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Contemplative Learning and Inquiry across Disciplinestle

Olen Gunnlaugson

Publication Year: 2014

A wide-ranging consideration of the emerging field of contemplative education.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-viii

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An Introduction to Contemplative Learning and Inquiry Across Disciplines

Olen Gunnlaugson, Edward W. Sarath, Charles Scott, and Heesoon Bai

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pp. 1-12

We are delighted that the long awaited academic window for writing this book has finally opened! The good news is that contemplative approaches to higher education are beginning to emerge across a wide cross section of disciplines and fields from the work of scholar-practitioners who are pushing the boundaries of traditional theories and practices of post-secondary instruction and learning. As well, scholar-practitioners are finding ways in which long-established...

Part I: Contemplative Studies: A New Academic Discipline

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1 Contemplative Pedagogy in Higher Education: Toward a More Reflective Academy

Arthur Zajonc

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pp. 15-30

The colleges and universities of the world evidence the profound commitment we have to our future. What more can one want from an educational institution than a great faculty, terrific facilities, and a brilliant student body? Isn’t this a bit of heaven? As you walk around campus, remind yourself that all these big buildings, the faculty, staff, and many billions of dollars annually—all this is directed toward something totally invisible, the minds of those student...

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2 A Philosophical Framework for Contemplative Education

Deborah Orr

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pp. 31-50

As the Introduction to this volume and the papers it contains show, there is a growing interest in classroom uses of contemplative education that is supported by a rapidly expanding practical and theoretical literature. Contemplative education is a wide-ranging term that encompasses the use of practices drawn from traditions around the world. Currently there is a substantial and growing interest in classroom uses of Classical Yoga, most frequently with a...

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3 Kindred Spirits in Teaching Contemplative Practice: Distraction, Solitude, and Simplicity

Mara Adelman

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pp. 51-68

Topics essential to understanding contemplation are like kindred spirits that can move us beyond preaching to the choir. Secular, everyday issues that are highly relevant to the teaching of contemplative practices can broaden its appeal. Given the frenetic pace of our students’ lives, examining and critiquing the status quo may offer insights, even inspiration, to furthering their mindfulness...

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4 Contemplation: The Soul's Way of Knowing

John (Jack) P. Miller

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pp. 69-80

Harry Lewis (2006), former Dean of Harvard College, has written, “Harvard teaches students but does not make them wise” (p. 255). This is a sad commentary on the university which two of the wisest Americans, Emerson and Thoreau, attended almost two hundred years ago. He also writes in his book entitled, Excellence without a Soul: Does Liberal Education Have a Future? that the image of the student today is a “brain on a stick” (p. 100). This image is...

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5 Fitting in Breath Hunting: Thai and U.S. Perspectives on Contemplative Pedagogy

David Lee Keiser and Saratid Sakulkoo

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pp. 81-96

Many teachers and parents have felt that sense of “My goodness, can’t you even do this little mind exercise?” Clearly, the wandering minds of students and teachers—called monkey mind, gossipy neurons, and so on—are parts of most higher education classrooms, and challenges of teaching include frustration and unpredictable or inconsistent responses from students. In the twentyfirst century, age-old challenges of holding students’ attention combine also with technological innovations that offer constant stimuli. How can we help...

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6 A Pedagogy for the New Field of Contemplative Studies

Harold D. Roth

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pp. 97-116

At Brown and a few other universities such as Amherst, Emory, Rice, Evergreen State, University of Redlands, CUNY, and Michigan, small dedicated bands of practitioner-scholars and scientists have been slowly developing the new academic field of Contemplative Studies. Financed by the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, the Mind and Life Institute, the Frederick Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism, the Fetzer Institute, the Hershey...

Part II: Domain Specific Perspectives

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7 Learning about Obligation, Compassion, and Global Justice: The Place of Contemplative Pedagogy

David Kahane

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pp. 119-132

This chapter explores how contemplative and meditative techniques support teaching and learning about a key issue in contemporary ethics and political theory: our moral obligations to distant strangers. The undergraduates I have taught in departments of philosophy and political science are gripped and troubled by this inquiry into how we in the relatively privileged global north draw boundaries around our concern for others, what motivates our relative...

