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OK.  So when I conceived doing a top ten books everyone should read article, I thought I could stop it at 10 books.  As I kept looking back at the books that have influenced my thinking, the list kept growing.  I kept finding books I wanted to recommend to everyone.  As it stands, the list is now up to 18 books.  So, I’m going to make this a Top 18 Books Everyone Should Read Article.  Well…..actually, it’s a lot more books than that.  Some of the entries are series of books.  I’ll have a final book count at the end.

So without further ado, here is the list starting from spot number 18.


In 18th place we have the Story of Philosophy by Will Durant.  This is a great introduction to the field of philosophy.  It starts out with the ancient Greek philosophers and winds its way through history and describes the lives and philosophic works of the major philosophers.  I very much enjoyed the first part of this book starting with Plato, Aristotle and the other Greeks.  I have to admit though, that once I got to Schopenhauer, Kant and some of the more “modern” philosophers, I started to lose interest and find the whole subject depressing.  The lack of morality and any meaningful existence that is discussed did not answer the questions I was looking for.

However, since the creation of Wikipedia, you can probably find much of the philosophic  information from the book there.  The book does a better job describing these men’s stories than Wiki.  For these reasons, I have this book at the end of my list, but I still recommend it to fill in your knowledge of this subject.


In 17th place we have Chaos, by James Gleick. I read an earlier edition of this book some years ago, when Chaos Theory was brand new and no one had heard of it, much less understood it.  The search of patterns in what previously had been thought to be completely random is extremely interesting and although we see it all around us, it takes a fairly large amount of computing power to crunch the numbers and repetitions involved.  This book was brought back into my memory by a recent Nova special on PBS called Hunting the Hidden Dimension.  This fascinating look into fractal mathamatics, Mandelbrot, and applications in nature brought me right back to reading this book.  Cool stuff for people interesting in how the world works “behind the curtains”.


In 16th place we have Hyperspace, by Michio Kaku.  This book is full of mind bending stuff.  However, this book provided me with the first description of higher dimensions that made sense to me.  If you ever see Kaku on TV, he has a great way of explaining things.  This book has been somewhat superseded for me by two books by my other favorite cosmologist, one of which is in my top ten.  However, Kaku’s description moving from a two dimensional world to a three dimensional world as an analogy for 4th dimensional space/time first got me interested in the subject and started the juices flowing in my brain on the dimensions of time and space.


Next up in 15th place is an odd sort of self-help book called Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz.  Many successful individuals have used the concepts in this book to reach their goals.  The main thrust of this book is that your brain is a fantastic goal reaching and problem solving machine.  You need to provide your mind with an accurate self image and set positive goals for your future.  Your brain will figure it out if you let it.  Basically, if you want to change who you are, change your mind.  Those who know me will recognize one small way I use what I’ve learned in this book.  I often find myself having an aphasia event, where I can’t remember the word I want to use or the name of someone I want to talk about.  I usually work around this by finding a synonym or trying to describe who the person is.  I know, however, that if I stop thinking about the word or name and let my mind work on it in the background, the answer will pop into my head in fairly short order.

Next time we’ll do number 14-11.  The books get better as we go deeper into the list.  What won’t change is the eclectic selection.  I’m nothing if not eclectic.

Well, now that we’ve answered “Who am I?”…….well at least started to answer it.  It’s a question we spend our whole lives answering.  We can start to put the whole thing together.  Keep in mind this is an iterative process that we need to continue throughout our lives.  The important thing is to make sure that all your answers are in harmony.  You can’t let something you want change who you are, as we’ve already discussed.  However, sometimes your understanding of why you are here, or where you going may make you change who you are, at least somewhat.

What do I mean by this?  Let’s say you are a member of a religion that teaches that they are the only way to salvation.  OK, most religions do this, some more vehemently than others.  Let’s also say that you are reading a blog or a book, written by someone who thinks about God differently than you do.  No, it doesn’t need to be this one.  What if by reading this publication, you see some information that leads you to now believe that God is more encompassing than you previously did and that there may be some truth in other religions that you hadn’t considered before?  Now, you may want to re-evaluate who you are in this new light.  You may decide you now believe that all who search for truth are on the same path and should be given respect and that you might even want to learn something from them.

