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Contemplative Pedagogy: Principles, Design & Practice Arthur Zajonc President, Mind & Life Institute Emeritus Physics, Amherst College Summer 2012.

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Presentation on theme: "Contemplative Pedagogy: Principles, Design & Practice Arthur Zajonc President, Mind & Life Institute Emeritus Physics, Amherst College Summer 2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 Contemplative Pedagogy: Principles, Design & Practice Arthur Zajonc President, Mind & Life Institute Emeritus Physics, Amherst College Summer 2012

2 Contemplative Pedagogy: An Overview Contemporary situation The structure of a contemplative curriculum  Rationale and design principles  General practices that support learning.  Integration of contemplation into the disciplines. Enlarging our view of knowing: contemplative inquiry and insight

3 Where do you suppose this is?

4 Harvard Business School Meeting 3 of Working Group on Contemplative Dimensions of Leadership and Leadership Education My Center organized a mini-retreat May 2011 Jon Kabat Zinn Jon with Diana Chapman Walsh, President Emerita of Wellesley College

5 Meeting 2 at the Sackler Art Museum, Harvard Daniel Goleman, Metta McGarvey, Jerome Murphy, Saki Santorelli. Back row seated: Otto Scharmer, Grady McGonagill, William Torbert, Deborah Ancona, Rebecca Henderson. Standing, left to right: Ronald Heifetz, Ray Williams, Arthur Zajonc, Janice Marturano, Tamar Miller, Jon Kabat Zinn, Mirabai Bush, Elinor Pierce

6 Google’s Search Inside Yourself Center for Contemplative Mind in Society Mindfulness-based Emotional Intelligence Developed at HQ and now offered worldwide.

7 The situation today… More that 158 Contemplative Practice Fellows teaching individual courses and initiating programs. (See Barbara Craig report) Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education, with 800 Conferences:  Amherst, Columbia, UMass, Wellesley, AACU,…

8 Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education Conferences Summer session Retreats Fellowships E-newsletter Webinars Social Networking Online resources

9 ACMHE Conference: September 21-23 at Amherst College “ Contemplative Approaches in the Diverse Academic Community: Inquiry, Connection, Creativity, and Insight

10 Contemplative Retreat for Educators October 18-21 at the Garrison Institute About 40 academics who seek to deepen their practice in the company of others Mindfulness, metta, contemplative inquiry, silence… Mirabai Bush, Paul Wapner Day of Mindfulness at Amherst College

11 Israel Contemplative Education Project Teach for Israel University of Haifa & all eight Schools of Education February contemplative curriculum development session. “Preventing conflicts is the work of politics; establishing peace is the work of education.” —Maria Montessori

12 The Parting: Where to Place Contemplation? In Reformation natural philosophy and spiritual life parted company. Neo-Orthodoxy from Luther to Barth, and the NOMA of Gould. Contemplative practice was assigned to the religion only. Redrawing the map; balancing analysis with contemplative inquiry.

13 Rationale for a Contemplative Pedagogy Supports and develops attention, emotional balance… of benefit to students, faculty, staff. Can become a mode of inquiry leading to insight. Cultivation of empathy, altruism and compassion (Stanford’s CCARE research program) Offers a valuable, complementary, experiential modality of engagement with texts, natural phenomena, the arts, other cultures,… Early research supports CP (More needed!)

14 Research Research talk by Willoughby Britton on “Schools, clinics and monasteries: promises and perils of contemplative training” Bibliography handout on research. One revealing example…

15 Pascual-Leone (1996) Harvard Average cortical output maps for the finger flexors of the trained hand in subjects undergoing daily physical versus mental practice of the 5-finger exercise. Note the similarity in output maps with either form of practice.

16 Uses of Contemplation in Higher Education General Practices in Support of Student Learning  Cultivation of Equanimity and Attention  Cultivate Emotional Balance and Empathic Connection  Sustaining Complexity and Contradiction Contemplative Practices and the Disciplines  Each discipline is developing its own particular set of practices that are of special value. (See CMind reports on Arts and Philosophy/Psychology/Religion mtgs.)

