Posts in The Shadow
What to do in a spiritual emergency

Last month I organized an event on ‘what to do in a spiritual emergency’ –you can see videos of the talks here. Three of my friends spoke bravely and lucidly about their own experiences – psychotherapist and film-maker Anna Beckmann, poet and transformational coach Louisa Tomlinson, and Tai-Chi teacher Anthony Fidler - and Dr Tim Read, a wonderfully wise and compassionate psychiatrist, gave us his perspective.

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Confronting the shadow

When I was 20, I had a series of nightmares. In the first nightmare, I was in a car with some friends heading to a music festival. We heard on the radio that a lunatic had escaped from a local asylum. The traffic started to slow on the motorway, and we realised this was because people were leaving their cars and running away in terror. The whole motorway was deadlocked with abandoned cars.

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David Lynch and the art of trance

I was obsessed with Twin Peaks when it was first shown in 1990. We all were. Every Sunday after lunch at boarding school, we piled in to the TV room, pushed in the VHS cassette of that week’s episode, waited for the first note of Angelo Badalamenti’s tremolo guitar to sound next to the opening shot of the wren, and that was it, we were in heaven.

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The Bishop of London on Christian contemplation

Last week I got the chance to interview the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, for my research on spiritual ecstasy. It was an informal conversation, and it was very kind of the Bishop to give me the benefit of his time and wisdom. I thought he'd be a good interviewee because of his interest in contemplative practices and in Christian mystics like Thomas Traherne. And he was!

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The varieties of spiritual experience

I’ve just re-read William James’ Varieties of Religious Experience, which he gave as a series of lectures in 1902. It is a marvelous book, in which James attempts to take a pragmatic and empirical approach to religious experiences, remaining open to the question of where such experiences come from, and evaluating them by looking at their impact on people’s lives. In other words, he looks at the fruits, not the roots, of religious experience.

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Choose Your Own Myth, with John Gray

I managed to get out of bed to run a London Philosophy Club event last week, where the philosopher John Gray gave an interesting talk about his new book,The Silence of Animals. He seemed a very nice guy, who gave up his evening for free, and the audience (the biggest we've ever had at an LPC meeting) seemed on the whole to like his humility and humour, bar one lady who said 'if I'd written your book it would have been very different', and then left!

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