Week #1 - The Kira Institute
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Week #1

Week One (February 12): the practice of contemplation

Obviously a survey of early meditation and contemplation would be a big study in its own right, and the progressive development of these approaches over time would be another. The situation is further complicated by variations depending on cultural context: for example, India, China, Greece, Africa and the Middle East each had their own forms of practice. The same applies throughout Europe and the Americas. I hope we can share whatever knowledge we do possess concerning basic features of these original forms, their further development over time, and what “practice” is becoming now. So, for each of these three time frames, I will make a few simple comments concerning traditions I know a little about, to get the discussion started, then invite input from other participants.

Note that contemplative practice is rapidly evolving inside virtual worlds too. This is another angle I’d like us to start exploring briefly in this first session, then in more detail as we proceed.

Again, I don’t expect these four SL sessions to yield anything more than a very tentative and sketchy contact with some interesting issues … perhaps there will be opportunities for follow-up in subsequent programs. My priority here is only to begin the process of pooling resources and encouraging reflection that may in turn have personal relevance for each of us.

A few things to consider in advance:

  • Background religious context—“religion” in various forms as providing a context for contemplative practice originally. How has that changed?
  • Motive—more broadly, what was/is the motive for contemplative practice in these different periods?
  • Social relevance—how has contemplative practice contributed to the larger societies in which it has been undertaken?
  • Solitary vs group practice—we tend to think of meditation as a personal and even private, solitary matter, but it isn’t necessarily either of those. Even the new Play as Being group illustrates both emphases.
  • Authority—how has experiential practice interacted with various forms of authority? How has it established its own kinds of authority … and with what results?

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