Buddhist Meditation Traditions

Course Code
RELB 2900
Sonam Kachru
Assistant Professor

This course focuses on the popular topic of Buddhist meditation from the perspective of historical traditions, contemporary scientific research, and modern secular adaptations. Students learn secular contemplative practices firsthand in a Contemplative Lab, and thus it addresses student suffering, anxiety, and resilience in theoretical and practical ways. Each of the ten days we will explore a major type of Tibetan Buddhist meditation - attentional practices of focus, sensory meditations, analysis and insight practices, compassion and empathy, narrative meditations, ritual communion building, performance visualization, body-based practices, open awareness, and spontaneous creativity. In general, we will explore the contemplative tradition in its original Buddhist contexts, look at scientific research on understanding such practices’ mechanisms and impact, study secular adaptations in professional and personal areas (health care, education, entrepreneurship), and experiment hands-on with related forms of secular contemplation. We have developed a highly interactive classroom experience in which students do exercises combined with peer-to-peer listening practices and faculty short talks in order to replace one way lectures with dynamic learning processes.