The Lessons of David Goggins

Name: David Goggins

Born: February 17, 1975

Occupation: ultramarathon runner, triathlete, author, public speaker, wildland firefighter, retired Navy SEAL

Accomplishments: ultramarathon athlete (winning third place at Badwater 135), former Guinness World Record holder for pull-ups in 2017, author of two inspirational books, retired Navy SEAL who was “the only member of the U.S. Armed Forces to complete SEAL training, Army Ranger School, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller training”

For more information, check out:

Why do you get up in the morning?

The number one purpose in life is to better yourself.

If you’re not trying to better yourself, then you need to ask why.

Examine the intentions behind your goals. Don’t make excuses.

While most people can become better, they settle for mediocrity:

They “refuse to get off that couch, refuse to study a few more hours, refuse to go deeper and to go further… And that’s where I gain the advantage. It’s so easy to be great nowadays, my friend, cause most people are weak. Most people don’t want to go that extra mile. Most people don’t want to find that extra because it sucks. It’s miserable. It’s lonely” (Goggins, Williamson).

How do you stop caring about what other people think?

The more you progress, the more people will become aware of you.

The negative people who “usually critique you aren’t where you are” (Goggins, Rise Above). You may want to fight back or explain yourself, but it is more beneficial to get to a higher level of self-knowledge.

Look at the haters. Study their destructive patterns before you react. Because they are suffering, they will inflict their suffering on others. Instead of engaging with their negativity, be honest with yourself.

Before you criticize anyone, look at yourself. You’re a flawed human being just like them.

“There will be people out here who are commentating about people [celebrities] who are fucking up out here… and I don’t know how they’re able to do that when I guarantee your skeletons are not being out there. If I were to open up your fucking door, motherfucker…. People love to talk shit about somebody and keep themselves out of it” (Goggins, Rise Above).

How do you feel motivated when you are all alone?

“[I was] Alone. Alone out there running in cold, in heat; suffering in pools, trying to swim; in a room by myself, trying to teach myself how to read and write, how to study. You know, no one saw that. There was no video camera, there was no podcast. There was no ‘Who’s David Goggins?’” (Goggins, Inspiring Squad)

You are always going to bring yourself wherever you go. That is why you must discipline your mind.

To discipline your mind, you have to challenge yourself. Until then, you will always be searching for peace without ever finding it. You will be seeking out a teacher, guru, or some “nice kind book that guides you beyond all your personal suffering, and that miracles your fucking ass to peace” (Goggins, Inspiring Squad).

Discipline will bring you peace, even though it will be hard.

Most people want to be around other people. They want to party and chat and have fun.

But are they satisfied with their lives?

Sometimes it’s necessary to remove yourself from distractions like parties and social media. It’s more important to focus. You have to test your character by “going to war with yourself” (Goggins, Inspiring Squad). Only then will you be proud of what you have accomplished. Instead of wondering later on if you could have done more with your life, you should be doing more now.

What is your stretching routine like?

Create a routine that fits well with your lifestyle and body type.

Start with the fundamentals.

“Everything I do is very basic” (Goggins, Dreams Achieved).

Even though it will be hard to find the time to stretch, you have to do it. It is too easy to come up with excuses for not being disciplined. But “life is all about sacrifice to get what you want” (Goggins, EsM).

Be consistent with your routine:

“I’m in the best shape of my life right now from stretching out… I stretch every night for two hours….” (Goggins, EsM).

If you can, learn from practices like yoga:

“Yoga is the shit. I have kind of invented my own yoga for what my body needs. I have done hot yoga several times. I’m big into holding [my poses] for a long period of time… I’m trying to get a full range of motion” (Goggins, EsM).

What is your diet like?

“The biggest thing for me is timing…. I shut off meals at 6:30 PM…. For breakfast, I’m a big believer in having small meals throughout the day with protein in every one of my meals. Very little carbohydrates unless I’m running big mileage” (Goggins, Dreams Achieved).

People tend to worry too much about their diets. They think that they have to follow an elaborate plan or hire a trainer. While some people will benefit from those options, they can start their training right now. They can make progress by going for a walk or cutting down on their calories. Everyone can take simple steps to be better than the day before. It’s just a matter of commitment.

A lot of people are afraid of doing something wrong with their diet or exercise routine. They’re afraid of overtraining but “you gotta train first before you can overtrain… Get out of your own head. Stay hard.” (Goggins, Motivation 4Us).

If you don’t want to change your life, if you don’t want to improve yourself, then continue to follow your same unhealthy patterns. Eat junk food and drink beer if it makes you happy. Not everyone can be David Goggins.

What is your advice to young people?

Learn about who you are. When you try to fit in with the group, you will lose yourself. You can’t pick the conditions you were born into, but you can become better. When you hide from your past, you will only suffer more.