Another example involves asking yourself the question “Where am I going?”.  In examining your life, this is one question you need to be continually asking yourself.  Basically, you want to know if the path your life is on is in congruence with who you are and maybe even what you want.  Are you doing things that get you closer to your goals and agree with who you are?  If not, you need to make a change.   You need to make part of who you are someone who does those things that you believe are important.  For instance, if you find that in your job you feel the need to mislead people in order to accomplish your goals, but you believe that honesty is a key character trait.   You need to make a change.  You need to do the difficult thing and be honest to those you’ve been misleading.  This takes courage.  However, there is a payoff.  You will gain credibility.  You may have some short term difficulties, but you will be improving your long term image.  Unfortunately, for those who work in the US Capitol Building, they only look to the next election.  We, as their constituents, should not let them get away with it.

Now, assuming you have a good idea of who you are, what you then want, where you are going, and possibly, why you are here, we only have one more question to ask.  Assuming you’re not where you want or need to be, you need to have a plan.  This is the “How do I get there?” question.  It’s more than a plan though.  Often there is a choice between more than one path.  Some seem easy, but make you compromise yourself in some way.  Some are at least initially hard, but are in harmony with what you believe to be right.  Every once in a while there’ll be an easy path that is also right.  When you see this, be happy.  Obviously, I’m telling you that you have to take one of the paths that will allow you to be true to yourself.  You’ll know which path is right once you know the answers to your other questions.

Many people do things they think are right because it will “get them into heaven” or at least “keep them out of hell”.  That’s a childish outlook.  That’s like saying you’ll eat your vegetables or Mommy and Daddy will get mad.  Adults do the right thing because they know it is right.  They have a code of honor or ethics that makes them do what they do.  Not because someone tells them to, but because they choose to.  This is the essence of free will.  We get to decide, who we are and let everything else follow from there.  There can be no greater gift.  It allows us to maximize the quality of our experiences, which is as I’ve said before, the whole reason we are here.

How do we choose the type of life we will live?  I’ll start looking at some traditional and non-traditional codes of ethics starting in the next few posts.  Next, however, there are some great books I’d like to recommend for everyone to read.  So we’ll have the start of Blue Lions’ Library with 10 books everyone should read.  Until then…..good hunting.

In the truly excellent science fiction TV show, Babylon 5, created by J. Micheal Straczynski (or Joe to those who know him) there is an episode dedicated to the question “Who are you?”.  This episode, entitled “Comes The Inquisitor” is available via Hulu.

There is a scene in the episode where one of the main characters, Delenn,  is asked over and over again in brutal fashion “Who are you?”  Delenn first answers with her name.  That, she is clearly shown, is not the right answer.   She is confused.  She doesn’t know what the “Inquisitor” is getting at.  In the end, she realizes the Inquisitor is asking “What is most important to you?”  “What do you stand for?”  “What values do you live your life by?”  It is only at this point that the testing ends.

So, who is the Blue Lion?  Clearly it’s not my name.  We can wear names like clothes.  Whether you call me Blue Lion, or Leo Blue, or Hey, you!!  Cranky guy.  It doesn’t matter.  It does not change who I am.  I guess the best answer I can give, is in what do I believe?  What are my values?  What would I be willing to die for?

Above all, I believe that life, everyone’s, life is unique and important.  If you’ve read my earlier posts you know that this is because I believe our lives are “God experiencing all there is to experience” or “the Universe figuring itself out (nod again to Joe Straczynski)” depending upon your view of a “Creator”.  Every person should have the right to seek out their own happiness as long as that does not impinge on the rights of others.  Since you need to be alive to pursue your happiness, I can state this as everyone has the “inalienable right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”  The Founding Fathers of the Unites States got this exactly right.

I believe the most evil thing people can do, except under one circumstance, is to destroy another human life, as that is the ultimate abrogation of that person’s rights.  Strangely, maybe paradoxically, I also believe that you have not only the right, but the responsibility, to protect your life and the lives of those you love.  Those you love can, and often does, have a very broad definition in my book.  This leads to the one exception to the rule.  It is not evil to kill another if that other presents a credible threat to either your life or liberty, or the life and liberty of someone you love.  I wish I could say that you can wait to take action until after someone is being attacked, but by then it will often be too late and you’ll end of not saving the person who’s life you were trying to save.  I’m also not saying to kill everyone that threatens you.  It’s a judgment call that each person will have to make for themselves depending upon the situation at hand.

