Welcome back to the Imperfect Buddha Podcast. It is hard to imagine anything less important than a podcast episode from a niche podcast like this one when the Ukraine is under attack from a ruthless tyrant and delusional megalomaniac. A situation that threatens the stability of Europe and challenges democracies worldwide to reconsider their relationship with Russia, China and the engage seriously with democratic decline globally and at home. Unfortunately, this attach changes everything and for all his faults, Putin is not stupid or as short-sighted as most democratic politicians in western countries (our short-termism continues to be one of our greatest weaknesses). If you can afford to do so, please send some financial help the the Ukraine. Here are two links that will help you do so.
How can I help Ukraine: This site features a ton of verified links and ways to help.
World Kitchens: These folks are currently providing hot meals to Ukranian refugees escaping the war. Please note Russian soldiers are currently shooting and bombing civilians, pushing them to the Polish border. The charity is awaiting them.
Now, you have done your part and helped out, back to the podcast episodes.
These episodes are about two fundamental challenges we are currently facing: conspiracies and fake news, and our epistemic limits and the role of doubt in keeping us sane and human. An ongoing theme throughout my work here concerns hyperreality and it does seem that Russia is a country living in a world apart, rooted in a collective hallucination fed by Putin, state media and amplification of emotions, ideas and belonging rooted in a reality that does not exist but is preferable to the one that does.
It could be argued that the wider context is that of a world in revolt. Assigning an excess of agency to figures like Putin, or Trump or Johnson, or identity politics or the extreme left or right is to miss the context of a world struggling with globalisation and the death of meaning, roles and certainties that marked our previous age. Sloterdijk‘s spheres has much to say about community, identity and meaning making and the reactions against globalisation. Putin seems to be incarnating not only the desire to be a great Tzar again but a reactionary move against a global order in which his significance and that of his failing country is forever in decline.
Anyway, to the podcasts.b You can play them from the embedded player to your right, or at the bottom of the screen if you are using a cell phone. Or, visit the New Books site by clicking here.
86. IBP – Doubt Part 1 “I don’t Know.”
“Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a ridiculous one.” Voltaire
You know too much, yet understand too little. And it’s the same for me, and everyone you and I happen to know.
And, so it begins.
What follows are a series of posts and audio-casts that respond to this living human condition, bringing together practice materials from non-Buddhism, post-traditional approaches to Buddhism, and the work of Peter Sloterdjik. Each post represents a visit to the Great Feast and provides ideas for practice for those who simply cannot find a home in mainstream Buddhism, Mindfulness, Atheism, or some other form of spirituality.
This first part engages Socrates and the Buddha and tosses a practice salad of exciting ingredients for the hungry practitioner.
It can be read and re-read here if you still have appetite for more:
87. IBP – Stef Aupers on Conspirituality
Stef Aupers is professor of media culture in the Institute for Media Studies at the University of KU Leuven in the Netherlands. As a cultural sociologist, he studies the role of cultural meaning in the production, textual representation and consumption of media. Stef has published widely in international journals on the topics of religion, modern myth, conspiracy theories and the way these cultures are mediatized.
We discuss the fascinating phenomenon of conspirituality, which refers to the overlap between conspiracies and spirituality, something we have seen explode with Covid, and now the attack by Russia on the Ukraine.
In this conversation we dive into conspiracies, the spiritual turn, the sacralisation of the self, the New Age, Covid, and more. As always, these conversations bridge the gap between the intelligent practitioner and the academic expert and there is something for everybody in this rich conversation.
Website for Stef Auper here