“Don’t try to be David Goggins. Just try to be your best self. If people at school or in life don’t like you, hey, you are probably doing something good. And if you don’t mind them not liking you, you are a million steps ahead of everyone else because you have confidence in yourself to be who you want to be” (Goggins, Dreams Achieved).

Work Cited:

1. Goggins, David. Dreams Achieved. “David Goggins — Q&a Diet, Stretching, Next Book, Movie etc.(Video Quality Gets Better 6 Minutes In).” YouTube, 24 Sept. 2019,

2. Goggins, David. EsM. “David Goggins — the Importance of Stretching for Health.” YouTube, 1 Apr. 2019,

3. Goggins, David. Inspiring Squad. “I’m a Lone Wolf, so What? | New David Goggins | Motivation | Inspiring Squad.” YouTube, 6 Feb. 2023,

4. Goggins, David. Motivation 4Us. “David Goggins Motivation — NAVY SEAL DIET FOR a DAY (Best Motivational Video).” YouTube, 10 Apr. 2021,

5. Goggins, David. Williamson, Chris. “David Goggins — How to Get up Early Every Day.” YouTube, 7 Feb. 2023,

6. Goggins, David. Rise Above. “The Simple Way to STOP Caring About What Others Think of You | David Goggins.” YouTube, 19 Dec. 2022,


A Review of Oscar Wilde’s “The Soul of Man Under Socialism”

Oscar Wilde was a poet and playwright. He wrote “The Soul of Man Under Socialism” in 1891. Peter Kropotkin, an anarchist historian and philosopher, influenced his political views at that time.

Helping Within the System:

Altruists want to help the poor. While some people have benefited, the root cause of poverty has not been solved. Many individuals are still suffering, barely able to afford even their most basic needs. Countless others have died from a lack of food, water, clothing, shelter, and healthcare.

So many nameless workers are grinding under the conditions of “hideous poverty, hideous ugliness, hideous starvation” (Wilde 1). Altruists may feel sympathetic but they are unable to “remedy the evils they see” when they rely on the present system (Wilde 1).

A fraction of the population will benefit from their help, but the problem will still persist. “The proper aim,” argued Wilde, “is to try to reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible” (2).

If there are systemic changes, communities will share the “general prosperity and happiness” of what they have made and will not suffer when circumstances become too difficult (Wilde 4).

In a capitalist system, many work to survive, but feel insecure about losing what little they have. They degrade themselves in “absolutely repulsive surroundings” for low wages (Wilde 2–3). But even then, if a medical emergency should ever occur, they may lose the ability to support themselves.

Wilde believed that it was possible to change the system. For him, (1.) public wealth should replace private property, (2.) cooperation should substitute for competition, (3.) and machines should do the hardest work instead of the poorest members of society.

The new system that he proposed must respect the freedom of the individual. It cannot be authoritarian or tyrannical. The poor do not deserve to have their spirits crushed in order to become more obedient workers. Nobody should have to support a system that dehumanizes them for excessive profit.

The poor cannot wait for breadcrumbs from the rich (Wilde 7). They have to find a seat at the table.

Rather than struggling to get by, workers can take control of their work. They can form associations that are creative and voluntary. Whereas in the capitalist system, they would largely be alienated.

“Every man must be left quite free to choose his own work. No form of compulsion must be exercised over him. If there is, his work will not be good for him, will not be good in itself, and will not be good for others. And by work I simply mean activity of any kind” (Wilde 10).

In the capitalist system, a minority of property owners controls a vast amount of wealth. The majority has “no private property of their own, and being always on the brink of sheer starvation, are compelled to do the work of beasts of burden, to do work that is quite uncongenial to them, and to which they are forced by the peremptory, unreasonable, degrading Tyranny of want” (Wilde 5).

Poor workers have many socio-economic interests in common. Yet they are divided. Their solidarity is undermined in order to keep them from organizing for more just conditions (e.g., higher wages, safer work environments).

The poor are blamed for being unworthy; placated with false symbolic solutions; patronized for their “lower class virtues;” and rejected when they are considered unprofitable to their employers. They are not able to develop their highest capacities. Instead they are subject to externals outside of their control.

The wealthy, on the other hand, have far more opportunities through their ownership of property. Their property “confers immense distinction, social position, honor, respect, titles, and other pleasant things of the kind” (Wilde 13). Those who own material things want to accumulate even more material things. They become “naturally ambitious” to gain the enormous “advantages that property brings,” even if their ownership becomes a burden on them or exploits the most vulnerable in society (Wilde 13). While they dehumanize others, over time, they become dehumanized themselves.

Those in power want to treat the symptoms but not the disease. Focusing on the effects ensures that the system won’t be abolished. The powerful have gained far too many advantages to relinquish their control.

Even so, there will always be people who care for the poor. They may donate money to a reputable charity or feed the hungry, which is admirable. But under the capitalist system, their noble intentions are perverted. Unless it is fundamentally changed, an unjust system will perpetuate unjust conditions.