The Blue Lion puts a large amount of value on honesty.  Dealing with other people requires you to have credibility.  Always being honest accomplishes two things.  It cements your credibility and it keeps you from having to remember which lie you told to whom.  Trust me, as you get older the memory is one of the first things to go.  Don’t make it any harder on yourself than you need to.

I also believe that decisions need to be made on the basis of reason, not emotions, in almost all instances.  Emotional decisions, very often feel like the right thing to do, but more often than not end up making a mess of things, because they do not take the law of unintended consequences into account.  Welfare is a perfect example.  It feels right to help people who are struggling (the psychological basis for this is not as altruistic as most people think as it’s usually an ego boost to the helper), and in many cases it makes sense to do so to a limited point.  However, helping people for too long tends to make them dependent on that help.  This lessens that person’s liberty and even their dignity over the long haul.  Since the helpers (I’m talking about good people trying to help here, not those trying to take advantage) don’t intend this to happen, its an unintended consequence.  Help has to be temporary and people need to be made responsible for their own lives again as quickly as possible.

My studies of economics have shown me that capitalism is fairest way to distribute resources.  Read Basic Economics 3rd Ed: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy by Thomas Sowell to get an idea of why this is true. Capitalism, makes those who need a resource most pay the most for it.  It also takes into account human nature.  Now, while I understand that every regulation or tax put upon Capitalism in some way constrains the free will of people to do as they want and slows the growth of an economy (the rising tide does lift all boats, even if it doesn’t lift them evenly), I recognize that rules need to be agreed to and followed so that less evolved people do not take advantage of the more evolved ones.  I also recognize that governments, that need to exist to enforce the rules and protect the populace from outside harm, need funds to accomplish these tasks.

Last of my core beliefs is that representative democracy, in other words, the US system, is the best, most practical form of Government yet invented by humans, at least for humans.  It gives each person a say in running the country, which directly impacts their lives.  However, it is also workable from a practical standpoint.  Pure democracy would mean everyone voted on everything.  In the end, noting but the voting would get done.  The sad fact that our current leaders are out of control and driving this country into a hole, doesn’t mean the basic system is bad.  In fact, in the not too distant future, the system will probably work very well to change the current leadership.  If the leaders we had, actually followed the Consititution and didn’t make things up as they went, we’d be better off than we are now.

As you can see, the answers I have found to the question of “Why are we here?” has had a major impact on “Who am I?”.  I have hopefully explained how my answers to my questions about God, the Universe, and why we are here, rationally (again, hopefully) lead to who I am.  As we go forward, we’ll start to look at “Where am I going?” and “How do I get there?” from both a personal level and at the group levels.  These questions are more practical in nature, and not so esoteric as what I’ve discussed up until now  Until then, good hunting.

Last time, I started to talk about the relationship between the questions “Who am I?” and “What do I want?”.  I stated that it’s important for us to know the answers to “Who am I” before we start answering “What do I want”.  When we are children, we get away with only caring about what we want.  That’s OK, because part of our parent’s job in raising us is for them to teach us the types of answers that make sense when you are thinking about who we are.  However, once we become responsible for ourselves (as good a working title for an adult as I can think of), we no longer have that luxury.  Yes, we may get away with it for a while before things go bad in our lives, but not thinking about the type of person we are puts us on a dangerous path.

Let me give you some examples we see on TV and in the movies all the time.   First is the person who becomes addicted to some drug (think Requiem for a Dream).  Now most people don’t think of themselves as evil or willing to hurt themselves or other people.  But they either forget about the type of person they think they are and let their want for the drug rule their lives, or worse, they let the want for the drug change who they are.  They go and steal from others, or attack others, or sell their own bodies to get money for the drug.  These people don’t go down this path all at once, but slowly and painfully.   Now I know the drugs we are talking about are physically and psychologically addictive, but someone who stayed true to who they were would likely not let themselves fall into the trap of addiction to begin with (assuming they believe that hurting themselves or others are bad things).  Also, even an addicted person has to at some point “remember” who they are (or at that point, who they want to be) for them to even seek out help or have that help be effective.  They have to replace the want of the drug with the want to be who they are/were.  This is because, in order to live a good life, we need to make sure that who we are always drives the what we want train.

