'Idle hands are the devil's workshop,' we're told. This adage sometimes informs our mad scramble to make ends meet, quite often going non-stop and mostly living to work, with hardly a moment to see who, what and where we are in the vast context of our lives. Many of us are going nowhere fast. Though taking personal responsibility is correctly connected to paying the bills, and is crucial to any kinds of individual growth, there is another type of responsibility we have to ourselves that quite often gets lost in the shuffle in any real and valuable sense.

On this week's MindMatters we look at philosopher Josef Pieper's classic book Leisure: The Basis of Culture and use his ideas as a point of departure to discuss how we spend our free time (since, for the time being, we now seem to have so much more of it!). Among a wide range of issues connected to Pieper's thesis, we ask what we should be doing with ourselves when we're not "getting things done", and what place philosophy, art and any number of other things that culture offers have in our lives. Ultimately, the underlying question is: What may feed the life of the mind in a time and place that is quite often so mindless?

Running Time: 00:51:25

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Here's the transcript of the show:

Corey: Hello everyone and welcome back to MindMatters. Now, I bet many of you have been cooped up in your apartments or your house or your flat for the past three to six weeks, so...

Harrison: Or longer. [laughter]

Corey: Or longer. So relax, grab your favorite beverage and join us today because we're going to be discussing a number of interesting topics. The number one topic we'll be starting with being the subject of leisure. Now that's something that doesn't get a lot of play these days. It's not fashionable to be leisurely or to enjoy just your time to yourself because we live in a world that is very materialistic and very focused on utilitarian objectives and work, consciousness and action, getting things done and making money. Unfortunately what goes by the wayside is our human nature in the process. I've been reading a book by Josef Pieper called Leisure: The Basis of Culture. Josef Pieper was a German philosopher. He was a very - what would you say? I can't think of the right word...

Harrison: Erudite?...

Corey: Yes, he was a very erudite philosopher and he specialized in studying St. Thomas of Aquinas, bringing the middle aged perspective, the western kind of spiritual tradition into the twentieth century. He wrote this book Leisure: The Basis of Culture, after World War II.

He starts the book by saying 'Of course this is probably the worst time to be discussing leisure when we have a country to rebuild and when we have the world in shatters and in absolute destruction and mayhem, and yet at the same time, now more than ever, [according to him], was an important time to take stock of what it means to incorporate leisure into your daily life." And the same kind of thing he was saying then could be said today in terms of all the problems that the world has facing, all the problems each of us are facing in our day-to-day lives, and the fact that leisure is so alien to many of us. We're not really taught the meaning of leisure or what it means to engage in leisure. How a man of some formidable intellect could say that leisure was the basis of culture, is almost asinine [chuckles] to the modern. It's like 'no, that's just being idle' and 'idle hands are the devil's workshop'.

But no, there's a very big difference between idleness and leisure, and one of the big things you take away when reading Pieper's work is that idleness is the opposite of leisure. In fact idleness is one of the top deadly sins in the sense that it provokes its opposite. It provokes a sense of workaholism to keep yourself from being idle, that idleness and workaholism go hand in hand because there's some deep inner problem that, as a human being you're not able to face - your own spiritual divine nature - and look it eye-to-eye in a moment of serenity. of drifting off into imagination, of questioning things, of just asking questions, and following your train of thought wherever it will take you and enjoying what comes out of it.

So that is, I think, something that I really wanted us to talk about today because we have so much time on our hands [chuckles] in this world today, it would be good to have the tools needed to use it well, for our health.

Harrison: Right, because, like you said, these past weeks a lot of people are forced into having free time that they didn't have beforehand. You can get an idea of what people are doing by going on social media and [chuckles] seeing how they're using their free time. A lot of people are either freaking out or engaging in what might be deemed silly activities, not really doing much. I can emphasize and put myself in that position of being engaged in this rat race for all of your adult life and then all of a sudden not being able to do it, and then what do you do with yourself? You're not used to having this much free time. You don't know what to do with yourselves so you're trying to find things to do, and some people are handling that a little better than others, I guess, and that is the way it appears.

But what can you actually do with that time? Also, the way you framed Pieper's description of what he was doing it and why he was doing it I think is relevant. He said that some people might think this is the worst time for a book on leisure because it was just after a world war and there was destruction everywhere and people had been engaged in this task of essentially rebuilding civilization, to a large degree.

