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Sloww Sunday Newsletter 174 (Feb 11, 2024) — Four Selves, Mindful Everything, Pure Consciousness, & More
Sloww Sunday shares my latest and greatest creations and curations to 10,000+ students of life. If you enjoy this issue, please help grow Sloww by forwarding this newsletter to other lifelong learners.
📚 Lifelong Learning & Deeper Development
Are you reading the best books first?
I live by my full reading list (please feel free to copy the template and use it for your own reading list). All the books are: 1) first categorized by “Sloww Stage,” 2) further organized by subject, and 3) finally tagged by my interest in them (noted by 🔥). This approach helps me visualize all the books I want to read eventually, while quickly picking the next best book(s) to read now.
Why does this matter? It’s easy to get sucked into reading the next shiny book that gets published tomorrow or a book you randomly see mentioned on social media. But, odds are that book isn’t going to be nearly as good as other books already published (especially when it comes to nonfiction). Chasing new books, or having no method for picking books, could leave you spending all your precious time and cognitive energy reading mediocre, or even bad, books. If you’re doing that, when will you ever get to the best books? With a comprehensive reading list, you have an ever-evolving tool to pick the next best book(s) for you.
Here’s the real kicker: When you read the best books first, your bar for books keeps raising and every book you read often eliminates the need to read multiple other books. For instance, I just deleted 50+ books from my reading list based on other books I’ve read and new things I’ve learned. So, reading the best books actually means needing to read less books in total. Win win!
“Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.” — Henry David Thoreau
🌎 Lighter Living
I’m running out of clothing…
So, I just went through my already minimal amount of clothing and cut it down by another 25% or so. In the closet I share with my wife, I had two small sections that has now become one. If I can actually be called a “minimalist” about anything, it’s definitely clothing. Want to do the same?
For existing clothing: Try decluttering, read Marie Kondo’s book, and try her KonMari Method. For me personally, I’ve just done probably 5-10 phases of cutting clothing over the last 5-10 years.
For new clothing: If you want to save hours upon hours of time and hundreds (or thousands) or dollars every year—not to mention cutting down on the decision fatigue of what to wear each day—I highly recommend trying a no-buy year for clothing.
“I am complete, as are you, even in an empty room. The stuff, then, only augments that which is already whole.” — Joshua Fields Millburn
Explore more: 100+ posts on Intentional Living (Sloww Stage 1)
🧭 Higher Purpose
Are you giving yourself beyond your egocentric self?
You have to love synchronicities! Last week’s newsletter covered the work of Integral philosopher Ken Wilber. This week in Wise Walk, we’ve been exploring Diane Musho Hamilton—a meditator, mediator, and Zen teacher—who incorporates Wilber’s Integral Theory in her work. Here’s how Hamilton describes four developing senses of self from the video presentation Everything is Workable: A Zen Approach to Conflict Resolution:
1. Egocentric self:
- “The ego is not bad. An ego becomes bad when it is exclusive. The ego is limited and oriented toward self-sustaining, but there is such a thing as a healthy ego—a healthy ecosystem of self. A healthy ego is one that has permeability and is able to drop its reference points and expand awareness … Wherever there’s an egocentric self, there’s a sense of the other, so there’s ‘self’ and ‘other’ … One of the conditions that we want to pay attention to whenever we’re identifying as the ego is that there’s a sense of separation—and because there’s a sense of separation, there’s stress.”
2. Ethnocentric self:
- “We’re growing our perspectives from the ego self to the group … The ethnocentric self feels safe in my group, but your group can sometimes feel threatening to me … The values are the ones of my people, my tribe, I belong with … At the egocentric level, there’s ‘self’ and ‘other’; at the ethnocentric level, there’s ‘us’ and ‘them’ … The boundary around what’s ‘me’ and what’s ‘not me’ at ethnocentric is strong.”
3. World-centric self:
- “If you can cross the barrier of ‘us’ and ‘them’, you’re already established at what we would call a world-centric level of development … In the same way the ego is too small, then all of a sudden, so is my ethnocentric identity … At ethnocentric, difference is threatening. At world-centric, difference is embraced … My capacity to identify with all of humanity and to really enjoy and appreciate the differences is fully online.”
