In Dawn to the West, his “History of Japanese Literature” series, Japanologist Donald Keene, the eminent American-born scholar of Japanese literature, writes about the vividness of the works of Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, one of Japan’s most popular novelists:
No one would turn to Tanizaki for wisdom as to how a man should live his life, nor for a permanent analysis of the evils of modern society, but anyone seeking the special pleasure of literature and an echo in even his most bizarre works of eternal human concerns could hardly find a superior writer.
Charlie Munger said at Daily Journal 2019 Annual Shareholders’ Meeting,
Part of our secret is that we don’t attempt to know a lot of things. I have a pile on my desk that solves most of my problems. It’s called the too-hard pile. And I just keep shifting things to the too-hard pile. Every once in a while, an easy decision comes along and I make it. That’s my system. Everything in the too-hard pile, except for a few easy decisions which I make promptly.
We’re just trying to have that uncommon sense I’m talking about. And part of our uncommon sense is just to refer a lot of stuff to the too-hard pile.
Self-help guru Leo Babauta writes in Dropping Distraction,
Sit still for a few minutes and pay attention to what’s around you. Notice the quality of the light. Appreciate any people who might be nearby. Notice the quality of your thoughts, the sensations of various parts of your body, the loveliness of your breath as it comes in and out.
In the bestselling The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, New York University-academic and business analyst Scott Galloway advices taking things in stride:
Nothing is ever as good or bad as it seems. All situations and emotions pass. When you have a big victory, pull in your horns and be risk avoidant for a period. Regression to the mean is a powerful force, and the good luck (and a lot of it is luck) will cut the other way at some point. So, many entrepreneurs who make a lot of money on one venture turn around and lose a lot of it because they believe the victory was due to their genius and they should go bigger. At the same time, when beaten down, realize you are not as stupid as the world, at that moment, seems to think you are. When beaned in the face, the key is to get up, dust off, and swing harder.
Richard Dawkins writes in A Devil’s Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love,
Science cannot tell you whether abortion is wrong, but it can point out that the (embryological) continuum that seamlessly joins a non-sentient foetus to a sentient adult is analogous to the (evolutionary) continuum that joins humans to other species. If the embryological continuum appears to be more seamless, this is only because the evolutionary continuum is divided by the accident of extinction. Fundamental principles of ethics should not depend on the accidental contingencies of extinction. To repeat, science cannot tell you whether abortion is murder, but it can warn you that you may be being inconsistent if you think abortion is murder but killing chimpanzees is not. You cannot have it both ways.
Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari writes in his international bestseller Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind,
The Scientific Revolution has not been a revolution of knowledge. It has been above all a revolution of ignorance. The great discovery that launched the Scientific Revolution was the discovery that humans do not know the answers to their most important questions. Premodern traditions of knowledge such as Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Confucianism asserted that everything that is important to know about the world was already known. The great gods, or the one almighty God, or the wise people of the past-possessed all-encompassing wisdom, which they revealed to us in scriptures and oral traditions. Ordinary mortals gained knowledge by delving into these ancient texts and traditions and understanding them properly. It was inconceivable that the Bible, the Qur’an or the Vedas were missing out on a crucial secret of the universe—a secret that might yet be discovered by flesh-and-blood creatures.
Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez‘s novel Cien Anos De Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude, 1967) is a milestone in literary theory and history. His works have motivated writers all over the world. In his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize for literature in 1982, he acknowledged,
Face to face with a reality that overwhelms us, one which over man’s perception of time must have seemed a utopia, tellers of tales who, like me, are capable of believing anything, feel entitled to believe that it is not yet too late to undertake the creation of a minor utopia: a new and limitless utopia for life wherein no one can decide for others how they are to die, where love really can be true and happiness possible, where the lineal generations of one hundred years of solitude will have at last and forever a second chance on earth.
Warren Buffett often declares that, to succeed, more important than IQ, is rationality and emotional stability. Morgan Housel discusses:
Take two investors. One is an MIT rocket scientist who aced his SATs and can recite pi out to 50 decimal places. He trades several times a week, tapping his intellect in an attempt to outsmart the market by jumping in and out when he’s determined it’s right. The other is a country bumpkin who didn’t attend college. He saves and invests every month in a low-cost index fund come hell or high water. He doesn’t care about beating the market. He just wants it to be his faithful companion. Who’s going to do better in the long run? I’d bet on the latter all day long. “Investing is not a game where the guy with the 160 IQ beats the guy with a 130 IQ,” Warren Buffett says. Successful investors know their limitations, keep cool, and act with discipline. You can’t measure that.
Norwegian-American Buddhist teacher Gil Fronsdal offers his views on the meaning of nirvana in the article “Nirvana: Three Takes” in the Fall 2006 issue of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review:
The essence of our consciousness is already love and wisdom. Karma, concepts, and emotional patterns are only temporarily preventing our consciousness from unfolding its enlightened nature. Nirvana is nothing more than being awakened to the enlightened nature of our consciousness.
German playwright and theoretician Bertolt Brecht writes in Writing the Truth: Five Difficulties,
Nowadays, anyone who wishes to combat lies and ignorance and to write the truth must overcome at least five difficulties. He must have the courage to write the truth when truth is everywhere opposed; the keenness to recognize it, although it is everywhere concealed; the skill to manipulate it as a weapon; the judgment to select those in whose hands it will be effective; and the cunning to spread the truth among such persons. These are formidable problems for writers living under Fascism, but they exist also for those writers who have fled or been exiled; they exist even for writers working in countries where civil liberty prevails.