What I’m Happening In Boulder

29 01 2012

Shalom.

Here’s a bit about my life these days.

I live in Boulder, Colorado, at a rad house – Chrysalis Co-op – with twelve other wonderful people, ages 20-32 ish, half students (grad and undergrad), half working professionals. Every one has their own bedroom. Chores and responsibilities are shared by all — I’m in charge of bulk ordering and house supplies, buying the bi-weekly staples (grains, beans, hemp milk, tomato sauce, etc.). I also water the herbs outside (kept warm under a grow blanket). Other folks go grocery shopping, cook staples a few times a week to keep the fridge stocked, coordinate membership things (communicating with new perspective housemates), keeping track of finances, mediating intense conversations, IT stuff, maintenance stuff, and other responsibilities. We all cook at least one meal a week and eat dinners together 6 times a week (unless we’re busy, but we try to make it to at least two meals a week).  If we don’t cook, we clean up, dishes table stove and floor. Sunday nights is our house meeting, in which we share our heartsong (whatever one wants to share), discuss things that need to happen, from maintenance to proper ways to clean cast-iron pans to addressing stuff going on in the house psyche to planning parties or the yearly editing of the house bylaws. It’s a vegetarian house, no television, a projector that can hook up to laptops, a great soundsystem in the downstairs kitchen / dining / living room space, roof access, 2 porches, a hammock and a swing, and in the spring, several plots for growing plants 🙂
It’s a really awesome set up. It’s also awesome because we all get to work on our social interactions, learning how to address all these unique people, how to assert ourselves and our needs, how to compromise, how to be compassionate, and how to do what we need to do, all while keeping ourselves and the community healthy… or at least, doing what we can to set a healthy atmosphere. Definitely a work in progress, and maybe, I’m finding for myself, the most important work there is.

Meanwhile, I’m going to school at Naropa University, an accredited Buddhist school. Being a Buddhist school does not mean people must convert to Buddhism and worship the Buddhist deities; it means the school applies the 2500+-year-old Buddhist mentality, methodology, or approach, to education. This methodology is often called “Contemplative Education”, and can be described in 3 parts: the three parts of Prajna – Wisdom or Knowingness.

  1. Hearing – Taking in, studying, raw information. (The Western approach to education usually stops after this stage.)
  2. Contemplating – Integrating the raw information with one’s life – How does this apply to my being human? How do I feel about it? What thoughts arise when I ponder it? (Here, questions are of equal, if not more, importance than answers.)
  3. Meditating – Effortless relaxation into the atmosphere / space of what one is learning – goalless ‘being-with’.

So it’s all very personal. While learning practical and conceptual ideas and disciplines, it’s primarily about knowing one’s self, or at least, the way our mind weaves thoughts and emotions together, formulating an idea of “one’s self”. Then it’s about letting go of that “conceptual self” and waking up to our basic goodness, our natural dignity, our innate wisdom and compassion, and being “a full human being”, able to utilize and apply whatever discipline(s) we study.

Undergraduate programs include: Traditional Eastern Arts (yoga, tai-chi), Performance Art, Peace Studies, Environmental Studies, Interdisciplinary Studies, and others. At this point, I’m leaning towards being a Religious Studies major with a minor in Contemplative Psychology and Writing (from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics… founded by Allen Ginsburg).
The Graduate programs are dope, primarily focusing in psychology, and amazing programs in writing and religions and other fields.

So, for those of you who are interested (Dad and Mom), here is a list and description of my courses for this semester:

Contemplative Learning Seminar: Naropa’s Roots and Branches (COR130-D)

The Contemplative Learning Seminar introduces the tradition of contemplative education as it has been developed at Naropa University, with an emphasis on its vision, purpose and application to the academic, artistic and psychological disciplines taught in the various majors. Students are introduced to contemplative practices that have shaped these disciplines, especially emphasizing mindfulness-awareness and sitting meditation practice. This course is designed to integrate the personal journey of the entering student with the rest of his or her Naropa educational experience.

