Thursday, April 10, 2008

Popping Pomposity

"The 'I" thus experiences a twofold feeling... that of its puniness and that of its greatness... We must not only percieve and live each moment of time as if it were the last; we must also perceive and live each moment of time as if it were the first, in all its stupefying strangeness of emergence."
Pierre Hadot, What Is Ancient Philosophy

I quote Hadot in Nonprofit Leadership and advocate his "spiritual exercises" as a necessary form of philosophical self help. Contemplating our "puniness" on a regular basis is a good antidote for the creeping pomposity and sense of self importance that corrupt even the most humble of nonprofit leaders and blinds us to what is going on in ourselves and the world. While gazing at the stars and planets can do the trick, looking back 3-4 billion years is guaranteed to pop self-inflated egos in no time flat. I've just finished Stephen Jay Gould's delightful collection of essays, Ever Since Darwin: Reflections on Natural History, and feel like I've been to a spiritual chiropractor. And most of the time he was just talking about fossils and that soup of blue-green algae.

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