To those of you who are struggling with doubt about meditation practice, if you believe that your life conditions are too intense, too chaotic for practice to bear fruit, I would like to offer some reassurance. At age three, my son was diagnosed with autism. It is distressing to see your child unable to cope with everyday situations, to see them overcome with fear and anxiety to the point of real violence, to not be able to socialise with other families in ways you’d once taken for granted, to view the future with deep uncertainty. But most of all, the diagnosis brought me face to face with my own conditioning, my own insistences, my preferences for life to unfold the way I wanted it to.… Continue reading...
Stoicism and parenting an autistic child
Another school run, another test from the Stoic gods. I had just finished listening to The Stoic Test Challenge by William Irvine, as I drove through the narrow, winding lanes and up to the school where I took two attempts to reverse park under the disapproving gaze of an impatient mum. The Stoic test I had been expecting was underway.
Irvine explains that the Stoic test is a way of reframing setbacks. Instead of bewailing our fortunes, we see problems as an opportunity to exercise Stoic values of resilience, resourcefulness, patience, and tranquility. We can then take satisfaction from how competently we resolve problems and, more importantly, how calm we remain while doing so. It is a wiser path to meaning and contentment than compensating for our hardships with pleasure, disgruntlement, and entitlement (none of which work).… Continue reading...
Thoughts on consciousness
If we believe that consciousness is the only ground of meaning and value (i.e. a universe without any conscious beings to experience it might as well not exist) then three conclusions may follow.
1) There would be nothing more worthwhile doing than enriching the conscious experience of self and others through activities like philosophy, meditation, the arts, counselling and cultivating our emotional lives, sciences, socialising and collaboration.
2) We might value neurologically diverse minds not only for their inherent worth as conscious beings but also perhaps as comparatively rare forms of consciousness.
3) Any meaning derived from the exploitation of conscious animals for food or sport would be at least partially undermined by violating this quality that makes all other value possible.… Continue reading...