Wed 22 May 2019 7:38AM

Contemplative commons

VG Vincenzo Giorgino Public Seen by 30

I am writing the entry (1000 words and four citations only) Secular Spirituality for the Encyclopedia of Sociology of Religion and i wonder if some of you would like to share her own definition of contemplative commons. I reread the introduction to this blog and i feel that we can be more precise and effective in explaining why we are intending contemplative knowledge and practices as a commons. It could help me in framing our intentions in one or two sentences and also contribute to our collective dialogue. I have also something to say on the Deep Adaptation paper but i will do it soon in the appropriate space created by Patricia.
Best, enzo


Frederick Malouf Wed 22 May 2019 9:46AM

I would have called it empowered commons a philosophy of ethics and wonderwhat works.

If you are interested in that, let me know.

With gratitude,


Vincenzo Giorgino Fri 21 Jun 2019 4:58AM

Hi Frederick,

I answer only now because it's the time I can work on it. Thank you for your suggestions: I am interested and I think it could be of interest for the whole group. Can you share it in this blog?
My thanks


Xabier Renteria-Uriarte Wed 22 May 2019 10:49AM

With the bravery of a newcomer, and inspired by your presentation, I would propose:

Contemplative Commons gathers contemplative practices, tools for them, and research on their implications, as a commons, that is, collectively practiced and freely shared, taking advantage of digital technologies. It is proposed mainly by a group of scholars on a platform with this name.

The presentation sounds pretty good, but i think some repetitions might be erased.


Vincenzo Giorgino Fri 21 Jun 2019 5:11AM

Hi Xabier,
"collectively practiced and freely shared, taking advantage of digital technologies": I like this very focused definition. It's inspiring and we should work on it. In my mind I have the experience of dana and the self-organization of the majority of meditation centers I know. I also now that mindfulness is intended as an industry implying the commodification of the practice and this is seen as pretty negative. I find in it a sort of group thinking...
Has a commons-based organization to be free? What are its main differences from a religious or lay expert context?
Thank you.
Best, enzo


Xabier Renteria-Uriarte Thu 10 Oct 2019 5:44PM

I guess every honest meditator has a love-hate relationship with mindfulness industry... Experiencing that the 'inner source or space or mind level' of meditation (what you concientize in a deep contemplation) is the source for any daily phenomenon as well (the origin of the phenomenal world) would perhaps help us better understand the issue.

Thinking about it, McMindfulness has undoubted risks, but also a number of benefits, for a myriad of people who have no interest in the existential side of contemplation (that is, in meditating to find answers for the absurdity of the existence, or to 'existential questions'), or in the philosophical side (for example, in the case of phenomenologists), but only to reduce stress, depression, or simply 'to feel a little better'.

In the side of risks, and that is what worries me, the industry of mindfulness may divert us from the existential and philosophical side of the fact, if this is our tendency. It is a powerfool technique and even a science, but if we unfortunately find a superficial version of it, sich as the very widespread (and, in my opinion, incorrect) version of "be aware of the moment", we will take the wrong impression and assessment.

Outside of that risks, if commodification can make contemplation more accesible to Westerners, I think it should be thankful.


Xabier Renteria-Uriarte Thu 10 Oct 2019 6:22PM

On the other question... I think that the essence of a 'commons' is an issue apart from having a lay or a religious focus... The main proposals or sides of the history of religion are 'commons', in the sense of being something open to anyone interested. We may even consider whether a true religious proposal should be so to be 'true'.

If we apply a fuzzy logic... What is 'lay' and what is 'religious'? Discipline? In my zen organization, one integral layman abandoned our practice and went to a Tibetan monastery seeking a tougher discipline... Rites? Perhaps rites are important to Westerners, to open our emotional side, or to help stabilize our meditation. I do not follow any rites and I get bored of any religious rhetoric, but I consider myself a (very) religious person.

No answers to your questions...


Patricia Morgan Fri 24 May 2019 1:56AM

Good morning Vincenzo @vincenzogiorgino and everyone - greetings from a bright sunny morning here in Sydney. My sense of the Contemplative Commons - apart from what you have outlined in the introduction, with Contemplative Practices and Theory understood as a Commons - relates to individual and collective experience of contemplative consciousness. That what grounds the contemplative commons is the field of contemplative consciousness understood as a pre-conceptual continuum that we touch and merge with through contemplative practice. The continual potential to be interwoven with and by the net of contemplative consciousness is the transcendent partner of those material commons that make up our life support systems – commons such as water, air and earth.


