.

In the thirteenth century, the Catholic Church declared it to be an article of faith that the world had a beginning in time.

The entities making up the physical world are like the pieces in a game of chess: what counts is the role defined for each piece by a system of rules that say how it can move, not the stuff the piece is made of.

“Words like ‘theism’ and ‘atheism’ and ‘God,’ they’ve moved around so much that they’re practically meaningless. Who really cares? I do consider myself a Spinozist, however, for two reasons. First, I think Spinoza was right that we’re all tiny regions in an infinite mind. And I agree with him that the material world, the world described by science, is pattern of divine thought.” — Cosmologist John Leslie

Buddhism Without Beliefs

buddhism-beliefsI’m not really sure what Stephen Batchelor is trying to say in Buddhism Without Beliefs. I think his main idea is there in the title. Excerpts below got some highlighter… real reviews at Amazon.  This wasn’t one of my favorite books on the topic.

Awakening is no longer seen as something to attain in the distant future, for it is not a thing but a process — and this process is the path itself. […] It is an authentic way of being in the world.

The dharma is not something to believe in but something to do. [ Wikipedia: In Buddhism dharma means “cosmic law and order”, but is also applied to the teachings of the Buddha.]

An agnostic Buddhist is not a “believer” with claims to revealed information about supernatural or paranormal phenomena, and in this sense is not “religious.” […] The dharma is not a belief by which you will be miraculously saved. It is a method to be investigated and tried out. […] An agnostic Buddhist eschews atheism as much as theism, and is as reluctant to regard the universe as devoid of meaning as endowed with meaning.

Buddhism could be described as “the culture of awakening.”

Religions are united not be belief in God but by belief in life after death.

Regardless of what we believe, our actions will reverberate beyond our deaths. Irrespective of our personal survival, the legacy of our thoughts, words, and deeds will continue through the impressions we leave behind in the lives of those we have influenced or touched in any way.

Life is neither meaningful nor meaningless. Meaning and its absence are given to life by language and imagination.

Anguish emerges from craving for life to be other than it is.

Dharma practice is founded on resolve. […] An ongoing, heartfelt reflection on priorities, values and purpose. […] Dharma practice is the process of awakening itself: the thoughts, words, and deeds that weave the unfolding fabric of experience into a coherent whole.

The process of awakening is like walking on a footpath. When we find such a path after hours of struggling through undergrowth, we know at last that we are heading somewhere. Moreover, we suddenly find that we can move freely without obstruction. We settle into a rhythmic and easy pace. […] What counts is not so much the destination but the resolve to take the next step.

Focused awareness is difficult not because we are inept at some spiritual technology but because it threatens our sense of who we are.

The stiller the mind, the more palpable the dazzling torrent of life becomes.

The world is so saturated with the meanings given to it that those meanings seem to reside in the things themselves.

At every moment we are either inclining toward or engaged in an act: a physical movement, an utterance, a thought. Even when you decide not to act, you are still doing something: refraining.

As you sit in meditation, notice how what you are doing is the enactment of an earlier resolve. By attending to the details of this present moment, by choosing not to recollect the past or plan for the future, you are engaged in a process of creating yourself in a specific and deliberate way.

What are we but the story we keep repeating, editing, censoring, and embellishing in our heads? [I am] an unfolding narrative.

We cannot attain awakening for ourselves: we can only participate in the awakening of life.

When belief and opinion are suspended, the mind has nowhere to rest.

The Devil’s Code

The Devil’s Code by John Sanford was published in 2000. Fourteen years ago.

Clipper II was an Orwellian nightmare come true, a practical impossibility, or a huge joke at the taxpayers’ expense—take your pick. It was designed in response to a fear of the U.S. government that unbreakable codes would make intercept-intelligence impractical. And really, they had a point, but their solution was so draconian that it was doomed to failure from the start.

The Clipper II chip—like the original Clipper chip before it was a chip designed to handle strong encryption. If it was made mandatory (which the government wanted), everyone would have to use it. And the encryption was guaranteed secure. Absolutely unbreakable.