So, we will be in a similar position these days where nowadays we have a lot of free time but there's going to be a lot of fallout from everything that's happening, and there will need to be some rebuilding afterwards, just looking at the unemployment and getting businesses back on track. Who knows what the world is going to be like in two months, or ten months, or this time next year.

How do we fit that in, not only in our present time, immediately, but in the coming months and years? I think people should get an idea of what leisure really is and I hope you'll tell us Corey, [chuckles] then to be able to basically integrate those things into they're future busy lives because people are going to go right back to being super busy as soon as they get their jobs back, if they get their jobs back. And so, for everyone in this situation, there's going to be something of relevance I think.

Elan: Well, in one of the descriptions of leisure as he defines it, he makes reference to the ancient Greek definition of leisure that's loosely connected to 'school'. When you were speaking a little earlier Corey, about the idea that you would have this time to focus on culture, on the mind, on things that were important on another level, there is this sense in what he's writing that there is this school that we can engage in that isn't so focused and driven by those things that we're constantly told are what you should be doing.

So, that's quite interesting. I have just an observation about how people are occupying themselves, from what I can tell, in our neck of the woods, which is in western North Carolina, you have a lot of people doing house repairs, and because it's early spring there's a lot of planting going on, and this would seem to be a very practical use of one's time. And then you hear all about the folks who are just binging on Netflix and we've seen articles about the uptick in the use of alcohol, the sale of alcohol. The consumption of pornography has gone up. So although not strictly speaking, there is a kind of separation or bifurcation of people and moving towards tendencies that they would most naturally move toward now that they have all of this time, just because, like what you said a few minutes ago Harrison, there's some people who just don't know what to do with themselves.

And I have to admit that to a certain extent it's true of myself as well. I've observed it. I have a job outside of some responsibilities to the show and other things, so there is, there are these chunks of time where I would otherwise have earmarked towards making a living. It is interesting to me to see easily I've been kind of prepared, in a way, to do all the other things that are on the list of things to do that make me feel productive, and looking at the material that we will be discussing today as well, which forms a part of what I think you're getting at with this book description.

Corey: You were mentioning the ancient Greek description of leisure and Aristotle said that we are not at leisure in order to be at leisure. You can say that's a class high thing to say, that we only work so that we don't have to work sometimes. But he was speaking of people in general, making a basic statement of the human condition. We work so we can survive and then there will be time when we can enjoy the company of one another, we can enjoy the festivals, we can recuperate and we can walk upright once again rather that walking hunched over as a result of the Sisyphean types of labor that we all have to partake in. It's just the human condition. We have to work in order to survive, now more than ever with just how complicated the world is. It needs dedicated technicians, people who apply their intellect towards the most minute technical details of computer programs, software engineers, the human body, health, international commerce, law, war, and all of these things that go on, on this plane of existence that we call the planet earth.

But we miss out on this hidden dimension of our nature when we subordinate all of our time to the world. That's why Saint Thomas identified the cause of this idleness / workaholism as being a sadness and a sickness of the soul caused by the world, that the world can devour you if you allow it to devour you.

But that obviously as a Christian, the doctor of the church, this Christian point of view states that we are all connected by a spirit, that we all have a connection to the spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit, whatever you want to call it, and that we, in our leisure, can hear it. You can hear the spirit. You can hear the faith. You hear the voice of faith, as I believe as St. Paul put it, and that rather than using your mind for some practical purpose or rather than engaging in intellectual labor or engaging in anything practical or useful, that there should be a certain amount of time dedicated to what Pieper says, is philosophizing.

The biggest problem though is that there's no one who can tell you what to do at leisure because it's a part of your spirit basically, your connection to spirit. That's a big part, I think, of why it's so easy to get caught up in work and then as soon as the job is gone, your identity is gone. As soon as the job is gone you have no connection to anything higher that informs, stabilizes, directs and guides your behavior, not in every case clearly, but in many cases where alcoholism starts to go rampant and then use of pornography, anything that you can do to binge watch on Netflix and just avoid reality, avoid the situation or just enjoy yourself.

