Pythy Maxims

Pythy Maxims

The trouble with trying to think clearly is that our emotional needs keep getting in the way. The trick is to make thinking clearly an emotional need.
Think more interestingly more clearly more often, because life is more interesting than you think.
The only way to stay ahead of the curve is to think so boldly that almost everyone considers you a screwball.
Think conceptually. Or remain forever confused by conflicting images.
Everyone is a loser. Winners are just losers with more patience.
Be more generous to others than you would ever expect anyone to be to you.
Share freely. That is, accept the fact that everyone will use whatever you share however they wish.
Those who feel the generous are being taken advantage of by the greedy completely miss generosity’s most valuable unintended consequence: it is by far the easiest and quickest way to separate the wheat from the chaff — who are very effectively winnowed out by their lightweight responses to real virtue.
The only way to get everything you want in life is to be very clever about what you want.
One of the eternal verities of human life is that if you make the same choices as other people, they will think you are intelligent.
You can send a man to hell, but you can’t make him suffer.
If you really want to change reality, the first thing to do is to figure out what reality really is.
Whatever reality really is, it must have an inherent order. There is far too much consistency and predictability in matter, and even in personalities, for reality to be grounded totally upon chaos or personal whimsy. And so that order should be understandable, and even explainable, by using clear conceptual reasoning to clarify what the patterns in that inherent order probably are.
There are very good reasons why we continuously deceive ourselves about reality. But there are even better ones why we shouldn’t.
Don’t fight reality. Influence it.
The more accurate you are about reality, the more fun you can have with it.
The inherent patterns in reality are not rules to be followed. They are unavoidable. If you can figure out a way to get around one, it is not an inherent pattern.
Not only is the universal pursuit of self-interest the reality, it is also the ideal — if life is an eternal democracy.
Life is both much simpler and more complicated than it appears to be.
Seeing may be believing, but, in order to understand what you are seeing, logic is necessary.
Don’t believe in reason. Rely on it.
There are no inherent mysteries, only intricate misunderstandings.
It is said that to know you do not know is the beginning of wisdom. But that does not mean that to not know is the end of wisdom.
Logical reasoning leads to scientific knowledge, but it can also lead to wisdom — and not only by clarifying first principles and overthrowing false assumptions, but also by perceiving the patterns in our personalities, in the covert qualities of our desires, in the inescapable continuum of our free wills’ pursuit of happiness and even in our supposedly irrational emotions, clearly revealing the beauty of life’s inherent rules and effectively eliminating the illusions we have ironically been relying upon to give us hope in the absence of a more profound perspective.
Turning a blind eye to reality is consistent with the pursuit of beauty in myth, but it is inconsistent with the pursuit of beauty in truth.
Faith in the Lord begins in fear, and comes to an end in spiritual courage.
God is not dead. He is just not God.
Playing God is as dangerous for God as it is for humans.
It is said that God the Creator is all-knowing. But if that were true, He would have known better.
Omniscience can’t coexist with omnipotence — because an omniscient mind is by definition incapable of making itself not know something.
God made man in his own image. That was his mistake.
Even if God had created us, He would never have admitted it.
We ourselves often duck responsibility for our own actions. Just think how much more embarrassed God would be if He were their author.
Many people blame religions for their guilty consciences. But maybe we should be blaming our guilty consciences for our religions.
People who were raised on The Bible can never tell the difference between a warning and an advertisement.
Just because some unbelievable stories are told about a legendary personality doesn’t mean his historical existence is also unlikely.
Even if wisdom could be communicated from “beyond”, that is insufficient reason to trust it. And perhaps even more skepticism is warranted than usual. Think of it this way – should sheep believe what shepherds tell them about how they should live their lives?
Just because it’s forbidden doesn’t mean it’s good for you.
Dramatizing the power of evil to seduce is only an ennobling excuse because we fail to see the self-destructive core of our taking pleasure in cruelty.
The reason it is so tempting to believe that Satan exists is that it is flattering to think we are being fought over.
One reason that religious prohibitions will probably never disappear is that we would deeply miss the glory we bestow upon ourselves for daring to violate the rules of an illustrious illusion we have imagined was an explanation of our existence.
If anyone is trying to make you jealous of their own heaven, they are clearly not happy enough there.
It is hard for a rich man to pass through the eye of a needle ― without high-priced legal help.
Even at their absolute best, religious answers remain authoritarian attempts to instill virtue through inspiring intimidation.
I am That. Thou art That. All this is That. But that does not mean that that That is One Indivisible That.