Question: Is it impractical to restructure society? Won’t there be unintended consequences?

Answer: “It will, of course, be said that such a scheme as is set forth here is quite unpractical, and goes against human nature. This is perfectly true. It is unpractical, and it goes against human nature. This is why it is worth carrying out, and that is why one proposes it. For what is a practical scheme? A practical scheme is either a scheme that is already in existence, or a scheme that could be carried out under existing conditions. But it is exactly the existing conditions that one objects to; and any scheme that could accept these conditions is wrong and foolish. The conditions will be done away with, and human nature will change. The only thing that one really knows about human nature is that it changes. Change is the one quality we can predicate of it. The systems that fail are those that rely on the permanency of human nature, and not on its growth and development. The error of Louis XIV. was that he thought human nature would always be the same. The result of his error was the French Revolution. It was an admirable result. All the results of the mistakes of governments are quite admirable.” (Wilde 58)

Question: You seem to emphasize the importance of the artist in a free society. You claim that artists will prosper when they’re given the opportunity to be left alone and create — especially when they don’t have to worry about public opinion or government censorship. This seems to tie in with your views on the value of Individualism. Can you expand on that?

Answer: “Individualism exercises no compulsion over man. On the contrary, it says to man that he should suffer no compulsion to be exercised over him. It does not try to force people to be good. It knows that people are good when they are let alone.” (Wilde 58)

Question: Some argue that Individualism is selfish because individuals will just live the way they want to live and not care about their communities. Does Individualism support the growth of the community?

Answer: “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live. And unselfishness is letting other people’s lives alone, not interfering with them. Selfishness always aims at creating around it an absolute uniformity of type. Unselfishness recognises infinite variety of type as a delightful thing, accepts it, acquiesces in it, enjoys it. It is not selfish to think for oneself. A man who does not think for himself does not think at all. It is grossly selfish to require of one’s neighbour that he should think in the same way, and hold the same opinions. Why should he? If he can think, he will probably think differently. If he cannot think, it is monstrous to require thought of any kind from him. A red rose is not selfish because it wants to be a red rose. It would be horribly selfish if it wanted all the other flowers in the garden to be both red and roses.” (Wilde 59)

A Buddhist Guide to Friendship

“Monks, a friend endowed with seven qualities is worth associating with. Which seven? He gives what is hard to give. He does what is hard to do. He endures what is hard to endure. He reveals his secrets to you. He keeps your secrets. When misfortunes strike, he doesn’t abandon you. When you’re down & out, he doesn’t look down on you. A friend endowed with these seven qualities is worth associating with.”

Aṅguttara Nikāya, The Book of the Sevens, (translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu)

Types of Friends:

1. Seek the friendship of those who are noble in character. Look for individuals with integrity. Do not associate with people who are cruel and wicked and cause division. (The Dhammapada, 77 and 78, translated by Walpola Rahula; Chapter 25 of the Tibetan Dhammapada, translated by Gareth Sparham)

2. Don’t become close companions with gamblers, drunks, drug addicts, frauds, cheats, and violent troublemakers. These people can ruin your life and the lives of those around you through their greed/lust, hatred/anger, and ignorance/delusion. (Sigalovada Sutta: The Discourse to Sigala, translated by Walpola Rahula)

Bhikkhu Bodhi once wrote about some of these friendships:

“If we associate closely with those who are addicted to the pursuit of sense pleasures, power, riches and fame, we should not imagine that we will remain immune from those addictions: in time our own minds will gradually incline to these same ends. If we associate closely with those who, while not given up to moral recklessness, live their lives comfortably adjusted to mundane routines, we too will remain stuck in the ruts of the commonplace. If we aspire for the highest — for the peaks of transcendent wisdom and liberation — then we must enter into association with those who represent the highest. Even if we are not so fortunate as to find companions who have already scaled the heights, we can well count ourselves blessed if we cross paths with a few spiritual friends who share our ideals and who make earnest efforts to nurture the noble qualities of the Dhamma in their hearts.”

Greed, hatred, and ignorance are the three poisons (or fires) that can lead you to suffer. The opposite of these poisons are the qualities of generosity, loving-kindness, and wisdom. You can water your wholesome qualities while extinguishing the fires of your unwholesome qualities.

As the Buddha said in The Adittapariyaya Sutta: The Fire Sermon Discourse, “All is burning… Burning with what? Burning with the fire of lust, burning with the fire of hate, burning with the fire of delusion.” (Adittapariyaya Sutta: The Fire Sermon, translated by Ñanamoli Thera)

In The Sigalovada Sutta (translated by Narada Thera), he said:

“Whoever through desire, hate or fear,
Or ignorance should transgress the Dhamma,
All his glory fades away
Like the moon during the waning half.
Whoever through desire, hate or fear,
Or ignorance never transgresses the Dhamma,
All his glory ever increases
Like the moon during the waxing half.”

