In search of meaning?
Our obligation is to give meaning to life and in doing so to overcome the passive, indifferent life.
– Elie Wiesel
This week we’re seeking meaning. Whether you’re feeling a God-shaped void in your life, or just looking for a bit more purpose, we’ve selected a group of classes, video lessons and music which can help to guide you in your explorations.
On our YouTube channel we explore that essential but sometimes overlooked virtue: gratitude.
Why Compassion Matters
18.40 – 21.00 Life can be tough. Most of us at some time face periods when we feel overwhelmed by work or a relationship, or experience losing someone close. And as if those experiences aren’t difficult enough, our human capacity to think, reflect and consider can sometimes fuel our hurt. This evening we’ll explore self-compassion techniques designed to help us manage those times better.
Living with Wonder in Uncertain Times
18.40 – 21.00 The world is charged with wonders. Things we never knew were there can become visible if we only have eyes and patience to see. The leaves of autumn – turning red, yellow and orange – reveal colours that were always there but were hidden during the spring and summer months. There is a lesson here for life. Wonder is all around us and can transform our lives if only we learn to pay attention.
How to Face Death
18.40 – 21.30 On the one hand, it is almost commonplace to say that suffering is what we fear, not annihilation. But on the other, anyone who has experienced the death of a loved one, or faced death themselves, will know that it is no trivial incident. So how can we think about it, what should we make of it, what resources are there to help us deal with it?
How to Fill the God-shaped Hole
18.40 – 21.30 We live during a period of human history in which, perhaps for the first time, no single religion or philosophy dominates. It’s a plural world. We can choose what we make of religion and how we might pursue spiritual matters – or not. There’s a tremendous freedom in that, but also a profound challenge. This class explores ‘the God-shaped hole’ and how else we might find meaning.
Eastern Wisdom in Everyday Life
18.40 – 21.00 As the Buddha famously observed, everyone suffers. Pain cannot be abolished. But – using techniques taken from Zen, Vedanta and Taoism – Tim Lott will explain how to stop suffering more than you need to. Using philosopher Alan Watts’ fresh and sometimes shocking approach to Eastern philosophy – Watts described it as ‘the world turned upside down’ – Lott offers you a new framework for life.
YouTube The idea of pausing to take stock of what has gone well, to be content with many things as they are feels strange and dangerous, like some kind of a loser’s counsel – or the consolation prize. But in truth, there is so much that, if we learnt we might be dead by nightfall, we would remember to value. This video from our new YouTube channel takes a witty, thoughtful look at gratitude.
New: The Buddhists
School of Thought Notebooks History is filled with some fascinating ‘schools of thought’ dedicated to tackling life’s big problems in distinctive ways. We’ve created this exquisite set of notebooks in honour of The Buddhists. Each notebook carries an introduction to a great Buddhist thinker on the inside front page, their name beautifully printed on the cover – and otherwise empty pages for your own projects.
To complement our exploration of meaning, the Barbican has curated a special playlist featuring ecstatic, devotional and psychedelic music from across the globe, both religious and secular. These artists are performing in the Transcenderseries: TSOL subscribers get 2 for 1 tickets using the online code 91014 or quoting ‘School of Life’ on the phone or in person.
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