See the Past Through the Present, Not the Present Through the Past
Martin LeFevre: What does it mean to see the past through the portal of the present, rather than the present through the prism of the past? It means retaining or recovering an innocence of perception. ... That entails holding to what is, rather than viewing the world through one's knowledge and experience. It involves rejecting relativism, casuistry and sophistry, without falling into the trap of solipsism, over-simplification and superiority...
Jun 24, 2017, 5:00pm
No Design, Just Endless Creation
Martin LeFevre: The true capacity of the human being is not for science and technology, or even the amassing of knowledge, but for ever-deeper and wider awareness. Without developing our latent capacity for conscious awareness, the extension of knowledge and the expansion of technology have very little meaning ... I believe everyone has the "bandwidth," or capacity they require to come up to the mark for him or her. Who or what sets that mark? Life, circumstances, and intelligence beyond intellect...
Jun 22, 2017, 5:15pm
Days of Reckoning
Martin LeFevre: The elites of society are not inherently corrupt and incompetent. They could have told the American people the truth after their complicity with the Bush Administration's evils in invading Iraq, franchising torture and spreading terrorism. ... But they didn't ... Contrary to the conventional wisdom of the commentariat, the problem with America is not merely that "civically, we're in a dangerous place when it comes to how we view, treat and talk about people we disagree with." The rot goes much deeper, and has infected the core...
Jun 20, 2017, 10:04am
Watching the Watcher Ends Division
Martin LeFevre: At the little creek at the edge of town, the wind blew and the clouds flew, but there was hardly a flutter of thought. Some days, like this one, meditation seems superfluous; other days it takes longer for the mind to yield to the stillness of attention. ... It's become imperative that we make the space for a few minutes of stillness and peace each day. Without doing so, the world overwhelms one, or one ceases to care. ... Essentially, meditation is the ending the observer and time. It is the art of allowing passive awareness to ignite the flame of attention...
Jun 17, 2017, 5:12pm
Not Political Revolution, Psychological Revolution!
Martin LeFevre: How would psychological revolution lead to a more just and equitable society? For one thing it will be fundamentally inclusive, while remaining radical. It would not blame others, or even the system for the ills of society, but rather maintain that the ills of society arise from the ills within all of us. ... For another, a revolution in consciousness is not based on opposition and conflict. That doesn't mean opposition doesn't have its place. Resistance to this demagogic, authoritarian president is essential. ... The truth is that society is first and last a manifestation of the internal reality of individuals. The character of individuals is not determined externally, by social, economic and political systems....
Jun 15, 2017, 5:07pm
The Russian and the Swami
Martin LeFevre: Second-rate thinkers operate in terms of knowledge, which is always of the past. Knowledge is the raison d'etre of science, which is based on cumulative data and repeatable experiments. But it's deadly where the growth of insight in the individual and a revolution in consciousness are concerned. ... It isn't that a genuine religious teacher doesn't have sufficient insight into an issue when he or she asks a question; it's that they keep questioning and having insights anew. (Insight, to be insight, is always new.)...
Jun 13, 2017, 5:12pm
Explaining America to the World, and Ourselves
Martin LeFevre: The most difficult things in the world are to understand oneself, one's intimates, and one's country, in that order. ... Denial still rules this land. ... Americans on the left like to fool themselves into believing that Trump is an anomaly, a product of right-wing extremism and white fright. But Trump reflects the causal reality in America that gave rise to him---extreme self-centeredness, cynical transactionality, and decades of avoiding and whitewashing the darkness in American society and foreign policy...
Jun 10, 2017, 4:37pm
Worse Than the Blitz
Martin LeFevre: The London Bridge mayhem, coming on the heels of the Manchester murders, sicken the heart and pain the soul. Is there an adequate response in the individual? Yes, though it means seeing beyond Western propaganda and changing our attitudes about terrorism at an emotional level. ... There are two escalating vicious cycles happening in the West. The first is that by going along with the propagandistic narrative that the terrorists are "attacking our way of life," we accept that our way of life is right and good and double down on it. That only increases the hate on both sides...