3. Some people pretend to be your friends while they are really your enemies in disguise.

“The Taker” takes but rarely gives. They expect more from you than you expect from them. Any relationship that you form with them will always be to their advantage and not yours. They will only be there for you when they want something. When they don’t want something from you, you will not see them anymore.

“The Talker” uses empty words to praise you but they will never be there when you need them. They are always going on about old memories, about getting together in the future, but their words are meaningless.

“The Approver” encourages your bad deeds as well as your good deeds. They will compliment you when you are around. When you’re not around, they will talk badly about you to others.

“The Evil Helper” will accompany you when you are drinking, gambling, and partying, but they will not help you when you want to better yourself. (Sigalovada Sutta: The Discourse to Sigala, translated by Walpola Rahula)

4. Associate with goodhearted people.

“The Helper” will protect you and make sure that you’re safe. They will guard you from your own poor decisions. They are generous, even when they don’t have to be.

“The Enduring Friend” will reveal their secrets to you and keep your secrets private. They will never abandon you when you are in trouble. They may even risk themselves to save you.

“The Counselor” will support you and listen to your troubles. They want to help you become a better person. Sometimes they will challenge you, or admonish you, so that you will follow a wiser path.

“The Compassionate Friend” will delight in your good fortune and grieve with you over your misfortune. They will talk about your good qualities and restrain others from speaking badly about you. (Sigalovada Sutta: The Discourse to Sigala, translated by Walpola Rahula)

How to Be a Good Friend:

1. Before you criticize others, look at your own mind. It is easy to find the flaws in others, but it is much harder to find the flaws in yourself. (The Dhammapada, 252).

2. Do not speak ill of anyone. Do them no harm either. When you can keep to the good and avoid the bad, you will be happy even among those who are hateful. If you can cultivate wholesome qualities, and purify your mind, you will be your own refuge. Then you will not succumb to the foolishness of hatred and ignorance and greed. (The Dhammapada, 185, 191, 269, translated by Walpola Rahula). Those who hate may influence you, but hatred will never cease by hatred alone. Love is the only way to defeat hatred. (The Dhammapada, 5, translated by Walpola Rahula).

3. Abide in loving-kindness. Do not make a habit of unwholesome thoughts, words, and behaviors. Watch yourself moment to moment, guarding against impurities. Do not let greed and hatred and ignorance drag you down into misery. As the Buddha once said, “There is no fire like lust; there is no grip like hatred; there is no net like delusion; there is no river like craving.” (The Dhammapada, 232, 233, 234, 239, 248, 251, translated by Walpola Rahula).

4. When you are skilled in goodness, when you walk the path of peace, you will treat all beings with loving-kindness. Be humble, gentle, amiable in your speech, and content with what you have. (Mettā Sutta, translated by Walpola Rahula)

Treat every living being with respect. Wish them happiness and peace and safety. It doesn’t matter if they are strong or weak. Cherish everyone with a boundless heart. (Mettā Sutta, translated by Walpola Rahula)

As it is said in the Mettā Sutta (translated by Bhante Gunaratana):

“One should cultivate for all the world
a heart of boundless loving-kindness,
above, below, and all around,
unobstructed, without hate or enmity.”


Bodhi, Bhikkhu. The Suttanipata: An Ancient Collection of the Buddha’s Discourses Together With Its Commentaries (the Teachings of the Buddha). Wisdom Publications, 2017.

Sparham, Gareth. Dharmatrata. The Tibetan Dhammapada: Sayings of the Buddha. Wisdom Publications. January 1, 1986.

Thera, Ñanamoli. Adittapariyaya Sutta: The Fire Sermon. (SN 35.28). Translated from Pali. Access to Insight (BCBS Edition), 13 June 2010

Rahula, Walpola. What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition With Texts From Suttas and Dhammapada. Revised, Grove Press, 1974.

*Note: I’ve reflected on various translations of the suttas. My main translations were in the expanded version of “What the Buddha Taught” by Walpola Rahula. Some other translations came from Acharya Buddharakkhita, Bhikkhu Bodhi, Ñanamoli Thera, Thanissaro Bhikkhu, and Bhante G.

REVIEW: Pedagogy of the Oppressed

“We often think of peace as the absence of war, that if powerful countries would reduce their weapon arsenals, we could have peace. But if we look deeply into the weapons, we see our own minds — our own prejudices, fears and ignorance. Even if we transport all the bombs to the moon, the roots of war and the roots of bombs are still there, in our hearts and minds, and sooner or later we will make new bombs. To work for peace is to uproot war from ourselves and from the hearts of men and women. To prepare for war, to give millions of men and women the opportunity to practice killing day and night in their hearts, is to plant millions of seeds of violence, anger, frustration, and fear that will be passed on for generations to come.”

