A Few Answers To Questions You Always Wondered About

May 3, 2017 | No Comments » | Topics: Answers, Interesting

How Was The Buddhist Monk Able To Burn Himself To Death Without Moving A Muscle?

The famous quote by David Halberstam, American journalist who was present at the scene, adds a lot of detail to the visual experience we have with the picture:

I was to see that sight again, but once was enough. Flames were coming  from a human being; his body was slowly withering and shriveling up, his  head blackening and charring. In the air was the smell of burning human  flesh; human beings burn surprisingly quickly. Behind me I could hear  the sobbing of the Vietnamese who were now gathering. I was too shocked  to cry, too confused to take notes or ask questions, too bewildered to  even think.

Later we learned that the man was a priest named Thich Quang Duc who had come to the square as part of a Buddhist procession, had been doused with gasoline by two other priests, had then assumed the cross-legged “lotus” position and had set a match to himself. As he burned he never moved a muscle, never uttered a sound, his outward composure in sharp contrast to the wailing people  around him.

Isn’t it bewildering that the monk himself was demonstrating such self-control while his body painfully burned to death, and bystanders were wailing, utterly shocked by the sight, despite suffering no physical pain themselves?

The photographer who took the picture, Malcolm Browne, also provided his description 50 years after the event:

A car drove up. Two young monks got out of it. An older monk, leaning  a little bit on one of the younger ones, also got out. He headed right  for the center of the intersection. The two young monks brought up a plastic jerry can, which proved to be gasoline. As soon as he seated  himself, they poured the liquid all over him. He got out a matchbook,  lighted it, and dropped it in his lap and was immediately engulfed in  flames. Everybody that witnessed this was horrified. It was every bit as bad as I could have expected.

I don’t know exactly when he died because you couldn’t tell from his  features or voice or anything. He never yelled out in pain. His face  seemed to remain fairly calm until it was so blackened by the flames  that you couldn’t make it out anymore. Finally the monks decided he was  dead and they brought up a coffin, an improvised wooden coffin.

This act is obviously not beyond the range of human endurance as he, a human being, could do it. How was he able to accomplish this feat? Three words: motivation, dettachment and dhyana

His motivation against the oppression from the Catholic Vietnamese president Diem is clearly documented in a letter he left before this act of self-immolation:

Before closing my eyes and moving towards the vision of the Buddha, I respectfully plead to President Ngo Dinh Diem to take a mind of compassion towards the people of the nation and implement religious equality to maintain the strength of the homeland eternally. I call the venerables, reverends, members of the sangha and the lay Buddhists to organize in solidarity to make sacrifices to protect Buddhism.

As for the dettachment, Quang Duc was a senior monk and an accomplished practitioner. The last words of the Buddha were “all compounded things are subject to vanish, strive with earnestness”, and Quang Duc clearly understood what they mean. He understood the six types of consciousness and saw how the mind that stops craving pleasure and fearing pain becomes free. The bystanders did not understand this, so with their minds blurred by avidyā, their minds contorted although their bodies were completely pain-free. Contrarily to common sense, few people are able to clearly see the body and the mind.

Finnaly, he is said to have prepared himself through several weeks of meditation. There is some research pointing how meditation can be used to attenuate pain, and the degree of Quang Duc’s accomplishment on this is definitely impressive. While we cannot actually probe his mental state during those moments, but the  dhyānaattainments involve a high degree of concentration which might play an important role in controlling reactions to extreme sense stimuli.

In any case, it’s indeed a remarkable feat, one that gets even more vivid through recent digital work that added colors to this originally black-and-white shot:

– Flavio Costa



What’s It Like Being Rich?

Most people think it’s nice to be rich because you can buy whatever you want and eat whatever you want. Want to eat a thawed mammoth? It can be arranged. Want to fly around in a working jet pack or jetski in Shaq’s backyard? That’s possible, too. Want the city to shut down an entire interstate for you and your friends to drive 200 mph on public roads? [Done.](https://youtu.be/154ooWAyYsM)

But that isn’t really what’s so great about being rich. I could eat a $2 meal in Bangkok, and it would be delicious. There’s no need to eat those $400 meals at Michelin-starred restaurants. All the other activities I mentioned are fun, but I can have a lot of fun just playing video games with my friends all night long while eating NYC pizza. There’s really no need to spend a lot of money to have a good time.

Fly first class? No need. When I fly alone, I just book an economy class ticket in the center of a row of three seats. Usually this means that in a not so full flight, nobody will want to sit next to you when they can sit somewhere else. If it’s a couple, they wouldn’t want to be separated. When checking in, you can try to change your seat and can tell from there where the empty seats are. Now that you have the whole row to yourself, you can lift up the armrests and basically have a giant couch that is wider than what first class and business class gets.

