Sunday, July 29, 2007

Philosophy Camp II

Wasn’t such a bad way to spend a couple of days: meditating, doing yoga, and reading and talking about the nature of happiness and what it means to be in the present on an old dairy farm in the woods by the banks of the Stillaguamish river under beautifully blue skies and starry, almost-full-moon nights with a dozen and a half other people, eating lovingly-prepared food, taking walks, and napping in the afternoon.

What was I so worried about beforehand?

I had been pretty ambivalent on Thursday, but the whole thing turned out great: all the participants were into the experience and the philosophical content, the meals were convivial and delicious, and the yoga class I led unfolded just fine with only a few missteps on my parts and no one noticing when I almost forgot the words to the opening incantation to Patanjali.

So, I guess my horoscope was right about putting myself into situations outside my comfort zone, although I wasn’t quite able to take that all the way to diving headfirst into the chilly river water on our morning walk to it (although I did immerse myself completely later in the day when the sun had burned through the clouds).

I remained really impressed that such a solid group of young and older folks would be willing to undertake our pastoral philosophy experiment; even now, I’m not sure entirely what it was about or what we accomplished, but to a person, everyone said they found it worthwhile, and so did I.

We started by reading Schopenhauer, but that didn’t deter us; and even Emerson, in our lovely rural setting, seemed to make uncommon sense.

My favorite quote of the weekend was from Pierre Hadot discussing Seneca: “The secret of Epicurian joy and serenity is to live each instant as if it were the last, but also as if it were the first.”

I think we all got a few inklings of what that’s like.


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