Except that the chip contained a set of keys just for the government, just in case. If they needed to, they could look up the key for a particular chip, get a wiretap permit, and decrypt any messages that were sent using the chip. They would thereby bring to justice (they said) all kinds of Mafiosos, drug dealers, money launderers, and other lowlifes.

For those too young to remember, the Clipper chip was a real thing. The NSA was a real thing as well.

Word got around, and the word was that the NSA was rapidly becoming obsolete. Once upon a time, agency operatives could tap any phone call or radio transmission in the world; they could put Mao Tse-tung’s private words on the president’s desk an hour after the Maximum Leader spoke them into his office phone; they could provide real-time intercepts to the special ops people in the military.

No more. The world was rife with unbreakable codes—any good university math department could whip one up in a matter of days. Just as bad, the most critical diplomatic and military traffic had come out of the air and gone underground, into fiber-optic cable. Even if a special forces team managed to get at a cable, messages were routinely encoded with ultrastrong encryption routines.

The NSA was going deaf. And the word was, they didn’t know what to do about it. They’d become a bin full of aging bureaucrats worried about their jobs, and spinning further and further out ot the Washington intelligence center.

And if the NSA was becoming obsolete, might their solution look something like what we have today?

How to Fail at Almost Everything

howtofailThe full title of Scott Adams’ book is: How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. Kind of the Story of My Life. (Too long to fit in the headline space above.) Easily one of the better “how to succeed” books I’ve read. And I’ve read a bunch of them. I won’t try to explain how Mr. Adams’ approach differs from the others. As always, the best I can do is share a few excerpts that spoke to me.

Consider the people who routinely disagree with you. See how confident they look while being dead wrong? That’s exactly how you look to them.

In our messy, flawed lives, the nearest we can get to truth is consistency.

Sometimes the only real difference between crazy people and artists is that artists write down what they imagine seeing.

My optimism is like an old cat that likes to disappear for days, but I always expect it to return.

Things that will someday work out well start out well. Things that will never work start out bad and stay that way.

If no one is excited about your art/product/idea in the beginning, they never will be. Don’t be fooled by the opinions of friends and family. They’re all liars.

Every skill you acquire doubles your odds of success.

Everything you learn becomes a shortcut for understanding something else.

I don’t read the news to find truth, as that would be a foolish waste of time. I read the news to broaden my exposure to new topics and patterns that make my brain more efficient in general and to enjoy myself, because learning interesting things increases my energy and makes me feel optimistic. Don’t think of news as information. Think of it as a source of energy.

Skills in which every adult should gain a working knowledge:

* Public speaking
* Psychology
* Business Writing
* Accounting
* Design (the basics)
* Conversation
* Overcoming shyness
* Second language
* Golf
* Proper grammar
* Persuasion
* Technology (hobby level)
* Proper voice technique

When politicians tell lies, they know the press will call them out. They also know it doesn’t matter. Politicians understand that reason will never have much of a role in voting decisions. A lie that makes a voter feel good is more effective than a hundred rational arguments. That’s even true when the voter knows the lie is a lie.

The point of conversation is to make the other person feel good.

People who enjoy humor are simply more attractive than people who don’t. If you don’t have funny friends, find some.

Escape from my cell, free the other inmates, shoot the warden, and burn down the prison.

HAPPINESS

(Happiness is) a feeling you get when your body chemistry is producing pleasant sensations in your mind.

We’re all born with a limited range of happiness, and the circumstances of life can only jiggle us around within the range.

The single biggest trick for manipulating your happiness chemistry is being able to do what you want, when you want. […] A person with a flexible schedule and average resources will be happier than a rich person who has everything except a flexible schedule. Work toward having control of your schedule.

Happiness has more to do with where you’re heading than where you are.

Pessimism is often a failure of imagination. If you can’t even imagine an improved future, you won’t be happy no matter how well your life is going right now.

Dying at age eighty isn’t worse than dying at a hundred. If you meat diet is a bomb with a long enough fuse, it might kill you at just about the time you’d want it to.