Think about this: those Eastern philosophies that are so helpful to modern Americans, ideas we use to disconnect us from our Blackberries, were developed by people with no electronic technology.

What does that mean? My picture of medieval anywhere (Asia, Europe, Africa) is peasants busting their backs in muck all day. At night a fiddler plays The Devil Went Down to Georgia and they all get down, hard. Probably not accurate. But they must have felt sexual desire, felt depression, felt elation, and … I guess, felt bathos? felt boredom? felt self-pity? felt disconnected from the world?

It doesn’t seem like peasants who farm the muck would feel disconnected from the Earth, would seek to be mindful. I could imagine that “there was nothing to do” and therefore focusing on the breath would be entertaining by comparison. But that fledgling thought must be wrong. There’s always sex, there’s always gossip, there’s always riches and power and glory to pursue.

Then again … as a generous intellectual (intellectual by ancient standards, not modern) my prejudices about un-learnèd people must be wrong.

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