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From Jerusalem The Emanation of the Giant Albion by William Blake, plate 53, printed in 1821. Courtesy the Yale Center for British Art

Essay/
Stories and literature
The four-fold imagination

William Blake saw angels and ghosts and the Hallelujah sunrise, even on the darkest day. We need to foster his state of mind

Mark Vernon

Aldous Huxley in 1958. Photo by Philippe Halsman/Magnum

Essay/
Philosophy of religion
Perennial philosophy

Aldous Huxley argued that all religions in the world were underpinned by universal beliefs and experiences. Was he right?

Jules Evans

Erotic ‘Spring Picture’, Ming Dynasty, 16th century, China, artist unknown. Courtesy Wikimedia

Essay/
Sex and sexuality
Anti-climax

Coitus reservatus is an ancient technique promising bliss and longevity. Does orgasm data back up these tantric ideas?

Peter von Ziegesar

Photo posed by a model. Phillip Suddick/Getty

Essay/
Philosophy of mind
The problem of mindfulness

Mindfulness promotes itself as value-neutral but it is loaded with (troubling) assumptions about the self and the cosmos

Sahanika Ratnayake

Photo by Harry Gruyaert/Magnum

Essay/
Stories and literature
Sweetness and strangeness

In our image-saturated, over-sped world, we are losing the imaginative power to create and find meaning through metaphor

Heather Altfeld & Rebecca Diggs

Saint George and the Dragon (c1909-10), by Odilon Redon. Courtesy the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia

Essay/
History of ideas
Against disenchantment

The move away from myth and toward reason is an ancient human impulse. But must enchantment be the enemy of enlightenment?

Jason Josephson Storm

Canang saris in Bali. Photo by Damian Haas/EyeEm/Getty.

Essay/
Rituals and celebrations
Daily grace

Everyday rituals are ephemeral prayers, a hint to the gods for protection, encircling life like a fragrant garland

Jay Griffiths

Burning Man festival, Black Rock City, Nevada, 2002. Photo by Cristina Garcia Rodero/Magnum Photos

Essay/
Subcultures
The big empty

How an impossibly flat expanse of absofreakinglutely nothing inspires creativity and transformation at Burning Man

Graham St John

Stop and think. Hand of an old statue of Buddha in Laos. Photo by Nicolas Beaumont/ASAblanca via Getty

Essay/
Spirituality
Does meditation work?

It’s hailed as the panacea for everything from cancer to war. Does research into its efficacy meet scientific standards?

Ute Kreplin

Photo by Dennis Stock/Magnum

Essay/
Philosophy of religion
What is nirvana?

Liberating oneself from rebirths might seem irrelevant to the non-believer. But nirvana is also a profound psychological goal

Robert Wright

Haunted tech; William Hope’s spirit photographs were popular after World War One when the bereaved were desperate to find loved ones living beyond the grave. Photo by SSPL/Getty

Essay/
Death
The rise of the creepynet

With the rise of the internet has come a popular surge in people looking to be freaked out. Why?

Rhian Sasseen

Dowser King Faria, a former dairy farmer, during a drought in Marin County, California. February 2nd, 1977. Photo by Bettmann/Corbis

Essay/
Ecology and environmental sciences
Climate of doubt

Devastated by years of drought, California farmers hire dowsers to locate their water, exposing the power of belief

Lois Parshley

Photo by Paul Fusco/Magnum

Essay/
Cognition and intelligence
Immortality instinct

We have this powerful sense that death is a transition, not an end. Why can’t we imagine a world without us?

Natalie Emmons

Photo by Christian Scmidt/Gallery Stock

Essay/
Death
To heaven and back

Is the heaven tourism memoir spiritual kitsch for the superficial seeker, or an earnest attempt to wrestle with death?

Mya Frazier