Letters To Seneca – Letter 23

Dear Seneca,

In the last couple of weeks I’ve consumed interviews and solo podcasts of a man named Kapil Gupta, he’s one of the more interesting characters I’ve come across recently. This interview with Naval is likely one of the better ones, I’d recommend listening to this for a taster.

Kapil has a long list of contrarian viewpoints, the two that stand out would be his stance on avoiding prescriptions and his thoughts on the usefulness of hard work.

Let’s start with prescriptions. He constantly repeats that he will not provide prescriptions (i.e. the “how”) and that society is completely addicted to prescriptions. Our world is hyper-focused on the “how-to” – how to be successful, happy, fit, etc. His argument is that approach isn’t a sustainable fix. When looking at those that meditate for 20 minutes and those that meditate for 6 hours a day, they’re still struggling with similar internal issues.

His solution is that what has come and will come is meant to be, stemming from necessity, not desire or ambition. For example, if there’s a snake under a chair you’re sitting in, you don’t need the “how-to” for getting out of the chair and running. You can’t help but take actions that come from a place of necessity. He applies this mentality to all aspects of life.

This last point on necessity leads to another interesting perspective he has on hard work.

If everything stems from necessity, then in his eyes working hard to just work hard is a useless pursuit. Many people romanticize the act of hard work, but very few achieve what they’re aiming for through hard work due to many other internal/external circumstances. But… If you come across an obsessive stock trader, someone that can’t help but think about the stock market 24/7, it’s their necessity. From the outside, it might seem like they’re working hard, but internally they’re doing the activity because they can’t help it. It’s an addiction or a necessity.

There are many perspectives Kapil has that I don’t understand, which leads to disagreement. I plan on reading his books (1, 2, and 3) to see if there are additional points of understanding I can gather.