As for driving around in a Lamborghini every day? It gets old after a while. Can’t even pick your nose in the car because people keep staring at you. There’s also that myth that you get girls with the car. I find the opposite to be true. First of all, it’s mostly men who come up to you and talk to you because of the car. Secondly, I’ve been told by girls that the car made them not want to talk to me at first because they just immediately assume that anyone who drives a Lamborghini is a douche. Thirdly, you attract a lot of attention from gold diggers. If you’re into those girls, then yeah, it’s a great car to have. But not me.

So what’s so great about being rich? Three things. One is freedom. No more alarm clocks. No more having to be somewhere at some time. Every day feels like a day off. I get to travel the world whenever I feel like it. Last month, I booked a last minute flight to go to another state across the country for a weekend, because a long time friend there needed someone to hang out with after being dumped by her girlfriend.

The second thing is having the ability to help others in a significant way. It sucks to feel like your hands are tied and you can’t help others. That’s how I used to feel when I saw people struggling financially and I didn’t have the money yet to do something about it. Nowadays I have funded other people’s kids’ college funds, tipped people much more than what I was paying for, custom built an Iron Man suit to cheer up kids at hospitals, helped get clean water to villages that before didn’t have access to it, and etc. It feels great to be able to help, especially when I can do it anonymously and just walk away. I learned that the anonymous part is important, because once people find out that you’re generous, all sorts of people will come to you asking you for your money, time, and blood.

The third thing is the ability to save time without feeling guilty about it… Well, slightly less guilty. Since money is abundant for me, time has become my most valued resource, because time is one of the only things in my life that can’t be replaced. So if there’s a chance for me to save time by spending money, I will. For example, I have Global Entry and a APEC business travel card. This lets me have much shorter TSA and immigration/visa lines. It’s not even that expensive to get these things. But back when I was poorer, I would be willing to wait to save money. I would even go out of my way to take the free bridges in NYC because I didn’t want to pay the $8 tolls for the Midtown Tunnel. That’s because I was raised by my parents to save money. So I felt guilty when I was spending money on myself. To this day, I still do sometimes and only buy things when they’re on sale. But nowadays, I wouldn’t mind spending some money if it saves me time.

Also when it comes to spending money on others, I just splurge. Spending money on myself doesn’t always make me that much happier. But I noticed that when I spend the money on others, they feel very very happy. And seeing them smile makes me smile, too. So I’m way more willing to open my wallets when it comes to buying things for others.

So to sum up my experience being rich, it’s more about not having to spend time doing things you don’t want to do rather than about being able to buy things that most other people can’t.

I have trouble writing things like these in public because it can be interpreted as a rich dude being ungrateful for the luxurious lifestyle he has. But it’s more about how I became more grateful for the less luxurious lifestyle that I had all along. I wouldn’t feel so bad if I lived a middle class lifestyle again, and it’s exactly what I do half the year anyway. I move back into my modest house in the block where I grew up in every summer, and my happiness level remains unchanged compared to if I were to go back to my much much bigger house down in Florida. After all, even in my bigger house, I spend most of my time in only three rooms of that house anyway. There’s really not much need to own a big house.

– regoapps 



How Powerful Is North Korea’s Army?

Their conventional forces are weak, but they have nuclear weapons and other Weapons of Mass Destruction(chemical and biological weapons) and still some good asymmetric warfare capabilities.

Longer version:

During the 1980s, North Korea had very good conventional forces. Their equipment was top of the line,  but it was their soldiers that were also excellent. North Koreans were conscripted and served for 7-10 years during which they had much time to practice and train – almost as long as professional soldiers in the first world. Their officers were also very good – most served as enlisted men for a while and the best were chosen to get trained at their military academies. Their Special Forces were manned by the children of elites – like the Spartans, the North Korean rulers took it upon themselves to learn to fight to defend their power. For example, Kim Hyun-Hui (see wikipedia Kim Hyon-hui ) the North Korean agent that blew up a South Korean airliner in the middle east in 1987 was the daughter of a high-ranking diplomat.

North Korean soldiers also gained much experience fighting in Africa. A handful of their pilots flew Mig-21s in Vietnam against the Americans and against the Israelis for the Egyptians and Syrians during the 1970s.