These are things that would be called idleness. That's not leisure. That's not actually recuperative. But in order to find what is actually recuperative, you have to begin listening, and you have to allow your instinct to take over, and you start to ask questions. You start to enjoy the life of your own mind, basically. As Aristotle said, the main question is what activity do you partake in when you are engaged in leisure?

That's the main question that Pieper sets out to answer in the book. He connects it to philosophy, and not just philosophy, but love, real love where you give of yourself, to somebody. especially in a festival type arena. He's a very big proponent of the idea that the loss of festivals, of dancing and being together in communion and sacrificing a portion of time to the gods, whether it's one day a week or it's one day every month. Every human culture has had some time that set off just so that you can sacrifice and give to the gods and in some way that was a regenerative type of practice. It may be practical from the sense that if you are experiencing a famine and you want to sacrifice for the gods, that the gods will give you water or food, and restore your crops or what not, but that there is something deeply rejuvenating about gathering together in the most impractical way - masks, and dancing, and craziness.

Of course we're not saying we want everybody to go back to the dark ages of sacrificing lambs or anything like that. What he's saying is that this is a dimension of the world that is lost when you are living in this kind of Darwinian, materialistic, everything has to be for a purpose world. You have to do everything for a darn good reason. You better have a five year plan otherwise why are you doing anything at all?

Elan: Well I just want to jump in there real quick and comment something you said Corey. I think you used the term, 'active listening?' Something along those lines? Or questioning. So along those lines, I think that there are opportunities that we have. I know that when I have a question about something, a real question, a real curiosity, a real thought process that inspires me to think on a particular truth, the answer usually, or some part of the answer, becomes available to me, pretty quickly, in something I'm reading on line or an intuition or something that somebody says. It's those moments, I think, that when we're not, getting things done. It might on the surface seem passive but it's not, it's receptive. It's like emptying your cup for long enough to have it filled by something that we don't even know can fill it, this divine, this information field, this cosmic mind, whatever you want to call it. It's a space that we create for ourselves when we make it for ourselves. And there's something to be said for that too.

Harrison: John Bennett had a little book, I think it's called Creative Thinking. I read it years ago so I can't remember it precisely, bu, he gave a little exercise for something like this. He was talking about the thinking process in solving problems. The exercise he gave that he said regularly works for him was, if you're working on a problem, if you got a question, to think about it a lot, do the work, but then in order to actually have the solution come to you, you have to think and then you have to devote a period to non- thinking where you purposefully don't think about it. He says in that period of time, after that period of not thinking about it, the answer will just pop up in your mind or at least if you practice it that's how it should work, and that's how it does work.

And I think the phenomenon you talked about is kind of related. I experience the same thing. Sometimes it's a question. Sometimes it's like there's a hole in my knowledge field that I want filled. So I've got this inner desire or wish for something. Oftentimes for me, because I love books, just to like reduce it down to something very simple, it's been a book on this topic with this kind of thing in it, because that book doesn't exist yet and I really want to know about this particular thing and I can't find anything about it.

Then oftentimes, within a month or within the next year, exactly what I was thinking of that I wanted to exist drops into my lap, and I'm like 'Oh wow! There it is. That's exactly what I was looking for.' That has happened like countless times. In fact Joseph Azize's book that resulted in us doing the interview with him a couple of weeks ago was one of those situations. That's one of the things that I wanted and then 'Oh, here's this book that comes out.' I said 'Oh wow, that's exactly what I was looking for.'

So that's more of almost a synchronicity, out in the world process, but there's a similar phenomenon with the mind itself where you're struggling with something, you're putting the effort in, you're working at it. That's the active, effortful half of the equation, but then to actually, effortfully not put effort in, to actually make the effort not to think about something specific, like don't think about that purple elephant, and to actually do that, "Okay, I'm not going to think about this thing," and then you don't think about it for five, ten minutes, twenty minutes, and then the answer pops into your head.

I do remember in the book he was talking about, I think an excerpt from a talk that he was giving in the early seventies, and he said that: 'For example you know last week I was just not thinking about the conflict with Turkey and Cypress', and he says; 'And after not thinking about it the solution just pops into my head' and he's said, 'I'm not going to tell anyone because no one's going to listen and I won't be actually able to change it but I know what the problem is and I know what the solution would be, just from not thinking about it.'

