A Conversation Between Naval Ravikant and Kapil Gupta on Meditation, Humility, Founder’s Anxiety, and The Need for Indifference

Listen to all the audio clips here

Key Takeaways

  • The state of being “meditative” is what occurs when you remove everything that your mind is battling with – it’s not something that you seek directly
  • “Humility only exists because one has not seen reality”- Kapil
    • “The real humility is a byproduct of understanding. It’s not something to be sought directly.”
  • “The biggest imprisonment with success, and creation, and art, whatever it may be, is ownership” – Kapil
    • Whenever there’s ownership, then there’s a self-image
  • “The ultimate way to create something, is to do it under the umbrella of self-forgetfulness”– Kapil
    • “You can wield the sword so freely when you yourself are wearing armor. When you yourself are exposed, then you’re going to wield the sword very carefully.” 
      • “When you are wielding the sword carefully, then you will not be able to wield it with the aplomb and the carefreeness that will allow you to achieve high art”
      • When you have armor on, and know that no matter what you do you’re not going to get hurt by it, then you can do whatever you want – this is where the magic happens
  • “Whenever you attempt to live up to anything, you will fail, and the reason you fail, even if you live up to it, is because you are trying to force yourself to get to an idea.” – Kapil
    • The greatest athlete, the greatest individual in any sport or business, allows the game to come to them
    • “All things must come to you, you must not be the chaser”
  • “Indifference is a byproduct. Just like humility, just like presence, just like mindfulness. There are no goals.” – Naval

Intro

On Meditation (Listen Here)

  • Naval has found that his meditation sessions mostly consist of “his mind eating him alive”
    • “My mind is coming at me with all the things that are unresolved. As I go through them one by one, and I resolve them, then for a little bit of time my mind is clear, because it resolved the things it wanted to fight about.”
    • The state of being “meditative” is what occurs when you remove everything that your mind is battling with – it’s not something that you seek directly
    • Naval talks more about his meditation practice in these Podcast Notes
  • “The goal [of meditation] is to have a clear mind” – Naval
    • When you have a clear mind – freedom, bliss, and equanimity develop
    • With these feelings, you’re in the moment, you’re not worried about anything, and you’re free from anxiety
  • “The problem with meditation, is that it’s not permanent. But what it does give me, is an hour a day, by myself, to work through my thoughts.” – Naval
    • This is especially important to Naval, as an introvert
  • “I don’t think there is any such thing as a good or a bad time spent along with your eyes closed” – Naval
    • It doesn’t matter what happens – as long as you’re engaging in self-examination, it’s all good
  • “If you had only one or two years to live, no one would be ‘managing’ anything. People would seek CURES. The reason that we manage things, is because we know and we feel, rightly or wrongly, correctly or incorrectly, that we’re going to be here for a long time.” – Kapil
    • “I don’t want to feel good through meditation. I have no interest in wanting to feel good. The reason I don’t, is because I know I’ll have to do it again, and I don’t want to do it again. That isn’t what drives me. What drives me is the permanent state.” – Kapil
    • Naval agrees
      • Meditation is valuable for him, because it’s getting him closer to unraveling parts of his identity and self that don’t make sense, thus bringing him internal understanding
      • But if all meditation was just a way to temporarily achieve this “pleasure state” every day, and then you’d just head right back into the chaos of daily life….then it wouldn’t really be worth it
  • “The interesting part of meditation for me, is it’s an hour a day, where I have to sit with myself, and work through my problems, and I have to self-examine” – Naval
    • For someone like Kapil, who’s ALWAYS engaged in self-examination, meditation isn’t as useful
    • Most humans are CONSTANTLY distracting themselves all day long, to avoid experiencing and examining their own thoughts – “The moment they focus on self examination, there’s a lifetimes worth of things to examine that come bubbling up and eat them alive. So they run away from it” – Naval
    • “Having meditated for an hour a day for a few months now, I’ve sort of caught up. I’ve examined large parts of myself that have faded into the background, and so now what remains when I sit, is peace.”