Jun 6, 2017, 5:34pm
Meditation Is the Movement of Negation
Martin LeFevre: It still surprises, after many years meditating, how doing nothing but simply quieting and emptying the mind in nature is the most fruitful and important thing one can do. ... Being active and productive is good; being busy is not. Busyness is a cultural disease. It has become a cover for barrenness, a socially sanctioned escape from internal reality. It's a vice posing as a virtue that even supposedly spiritual people use as an excuse. ... One has to make the space, take the time, and be playfully serious about one's inner life...
Jun 3, 2017, 4:58pm
Martin LeFevre: Make no mistake---we are dealing with unvarnished evil in the Trump Administration. It showed its true face today. Trump's speech, pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, dripped with maliciousness, malignancy and ugliness. ... As the Atlantic said in "The Death Knell for America's Global Leadership," Trump "has reimagined the United States in the image of their own chief: selfish, isolated, brutish, domineering, and driven by immediate appetites rather than ideals or even longer-term interests."...
Jun 2, 2017, 12:00pm
Resolving the Fermi Paradox
Martin LeFevre: A dark shadowline slowly rises on the opposite wall of the gorge as the sun nears the horizon behind me. One's shadow is thrown across the chasm near a huge crack in a massive slab of volcanic rock. ... The mind quiets, and once again one ponders the mystery of man, and the potential of human beings. If the insights I've had into the human conundrum (formerly called "the riddle of man") are correct, the resolution of the basic contradiction between the order of nature/universe and the disorder of man presages the emergence of a new order of consciousness...
May 28, 2017, 6:02pm
Death, the Ultimate Question
Martin LeFevre: It's funny listening to a theoretical physicist muse on death. Perhaps it's like listening to a religious philosopher ponder quarks and bosons. The difference being that the physicist's special knowledge is supposed to give him or her special standing on the ultimate question. ... The astrophysicist in question was saying, with almost childlike simplicity, that death is incomprehensible to him because he can't conceive of his own end, how there could be an end to his personal existence. ... Of course the issue is not terrestrial or cosmic recycling, but the continuity, or lack thereof, of the self. That's what makes death so difficult to grasp...
May 25, 2017, 5:48pm
Spiritual Shock Therapy
Martin LeFevre: I had an interesting conversation with a self-described "meditation teacher" recently who teaches at a well-known retreat center in California. She regularly leads 10-day and month-long silent retreats. Though I'm a life-long meditator, the benefits to the individual and society of long-duration silent retreats eludes me. ... More and more people are proudly wearing the hairshirt of grueling silent retreats over extended periods, which are held in the company of other sufferers. ... It's fair to ask, does this spiritual craze contribute to the noise, busyness and disorder that characterize this culture, by accentuating social adaptation rather than inward integration?...
May 22, 2017, 5:09pm
The Donald Goes Global, Religiously
Martin LeFevre: As a religious philosopher, I'm loathe to write another column about Donald Trump and the chaos presidency. But as a religious philosopher, I feel a responsibility to attempt to convey what's happening at a deeper level than the merely political. ... Let's face it, what this 50-inch conduit of darkness occupying the most powerful office in the world is really about is insulting---no abusing---the intelligence of everyone so much that they give up the hope that humanity will ever awaken intelligence, much less at this crucial crossroads in human history...
May 20, 2017, 5:57pm
Laughter, the Last Escape?
Martin LeFevre: It seems like all that's left is to escape into comedy. Even that is becoming quite a strain however, both to keep up with the surreal hilarity of the Trump Administration, and to keep laughing in the face of seriously scary shit. ... The default position on the left and moderate-right is the less-than-half-truth "our institutions and the checks and balances of our government are working." ... We need to pour the foundation for a new order before the old one lands on all our heads...
May 18, 2017, 4:52pm