Of course, when the best and brightest are competing to learn how to blow things up rather than doing business and creating wealth, and so much of society is focused on miltary things, the economy suffers. During the 1990s North Korea suffered a devastating famine when their economy completely collapsed. Since then they have not been able to afford expensive conventional forces. In particular they have also been chronically short of fuel oil (in the past, the Soviets and Chinese competitively supplied cheap fuel). This means they can not afford to train their mechanized forces and pilots.

South Korea on the other hand became a wealthy nation. From the 1990s we began upgrading our forces tremendously. When it became clear that South Korea’s conventional forces would soon outclass theirs, the North Korean leadership began focusing upon nuclear weapons and missiles and other asymmetric capabilities. They knew South Korea could not afford to fight a war because we have too much to lose and structured their military around asymmetrical warfare to keep us out and also focus upon preventing uprisings within North Korea.

Their nuclear weapons deters South Korean and the US from any serious first-strike. It is not clear if they can make their nuclear warheads small enough to fit into missiles, but we are not in any hurry to find out. They also have chemical and biological weapons

Their Supreme Guards Command still has very capable soldiers and include children of the elites like their Special Forces prior to the famine. They are like the Praetorian Guards – defending the elite leadership in Pyongyang. They have full combined arms formations and are a military within the military with their own mechanized units and artillery. Their numbers are around 100,000-200,000.

North Korea also keeps some special forces units and it submariners are still pretty good at asymmetric warfare (the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan is an example). They also train hackers for cyber warfare.

North Korea has been producing its own ammunition since the 1960s and have ample supplies, so the Supreme Guards Command units and special forces probably get much live fire training. They probably also get all the fuel North Korean can muster to reasonably train with their tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery.

Interestingly, one of the few new aircraft the North Korean air force (whose pilots are members of the elite classes) purchased after the 1980s was the Su-25 Frogfoot – a specialized ground-attack aircarft similar to the American A-10. South Korea’s F-16s and F-15s, which are excellent in air-to-air combat, would sweep the slow and heavy Frogfoots easily from the skies. But the Frogfoots would be extremely useful putting down a coup by other North Korean forces. This could be an indication of where North Korean military priorties are.

The vast majority of regular Korean People’s Army soldiers (other than the Supreme Guards Command) spend more time as conscript construction labor and get far more practice with shovels than Kalashnikov assault rifles. They are also usually  caste Wavering individuals (see Wikipedia’s Songbun  regarding North Korea’s caste system) who are not party members and the leadership considers them expendable. In the past, North Korea excluded Hostile caste members (such as the children of South Korean POWs who North Korea kept as slave labor after the end of the war) from serving in the military just as the Spartans did not allow helots to learn to fight. But such rules have become lax as their regular military has become just conscripted labor rather than a real fighting force.

Their equipment is mostly the same equipment they had in the 1980s – it was good then but now completely outclassed by South Korean equipment. Even if they somehow managed to maintain the tanks and artillery in working order and periodically run them, the North Koreans gets very little practice with the logistics that such mechanized forces need due to the fuel shortages. So their regular military (other than the Supreme Guards Command) are probably hollow.

– Hanhwe Kim




Are bipolar people actually brilliant when in a manic state, or is it just a delusion?

Ohhhh boy do I have a story for you!

Back before I was medicated for bi-polar, my manic states were incredibly… varied.

To name a few:

-I spent $600 on plastic dinosaurs and cut off each and every one of their heads, convinced that at the end of the world, their heads would be the new currency.

-I thought I was a princess being held by evil kidnappers (the nursing staff at a psych ward) who were trying to steal my throne and overturn my country.

-I bought an entire Maccas store a soft serve ice-cream because at the end of the world, people would know me as a friend and ally and I would survive.

-I would only walk next to someone or in a group because the government were watching which foot we used primarily and would seperate us into camps based on the foot. I didn’t want to be sent to the wrong one.

-I got multiple piercings, bought an Ipad and a laptop and hair dye and clothes and…

Now unless the government is hiding all these secrets from us and I had figured them out through my manic state, I wouldn’t say it was brilliant. But it sure led to some good stories.

Maddy Barnett




How do you know when you’re in love?

When all the new wears off, you don’t have butterflies every time they call or text or you know you’re going to see them, you’re not getting all giddy about “firsts” in your relationship, you’re no longer both on your best behavior, you can see their faults and let them see yours, you’ve survived a few disagreements, you’re not boning every time you catch some alone time, the sex isn’t mind blowing every single time. And after all that, they’re still your favorite person. They still think the sun shines out your ass. you still do things for each other, for the simple joy of making them happy. The absence of the rose colored glasses of new lust hasn’t been replaced with resentment, it has evolved into comfort, stability, and security with that person.

– the_taco_knight