17 Course Design Principles Context: who are you teaching, what is the course content? Intention: what are the pedagogical aims? Practice: give rationale for selection, clear instruction, opportunity for questions, gently lead. Process the practice: 1. Journaling 2. Talk in pairs 3. Class conversation

18 Beholding Jodie Ziegler, Holy Cross Joel Upton, Amherst Amy Cheng, SUNY New Paltz

19 Deep Listening “Come home to your heart and listen deeply for others who look for you there.” MR O’Reilly U Houston, Psychology, Contemplative Practice in Psychotherapy, Linda Bell, listening from viewpoint of therapist and client. U St Thomas, English, Mary Rose O’Reilly, Contemplative Spirituality of Environmental Writing. Listening with deep openhearted attention instead of looking for flaw in the argument.

20 Consumption and the Pursuit of Happiness: Economics, Amherst College “The course will also include opportunities for students to examine their own consumption decisions and assumptions about the attainment of happiness.” i.e. contemplative exercises. Daniel Barbezat

21 Contemplative Reading Lectio Divina Colgate, Religion, Georgia Frank: first and second readings, 5 days apart, with writing Georgetown, Philosophy, Dante, Francis Ambrosio. Contemplative reading and sharing of short essays on hunger and food Gertrude Hughes, Wesleyan, Poetry and contemplation

22 Island Wave of sorrow, Do not drown me now: I see the island Still ahead some how. I see the island And its sands are fair: Wave of sorrow, Take me there. Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

23 From Sorrow to Fair Sands Recall a sorrow and feel its weight.  Wave of sorrow,/Do not drown me now Find the place in you that can carry the sorrow (cultivate emotional balance)  I see the island/Still ahead some how. Sustain until the “turn”  I see the island/ And its sands are fair: “Wave of sorrow/ take me there” Sorrow and fair sands form a whole

24 Contemplative Writing UNC, English, Reading, Re- Envisioning, and Writing Women's Lives. (Used freewriting, silence). Jane Danielowitz Gurleen Grewal, U of So Florida, Transformations in Consciousness (Women’s Studies) Mary Rose O’Reilly Writing through the tears…

25 The contemplative arts Ed SarathYin Mei

26 Eros and Insight – Amherst College 28 First-year students Taught with art historian (Joel Upton) Readings, contemplative exercises, journaling and papers. For a journalist’s view of the course, pring/ pring/

27 Silence Breaking the silence of an ancient pond a frog jumped into the water a deep resonance. …only one in a hundred millions [is awake] to a poetic or divine life. To be awake is to be alive. Thoreau

28 Attention Single-pointed concentration.  Breath  Natural object [paper clip]  Thought  Images Purpose is to break reactive, associative thinking, and to bring clarity, freedom, sustained focus to observation and thought.

29 Empathy & the “Afterimage” Four-part bell sound exercise  Focused Attention: Sound the bell Resounding the bell sound in memory  Open Attention: Release -- “letting go” “Letting come” – The afterimage or “nimita” (ref. Buddhaghosha, Path of Purity, 10 kasinas) Applicable to other sense experiences Every outside has an inside.

30 Cognitive Breathing Focused AttentionOpen Attention

31 Open attention “The Master doesn’t seek fulfillment, Not seeking, not expecting She is present, and can welcome all things.” Tao Te Ching 15 Reversal of the will

32 Discovering Relationships Value scale Musical intervals Geometric relationships Perceptive knowing

33 Sustaining Contradictions Physics: wave-particle duality Math: the “point at infinity” Arts: in artistic composition Social sciences: conflict and question of “identity.” Cusa’s exercise and “the coincidence of opposites.”

34 Disciplinary applications of Contemplation Arts:  Lectio divina and poetry & literature  Learning to “see” a painting, to “hear” music  Contemplative movement… Psychology and Cognitive Sciences:  first-person research methods concerning mental states/emotions… (Wallace,Varela & Thompson) Ecology  Jane Goodall’s patient, meditative observations

35 Contemplative Inquiry Logical inference and induction alone are insufficient for discovery & creation One enters into the other empathetically, be it a poem, nature, another person, or an idea. Instead of objectification, one skillfully subjectifies the world. Barbara McClintock Creative insight requires intimate engagement. Contemplative engagement becomes contemplative inquiry which leads to insight or contemplative knowing.

