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Some talk about God too much. Others are said to be too embarrassed ever to do so. I think much of the pickle around God-talk arises from a fundamental, modern mistake. God is not an object to be proven, evidenced or possessed. God is the subjectivity of existence itself - beyond talk, though talk we must do, because talk too is already in God. I m…
 
I much enjoyed the conversation with Hetta Howes, Matthew Sweet and Francesca Stavrakopoulou on God: An Anatomy. It was broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking (https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m00114py). We had a good conversation over profound differences, which I develop further here. I think they matter, not just as an academic spat, in this …
 
Few have explored the nature of being human more directly than Charles Foster. He writes about his experiences in the wild in his books, Being A Beast and, most recently, Being A Human, raising profound questions about our awareness of the natural world in the past, present and future. The evolving nature of our perceptions of ourselves and the cos…
 
The British historian, Arnold Toynbee, is currently out of fashion. The British poet and artist, William Blake, is not, though he is rarely well understood. So what might they have to say to our times? Toynbee strove to understand the inner as well as outer processes of history, developing a theory he called etherialisation. Blake appreciated the d…
 
The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by David Graeber and David Wengrow does a great job at debunking the big histories of figures like Noah Yuval Harari and Stephen Pinker, but at a cost that ultimately undermines their argument. In this discussion and critique of a wonderfully disruptive book, I outline their case and some of the evi…
 
Our carbon consuming culture has completely internalised the belief "that the world is made up of dead stuff plus active minds and acquisitive wills,” wrote Rowan Williams in This Is Not A Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook. We have forgotten the spiritual intelligence that knows how to align with the natural intelligence embodied in the livin…
 
The label “gnostic” is used to recommend and condemn. So what is, and what was, Gnosticism? This episode of the Sheldrake-Vernon Dialogues, with Rupert Sheldrake and Mark Vernon, takes a lead from a series of fascinating essays exploring the ancient movement and its modern forms by the philosopher, David Bentley Hart. Gnosticism was originally a se…
 
What is the direct path of Advaita Vedanta and why is it significant for so many now? How is it found across traditions, including within Christianity? Why might it matter to us today, collectively as well as individually? What are its links to psychotherapy, individuality, freedom, God? Mark Vernon talks with Rupert Spira about these questions and…
 
Meditation, yoga, vegetarianism. Eastern practices have become a feature of western life. But what do we learn from them? This episode of the Sheldrake-Vernon Dialogues, with Rupert Sheldrake and Mark Vernon, is prompted by a sense that the western way of life is being challenged, if not facing a full-on crisis. As Rowan Williams puts it in his new…
 
Rowan Williams has written another hugely significant book, one ripe with meaning for now. In this talk, I unpack its themes of non-dualism and Trinitarian life, eros and kenosis, politics and justice, seeing truthfully and destroying the world. 0:39 Addressing the Anthropocene 1:28 The need for an epiphany 2:52 What is our key problem? 4:32 Nondua…
 
The standard big history of human evolution, exemplified in Yuval Noah Harari's bestseller Sapiens, sees religion and spirituality as a byproduct of survival, at best a necessary fiction. But new science is telling a different story. Research done by Robin Dunbar, Agustin Fuentes, Robert Bellah and others is showing how engaging with invisible worl…
 
I've notice a tendency to downplay the divine element in accounts of William Blake, and to reduce his understanding of the imagination to a human artefact, from its true status as a supernatural capacity that he knew. In this talk I consider 5 ways in which this can be resisted: - Blake's insistence that "there is no natural religion". - Blake's af…
 
Covid has brought the reality of death into the centre of our lives, but what can we learn about death in response? This episode of the Sheldrake-Vernon Dialogues, with Rupert Sheldrake and Mark Vernon, is prompted by a sense that part of the anxiety arising from the pandemic is living in a culture that has forgotten how to know death in life. Rupe…
 
An extended conversation that begins with thoughts on Owen Barfield, participation and the meaning crisis, Schopenhauer and Jung, moving through the state of modern physics, to the nature of evolution, the nature of mind at large, the role of dissociation and projections, and freedom. For more on Bernardo's work see - https://www.bernardokastrup.co…
 
