26 January 2013

Admiring the Sunset

Here a picture of the sunset from my apartment in Brunei.

There's a story from Chinese philosophy that goes like this:

There was once a monk who every day went out for a walk. And each day he would invite one of his disciples to accompany him. There was just one rule: no talking.
One day, he went out as usual with a selected disciple. As they stood on the top of a hill, there was a magnificent sunset. And the disciple blurted out, "That's magnificent!"
From that day on, the monk never again invited that disciple to join him.
One day, the disciple asked him, "Why are you so cruel? I only said two words!"
And the monk replied, "Yes, but when you were saying those words, you were no longer appreciating the sunset."

Why do we have this constant urge to say something? Why can't we just admire the sunset in silence? What is it about humans that makes us need to keep on talking all the time?

In the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams, an intergalactic visitor to Earth, called Ford Prefect, ponders this same question:

One of the things Ford Prefect had always found hardest to understand about humans was their habit of continually stating and repeating the very very obvious, as in "It's a nice day", or "You're very tall", or "Oh dear you seem to have fallen down a thirty-foot well, are you alright?" At first Ford had formed a theory to account for this strange behaviour. If human beings don't keep exercising their lips, he thought, their mouths probably seize up. After a few months' consideration and observation he abandoned this theory in favour of a new one. If they don't keep on exercising their lips, he thought, their brains start working. After a while he abandoned this one as well as being obstructively cynical.

I am with Ford Prefect here. I have never understood the need for us humans to talk all the time. And if we talked a bit less, maybe we would think a bit more.

Anyway, here's another sunset from my apartment.