The danger of solipsism and New Age occultism

During morning meditation, I said silently, ‘I am seeking that place of quiet calm. A voice replied,  ‘You must have other reasons for seeking the place of quiet calm apart from that of ‘simply feeling good.” The self, ostensibly fleeing itself, finds itself again.

Solipsism is indeed a grave danger for anyone engaged in the practice of meditation. Attempting to come to a broader, more encompassing, more considered standpoint than that of the narrow, self-preocuppied self, one has to be vigilant, for the pleasures of subjective experience (my meditation, my insights, etc.) may win out. Through meditation and also through philosophical inquiry, the inquirer is looking to become ‘the one who…’ (specifically: the one who philosophizes), not the narrow I who experiences and emotes.

Continue reading “The danger of solipsism and New Age occultism”

Philosophical Improv no. 8: Why Radiance Matters

In Episodes 1-6, I spoke about the nature of radiance. In the last episode, I suggested that we are living in unsettled time. In this one, I seek to provide clues for why radiance may turn out to be the most excellent way of being for our time.

These episodes are attempts to think aloud. The arguments made here are taking on a more final shape in my forthcoming book, Radiance: An Essay for Unsettled Time.

Continue reading “Philosophical Improv no. 8: Why Radiance Matters”

Meditative jewelry: Jewelry that resonates with life

Yesterday I wrote about a relatively new social group on the historical stage: open-minded, self-reflective individuals who are seeking they know not what through the regular practice of meditation. Today, I’d like to explore what led Alexandra and me to create Meditative Jewelry.

Inspired by life in rural Appalachia, Alexandra’s collection is conceived in that fertile space in which meaning is harmonized with style, quietude with clarity; the collection can be viewed on her Etsy page.

Meditative Jewelry

Continue reading “Meditative jewelry: Jewelry that resonates with life”

‘Meditation is a quest that the bewildered embark upon…’

Intellectual Context

One of the founders of sociology, August Comte, wondered what could provide the social cohesion for individuals living in the midst of a secular age. He posited a ‘religion of humanity’ to fill the void left by positive religion, a void that Emile Durkheim would later call ‘anomie’ in his attempt to understand the rise of suicide in an overly individualistic world. Quite apart from everything else, positive religion traditionally provided one with orientation and direction, rhythm and resonance as well as belonging, affiliation, and intelligibility.

Since then, more serious secular thinkers, the ones who believe that positive religion has long provided the social glue for an individual’s life, have come up with many alternatives to religious affiliation (almost immediately one thinks of ethical cultures, ethical societies, humanist societies, and secular churches) all in the hope of reintroducing ceremony and ritual into an otherwise atomized and disenchanted populace. (Sociologists of today point out that more and more individuals are choosing to live alone, but this fact about single habitation neglects to mention the ways in which autonomous individuals, having been thrown into what Barry Schwartz calls the paradox of choice, feel more and more unmoored.)  Quite recently in the UK, some ‘atheist churches’ are drawing in large groups of young persons who come in search of music and community.

Continue reading “‘Meditation is a quest that the bewildered embark upon…’”