Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The real Symposium

When people hear "Self Knowledge Symposium," they usually think of symposium in its academic usage: a conference at which several speakers present on a given subject. But, from the beginning, we always intended it in its original Greek usage: a really good party with impassioned intellectual discussion. We had one of those last night: people from all three local student groups got together just to hang out . . . which is the best way to have the best conversations about things that really matter.

"I think Eckhart Tolle entirely misses the point," proclaimed Augie, beer in hand. "Five pages into his book, he says, 'I reached a point of utter despair that led to a catclysmic experience' . . . and then he spends the rest of the book talking about his meditation techniques! It was the despair that gave him the experience, not the mediation! Nothing wrong with his techniques, they're probably better than most, but that's not the essential part. That's the problem these days: nobody's talking about passion."

Well, not entirely true . . . there are some teachers and traditions that talk about passion. Andrew Cohen put "singleness of intention" at the very top of his teaching: "You have to want enlightenment more than anything else." And Nisargadatta was pretty explicit about it as well: "Earnestness is all." But his point is still valid, when you consider the spiritual landscape in general, especially in America. Everyone keeps acting like spiritual insight is the product of the correct techniques and practices, instead of the motivation and drive that brings the person to the practices in the first place.

But that was only just the opening argument for the evening. I talked with people about the dynamic tension of exclusivity versus inclusivity in spiritual communities . . . the virtues of different media for spiritual communication . . . the value of public communication for routing out egos . . . the creeping conservatism of age. I got enough to blog about for a week, from just a few hours with the right people. I only wish I could do it every night.



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