In this podcast, we explore the intersection of modern philosophy and classical meditation, in the context of how best to act in the world. Each weekly episode includes a short guided meditation we do together.
George Pitagorsky, who teaches mindfulness meditation in the non-dual and Buddhist traditions, speaks with me about religion and faith, philosophy and reason, and where meditation fits in. We also discuss the roles of community, humility and practice in apprehending the transcendental and living the moral life. George offers courses and other content at his website self-awareliving.com.
The practice and expression of religion differs from that of philosophy in several noteworthy ways. Unlike philosophy, religion typically features regular practice and repetition, a strong supportive community, and a posture of humility. We discuss the advantages of these, and try to incorporate a practice element in our meditation.
Most of us intimate that experiencing beauty has special value. We develop this intuition by noticing the transcendental qualities of aesthetic judgment; namely, that it requires human-level rationality, freedom from self-interest, and an understanding of others we are in relationship with. Additionally, I suggest that in the presence of the sublime beauty of awe-inducing scenes in nature, we can have quasi-religious experiences and apprehend the transcendental realm of morality.
What are the characteristics of art, and what makes a piece of art good? As we judge a piece of art work beautiful, how do we judge a scene of nature beautiful? And can we as non-artists, exercise our judgment of beauty in how we arrange our apartments? We continue our exploration of beauty and its connection to apprehending the transcendent.
I speak with Melody Fader, a classical pianist who performs in NYC and also Europe in the summers, on her relationship with learning and performing music. An insight arises as to how beauty in the music is related to the listener: it is shaped by the performer in its presentation, to be interpreted by the listener. Connect with Melody through her website www.melodyfader.com. We close with a short piano performance by me to serve as the guided meditation for the week.
What is beauty? Is there something transcendental going on when we judge a piece of art, otherwise quite useless to us, as beautiful? If so, is there a connection with meditation? In this episode, I start exploring the overlap between the philosophy of beauty and the practice of meditation, as pointers to universal truths that need necessarily be followed by individuals in their individuality.
We harbor interpersonal attitudes such as gratitute and resentment more intensely with close friends and family than with distant relations. We examine this feature of life, along with how our moral obligations correspond to the degree of relationship. In Q&A, we look at two ways of considering the case of man and machine coming together to enhance human-ness.
I speak with Kimber Domke, a nutrition and fitness coach with clients in New York City and worldwide, on her diagnosis on why many people eat poorly, and her behavioral and gradual approach in helping them improve and reach their health goals. She explains her conception of will-power, and how that need not necessarily be the determining issue in health outcomes. Learn more about her work at kimberdomke.com. We close with a short, spontaneous guided meditation.
According to Aristotle, the exercise of virtue or excellence is key to a fulfiling life. But what does virtue consist in? We discuss how it arises out of relationship, when we give and receive reasons for our actions from each other, and judge their merits, holding each other accountable via human-only sentiments such as praise and blame, resentment and gratitude. In guided meditation, we seek to experience the quality of admiration.
I speak with Ed Bendy, a Vice-President in charge of product at Semsee, a tech startup. Ed gives an overview of his grappling with what’s meaningful in life. He relates his relationship with insight meditation and with church-going, which is currently to the non-credoed Fourth Universalist Society in the City of New York. We also discuss briefly the role of detachment in decision-making.