Contemplative and Mystical Traditions
Throughout the history of world civilizations, many societies developed mystical and contemplative traditions that radically questioned the authority, hierarchy, and dogma of religious and political establishments. The mystics sought wisdom and compassionate action through cultivation of concentration, mindfulness, broader and deeper conscious awareness, and awakening the heart. In this course, we explore their teachings in three ways: through reading ancient texts, practicing meditation, and community learning, which includes visiting communities that practice these teachings. The texts include ancient creation stories such as those in the Hindu Rig Veda (India), and Hebrew Genesis (Israel); important figures such as Socrates and Marcus Aurelius (classical Greece and Rome), and Buddha (India); and contemplative traditions in Lao Tzu's Taoism (China), Buddhism (China, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Tibet), the Islamic Sufism of Rumi and Hafiz (Middle East), the Christian mysticism of Hildegard of Bingen, Meister Eckhart (Europe), and the Jewish mysticism of Kabbalah (Spain).