Beliefs that last are often those which resonate so deeply with our insecurities and fears that they spread like a pandemic from the subconscious of one mind to others’.
Rescuing our noblest ideals from the encrustation of our most ancient fears is one of our hearts' most intense yet most inchoate desires.
There is more to life, and less to the traditional explanations of it, than meets the eye unaided by reason.
Believing deeply often diminishes perceiving clearly. But fearing deeply is much worse, often severely distorting almost all perceptions.
Stop dreaming of immortality. Live it instead, right where it exists, in the continual present.
We do have all the time in the world. But that doesn’t mean we should waste it.
The road to hell is paved with the good intentions of the inattentive.
The road to heaven is also paved with good intentions.
Good intentions are not the whole story. You must also pay attention.
Personal attention is a continuing necessity in any friendship.
Being able to pay close attention to details, without losing perspective, is a surefire way to attract attention.
The ancient advice is to know thyself ― not to pay someone else to tell you who they think you should be.
Spiritual leaders who require obedience as a prerequisite to granting any religious reward reveal that they fundamentally misunderstand the true source of happiness.
Unquestioning obedience is hailed as a great virtue only by those leaders whose commands are highly questionable.
Laws should act as the lower limits of acceptable behavior, not as a guide to noble action.
Others’ freedom is not an internal affair. It is an eternal affair.
It is a compassionate mistake to make your own happiness dependent upon your first having created a more civilized culture — because the creation of your hoped-for culture is most probably dependent on the persuasiveness of your first having achieved greater happiness yourself.
Power does not corrupt. Power reveals corruption. And absolute power reveals every single bit of corruption. So unless you want the dirty details of all your dreams made public, avoid absolute power.
Only a fool would want to rule the entire human race — even in normal times. And only an absolute fool would want to rule them during an apocalypse.
With power you get what you desire. But with wisdom you discover what is worthwhile to desire.
It is said that the end justifies the means, but that overlooks the crucial detail that only just means will culminate in a just end.
In searching for the causes of war, don’t overlook boredom.
One of the most dangerous sports a family can play together is running a business. That is why royal families are not known for having good relations with their relations.
Corporations may be ruthless at times, but rarely as ruthless as poverty is.
Civilization is clearly not crucial to human life, as we have mostly been living without it for over a million years now – a few of us even happily at times.
Acute jealousy renders you incapable of friendship with anyone who is not worse off than you are.
People can be so cruel. And that’s just what they’re proud of. So you can imagine the deeds they are actually ashamed of.
The world is a place where, when push comes to shove, nearly everyone shoves. This maxim can easily be put to the test by riding a crowded subway train during the height of the morning rush hour.
People who believe that justice is a pendulum are willing to swing it wildly.
Revolutionary behavior and violence are usually only indulged in when people are at their wits’ end. So social stability depends a lot on how long their wits are.
One of the great things about anarchy is that it’s hard to get it organized.
During humanity’s transition to democracy, let he who is without authoritarianism cast the first drone.
True democracy means never attempting to desire for another mind.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. But if for some reason you want to persuade others to hold your opinions, either you have to have high-end rhetorical skills or, better yet, some emotional leverage over how they pursue their self-interest. Most persuasive of all, though, is simply to express their already held opinions more passionately.
To be wildly popular, all you have to do is enthusiastically encourage everyone to think and feel exactly as they already do.
No cultural habit ever totally fades out of human life. It just loses market share.
Money is not the root of all evil, but it is popular because people believe it is.
The younger generation should always learn from the older — even if only from their mistakes.
It is a quintessential American characteristic to refuse to remain imprisoned by the restrictions imposed upon our pursuit of knowledge, wisdom and happiness by the all-too-often too-limited imaginations of our ancestors.
When you turn your own imagination into an enemy, it is called a conscience.
Man does not live by bread alone, but he might be healthier if he did.
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it also made her life more interesting. The simple fact is, something always kills the cat. It was actually quite wise of her to choose something stimulating to perform that invaluable service.
If an animal isn't kind and sweet, does that mean it has no right to eat?
The possibility of theft is simply one of the risks of living with human beings or blue jays.
Man is not the only animal who spoils its own environment. But it is one of the very few who ever cleans up afterwards.
The human race is not all that humane. But its simian competitors are even less so.
Darwinian evolution has obviously not had enough time to work.