Buddhist Psychology I: Mindfulness Meditation (PSYB314-A)

This course is an introduction to the psychological principles and sitting practice of mindfulness-awareness meditation, drawn is from the Tibetan and Zen Buddhist traditions as well as the Shambhala teachings of sacred warriorship. We explore the many ways-both obvious and subtle-in which ego-fixation creates suffering and confusion in our lives. We train students to begin to develop inner tranquility, insight, and loving-kindness as the essential ground for working effectively with their own life challenges and those of other people. Open to Contemplative Psychology and interdisciplinary Studies students with 45 credits only. Others by permision of instructor.

Religion and Mystical Experience (REL210-A)

This class explores the essential core of the world’s wisdom traditions: their mystical teachings, rituals, and esoteric practices. Special attention will be given to the nature of mystical experience – characterized by a direct encounter with Ultimate Reality or the Divine -and to the variety of its manifestations in and out of the world’s major religious traditions.

Literary Studies: Literature of the Pacific Rim (WRI240-A)

The Pacific Rim culture region, which includes the west coast of North America, the Bering Strait, and the coastal regions of Asia including Japan, have shared technologies, populations, and cultural lore for tens of thousands of years. This course explores the distinctive literature-oral and written-created in this area. Songs, poetry, myths, drama, from prehistoric times to the present are explored.

Poetry Workshop: Finding Your Fire (WRI300-A)

An Eclectic collection of the poems and texts of twelve very distinct poets is introduced, read, discussed, and drawn on for inspiration. The study of each poet includes biographical information, class members reading aloud from the texts, and an in-depth discussion of the individual poems with emphasis on the inspiration factor, i.e., where inspiration comes from. While class members take turns reading aloud from the text, the rest of the class participates in an automatic writing exercise. This “wall of words” becomes material for a rough draft that through class discussion contributes to the making of each student’s poems. Students are required to keep a notebook of thier “wall of words,” their in-class rough draft, class suggestions toward their completed poem, and notations on how they worked with the “wall of words” for inspiration. A final portfolio of completed poems is required.

I’m also taking three weekend meditation retreats, including two at the local Shambhala Center, Shambhala Training Level I: The Art of Being Human and Level II: Birth of the Warrior. The Shambhala style of meditation was founded by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, the founder of Naropa. It’s based on Tibetan Buddhism, but as the primary practice is to continually return one’s awareness to the breath, it’s non-religious and entirely universal.

Shambhala Training is the path of study and practice of Shambhala warriorship–the tradition of human bravery, not being afraid of who you are. This path shows how to take the challenges of daily life in our modern society as opportunities for contemplative practice. Shambhala Training is inspired by the ancient legend of the Kingdom of Shambhala, said to be an enlightened society based on gentle and fearless action.

The Shambhala Training path of study and practice begins with a series of weekend levels, known as the Heart of Warriorship–which provides the tools you need to establish a personal discipline of meditation practice and to discover the basic principles of warriorship in your daily life.

The third retreat is the B.A. Religious Studies Retreat (REL328W-A)

Introduction to the field of religious studies from the perspective of contemplative education as well as to important thematic and analytic perspectives. Basic contemplative practice from several traditions is present and career opportunities in the arena of religious studies are explored. Building community, forming friendships and sharing our mutual journey is central to this retreat.

if i don’t write on this blog any more, it’s cause i’m reading or writing for school, or meditating… all of which i am very happy to be doing. Thanks maw and paw.

Om Shanti. Namaste. Peace be your journey.

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One response

11 03 2012
upayacouncil

“The necessary and welcome economic growth within our Sangha, in the form of business operations and commercial and domestic investments, has brought along as a by—product an increasing frequency of disagreements and disputes. There is a need for our society to provide resources for the sane, nonagressive resolution of such conflicts in keeping with the principles of Dharma and the Great Eastern Sun. Accordingly I have decided to institute and appoint the Upaya Council. The function of the Upaya Council shall be to mediate and/or arbitrate commercial and domestic disputes among members of the Vajradhatu community, as individuals, groups, or businesses. It shall be the initial task of the Upaya Council to propose to me and my Privy Council a set of guidelines under which it shall operate. There shall be no internal hierarchy within the Upaya Council and each member shall have an equal voice; the findings of the Council shall be arrived at by unanimous consent.”

~ Vajracarya the Venerable Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, Spring, 1979.

རྣམ་པར་སྣང་མཛད
Upaya Council

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