Comments on “Meaningness as a liberating practice”
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Thanks for the lengthy reply,
Thanks for the lengthy reply, David.
First off, I should say that all your work has already benefited me hugely. Specifically:
Explaining the interplay between Buddhism and Western philosophical ideas,
Exploring the possibilities of reinventing vajrayana for the 21st century, and
Re-formulating central Buddhist concepts in entirely non-Buddhist terms.
(Also not to be underestimated is your ability to present all kinds of complex ideas in super-clear language).
Coming from my Buddhist background, and with a healthy respect for the tradition, this has all blown my mind, man – in a good way. It’s helped me significantly reorientate my understanding, but also, in some way (Danger of Self-Delusion alert) my attitude to all these ideas, my own training experience, what’s possible etc.
So you’ve already provided a huge amount and I’m very grateful. Anyhow, you threw out the bait about teaching, and I couldn’t help but grab it – and went back to the hints about methods here on this page.
I did assume that any teaching you might do would be for the super-smart STEM crowd. I know your idea about a calculus selection test was a joke, but I suspected there was a truth in there too. Anyway, I’m about as far from a STEM PhD as you can get. No worries. If your teaching does get off the ground, I just hope whoever you end up with bloody appreciates it!
Yes, the ideological Turing Test is interesting. I feel like I’ve been doing versions of that in all sorts of situations in my life – whether negotiating issues in relationships, managing office politics or whatever. Staying calm, being empathetic, trying to fully inhabit the other person’s point of view and embody their language, whilst gently introducing a ‘foreign element’ to them in their own terms. Something like that. And the ITT is something I could probably benefit from by doing more systematically i.e as a practice, rather than just when a tricky situation arises. Plus, I’m very concerned about the fraught political/social situation, and these kind of methods seem essential if we’re going to emerge out the other side without some major breakdown.
Also in terms of methods/training practices, I find one of the most rewarding things to be simply: “Try new and (manageably) uncomfortable challenges”. Life has a habit of throwing those up anyway. And when it doesn’t, I can (sometimes) push myself into something new. But I do also have some kind of hankering for (a) a slightly more ‘objective’ way of orientating myself towards these projects, and (b) some other people to share the experience/orientation with. Maybe I should set up a Meaningness support group for People with Ordinary Brains. (POBs goes quite nicely with MOPs, doesn’t it?)
In the meantime, I’ll continue to pursue threads and ideas that you’ve raised here. So much interesting stuff. Next on my list is one of Kegan’s books. I do have some questions about the five stages – in particular about the relationship between systematic (and meta-systematic) understanding and emotions. But I’ll read the book first and then maybe pose you some questions when I’ve digested it.
Thanks again. Keep up the great work.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
First, thank you for sharing this book and metablog! I’ve enjoyed reading it a lot.
Regarding the similar methods listed on this page, have you ever looked into Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)?
Here’s a link to one of the main textbooks, and here’s a link to an introductory podcast.
The third episode of the podcast places ACT within the context of contemporary psychology pretty well.
Principles and method
(This is prompted by your recent tweet re. teaching).
At the top of this page you say this book is a practical manual and offers specific antidotes for particular confusions. But aside from saying that the main method is to become familiar with stances and notice them, that seems to be it – at least for now.
So, a question. Is this whole project (thank you again, it’s great) a purely intellectual framework so to speak, with ‘antidotes’ essentially meaning “understanding the principles”?
Or do you envisage there being a method (exercises, meditations, or whatever) to help these insights become more grounded in one’s day-to-day life? Is that something you’re thinking about?
I realise that Meaningness, as it is, is an enormous undertaking and you only have so much time. But if you do have ideas for exercises, stuff to do, things to try out – however ill-formed, undeveloped or rudimentary – I’d be fascinated to hear them. Vague ideas, suggestions, whatever. I feel like I’ve got the gist of the overall approach. And whilst I continue to be fascinated by your further explanations of the principles, social/historical context etc., what would suit me is ways of doing something with it.
To emphasise, I’m not looking for a Teacher with a capital T, or a System with a capital S. I’ve been there, done that, don’t need it any more.
I’m just really intrigued about any ideas you might have about experimenting with this stuff, in a more ‘applied’ way. And if it makes you feel better, I’ll sign any consent forms you need me to. ☺