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The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society
Spring 2006 e-Newsletter
Spring 2006 banner

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. - Margaret Atwood


Mirabai Bush

Dear friends,

In a beat-up notebook from 1973, I read these words last week: “Art is based on the idea that first we see our universe very clearly and very precisely and very thoroughly.” They were from a lecture by Chogyam Trungpa, a Tibetan lama who in 1973 was teaching at a farm in Vermont called Tail of the Tiger and a year later would found Naropa Institute in Boulder. He urged us to train our perception to be precise, to learn to see phenomena as phenomena, so that there is no longer a subject looking at an object, but the world seeing itself through our presence. I didn’t really understand what he meant then. I am still working on it, led me to an amazing gathering of artists last month in Boulder, a few miles from Naropa (now a University).

The meeting, hosted by the Center for our Contemplative Practice Fellows in arts and architecture, was about their use of contemplative educational practices. It was held at Chatauqua, home of an arts movement which, before radio and television, united millions in common cultural and educational experiences. Orators, performers, and educators traveled a national Chautauqua circuit of more than 12,000 sites bringing lectures, performances, concerts, classes, and exhibitions to thousands of people in small towns and cities. Now we were there, thinking and talking together about how meditative practices support learning in the arts, how, among other things, they train perception to be precise.

The Zen calligraphy masters saw the link between art and meditation, in fact they saw art as meditation and meditation as art. First, they would say, a seeker of the way of calligraphy must know oneself. Then, forget yourself and become the universe. You must use the brush with beginner’s mind.

At Chautauqua, sitting on Stickley wooden chairs, some of us wrapped in handmade bed quilts to keep warm as snow fell outside, we carried on this inquiry. We asked the questions: What can meditation offer to my discipline? How do you describe contemplative practices in education to others? What are some of these practices? Simple questions; profound answers.

Soon you will be able to read the report of this meeting at, but until then, I’d like to share a few favorite moments of my experience. On the first day, Peter Schneider, who teaches architecture at the University of Colorado, stood in front of the fireplace, said a little about his course, and then asked us to sit quietly and remember our first constructed space. “Pull your memory forward. Remember the first private, protected environment each of you constructed, maybe by pushing furniture together." Silence; we are remembering. Then one person said he had loved his tree house, adults not allowed. More silence. Another had claimed the back of a closet, closing it off with coats and scarves. I find myself under a bridge table with wool blankets draped over the top. It is dark except for a narrow strip of light where the blankets meet. I sit with legs crossed and chubby arms wrapped around myself. I feel safe. “We all create sacred space,” Peter said, “architects just keep on doing it when they grow up.” I pulled myself out from under the table and back into the room. “The word contemplation,” he continued, “comes from con/templum, the marking out of the temple, the place of sacred space and time. Meditation itself is a shelter for the mind.” His talk was a shelter, the remembering was a shelter, we are all in the shelter of each other, I thought.

May you continue to find inspiration on this long and winding path.


Mirabai Bush
Executive Director

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Meditation Retreat for Law Professionals and Students

Spirit RockApril 20 - 23, 2006
(Thursday evening through Sunday afternoon)
Spirit Rock Meditation Center
Woodacre, California

MCLE Credits for ethics and elimination of bias: 5 hours

Mindfulness meditation can provide a practical tool for busy legal professionals to enhance their law practice, quiet the mind, increase clarity and awareness, and restore a more peaceful balance to their lives. This program will include meditation instruction and practice, and will explore the interplay between contemplative and legal practices and the role meditation can play in enriching the professional lives of legal professionals. The program is appropriate for beginners and experienced meditators.

The leadership for the retreat is comprised of senior meditation teachers, and lawyers with substantial experience in both law and meditation practice.

Cost: Sliding scale of $245 - $395, which includes meals and accommodations.
Spirit Rock offers need-based scholarships as well as scholarships for people of color.

You can register online with Spirit Rock.

For more information, please contact Doug Chermak, Law Program Coordinator at the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, at or (510) 597-1650, or visit

Social Justice Retreat for Emerging Leaders

Menla Mountain CenterMay 30th - June 2nd, 2006
Menla Mountain Retreat and Conference Center
Phoenicia, NY (2 hours north of NYC)

Register online. Registration deadline: April 30th

The Social Justice Program (SJP) of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society will be hosting the Spring 2006 Gathering for Emerging Leaders, 4 days of retreat, relaxation, and rejuvenation.

Participants will be provided with:

  • Room and board (healthy, mostly vegetarian meals).
  • Access to the café, wellness center, sanctuary, nature walks, and hiking trails.
  • Contemplative practice workshops.
  • Opportunities to network with other social justice activists and organizers.
  • Travel expense reimbursement, if coming from MA, CT, RI, NY, NJ and PA.

This gathering, the second of the emerging leaders 2005-2006 series, will begin on Tuesday, May 30th at 4:00 PM and conclude at 12:00PM on Friday, June 2nd. We request that all participants be present for the entire gathering. Children are welcome and childcare will be provided.

