Why Embodied Philosophy?
A Welcome Letter from Jacob Kyle, Embodied Philosophy Founder and Editor in Chief
Hello, Embodied Philosophers.
Welcome to this journey of the heart - an adventure that is very close to my own heart!
Embodied Philosophy is a response to my deeply felt need to deepen and expand the accessibility of ancient wisdom and practices originating in a wide variety of traditions, from Ancient India to Greece.
As a long-time yoga practitioner with many years of graduate study in Political Philosophy and the History of Philosophy, I have for some time dreamed of ways I could begin integrating my passion for deep philosophical study with my sense that ultimately that study must change the way that we live and act in the world.
Academic philosophy was not for me. I could not justify a practice of abstruse theorizing that did not have a material effect on the way I showed up in the world. For many of those years of academic study, I studied deeply but persisted in treating my body-mind poorly with excessive substance abuse. On the other side, I loved the sense of integration that often followed my yoga practice, but my critical mind could not surrender to what I felt was a fluffy and sometimes just plain wrong distillation of Eastern wisdom shared by teachers in “dharma talks” at the beginning or end of a class.
I needed and dreamed of a home where embodied practices like yoga and deep philosophical investigation could live side by side; hence, Embodied Philosophy.
This project is an offering for the current and aspiring “scholar-practitioner”, a term that has always resonated with me. The scholar-practitioner is not someone who is scholarly simply for the sake of being scholarly (a pattern that never sat well with me in academia). The scholar-practitioner studies deeply, because it is through that depth that embodiment is more tangibly experienced. The scholar-practitioner studies as a practice to deepen his or her connection to life and the beings in it – not simply as an isolated pursuit that takes him or her away from the world. Scholar-practitioners are not interested in ancient texts as if they were relics from a museum but are rather inspired by these texts as practical manuals for expanding the scope of existence.
The “scholar” half of “scholar-practitioner” will hopefully not intimidate you, if you happen to feel far from considering yourself a member of that category. This project is also for those who have more curiosity than knowledge at present. The content of Embodied Philosophy has been carefully curated to appeal both to the beginner and to those who have been around the block once or twice with these teachings and practices.
“But why journey deep into these teachings at all?” you might be thinking. In the articles I've written for the Embodied Philosophy 101 series (more information below), we’ll directly and indirectly address this question in a variety of ways. The short answer is, because they are recipes for expanded awareness and a sense of “awakening”.
Expanded awareness has a variety of fortunate effects: it produces emotional flexibility, a felt sense of possibility in one’s life, integration, openness, creativity, spontaneity, an expanded ability to respond to situations and others with care and compassion, and a peaceful, profound clarity.
NAVIGATING THE CONTENT
And now for a practical guide to what you’ll find ahead. In an effort to help you navigate the website effectively, we’ve organized the content in several ways.
Monthly Focus: The year of 2016 is entirely devoted to an exploration of the wider Eastern philosophical tradition, each month devoted to a specific tradition and to a text or a handful of texts relevant to that tradition.
January - March: Yoga Sutras & the Bhagavad Gita, with explorations into Classical Yoga and Bhakti
April - June: Buddhism and Buddhist practices, ancient and modern
July - September: Shaivism, Hatha, & the Chakras
October - December: Vedic Teachings and Taoism
Syllabus & Key Concepts: Each quarter (every three months), we will release a new syllabus for the quarter ahead, available for download, which will list further books and resources for those interested in expanding their understanding on the focuses of the quarter. Additionally, a key concepts glossary will be available for those who desire an additional resource for navigating the texts and the traditions of the month.
Each feature article will explore the above focus and be organized by:
Level: Each article will be written at either level 1, 2, 3, or in our summarizing level, which is accessible to all (1, 2, 3, S)
Type: Each article is either a Text (T), Culture (C), or a Practice (P) article.
T: On a segment or a specific sutra/teaching from one of the many ancient or modern texts;
C: On a cultural or historical observation or musing relevant to the monthly focus;
P: Or on a practice or set of practices also relevant to the focus (tradition or text) of the month.
In addition to our feature articles (released three times weekly), we also offer:
CHITHEADS Podcasts: Audio interviews with leaders, teachers and scholar-practitioners from the wider yoga and wisdom traditions and weekly articles exploring topics that arise during these conversations.
Daily Posts: These daily offerings are intended to link all this wisdom to modern life. In these short articles and musings you can expect to find recent news, remarks on videos relevant to embodied philosophy, as well as links to illuminating articles about current issues and problems that a perspective of Embodied Philosophy would enlighten.
In the Embodied Philosophy 101 "classes" below, we will start to take a closer look at the teachings and wisdom that prepare us to begin this journey with a sense of groundedness and understanding. Read through these articles with care and attention, as they will help structure the foundation of your journey with Embodied Philosophy.
Thank you so much for beginning this profound journey of the heart with us. We hope you will find these teachings and traditions useful as you pilgrimage to the center of presence.
Namaste and all that jazz,
Creator and Editor in Chief of Embodied Philosophy