The question I ask in this long form essay is: “Why are people not kinder to one another and to all sentient beings? Why, indeed, is not kindness the default mode?”
And the answer I come to is this one: we are not clear and we are not wise.
I’d like to take you on the path that brought me here.
“Man is immersed in dreams… He lives in sleep… He is a machine.”
Until the age of 29, I had been living in a dream. Indeed, I had been immersed in one. It told me: “You are here to think about humans in the objective world. You can do this through an institution called ‘a university.’ Go and devote yourself to this pursuit by finishing a Ph.D. …
In a dream, you see that you’re somewhere you’ve never been before, the landscape you survey appearing unrecognizable to you. Only in the next breath, it strikes you as if, no, this landscape is all too familiar. Either way, it’s clear to you that you don’t feel at home here (wherever “here” is), and you have the intuition, one that comes and goes, that you don’t know what home is or where it is or, really, how it is.
Looking down, you’re shocked, though only slightly, as you notice that there is no ground beneath your feet. How long have you been floating here, floating and wandering? In this instant, you seize on the thought that you can’t seem to get your bearings nor do you know what “getting your bearings” even means. …
The course will be held on each Sunday in February: that is, on February 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th. The start time will be 4 p.m. EST/9 p.m. GMT.
The application form, which includes further instructions at the top, can be found here. The discount code will be redeemable until the end of December 21st.
The course was full by October 10th, i.e., in 2-3 days after it was listed. If you’d like to be put on a list of those interested in taking the February course, please fill out this contact form.
It has gone largely unnoticed that our time is defined by Total Work, the long historical process through which human beings have been slowly transformed into Workers as nearly every domain of life — almost every nook and cranny — has come to be, or resemble, work. More and more people live for, and sometimes die for, work while mistakenly construing their lives as works themselves. …
Over the years, and most especially during the coronavirus pandemic, I’ve noticed an unsettling trend: people I barely know or do not know at all will send me letters written in the mode of a confession. Completely out of the blue. The writer will not ask after me or mine, nor will he or she in any way include me in what, time was, used to be termed “a conversation.” Instead, the writer, spilling guts onto the page, will speak at me.
What is readily observable is a profound–nay, shocking–level of self-importance together with an inability to even remotely entertain, let alone consider, the life of the recipient. Who is this one to whom I am writing? What is he like, his life like? Would he like to receive this missive shot, yea, from this here cannon? Does he even know me? At all? Why would I spill my secrets onto the page and then hit send without so much as a moment’s hesitation? …
A critique of Total Work in a time of COVID-19
Don’t “find your bliss!” if “finding your bliss” continues, mistakenly to be sure, to lead you to hunt for that chimera, Meaningful Work.
The good news is that you don’t have to worry about finding meaningful work because meaningful work doesn’t exist. The bad news is that you’ve been looking for years or deluding yourself into believing in a phantasm for decades. I say, “Embrace your inner Newhart and — ‘Just stop it! Stop it right now!’”
Instead, find that in your life that is sweeter than work. Since work, however interesting, edifying, or socially beneficial, can never be sweet, ask yourself, “What is it that is sweeter than work?” …
Once upon a time, there lived a mischievous magician in a realm just above that of upright, ambulatory, hairless creatures who’d taken to calling themselves homo sapiens.
One day the magician, slapping his knee, said to himself, “Well, let me see how wise these top-heavy creatures really are!”
He thought and thought until the answer struck him: “I’ve got it! I shall cast a spell on them and, by this means, I shall test them to see how wise they really are.”
And so he did, and from that day onward homo sapiens believed and felt that they were Workers. …
And indeed men, whenever they become too feeble to contemplate, undertake action as a shadow of contemplation and reason. For since the weakness of their souls does not make contemplating fit for them, not being able sufficiently to grasp the object of contemplation, and through this not being fulfilled, yet desiring to see it, they are brought to action, so as to see what they cannot grasp with intellect. Thus whenever they make, they themselves want to see it and they want others to contemplate and perceive whenever their intention as far as possible becomes action. …
Through meditation, how can one test whether time is ultimately real?
There are many ways of speaking about the path to enlightenment. In a recent satsang (questions with the teacher), Advaita Vedanta teacher Francis Lucille suggests that
— you can begin by investigating whether consciousness is numerically identical with the body;
— next, you can see whether consciousness depends upon, and is limited by, the body-mind;
— finally, you can investigate whether consciousness is, in fact, unlimited and therefore universal.
I don’t think virtually anyone believes that consciousness is numerically identical with the body, though the modern materialist paradigm does insist that consciousness depends upon, and therefore suffers the limitations of, the body-mind. …
We first met the Golden Oracle in 2013. She had just finished a 90-day juice fast and looked, in the farmers’ market where we saw her, a little bit shaky, if also rather wild. Back then, her name was just Angela, a woman fairly recently departed from LA, and around the time we left Joshua Tree, in March 2015, it was still Angela.
It was only later that she became the Golden Oracle, only later, and unbeknownst to us, that her divine services in the forms of sacred nourishment, womb chakra healing, oracle readings, sacred pregnancies, and cacao ceremonies would be readily on offer. …
“Inevitable to life is death and not inevitable to death is life.”
— Jamaica Kincaid
Is Kincaid right? Is death inevitable for those stamped with the gift of life?
For don’t we hold these truths about the human condition to be self-evident: that each of us is a human being; that each human being was born and shall die; that time in general and that each person’s time on this planet in particular is finite in nature; that most probably when the body perishes so too does consciousness; and that most probably there is nothing more to this sentient, intelligent life after the perishing of this body and the final darkening of this consciousness? …