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Lions Roar : January 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2007 73 In Forbes’ work, he uses terms such as “mindfulness,” “bud- dhas,” “bodhisattvas,” and “vipassana,” which may be less than secular, but he falls far short of religious indoctrination. He is excited that more research and more publications are demon- strating the power of contemplative practice and speaking to teachers’ and administrators’ needs, but he is also concerned that “if we are too eager to simply respond to what principals are anxious about—test scores, attendance records, behavior prob- lems—we may get co-opted and lose the essential meaning. As so many have said, what we need to do is transform the mean- ing of education. In many cases, school sucks. It is an alienating experience that is only supported by externally applied reasons for being there. A large part of that comes from the educational dichotomy: teachers teach content; counselors can deal with the affective stuff. The contemplative breaks down that dichotomy, and that’s what I want to teach counselors to help out with.” FORBES IS NOT ALONE in wanting to dissolve dichotomies. In Parker Palmer’s best-selling book, The Courage to Teach, the oft- cited educational theorist points out the folly and the danger of try- ing to take the person out of teaching: “Knowing myself is as crucial as knowing my students and my subject. When I do not know my- self, I cannot know who my students are.” Likewise, Arthur Zajonc, who is the academic program director for the Center for Con- templative Mind in Society, one of the most prominent groups trying to disseminate contemplative practices, says, “Knowledge, from the point of view of any contemplative tradition, is not pri- marily object-oriented. It is epiphany- or insight-oriented. It’s not good enough to know about reality; you need to change how you see reality. Real education is transformation.” While Zajonc’s comments can apply to education at any level, his work is concerned with transforming the university. A UCLA study published in 2003, “Spirituality in Higher Education,” de- scribed the dissatisfaction many college students have with lack of commitment to deeper meaning and purpose on the part of their professors and schools. Reports like that inspired Tom Co- burn, president of Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, to establish the Center for the Advancement of Contemplative Edu- cation. Coburn sees contemplative education as returning to the ➢ page 119