Piecemeal Mindfulness

After Beery and Buzzy Mindfulness, this thought of Piecemeal Mindfulness comes from the god-talk around Iain McGilchrist. How to capture the sense of the divine or sacred in the real, natural world beyond any left-brained intellectual model of it. It continues to be the main and knottiest topic readers are left grappling with, even in the Discord discussion forum set up around the writer’s work. Any discussion inevitably involves the left-brain manipulating symbolic language, even when the active, embodied participation of the right-brain is the matter at hand and even where the language requires rhetorical or poetic interpretation beyond objects and logic. Some “things” are inexpressible, or only obliquely expressible, in language.

[And incidentally, it entirely parallels behaviour in the (now defunct) Robert Pirsig MoQ-Discuss forum – where ongoing use of a subject-object model in language remained a stumbling block to progressing the topic of dynamically experienced – radical-empirical – qualitative aspects reality, in the group discussion. As I said in my own sign-off, there’s only so far you can go with recycling discussions and eventually you just have to life the life.]

McGilchrist makes a point about a lesson learned in this discussion with Christian theologian Jonathan Pageau. There’s a lot of discussion on religious symbology and McGilchrist’s panentheist version of pantheism, but towards the end (~54.44) Pageau (not even having read McGilchrist’s book!) asks a direct question. “So, what advice would he give – to do, or to attend to – to bring about a change for the better to the problem of this western-left-brain dominated world?”

One thing that he is NOT advising is a piecemeal addition – decoration – of one’s life with (say) 30 minutes of mindful practice each day – or any other “just do this or that ” advice. Very much the reason he wrote the book that it is – and therefore the reason to recommend reading it – is to take on board the whole of it into the whole of life. A whole change of consciousness, a new vision of who we are – values, purpose and direction. And it is a rational, logical (left-brained) argument – using inspired language – for why it is not simple minded to pursue it, to attend to it, to be receptively open to it. That attention is a moral act. Seeing the world through the different lens – a left-right integrated view – provided by reading the book.



Original rough notes:

(Lots on Christian religious symbology & metaphor …)
(More on Scheler again – hierarchy of levels of value and virtues – seems well reflected in Pirsig, Maslow etc.)
(And the need for religious view – signalled in the introductory clip – with purpose as the “pull” to higher things.)
(Panentheism again – and the Apophatic view – in his final chapter.)
(Something like consciousness as an ontological primary – consciousness and matter as manifestations – phases – of the same primary)
(Whitehead again – the divine as “processual” – things as merely “nominal”.)
( TMWT – precisely to lead people by logical steps to the open position – active receptivity / attention – that it is NOT simple minded to see the sacred beyond the reductive materialism. Attention as a moral act – Simone Weil and … Getting people to this state is more than / better than a recommendation (say) to take up mindful practice. Mission-accomplished in people writing to him about the life-changing effect.)

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