Welcome to this week’s edition of The Contemplative Life newsletter.
I have some news. It concerns you and me. And the content of my website and this newsletter too.
But do not fret as it is good news. Great news!
I have moved to Substack.
Some of you will not know what that means. That’s ok. You don’t have to.
Substack is a platform built to help writers, write better content by focusing on the writing, not the tech.
Can you hear the joy with which I wrote that last sentence?
What will that mean for you?
With regard to the weekly newsletter, nothing will change. The newsletter will continue to be delivered to your inbox, weekly.
But I have restarted the counter as you can see (this edition is MoD 003), and now an archive of past editions will be available to you also.
Over time the archive with its book recommendations, and whatnot, I feel, will be very useful.
Isn’t this such a great feature?!
I think it is, and it gives me more energy to do my best to find and share with you all the interesting things I come across during the week.
But not only that…
The move to Substack, I feel, is a rebirthing of my writing, and the content, and this has given me permission to go deeper and to share with you more of my personal search for truth – philosophical, theological, and spiritual.
For far too long I have been a man atop a mountain pointing out “How to…X”
There is something dishonest about this. This might be shocking to hear but, I do not have all the answers. But as I told a friend recently, what I do have is a deep impulse to look for it, where ever it is.
What I’ve Been Thinking
Radical honesty. What is it? Is it really possible? What role does the egoic mind play in how we present ourselves, to ourselves, and therefore to others?
Is radical honesty necessary? Does this help or harm? Will it be useful to others? How can it be practiced?
These are some of the questions I have been asking myself this week.
And I have been asking them because I read the most interesting book I’ve come across in a long time.
I am still processing it. It hit me hard. Hard and deep. Right in the gut.
And one thing that shifted for me from reading Savage Gods (more below) was the idea of owning your shit. No just owning it but being radically honest about it.
I think I will leave it that for now. Not because my ego wants to hide from it, although my ego always wants to hide from something.
But rather, I am still processing and plan to write a long-form essay and record an accompanying audio podcast for the essay on the topic soon.
I will leave you with this, I feel as if I hit a vein of truth while reading this book. A vein that runs deep. Real deep.
So deep it runs into the core of who I am. But it’s dark down there and I cannot see properly. At least not yet.
I promise to share what I find as honestly as I can.
What I’ve Been Reading
One of the most honest and inspiring reads I’ve had in a long time is, Paul Kingsnorth’s Savage Gods.
Kingsnorth is an English writer and ex-environmental activist.
The book is a short 126-page, beautifully poetic trip through the processing of some strange life event that left Kingsnorth grappling with his identity and his work.
Writing it at a time when Kingsnorth felt lost, the book was written, in fact, because he was lost. And it has this mystical searching quality as a result.
It was a joy to go along on the search with him.
I found this hard not to read. And I have marked it up with flags and pencil scribbling from the first sentence to the end.
I love marking books up. Making notes in the margins; placing plastic flags to bookmark the note. The book becomes a debate partner. Like monks in the Buddhist monasteries where we would debate each other over the most difficult topics. Oh, such fun!
Kingsnorth has said this is his best non-fiction book to date, and I am not at all surprised by this claim. For it is highly personal yet removed from narcissism. Brutal. Honest. Breathtaking and shocking.
And it left me with a sense he was not done searching too. And this felt like the perfect ending.
Click here to check it out – Savage Gods by Paul Kingsnorth
What I’ve Created
One of the great things about Substack is their audio/podcast feature.
This feature allows me to upload an audio file to an article so that you can read and listen to an audio version of the article from the same page as the article.
To me, this feature is even better than a stand-alone podcast as it combines articles with podcast audio in a neat way.
What this means for you is carefully crafted content to read or listen to, or both.
So here is the first of the three articles with podcasts.
Click here to read and listen – How to Bend Like a Piece of Wood.
It is in three parts and as you can see from the screenshots below it can be played from your phone.
Well, that is it for this edition – the first on Substack. I hope you enjoyed it.
p.s. someone recently asked about my article on the dream I had the night of my teacher’s passing. I’m currently working on this as a long-form essay. And I will also record an audio podcast episode for this essay.
My teacher was 86 when he passed and sat in meditation for 10 days after Western doctors officially pronounced him dead.