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8 History as Dharma: A Contemplative Practice Model for Teaching the Middle East and Africa

Elise G. Young

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pp. 133-150

A thin sheet of water forms itself as ice over Sale Lake. Wind flirts with dry stalks of grass. Fire falls gently across our faces. Clouds become melting snow filling our vision. This dharmic mix lies like Indra’s net over the mountain range. History melts in our shoes. I rise up through the soles of my fiery wet feet and take my place in the circle to journey with this contemplative exercise. Sarah starts with notes from Lama Tenpa’s class. A question in the form of a...

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9 Paying Attention: Introspection as a Ground of Learning

Daniel Barbezat

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pp. 151-164

I am interested in how students can draw upon their private, first-person experience to deepen their understanding of course material and learn more about themselves and their actions. I am especially interested in this last aspect of their learning: how does what they learn in class inform their deliberations and subsequent actions? Without an awareness of their own priors, students can behave in ways that do not support their well-being. I believe the best way to support students in this inquiry is to guide them through the process...

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10 Integrating Mindfulness Theory and Practice at Lesley University

Nancy W. Waring

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pp. 165-182

The idea to develop an academic course in mindfulness began to solidify in the fall of 2003. That fall, I had the good fortune be among 1,200 attendees at the Mind and Life Institute meeting at MIT—an unprecedented public discourse on meditation and the human mind, featuring the Dalai Lama, Buddhist scholars and monastic practitioners, and Western neuroscientists....

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11 Information and Contemplation: Exploring Contemplative Approaches to Information Technology

David M. Levy

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pp. 183-196

Today’s information technologies are powerful tools for connection and access. But there is growing awareness that they may also function as tools of disconnection and isolation. In the spring quarter of 2006, with the support of a fellowship from the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, I created and taught a course called “Information and Contemplation” at the University of Washington’s (UW) Information School which aimed to explore this seeming paradox. Its intent would be to use contemplative practice as a lens to observe...

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12 Contemplative Pedagogy: Perspectives from Cognitive and Affective Science

Alfred W. Kaszniak

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pp. 197-212

Contemplative practices, particularly meditation, have attracted a growing number of persons in recent decades, with a proliferation of books, magazines, and websites concerned with meditation, and the spiritual traditions in which this practice has played a central role (McMahan, 2008). It is estimated that there are at least 10 million meditation practitioners within the United States alone (Deurr, 2004). Meditation and related contemplative practices have also...

Part III: Contemplating Change: Individual and Collective Transformation in Contemplative Education Environments

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13 Transformative Pathways: Engaging the Heart in Contemplative Education

Diana Denton

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pp. 215-232

In various spiritual traditions the heart is conceptualized as a site of liberation or enlightenment. Considering questions of freeing consciousness, I have attended to the tantric conception of liberation as hrydayangamibhuta—to become something that moves in the heart (Muller-Ortega, 1989). My understandings are inspired by the non-dual tantric tradition of Kashmir Shaivism.1 Paul Muller-Ortega (1989) in his exploration of this tradition notes that “notions...

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14 Contemplating Uncomfortable Emotions: Creating Transformative Spaces for Learning in Higher Education

John Eric Baugher

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pp. 233-252

Modern life is replete with opportunities for witnessing the suffering of others, and the human response to such suffering is a concern shared by educators across the humanities and social sciences. In her last monograph, Regarding the Pain of Others, Susan Sontag (2003) considers the possibility of compassionate response, yet suggests that compassion is an “unstable emotion” and people often turn away from painful realities not simply because “a steady diet of images of violence has made them indifferent but because they are afraid”...

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15 Contemplative Disciplines in Higher Education: Cutting through Academic Materialism

Daniel Vokey

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pp. 253-270

Cutting through Spiritual Materialism is the title of a book by Chögyam Trungpa published in 1973. The book is based upon a series of talks he had given in 1970 and 1971 to provide his students both with an overview of the spiritual path (as understood within his lineage), and with a description of the traps into which the inexperienced or unwary spiritual seeker might fall. He published these talks so that Westerners exploring Buddhist and...

