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Here's what we're talking about today

19
May

EP 043 Vinay Gupta on Survival and Enlightenment

I am, by temperament and experience, more sanguine about all of this than he is. I tend to think things will eventually work themselves out over time. My enlightenment experiences have been mild and pleasant; if mine had been as harrowing as his, I would probably feel as he does. As a technical note, there were some sound issues on our Transatlantic Skype call, which occasionally made it sound as though one of us was conducting the call while having a bath or as if we had ghost hunter-style EVPs from beyond the grave on the line. I apologize for these and hope they do not interfere with your listening enjoyment. Photo: Robin

15
Apr

EP 42 Camelia Elias on Clear Sight and Clean Cuts

Camelia Elias holds a PhD and DPhil and spent the last twenty years as a professor of literature, most recently at Roskilde University in Denmark. Recently, she escaped academia to start an online school, Aradia Academy, where she teaches cartomancy (card reading); that is, how to read—yourself, someone else, books, pictures, films, the situation, the problem, or anything else—without belief, emotion, preconceptions or other obscurations getting in the way.   She recently said, "Why is reading cards fascinating? Because their visual language allows us to bypass everything we know or think we know."   Boiling our conversation down to the keywords, we talk about: interesting—curiosity—dullness—belief—vastness—strategy—one cut—the present circumstances—"and yet"—concrete—psychomagic—Jodorowsky—Freud—Boom! (L to R)

29
Mar

EP 041 Gary Lachman on the Lost Knowledge of the Imagination

Today, I talk with Gary Lachman about his latest book, The Lost Knowledge of the Imagination. We discuss the need to balance the analytic "survival mode" consciousness of the external world with an older way of thinking that prioritizes the inner landscape and the imagination. We also discuss the necessity of creative outlets to regulate how much of the sensory world we take in and process, to open the valve all the way for peak experience and dial it down so we remember to do the dishes. I spend a good bit of the interview groping toward, but never reaching, the concept of a gestalt as a shorthand mental representation of external or internal objects. Some events do not pack down well to a gestalt representation, while others form

06
Nov

EP 040 Jason Fagone on Elizabeth Smith Friedman, Codebreaker

I used to see some amazing obituaries, often in British newspapers, detailing a remarkable life lived by someone who had worked undercover during WWII, escaped from Nazis, and gone on to live to a great old age. Frequently, these people were forgotten or never spoke of their adventures. Elizabeth Smith Friedman, the subject of Jason Fagone's new biography, The Woman Who Smashed Codes, is one of those rare people, though her story begins with a search for the true author of Shakespeare, runs through two world wars, includes a stint fighting gangsters and rumrunners (and the jealousy of J. Edgar Hoover) and the foundation of the NSA, and ends with more Shakespeare. It sounds like a whole series of detective novels rolled into one, yet Elizabeth was a real

24
Oct

Daniel Ingram has a successful career as an ER doctor, but he's best known on the Internet for being a meditator and meditation teacher. He's the author of Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha: an Unusually Hardcore Dharma Book, which I first read about over on Scott Alexander's blog Slate Star Codex here and here. Daniel made some waves in the dharma community by claiming to have attained enlightenment as an arahat. On today's podcast, we talk about the different ways to assess that claim, what states and insights may occur on the way to enlightenment, and what to do if you get yourself into a spiritual crisis of one sort or another. We also talk about some of my meditative experiences and how to