The way many parents behave, it is no wonder so many people feel nature is capricious.
Many women get married to practice taking care of a baby before having one of their own.
A good marriage is a slow transition from a delightful illusion to a still inspiring reality.
Remembered pleasures of a lost love should linger long, often return unbidden, and never be forbidden.
It is said about women that you can’t live with them and you can’t live without them. Ironically, once you’ve learned to live without them, living with them is a whole lot easier and a lot more fun. Assuming the same applies to men, perhaps it is only misperceived dependence that makes getting along with each other seem so difficult.
As is true for financial markets, total transparency between the sexes would go a long way towards eliminating irrational exuberance.
Love conquers all — intellects.
Choosing a partner mainly for sex, without having much of a personal relationship, is like playing tiddly-winks instead of chess — because friendship is what provides any relationship with its complexity, substance, subtlety, sustainability and enjoyment.
Sex is a poor substitute for love, but it’s not a bad substitute for tennis.
It is much more difficult to inspire someone's trust than to arouse his or her lust.
Idealists should always strive to underestimate others, as that will bring them closer to reality.
Perhaps only the strong survive, but only the tolerant thrive.
It is natural to feel helpless when attempting the impossible.
Always do right and you’ll always have too much to do.
Honesty is the best policy that almost no one uses.
Honesty, not modesty, is a virtue.
The fiercely competitive are fierce because they don’t see themselves as competitive.
It is hard to enjoy the company of those who have violated your trust. But it is even harder to enjoy the company of those whose trust you have violated.
Theft is an inefficient way to redistribute resources. So much gets destroyed in the process.
Resorting to lying or cheating in any competition amounts to conceding defeat.
Relying on theft and deceit is an unconscious admission of incompetence.
If you are easily fooled, you will be ― by those who aren’t confident enough to play by the rules. And they are almost always the majority.
Those who cheat to beat “the system” apparently don’t realize that that is how they get initiated into it.
There are many things in life worth getting temporarily tired for, but there is nothing in life worth getting permanently tired for.
One of the most exhausting projects you can possibly undertake is trying to tear down the wall of another person’s emotional intransigence.
Resist your friends’ irrational opinions. But remind yourself to check in on them regularly in case reason has accidentally influenced them in the meantime.
Although it sometimes proves difficult to change the way you think — to shift your own attitudes — it is immeasurably easier than to change the way others think.
We are all quite unhappy at times with the way others treat us. But we are all not nearly as unhappy with the way we treat others.
We often reveal our own subconscious motives when we criticize others’.
All some people want from you is for you to recognize their existence — and not mind it.
It is rarer to be genuinely kind to the rich than to the poor — because your generosity has to survive without support from feelings of superiority.
The compassionate enjoy helping, and therefore love, the needy — which is one reason so many people seeking to be loved prefer to be needy.
Help is a hindrance if it isn’t wanted.
You can lead a man to wisdom, but you cannot make him think.
There is a flip side to every concept which has ever been coined.
The switch from a delightful illusion to a still inspiring reality is full of surprises.
It is hard to transform an act of desperation into a thing of beauty.
Just because most people consider life to be a game does not mean it is a game. But it does mean you should probably not let yourself be fooled into taking it too seriously.
An unbroken series of short-term successes can still amount to a long-term failure.
Do anything well long enough and you are bound to have irritated a majority.
One good delay deserves another.
Memories are to attitudes what fossils are to their living descendants.
Whenever your emotions are inconsistent with the currents of your conscious beliefs, pay attention. You may perceive the even stronger undercurrents of the conflicting beliefs your experiences have unconsciously taught you.
It is the despair of multitudes that our personal emotions are not subject to our own direct, willful manipulation. Instead, our emotions stubbornly remain at all times just automatic mental reactions to our perceptions. But therein lies the key to success. The quality, quantity and continuity of the emotions we continuously experience can definitely be influenced immensely by shifting those perceptions, and thus our choice of desires, through understanding the universal pursuit of happiness better.
Potentially being punished for something you want to do can diminish your desire to do it, but the certainty of ridicule if others find out you want to do it usually totally destroys that desire.
Some people obsess about prolonging their life, but there are many who have lived long enough to have learned one can live without it.
Both death and change would be far easier for all of us to endure if the remembrance of the past just shed more light, without shadows, on the present.
Living life well means knowing you can live without it.
“… she says it’s a tradition — which must mean all those things people do that they don’t know why they do ’em.”