Corey: That's really interesting because I'm thinking about the sinister aspects of a loss of leisure. We're talking about the things that you can do and how just not thinking or not doing anything can bring solutions. But there's the very simple fact of just experiencing yourself, of knowing yourself in that kind of way, of exploring the mind, the life of the mind, is something that obviously, in the aftermath of the Third Reich, was something that had been completely destroyed in Germany. It reminds me of the book The Cunning of History...

Elan: Great book.

Corey: ...which actually you recommended that I read, Elan. The author theorized that the concentration camps were really the outgrowth of this natural trend in western civilization towards total work and that's what Josef Pieper talks about. He's says we have to get rid of this idea of total work where you only value people based on what they can give you, based on what they do for you. The concentration camps were just killing fields where you worked people to death, just like the plantations in Barbados.

Harrison: Work will set you free...

Corey: Yes, where work will set you free. That's clearly like the darkest joke that I've ever heard. It's like one of the darkest jokes in history. But the thing is, that idea is still alive and well in our culture and it continues to have sort of an insidious effect in just this kind of Darwinian idea of the meaninglessness to human life, that really, people only are worth what they give, that if you're a doctor you're just naturally worth more. If you have more money, the more that you do, the more this or that, and you have to get on the treadmill and you have to work harder and harder because eventually, work will set you free. That's the German saying, right? But the Russian saying is 'Work will just give you a bent back.' [Laughter] Work won't set you free, you'll just get a bent back.

Harrison: Maybe you can tell me because I haven't read this book, if Pieper talks about this because there's this idea of leisure - I'm going to use the British pronunciation 'leisure' - and civilization and culture, that the two go together. If you look at the history of, even something work-oriented like the sciences or technology, all the developments have usually come from people with some spare time on their hands, people who aren't working twelve hours a day to survive and feed their families, and things like that. It's only when there is enough wealth in a culture, in a civilization, that frees up some spare time that people can then devote time to artistic pursuits, for instance. We wouldn't have our entire western classical music tradition if we didn't have the ability to employ musicians to do nothing but compose magnificent, extensive pieces of music. Musicians would need a patron, someone to pay them to not have a real job. That's another thing. People often say to artists, 'Get a real job.'

Well, I think it's valid in some instances, especially with artists that might be considered parasites, but at the same time all of these aspects of culture are necessary to have a culture, and they would be almost impossible to have, as we know them. Of course every culture, every civilization, every non-civilization has had culture, whether it's in the forms of clothing or worship or, songs and traditions, and myths and all of that stuff. But again, when does that stuff come into play?

Well, in ancient times it would be when you're at leisure around the fire telling stories. That was still an essential part of life, and of course back like in Paleolithic times people had more spare time on their hands because they weren't engaged in agriculture which was this really tough full time job. You could hunt and get enough food to last you for a week or two and then you just hang out for a while and make sure you don't die and then go out hunting again when you need more food. So there was a lot more leisure time, according to the researchers studying those periods of time based on archeology and things like that.

But in our present time, there is this space for spare time to produce cultural things, cultural productions. You need that time to engage your creative mind, essentially. I think maybe that's the thing that I see as lacking in how people are using their spare time. The creativity does seep out, but it's real low level creativity, like you see on instagram, with instagram trends for instance, when people are following a fad that might be creative on some level just because it's not ordinary. But I'm talking about real creative productions, like in the sciences. Even all the old scientists were like composers too. They needed to devote all of this time to research and to just thinking, and being idle in a sense, but really at leisure to think about things and then have these creative ideas kind of flow into them, that then were useful from a practical point of view as well. That's one of the things I think about leisure time and not thinking or thinking, is that you actually get something that is useful to then implement in your life, in areas that aren't those times devoted to your leisure time activities.

Corey: That kind of ties into the direction that Western philosophy has taken. Its role in this idea that leisure is a kind of a meaningless thing. It's just idleness. It's not practical. It's not fulfilling a function and a lot of that kind of, as Pieper's writes, goes back to Francis Bacon and this idea that knowledge is power and that the philosopher and the scientists were going to give the tools to conquer the natural world. That ran through Descartes and then culminated finally with Carl Marx who was said, 'We're not going to give you the tools to conquer the world. We philosophers are going to conquer the world.'

