Monday, December 24, 2007

Are we real? Are we alone? Why are we here?

Here are three excellent, though provoking series by. Channel 4 in the UK narrated by Sir Martin Rees. Provides insight to 3 perplexing questions that many of us have today: Are we real?, Are we Alone?, Why are we here?

Are We Real?

Are we alone?

Why are we here?

When both faith and reason fail you: Three forms of Knowledge

"Plato defined three types of knowing. The is pisis (faith). This means believing in something because someone in authority tells you so... The next higher way of knowing is dianoia (reasoning).. the test of reason and logic... The highest knowing is noesis - direct knowledge. This is the knowing that comes from the divine self." *

faith, reason, gnosisThroughout my life I have struggled with both faith and reason. As a teenager, I became a Christian. I was searching for answers for my existence here on this planet. Christianity came in a simple bundled package - believe in Christ, and you shall be saved. It was quick and easy and convenient solution to life's questions and problems.

However, all the answers did not from myself; it came from either church or the christian bible. Both were supposed to be infallible sources to the divine, and as time went by the less reasonable they seemed. Both hard list of rules and the biblical myths that were to be taken as literal truths that did my head in.

So after about five years of being faithful, I be come logical. I studied the sciences and ruled my life within the realms of what could be deducted and analysed. At first, like faith, it held all the answers that I needed and eased the cognitive dissonance I had in my life. But the problem with reason is that not all of life's decisions are logical. On a personal level, its not rational to make decisions that take you out of your comfort zone. For myself, quitting my job, travelling the world, and even falling in love broke the bounds of logic. It would have been a safe decision to remain where I was. But no matter what calculated risks I took, I would have to fight reason to take the next step.

So leaving faith and reason behind, I found myself. My own experiences, both internal and external, have provided me with the knowledge to evolve and even prosper. What long and strange (but wonderful) trip it has been!

* page 63, Ross G.H. Schott, The Dark Arts of Immortality

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Best Country to Live in? Depends on what you want...

Every year the UN comes out with a report on the Human Development Index (HDI) which is a measure of a country's life expectancy, literacy, education and standard of living. However the countries in the list tend to have large social welfare system, which may not appeal to everyone.

Best countries to live 2007 (according to their HDI):

  1. Iceland

  2. Norway (winner 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001)

  3. Australia

  4. Canada (winner 2000,1999, 1998, 1997, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994)

  5. Ireland

  6. Sweden

  7. Switzerland

  8. Japan

  9. Netherlands

  10. France

However, maybe you are looking for the country with the happiest people? Adrian White did a study surveying 80,000 people from different countries. Click the following link download Adrian White's map of happiness (pdf) (a more informal showing of countries that are happy is the website Map of Happiness).

Happiest Countries in the World (2006)

  1. Denmark

  2. Switzerland

  3. Austria

  4. Iceland

  5. Bahamas

  6. Finland

  7. Sweden

  8. Bhutan

  9. Brunei

  10. Canada

With the increasing unrest about civil liberties, perhaps you are looking for the country with the most Economic freedom? has an index studies business freedom, trade freedom, fiscal freedom, gov't freedom, monetary freedom, , investment freedom, financial freedom, property rightes, corruption and labour freedom.

Top Ten Countries for Economic Freedom (2007):

  1. Hong Kong

  2. Singapore

  3. Australia

  4. United States

  5. New Zealand

  6. United Kingdom

  7. Ireland

  8. Luxembourg

  9. Switzerland

  10. Canada

Similar to above, what if all you are looking for is freedom and escaping the long arm of the government? The State of World Liberty site may be what you are looking for.

Freest Countries in the World (2006)

  1. Estonia

  2. Ireland

  3. Canada

  4. Switzerland

  5. Iceland

  6. Bahamas

  7. United Kingdom

  8. United States

  9. Cyprus

  10. New Zealand

Concerned for the environment? Perhaps the Happy Planet Index (HPI) is the measure you are looking for. The Happy Planet Index website provides information on the index which can be described as 'environmental efficiency of supporting well-being'.

Top 10 Best Countries to live based on Environment

  1. Vanuatu

  2. Columbia

  3. Costa Rica

  4. Dominica

  5. Panama

  6. Cuba

  7. Honduras

  8. Guatemala

  9. El Salvador

  10. St. Vincent and the Grenadines