Simone Weil lauds 'unmixed attention', which she likens to prayer, and reflects on the quality of attention, expressed as 'patience, effort and method' to 'understand with our whole self the truths which are evident.'
Osip Mandelstam spent many years of his life being persecuted for the views he held and the work he made. 'And I Was Once Alive' was one of the last poems he wrote before his death from heart failure in a transfer camp.
Why is self-acceptance so hard and self-criticism so deeply wired in us? Psychologist and teacher of meditation Tara Brach reminds us that self-love is one of the most neglected areas of our psychic landscapes.
For the former Unitarian minister, relations with other people evoke in us the call towards both truth and tenderness, asking at their highest level not for daintiness, but for the 'roughest courage.
Friendship transcends mere companionship to reach a more elevated goal - that of a shared vision or a common question.
The standoff between science and religion, argues Idaho-born writer Marilynne Robinson, is often based on a 'selective or tendentious' reading of religious writing, which she frequently defends in her work. In this extract from an essay called 'Reclaiming a Sense of the Sacred', originally published in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Robinson challenges the notion… Continue reading What Science Can’t Talk About: “the Tears in Things” – Marilynne Robinson
"The truth, in our day, finds few defenders" writes André Gide in this short essay on the importance of a thoroughgoing attitude towards accuracy and factuality. The scientific methods of research and observation, he laments, are frequently scuppered by the relative, mythical, dogmatic and equivalent truths of religions and political movements. As relevant today as… Continue reading Falsehood Triumphs Everywhere – André Gide
This excerpt from one of Buddha's teachings, taken from the Nibbana Sutta, echoes the line in the Heart Sutra about form and emptiness, and the nature of reality, given that emptiness. There is a base, or state, where phenomena are not as we perceive them on a day to day basis, where the dichotomies of… Continue reading A State Where There is Neither Earth, nor Water, nor Heat, nor Air
Norman Fischer is a Zen teacher and priest (formerly the Abbot of San Francisco Zen Center) as well as a poet and author. His most recent book, Experience: Thinking, Writing, Language, and Religion, is a collection of essays about experimental writing as spiritual practice. This statement on meditation and poetry talks about how the two… Continue reading Norman Fischer’s Poetics Statement: On Meditation and Poetry
Aldous Huxley published The Perennial Philosophy in 1945, just after the end of the Second World War, sending into a divided world a much needed work of unification. His book is grounded in the idea of the 'philosophia perennis', the idea that all religions in the world have in common the human yearning to experience the… Continue reading Aldous Huxley on Cleverness and the Perennial Philosophy