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May 2, 2020

A High Minimum

This week's intro will be brief. One of the reasons for that is I've been focusing much of my energy on my meditation, yoga and breathing practices. I've been meditating for maybe three years now, and doing yoga for a few years longer. But the isolated breathwork is new to me, and I've become a bit obsessed with it. I'm excited to begin incorporating cold therapy into that practice soon. Cold water can be hard to come by in Thailand, though, with the exception of the brief and glorious window that opens up in the "winter." So I'll be starting off with a small inflatable pool, a lot of ice and some glee.

I hope you're all feeling well. If you're not, I hope some of the links and ideas below might help.


Brian Leli, May 2020

The Computer Scientist Who Can’t Stop Telling Stories

Quanta Magazine: You spend your days writing, but you also have other interests. How do you approach each day?
Donald Knuth: Jack London wrote 1,000 words every day before talking to anybody. He was totally, “Let me alone until I’ve got my thousand words!” Then he would drink or proofread the rest of the day. No, my scheduling principle is to do the thing I hate most on my to-do list. By week’s end, I’m very happy.
Quanta: Really? How does doing what you hate make you happy?
Knuth: It would be very easy for me to say, “Oh, let me be a genius and never clean the toilet.” But even cleaning toilets is doable. [My wife] Jill and I got uniforms that have a slot where the 409 cleaner fits. You go over there and squirt and feel good cleaning the toilet!
A person’s success in life is determined by having a high minimum, not a high maximum. If you can do something really well but there are other things at which you’re failing, the latter will hold you back. But if almost everything you do is up there, then you’ve got a good life. And so I try to learn how to get through things that others find unpleasant.

By Susan D'Agostino, Quanta Magazine, April 2020

Just Breathe

Tim Ferriss: What do the first 60 minutes of your day look like? When do you wake up? What do you do in those first 60 minutes if you have complete control over the morning?
Wim Hof: First, I begin with consciously breathing.
Ferriss: When you wake up?
Hof: Yes. Life is all about vital force created by oxygen. It’s free and it’s there and to me, it’s God itself. Like pranayama, the vital force, the chi, the prana, it’s all different names of God. All the belief systems tell us that’s the vital force of life itself. So that’s a very logical, natural way I begin; just breathe.

The Tim Ferriss Show #102, September 2015

Wim Hof & Russell Brand Talk Consciousness

Russell Brand: There must be consciousness prior to matter.
Wim Hof: Oh yeah. There is. Metaphysically and metadynamically. The Big Bang is the most stupid thing in the world. Existence—that it all began with the Big Bang? What are you talking about? It's a big fart of the universe? And then life like we are began?
There is simply a matter which we are not able to measure with the devices we have.
Brand: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
Hof: And that gets into matter. And when that matter comes, then we are able to work with our consciousness on that matter to bring it back to that state wherein it was. And now release it to get back into that state. And there is the soul. There is the beautiful soul, which is immortal and indestructible. There we find a relief of the fear and the concept of what is death. And that should become physical. And now we have the devices to show—by DNA research, and big microscopes, etc.—how the metaphysics and how the metadynamics work; before, while it goes into matter, and when it is released.
It's like a telephone. It's a body. And when your telephone is kaput, your information, your consciousness, is still in the iCloud. It's not dependent on our body. But with our body we are able to do what those people who passed away were not able to do when they passed away. Their codes, their consciousness is encrypted in our genome expressions. And now we have found a way to tap in. And to clarify ...
Captured spirits are very much related to physical genome expressions. Our genetical codes of the past generations are like captivated spirits. Those spirits have lived, and they left a certain kind of genome expression, which is embedded in the passage through the sperm into our little new conception, and there goes to the light and grows into a baby and it has certain kinds of DNA inscriptions. We are able, being alive, to tap into the genome expression. It's not only epigenetics. I go a level beyond.
Brand: I mean, in a sense, as you said before, it's an entirely new paradigm that's accessible. When I listen to this it makes me think that all these billions of years of history and evolution is merely the expression of a conscious force realizing itself as matter, until its inaugural consciousness can be once again reaccessed. And it feels like we're almost at that point, even though it's a time that seems culturally and socially defined by a certain kind of darkness. Surely this consciousness knows how to realize itself through us.
Hof: The light will prevail. Yes.

Under the Skin #70, March 2019

The Journey

We come out of a philosophical materialistic framework in which we are totally identified with our bodies and the material plane of existence—when you’re dead, you’re dead—so get it while it’s hot. And more is better and now is best, because we don’t know when the curtain will come down and it will all be over. And better not to think about that curtain because it’s too frightening. Where along the journey do we begin to suspect that that model of how it is, is just another model? And that this lifetime is but another part of a long, long journey? In the Buddhist teachings, there is an analogy of how long we’ve been doing this. The image is that of a solid granite mountain six miles long, six miles wide, six miles high. Every hundred years a bird flies by the mountain with a silk scarf in its beak and runs the scarf over the mountain. In the length of time it takes for the silk scarf to wear away the mountain, that’s how long we’ve been doing it. Round after round after round. It puts a different time perspective on this one life, doesn’t it? Not all of those rounds are on this plane; not all of those rounds are in human form. But all of those rounds are a part of a journey that has direction.
When, as the Third Chinese Patriarch of zen suggests, we set aside opinion and judgment because we see they’re just digging us deeper into our hole, we surrender our own knowing. Now, that’s really hard, because the whole culture is based on the worship of the golden calf of the rational mind while other levels of knowing, like what we call intuition, have practically become dirty words in our culture. It’s sort of sloppy, it’s not tight, logical, analytic, clean. You don’t sit in scientific meetings and say, “I intuit that ... ” You say, “Out of inductive reasoning, I hypothesize that we will be able to disprove the null hypothesis.” That’s saying the same thing, but we’ve made believe that we’re doing it analytically and logically. Some of us, I am sure, recognize that game. When Einstein said, “I did not arrive at my understanding of the fundamental laws of the universe through my rational mind,” many of his colleagues thought him quite eccentric—because the rational mind has been the high priest of the society. Realize that it’s merely a tiny system and that there are meta-systems and meta-meta-systems, in which only when we transcend our logical analytic mind can we even enter the gate.
I remember as a social scientist, I studied what was studiable. What was studiable had nothing to do with what was happening to me, but it was studiable. The analogy is the drunk looking for the watch under the streetlight. Someone comes to help him look, but there’s no watch under the streetlight, and finally the passerby asks, “Well, exactly where did you lose it?” And the drunk says, “I lost it up in the dark alley, but there is more light out here.” It is the light of the analytic mind we were using to try to find what had been lost in the distant alley.

Ram Dass, Grist for the Mill: Awakening to Oneness