During his junior year of college, a tragic accident during a game of pick-up basketball disrupted Howard Axelrod’s course in life. As a way to make sense of himself and of life, Howard did what I’ve only fantasized of doing: He went to live in the woods, in utter solitude, for a very long time.
Everyday Sublime: Shadow | Light | Unity
The Everyday Sublime podcast explores a full spectrum spirituality. Each week Josh will release a dharma talk, and each month Josh will publish a long-form conversation with a thought-leader from the field. As Stephen Batchelor says, "the mystical does not transcend the world, but saturates it."
“The ‘transcendent’ big ‘S’ Self is one hundred percent present on and within each and every experience. In fact, the Self is what is conscious of every experience.” – Josh Summers
“The path tends to move along a continuum from personal dukkha – or fundamental wrongness – to a transformational awakening – or unconditional rightness.” – Josh Summers
“To me, the only habit worth ‘designing for’ is the habit of questioning one’s habitual ways of seeing, and that is what artists, writers, and musicians help us to do.” – Jenny Odell
“The perch is the seed of stillness. Receptivity is the seed of awareness. And choice is the seed of surrender. In the beginning, these principles feel distinct, but with time, they become three facets of the same unified field of experience.” – Josh Summers
Natural selection did not program humans to be happy or to see the world accurately; it simply optimized our ability to get our genes into the next generation. This calculus extracts a cost on our mental health, and mindfulness is a medicinal practice heals this equation.
The rapid acceleration of technological evolution paired with the slower evolution of human psychology poses a serious existential threat. Will human psychology evolve to avert the apocalypse? Robert Wright has thoughts to share.
“But no matter the medicinal virtues of being a true friend or sustaining a long close friendship with another, the ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the other nor of the self, the ultimate touchstone is witness.” – David Whyte
“The yin-yang symbol is not, therefore, what we call a dualism, but rather an explicit duality expressing an implicit unity.” – Alan Watts
“Most people think there are a lot of bad people running around in the world. There aren’t a lot of bad people, there are a lot of bad ideas and bad ideas are worse than bad people because bad ideas are contagious. Bad ideas get good people to do horrible things.” – Sam Harris
“On the path we open to the experience of bad karma – created by ourselves and by others – and we turn it into good dharma, the development of compassion and wisdom.” – Larry Rosenberg
“The untrained mind gets lost and follows these things; it forgets itself, and then we think that it is we who are upset or at ease or whatever. But really, this mind of ours is already unmoving and peaceful.” – Ajahn Chah
“But imagine my surprise when, upon surrendering to wanting nothing, I am released from perceiving a lack, awakened by and to a want for nothing, instead.”
“When everyone is doing better, everyone is doing better. And when life is precious, life is precious. Can we connect with this motivation?” -Jessica Locke
“The good only stands out in contrast to something relatively worse; the bad only emerges from a context of relative good. The wise old farmer appears to see life holistically, as a unified totality.”
The transformation of desire is a critical component of the spiritual journey, but this transformation does not necessitate sacrifice and grim acceptance. Aligning one’s desire with the deeper quality of the Heart’s aspiration can infuse one’s practice with vitality and whole-hearted engagement.
As Alan Watts put so well, “No one can be moral – that is, no one can harmonize contained conflicts – without coming to a working arrangement between the angel in himself and the devil in himself, between his rose above and his manure below.”
Challenging energy is part of the path. Can we open to these energies with curious kindness? Can these energies be integrated within our being? This is the path.
Practice is not a luxury. In times like these, practice is essential for resilience, centered-ness, and compassionate engagement.
Some people in the spiritual world say we don’t need crutches, or that we shouldn’t use crutches. This is true, we don’t need crutches; we don’t need zendos; we don’t need sesshins. But still, many seem to benefit from these supports.