August 8, 2016

Yoga as laboratory

In what follows i would like to suggest that the practice of yoga bears a strong resemblance to the modern idea of a scientific laboratory setting, and hence that certain aspects of yoga might be relevant to a broader set of moral practices.

The idea of a laboratory in the natural sciences encompasses a number of features. (1) a laboratory is a dedicated space that is (2) insulated as much as possible from outside influences. In a laboratory (3) various experiments are performed and reproduced usually by (4) a team of senior and junior researchers. The purpose (5) of such a laboratory is to produce new knowledge in a specific scientific discipline. Hence a laboratory is also (6)generally equipped with reliable instruments specific to the discipline which enable the scientists to easily construct and measure new experiments.

If we follow Patañjali’s classic exposition of yoga, we can locate, at least in nuce, all of the above six features of a laboratory. One important difference should be noted from the outset. Whereas the natural sciences are a theoretical endeavor looking for truth, yoga is a practical endeavor, which does not produce true statements but good practices. This one translation will inform how each of the above features is reinterpreted when applied to yoga. Continue reading

July 28, 2016

Our idea of religion originates in the axial age when philosophers and prophets discovered that we can interpret the world from within our own souls: it is a subjective concept; and we are now in thrall to its addictive promise of a single truth which will illuminate the meaning of the world to each of us.  We must give up this religion and accept that the promise was false. Then we can return to understanding the world little by little, accepting that there will always be much that others must explain to us, and even more that none of us can yet fathom. Hopefully the violent symptoms of our addiction will then subside. 

July 28, 2016

The desire for a Grand Unified Theory is metaphysical and religious;  the desire for a better theory is scientific. 

October 10, 2015

caterpillars too
awake in cocoons
confused

October 4, 2015

There is a vital mystery to the world; but it lies hidden behind our stubborn conviction that, in the main, we’ve figured it out already.

[This applies both to the depressed individual and the human race as a whole.]

August 29, 2015

Careening through time,
i right my course,
slowly.

July 26, 2015

As i think,
so the beast grazes,
trees grow,
the tide turns.

June 21, 2015

My Lord said to me:
be greater than you are
—that we might grow. 

May 31, 2015

Old remedies

When Elijah returns, surely he will cry out:

Hear me, you proud moderns,
listen to age-old wisdom:
Your knowledge is polluted,
your science biased!

Markets and money, they
alone are free; your proofs
and baubles — you serve them.
See how they blind you!

Here is a greater technology,
a science of sciences: Purify
doubtful tech with indifference;
flee from all soiled, partial truths;

do not mix science and money;
sacrifice all useless things!
Then you will manufacture
wisdom, and know happiness.

April 29, 2015

Overhearing one night in a museum how Velasquez’s brushwork was ahead of its time, i wondered: Why is it that we no longer climb upwards out of the past but now fall forwards into the future?

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