There's been this drift and this neutering of philosophy in a real way. Of course this is just one school of thought about philosophy and philosophy can't really be narrowed down. It's pretty much what you think it is. You're never going to get a solid philosophical answer as Pieper points out, like you're grabbing an apple from a tree. It doesn't just come out like that. Philosophy is its own animal.

I can't remember where I was going with that. Oh yeah So with that neutering of philosophy has come all of the different biases and all the different ways that philosophy has become less practical. It's not about the satisfaction of entertaining a thought and seeing where it goes. As Pieper points out, leisure isn't about what you start with, it's about what you end up with.

So it's not about what you start doing in your times of leisure but it's really what you end up with. Oftentimes, and everybody knows how crazy the mind is, you have to have material. You have to have discipline. You have to have to put in the effort so that you have the right material with which to work in times of leisure. Sometimes you have to work yourself to the bone and then you can actually enjoy that time of real actual leisure because you need that time.

But, philosophy obviously, went off the rails when they said that there was nothing that you could see except for sense perception, that it was purely mechanical, is basically what I'm saying and that there was nothing in the mind that you could see, which was quite at odds with St. Thomas and others who believed that the spirit was a real thing and that in fact you could probably define the spirit as the ability to comprehend the world, that that was spirit. There were many different worlds out there and many different types of beings, and that human sat at a hierarchy, owing to our ability to look at the worlds below us, and to internally understand them and that you could see these things in your mind. It's patently obvious. You don't need a schizoid philosopher to tell you that you can't think or see things in your own mind.

But that is one of the important aspects to him of philosophy and its part of art. Like you were saying Harrison, people who are at rest and come up with stories or coming up with mythology, are working things through, trying to understand the world. They're trying to understand themselves and they're trying to understand the world and it's an extremely important part of human life. In fact he goes so far as to say that it's towards the perfection of the human community that you have that desire within people to engage in something like that, even if they don't really know what's going on. It's just leisure. But it's not producing anything, right? But in its own way, it's subversive because people thinking on their own, is the authoritarian person's nightmare, that people will tap into that kind of that spirit of wisdom, that really is deep within all of us.

Elan: Well Corey you said quite a lot there that merits commenting on. One thing is the importance of properly used imagination. At some point if we have time today, I want to get into this novel a little bit by Phillip Pullman which gets into the importance of imagination. I think Einstein had something to say about that as well. There's a great quote by him.

But you got into the necessity for using one's mind and imagination or insight, or the mind's eye, to help bridge the understanding of ourselves to objective reality where there are some things that we might read about or contemplate which require a certain amount of extrapolation and inner visualization in order to get an approximation of how things really are when we're trying to map reality for ourselves.

So, on that note, getting back to Joseph Azize's book about Gurdjieff, there was a wonderful portion of it - there was so much in the book that we didn't get to discuss in the interview a couple of weeks ago and I'm sure we'll be returning to it in various way - but I'd like to read a little bit from this because I think it speaks to something you just mentioned about hierarchies and also to intelligent design, which comes to us in a book about Gurdjieff.

Harrison, I know you had noticed that too in J.G. Bennett's work, that there's this kind of built in understanding of a higher order of things that could only be attained through piecing together knowledge and using one's inner vision and powers of language to piece it together and express it in a book such as this. So from Azize's book:

"The key to our present position is that reality, in the absolute sense, is a unity, possessing the unity is not of a monolith but of an organism, for the Whole is One "as an apple is one". However, we ourselves, as part of that Whole, do not possess the internal unity or individuality that we should. Lacking this unity in ourselves, our faculties cannot work as they should, and so cannot perceive objective reality. If we desire to change, then this diversity needs to be harmonized into or at least toward, a unity, albeit a relative unity, a sort of microcosm of the larger cosmos.

As A.R. Orage said in expounding Gurdjieff's system, "An individual is a microcosm but the only difference between it and the Megalocosmos is that the Megalocosmos is very much more actualized than we small fry are." Megalocosmos is clearly enough from the Greek, and means "the Great Cosmos".

Between ourselves on this planet and the Whole, there are other levels or orders, such as those of the solar system and the Milky Way. Each of these can be considered as a "cosmos" because it is a living being which lives, breathes, thinks, feels, is born and dies. Each cosmos being a living entity, it follows that, in our cosmos, "There is only one life and we are the highest biological development in the cosmos."

