Lucy Weir, PhD
I’m an ecological philosopher. I’m also a published author, and a yoga and meditation facilitator of over 20 years’ experience. I teach and write about the practice of philosophy, and I practice and facilitate this through what I call “realisation as agency”. This is a reimagining of what we are, of our story.
This combination gives me a special set of skills and interests when it comes to what we are currently experiencing and it’s for that reason that I started teaching what I write about: the practice of philosophy in the ecological emergency, which includes embodied philosophy, which includes yoga …
My first interest was in how to live as good a life as possible. That led me to various places, including living in Port Sudan where there were lots of rich Russians, and lots and lots of refugees. I also lived in Samarinda, in Indonesia, and learned about transmigrasi, and the Dayak people of the rainforest. Later on, I lived in a refugee camp in northern Kenya and while working as an English teacher, I collected oral testimonies as part of a research project. I wanted to understand how we could live well in a world where so many of our own species were encountering unbelievable trauma and suffering.
My second interest, just as important, but more in the background, was a deep love for what I now call the more than human world, that is, the world of air, wind, water, waves, rivers, sea, sky, mountains, forests, deserts, and the wild. I wanted to understand how to live well in relation to other creatures, to the landscape, and I knew that I felt better when I knew I was doing less harm to other species, even if I knew that by living I was necessarily involved in taking.
My PhD was focused on what respect for nature might look like if we understood ourselves from the point of view of systems theory. In it, I reflected on philosophical views from other cultures. This led me to distinguish between what we think we are free to do, being, as we are, enmeshed, and what we are actually free to do, which is to pay attention, to be present, and thus to realise, make real and be aware of, our current circumstances.
My subsequent research has extended and in some senses simplified these ideas. Here are a few key focal points for you to think about:
- are you free to choose what you are doing now if you have been shaped in the most profound way by the earlier steps you took?
- could you perhaps only be free if you decided to become aware, really aware, of what is happening right now, since only by doing so could you bring into possibility options that would not be available if you were simply reacting to previous causes?
- if this is true for you, is it not also true for humanity as a whole?
- if this is true, is it not therefore of vital importance that you do practice being aware of what is happening right now and of taking your attention from things you cannot control to the one thing that you can – your attention?
- doesn’t your attention have a quality? Isn’t it itself shaped by your attitude?
- doesn’t therefore your attitude shape how you experience, and therefore how you interact with what is going on?
- if the ecological emergency is what is going on, then is it not a manifestation of countless attitudes?
- does not your engagement with the ecological emergency depend absolutely on whether or not you come to this awareness with a sense of devotion to alleviating suffering, or being of as much benefit as possible?
None of these ideas are particularly new, but we have a new context, which is the ecological emergency, and I bring them together in a new perspective. This is to understand that it is our very existence as homo sapiens, a species that prides itself on its creation of civilisation, the rule of law, and above all, the power of stories, of narratives and metaphors, that is under threat. And while we have been under threat before, never has the entire human population faced an existential crisis together, at once, in the way we do in the face of the ecological emergency. It is therefore urgent and critical that we develop an understanding that we are not outside this issue, looking in. We are the issue. We are the emergency. We – in the sense of our awareness – is being forced to confront the existential threat we pose to ourselves, personally, interpersonally, and in our relationship with the more than human world.
I’d be delighted if more people joined me for individual classes, for courses (I offer Insight Timer live classes, tracks and courses), read my writing at Medium. And please feel free to contact me on the form for upcoming retreats in Ireland (I plan to teach in Galway, Mayo, Cork, Dublin and in October, in Portugal – information to follow in the next few days) or if you just want to talk.
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