Contemplative Practice: Philosophy, Pedagogy, and Science

International Journal of Dharma Studies, Oct 2016

Christopher Miller

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Contemplative Practice: Philosophy, Pedagogy, and Science

Miller International Journal of Dharma Studies Contemplative Practice: Philosophy, Pedagogy, and Science - Welcome to a special issue of the International Journal of Dharma Studies. Here readers will find five articles that approach contemplative practice from various philosophical, pedagogical, and scientific perspectives. The diverse contents presented here will likely interest a broad range of readers including scholars, students, and practitioners alike. Taken as a whole, our authors’ contributions amplify the relevance of contemplative practices during our shared times of political, social, and environmental uncertainty and provide multiple pathways and methods for understanding, disseminating, and appreciating such practices. In the first two articles, Loriliai Biernacki and Kusumita Pedersen present contemplative practice from within dharma traditions. From a Tantric perspective, Biernacki’s piece shows us how a nuanced understanding of the imagination can be used in contemplative practice to help us remedy the disintegrated, mechanistic world produced by the Cartesian mind-body split. Specifically, Biernacki differentiates the concepts of imagination expressed through bhāvana and vikalpa as found in the work of Abhinavagupta and Utpaladeva, showing us how bhāvana produces an integral experience of the mind and body in everyday life (vyavahāra), as opposed to the fragmented reality that vikalpa inevitably perpetuates. Moving into the contemporary period, Kusumita Pedersen shares Sri Chinmoy’s approaches to contemplative practice and the achievement of self-realization. Combining selections from his vast textual corpus with her many years of personal practice with Chinmoy, Pedersen skillfully delineates her guru’s spiritual path while providing us with ongoing context to help us understand the significant life experiences and influences that shaped his teachings. As we proceed through Pedersen’s article, we discover the prescription for contemplative practices that gradually liberate while nevertheless remaining socially-engaged and applied in the midst of everyday life. Together, Pedersen and Biernacki present contemplative practices oriented toward transforming the worlds in which we live. The second two articles in this series, one by Andy Fort and the other by Jane Brucker and Christopher Chapple, address contemplative pedagogy and address the question, “How and why should we use contemplative practices as pedagogical techniques in the university classroom?” This is a question taken up at length in volumes such as Meditation and the Classroom (Simmer-Brown and Grace 2011), and reflects a response to a trend that has been developing in universities across the United States. In this regard, Andy Fort of Texas Christian University (TCU) argues that © The Author(s). 2016 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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Christopher Miller. Contemplative Practice: Philosophy, Pedagogy, and Science, International Journal of Dharma Studies, 2016, 12, DOI: 10.1186/s40613-016-0036-6