Time away, new project, and the best excuse you will hear this year!

sent by: CLARKE SCOTT |

Welcome to The Contemplative Life.

Firstly, apologies for my tardiness. It has been several weeks since the last edition and many of you have emailed me to see if I was ok!

I am. Thank you.

I’m amazed by how wonderful you all are.

Truth is I have moved all my content back off Substack and had a hell of a time setting up again. What I thought would take a week, took three.

But…we are back up and running again, and things are looking super bright for the future too!

I’ve also got another book project lined up and will tell you more about that in a minute.

But first, a couple of updates on the newsletter.

From feedback related to the read survey I sent out, I will change the publish day of The Contemplative Life from Sunday to Saturday at 6 pm Australian EST.

This makes it Saturday morning for those in the U.K., and the U.S., as gives you the weekend to digest everything.

This change came from a reader’s suggestion and it is a good one. Thank you, Janice.

Secondly, I will begin publishing articles mid-week.

These will form chapters/sections/ideas from a new book I am working on. It won’t be every week but rather when the article is complete.

For me, writing is a core part of my spiritual practice, and while I have taken a little while to find my way how to share it, this is where I landed.

This book will also have a course attached to it. But I will be launching the course before the publication of the book.

I hope that all makes sense.

Either way, we have a direction and a plan, and it’s full steam ahead!

I hope you can join the journey.

What I’ve Been Thinking

I’ve been thinking a lot about the mechanism of self-sabotaging behavior this week.

In part, because it’s at the core of many people’s problems—including my own and for many years.

This is part of what I call, dispositional narrative.

These are the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and they bind to the egoic mind such that they are almost invisible to us.

And when coupled with confused feedback loops these turn into patterns of dysfunctional behavior and decisions that are often self-sabotaging.

I first started developing these ideas during my Ph.D., which sadly I never completed but I got a lot from the experience – including the knowledge that I was not suited for the academic world.

I think when these ideas are fleshed out and brought into the conversation of the contemplative life and meditation they become extremely interesting, useful, and highly practical.

What I’ve Been Reading

I picked up two books this week.

One old; one new.

The first is called, ​Rest – why you get more done when you work less​.

Now at first glance, you might agree with this sentiment.

It’s certainly an attractive proposition. But I’m not so sure it’s entirely true.

I do think we can learn some things from the effort of the author and that is why I am reading it but, knowing the story of my teacher’s monastic education, and how hard he pushed himself at times, I do believe there is more to the story to “rest” than meets the ordinary eye.

For instance, how we work, not just how long we work, should be an important factor in this discussion. But it is? Not at first glance. I will report back.

The same goes for the idea of “rest” itself.

For instance, if your so-called rest is nothing more than hedonic exploits into delusion, ain’t no rest coming from that!

Having said that, it is great to see this discussion taking place, because hustle culture is a toxic mindset.

It puts money above all else.

And while money is important as it allows us to support ourselves, when its pursuit becomes your fuel life, life becomes very shallow.

The second book is much older: ​Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander​ by Thomas Merton

I must admit I get a little giddy reading Merton.

I cannot put my finger on why just yet but I suspect it has something to do with his commitment to writing prose that is radically honest, to the contemplative life, a sense of the historical significance of his work, and of course, he is a brilliant writer!

I think the opening of the book says a lot,

This book consists of personal reflections, insights, metaphors, observations, judgments on reading, and events. The material is taken from notebooks which I have kept since 1956. Though they are personal and conversational and represent my own version of the world, these entries are not of the intimate and introspective kind that do to make up a spiritual journey…In elaborating such a version one unavoidably tells something of himself., for what a man truly is can be discovered only through his self-awareness in a living and actual world. But these pages are not a venture in self-revelation or self-discovery. Nor are they pure soliloquies. They are an implicit dialogue with others minds, a dialogue in which questions are raised. But do not expect to find “my answers.”

The openness with which Merton tackles life, love, and the world around him is inspiring. And despite being from different traditions, I see a lot of myself in him.

Not so much his ability to craft beautiful prose—there he stands alone—but his commitment to speaking honestly and openly, and in a manner that invites others to participate in the conversation.

And the earnest way in which he goes about things creates an intensity that burns brightly to this day.

When he met The Dalai Lama in 1968, His Holiness suggested Merton look into the Tibetan Vajrayana meditation system of self-transformation. To me, this shows, he was someone quite special. And it’s a tragedy that certain forces in the world plotted to bring an end at only 53 years of age.

Still, we have his books and for that I am grateful.

What I’ve Created

This week I moved my work (and all the bits and bobs) off Substack and rebuild everything fresh leaving little time for anything else.


It’s a new book & course project that will incorporate the framework I mentioned above, guided meditations, and a system of spiritual journeying I created for myself.

This is something I have been thinking about for some time but only now, thanks to the wonderful support of readers, can I have the time to devote to creating something exceptional.

Couple this with journaling and what you get is a great framework for developing insight into your own dispositional narrative such that the obstacles to deep meditation can be removed.

More on this soon.

Enjoy the journey!

Clarke Scott

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