This single life force manifests throughout the cosmos: In human life, it can be developed into "objective reason," which has the corollary that the purpose of human life is "to attain within, objective reason"."

And this is, I think this is the important part, he says:

"In this system of cosmoses or orders, four insights are fundamental:

The universe is a creation.

The creation was a dynamic movement from the cosmic Whole into the cosmic plurality of phenomena, so that intelligent creatures are ultimately the products of higher intelligence, not chance developments from lower forms.

The purpose of the universe, and all that is in it, is that the plurality should maintain the cosmic Whole by transforming coarser substances into finer, and thereby have the chance to itself evolve into a higher form.

The highest purpose of humanity is consciously joining in that process of maintaining that Whole through the conscious transformation of received substances, and so developing objective reason, and evolving to serve higher purposes as a higher form of life."

Wonderful! Just wonderful!

Harrison: That ties into what Corey was saying about understanding because, to get back to how we initially framed this discussion of leisure, as not a practical thing, but I'd say if it's not practical in the sense of material and working at something to get this material result, it still has a purpose, it still has an aim. It's just a higher aim. It's not limited to that sphere of human activity but there's still a purpose behind it. There are still benefits from it because you could look at all the reasons why leisure is a good thing, and those would be reasons for doing it. It would be practical in that sense in that there is a purpose that is fulfilled by making use of leisure and actually engaging in it.

So tying a bunch of these ideas together from that quote there's this idea behind it that, first of all to write something like that you need a pretty big awareness of not only philosophy and some science, and this grand picture of the way the world is and you have to have thought about it. Joseph Azize has obviously thought about it a lot. He has encountered a lot of material, read a lot of material, but also internalized it because he's thought it for himself.

I think that that is one of the uses of leisure time, to engage in that thinking process. It's a different kind of thinking. It's not a practical thinking, 'Okay I'm going to do this for my job because I need this because I need this because that's what they told me to do and I need to make money.' It's more, 'What is the nature of the world and how do I fit inside of it?' For Orage, and I assume for Gurdjieff too, because that's where Orage got all these ideas, a very important thing - well, definitely for Gurdjieff too - was what they called 'pondering', to actually sit and ponder something.

I'm guessing that it might be similar to what meditation for the Stoics, for example, actually originally meant, to actually meditate on something. It wasn't to engage in meditation like a yogi. It was to engage in a particular type of thinking about something. A daily meditation for a Stoic was to actively reason about the day you just lived, how you either met your goals or didn't, if your behavior was virtuous or not virtuous, how you measured up, essentially.

So that was a meditation. There needs an active reasoning about the things which you have learned in order to create a picture that you can then fill in with all these details, but also then to place yourself in that picture because as a microcosmos of the megalocosmos, to find your place in it, your purpose in it. You won't find your purpose in it if you don't actually actively try to find your purpose in it. You'll just end up fulfilling a mechanical purpose. In Gurdjieff's work there are two opposite or two basic modes of being. One is to fulfill your cosmic function totally mechanically, in which case you fulfill a function to the universe - it might be as fertilizer - or, to engage in the world consciously to find your place in it and to serve a higher purpose, because there is the possibility of a higher purpose.

So with leisure time you can think about and ponder the material that you've acquired from the world and all the things you've read and heard and seen, and create that picture for yourself, and find that purpose for yourself. 'What is your purpose in this world? Why are you here? What are you doing?' You might find that, 'Well I'm not actually here to be a mindless automaton and working in my cubicle for some person I don't really like, helping them make more money than me.' That's not really not the purpose of life. That might be something that is a necessity for certain reasons, to stay alive because you might not have very many other options, that may just be where you find yourself.

But there are higher purposes over and above that drab, mechanical existence that, when you do have spare time you then spend it on something equally not enlightening or not fulfilling, to just be idle and passively just accept the things coming at you from Netflix without any, either critical mind or active engagement. It's a pretty sad existence when you think about it, to first of all, spend all of your time in a job that doesn't really give you anything except the very helpful thing of money to live, and not to die. But then, in your evenings or on your weekends, you then just do nothing because it feels good.

