Spiritual Misfits

'Infinite Universe' - Hsiao Chin

Before Awakening as Shakyamuni Buddha, Siddhārtha Gautama was a Misfit Seeker (Shramana, Śramaṇa), one of many in a massive countercultural spiritual revolution that gave birth to religions such as Buddhism and Jainism and transformed Hinduism. During this period, what the German philosopher Karl Jaspers aptly dubbed the Axial Age, there was a cosmopolitan trend towards new ways of thinking across the Persian, Indic, Sino, and Greco-Roman religious worlds. According to Jaspers, an Axial Age is a liminal period in which old certainties lose validity and new ones have yet to fully manifest. The religious historian Karen Armstrong argues that the western Enlightenment marks a "Second Axial Age", that includes thinkers such as Isaac Newton, Sigmund Freud, and Albert Einstein.  By my lights, the period that most resembles the Axial Age in Ancient India are those seminal decades following the first atomic explosion and the creation of LSD in 1945. In both cases we see a postwar baby boom generation questioning old dogmas and seeking out new answers to the perennial problem of the human condition.

In this Olio, we'll look at parallels between two counterculture revolutions from two different, but qualitatively similar, Axial Ages—namely, the Shramana movement in Ancient India and the American countercultural revolution. We will examine common socio-economic conditions that may have led to the genesis of similar psychologies, philosophies, and spiritual ideas. And though both countercultures are themselves very diverse--comprised of a wide variety of worldviews-- both reject dogma and celebrate cognitive liberty. Is heterodoxy a necessary part of religion? Can it be a spiritual path in and of itself?

Location: Moon Rise Studio

614 Lorimer Street Brooklyn, NY 11211 // Please enter through the side entrance - the black door with disco tiles

Moon Rise Studio is a social space by Kin Euphorics that holds space for people to change their mindset and rise to their potential.

Interdisciplinary Learning with the Best Professors

Think Olio is not about learning a new skill or adding credentials to your resume. It is about getting together with other people and expanding our worldview. It exists as a conduit for fruitful discussions, a dissent from the regurgitation of facts, and an embrace of new perspectives.

Learn about joining the Scenius for $10 / month

Other upcoming Olios

Nov 22


Taught by Vishwa Adluri
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Nov 26

Kafka’s Very Short Stories: A Phantasmagoria of Loss and Destruction

Taught by Geoff Klock
7:30 p.m. at Strong Rope Brewery

Sign Up - $15

Dec 6

Rolling in the Deep: Carl Jung and the Creative Subconscious

Taught by Michael Prettyman
7:30 p.m. at St John's Episcopal Church

Sign Up - $20

Dec 9

Yin-Yang, Stress, & the Western Mind

Taught by Darryl Aiken-Afam
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Dec 12

The Meta-Olio Party | Why Philosophy?

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7:30 p.m. at Nowhere Studios

Sign Up - $20

Dec 19

The Art of Dying, The Act of Grieving

Taught by Jamie Warren
7:30 p.m. at Work Heights - Electric

Sign Up - $15

Find out when we launch new classes!