Tom Chi


“What are your greatest strengths outside of work life?”

“Work and life are kinda they same thing but my greatest strength is the ability to calmly hold multiple perspectives. Not just 2 or 3 but maybe 15 or 20.”

“Where did you learn that skill?”

“I think most people have the path they choose and then forever their viewpoint is through that path. So you grow up in Chicago and you think, ‘Oh, I’m a Chicago native’ and everything is referenced to that. For me, I was born in the east and raised in the west.”

“Where were you born?”

“Taipei. I studied art. I studied engineering. There’s lots of people I know that have an artist perspective or just have an engineering perspective. t’s comfortable for me to hold both. I’m a big fan of a lot things that are pretty separate for most people. I had a major in electrical engineering with a focus on robotics and signal processing but my minors were poetry and philosophy. For me it’s not even necessarily that effortful. Imagine comfortably holding 10 perspectives. I can just feel it all. If there’s anything that comes from it, it’s that you can feel the level of pain of disconnection in the different viewpoints. The level of disconnection of the viewpoints is a reflection of a set of illusions that we hold that separate us from what’s happening in the universe overall. When you realize how much we hold against each other apart from the totality of things, you recognize those things as different types of pain that we carry. It’s our allegiance to our viewpoints that makes it into pain. It disconnects us from seeing what’s happening and noticing the work we must do.”


“So what is happening at the universal scale at large?”

“The universal scale is the generator of all perspectives. The generating of perspectives is the thing that allows us to have perspectives that are different than each other in the first place.”

“Is that your spiritual view point? That feels spiritual to me…”

“My definition of spiritual is anything that raises your spirits. If you go dancing all night and you have a great time, that’s a spiritual experience. When people organize religion, that is absolutely a way to raise your spirits. Sometimes that comes with a lot of other baggage, but I’m not black and white about this stuff. I’m not going to say because religion has some baggage, religion is inherently bad. A lot of people have a relationship with religion that raises their spirits and truly makes their lives better. For that they should have that relationship. Throughout history the desire of religion to be the exclusive way to raise your spirits has created a rift with science. Science to it’s own sake has been saying to religion, ‘A lot of the ways you been saying the world was created and how things were developed are just wrong so we’re going to rift with you too.’ It’s a two directional pushing away. From my perspective when you say you’re hearing things from a spiritual bent, I actually approach them purely from the scientific bent. From the purely scientific bent everything that I’m saying is the case. The creation of difference allows there to be a relationship between two entities. A neutron actually can go into a situation where it breaks into a proton and an electron. A lot of people don’t know that, but that’s a thing that happens sometimes. Neutrons are less stable, especially when they’re floating out by themselves, as opposed to inside an atomic nucleus. A neutron can spontaneously break into a proton and an electron. Those two things have a very distinct relationship to each other. Strongly opposite and equal charges of incredible intensity. If you were to do the math on it it’s just so much force from a thing that just had been neutral a moment before. That in a way, at the sub-atomic level, is an analogy for the ways we create opinions that are separate from each other. The separation is a moment for us to clearly define the possibilities of this difference. What the mind does is create a longer shadow of what the event was itself. I’m not saying that the separation doesn’t sometimes come with a sense of pain or with a sense of pleasure. All sorts of things are possible. But the shadow of it doesn’t need to be longer than the time you’re truly separated. The truth is that this separation people are feeling on the left and the right is actually providing a lot of clarity and purpose.”


“Thanks. For you personally, what are some the ways you like to lift your spirits?”

“I like music. Playing music, writing music, listening to music.”

“You play instruments?”

“I play a lot of instruments. I like dancing.”

“What kind of music do you like?”

“Almost anything. Good music.”

“What’s good music to you?”

“Good music is anything where something true is being expressed or where a moment is created. Not all music does it, but a lot of music does it, independent of style. You kinda know it when you hear it. You can be distracted and not pay attention to good music when it’s being played, but when you pay attention to music you can tell the difference between something someone thought was a hot song and made even though it’s not really them and authentic music. Maybe they just wanted to get in on that bandwagon. And that’s okay, people gotta make a living, but it’s nice to spend more time with good music.”

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May 10, 2017