On Humility (Listen Here)

  • “The idea of humility is a false idea” – Kapil
    • “Humility only exists because one has not seen reality”
    • “Every attempt to be humble is false, it is a charade”
  • (Kapil speaking) Humility says: “You think you’re great, but you should tone that down and not express it so much, because that doesn’t look nice”
    • Humility is just trying to show yourself, less than you think yourself to be, for a social construct/purpose
    • “But the truth is, if that same person who thought he was so great saw the reality of things, and if he saw how much he doesn’t know, not by humility, but by actuality… If he recognizes that he knows a drop, and there’s an ocean that he doesn’t know, he would not have to resort to humility. It would be a natural realization of ignorance. There would be no humility.”
  • “The real humility is a byproduct of understanding. It’s not something to be sought directly.” – Kapil

On Founder’s Anxiety (Listen Here)

  • Naval is looking to start a new business, and he, like most people would, has quite a lot of anxieties in his head…like:
    • “What if it doesn’t work?”
    • “What if I waste another 5 years of my life?”
    • What if…what if….what if!!!
  • “There is definitely a greater joy in destroying something, that creating it” – Kapil
    • Think back to being a kid – how much fun was it to knock down the Lego castle you built, as opposed to building it
    • “The key there, is not having something destroyed, while you’re trying to make it better, but consciously by your choice destroying it.”
  • “The biggest imprisonment with success, and creation, and art, whatever it may be, is ownership” – Kapil
    • Whenever there’s ownership, then there’s a self-image
    • So you’re building a self-image, at the time same time you’re building the company – that self-image is going to pop sooner or later
  • “The ultimate way to create something, is to do it under the umbrella of self-forgetfulness”– Kapil
    • Then you’re really free…
    • “You can wield the sword so freely when you yourself are wearing armor. When you yourself are exposed, then you’re going to wield the sword very carefully.”
      • “When you are wielding the sword carefully, then you will not be able to wield it with the aplomb and the carefreeness that will allow you to achieve high art” – DAMMMMMN 
      • When you have armor on, and know that no matter what you do you’re not going to get hurt by it, then you can do whatever you want – this is where the magic happens
        • Naval agrees – If he didn’t have a self-image to protect on Twitter, he says he would tweet 10x as much, and say all kinds of things that he can’t now say
  • “Hesitation destroys the joy” – Kapil
    • To be proper, and make sure no one dislikes what you’re saying – there’s no fun in that
    • The joy is in the self-expression
  • “The attachment to the ownership of something is like running with a parachute”- Kapil
  • Human beings take cues from others as to how how to feel about a certain idea – they then mimic that
    • For example:
      • If you’re speaking at a conference, and say X, and then at the end of your talk say- “Oh you know what, I shouldn’t have said that. That was wrong an insensitive”
        • The crowd will agree with this and also think the same thing
      • But if you say the same X, and don’t give two shits about it – the crowd will mimic that as well
        • “It is the nature of the human mind to mimic” – Kapil

On The Need for Indifference (Listen Here)

  • “It’s easy to go about being indifferent to my day when my day is easy. But when my day gets hard, especially in business….the mind gets busy, and as the mind gets busy, emotion seeps in” – Naval
    • “The problem here, is the need for indifference” – Kapil
      • Indifference can’t be something you have to chase, it can’t be a rule
      • “Whenever you attempt to live up to anything, you will fail, and the reason you fail, even if you live up to it, is because you are trying to force yourself to get to an idea.”
        • The greatest athlete, the greatest individual in any sport or business, allows the game to come to them
        • “All things must come to you, you must not be the chaser”
  • “It is an evaluation, and an examination, and an observation…But it is a constant examination of where one is, what one is doing, what feelings one is feeling, without any sense of prescription. You’re not doing it in order to get better, you’re not doing it for any reason other than you desperately wish to learn the truth. You want to see your way all the way to the end. You do not want to work your way to the end.”
  • “Indifference is a byproduct. Just like humility, just like presence, just like mindfulness. There are no goals.” – Naval
    • “All those names only have relevance when you have arrived, and you’re looking backwards.” – Kapil
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