Contemplative Education: A Pedagogical Approach of Compassion by Elisabeth Schilling

green pathEven though I encountered wisdom literature when specializing in Hinduism during my Religious Studies doctoral program, through reading the works of Christian female mystics and the liberation theologies of feminist spiritual guides, it took a book I never encountered in my academic studies to give me a spiritual foundation that feels complete after my departure from Christianity: Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. It led me to the place where I am now, practicing mindfulness, being aware of the ego, and attempting to live in the present. Now I can return to wisdom literature with a lens that helps it make sense. Although I did not know it when I began utilizing these ideas in the classroom, there is an entire pedagogy based on them.

Contemplative education is based on the observation that the world is in need of healing and the majority of people have not encountered helpful ways to deal with their suffering. Why not use the classroom for healing and to create healers? Contemplative education has five goals or elements: 1. deep, or critical, thinking, 2. constructive communication, 3. awareness of the global impact of our behaviors, 4. personal development/well-being, and 5. a non-sectarian admiration for and inclusion of wisdom literature and traditions. This last element is what really distinguishes this pedagogy from others. And I see how it shares a great deal with feminist practices as well, especially as feminist pedagogy honors experiential knowledge, self-reflection, and activism. Continue reading “Contemplative Education: A Pedagogical Approach of Compassion by Elisabeth Schilling”

Coming to Consciousness: Eckhart Tolle and Yoga by Elisabeth Schilling

roadBoth Eckhart Tolle and yoga have helped me become more conscious lately. As a Christian, I had always been a bit of a spiritual hypochondriac. Believing in the ultimate external body that had an opinion about my body – how it should feel, how it should be positioned – left me self-doubting and scrutinizing every moment for possible infractions. Christianity is supposed to be the peace that passes all understanding, but I think I had turned it into a moral gage that would never land on perfect for very long.

Furthermore, it was always difficult for me to believe what I was supposed to without being filled with ego about it. But let us face it, as someone who had journeyed outside those fundamentalist leanings, I was still a hypochondriac (it was simply that grad school had given me more physical conditions to be suspicious of) and completely full of ego, perhaps even more so. Except here I mean ‘ego’ not in a reductive way, but in the broader, more all-encompassing way that Eckhart Tolle describes.

One good way to explain ego is to relate the story that is found in Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth but that I first encountered in Yu Dan’s Confucius from the Heart: Ancient Wisdom for Today’s World. This makes me think it is a familiar story to many people, but perhaps even those people will enjoy reading it here once again. Dan narrates the story as such who also tells us it is a Buddhist tale: Continue reading “Coming to Consciousness: Eckhart Tolle and Yoga by Elisabeth Schilling”

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