What is Living Philosophy?
There are many living philosophies. Most religions - Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Quakerism, Buddhism, Yoga - are living philosophies. They combine ideas and attitudes with values which must be applied to life, with the intention of improving the individual, their community and the wider world.
I majored in the History of Ideas at university and loved it. It is a little known subject, and is basically philosophy put into its wider historical context. It examines why ideas developed as they did - what influenced the thinkers: the events, literature, morals and values, even house and garden design which formed the context for the birth of such ideas. History of Ideas positively affirms that philosophy does not and cannot exist in a pure realm separate from the humans who create and record it.
I was set alight by it and wondered why it wasn't a compulsory subject in schools and universities everywhere. Why was the wisdom of the great philosophers not more widely known by the general population? Why do these ideas reside between the covers of dusty books, rather than being consciously applied to developing our culture? Why were we not acting on our accumulated human wisdom and understanding more fully bearing in mind the scale of the crisis that humanity finds itself in?
So I set myself a lifetask - to learn more about, live, apply and share our accumulated human wisdom.
I am not an adherent to any particular philosophy, though feel closest to Quaker and Buddhist thought. I read a lot - widely and deeply. And reflect. I fish a lot of ideas out, and try them on in life with the intention of living more sustainably, authentically, creatively and richly.
I make no claims for originality of thought. I consider myself a maven and a midwife: carrying ideas out of books and into life and the minds of others. Sometimes new ideas, other times confirmations of what others already believe and practice.
So living philosophy...
Firstly it is philosophy which is being lived, rather than just a mental activity. It is ideas about life as it is in all its richness and mundanity... not dry academic reasoning about untouchable subjects. It is vivid, vibrant, vital, messy, chaotic, contradictory and incomplete. There are no equations, and few -isms or terrifying long words that you might find in university philosophy courses, nor the often bland, trite platitudes of self help philosophies, though both might inform it.
And it is a philosophy of living from a female perspective. It is not just thoughts, but feelings too, which are so often omitted from Western philosophy as irrelevant. Living philosophy deals with reality, not merely abstraction or life as we would like it.
You could count the female philosophers we have had on one hand. And men tend not to write about 'women's issues'.
These "female" aspects have been omitted from our philosophy and literature for millenia. They have been overlooked, denigrated even. How we live our lives everyday, earn our money, how we think, eat, sleep, celebrate, care for our children and birth our babies matters, it really does.
My writing is from a female perspective, and very often on issues which may be of more interest to women: birth, mothering, women's circles and home making. But at other times I hope that my ideas would be of interest to both sexes: economics, politics, sustainable living, transition ideas. At times it is hopelessly utopian - for that I make no apologies.
So, this is what I write, because this is what I believe. And this is what I try to live: my highest good, my highest understanding. And often I fall very short, and berate myself for failing, for being a hypocrite. But I try again tomorrow. And reflect, analyse, read and write some more. And grow in understanding. And shrink in embarrassment at previous grand assertions.
When I see it laid out bare, like here, it sounds rather pompous and grandiose. And I cringe some more. But I carry on regardless. It is in my blood, my soul.
And then at other times am quietly proud of my insight which I had previously doubted. Or someone says that something I said or wrote gave them clarity or comfort or insight. And it is for this reason, some strange inner compulsion, that I write.