36 The practice of contemplative inquiry Living the concepts  Key concepts in a field are made real by living them contemplatively. Examples. Living the questions  Outer phenomenology  Inner phenomenology  Word and image  Posing the question

37 Contemplative Inquiry Outer Phenomenology  Behavior, speech, posture… Inner Phenomenology  Inner experience, feelings, mood,… Words: a poetic line  E.g. “Yearning for meaning, a shadow arises.” Simple Image

38 Parker Palmer: The Violence of our Knowledge “Every way of knowing is a way of living, every epistemology becomes an ethic.” “This mythology of objectivism is more about control over the world, or over each other, more a mythology of power than a real epistemology that reflects how real knowing proceeds.” “We are driven to unethical acts by an epistemology that has fundamentally deformed our relation to each other and our relation to the world.“

39 From Contemplative Practice to Contemplative Inquiry: an Epistemology of Love Respect Delicate Intimate Participatory Vulnerability Transformation Bildung – Education as formation of faculties/”organs” Insight – Direct perception

40 An Complementary Epistemology “There is a delicate empiricism that makes itself utterly identical with the object, thereby becoming true theory. But this enhancement of our mental powers belongs to a highly evolved age.” “Every object well-contemplated opens a new organ in us.” Goethe

41 Ancient Greek Education Ancient integrative education: Greek philosophy was “a course of training which would make them simultaneously contemplatives and men of actions – since knowledge and virtue imply each other.” Pierre Hadot in What is Ancient Philosophy. Ancient transformative education: Simplicius asked, “What place shall the philosopher occupy in the city? That of a sculptor of men.”

42 Erwin Schrödinger: Mind and Matter At every step, on every day of our life, something of the shape that we possessed until then has to change, to be overcome, to be deleted and replaced by something new. The resistance of our primitive will is the psychical correlate of the resistance of the existing shape to the transforming chisel. For we ourselves are chisel and statue, conquerors and conquered at the same time – it is a true continued ‘self-conquering’ (Selbstüberwindung).

43 Extending Knowing Valid inference, dianoia, Verstand, ratiocination, …  Well-developed Direct perception, episteme, Vernunft, insight, imagination  Underdeveloped

44 Concentric Capacities “Get to the heart of what is before you… In order to make progress, there is only nature, and the eye is trained through contact with her. It becomes concentric through looking and working.” Cézanne in a letter to Emile Bernard Mont Sainte-Victoire (1900)

45 Attention Formation “Every object, well-contemplated, opens a new organ in us.” Goethe Imagination, is a very high sort of seeing, which does not come by study, but by the intellect being where and what it sees. Emerson

46 Cognitive Breathing & the Lemniscate of Attention Focused AttentionOpen Awareness “The Master doesn’t seek fulfillment, Not seeking, not expecting She is present, and can welcome all things.” Tao Te Ching

47 Connections to the Western Tradition Pierre Hadot:  What is Ancient Philosophy?  Philosophy as a Way of Life. Brian Stock:  “The Contemplative Life and the Teaching of the Humanities,” on Cmind academic website.  Book: After Augustine: The Meditative Reader and the Text  Vimeo: "Foundations of European Contemplative Traditions in Humanities and Medicine“ at Brown

48 Intimations of Truth The True, which is identical with the divine, does not allow itself to be recognized by us directly. Rather we discern it only in reflection, in instance, symbol, in particular and kindred appearances. We become aware of it as incomprehensible life and yet cannot renounce the wish to comprehend it. Goethe

49 The True Fruits of Education “ Thus the fruit of education, whether in the university or in the monastery was the activation of that innermost center, that apex or spark which is a freedom beyond freedom, an identity beyond essence, a self beyond all ego, a being beyond the created realm, and a consciousness that transcends all division, all separation.” From Thomas Merton’s essay “Learning to Live”


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