In Favor of Empathetic Listening

I.

Sometimes, when you try and have a discussion with someone, you find that they’re a complete idiot and they aren’t understanding anything you say; that you have no common ground; and that talking to them is a waste of time. So now you just want to angrily masturbate so you can calm down.

In those cases, it’s possible that what you’ve actually done is been a complete idiot, who refused to understand anything the other person said; that you ignored any possibility of common ground; and that you wasted everybody’s time by angrily masturbating on someone instead of having a discussion with them.

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Writing Exercises for Self Inquiry.

Image Unceremoniously Nicked from the University of Hanover Website. But don’t worry, they didn’t make it either.

In previous pieces, drawing on the work of John Vervake and Ian McGilchrist, I’ve discussed the importance of reciprocal processing and participatory experience in enabling insight, wisdom, and implicitly, eudaimonic well being. For the most part, those pieces were theory-oriented. Now let’s talk about applying the theory in practice. These practices are not my own invention. Rather, I’ve adapted them from other sources to match my theory a little better.

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I For One Am a Pretty Big Fan of the Internet, Honestly. Or, How to Love Universally, Impersonally.

Art by Xuzhen Wu

Also on Medium.

I. The Obverse of Mook Manor.

It’s really easy to get down about the state of collective discourse on the internet. It’s easy to think that the only consequence of our increased inter-connection is an increased capacity to be ass-holes to each other.

That’s true. I’m pretty sure the internet has a polarizing effect on people, because it’s easy to be a shit-head to someone behind a screen. It’s easier to demonize someone you don’t have to meet after you dox them and ruin their lives.

At the same time, I’m not convinced that wasn’t always the state of human collective consciousness. That didn’t stop us from doing some other really beautiful things, like all of the art in history, for example.

Continue reading I For One Am a Pretty Big Fan of the Internet, Honestly. Or, How to Love Universally, Impersonally.

Tango as Spiritual Practice: Bringing Together Heaven and Earth.

Image by Christine Soghomonyan

Also on Medium.


In previous pieces ‘Statement of Purpose for The Modern Spiritual Seeker’ and ‘Critiquing the ‘All Incense’ Approach to Spirituality’, I started to build up an account of spirituality that requires practice, structure, and the willingness to radically discard structure in order to acquire wisdom. While this piece is intended to make sense on its own, I would recommend those who are interested to go and explore those earlier essays.

As promised, I’m about to give an account of social dancing as instantiating my requirements for a peak spiritual practice. In my case, the social dance is Argentine Tango, though I’m certain this applies to other dances such as Salsa or Blues. With that in mind, I’m going to focus specifically on how I see the spiritual aspects of social dance manifest in Tango.

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The Castle Without The King: On Domicide and Homelessness.

Lino Cut by Shellie Lewis

I.

I’ve never rough slept, though I’ve had plenty of friends who were rough sleeping at one point or another. For the most part, they were the types you would least expect to need to. Two of them were one time students at Cambridge. Sometimes I laugh a little bit internally whenever I hear anyone describe Oxbridge students as ‘poshos.’ They are ultimately people, just like any other person. I’ve never gone to an Ivy League school, but I think that’s probably a generalizable sentiment.

In my past professional life, I’ve worked at a charity for what we term ‘the homeless.’ Even now, my day to day experience mostly amounts to holding people’s hands while they’re burning in hell. Let me assure you, this is an experience that makes you ask questions.

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The World is a Dream, and All of it Comes for Free.

Expectancy bias is real, and it shapes your reality. This means in some sense that what you expect is what you get. When I was a kid, I used to stand on my head so I could see what the world looked like upside-down. To look at the world from that perspective transfigured it.

My otherwise familiar living room would become something new and absolutely fascinating. As far as my visual field was concerned, all the shapes and colours were exactly the same, only inverted.

What bridged the gap between my familiar reality and the alien landscape — where the roof was the floor — was that I made it impossible to keep pretending that I understood what I was looking at. Instead, I just looked at it.

Continue reading The World is a Dream, and All of it Comes for Free.