From David Eagleman’s Incognito: Secret Lives of the Brain he uses an analogy of Greeks charioteer to show the conflict between rational & emotional decision making.


The theme this week for me seems to be uncertainty. Or it might have been running longer than I have noticed.

At the moment, I am also currently reading Elif Shafak’s Three Daughters of Eve. It tells of three women who, in one glance, could become the unlikeliest of friends. Shirin, an atheist Iranian-British, Mona the conservative Egyptian-American, and then there’s Peri. Just like her city, Istanbul, Peri is between two worlds, currently seeking answers of which side should she leans more of — as a result of being raised by her leftist father and super religious mother. Together, the three of them are the Sinner, the Believer, and the Confused.

In one of the sessions in a controversial seminar on philosophy & God with their eccentric Professor Azur, he mentioned:

“Too many suffer from M.O.C.”

As the students hazarded guesses on what the acronyms meant “Modern Obesity Curse? Machismo of the Crazed?”, Azur replied, “Malady of the Certainty.”

Certainty was to curiosity what the sun was to the wings of Icarus. Where she shone forcefully, the other couldn’t survive. With certainty came arrogance; with arrogance, blindness; with blindness, darkness; and with darkness, more certainty.

Certainty is part of ego. Zen Buddhist nun Jeong Kwan puts it in season 3, episode 1 of Chef’s Table (H/T: Austin Kleon on jealousy):

Creativity and ego cannot go together. If you free yourself from the comparing and jealous mind, your creativity opens up endlessly. Just as water springs from a fountain, creativity springs from every moment. You must not be your own obstacle. You must not be owned by the environment you are in. You must own the environment, the phenomenal world around you. You must be able to freely move in and out of your mind. This is being free. There is no way you can’t open up your creativity. There is no ego to speak of. That is my belief.

As a new ritual to the class, Azur encouraged his students to “strip themselves of the certainty mantle” before they enter his classroom. Outside, he says, he prepares a peg right outside the door where one will hang their cloak of judgments — only after they have rid themselves of their Egos, then they can walk inside and all become Learners.

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