Contemplative Ecologies 2

This is the second blog post in a new series by Zack Walsh. Each Friday, I highlight the top 5 posts curated from my personal Facebook page. I hope you enjoy this week’s highlights:

1. The Great Transition Initiative just ended their round table on Vivir Bien / Buen Vivir. I recommend reading the original article and follow-up discussion which explains both the relational aspects of its cosmovision and how an alliance of autonomous movements supported by the commons can prevent its co-optation by state legislators. If like me you’re interested in the spiritual culture of degrowth, I’d also recommend this earlier article comparing the non-dual cosmologies of Buen Vivir and Theravāda-Buddhism. To stay up-to-date with publications, subscribe to GTI’s bimonthly bulletin or Facebook page.

2.  Perspectiva is a think-tank started by Jonathan Rowson and Tomas Bjorkman to explore the inner dimensions of complex global challenges. For more info, check out Rowson’s booklet, Spiritualise, and his introductory guide. Last week, they published a new article on the attention economy. It asks, “If our attention is increasingly ‘captured’ by algorithms… at which point do our decisions… reflect the code as much as they do our ‘own’ preferences?” And it argues, “the ramping up of efforts… to capture our attention points to the need for robust ways to protect our attentional abilities.” If you want to learn more about this topic, I recommend Peter Doran’s blog and book on the #ContemplativeCommons.

3. Last week, Aeon published two new essays on multispecies studies and posthumanism. The first essay critiques rational, liberal humanist, and cognitivist accounts of agency and explores distributed agency via human-animal interactions. The second essay explores the extended mind thesis and smart phones. It argues, “If our minds now encompass our phones, we are essentially cyborgs: part-biology, part-technology… So if the law aims to protect mental privacy, its boundaries would need to be pushed outwards to give our cyborg anatomy the same protections as our brains.” This in turn led me to read more about symbionts— organisms that live in symbiotic relationship to one another. The more we learn about animal–bacterial interactions, the more we discover we have never been human, and we have never been individuals! 👽👽

4. ANON, the Left Accelerationist collective which previously wrote the #AltWoke Manifesto (read my musings here), published a new blog discussing how “the networked mode of communication could represent a catalyst for social change.” Vice Media also uploaded a well-produced video lecture by Jeremy Rifkin called The Third Industrial Revolution: A Radical New Sharing Economy (see here for a critique of the sharing economy). And Garry Peterson published an executive summary of his recent empirical study reviewing case studies of system collapse. The paper “identified 14 potential mechanisms that may cause collapse in social-ecological systems,” linking “specific collapse mechanisms with different types of system structure.”

5. I’m a big fan of Thanissara’s honest and impassioned Dharma teachings. Last week, she shared her latest article about decolonizing sangha space from the Spring 2018 edition of BuddhaDharma. She says, “Our ability to access Buddhism is due solely to centuries of Asian transmission undertaken with care, dedication and sacrifice, which we don’t often respect.” In the article, she includes lovely italicized reflections for practice, like: “How do you feel having the norms of ‘our way of doing things’ challenged? What, in your sangha, is assumed as unquestioned ‘tradition’ that is in fact only several decades in the making?”

These challenging reflections coincided with another publication of mine on #makingrefuge which I shared last week. They also speak to my crowdfunder which will provide the means to plan a sequel to last year’s #makingrefuge workshop. This time, we will focus on racial justice and activism among heritage Buddhists. As Thanisarra said, Buddhism and mindfulness are handed down to us by ecologies of practice that deserve greater attention and support. Here, you can read my own thoughts and vulnerabilities on the topic. If able, please consider making a small donation. The crowdfunder ends tomorrow and we have nearly reached our goal!

Questions, comments, or recommendations for future content? Please email <walsh_zack@yahoo.com>. Like what you see? Check out my scholarly publications. See you next Friday!

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