It is highly recommended that each participating organization send at least two (2) representatives. It has been our experience that having two or more individuals representing the same organization allows staff the opportunity to bring a variety of perspectives to the gathering. It also helps if the knowledge gained over the gathering is seated in more than one person, making it easier to take the information back home.

If you would like your organization to be represented at the retreat, please complete and send the online registration form no later than April 30th. You can register online at We will then get in touch with you with more information.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Rose Sackey-Milligan, Social Justice Program Director, at or (413) 582-0071.

New Contemplative Studies Initiative at Brown University

Hal Roth, who has been granted both a Contemplative Practice fellowship (1999) and Contemplative Program Development fellowship (2005) has launched the Contemplative Studies Initiative at Brown University. To see what the Initiative is all about, visit their website at The following description is taken from their site:

“The Contemplative Studies Initiative is a group of Brown faculty with diverse academic specializations who are united around a common interest in the study of contemplative states of mind, including the underlying philosophy, psychology, and phenomenology of human contemplative experience.

We are currently able, as a group, to provide advice on students’ academic and personal study in this area and we are working towards eventually receiving formal recognition as a Program, Concentration, or a Center to study and teach the underlying philosophy, psychology, and phenomenology of human contemplative experience. Our goal is to develop a coordinated program in this rapidly emerging field that focuses on many of the ways that human beings have found, across cultures and across time, to concentrate, broaden and deepen conscious awareness as the gateway to cultivating their full potential and to leading more meaningful and fulfilling lives.”

The Contemplative Practice of Visual Arts: An Exhibition
Our gallery show

From March 3 - 29, the A.P.E. Gallery in Northampton hosted an exhibition of the work of seven artists who share connections to the Center. The show's focus was the contemplative practice of visual arts, seen through varied interests and mediums.

The artists' reception on Friday, March 10th welcomed a substantial crowd for conversation, refreshments, and the discussion of the work. A local arts reviewer from Valley Arts declared the show a "wonderful collection."

It was a pleasure for the Center to organize and support an exhibition of friends and colleagues. As an ongoing effort to promote the contemplative arts, and as a fundraising effort for the Center, the Center's web site now features a small but growing online gallery of original work available for purchase. The premise of the online gallery is a similar to that of the exhibition; half of any purchase will act as a donation to the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society while the other half will go to the artist. Work from the exhibition will be available, with the addition of new artists and artwork.

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Our Community Meets Faith Adiele

Faith AdieleOn the snowy Saturday morning of February 25th, The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society’s Social Justice Program was pleased to host a remarkable event with the luminous Faith Adiele. Attended by friends of the community and people who traveled far and wide, Faith gave us an honest peek into her distinct life and left us with inspiration for each of our own.

As author of Meeting Faith: the Forest Journals of a Buddhist Nun, she spoke of the difficulties becoming a young Buddhist nun and demonstrated the importance of developing any contemplative practice whether Buddhist or not.

Adiele also shared how the mindfulness she obtained and fears she overcame deep in the forest of Thailand have continued to give her strength and compassion, tools that helped her in previous positions as a community activist and diversity trainer.

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Other Upcoming Events

These upcoming events are not affiliated with the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, but we thought they might interest you.

Law Dharma: Sitting in the Client’s Seat

May 21-26, 2006
Tassajara Zen Center, San Francisco, CA
Led by Mary Mocine

Let us consider what it is to be a fiduciary, a trustworthy representative of our clients. It is not just about money. It is about uprightness, loyalty and honesty. We need to “sit in the client’s chair” to deeply honor their interests. We will look at substance abuse in terms of how we get overwhelmed by our work. Finally, we will work on seeing our judging minds and elimination of bias. We will contemplate these matters in meditation and in substantive sessions. Gentle yoga will be offered by senior yoga students, Jo Carrillo and Julia tenEyck. There will be plenty of time for enjoying Tassajara.

6 hours of MCLE credit have been applied for, for the substantive portions of the retreat, 4 hours Ethics, 1 hour substance abuse and 1 hour elimination of bias.

For more information, contact Mary Mocine at or (707) 649-1972.

DC Area Contemplative Law Group

The DC Area Contemplative Law Group is a group of lawyers who seek to balance the externally-driven practice of law with contemplative practices. We meet almost every month (see schedule listed below) for meditation and discussion in a private room on the third floor of Skewers/Luna Books (1633 P Street NW). The meetings run from 7:00PM to 9:00PM, but people often come early to chat or eat something.
Parking is $2.00 with validation.

Meeting Schedule for the Remainder of the Year:
Tuesday, April 18
Thursday, May 11
Tuesday, June 13
Thursday, August 3
Tuesday, September 19
Thursday, October 12
Thursday, November 9
Thursday, December 7

For more information, email Linda Lazarus,

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Educating for Peace: Spiritual and Ethical Perspectives on Peace and Justice
A Five-Part Lecture Series at Teachers College, Columbia University, NYC
June through November, 2006
Admission: free

The Peace Education Center at Teachers College, Columbia University will present a five part guest speaker series on the Ethical and Spiritual Dimensions of Peace. The series, funded by the Biosophical Institute, has the purpose of expanding the community outreach of peace education, providing an opportunity to inform a wider public and academic audiences about critical and timely peace related issues with special attention given to the role peace education can play in addressing and transforming these concerns.

