Institute Shadows

Coming soon to a podcast near you


I’ve been embarking (virtually) on a publicity tour for my book Collective Wisdom in the West: Beyond the Shadows of the Enlightenment, and the essay The Equality Complex sharing the perspectives that I developed in these works. Jacob Kishere’s Sense Space, the Mourning Talk show with Aaron Parker are recorded with Buddhist Geeks coming up and much more on the way. 

On The Mourning Talk Show I thought we would discuss the equality complex, but ended up discussing my life and why I wrote the book and ended up at Life Itself working to create spaces and discussions about living and practice as opposed to staying in academia. There’s no substitute for watching, but I’d just like to tease the show, which I had a lot of fun with, here….

I had to explain that my book is basically a bit of a paradox because it argues that part of the reason our rationality rut is so pervasive is that often, when people glimpse limits of rationality, as I did after being stuck in my head for more than a decades, the response is to write a book that argues, rationally, that we should let go of our rationality. A lot of people have written that book (Heidegger, McGilchrist) and in some sense I am another. This argument is never good enough to convince the mind to stop, and the mind misses this like it misses so many implications that are unwelcome. I wrote to pithily point out that resisting the emotional allure of arguments, rather than refuting them is the way out and try to guide the reader to notice what its like to trapped by a need to know.

My personal journey started in a way with an understanding that there was something missing from our culture and from academia, and like a good westerner I went to academia to prove what was missing, expecting a revelation that would drop me out into what was missing. It ended with me learning the hard way that academia will not ever include what is missing from our culture, or prove it to somebody who can’t see it. Being neurotic is not being present to see the present and neuroticism is what academia does to you, so we almost can’t see what we’re missing while under the spell of thought.

Rational arguments against rationality are useful, but they also feed our emotional need for feeling certainty is the way out. The mind is propelled forward by the alluring feeling of grasping and no good argument will convince it to let go of that habit, all good arguments actually feed it. Even this one. At the end of the day we have to, stop, take stock of life, act like you are playing a sport, and make a move in the space of your mind to leave the arguments aside, or rather watch our thirst for knowledge intently and let it be there without feeding it, letting it die away.

We’re basically addicted to grasping as a culture, a situation which has been brought about by scientific understanding and the power that it has to mold a world that is understandable, in which we can control and grasp successfully. We can get addicted to calories becuase of tech and that becomes obvious when we see the obesity epidemic or our own growing gut, , and control is similar but invisible. When we’re deep in our heads we seldom see anything but ideas. That was me for a long time, until I really got into meditation. It is only by finding a way to step outside thought and see where it takes me that I started to convince myself, little by little that I manage to slow my mind down, a little. Still not there 🙂

We need therapy for idea addiction, more than incompleteness proofs as I found out the hard way…

There was a lot more to the conversation than that… but you’ll have to watch to find out.

Watch out for an appearance on Buddhist Geeks about the equality complex in the near future!