I’ve just re-read William James’ Varieties of Religious Experience, which he gave as a series of lectures in 1902. It is a marvelous book, in which James attempts to take a pragmatic and empirical approach to religious experiences, remaining open to the question of where such experiences come from, and evaluating them by looking at Read more…

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While I was writing Philosophy for Life, I lived with three friends in a church in North London. We discovered that our land-lady, who we never met, was Sister Bliss, the DJ and one third of the dance supergroup Faithless. This year, when I found myself researching the idea of music as a form of Read more…

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The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed there was no newsletter last weekend. Apologies. The reason for this is I have journeyed deep into the warm, pulsating heart of the happiness movement. Last Thursday I took part in a conference on Positive Psychology at Wellington College (the pioneer of well-being classes), and then I went Read more…

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Yesterday I went to an excellent conference on revelatory experiences at the Institute of Psychiatry, which brought together neuroscientists, psychiatrists, psychologists, historians, theologians and members of the public (many of whom had revelatory experiences – turns out they’re pretty common!) The conference tried to approach and talk about revelatory experiences from two main directions: history Read more…

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I love Russell Brand. Here he is chatting with Daniel Pinchbeck, author of Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey Into the Heart of Modern Shamanism, about God, consciousness, mysticism and quantum physics, in a tent.

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