— Thich Nhat Hanh, “Living Buddha, Living Christ”

There are many Western intellectuals who claim to be against the evils of oppressive structures while: (1.) hiding in the isolation of academia, (2.) benefiting from those unjust structures without doing anything meaningful to challenge them, (3.) “helping” the oppressed on a superficial level without addressing any deeper systemic issues, (4.) perpetuating the ideas of the oppressors themselves.

Noam Chomsky wrote about these types of intellectuals in his 1967 essay, “The Responsibility of Intellectuals.” He said that intellectuals, unlike the average citizen, are a privileged minority who are in a unique position to influence society. They should seek to “speak the truth and expose lies’’ rather than remain silent and apathetic. Yet they often fail to meet these moral standards.

Even though in the Western world, intellectuals have the right to freedom of expression and have access to more information than those in other nations, they often represent elite class interests. They maintain the status quo, and support the current ideologies in power, while neglecting to criticize the unjust policies of their own countries.

In traditional education, intellectuals are primarily trained for conformity. The institutions that they work for, according to Paulo Freire in “Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” focus on socialization, conditioning students to follow a certain social order. Students who question those in authority too much are filtered out over time. They are not supposed to critically think about, or act against, the structures already in place. Traditional education is not about a radical transformation in consciousness. It is more about a subservience to power.

According to Freire, education is never neutral. It is either on the side of the oppressor or the oppressed. While the oppressed are dehumanized, treated as abstractions or disposable objects or inferior beings, those who oppress are dehumanized through oppressing others.

Oppressors depend on the low position of the oppressed to maintain their power. They form exploitative relationships, taking advantage of unfair conditions for their own gain. They have a mentality of more for themselves and less for everyone else. Oppressors want the oppressed to feel unworthy, helpless, and isolated, because under those states, they are easier to control.

After years of teaching literacy to peasants and laborers, after being put into prison and then exiled, Freire came to believe that education should liberate people instead of imprison them.

The oppressed have to reclaim their humanity for themselves, even though at times, they may fear taking on responsibility, internalize the values of their oppressors, or follow charismatic leaders more than their own consciences.

Freire attacked the passive methods of learning in education as well. Students are often seen as ignorant while teachers are seen as authorities. Students are taught to take in information, to rote learn, to listen so they can regurgitate answers on exams, rather than participate in relevant issues.

When schools value the humanity of their students, learning is done in collaboration and with mutual respect. There are open possibilities for individuals to grow. Themes connect to the existential struggles in people’s lives, helping them to overcome their unjust circumstances.

Education has to help the oppressed to reflect on the causes of their oppression. Even though oppressors have tried to limit the critical thought of the oppressed, people need the freedom to learn about themselves and make their own choices.

bell hooks, in a similar fashion to Freire, argued in “Teaching to Transgress” that education should be (1.) communal in spirit, (2.) rooted in the values of care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect, and trust, and (3.) promote the well-being of the individuals involved.

Students caught in oppressive circumstances often feel powerless to make a difference. They are alienated from their communities. They are conditioned over time to see themselves as inferior to their oppressors.

hooks, on the other hand, argued that education should be about fostering an open space where different perspectives are shared, students are encouraged and not belittled, and everyone is respected.

hooks (Gloria Jean Watkins) experienced both educational environments when she was raised in the segregated south, when she was bussed into a majority white school during integration, when she attended college, and when she taught at different universities. Freire’s work helped her to clarify her own feelings of marginalization and shame under those oppressive systems.

Freire also learned how unjust conditions could impact a person’s ability to learn. He grew up in Northeastern Brazil around poor rural families. During the Great Depression, he suffered from extremes of poverty and hunger. He even had to temporarily drop out of elementary school to work.

In Gadotti’s book, “Reading Paulo Freire,” Freire said, “I didn’t understand anything because of my hunger. I wasn’t dumb. It wasn’t lack of interest. My social condition didn’t allow me to have an education. Experience showed me once again the relationship between social class and knowledge.”

People ultimately want to be free. They want to grow and change and live authentically. But they are constantly being undermined by the interests of interconnected power-structures. hooks called some of these power-structures the “imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy.”

From an early age on, whether through violence or propaganda or censorship or other means, people are trained to obey their masters. They are taught about their inferiority rather than their intrinsic value, fractured rather than united, and dehumanized rather than treated with dignity.

Those in power usually shift the burden of proof onto the powerless, pressuring them to prove that they are worthy of their basic rights. But these systems, which have so much control and influence, need to justify their legitimacy to the people. If they fail to do so, then they should be changed or dismantled.

Sometimes, though, when the oppressed rise to power, they carry over the violent patterns of their former oppressors. That is why there needs to be a radical education of self-discovery and inclusion and critical thought, a place of transformation for everyone who seeks to learn. When people aren’t united, when they aren’t free, then the same oppressive practices will resurface.

Freire believed that people have to learn how to be themselves. Education is a process, a path of critical effort. Individuals must seek out the “whys” of their existence. They must be free to choose their own paths.