from the novella Christopher O’Connor’s Romances
"Of course, if you're hoping for a perfect world, you're bound to be disappointed. But an interesting world — now that's doable. It's right here in front of you."

from the novel Bob and Charlie
“You may say we're all dreamers,
And you're not the only one,
But if you care to join us,
Then the world will be more fun.”

from the novel Bob and Charlie
Berber’s Business Rule Number One:

Never make a cheater your partner.
Berber’s Business Rule Number Two:

Never make your partner a cheater.
Berber’s Business Rule Number Three:

Be careful whenever you make waves. They often annoy the beachbums even more than they please the surfers.
Berber’s Business Rule Number Four:

Don’t waste time making enemies. As long as you’re active, you’ll have plenty.
Berber’s Business Rule Number Five:

Slowly but surely doesn’t always win the race, but quickly and surely surely does.
Berber’s Business Rule Number Six:

The power to destroy often overwhelms the power to create ― because almost anyone can wield it. So fight for the underdog. Be constructive, not destructive. It’s the civilized thing to do.
What fools these immortals be.
The world is mad, but let's not get angry about it.
Yes. Do pass it on. But not all of it. Don’t pass the pain on.
The secret superiority people all feel towards their heroes is made infinitely easier the moment a hero has died.
Although it is an extremely common habit, it is always a losing proposition to rely on others to support your self-image — because everyone needs to believe that it is better to be them than to be you (to support their own self-image), and so their opinion of you will always need to be at least slightly derogatory.
The truth never hurts — much.
Truth often hides everything.
If the truth shall set you free, then getting a little closer to the truth should set you a little bit freer.
You don’t need the truth to set you free, just a little courage.
Substance is satisfying.
Satire is a sophisticated lie told in a humorous way to reveal a more painfully funny truth.
The easiest way to be inscrutable is to be completely straightforward and honest. Then no one will be able to figure out what you’re up to.
Speak the truth and you will be conspicuous. The human race loves novelty.
Don’t fight fire with fire. Fight fire with cool water. And if that is insufficient, let the fire rage on.
If you can’t accomplish your goal with patient persistence, it probably can’t be accomplished by any means. Anger is never needed, and is most often counterproductive, since it is the result of railing against reality.
Impatience is the emotional reaction caused by your incapacity to perceive the realistic means required to achieve your goal.
To reach any desirable audience, one must almost always run a gauntlet of virulent complainers.
Discipline: not being deterred by a relatively superficial pain while in pursuit of a relatively profound pleasure.
Personal Ethics: how to have fun without hurting yourself.

Social Ethics: how to have fun without hurting yourself or others.
Prophecy: The best way to foresee what the future might hold is to work on each step and so make it unfold.
Trying hard to become perfect is one of the most effective ways to discover that perfection is an illusion.
Humor is the spoonful of sugar that helps the philosophical medicine go down.
Far more entertaining than a high-wire or trapeze circus act is watching someone engage in a life-after-death-defying spiritual rebellion, while pretending we thoroughly condemn it.  
Anachron’s Law:
There is no myth which is so irrational that no one will believe it.

Anachron’s Corollary:
There is no truth which is so obvious that everyone will accept it.
Iconoclasts who go around popping cherished myths are usually highly unpopular — until either they, or the myths, are dead.
That is what philosophers are good for: stating the obvious that no one else is emotionally willing to admit.