Culture Spirituality

Suffering – and why most modern spirituality sucks

I’ve just had a beautiful and somewhat surreal experience.

I was listening to Bach’s sublime masterpiece the St Matthew’s Passion on a beautiful and sunny Good Friday morning, and through the open windows I noticed a young wallaby listening along with me.

I’m pretty sure that he/she was listening because normally when I see the wallabies they are either passing through, or grazing or sometimes taking a siesta (they usually lie down for this). This wallaby wasn’t doing any of those things – it was sitting still facing my open window and listening. It stayed there for at least an hour and a half, through two CD changes and only moved on when it got spooked by the sounds of a rubbish collection truck reversing at the end of the road nearby.

Psychology Spirituality

Altered States

There’s been a lot of articles published recently about the astonishing results people are getting using psychadelics to treat difficult psychological conditions like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and anxiety/depression around end of life/terminal illness. The mind-altering substances being used for these studies are mostly psyllocibin (as found in “magic mushrooms”), MDMA (ecstasy) and LSD. A recent book exploring this is by Michael Pollan: How to Change Your Mind.

Culture Politics

Why Facebook Should Pay for News

Facebook has implemented a news sharing ban in Australia.

Facebook and other social media companies make their money by selling advertising. In that respect they are like the old-style media companies – newspapers, radio, television. The difference is that Facebook, Google etc don’t pay for the content that is essential to getting people engaged on the platform so that they can keep serving up ads.


Sense-making in a failing culture

I am Mike Lowe and welcome to my personal blog where I explore topics that are interesting to me and, hopefully to you too. These are thoughts on psychology, spirituality, politics and how we repair a broken culture. They arise from the curious mind of someone who has always loved learning (even though I didn’t love school) and new experiences.

I believe that we are in a time of transition. Old systems, old ways of doing the economy, politics, health, food production, culture and spirituality are failing and breaking down and we don’t yet agree on what should replace them. Part of the problem is that just as a goldfish can’t see the water it swims in, we are so immersed in our culture that we don’t see how its assumptions are deeply embedded in our thinking, our behaviour and even the kinds of questions we ask ourselves.

What we get from the mainstream media and education tends to either ignore the deeper problems, or offer simplistic explanations which don’t go deep enough. Much of the “alternative” movements (alt-right/alt-left politics, alternative health, New-Age spirituality) is also too simplistic and lacks depth and appreciation of the complexities involved. I’m no expert on anything, but I do try to make sense of complex issues without dumbing down, and I share my thoughts in the hope it will stimulate deep thinking and questioning in you, the reader. I don’t expect you to agree with me on every point, but if you go away stimulated and questioning then I am satisfied.

Finally I want to stake my claim as an optimistic realist. That can sound contradictory – and often seems that way to me as well. To be a “realist” given the multiple, vast challenges facing us as a species and a culture, would seem to point to a dark future. But I hold out hope that we can change course rapidly, that there is a core of human nature which is capable of love, self-sacrifice, generosity and kindness – even if these virtues are often dormant and un-rewarded in our mainstream capitalist society. I hold out hope that as our dysfunctional economic and political structures collapse, we will replace them with a generative, generous and co-operative culture which better reflects who we are and can be as a species.

Culture Economics Politics

Are Revolutions Ever A Good Idea?

One of the things I love about the film-maker Adam Curtis’s work is that he doesn’t just accept the way things are. He keeps inviting us to look deeper and question the assumed truths of our culture.

One of those assumptions is that revolutions don’t work because the people who come into power always turn out to be just as bad as old lot.

Culture Economics

The Money System is Rigged

If you want to educate your kids (or yourself) about how money works at this point in time, I suggest a simple experiment. Get a bunch of friends around (where Covid-safe) and start a game of Monopoly, but you and your kids aren’t allowed to join at the start. If you are born before 1980 you get to join when about half the properties on the board have been bought by the other players. if you were born between 1980 and 2000 you join when 75% of the properties have been bought, and if you were born after 2000 you get to join when there is only 1 property left for sale.

Culture Spirituality

Bad Faith

Warning – lengthy but profound reflection on a subject where angels fear to tread – the problem with religion and atheism.

Religion isn’t going away and progressives who continue to attack religion do themselves no favours. In fact their attacks simply fuel the “persecuted victim” narrative that Trump and the religious Right have so skillfully exploited.


Capitalism is killing the world

I saw this article yesterday after a conversation with a friend about this dilemma:

If humans are part of nature, then why are we destroying so much of the natural world – including our own life-support systems?

My answer is that we humans have evolved a specific mechanism – culture – which allows us to adapt to many different environments and changing situations. Unlike a Wallaby or a Deer, we are not born with a mostly complete innate sense of what kind of animal we are and what kind of environment we will exist in. Humans have to be shaped by culture over a number of years (it’s a year before we can even walk and another year before we start to talk).

Culture Politics Spirituality

All We, Like Sheep, Have Gone Astray

All we like sheep(le) have gone astray!

I’ve always loved the Christmas story. In the Northern hemisphere where I grew up it is closely associated with the Winter solstice (the point at which the days start to get longer again) and its theme of the coming of light into the darkness. And this marking of the seasonal transitions is linked to a deeper story about death and resurrection, power vs love, suffering and forgiveness and new beginnings.


The Case for Radical Economics

(Another long and important read – I’ve tried to make this accessible for people who normally switch off when the word Economics is mentioned.)

One of the most painful aspects of a recession is the many people out of work, sometimes for a long time.

Mainstream economic thinking says that jobs are created by entrepreneurs and by more investment, so this should be encouraged with tax breaks for the wealthy.

There’s a partial truth to this, but it ignores an even more important fact that jobs are created by customers with money in their pockets.