4. Cosmic-centric self:
- “Cosmic-centric transcends and includes world-centric, healthy ethnocentrism, and healthy egocentric … Where is that boundary of identity? You’re limitless … I can’t quite identify the boundaries of space or time … Identity itself has dissolved, and when identity itself dissolves, I’m completely open and relaxed in a way that’s fundamental. I feel really at home … I’m completely in the here and now, my awareness is wide open, there’s no sense of limit … There’s nothing that is beyond what I am, so I’m simply embedded in the breadth of all things.”
Explore more: 50+ posts on Life Purpose (Sloww Stage 2)
🧠 Mental Mastery
Latest Thinking from Thomas Metzinger
I’ve been meaning to explore Thomas Metzinger’s work for a long time. Now, I have a good excuse. His new book was just published, The Elephant and the Blind: The Experience of Pure Consciousness: Philosophy, Science, and 500+ Experiential Reports. In even better news, you can read it online for free (Full PDF | Table of Contents). Here’s a blurb about the book:
- “What if our goal had not been to land on Mars, but in pure consciousness? The experience of pure consciousness—what does it look like? What is the essence of human consciousness? In The Elephant and the Blind, influential philosopher Thomas Metzinger, one of the world’s leading researchers on consciousness, brings together more than 500 experiential reports to offer the world’s first comprehensive account of states of pure consciousness. Drawing on a large psychometric study of meditators in 57 countries, Metzinger focuses on ‘pure awareness’ in meditation—the simplest form of experience there is—to illuminate the most fundamental aspects of how consciousness, the brain, and illusions of self all interact.”
Explore more: 75+ posts on Mental Mastery (Sloww Stage 3)
☯️ Spiritual Seeing
Mindful Everything with Thich Nhat Hanh
What if you approached everything in your daily life in a mindful way? These Thich Nhat Hanh quotes will help you do so:
First, what is mindfulness?
- “Mindfulness means to be aware of what is going on … To be awake is to be aware of what is going on in your body, in your feelings, in your perceptions, in your mental formations, and in the world around you … Mindfulness is the best part of us.” — Thich Nhat Hanh
It starts with mindful breathing:
- “When you practice mindful breathing, and you breathe in, and you bring your mind home to your body, you become fully present in the here and the now. You realize what we call the oneness of body and mind. When your mind is with your body, you are established in the here and the now. And when you are established in the here and the now, you are in a position to recognize the many wonders of life, the many conditions of happiness that you already have … Freedom is possible with one in-breath … With the practice of mindful breathing, you can cultivate freedom, and you can preserve that freedom as long as you wish.” — Thich Nhat Hanh
Pair mindful breathing with mindful walking:
- “Every step, every breath, every act, can be totally relaxed—can have the power of healing … You breathe as a free person, and you walk as a free person … Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” — Thich Nhat Hanh
Don’t forget mindful eating and drinking:
- “When you sit down and eat your breakfast, eat your breakfast in such a way that makes the healing possible … Chew your food as if you have nothing to worry about, a busynessless person … Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.” — Thich Nhat Hanh
Eventually you can expand to mindful everything:
- “The energy of mindfulness can be generated by mindful breathing, mindful walking, mindful eating, mindful washing … Everything you do in your daily life can be used for your healing. Walking up, walking down, sitting, lying down, breathing, washing your dishes—it can allow you to completely rest.” — Thich Nhat Hanh
Explore more: 50+ posts on Spiritual Seeing (Sloww Stage 4)
💬 Wise Words
Alfred Tennyson on the awakening experience:
“A kind of walking trance I have frequently had, quite up from boyhood, when I have been all alone. This has often come upon me through repeating my own name to myself silently till, all at once, as it were, out of the intensity of the consciousness of individuality, the individuality itself seemed to dissolve and fade away into boundless being; and this not a confused state, but the clearest of the clearest, the surest of the surest, the weirdest of the weirdest, utterly beyond words, where death was an almost laughable impossibility, the loss of personality (if so it were) seeming no extinction, but the only true life.”
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