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January 13th, 2013

Dionysius the Areopagite: Mystical Theology

... the pre-eminent Cause of all things... is not itself any of those things. (It) is neither soul nor intellect; nor has it imagination, opinion reason or understanding; nor can it be expressed or conceived, since it is neither number nor order; nor greatness nor smallness; nor equality nor inequality; nor similarity nor dissimilarity; neither is it standing, nor moving, nor at rest; neither has it power nor is power, nor is light; neither does it live nor is it life; neither is it essence, nor eternity nor time; nor is it subject to intelligible contact; nor is it science nor truth, nor kingship nor wisdom; neither one nor oneness, nor godhead nor goodness; nor is it spirit according to our understanding, nor filiation, nor paternity; nor anything else known to us or to any other beings of the things that are or the things that are not; neither does anything that is know it as it is; nor does it know existing things according to existing knowledge; neither can the reason attain to it, nor name it, nor know it; neither is it darkness nor light, nor the false nor the true; nor can any affirmation or negation be applied to it, for although we may affirm or deny the things below it, we can neither affirm nor deny it, inasmuch as the all-perfect and unique Cause of all things transcends all affirmation, and the simple pre-eminence of Its absolute nature is outside of every negation- free from every limitation and beyond them all.

Dionysius the Areopagite: Mystical Theology

The entire "book" is only 8 pages (nine including notes).

10.1 Carrying vitality and consciousness, embracing them as one, can you keep from parting?
10.2 Concentrating energy, making it supple, can you be like an infant?
10.3 Purifying hidden perception, can you make it flawless?
10.4 Loving the people, governing the nation, can you be uncontrived?
10.5 As the gate of heaven opens and closes, can you be impassive?
10.6 As understanding reaches everywhere, can you be innocent?
10.7 Producing and developing, producing without possessing, growing without domineering: this is called mysterious power.
Tao Teh Ching - Cleary Translation

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4. Kindness is its own reward—even to toddlers.
Several studies over the past six years have found that kids as young as 18 months old will spontaneously help people in need. But do they do so just to please adults? Apparently not: In July, researchers published evidence that their kindness is motivated by deep, perhaps innate, feelings of compassion for others.
The researchers found that toddlers’ pupil sizes increased—a sign of concern—when they saw someone in need of help; their pupil size decreased when that person received helped. The kids’ pupils got smaller when they were the ones who helped—but also when they watched someone else help. These results, published in Psychological Science, suggest that toddlers’ kindness springs from genuine feelings of concern, not simply a concern for their own reputation.
This argument gains support from a study published around the same time in PLOS ONE. In that study, children just shy of their second birthday appeared happier when they gave away a treat than when they received a treat. What’s more, they seemed even happier when they gave away one of their own treats than when they were allowed to give away a treat that didn’t belong to them. In other words, performing truly altruistic acts—acts that involve some kind of personal sacrifice—made the kids happier than helping others at no cost to themselves.
“While other studies have suggested adults are happier giving to others than to themselves and that kids are motivated to help others spontaneously,” Delia Fuhrmann, a Greater Good research assistant, wrote in August, “this is the first study to suggest that altruism is intrinsically rewarding even to very young kids, and that it makes them happier to give than to receive.”
When a behavior is intrinsically rewarding like this, especially at the earliest stages of life, it suggests to scientists that it has deep evolutionary roots. Watch the video below to see one toddler going through the experiment.

Ten Things Science Taught Us About Happiness in 2012
5. We can train ourselves to be more compassionate.
For decades, psychology was preoccupied with alleviating negative emotional states like depression, chronic anger, or anxiety. More recently, we’ve come to understand that we can also “treat” people to cultivate positive emotions and behaviors, and that traits like empathy and happiness are skills we can consciously develop over time.
But what about compassion? This has been less investigated, which is why a study published in the July issue of the Journal of Happiness Studies stands to be so influential.
Stanford researcher Hooria Jazaieri and colleagues (including GGSC Science Director Emiliana Simon-Thomas) randomly assigned 100 adults to a nine-week compassion cultivation training program or to a waitlist control condition. Before and after taking the compassion course, participants completed surveys that “measured compassion for others, receiving compassion from others, and self-compassion.”
The results have important implications: Across all three domains, participants showed big increases in compassion. More research needs to be done, but this paper clearly suggests that we can train people—in schools, workplaces, churches, and elsewhere—to ease suffering in themselves and other people.
Ten Things Science Taught Us About Happiness in 2012

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