Philosophy, Psychology

On Fame

We all secretly covet a life of fame and fortune, we all want people to appreciate our work or talent, we all want to be known or recognized by history. This is true for everybody, including me and you.

But how many of us actually end up getting all of this in life? Only a very few. If we somehow do, how many of us are remembered by history? Even fewer.

One great reiterating theme in Stoicism and Buddhism is about recognizing our desire for fame. It may not always be a good idea to suppress it, say the many stoic philosophers especially, but we also need to soak in the hard fact that not many of us will make it – in this way, our expectations do not run amok from realistic odds.

This is not saying you shouldn’t dream big. You should always try and strive for greater things, but without being blinded by the fruits of the end, while also keeping in mind the thorns the means can come with.

There were many great noblemen, poets, playwrights of their time and region. Some are known and may seem evergreen to us, but what happened to the then-great ones whom we haven’t ever heard of today? We remember some of them, but we forget most of them. For every person who knows William Shakespeare, there maybe someone in a rural village in India who doesn’t. What happened to the legacy of many Princes, Lords, or Barons of old who built forts and carved out statues in their honor? Looking closer to our home, Bir Shumsher established the first hospital in the country and named it ‘Bir Hospital’ in his honor, but how many of us even think of him when paying the resident doctor a visit? Maybe only few. The point of this is to say that human legacies are always transient, no matter their scale; it’s only a matter of time before they’re forgotten, and this is why it seems so futile to only be motivated by it.

And we can see this natural human desire for fame and recognition with greater frequency today. It’s only because we have become more in number, less poorer and more idle relative to history, with easily accessible technologies that have the potential to shoot us up into fame overnight for even a silly video we make in the bathroom. We know this as ‘going viral’, of course. And many use the quick fame to their advantage – to promote a cause or to speak out against injustices; many don’t and may even perish eventually. Some are even destroyed by the covetousness of fame or their brief stints of popularity – because they think this is what they were ‘meant to do’ and were somehow denied.

Enduring the other side of success without being complacent is a core philosophical argument of many Stoics like Marcus Aurelius and Seneca. Most highlight that the first step for doing so is to accept the greater possibility of failure. It also helps us if we understand the fact that no matter what we may do, we will always be on the lookout for fame, unless we belong with those rare personality types who are not; we need to recognize this quality in our nature, sincerely, without denial. When we are able to achieve this mindset, we may then focus our energy or effort into what matters to us the most or into what we are good at.

Desiring success or fame is like rolling a die: you should always be on the lookout for a number face of your liking, but also be aware that five out of six times you won’t be seeing it. But just because of the unlikely odds, you also shouldn’t stop rolling the die altogether. If we fail to be recognized for the work that we love, we will at least be fulfilled with the mere fact that we’re doing a labor of love for ourselves. And if, on the off-chance that we become famous for it, we should consider ourselves lucky, without forgetting about the odds that brought us here.

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Padma Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana. How many of you thought this was Bir Shumsher on the Thumbnail after reading the 5th paragraph?

 

 

Philosophy

On Stoicism II

We do this to our philosophies. We redraft their contours based on projected shadows, or give them a cartoonish shape like a caricaturist emphasising all the wrong features. This is how Buddhism becomes, in the popular imagination, a doctrine of passivity and even laziness, while Existentialism becomes synonymous with apathy and futile despair. Something similar has happened to Stoicism, which is considered – when considered at all – a philosophy of grim endurance, of carrying on rather than getting over, of tolerating rather than transcending life’s agonies and adversities.

Read more via Why Stoicism is one of the best mind-hacks ever devised | Aeon Essays

Atheism, Philosophy, Science, Secular Humanism

Life and Probability

Life and Probability

All of us who are alive, and who get the opportunity to die, are lucky (i.e, we are the successful outcomes or events of the odds or probabilities of nature.)

Just consider the massive number of events that took place for it to be possible for us to even exist. This life, that we take for granted, is the result of countless permutations and combinations of infinite variety of genes, their assortment, and all the favorable events that took place for their assortment to become possible in the first place.

We are lucky because we get to die, as we have had the opportunity to live. Think about all the uncountable number of failed events or outcomes that never got a chance to flourish as lifeforms: unfertilized eggs, non-penetrating sperms, aborted embryos and the like. Considering these failed events, we are fortunate that every random reaction worked perfectly well and made it possible for us to be born, to be conscious, to be able to live and to exist.

 So just be more curious, don’t take your life, or anything in this world for granted. It is your right to be awed by the things that surround you! Seek for the truth in nature and not in mere scriptures and hollow preachings. Look at life optimistically, try to make a positive impact on society, leave a non-harming and an inspiring legacy behind you. After all, the whole point of science or of spirituality is in seeking for the ‘truth’. And the ‘truth’ or reality is that one day all of us have to let our brains rest forever, withdraw from all the pleasures and gifts provided to us by our consciousness, and accept death, whether we like it or not!