Carl Rogers on Experience

"Experience is, for me, the highest authority. The touchstone of validity is my own experience. No other person's ideas, and none of my own ideas, are as authoritative as my experience. It is to experience that I must return again and again, to discover a closer approximation to truth as it is in the process of becoming in me. Neither the Bible nor the prophets — neither Freud nor research — neither the revelations of God nor man — can take precedence over my own direct experience."

- Carl Rogers

The horse and the rider

"The first stream, or the "primary process mind," is the perceptual or experiencing mind. It consists of perceptions, drives, and goals and can be thought of as our "primate mind." It is the part that looks out and sees the world, has motives and urges (ranging from food to sex), and is energized by our emotions to respond to events. The primary process mind works by taking perceptions about the current state of the world and referencing them against drives for what we do or do not want, and our emotions are activated to respond accordingly. For example, when we are waiting for someone we have not seen for a long time, we longingly look out the window and feel a jolt of joy when we see that person's car pulling into the driveway. 

The second  stream of consciousness , the secondary, deliberate mind – the "person mind" - is the part of us that talks, deliberates reflects, and rationalizes to others about why we do what we do. It comments , reacts, or responds not just to what is, but also to what one thinks ought to be. Shaped by culture and experience, the person mind has ideas about what is justifiable and what is not. 

Sigmund Freud likened these two streams of consciousness to a horse and a rider. The secondary person mind, represented by the rider, is trying to guide the primate mind, represented by the horse, toward long-term goals. However, as suggested by this metaphor, the two minds are very different. The primate mind feels things based on what it perceives relative to its goals in the immediate situation. If it perceives the situation as being one in which the individual is isolated, it will feel lonely. If it perceives the situation as one in which its goals are being intruded upon by others, it will feel angry. If it sees that it has failed or is inferior to others, it will feel shame. In short, the primate mind is reactive to the situation in which it finds itself. 

The secondary person mind is more complicated, and it can project much longer into the future. It thinks not only about what is but also about what ought to be. Just as a rider can have opinions about the horse she is riding, the secondary person mind will also have opinions about the primary primate mind if it is or is not feeling what it should. If the person mind makes critical and controlling judgements, the stage is set for a vicious intrapsychic cycle of negative thoughts. "


-Gregg Henriques, PH.D. for Psychology Today


David Brooks on character

    "Soloveitchik said there are two sides, which he called Adam I and Adam II. Adam I wants to build, create, produce and discover things. Adam II is the internal Adam. Adam II wants to embody certain moral qualities, to have a serene inner character, not only to do good, but to be good, to live in obedience to some transcendent truth, to have an inner coherence of soul. So, Adam I wants to conquer the world, become famous and rich. Adam II wants to obey a calling and serve the world. Adam I asks how things work. Adam II asks why things exist and what, ultimately, we are here for. Adam I wants to venture forth. Adam II wants to return home to the comfort of a family meal. Adam I's motto is success. Adam II experiences life as a moral drama and his motto is charity, love and redemption. Now, Soloveitchik argued that each of us lives at the confrontation between these two Adams, these two sides of our nature. And I'd add that the confrontation is different. Some days we want to be externally successful. Some days we want to be internally good. And they're both right. You've got to have a balance. The question is whether your life is in balance between these two things."

- David Brooks




Shame and the illusion of free will

"Shame does serve a psychological function. I mean, you wouldn't want to be a primate without a capacity for shame. That doesn't work well. We call those people psychopaths. But, the question is how much shame is it useful and pragmatic to feel in your life. If shame is an issue for you, realizing that you didn't make yourself and that you're not deeply responsible, on some level, for who you were yesterday, all you can do is go forward into the mystery of who you may yet become. You can't see the limits of who you might yet become. You really don't know how much you can change in the future. That frees you from continually punishing yourself for who you were yesterday."

-Sam Harris

Illusion of continuity

"The cells in your body are turning over quite often, so your red blood cells only last 120 days. Your hair gets turned over every few years, your skin cells only last 2 or 3 weeks, the colon and the stomach, it's only 4 or 5 days before all of those cells get replaced. Now, neurons, the cells in your brain, those don't die and get replaced, but the atoms that make them up are constantly turning over. So when you look at your friends and loved ones, atomically, they've completely turned over from when you last saw them, let's say 5 years ago. Memories can drift around a little bit . . . When you have a very salient emotional event, those memories are unerasable. But, these flash bulb memories are no more reliable than other types of daily memories (because each time we think about them we corrupt them). Even trauma memories eventually fade . . .  the rate of your heartbeat, the architecture of your brain, even your DNA changes over the course of a lifetime. We have all these things that make us feel as though we have a consistent identity through our life and, in fact, you are not staying the same. You are changing all the time. We have this illusion of continuity."

- David Eagleman, Baylor College of Medicine neuroscientist 


David Foster Wallace on worshipping

"There is no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship . . . If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you . . . Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. The insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they are evil or sinful, it's that they are unconscious. They are default settings."

David Foster Wallace


Jung on the spiritual problem of the modern individual

"Under the influence of scientific assumptions, not only the psyche but the individual man and, indeed, all individual events whatsoever suffer a leveling down and a process of blurring that distorts the picture of reality into a conceptual average. We ought not to underestimate the psychological effect of the statistical world-picture: it thrusts aside the individual in favor of anonymous units that pile up into mass formations...As a social unit he has lost his individuality and become a mere abstract number in the bureau of statistics. He can only play the role of an interchangeable unit of infinitesimal importance."

- Carl Jung

no self

According to the teaching of the Buddha, the idea of self is an imaginary, false belief which has no corresponding reality, and it produces harmful thoughts of 'me' and 'mine', selfish desire, craving, attachment, hatred, ill - will, conceit, pride, egoism, and other defilements, impurities and problems. It is the source of all the troubles in the world from personal conflicts to wars between nations. In short, to this view can be traced all the evil in the world. 

- Walpole Rahula


Physicist David Deutsch on entertainment

There is a concept of being entertained by other people or by scenes or by heroin or by T.V. programs or whatever that is a mistake. We may subjectively feel or we may interpret what’s happening as the other thing entertaining us, but really the only thing that entertains us is our own creative engagement with it and, without that creative engagement, nothing can entertain us. When people get this wrong idea about what entertainment is, that’s the kind of mistake where they think something mechanical, such as heroin, can entertain them.  There are these clichéd situations where someone wins the lottery and is miserable. I think the generic trap that one can fall into in this sort of situation is by thinking that money can entertain you, not realizing that only you can entertain you.


- David Deutsch

Frankl on self - actualization

“By declaring that man is responsible and must actualize the potential meaning of his life, I wish to stress that the true meaning of life is to be discovered in the world rather than within man or his own psyche, as though it were a closed system. I have termed this constitutive characteristic "the self-transcendence of human existence." It denotes the fact that being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone, other than oneself--be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself--by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love--the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself. What is called self-actualization is not an attainable aim at all, for the simple reason that the more one would strive for it, the more he would miss it. In other words, self-actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence.” 
― Viktor E. FranklMan's Search for Meaning

Steve Jobs on mindfulness

If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there's room to hear more subtle things - that's when your intuition starts to blossom and you can start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before.

-Steve Jobs