Disengagement, in order to think. It may be brief and urgent: a matter of ducking out of sight for a moment, if there is no other way.

As Richard Chartres reminds us in his reflection on Ash Wednesday, that is what Jesus did, when pressed by an angry crowd—doodling reflectively in the dust before giving us the clincher argument against the witch-hunt and its variants: “He who is without sin: let him cast the first stone.” Chartres summarises: stoop, clarify, connect.R26

In less crowded circumstances, reflection is thinking time; there is local self-reliance; a flow of concentration. It is fractured by an oversupply of data that hasn’t been looked for and pulled in. It needs a long attention span: unhurried conversation, a book, a remembered poem, a sense of being at home, and sustained intention. Given time and practice, as Thomas Traherne discovered, it is conversation with the soul:

And the soul is a miraculous abyss of infinite abysses, an undrainable ocean, an unexhausted fountain of endless oceans. . . . Infinity we know and feel by our souls: and feel it so naturally, as if it were the very essence and being of the soul.

Thomas Traherne, Centuries of Meditations, c.1670.R27


Related entries:

Freedom, Ironic Space, Judgment, Humility, Sleep, Rote, Imagination, Success.

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David Fleming
Dr David Fleming (2 January 1940 – 29 November 2010) was a cultural historian and economist, based in London, England. He was among the first to reveal the possibility of peak oil's approach and invented the influential TEQs scheme, designed to address this and climate change. He was also a pioneer of post-growth economics, and a significant figure in the development of the UK Green Party, the Transition Towns movement and the New Economics Foundation, as well as a Chairman of the Soil Association. His wide-ranging independent analysis culminated in two critically acclaimed books, 'Lean Logic' and 'Surviving the Future', published posthumously in 2016. These in turn inspired the 2020 launches of both BAFTA-winning director Peter Armstrong's feature film about Fleming's perspective and legacy - 'The Sequel: What Will Follow Our Troubled Civilisation?' - and Sterling College's unique 'Surviving the Future: Conversations for Our Time' online courses. For more information on all of the above, including Lean Logic, click the little globe below!

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