I have the pleasure of meeting a lot of different people in my every day. I work with a lot of different people from different organizations. I socialize as often as I can, and that leads to new connections. No matter how many people I meet, there are always those who stand out as “kindred spirits”.
These are people who come into your life, sometimes at random, othertimes not so much, whom you have an almost instant connection with. You are comfortable around them, you enjoy talking to them, you’re genuinely curious what they have to say (and they, you), and there is just a general sense of friendship even before those ties have truly been forged through the experience of time. You may see these people here or there, but each interaction is truly a delight and leaves you energized, happy, and perhaps a part of something greater than yourself.
These kindred spirits are rare. They come and go, but when they do, I’ve noticed how radiantly they stand out. There’s just a naturalnesss that comes with the interaction with them as you share stories, experiences, hopes and dreams. Its like we are all little puzzle pieces, and a kindred spirit is a person who fits next to us in the grand puzzle board of life.
When you find a kindred spirit, you’ll know. And it is important to pause, appreciate that natural connection, and help it flourish when you can.
Our lives are busy and we come across many hundreds of people in our day to day. But every once in a while, a kindred spirit comes along and stands out in your life, even if only for a small fraction of time. Cherish those times, cherish these people. They’re rare, and they make life absolutely delightful.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about what it is that makes a civilization great. The more I think about it, the more I think compassion is the greatest aspect of a civilization, especially one which is as diverse as Canada is.
People come in many shapes and sizes and colours and cultures and beliefs. The ability to see self in others, and others in self, this is what true compassion is founded on. We can look at people who are fundamentally different from us, and recognize the many similarities. We see them as equals, as partners, as humans. We see them as people who are trying to make their way in the world.
A compassionate society is one that embraces differences as something that can be learned from, rather than something that needs to be oppressed. It is a society that realizes that every member within it offers a contribution to the greater whole.
This may be a difficult thing to do. Civilizations can be quite large. The egos in play can sometimes derail things. The gaps between people are accented when people focus on the differences, rather than the similarities.
But integrate compassion into the moral fabric of your civilization, and it will be great. It will allow more and more people of many different backgrounds to come together, learn from one another, and co-exist peacefully.
I can think of nothing greater that a large group of people with compassion for one another, and for the outside world. I’m very proud to be Canadian right now.
The nature of consciousness seems to be unique among scientific puzzles. Not only do neuroscientists have no fundamental explanation for how it arises from physical states of the brain, we are not even sure whether we ever will. Astronomers wonder what dark matter is, geologists seek the origins of life, and biologists try to understand cancer—all difficult problems, of course, yet at least we have some idea of how to go about investigating them and rough conceptions of what their solutions could look like. Our first-person experience, on the other hand, lies beyond the traditional methods of science. Following the philosopher David Chalmers, we call it the hard problem of consciousness.
But perhaps consciousness is not uniquely troublesome. Going back to Gottfried Leibniz and Immanuel Kant, philosophers of science have struggled with a lesser known, but equally hard, problem of matter. What is physical matter in and of itself, behind the mathematical structure described by physics? This problem, too, seems to lie beyond the traditional methods of science, because all we can observe is what matter does, not what it is in itself—the “software” of the universe but not its ultimate “hardware.” On the surface, these problems seem entirely separate. But a closer look reveals that they might be deeply connected.
“The deeper your present moment peace gets, the easier it’ll be to react non- passionately when confronted with hostility. As this gets better, you can begin to realize more deeply just how much someone has to be suffering internally in order to have such harsh reactions. With enough insight, you can develop your empathy and compassion based off this knowledge and these also help you remain even more peaceful in the present moment.
Eventually, with enough compassion and insight on your side, you can begin to extinguish the fires of hostility by extinguishing anger with patience and understanding… It’s hard to continue treating someone harshly when they continue treating you well. In helping them relieve these feelings, you not only help them but you also help yourself, since you no longer have to deal with them as they were.”
It’s a crazy world right now. I don’t know about you, but my news feed is exploding with news from everything happening in the US. In this podcast, I talk a little bit about going over to the “other side”…