The other clichè example is the man or woman who is tempted to cheat on their spouse (let’s use Poison Ivy – The New Seduction as the example since it fits and Jaime Pressly is not only hot, but cool :-)).  The man or woman most likely thinks of themselves as trustworthy and faithful, but when they are presented with an extremely attractive (BTW, attractiveness can be physical, mental or emotional in the REAL world) member of the opposite sex that for some reason wants to have sex with them, they find they are tempted.  I would put forward that the person who puts what they want at the moment ahead of who they are is more likely to have an undesirable outcome from the affair, with Fatal Attraction being the worst case scenario.  The person who makes sure the honest, trustworthy person they are inform what they want will realize that the temporary infatuation has the distinct potential to ruin what they really want; their life with their spouse and family.  They will resist the temptation.   A good example of this is the movie Playing By Heart with Sean Connery.  He plays Paul and his wife, Hanna is played by Gena Rowlands.  Near the end of the movie, which is the only part of the movie the Blue Lion has seen the following dialog takes place:

Hannah: And you really didn’t sleep with her?
Paul: No, of course not.
Hannah: And – you didn’t want to sleep with her.
Paul: Oh, God, yes.

For some reason, this scene always stuck with me and Connery hits the comedic note perfectly, but it shows a person “evolved” enough to let who he was make sure what he wanted didn’t make him do something against who he was.

If you’re starting to think of this blog as an Everything I Ever Learned, I Learned at the Movies sort of thing, that might have at least a grain of truth.  While the examples I give will not be exclusively, or even primarily, from the the movies, it will be a common occurrence.  The Blue Lion looks for truth in many different places.  Ironically, there is much truth to be found in works of fiction.  Truth about human nature, the nature of good and evil, even truths of philosophy and God can be found in fictional works.  That is why many of them are created.  If you don’t like my examples, let me know your own.  Comments are certainly encouraged.

So, now that I’ve fully explained the order in which we need to answer these two questions, next time I’ll address Who the Blue Lion is.  Until then, good hunting.

First Two Questions Overlayed on Maslow's Hierarchy

First Two Questions Overlayed on Maslow's Hierarchy

You know, it’s a real shame.  What is the very first question we all learn to ask?  Of course, it’s “What do I want?”  From the very moment we come out of the womb we start to ask for something we want.  We cry because we are hungry.  We cry because we are wet.  We cry because we are tired and want to be rocked to sleep.  In fact, it might be said that the only thing we do is ask (cry) for things we want, except when we don’t want anything.

As we get a little older, we learn to talk a little and immediately start telling mama and dada what we want in a little more detail.  This makes it a little easier for mama and dada, and they comply by giving us most of the things we ask for.  Granted, at this stage in our lives, we only really want the things we need to survive and be comfortable.  Those familiar with Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy will see that we only really seem to want the needs that pertain to the lowest two levels, which I call the survival and comfort levels.  As we get a little older, say pre-school age, we really start to get into the third level, the relationship level.  As you can see from the chart, up until this point in our lives, we are only addressing the question “What do I want?”  That’s OK, while we are children, but when we are adults, it’s another story.

The problem is that once we become adults the first question we need to be asking ourselves is “Who am I?”  Unfortunately, we’ve been very well trained to ask “What do I want?” and not well trained in asking “Who am I?  This is where Maslow breaks down.  His theory is that you can only move on to the next higher level of need after all the ones below it are fulfilled.  Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for many people to get stuck in the comfort/survival levels constantly trying to fulfill an unfulfillable need.  What do I mean by that?  Look at the chart.  Don’t we all know people who are wasting their lives in the pursuit of food, sex, recreational drugs, money ( a proxy for all the other “needs” we can buy), or companionship?  These are people who either haven’t yet answered, or have an inadquate answer to the question of “Who am I?

I’ve already given a metaphysical answer for “Who am I?” that works for me and informs the more prosaic answers to that question.  I believe that answering the question of “Who am I?” is the single largest pursuit of our lives.  John Ondrasik, the man behind Five for Fighting has it exactly right in his song The Riddle in the lyric that goes:

There’s a reason for the world.

Who am I?

