A philosopher's journey from the philosophy of the mind to quieting the mind and moving on to the philosophy of feel.
By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here
After launching this website, I received an email from my friend Poncho congratulating me on taking my thoughts to the web. To some, he's Alexander Ferguson — a Ph.D. in philosophy, an artist, a husband, a tea connoisseur, a corporate maven, and a mindfulness instructor — but to his friends he is Poncho. I forget the origins of his nickname, but he has remained the same lighthearted soul I've known since childhood. He has a natural calming effect on people and unlike other intellectuals I've known, has an easy way of speaking. He lives in New Zealand; however, we have kept in touch through long and rousing emails.
On this particular occasion, we talked about several topics, including his life before and after the 2011 Christchurch earthquake — the deadliest disaster in New Zealand history. Though I have read many academic works on philosophy and mindfulness, Poncho provided by far my favorite explanation of quietism, real mindfulness, boredom, and the simple joys of daily life. He has a poetry to his language that is part Homer and part Homer Simpson.
I consider many of my email conversations in the same vein as handwritten letters from the past: as a cache of eyewitness information, usually intended as a method of communicating personal experiences and considered thoughts. Then the conversations evolve over time, building on the last, as shared knowledge.
I enjoy conversations with Poncho for many soft and intangible reasons, and with his permission, I will share some of his observations. A philosopher's journey from the philosophy of the mind to quieting the mind and moving on to the philosophy of feel.
On the Internet
The Simple Joys of Life
On His Art
Education has only refined in him the gold that was already there.
Quieting the Mind: Limitations of Description vs. Described
From the Noise Into the Quiet
Religious Quietism: Quiet contemplation over meditation, intellectual stillness, and interior passivity for spiritual growth and union with God.
Philosophical Quietism: An approach to philosophy as broadly therapeutic or medicinal. Its value is in alleviating confusion in the linguistic and conceptual frameworks of supposed problems by reframing them in a way that brings clarity to misguided reasoning. The quietist hopes to put an end to man's confusion and help return them to a state of intellectual quietude.
Transitioning From Academic Theory Into the "Real" World
The False Perception of Permanence
An earthquake not only jars the body, but it also jars the mind.
Useless Conventional Advice
Part of Tragedy Is a Choice to Give Back
Moving From Christchurch to Auckland
Mindfulness vs. Description
Description: A spoken or written representation or account of a person, object, feeling, thought, or event.
Mindfulness: Quiet-Stillness-Awareness. A thing that cannot be described but you know it when you have it.
Mindfulness vs. the Philosophy of Mind
Wandering Into Quietism
Wander: To ramble without a definite purpose or objective.
From Good to Bad, Mindfulness Runs the Gamut
A friend who self-describes herself as "spiritual," called a mindfulness coach who offers a 30-minute psychic-nutrition/ weight-loss phone consultation for 400 dollars. (Trying to describe the absurd only makes the description even more absurd. [Refer to Poncho.])
She didn't lose any weight from taking the nutritionist's "intuitive advice" and to be frank, my friend didn't have any weight to lose, as she was already lean. If anything, this mindfulness coach could have helped her with self-acceptance, embracing the present moment, letting go of constructed expectations, and ultimately, living a more mindful life. But, instead, she reinforced the idea that my friend was lacking, that she must attain her desires, and that the lack of achievement only leads to unhappiness. That, without weight loss or being traditionally attractive, she was a failure.
Playing on fear and vanity is an easy way to sell products. The mindfulness coach tried to upsell her on more sessions, but luckily, my friend ran out of money.
From my own observations living in the "spiritual" mecca known as Hollywood, California, I am sorry to say, for many, "spirituality" is seen as a license for greed, narcissism, and self-interests. As many flock to spirituality, they are shepherded to spiritual hedonism, mistaking it for mindfulness. (A wolf in mindfulness clothing.) So they come out believing the universe exists only to serve them, and not the other way around.
Ethical Business Practices
Fruitful & Mundane
Poncho's Definition of Mindfulness
Mindfulness Off the Cushion
Like anything worthwhile, the benefits occur as a transfer, from your practice into your daily life. There are big moments to come, but the real transformations happen when practice trickles into all the boring and mundane cracks that inhabit your world.
Stuff Poncho Wants You to Read:
- Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness - Jon Kabat-Zinn
- Zen Heart - Ezra Bayda
- The Magic of Awareness - Anam Thubten
- An Introduction to Zen Buddhism - D.T. Suzuki
- The Way of Zen - Alan W. Watts
- Wholeness and the Implicate Order - David Bohm
- Find out more about Poncho on LifeForm Mindfulness