Reflections on the Horror Genre

“Yet, at the same time, as the Eastern sages also knew, man is a worm and food for worms. This is the paradox: he is out of nature and hopelessly in it; he is dual, up in the stars and yet housed in a heart-pumping, breath-gasping body that once belonged to a fish and still carries the gill-marks to prove it. His body is a material fleshy casing that is alien to him in many ways — the strangest and most repugnant way being that it aches and bleeds and will decay and die. Man is literally split in two: he has an awareness of his own splendid uniqueness in that he sticks out of nature with a towering majesty, and yet he goes back into the ground a few feet in order to blindly and dumbly rot and disappear forever.”

Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death

“All those qualities, capacities and tendencies which do not harmonize with the collective values–everything that shuns the light of public opinion, in fact–now come together to form the shadow, that dark region of the personality which is unknown and unrecognized by the ego. The endless series of shadow and doppelgänger figures in mythology, fairy tales and literature ranges from Cain and Edom, by way of Judas and Hagen, to Stevenson’s Mr. Hyde in the ugliest man of Nietzsche; again and again such figures have appeared and made their bow before human consciousness, but the psychological meaning of this archetype of the adversary has not yet dawned upon mankind.”

Erich Neumann, Depth Psychology and a New Ethic

“People think that I must be a very strange person. This is not correct. I have the heart of a small boy. It is in a glass jar on my desk.”

Stephen King

Horror attracts us while it repulses us. We are confronted with our most hidden taboos in sinister forms. We investigate our shadowy dreams and terrors, seeking out the Other, anxious before the strange and unknown. We face forbidden ideas, lurking beneath the sewers and deep in the woods, unspoken, uncomfortable ideas, in the darkness of ourselves.

Our monsters reflect the most terrible aspects of our nature. They are our unconscious rejections, our atrocities against one another, our insatiable greed and consumption and narcissism. They return to haunt us, to torment us, when we foolishly believe that we are gods, when we transgress the laws of all humankind.

Horror sickens and disgusts and nauseates us. Yet our hearts tremble to the pleasure beneath our fear, to the endorphins of our near death, to the tragedies that we cannot help but stare at.

Horror teaches us the consequences of when we take too much and care not enough for others. It shows us what happens when we deceive and murder and destroy our sacred idols.

We must take on the embodiment of evil, whether it afflicts us in the realms of the supernatural or natural, literal or metaphorical. Through our struggles, we may be releasing the ghosts of our past or preventing the apocalypse of the near future.

Even if we pretend that we are going to remain young for eternity, we are flesh, we are bones, we are blood and pus and aging and disease and death. We are part of a cosmos we don’t fully comprehend. We don’t know what our fates will be as individuals in a community, as a species, as organisms on a planet.

We are temporary, vulnerable. We are primates lost in the vastness of space. We struggle for an illusion of control, a sense of familiarity, so that we can feel safe and secure, while knowing that nothing will ever last. We fear the threat of what we don’t know, the possibility of future anguish.

There are dangers inherent in everything we do, existing on different scales, from driving our cars down a highway to walking alone at night, from polluting our atmosphere to declaring war on a neighboring country.

We are agonizingly aware that we are going to die, that everyone we know will die, even if we distract ourselves with parties and drugs and work and fashion and games and sex and religion and politics. We are filled with an existential dread that we try to alleviate with meanings beyond ourselves. Yet there is always the possibility of nuclear war and environmental catastrophe and societal unrest. There is always the promise of the undertaker.

Horror is a safe place for our fears, our anxieties, to express themselves under the guise of a chainsaw-wielding maniac, a zombie horde roaming through the mall, a cannibal, ghoul, goblin, snake, slasher, demon, or vampire that casts no shadow.

We can look at our inner darkness rather than hide from it. We can grapple with the unknown rather than pretend it doesn’t exist. Only when we are honest, when we burn our light through the chasm of darkness, can we be liberated from our suffering.

Horror disturbs our sanity, shocks us out of our comfort, mocks our hypocrisies, exposes our underlying insecurities. We need horror to awaken us out of our complacency, our smug delusions of perfection, and let go of false certainties.

We must find a way to grieve for our losses, to turn toward the truths that scare us, to participate joyfully among the sorrows of the world. We are human beings, achingly conscious, here for a short time with each other. Our life on this earth is precious and fleeting and uncertain. We can withdraw from the unknown, clinging onto normalcy, wallowing in our most mundane days, or we can free ourselves to the mysterious.

On George Orwell

Eric Arthur Blair (1903–1950), better known as George Orwell, was an English writer. Although he was an accomplished essayist, he gained his fame through later works such as Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four.

He was born in India but grew up in England. When he was eight years old, his parents sent him off to a private prep school in Sussex. As a young adult in the 1920s, he served as a member of the Indian Imperial Police. After Blair resigned from his post in Burma, he tramped around London and Paris. He set out as a wanderer, sometimes without any place to stay, recording the daily struggles of the poor. 

