3 ₪ Mindfulosophy or Slow thought is my contribution to the art of dialogue. Or conversation, which is my preferred word.
It grew out of two things: A seemingly reckless impulse to start an old school philosophical school, à la Plato or Socrates.
And secondly the meeting in the 90s with Cafe Philo, which I visited many times, pondered, and made into something different. (Coffee, philosophy and conversation is a good combination.)
Mindfulosophy is not a method or system or course, but rather an informal philosophical toolbox with a few directions for using it.
Right now everything in Mindfulosophy turns on me, which is clearly limiting. My aim is to, as fast as possible, train others to be able to guide Mindfulosophy sessions.
But were are not there quite yet, so let’s explore the toolbox.
What are the tools, how do we use them, to what advantage? As you will see they connect with the larger goal of the Venusian Peace Project, namely exploring, creating and entering what I call the peace room.
The tools can and should be used on a collective as well as an individual level. Individuals make up the collective, one helps the other. It is much easier for an individual to change than for a country or political party.
But change often starts with a single person. As Barry Manilow sang in “One voice”:
Joining with your one voice Each and every note another octave
The basic structure or visualization of Mindfulosophy is that we want to reach awareness about three parameters: Tempo, temperature and terrain.
Tempo concerns the speed with which we “answer” the world. The “world” is here taken in a very broad sense. It includes: questions we get from others, just communication from others, just others, situations, “problems”, inner questions, situations, emotions.
Temperature concerns how hot or cool we are towards all the above mentioned factors. Are we starting an inner forest fire, are we hot, smoldering, or just cool and relaxed about it?
Terrain is a question of knowing where we (our thoughts and words) are coming from. Just as we reach into our pantry to take something out from diverse jars — sugar, rice, salt, etc. — we reach into different parts of ourselves (diverse inner “jars”) before speaking or writing. Can we see and survey this terrain?
All this is a formulation or model I came up with after much activity with informal philosophical cafées, meetings and workshops.
This might feel new and strange, but it can be connected to age-old Eastern thinking. I recently saw the model’s connection with the yogic concept of the Gunas.
This is my understanding of them: Sattva is the pure, light, calm mode. Rajas concerns activity, eagerness and action. Tamas is sleep; heavy, lazy, dumb.
The goal of all my parameters, I now see, is (rather obviously) to approach Sattva. And the Indian model can help us to do it. Here is how I think we can get closer to Sattva.
We want to avoid being stuck in both Tamas and Rajas.
To get out of Tamas (laziness, sleepiness, old routines) we need to go to Rajas and DO something. Break the non-momentum of Tamas. This by giving Tamas as little time as possible.
You wake up and want to snooze in bed. This is perfectly in order at times, but if you want to move towards Sattva, listen to the voice of Rajas (“Rise and shine!”) and get out of bed the very moment you hear that voice.
You need to do the dishes, take out the garbage, make that uncomfortable phone call, write that letter you’ve been delaying for months, start putting your New Year’s Promise into reality. Don’t delay, act NOW. Listen to the (small) Rajasic voice, it’s a bit like Benjamin Cricket in Pinocchio, and don’t listen to the sneaky, foxy voices of Gideon and Honest John (also called Foulfellow) who want to lure you to Pleasure (Tamas) Island.
“See and do” as a wise friend once advised me. See the need, and immediately act on it. Don’t delay or procrastinate.
To get out of Rajas on the other hand — too much heated, rushing, overeager activity — you need to enlist Sattva itself. If Rajas is the gas pedal, Sattva can be the brake.
So STOP! Stop your eager, ants in the pants, busybody self; take a step back, slow down and zoom out from your urge for action. Ponder the word, the situation. Count to ten. Say “Hmm…”. This leads to a calm passivity that is philosophic, even wise.
The lazy passivity of Tamas can be seen as the opposite pole to Sattva (passive in a different way), while the fiery, action-oriented (“In Action we trust!”), always busy energy of Rajas is the middle position.
Rajas, rightly applied, helps against Tamas and is much needed in many situation, but is no universal solution. It also needs to be reigned in.
Also, while the danger of Tamas (laziness) is well understood, the danger of Rajas is less so, especially in our modern, action-oriented, multi-tasking, stressed out Western society.
The parameters of Mindfulosophy (tempo, temperature, terrain) all aim to get to a state of Sattva; calm, awake, sober, benign clarity, while interacting with others. (Mindfulosophy is a form of conversation.)
A final comment: What we think of as war, people oppressing, shooting and killing each other, is a case of partners in crime. Tamasic ignorance-stupidity and Rajasic violence supplementing each other.
Sattva is needed for peace. One could even say that it is a synonym of peace.
Opinions occupy an interesting place in our mental repertoire. [Or pantry. Other stuff to look at is “convictions”, “conclusions” (things that close something), “leanings” and “prejudices”.]
Opinions are not “truths”, not “facts” — those elements have a different taste and weight — but rather a way of positioning ourselves. Opinions represent a maneuver, more or less war-like.
Think of the classical tale about the elephant and blind men. Each of them stand in a different relation to the animal, thus “see” different sides of it, which they take for the whole.
Blind men can be excused for misunderstanding the animal thus.
It is a different case with people with eyesight who still choose to view the elephant, the world, other people, phenomena, situations, from one specific angle — without bothering to or even refusing to move around. Thus not seeing that identity depends on angle.
Some people are probably totally convinced of their opinions, but many of us, if we practice inlook(introspection), can see that this is more of a game, a “truth-contest”, a trial of strength, a showdown.
An important step towards clear-thinking is separation of opinion from “fact” or “truth”, seeing that holding (holding on to) an opinion has very little to do with thinking.
Opinions have a Martian, fighting element, but also an element (perhaps Lunar) of emotional security and safety. They can be like soft pillows, giving us a sense of warmth in an unkind, competitive world.
Mars and Moon seem to go well together: Barricading yourself in one corner of town, or in one square, armed and prepared to defend that corner with all your might, DOES confer a sense of wild and homely security. “At least we have a corner…!”
If you are actually attacked, this is somewhat understandable. But if you aren’t (and we often fool ourselves in this respect), if you just imagine that you are attacked while actually YOU are the attacker, we have a different situation.
Just defending what we already have does not lead forward. We are moving not weiter but rückwärts.
Opinion is a stance, usually static. Thinking is dynamic dance.