It was Pascal who remarked that much of the unhappiness in the world results from the fact that most men do not know what to do with their solitude. It is especially in times of inner solitude and contemplation that we are able to care for the soul, open the heart, expand the mind and awaken the spirit. C.S. Lewis remarked that the world is starved for silence, solitude, meditation and therefore true friendship. Pascal and Lewis had come upon their same insight from personal experience.
German Romantic Ideal of “Bildung” roughly corresponds to the cultivation of the whole person in relation to all the vital domains of general knowledge and life experience, resulting in an intelligent, sensitive, passionate, creative, richly diverse and complexly integrated way of life. Over the years I’ve filled my journals with various “mental maps” that attempt to sketch out various aspects of human knowledge and life experience that invite but critical reflection and reflexive contemplation. The attached “mental map” in blue letters at the top of this page is a pdf file that outlines eleven dimensions of knowledge and experience that invite mindful and soulful living. They are: All Personal Dimension, All Life Systems, All Life-Time Passages, All Historical Ages, All Great Civilizations, All Psychological Temperaments, All Social Institutions, All Liberal Arts, All Sociological Matrixes, All Worldview Perspectives and All Cultural Value Memes. I’ve found that these eleven “rubrics” give me “starter ideas” to reflect upon during my times of solitude and contemplation, personal exploration and journal-writing. They also serve as topical catalysts for conversational salons and educational seminars. Perhaps you will find them helpful as a kind of “cosmogony” for critical reflection and contemplative renewal.