He wrote enough to get by but didn’t find much acclaim until years later. During different periods of his early adulthood, he picked hops in a field, washed dirty dishes in fancy restaurants, taught teenagers at a private school, and clerked in a bookshop. 

Ever since the publication of his first book (Down and Out in Paris and London), which was seen as too scandalous for the time, he wrote under the pseudonym of George Orwell.

In 1936, at the start of the Spanish Civil War, he volunteered to fight in Spain. He joined up with the communists and anarchists and socialists, among other leftist groups, in opposition to fascist powers.

During a battle on the front, a sniper shot him in his throat, almost killing him. While recovering from his wounds, he was forced to flee to France after conditions around him became too unsafe (Soviet propaganda turned against the militia he once was a member of). After many dissenters were repressed, Blair became disillusioned with intellectuals who supported the Soviet Union. Throughout his life, however, he deepened his commitment to democratic socialist principles.

Blair wanted to fight against the Nazis in WWII, but the British army rejected him due to his poor health. He accepted a position at the BBC instead. While there, he contributed a minor part to the propaganda campaign against the fascists. Eventually he quit so he could work on literary pieces for the Tribune, a democratic socialist magazine. 

During different periods in his life, Eric Blair worked as a dishwasher, novelist, journalist, schoolteacher, bookshop clerk, and soldier. He was a tramp on the muddy roads of England, a lieutenant in the trenches of Spain, and wrote about it.

His writings exposed the brutal inequalities in authoritarian systems. As a result, his ideas were seen as too subversive. In some countries, his novels were banned and burned. People caught with his words were put in prison. 

Blair had his blind spots as well. Some scholars have criticized his racist, sexist, homophobic attitudes. Yet many of his experiences were so impactful that he was forced to confront his prejudices. 

He felt a lot of guilt, for instance, as a privileged white man in the service of the British empire. During his employment with the Indian Imperial Police, he had to take on the compromised role of an authority figure. He was seen as an outsider, as part of an occupying force, oppressing the poor of another country. The more that he adhered to the duties expected of him, as if he were performing before the locals, the more ashamed he felt. After five years as a police officer, after witnessing the direct effects of imperialism, he quit his position.

He later disguised himself as a tramp, voluntarily living in destitution, so that he could learn more about those in extreme poverty. While many in the lower classes had no way out of their unjust circumstances, he could escape. Even though his family were “lower-upper-middle class,” (as he wrote in The Road to Wigan Pier), he still had socioeconomic opportunities that others didn’t have. 

After his time in Burma, though, he had changed. He wanted to write authentic stories about the downtrodden. He often took the side of the poor laborer who struggled for higher wages, of the vagabond who roamed the countryside, of the hopper who slept next to other workers in a tin hut, of the miner who toiled in the coal mine. 

Blair was known for being a sharp critic of injustice. He looked through the biases of ordinary living to find truths that most were afraid to admit. He attacked authoritarians in every guise, despising those who wanted power for themselves while hiding their true intentions behind propagandistic language. Despite their claims of morality, many ideological groups imposed their order through violence and censorship.

Blair wrote with a sense of wry humor, almost as a defense against his own disappointment. His opinions were unflinchingly honest. He believed that while people were so capable of progress, they were still susceptible to the dangers of totalitarianism. 


Orwell, George. The Complete Works of George Orwell: Novels, Memoirs, Poetry, Essays, Book Reviews & Articles: 1984, Animal Farm, down and out in Paris and London, Prophecies of Fascism… Frankfurt am Main, e-artnow, 2019.

Orwell, George | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Accessed 17 Sept. 2022.

Woodcock, George. “George Orwell.” Encyclopædia Britannica, 8 Mar. 2019,

REVIEW: On Liberty (John Stuart Mill)

John Stuart Mill (1806–1873) was an English philosopher. He wrote On Liberty in 1859.


1. Individual liberty must be protected against all forms of tyranny. Tyranny can arise from the state, a powerful minority, or the prevailing opinions of the masses.

2. Mature people should have sovereignty over their bodies and minds. Societal power can justly be exercised over those individuals, socially and legally, when preventing them from harming others.

3. The majority has the potential to suppress the ideas of the minority. Those who are in power, whether they are part of the minority or majority, have historically persecuted those who are not in power. There needs to be precautions in place to protect people from an abuse of power.

4. Punishing individuals for having differing views is harmful to society. People should have the right to publish what they want. They should have the freedom to agree or disagree with popular beliefs. They should be able to determine how they want to live as long as they are not causing suffering to others. If they are mature enough to make their own life decisions, they are mature enough to accept the consequences of their actions.

5. People are not infallible. They are not perfect. Even the wisest individuals will make mistakes when pursuing the truth. Civilizations grow out of the failures of past ages. Even the present time may seem inhumane to future generations.

