Mission Statement

of this

Virtual Agora for Occidental Meditation (VAOM)

THE THINKER by Auguste Rodin

Why should a virtual Agora for Occidental Meditation be useful?

An oriental lady on being told about the subtitle in the strap line of this virtual institute exclaimed ‘Ah!  Accidental meditation!’. She was too polite to query what might have seemed to her an oxymoron.  Reflection however is something that we all do so why not do it in an updated ‘Agora’ – a public square in ancient Greece where thinkers among others congregated and exchanged ideas?

The VAOM is about ideas rather than modes of purveying them. It considers what we can know – as far as possible – and advocates an open-minded approach to many of our credos. It is an antidote both to our fast-paced world with its instant communications and the endemic foghorns of stridency in advocacy of pet theories. It encourages people to look for improvement in our lives and our understanding in both a practical and a spiritual sense, and to share their thoughts about them.

Building on the traditional idea of meditation in the West:

BEATA BEATRIX by Dante Gabriel ROSSETTI

  • ‘How we think’ is a subject worthy of study. We should make a point of taking time out to think. Like anything else (as the Victorians would say) ‘practice makes (almost) perfect.’
  • Reflection and Intuition enhances Practical Wisdom. They feed through into results in our world. A constant question in our minds can be: ‘What is the way forward?’
  • We can think more about far-reaching questions about our lives, for instance ‘What effect do scientific discoveries have on our belief-systems?’
  • Meditation and its goals need not be taught.  We should try and coach ourselves.
  • Profound truths may be simple and accessible but overlooked.
  • We can first pare down our focus to the fundamentals that matter. From acorns do oak trees grow and their roots are in the soil. Do all our cherished beliefs or habits withstand the hard glare of close attention? We should cultivate a healthy disrespect for prevailing assumptions – including our own – and make it a habit to query what we read and hear about topics that matter.
  • In calmness, we can try to coax insights to the surface of our minds. They may have lain disregarded in our subconscious. In calmness lies self-awareness.  We should be as true as possible to our better selves.  What are the questions that truly matter?
  • Thinking quietly on one’s own is to be encouraged.  Emotions and mind-clutter need not always be stilled but studied and outfaced where possible with clarity, honesty and independence and, if need be, the straggle-growths in the mind can trimmed.
  • What can we know for sure, in as far as it is possible to know anything for certain?
  • Unemotional open-mindedness should characterise reflection.  

Anyone may have interesting, fresh ideas in spheres ranging from the practical to the profound and the insightful.   What of value may be lost if many ideas in a community where each of us can have our say within reason share the fate of the proverbial rose that blooms only to wither unseen. Experts even where they agree need not be sole judges of what holds true in contexts impacted by their specialisms. We are free to be our own gurus or pundits. The fruits of homespun philosophy ideally need the best cultivation before being set out on a stall in the global village. This forum is a meeting ground and a platform to showcase them.

The word ‘meditation’ seems to have acquired a capital ‘M’.   It implies to many people nowadays a sort of orientation towards the oriental.  Westerners have a vantage point on cogitation that has been long in the brew.  We all can borrow from the best of both traditions.  Buddhist principles, for instance, can be buttressed by Western scientific discovery. A rational, clear-minded, serene and detached look at how much we truly know and at what we as individuals and as a society should do, can go hand-in-hand with spirituality, ‘finding oneself’ – one’s true self – and lateral thinking.  Scientific breakthroughs bear on what we now know about the often intangible world that arguably actuates us and many Faiths.   How best to hone basic conceptions so as to be in line with what is best for each and all of us? We may be surprised at what emerges perhaps from unlikely quarters. It may lurk in our own mind. It is time is to refresh some age old, wise – and maybe not so wise – precepts.

In a world rife with serious problems, the hard-won hallmarks of civilised thinking should be ‘grappled to the bosum with hoops of steel’. The links listed on another page in this website are a demonstration that there is an appetite shared by many people including those living full, active lives to wonder about the Big Questions and other questions in life that can niggle at them. An ability to multi-task and to plan need not make a pipedream of taking time out to think things over, and to suggest ideas that may have traction in the wider world. The best habits of mind are rarely a quick fix.

This approach should reinforce an understanding of our place in this world and what might be the Hereafter, help query ideas that permeate society, and enhance personal fulfilment, peace and happiness.  

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Exposition:

This link unpacks futher the idea of Occidental Meditation

This link gives further detail on the concept of this Institute

This link gives an account of Practical Wisdom

This link is to an essay entitled Reflections on Reflection

This is a link is to the full Theory of this virtual institute

This is the link to Summary of the theory

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