The following are my notes from “Querying Natural Religion: Immanence, Gaia, and the Parliament of Lively Things.” (Live-blogging did not work, as we didn’t have a live internet connection.) These notes arefollowed by a brief set of post-event summary comments.
The setting: an airplane hangar of a hall in the Baltimore Convention Center. This made the audience of some 120 seem like a puny one.
For anyone who thought “socially engaged Buddhism” (a.k.a. liberation Buddhism, Buddhist socialism, et al.) was a marginal movement within the Buddhist world, Bruce Smithers’s Tricycle article “Occupy Buddhism” shows it reaches high up the (sort of) hierarchy of publicly known Buddhists… to the Dalai Lama.
It’s a selective analysis (the DL is much more pragmatic than this suggests). But worth reading, as are the comments.
“It turns out that roughly 70% of the Universe is dark energy. Dark matter makes up about 25%. The rest – everything on Earth, everything ever observed with all of our instruments, all normal matter – adds up to less than 5% of the Universe. Come to think of it, maybe it shouldn’t be called “normal” matter at all, since it is such a small fraction of the Universe.” [italics added]
The following provides an updated diagram and some further notes pertaining to my three-part article “What A Bodymind Can Do.” The earlier parts can be read here: part 1, part 2, part 3. (Please note that this version has corrected a minor error in the originally posted article, and added a bit more information at the end.)
“What A Bodymind Can Do” was an attempt to map the possibilities of human perception, action, and realization by synthesizing Shinzen Young’s systematization of mindfulness meditation practices (primarily Buddhist, but with reference to others) with a process-relational framework rooted in Whiteheadian process metaphysics and the triadic phenomenology of C. S. Peirce.
This started out as a response to Slavoj Zizek’s recent talk here at the University of Vermont on “Buddhism Naturalized,” but evolved into a consideration of subjectivity, which happened to be the topic of my next post in the pre-G (process-relational ecosophy-G) series. So this can be considered part 1 of a 2-part series.
Bruno Latour’s upcoming Gifford Lectures sound remarkable. See ANTHEM for the details.
There could be no better theme for a lecture series on natural religion than that of Gaia, this puzzling figure that has emerged recently in public discourse from Earth science as well as from many activist and spiritual movements. The problem is that the expression of “natural religion” is somewhat of a pleonasm, since Western definitions of nature borrow so much from theology. The set of lectures attempts to decipher the face of Gaia in order to redistribute the notions that have been packed too tightly into the composite notion of ‘’natural religion’’.
[. . .]
A search for collective rituals should begin with works of art and experiments able to explore in sufficient detail the scientific and political composition of the common world.
Perhaps the promise of Latour’s work — aside from its sociological and science-studies import — is reaching a new culmination as the religious and ecological threads he’s been toying with for so long come to their mutual fruition.
Little time this week, unfortunately, for me to keep up with the Pussy Riot conviction (as promised here) or anything else. But I recommend Charles Cameron’s series of posts (six so far, and counting) over at Zenpundit, including his annotated summary of their closing statements. The statements themselves are very lucid and articulate, as one should expect from women who can quote Rosi Braidotti *AND* Nicolai Berdyaev.
To get a sense of what the PR girls are up against, have a listen to radical traditionalist philosopher Aleksandr Dugin on the “holy war” Pussy Riot have started. “Geopolitician” Dugin’s political advice gets into Putin’s inner circles, even if Dugin’s attitudes toward Putin himself have sometimes been ambivalent.
Birthdays, and other such markers (I realized while meditating by the Lamoille river this morning), are an opportunity for pooling together thoughts, those facing back across the memoried past and those facing forward to an open future, and gathering them into a spool of desiring-productive-energy to be set spinning outward. Not only one’s own thoughts, but those of others (such as those I felt* spilling over into my own at a certain moment at that riverside juncture).
Thoughts are the openings from which the future is crafted. Thoughts are not only mind-thoughts; they are body-thoughts, and the more of our bodies (those affective landscapes of motion, emotion, capacity, and orientation) we pack into those thoughts, the stronger they are. Our body has its thoughts, many of which we are not aware of; we are its thoughts as much as they are ours, perhaps more so.
In a process-relational view, there are no crazies. There are those who subjectivate with the aid of habits developed in response to conditions that have changed sufficiently that those habits are no longer very effective, or are not considered appropriate by others.
Calling someone — and treating someone as — “crazy” is a way of reifying a particular relationship between one’s own subjectivity and that other’s objectivity. In a process-relational understanding, their objectivity is an artifact of our subjectivation. In reality, they subjectivate as much as we do. Within their own history of subjectivation the habits they have developed make perfect sense. They indicate options selected from an array of possibilities to shape a certain array of subjective propensities.