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16 Transitions: Teaching from the Spaces Between

Richard C. Brown

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pp. 271-286

Transitions occur constantly at many levels of the learning process. When we read, think, or create, our minds move between ideas, perceptions, and feelings. Teachers who are mindful of these changes can develop skills and practices that enhance these progressions and synchronize the many dimensions of teaching and learning. In the graduate contemplative teacher education program at Naropa University, we draw from Tibetan and Japanese wisdom sources, as...

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17 A Call for Wisdom in Higher Education: Contemplative Voices from the Dao-Field

Heesoon Bai, Avraham Cohen, Tom Culham, Sean Park, Shahar Rabi, Charles Scott, and Saskia Tait

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pp. 287-302

This chapter, written as a hybrid text that blends traditional academic discourse with the narrative voices of the authors, introduces our collective “experiment” in contemplative inquiry through intersubjectivity, and explores its guiding principles, complexities, and subtleties of contemplative practice, and application possibilities in learning environments of higher education. The seven authors of this chapter have come together as a group with the specific purpose ...

Part IV: New Frontiers of Contemplative Learning and Instruction

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18 Considerations for Collective Leadership: A Threefold Contemplative Curriculum for Engaging the Intersubjective Field of Learning

Olen Gunnlaugson

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pp. 305-324

Traditionally, the prevailing pattern of academic learning across disciplines is to strengthen individual learner’s critical, analytic, and deliberative abilities to the neglect of other essential individual and collective modalities of knowing, learning, and being. Within the past decade, a widespread and growing academic interest in contemplative studies has emerged in response to the shortcomings of the current mainstream academic model of scholarship. As a movement of...

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19 Buberian Dialogue as an Intersubjective Contemplative Praxis

Charles Scott

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pp. 325-340

Recent scholarship (Bache, 2008; Bai, 2001; de Quincey, 2000; Gunnlaugson, 2009; Isaacs, 1999; Scharmer, 2007) has pointed to intersubjective dimensions as manifestations of second-person, relational approaches to contemplative practice, particularly in educational contexts. As Wilber (2006) asserts, second-person approaches have had an established place in the major, mostly devotionally religious, contemplative traditions for centuries. These approaches...

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20 Contemplative Pedagogy and Compassionate Presence

Joanne Gozawa

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pp. 341-360

In this chapter I inquire into the significance of a non-instrumental consciousness to compassionate presence and to contemplative meditative-type practice and pedagogy in the context of learning. By non-instrumental I mean that the locus of agency is not in the individual ego and that consciousness is not entirely a willed affair. The inquiry then, is to discover how we educators are to be, if not only the agent who actively directs a contemplative attitude for teaching and learning....

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21 What Next?: Contemplating the Future of Contemplative Education

Edward W. Sarath

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pp. 361-378

The decade-plus that has passed since the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) launched its Contemplative Practice Fellowship Program, which might be seen as a landmark event in the modern-day contemplative studies movement, has seen a rising tide of publications, conferences, and curricular innovations that clearly suggest the field to be more than a passing fad.1 In this essay, I reflect on this work through the lens of an emergent worldview...

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22 An Inquiry into the Field Dynamics of Collective Learning

Chris Bache in conversation with Olen Gunnlaugson

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pp. 379-390

OG: Through the process of editing our book, our editorial team discovered an unexpected contribution that we also happen to perceive to be quite significant as an emerging development within the greater field of contemplative studies. The unexpected element it turns out is deeply related to your work. Essentially we have identified the intersubjective dimension of contemplative practice in the classroom as a key emergent area of scholarship. Currently there...

Author Biographies

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pp. 391-400


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pp. 401-416

Back cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781438452418
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438452395

Page Count: 424
Publication Year: 2014

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Contemplation.
  • Mind and body.
  • Interdisciplinary approach in education.
  • Education -- Moral and ethical aspects.
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  • Open Access
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