Please note: this is preliminary information, subject to change.

Current Speaker Schedule:

Thursday, June 1
Arthur Zajonc
Professor of Physics, Amherst College
Academic Program Director, the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society
Senior Program Director, Fetzer Institute
Tentative topic: Deep principles guiding Nobel Peace Prize winners

Wednesday, July 12
Ibrahim Malik Abdil-Mu'id Ramey
Coordinator of the Peace and Disarmament, Fellowship of Reconciliation
Board Member, Temple of Understanding and Muslim Peace Fellowship
Topic: “Islamic values and transformative nonviolence: Are they compatible?”

September TBA
Tentative: Azza Karam
Senior Policy Research Advisor, United Nations Development Program UNDP Egypt
Former Director, Religions for Peace ­ Women's Program
Tentative topic: Religion, Women and Global Issues

Thursday, October 19
Dale Snauwaert
Associate Professor of Educational Theory and Social Foundations of Education
Chair of the Department of Foundations of Education
University of Toledo
Tentative topic: TBA

Saturday, November 4
Patricia Mische
Lloyd Professor of Peace Studies and World Law, Antioch College
Visiting Professor, School of International Service, American University
Co-founder and President Emeritus, Global Education Associates
Topic: “Educating for Peace at the Level of Our Deep Humanity.”

Writing for Reconciliation
June 1-4, 2006
Berea College, Berea, KY

Featured Workshop Leader: bell hooks, author of 25 books, including Wounds of Passion: a writing life; Remembered Rapture: a writer at work; and Teaching Community: a pedagogy of hope

This conference explores the role of writing in achieving reconciliation within ourselves, our institutions, and our communities. Writing and sharing our writing will help us probe the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of our work as educators. Exploring effective pedagogies will help us foster creative growth in our students and ourselves.

Topics to be explored include creativity as renewal, writing and healing, writing to explore difference, the spiritual side of writing and teaching, writing and the body, collaborative writing, writers and teachers as artists and visionaries, leading whole writing and teaching lives.

“Love is a combination of care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect, and trust…. When these basic principles of love form the basis of teacher-pupil interaction, the mutual pursuit of knowledge creates the conditions for optimal learning.” -- bell hooks, Teaching Community

Call for Proposals: Participants are invited to propose thirty-minute or one- or two- hour interactive workshop sessions related to the conference theme. Please send a title, a 25-word abstract for the program, and a full description for review to Libby Falk Jones (; 859-985-3757) by 4/6/06. Late proposals will be considered if space is available.

Registration: Registration with room and board: $420-$670, depending on accommodations selected. Commuter registration, including three dinners and two lunches: $270. $100 discount for fulltime students and part-time faculty. For detailed information, contact Libby Falk Jones. To secure a space, send a check for $150 deposit (fully refundable until April 15) to Wilma Romatz, AEPL 2006 Conference Registration Chair, 1754 Brockway, Saginaw, MI 48602.

For more information, contact Libby Falk Jones (; 859-985-3757)

Conference Sponsors: Assembly for Expanded Perspectives on Learning and Berea College

Transformative Learning: Contemplative Practices for Higher Education
with Arthur Zajonc, Ph.D., and David Sable
June 6 – 8, 2006
At Karmê Chöling, Barnet, Vermont

“Meditation and contemplative practices are not means of telling people what to think; they are ways of offering options in how to think that tap the full potential of knowing.”

Transformative learning is the process by which we question taken for granted frames of reference (habits of mind or mindsets) to make them more inclusive, discriminating, open, and reflective. The purpose is to see our situation more accurately, from our own and others’ point of view, and sometimes to discover appropriate action. Grounded in non-sectarian meditation practice, this program will emphasize individual and interactive contemplation exercises tried and refined with university students.

Designed and delivered by experienced educators, the program will introduce practical methods for engaging students in ways of knowing applicable to almost any discipline.

The program includes:

  • Short periods of sitting meditation (with one-to-one instruction available)
  • Individual and interactive contemplation exercises, including journal writing
  • Talks and discussion – a wide range of topics will be addressed:
    How is contemplation different than ordinary thinking?
    How do we look at problems and dilemmas beyond habitual reactions?
    How do we integrate contemplative knowing with interaction?
    How can students move beyond the focus on “getting the right answer” to transformative learning?
  • Shambhala yoga exercises – gentle and effective means to develop mindfulness and keep the body supple.
  • Free time to explore Karme Choling’s 500+ acres of wooded hills and trails or just relax on the lawns with post card views of the Green Mountains.

The program fee is $395.

Call Tail of the Tiger Programs, at Karmê Chöling: 802-633-2384 or visit
For more information about Tail of the Tiger, visit:

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The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society
199 Main Street, Suite 3
Northampton, MA 01060 USA
phone: (413) 582-0071
fax: (413) 582-1330

top image & gallery photo by Lisa Berry
Faith Adiele photo by Jordan Buschur
Spirit Rock photo by Doug Chermak