How should we answer the question?  Clearly, I’m not talking about our name.  That doesn’t answer it.  We need to understand what traits we will value as we lead our lives.  More on this and how it interacts with “What do I want?” next time.

I know there are many rational human beings that either don’t believe in God (atheists) or who are not sure there is a God since they have not seen adequate proof (agnostics).  These are my working definitions for these words, feel free to quibble.  I know that any atheists or agnostics reading this will have major problems with my last post.  That’s fine.  My belief does not require others to do so.  However, let me see if we can find some common ground to more forward.

The question Why Are We Here? has a very simple answer for the “belief challenged” (OK.  I think I need a better word to group agnostics and atheists, but I can’t think of one right now.  If anyone has any suggestions, let me know).  We are here, because we are. There are only two states possible.  Either the Universe exists or it doesn’t.  Thanks to Réne Descartes we have the brilliant cogito, ergo sum.  Since we exist and we need some place to exist, the Universe exists.  The rest of the story is just process.  The Big Bang happens, stars form, they blow up and create more complex elements, more stars form with planets around some of them with enough of the elements for life to evolve and here we are. That’s the streamlined Cliff Notes version.

Now we get to Who Am I?  This question has different answers for each person, obviously.  However, for this discussion we’ll limit ourselves to the part of the answer that pertains to the type of person we are.  What traits do you value?  What traits do you want others to value in you?  The interesting thing is that those to whom this post is addressed and those who see God the way I do have something in common here.  The point of living your life is to live your life. Terry Goodkind says it better in his excellent fantasy series “The Sword of Truth” series (The Sword of Truth, Boxed Set I, Books 1-3: Wizard’s First Rule, Blood of the Fold ,Stone of Tears).  At the end of the series Richard, the main protagonist tells everyone “Your life is your own.  Rise up and live it.”

Of course, the rational concept of enlightened self interest tells us that if we want to have the freedom to live our lives, we have to let others have that freedom as well.  That’s pretty much the same as the first part of the “Golden Rule” I talked about last post.  So, it seems as if we all have something in common after all, even if it’s for completely different reasons.  I being the Pisces I am (No, I don’t believe in astrology.:-)  While there might be some slight chance that your personality has something to do with what part of the year you were conceived, I only link those personality traits to astrological signs in a humorous manner.), I actually believe we should be following enlightened self interest, or the Golden Rule for both reasons.

I’ll get more into how that applies to our lives in a bit.  Next we start looking at the other 3 of the Five Questions.

This is one of the most personal questions for anyone to answer.  From what I’ve seen, answers generally fall into one of 4 or 5 categories.   The first are those who feel they have a “personal relationship” with God and that the Bible is the ONLY document that needs to be referred to to live your life.  Next are those that definitely believe in God and follow some religion.  There are also those that believe, but follow no recognized religion.  There are also those who are not sure there is a God.  Lastly, are the confirmed atheists, who are sure there is not a God.

Personally, I find the first and last groups the least intersting to talk to about God.  The first group has their minds made up that things are one way and there’s no need to look further.  The last group I can at least understand.  They have a logical point.  They state that since it is impossible to prove that God exists, there’s no point in trying to do so.   Of course, this makes discussing God or “Why we are all here” a very short conversation.

Personally, I was raised a Roman Catholic and for the beginning part of my life, I fit firmly into the “follow a religion” crowd.  As time went on though, I wanted to understand more about the nature of God than the church teaches.  Since my early teenage years, I’ve been on a journey to understand God on a level not yet common among humans.  Do I believe in God?  Yes, I do.  I recognize that this is a belief on my part and not purely rational thought.  It is called faith after all.  I cannot prove the existence of God, but my belief provides me with many of the answers to life’s questions.  However, what I think of as God is definitely not the same as any religion that I know of.  I hope as I go through the questions of life and the answers I have found that the reasons for my belief in God will be made clear. I will also discuss why I don’t believe any religion really explains everything my belief does.

I’ve already stated that if God created the universe, then God is outside of time since time is part of the universe.  Thinking of God in this way will lead to the first of the 5 questions of life.  What are those five questions?

  • Who am I?
  • What do I want?
  • Where am I going?
  • How do I get there?
  • Why am I here?

As we’ll see, the order we address the first two questions, who and what, are critical to the types of decisions and choices we make.  First up will be “Who am I?” which is totally appropriate.