Live the life that you have been given.



The post “Cultivating kind actions — WISDOM — #1 – I, you, the earth and the Universe were born and will eventually vanish.”

When you accept that everything that you can ever be aware of will soon vanish from your mind, it becomes easier to relate to what can come to your mind. When your body ceases to function, your mind vanishes forever. When your friends’ bodies cease to live, their minds vanish forever. When the earth is incorporated into the Sun, it vanishes as an entity forever. When enough time passes, the Universe as we know it vanishes.

When we accept these simple obvious things, it becomes easier for us to seek out the things that we can do with our time and live a vigorous life within those constraints. Humanity has explored the physical world we live within, and our modern science has measured time, space, matter and energy to an accuracy far beyond what our natural senses can perceive.

The considerations of our physical being within these boundaries are known, and we are compelled to live our lives in absolute obedience to these natural laws. In our minds we can conjure many things, but always our bodies, the home of our thoughts, must live within Nature’s Laws.

From these observations, we can know that our lives will be longer and more enjoyable if we choose to keep away from attempting the impossible. Therefore, be kind to your body and your mind. Seek out and pursue challenges that are within the possibilities of nature.

There is plenty of living to be done within the natural world, and it is easy to choose not to do stupid things that violate its laws.


Humanity’s opportunity to explore new worlds


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The post “Cultivating kind actions — WISDOM — #2 – The world we live in is a robust place with many paths and choices.”

This analysis of humans’ relationship with the world differs from the Buddhist approach in that their focus is on reducing human suffering. This new approach is focused on locating the paths that we humans might follow and placing our attention on those paths that would lead to promoting the greatest vigor.

When people are in an expansive state of mind, they are more capable of exploring alternate potential realities placed before them.

When we as a very numerous species have all of us searching along the many paths provided by nature, there will be amazing things to discover.

Each of our eight billion individuals has the possibility of discovering and propagating marvelous new opportunities for all humanity.

Just enough self-chosen stress is good for us.


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The post “Cultivating kind actions — WISDOM — #3 – The source of our stress is craving to get more than we now possess.”

Stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s too much stress, especially from things that we can’t control but that can control us. Too much coddling, especially at the beginning of life, or school, or a job can make it difficult to face real challenges when they come along, and then even mild challenges bring on unpleasant stress.

The good kind of stressors are those which we seek out and challenge us to do our best, to be dedicated to a goal, to do good work to achieve our goal, to be creative when there are no apparent options, to be successful when the struggle is in doubt, and to win at honest games of skill because of our dedication.

It is good to crave more than what we have, to look down our road ahead and to persevere even when our goal has been obscured with difficulties. Of course, as we proceed our goal must incorporate kindness toward everyone we are to be affecting.

We, and by that I mean you, are the final arbiter of what is to be done. It is our decisions and actions that make our world a better place, that make it better for us, our friends, and everyone else. Getting more good things for everyone has the potential to make human society a good thing for us, for all living things, and beyond.

We can choose our personal stress as a way to improve ourselves and everything else.

How to become contented with what you have.


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The post “Cultivating kind actions — WISDOM — #4 – Our contentment is being satisfied with less than we once possessed.”

We live in a world that is filled with people trying to sell us something. They use all of the techniques that their guile and a thousand years of selling experience has provided to them. We are born into this world as innocent babies and learn to trust our caregivers but at some age, we discover we have spent all of our money, and yet the providers are willing to sell us more stuff on the promise that we will pay it back. Perhaps we buy a new car on credit but at some point don’t make the expected payments and unless we do they will take it away. If that happens your credit score goes down and your future credit payments for everything go up. Then your flexibility on what job you accept goes to whatever you can get, and you work for more hours and lower wages. Everything gets worse if you don’t make your payments. More than eighty percent of Americans are now in that situation. To keep their house they must pay the rent or leave, pay the mortgage or forfeit their house, pay for their kids’ upkeep and schooling or lose them, take care of their family obligations or move onto the street.

The simple solution is to intentionally spend less than you have and never borrow money. Instead of maximizing your pleasure, buy and own the home where you can pay off the loan as close to instantly as possible, upgrade it and use the increased value to pay for a better house. Get out of every debt as quickly as possible. That’s the talk of a depression-era baby.

Here is an attitude of mind that will help you through that apparently depressing time. Think about something you once owned a few years ago, but no longer have and how you adapted to not having it. Possibly you are better off no longer having it.

My first car was a 1941 Chevy Coupe. It was a beautiful car that looked even better than this restored one in the video, and mine ran perfectly. I liked it, and it was all mine at age seventeen. I earned the money to buy it in one summer of working on a farm. I have some fond memories that took place in that car, but now it’s gone, long gone. I have no choice but to be content with not having it. I don’t envy the guy driving that old Chevy in the video. My not nearly so old Subaru Outback is more serviceable for my current needs.

My contentment is enjoying what I now have and accepting fond memories of what I once possessed but no longer need.

Cultivating kind actions — ETHICS


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Cultivating kind actions has been arranged into — WISDOM — ETHICS — and VIRTUES, and each of these generalized qualities has four mature behaviors. Each of those actions requires some forethought, but they can be learned, and they can become habitual with a little practice. Each can be practiced as a quiet meditation to help make external behaviors in anticipated routine situations become automatic.


