I am giving a course through the University of New Brunswick Leisure Learning program on meaning and the practice of mindfulness. This is the first time I have done a public workshop of this nature.
If you live close by and you are interested, here is a link where you can register: http://www.unb.ca/cel/enrichment/leisure-learning/sj/practice-mindfulness.html
Mindfulness has become a popular idea recently. In my opinion interest in mindfulness is not a passing fad. I see it rather as one expression of a question which is as large as the worldwide problems we face. The pursuit of meaning at the personal level orients us toward living a sane and beautiful life. But what are we doing as a culture? Does meaning matter?
As a culture we do not talk about meaning. Meaning is assumed to be the byproduct of technological advancement, of economic growth, of owning things, of having a pension and things like that. As a culture in our part of the world we have fulfilled many promises related to security. The cost of fulfilling these promises has been expensive. We can no longer turn a blind eye to large scale environmental degradation, species decimation and the present climate catastrophe. It cannot be ignored unless we wish to remain ignorant. The question of meaning appears with force against this backdrop. What is technology for? What is wealth for? Follow these questions but a little further and you arrive at a question of meaning. Meaning is the fundamental human question, and the answers we give to it give rise to the civilizations we build.
It has long been my thesis that a clear line, a teachable line, can be drawn between mindfulness and meaning. It is also my thesis that meaning is and has always been the same for all people of all ages, ethnicities and geographies throughout history. For this reason, meaning can and should be the basis for a new worldwide culture which alone can put an end to worldwide conflict and suffering. It is my opinion that the question of meaning will define history in the next 100 years. If given the chance, that is, if I live long enough and have the energy I think I can explain why.
I am an advocate of the ordinary. Mindfulness is for everyone, just as meaning is for everyone. We need to fall in love with mindfulness. That means we need to understand its importance for our own personal sense of meaning before anything else. I hope that we can share some light-hearted but serious exercises and conversation together about this important subject. I hope that the School of Unusual Arts can help to create many more opportunities to explore the whole question of meaning and that we can engage more and more people.
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