Anthony Ashley Cooper (1671-1713) may be the greatest English philosopher you have never heard of. In the 18th century, he was said to be the most famous philosopher in Europe. His ideas suffered in England, as those of his empiricist tutor, John Locke, took hold. But they inspired figures from William Blake to Adam Smith, and are, in my view, much…
 
Why do matters as seemingly unconnected as children’s stories and shamanic encounters feature talking animals? This episode of the Sheldrake-Vernon Dialogues, with Rupert Sheldrake and Mark Vernon, is prompted the book, Roland In Moonlight by David Bentley Hart. It relates long conversations between the Eastern Orthodox philosopher and his pet dog,…
 
Modern Christianity, at least as expressed by the church, has become very confused about the afterlife. So can our experience of life now, illuminated by wisdom traditions and modern science, offer a way into this perennial question? I've written more fully about these things in my book, A Secret History of Christianity. See here - https://www.mark…
 
Death always brings subterranean assumptions and stresses to the surface, and the pass of Prince Philip is no exception. The moment carries the weight of millennia, which is why it’s hard to navigate, though it can be better understood as part of the evolution of human consciousness, as Owen Barfield and others understood it. The key test is the vi…
 
Could bliss be transmitted by a Happy Helmet? Are the fantasies of the super-wealthy secretly shaping our lives? In this episode of the Sheldrake-Vernon Dialogues, Rupert Sheldrake and Mark Vernon discuss a new novel, Double Blind, by Edward St Aubyn. It is a story of ideas, including issues previously explored in these dialogues, from the nature o…
 
Some reflections on the fascinating conversation between Jordan Peterson and Jonathan Pageau: - Maybe it's not how to be a Christian but to realise how you already are - Why symbology, developmental maps and archetypes become as many rabbit holes - That the beginning and ground matters as much as the end and theosis - CS Lewis and what he never qui…
 
Iain McGilchrist and Rowan Williams were in dialogue on Friday 19th February 2021, a beautiful exchange that was sadly not recorded. Here I offer some thoughts on it, particularly in the light of reflections offered by Matt Segall. It concerns transcendence and immanence, being and becoming, eternity and processes in space and time - or to put it a…
 
The discussion of alternative worldviews, from various forms of materialism to types of idealism, has exploded in recent years, and the notion of panpsychism is in the middle of the debate. In this episode of the Sheldrake-Vernon Dialogues, Rupert Sheldrake and Mark Vernon explore the different types of panpsychism being proposed, from more conserv…
 
A friendly chat about the movie Soul, with me Pippa Evans and Jonathan Rowson. Does Pixar's latest movie have a message we should 'get', or is the most important thing to get about the movie that there is really nothing to get? In what way might it place our plans for our lives in perspective? Does it make it any clearer what 'the soul' is? We are …
 
We naturally talk about seeking the light at the end of the tunnel, or hoping to be enlightened. But are such phrases that reference light more than metaphors? In this episode of the Sheldrake-Vernon Dialogues, Rupert Sheldrake and Mark Vernon explore how light is both physical and spiritual, and note the remarkable harmony between scientific and m…
 
Artificial intelligence is rarely out of the news. But what is it? In this episode of the Sheldrake-Vernon Dialogues, Rupert Sheldrake and Mark Vernon take a lead from the breakthrough by Google in the prediction of protein folding, which Rupert has studied for decades. Whether this success reveals any deeper understanding of nature leads to a disc…
 
I heard Rhonda Byrne talking with Rupert Spira and wondered what on earth they might have in common. The Law of Attraction is simply an error in nondualism, identifying with thoughts rather than awareness. But The Greatest Secret offers a very different philosophy to The Secret. In my view, Byrne confuses them to some degree in her new book, though…
 
Owen Barfield agreed with the other Inklings, like JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis, that the life of Jesus marked a pivot point in history. But he had a particularly powerful way of capturing the truth… Reading from History in English Words by Owen Barfield. For more on his understanding of Christianity, the evolution of consciousness, and genius worldvie…
 
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