From time to time I take stock by asking myself some big questions. In case you’re interested, Vera, here are my answers as of today (in other words, either the questions or answers, or both, could change):
What’s the purpose of life?
Perhaps there is none. My focus is on experiencing life fully.
What stands in the way of contentment and happiness?
Three things come to mind: 1) desire, 2) the need to make a difference and 3) the idea that I and the world should be something we’re not.
Is there a creator-being (God)?
No one knows. Moreover, it’s a question that need not be answered.
What is the prime age?
Physically, our 20s and even into our 30s. Cognitively, our mid-20s to mid-40s. Emotionally and psychologically, we can improve with age; there is no reason to believe we ever have to peak (subject to disease).
What’s the most important factor to consider in deciding where to work?
The attributes of the people who work there: their purpose, expertise, standards (both performance and ethical), and values.
What deserves more attention than it gets?
The inner life. The external receives nearly all our attention.
What are the most precious things in life?
Authentic, caring relationships. And experiences that excite us.
Is money the root of all evil?
No, although it’s the root of much evil. But ego plays a major role, too.
If there is no god, is there even such a thing as evil or sin?
Depends on what you mean by it. Clearly, there are things that harm oneself, others, or the earth. Call it what you want.
What would I do different if I had the opportunity to start over?
Not spend so much time looking for answers that don’t exist. Seek deeper understanding and become more aware of the knowable. Recognize the dangers of the ego and desire. Waste less time in meetings and watching TV and sporting events. Accept reality, expect nothing from others or fate, and be less judgmental. Eat less sugar and sugar-containing products. Be a better listener. Start my own business or firm. Be less attached to, dependent upon, and concerned with others and the ego. Value relationships more. Work less and play more. Live more in the moment.
What’s the best movie I’ve watched, the best book I’ve read, the best president we’ve had, the best college, etc.?
I’m tapped out with our obsession with rankings and hierarchies. They’re a distraction and waste of time.
What constitutes a good book?
One that’s worth reading more than once. If you want to know what authors and books I value, come and look at my bookcase (and the floor surrounding it).
What would I do different in rearing my children?
Be less concerned with imparting values and what I thought was knowledge, and regulating conduct, and more focused on helping them discover things and gain a deeper understanding of people and themselves. Ask the question “why?” more often.
What do you think of organized religion?
It demands I embrace too many ideas I no longer believe are true or necessary or even beneficial. And I’ve grown weary of the way the institution manipulates people through guilt, embraces obvious charlatans, and condones — indeed, helps perpetuate — ideologies and power structures that subjugate and pacify people. So organized religion no longer has a place in my life. Even more personally, it filled my psyche with the seeds of self-doubt and self-loathing, which nearly killed me. All and all, the dangers of organized religion are under-appreciated. That said, its rituals and ethical foundations can play an important and beneficial role in the world. And some of the most admirable, authentic people I’ve known I’ve met through the church (although, admittedly, some of the most deceitful, fraudulent, and despicable people I’ve met have been regular church-goers).
What’s unexplainable in life?
Most things. Of the many, two stand out in my life: 1) a vision in my 40s (very different from a dream) and 2) a born-again experience in my early 50s (bearing absolutely no resemblance to what evangelical Christians think of as being “born again”).
What do I hope to understand better?
My own mind.
What do I hope to control better?
My own thoughts.
What is the most destructive force on earth?
What do I fear?
Too numerous to list. Someday I hope to fear nothing. My fears today are fewer and less powerful than they used to be. But I still am fearful of too many things. Courage is harder to muster than one would think.
What are the two most important words ever spoken?
“Fear not.” – Jesus
What are the three most important words ever spoken?
“Love one another.” – Jesus
Am I optimistic or pessimistic about the future?
Neither. Moreover, my views of the future are of no import, either to me or to anyone else. I have no idea what the future holds, nor do I need to. My focus is on today. I looked forward to getting up this morning. And I expect to have the same excitement tomorrow morning.
Whom do I admire?
People who risk or sacrifice something to help others. And people who are authentic and don’t pretend to be somebody they aren’t. People who do their best. People who are honest (with others and themselves).
What traits serve people well?
Curiosity, open-mindedness, and courage.
What’s most important in life?
What do I want to be remembered for?
I’ll be dead. Such questions don’t interest me. They seem silly and narcissistic.