So imagine looking back on your life after several decades of living and then you look at your job. What did you accomplish in your job? Not much, not much to be proud of. And then what did you do in your spare time? Oh nothing. I just watched TV. I got in fights with my girlfriend on the weekend and we screamed at each other and that's pretty much it.

There's got to be more than that, right? And if you spend a little time thinking about things or just gathering material, everyone needs material to work with. So you should probably read or watch something with the intent of extracting something from it, and from which you can then make something. Make a picture in your mind of the way the world actually works, of objective reality and your place in it and then priorities might change. You might still have that crappy job. You might still have fights with your girlfriend, but you might have a purpose on top of that, that will maybe even transform the way you behave in those situations that you previously found, and still find yourself in. It might transform the way you approach your job, even if you keep it. You might have a more fulfilling life in your crappy job if you change your perspective on life in general, and you might actually have a better relationship with your family and the people around you.

This gets back to the social aspect because you talked about how Pieper says that there's a communal reason for leisure too and an outcome from it. It's not what you go into it for, it's what comes out of it. And one of the things that comes out of spending time together for instance, is to actually build a better community and better relationships with the people around you.

So leisure time, if I could sum it up, there should be a few purposes or aims, that you can be consciously aware of and actually try to consciously direct your leisure time activities towards. First would be to focus on the self, your purpose, what you're doing, how you can improve, what your purpose in life is and what you're actually doing with your life.

And then there's the social aspect, which relates to the personal aspect of course because the personal expands outwards towards your external world and the people you involve yourself with. So from that then, what is your social position? What are your social relationships and obligations? What can you sacrifice for the people in your life, for your community and for the people close to you? Then overarching all of that is, and underneath it too, is this world view that you create based on the intellectual material you gain about the world. What is the nature of the world? You can get interested in any kind of science, whatever 'floats your boat', whether it's biology or astronomy or something, as that 'in' that way-in, to just have something to think about, something to place yourself in.

I was never too obsessed with astronomy for instance, but I know a lot of people who were and I can see the pull towards it. Probably like most kids, I liked space as a kid and astronauts and all that, and you'd look up at the sky and probably if people just took a minute to get out into the country and look at the sky that prompted some feelings, 'Wow, look at all that. What is all this? Who are we in this giant universe and what's going on out there? What's my place in all this? I seem totally insignificant but, so what is the purpose? Is there a purpose?'

Elan: The other very practical part of all of this is giving ourselves and helping ourselves to grow agency, to be active participants in the world that we live in. Right now with most people being locked down for instance, the context of what we're faced with globally or semi globally, is all of these circumstances and limitations that are being imposed upon us from without, where we are economically and societally being told we can't go out, we can't make a living, we can't do the things that we are normally used to doing.

Catherine Austin Fitz, a wonderful researcher in economics and manipulation with the Federal Reserve among other institutions, had something very interesting to say about this in reference to people not being allowed to congregate and go to churches. She thought that there was something definitely satanic and occultish at work in keeping people separated and unable to worship. I thought that was very interesting coming from a lady who is so 'nuts and bolts', and focused and chalk full of hard core data and information about government waste and corruption. For it to come from her, added another level of validity to this whole thing.

Whether it's true or not, the fact remains that we are at choice. We can succumb to some degree to victimhood and passivity in reference and reaction to everything that's happening around us at this point, or we can choose, to some degree anyway, to engage in leisure. We can engage ourselves in the questions, like you were saying Harrison, our place in the grand scheme of things. It's a good question to ask for ourselves.

Maybe the question is sincere enough and is asked for long enough, there might be some answers that come to us in our environment, or in the connections that we make with others, or in a piece of information that seems to come as a revelation to ourselves, a little bit of an epiphany of 'the light of truth' being communicated to us, quite simply because we're asking the question.

So, this is as much of a constructive response to all of these forces around us, I think, as we can come up with, in addition to the practical preparation for the future and all that that would entail.

Corey: Yes, and on that note everybody, we're going to wrap up the show for today. We hope that you enjoy some of your free time, and that you find your questions and you find some peace, and know the spirit that connects all of us. We're all united in this no matter how crazy things get. We all wish you the best and we hope that you tune in next time to listen to us jabberjaw some more. Bye everybody.