  1. Proper actions based on clear perceptions and forethought of results.
  2. Honest relationships with oneself and everyone else.
  3. Earning one’s living by producing socially valued things.
  4. A personal demeanor that entices honest behavior from everyone.

The following posts expand on defining these four basic virtues.

Wise forethought hunts diligently for desirable results.


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The post “Cultivating kind actions — ETHICS — #1 Proper actions based on clear perceptions and forethought of results.”

Human evolutionary processes brought us the ability to foresee the future much better than other species. We are not so limited in our thoughts because we have the ability to speak and communicate more complex thoughts than species who are limited by their direct perceptions and personal memories.

It was our genetic intentional self-selection for language and its syntax that evolved into our ability to think into the future with alternatives, and to confer with others on how we might achieve a proposed goal. Chief among these shared goals was the creating of personally worthwhile accomplishments for everyone’s benefit.

Even with perfect foresight, it is never certain what the results of our actions will be, but if we are guided by the goal of performing kind actions for the benefit of all humanity we will rarely go wrong.

In every meeting with others, consider how to be kind to them.

Learn better behavior by observing things honestly.



The post “Cultivating kind actions — ETHICS — #2 Honest relationships with oneself and everyone else.” 

Being honest with oneself seems like it would be the default state of the mind. We must be honest with ourselves if we are to perceive the reality of the world around us accurately and thus to relate properly to what it is telling us.

Once in the 1960’s when I was still doing New Year’s Resolutions, I chose … “My goal this year is not to be smarter but to avoid being stupider!” All the same, in March 2009 I got a Darwin Award from Wendy Northcutt for my many failures to save humanity, which would include myself.

Charles Scamahorn of Earthark getting a Darwin Award sticker from Wendy Northcutt

I have worn this award on a black long-sleeve T-shirt a couple of times when it seemed appropriate.

Yesterday, Debbie and I were having a discussion about our electric oven, and whether the button signage on the face of it was labeled incorrectly. The top button reads BAKE and the one immediately below it reads BROIL. We argue in a comic way about words a lot and I said the manufacturer had reverse-labeled those buttons. To prove my point I pushed the bottom button and lightly touched the top coil, expecting that it would take a few seconds to warm up if it meant what it claimed: BROIL. Unfortunately for me, it was hot, but not glowing, by the time my finger got there. Ouch! Those things heat up quickly. I ran some cold water on my finger within a few seconds and it barely got pink. I found this from How stuff works:

  • In baking, you are trying to heat food by surrounding the food with hot air.
  • In broiling, you are trying to heat food using infrared radiation.

Thus broiling is done with glowing hot elements at the top; by my standard I won the argument but burnt my finger. The button on the top should be labeled “broil.”

Sometimes even when you are right you still get burnt. So, foresee safe ways to test your assumptions before doing something stupid.

Linking ourselves into the human world


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The post “Cultivating kind actions — ETHICS — #3 Earning one’s living by producing socially valued things.”

Creating things of value for the other members of our society is an important component of being a human being. From conception to birth, through childhood, we as individuals are totally dependent upon the charity of other members of our society. As adolescents, we begin to learn how to be productive for our family and community and as adults we take on the responsibilities of nurturing a family of our own as part of a community. Then as middle-aged people, some of us assume responsible actions for our whole community, and some become seers into the future needs of the whole world of humans and communicate goals for creating a permanently sustainable world for us as individuals and as a society.

We live in a world where we are only animals if we are not socialized humans.

Enticing honest behavior from yourself and others


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The post “Cultivating kind actions — ETHICS — #4 A personal demeanor that entices honest behavior from everyone.”

Honesty to oneself is critical if one wants to become a more functional being. Everyone perceives external reality through their own senses and through their own learned habitually used filters of those external inputs.

When one’s real-world filters were corrupted by poor habits that were chosen as adaptive at the beginning of the relationship with those external things, then as long as those habits are in place the relationship will be corrupted. If one develops habits while under the influence of sick environmental situations, like drugs, demagogues, or emotionally stressed people, it will take intentional reprogramming to get rid of those habits.

There are many official organizations devoted to correcting those kinds of problems,  such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and their 12-step program for coping with alcoholism. Here is a list of other 12-Step programs from Wikipedia.

Those are ways of coping with an existing problem, but it would be much better to have never developed the problem in the first place. Read George E. Valliant‘s books The Natural History of Alcoholism, Adaptation to Life, and Triumphs of Experience to get a better science-based understanding of how people develop good and bad habits, and how to avoid getting on those unproductive paths through life.

One can choose to become more honest with oneself. But what does that mean? How can any progress be made? What are the tests one may apply to oneself to know if there is any improvement? Your response to the world depends on the habits you choose to create for yourself.

Your inner self is always asking, “Is this the right thing to think and to do?”


Cultivating kind actions — VIRTUES


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Cultivating kind actions has been arranged into — WISDOM — ETHICS — and VIRTUES, and each of these generalized qualities has four mature behaviors. Each of those actions requires some forethought, but they can be learned, and they can become habitual with a little practice. Each can be practiced as a quiet meditation to help make external behaviors in anticipated routine situations become automatic.


  1. Compassion toward everyone for coping with their unresolvable problems.
  2. Love expressed as kindness by exposing helpful alternatives to their problems.
  3. Helping others by expressing enthusiasm for their accomplishments.
  4. Delight in raising others up at the expense of lowering oneself.

The following posts expand on defining these four basic virtues.