Contemplative Ecologies 13

Today is my move-out day. I’m leaving L.A. (after 4 years) and looking for apartments in Berlin next month (let me know if you have any leads!). This week’s top 5 posts include: a lecture on spirituality and systems change, a dialogue with a preeminent contemplative philosopher, a futures study on the societal impacts of climate change, an essay on art and climate trauma, and two web portals for envisioning positive futures. Hope you enjoy!

1. This lecture by Jonathan Rowson for Theos (a Christian think-tank) explains the philosophy informing Perpectiva. He “argues that cultivating ‘spiritual sensibility’ across society is essential for solving the world’s most complex political problems – and that the spiritual could and should be pivotal in this process. In his recent publication Spiritualise, co–published by the RSA and Perspectiva, Rowson argues that our public debates aren’t working because we are far too coy about discussing human nature, meaning and purpose. He believes that spiritual matters underpin all of our most urgent shared living questions – how we wake up, grow up and wise up to the challenges of our time, not least the slow death of democracy, technological overreach and ecological insanity.”

2. The Imperfect Buddha Podcast’s first episode this year is a dialogue with Evan Thompson, one of my favorite contemplative philosophers. Evan discusses the relation between 4E cognition and process philosophy (at 28:00-34:00), as well as other topics, including the cooptation and fetishization of mindfulness (in reference to his 2016 ISCS lecture), the growing interest to address social justice in contemplative practice communities, themes from his latest book Waking, Dreaming, Being, and an introduction to his current book project critiquing Buddhist exceptionalism and defending a cosmopolitan ethic. As always, I highly recommend Evan’s talks.

3. The Breakthrough Institute published a new report on the existential threat of climate change. Here’s an excerpt from Climate Code Red’s coverage:

“At present, the 2015 Paris Agreement commitments by various nations, if implemented, would result in planetary warming of more than 3°C by 2100, and when carbon-cycle feedbacks which are now becoming active are taken into account, the resultant warming is around 5°C of warming. Scientists say warming of 4°C or more could reduce the global human population by 80% or 90% and the World Bank reports ‘there is no certainty that adaptation to a 4°C world is possible.’ A 2007 study by two US national security think tanks, ‘The Age of Consequences’ concluded that even 3°C of warming and a 0.5 metre sea-level rise would likely lead internationally and within nations to ‘outright chaos,’ and ‘nuclear war is possible,’ emphasising how ‘massive nonlinear events in the global environment give rise to massive nonlinear societal events.’”

4. This essay by Ann Finegan explores artistic expressions of solastagia (a form of psychic or existential distress caused by environmental change):

“Solastalgic arts practitioners… inhabit a world that is convoluted and indirect, with daunting intermeshings of vast geopolitical scale. It’s not just ecology or the health of the planet that has to be dealt with, but matters of equity, markets, governance, transparency, finance, freedom of information, patenting rights and withdrawal of rights. It’s no accident the condition of solastalgia has emerged in the period of late capitalism, coincident with the destructions associated with the word Anthropocene. For contemporary artists concerned with our relationship to all things land, community, the commons, the sharing of resources and knowledge, in short, the respectful interconnectedness of ‘beings-in-common’ between human and non-human, offers the best chance for transformative cure.”

5. Lastly, I joined the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and Biosphere (MAHB), which is an online forum for creating a plausible and compelling vision of sustainability and social equity. “The MAHB envisions a future that embodies two basic principles— all forms of life are essential and interdependent; and, economic underpinnings, social norms, and individual behavior are all part of a single system operating within the bounded biosphere.” It gathers “humanists from every walk of life” to “discover a new type of intelligence, foresight intelligence: the ability to implement behavioral, institutional and cultural changes necessary for future generations to live peaceful productive lives.” For more info, see the Foresight Analysis Nexus (FAN).

Questions, comments, or recommendations for future content? Please email <>. Like what you see? Check out my personal Facebook page or scholarly publications. See you next Friday!

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