Post-Ironic Goodness

Dispatch from the Second Metamodern Spirituality Retreat

metamodern scene
THE AUTUMN METAMODERN SPIRITUALITY RETREAT took place from September 26 - October 2 2022 at beautiful Sky Meadow Lodge in Vermont.  It was led by Layman Pascal & hosted by Brendan Graham Dempsey (discussed here on the Integral Stage). 

The theme was: Goodness in a Metamodern Sense.

Metamodernism is said to be characterized, in part, by an attitude of "sincere irony." What better way to explore that nuanced valence than through the easily critiqued, deeply naive & yet utterly necessary experience of goodness? 

My own opinion is that it is not wise to define wisdom in ways that are not deeply good.  I.e. it is not pragmatic to decouple virtue from metacognition.   

Of course, this "theme" was only one of many facets of the second Metamodern Spirituality Retreat.  The event was replete with ecological engagement, collaborative ritual production, sitting meditations, artwork, altered state tarot practice, intersubjective experimentation & endlessly excellent spontaneous discussions tinged with both hilarity and heartbreak. 

We harvested autumn vegetables while in deep co-pondering about flow states, endogenous DMT and the spiritual implications of the plural psyche.  We held a "metamodern focus group" to provide community feedback to Greg Henriques about his presentations of the UTOK model.  We sang, prayed, built, pondered, etc.  (And that's a big et cetera!)

Nonetheless, goodness was indeed the pivot around which our "advanced hanging out" revolved. 

If you're only interested in the social dimension of the event please skip to the end of this article.  Right now I think it may be worth taking a moment to describe where our highly convivial group-field landed on the embodied post-pluralistic concept of goodness.  Here's what we ended up hearing each other say:

1.  Being is good (at least minimally so).  Being together is better.  Being MORE together coherently could be even better.

2. "Pretty good" and "not bad" are not insufficient designations.  They have full rights in the goodness conversation.

3. It is practical to use embodied imaginal and gestural practice to facilitate goodness -- including the imagined referent of superlative good, dialoguing with ecology about goodness, referencing a "karmic index," projecting a purpose for humanity within the biosphere & engaging in virtue-oriented myth-making.

(4) We need to more deeply embrace what seems to be "bad" so that we can more clearly decide when to be fierce defenders of the more coherent good against the less coherent good.  To do that well, we must understand that risk and relativity are profoundly involved in making such evaluations & we must be alert for perverse incentives that make humans overly eager to punish and defend. 
So those were, largely, our collective conclusions.  I also spoke often about what I called the Golden Triangle -- Service, Gratitude and Remorse (as general principles of enacted postmetaphysical goodness).  However, this quick report is not the place to explore such ideas more deeply.

It was a rich and touching event.  I loved weeding a cabbage patch with Tom Murray, swimming in an ice-cold frog pond with Greg Henriques and discovering, over dinner, that Zak Stein and I share a passion for the work of the obscure British novelist-philosopher Colin Wilson.  

But, frankly, the real beauty and power of such an event reside in all the little side discussions, emergent niches and deep encounters with the souls and ideas of new people taking the risk of entering the discourse.  

If Allah is willing (sic), and if you're interested, we'll have the third one in the Spring of 2023.
Words by Layman Pascal
Layman Pascal was incarnated on a remote island in the Pacific Northwest. He used to be a meditation teacher, yoga instructor & public speaker — but he's feeling much better now.