Vincenzo Giorgino Fri 21 Jun 2019 5:26AM

Hi Patricia,

you introduce a transcendent element in the discussion (a pre-conceptual continumm...), within an holistic approach, maybe it's what is usually intended as Oneness. In a way you introduce God here, with another name. Moreover, you attribute to some natural elements - water, air and earth - a fixed, absolute property - being a commons. In the company of great authors such as Saint Thomas of Aquins - Omnia sunt communia - and more recently the economist Maurizio De Angelis. My modest view is that nothing has a birth certificate of a kind, immutable since its beginning -a commons or a private property-. My view is that all these resources, natural or artificial, are labelled by humans, i.e. they are social constructions with all the relativistic narratives embedded in them.
Thank you,


Patricia Morgan Sat 22 Jun 2019 2:21AM

Hi Enzo @vincenzogiorgino thank you for your response - two things come to mind as I read what you have said here. Firstly, it is difficult to use language without a sense that we are attributing something fixed, or as you say a birth certificate to what we are speaking about. Though is that not what is happening when we say or write "commons" or "contemplative commons" or any of the words we use here and elsewhere? When I used the terms earth, air water I was attempting to find a material cousin to pre-conceptual contemplative consciousness - something that we exist in, something we label, something we feel and so forth - all of it. This is always a significant problem when using words for they in themselves nearly always act as labels? Eugene Gendlin and Alfred North Whitehead have made some interesting attempts, where in part they invent their own language to do that, which if you haven’t learnt can initially make their work difficult to engage with. I'd be interested to know if you have found a better way to talk about the commons and all it encompasses that doesn't trap or bound what the label ascribe?

Secondly, through my research into contemplative pre-conceptual experience in learning I found a number of ways that pre-conceptual contemplative consciousness is described initially starting in Heidegger’s reworking of legein and logos, or the way Brahman is understood in Classical Yoga Philosophy. So while indeed it can be understood as transcendent experience, experience of God and so forth, in Contemplative Education it is often described as "second-person" experience, with scholarship often focusing on second-person or intersubjective experience between students or students and teachers - Olaf Gunnlaugson has written about this and I can send through references if you are interested. This book, which I have a chapter in may be of interest: https://www.sunypress.edu/p-6475-the-intersubjective-turn.aspx Not all of the authors in this book speak about the field-like qualities of contemplative pre-conceptual consciousness as I do. I first started thinking about this ground or field after one of the participants in my PhD research spoke of "social wifi", this was reinforced by my own experiences meditating by myself and in groups and how the latter felt different to me, somehow meditating together amplified the meditation experience, I felt linked into something? These experiences and those of my participants, and then reading Gert Biesta, Christian de Quincy and Olen Gunnlaugson, plus earlier phenomenological research support my understanding of a field, which can be thought of as a “commons” that we can engage through contemplation. I have also investigated this through collective contemplative art making in groups, which has offered some interesting results. Having said all of that, and as you have pointed out, these are just ways of “wording” our ideas and experience. If you’re interested I’m happy to send some articles through. I’m looking forward to seeing the definition you develop through our discussions and to further discussions. Kind Regards, Patricia


Xabier Renteria-Uriarte Thu 30 May 2019 10:20AM

Suggestive lines, which foster some doubts relating the current project within me.

Is any 'collective' experience of contemplative consciousness possible? Is it possible to contribute to some ‘commons’ in this area, in the same way that we contribute to the stock of common resources in Wikipedia, Couchsurfing or the Millennium Seed Bank?

The very diverse and different ways of experiencing the ‘contemplative consciousness’ within us, when practitioners talk about it, have always quite astonished me. I am aware that the different terms and explanations that I can use to communicate my experience, by necessity, must be very personal. And I end up understanding the explanations of others, but only after doing a kind of "translation". That's when I can see: "Well, what this girl is talking about is this side of the contemplative consciousness, what that guy talks about is that other side ...".

I believe that it is possible to contribute to the ‘common goods’ in this area, understood as ‘common resources’, in the sense of contributing to the ‘stock’ of contemplative practices. And help all the common goods of humanity grow, in this way. But I doubt that there really is something like ‘contemplative commons’, beyond ‘contemplative practices commons’, or ‘contemplative practices put in common’.

In any case, the description of “contemplative consciousness as the transcendent partner of material and life commons such as water, air and earth” is very poetic!

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