6. Nobody has the right to decide the best way to live for everyone else in the world. Many possibilities exist for a meaningful existence. People have varying degrees of knowledge in certain subjects. And they know nothing about other subjects. The more that they learn over time, the more they will become aware of what they know and don’t know. Those who impose their dogmatic beliefs on others act from an assumption of infallibility.

7. Individuals come from different backgrounds. They have a variety of preferences, perspectives, and experiences. People grow through a diversity of views. They are challenged to examine their old beliefs when they are confronted with new evidence. Ideas have to be tested continuously rather than obeyed out of custom and habit.

8. Societies are held back when individuals are too scared to share their opinions. If they are punished for their thoughts, then more people will be hesitant to express themselves. They will self-censor. They will hide their minds. They will internalize what is deemed as acceptable by their dominant culture. They will rebel.

People should not be afraid to make mistakes when seeking the truth. Many timid geniuses have been suppressed before they have reached their conclusions. Many promising minds have been smothered by the negative pressures of the masses. Geniuses, although small in number, can only prosper when they are free to think.

9. There may be errors hidden in accepted views. Some ideas, once considered true, have eventually been shown to be false. No belief is above being criticized, even the most cherished ones. Nonconformists, who often question the prevailing dogmas in society, shouldn’t be silenced or denounced. They should be honored for disturbing the unthinking complacency of the masses, for challenging the status quo.

10. People do not exist in isolation. If they harm themselves, they may negatively affect those who are closest to them. Individuals should be free to express themselves. Other members of society have the right to approve or disapprove of their choices. But when their actions are harmful to their communities, then they have to be held accountable.

Questions and Criticisms:

1. How is harm defined? The meaning of harm changes throughout Mill’s essay, especially when applied to the blurring contexts of public and private life. Will there ever be a universal definition of harm?

2. Practically speaking, do the ends justify the means if the moral gains are higher than the moral losses? Who determines what ends are justifiable, especially if the means are unjust?

3. Mill supported colonialism on utilitarian grounds. He believed in liberal values for certain members in his society, but then made exceptions for this standard.

He considered England, which was a major hegemonic power of the time, to be acting out of civilizing benevolence.

When he was writing in 1859, England had already committed atrocities in countries such as India. Mill believed that England was justified in “civilizing” places that were considered “primitive.” He wanted to educate the “barbarians.”

These “backward” countries were all coincidentally outside of Europe.

Powerful countries often intervene in the affairs of weaker countries. They claim to be humanitarians. They talk about peace and justice, while actually serving their own self-interests. These interests can be devastating for the population, while enriching those in power.

Reflections on Chan Buddhism

Chan is beyond symbols. It is a practice that directly points to our minds.

We don’t need to avoid or get caught up in our stories. When our thoughts and feelings and perceptions arise, we can let them come and then let them go. We can return to the present moment, softening our hearts.

As the seasons change, we can be alive to that change. Before our categorizations of right and wrong, big and small, good and bad, dead and alive, past and future, and so on, life is what it is.

We can honor every moment with our presence. Our time is so precious and fleeting.

When we wash the dishes, we wash the dishes. When we go to the bathroom, we go to the bathroom. When we listen, we listen. When we walk, we walk.

Rather than trying to accomplish everything at the same time, we can do one thing at a time.

We are so often distracted by our worries and ambitions and regrets. As Seneca said, “We are more afraid of our imaginations than reality.”

When we are single-minded, we can gain clarity. We can be present, over and again.

Venerable Chang Zao said that we practice so that our minds can go from defiled to pure. When we first start to meditate, our minds may wander. With enough patience, we will eventually settle down. We will become stable.

When we meditate, we are letting life be as it is. Because we are creatures who are so used to thinking, we become attached to our thoughts. We abstract ourselves away from the moment, forgetting who we are. Usually we are living in symbols, believing that we are separate and permanent.

We often don’t notice that we are aging every moment of every day. But after a few decades pass, we might look at ourselves in the mirror, and wonder how we ever got to be so old.

We are not the same people at five or fifteen or fifty. Our thoughts, perceptions, and feelings change over the span of our development. We adapt to our environments, whether natural or social, while those environments shift around us. Even the atoms that make us who we are, such as hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen, came from a process billions of years old.

We are interwoven in this universe. Yet in our ignorance, we act as if we are apart from it.

When we are present, we can naturally gain wisdom. We can begin to see the confluence of conditions that make us who we are. Without the sun, trees, and oceans, we would not be. Without our ancestors, we would not exist.

We are as old as the Big Bang and as young as a newborn. We are transforming right now.

When favorable conditions arise, we can be thankful, but they will not last. When unfavorable conditions arise, we can be thankful for their many lessons, but they will pass too. Everything can be our teacher if we are aware enough.

Chan practice is not reserved for monasteries hidden deep in the mountains. It is not only for seekers who wander alone in the wilderness. Any activity can be sacred when it is done in a space of stillness. We are practicing wherever we go, touching eternity in a single moment.