== kensho ==

Sept 2022 updates- links and thoughts


Lady and the Monk (Pico Iyer)

Awakening from the Meaning Crisis (John Vervaeke)

I’ve found a kindred spirit with Pico Iyer. Just finished reading Lady and the Monk, a retelling of his time in Japan and more importantly, his discovery of the person who would be his wife.

I can already feel the influence of reading his book. Similar to Autumn Light, it’s full of descriptive prose capturing a piece of the internal landscape more than the external.

More and more, we can vividly store ‘the moment’ through video and photography, all that is left for the writer is to capture the imagination- to describe the ‘qualia’, the emotional movement and the impact experiences can leave on the psyche.

Pico Iyer does this beautifully.

Not much happens on the surface of the words, but it is the in-between places, the silence, the subtext of the words where profundity is conveyed (or rather felt).

On that topic, I’ve also been obsessed with John Vervaeke’s work (Awakening from the Meaning Crisis). He has radically changed (augmented/improved/clarified? ) the way I see myself, and the world (a transjective co-relating experience that is - one cannot do one without the other).

A few useful ideas

1) Propositional vs Procedural vs Perspectival knowing

I’ll take reading as an example since we were discussing it before. Reading can be done propositionally - to purely read for the facts. But it can also be done ‘perspectively’ - the very act of reading alters your ‘salience’ landscape, and agent-arena relationship. You simply let the words ‘move you’. Not to retain anything, but to alter how to create the world.

I am throwing around vocabulary that needs definitino here.

  • Salience landscape : the available ‘moments’ of attention that one is constantly directing attention to- and generating affordances. **What one is paying attention to. **
  • Agent:Arena relationship : the crafting of self in the world, and world in the self. A lens through which you are constantly holding the world- and your egoic place within it.

Vervaeke basically argues that altering the above is not about propositional knowing, it is about perspectival knowing. It is at a precognitive level, prior to thoughts. It is about how one is constructing reality and sense making.

Historically, there have been many ways to alter the salience landscape directly at the perspectival/participatory knowing- he calls these psycho technologies.

Examples of psycho technologies include :

  • Meditation
  • Prayer
  • Ritual
  • Dance
  • Journaling
  • Framing Exercises (Stoic/Buddhist/Taoist)

Many others.

All of these are embodied experiences that are practices. You do them. You don’t think about them. You enact them.

The act itself transforms the machinery that creates the salience landscape in a way that promotes beauty, awe, transcendence.

Wisdom is deeply embodied. It is practiced The difference between reading about swimming, and actually swimming.

Sadly, with throwing out religion, we’ve lost a grip on a lot of these psycho technologies which have tremendous value. The modern secularists can lead to a meaning crisis if not replaced with embodied practices.

An example that comes to mind is : Robin Williams. Another is Stephen Fry. Fry wrote that he had lots of friends, money, intellectual fame- yet still felt lonely/depressed.

He is well educated- probably able to rationalise and cogitate, but he is not embodied. The meaning making machinery has not been given any attention. The self- and the world are separate.

I haven’t quite yet finished John Vervaeke’s (collosal) 50 part series on the topic, but most of what he has been saying has been deeply resonating (on both a propositional and perspectival level).

We’re in the midst of a deep meaning crisis. If you have the time and attention to read his work, I highly recommend it. It will literally change your life.

Favourite Words

Philomath : A lover of learning. Not a polymath (good at many things).

Hidamari : the way light shines on an object

How to Give Gifts

  • Gifts should always be personal
  • Include a handwritten note
  • Presentation matters. Make it beautiful


The Greeks describe three kinds of love.

  1. Eros :

    • ‘Being one with’ something
    • Often seen as ‘erotic’ - becoming union with via sexual union. But this it is wider- any act. You can be in union with the act of drinking water.
    • It can be being one with nature. With the act of playing an instrument. With another person.
  2. Phylia :

    • Friendliness. Love born of cooperation. Reciprocity
    • ‘Philo’ as in philosophy.
  3. Agape

  • Unconditional love
  • The creation of a self. The process of turning a non-person into a person.

Love is not an emotion. It is a modal way of being.

loving someone can be expressed by being sad when they’re absent; being happy when they’re present; being jealous when there’s somebody else around; being angry when they’re neglecting you. Love isn’t a feeling. It isn’t an emotion. It is a modal way of being. It is an Agent:Arena relationship. (John Vervaeke)

Inattention and attention.

If I were describe the fundamental quality I want to cultivate in life, it would be ability to pay deep attention.

Growing up, I always felt two strong mandates : one to understand the world (leading to fascination with science and history) and the other to understand myself.

Interestingly, I came to understand that these two are simply the different sides of the same coin. You understand yourself in relation to the world, and you understand the world through the lens of the self. The two are irrevocably intertwined.

If “I” change, the world will change. This means that the world can be changed only by me and no one else will change it for me. Ichiro Kishimi


This was a fairly scattered update - notes on topics one has been thinking about.

I aim to flesh out some of these concepts (especially John Vervaeke’s ideas) over a few blog posts, mainly so I can explain them well to myself.

I’ve also taken out the ‘Photo’s section I had on the blog, mostly because I didn’t want to update the code. Instagram is always a good alternative.