2013 Inquiry Seminars

Engaged Buddhism and Mindfulness Practice

Michelle Lelwica

This course explores the philosophy and practice of mindfulness both in the context of Engaged Buddhism and in our own lives and society. Mindfulness involves being present to what’s going on in one’s body, feelings, thoughts, behavior, and the world one inhabits in the present moment. Developed through practice, mindfulness is a skill that can be useful for dealing with some mental health issues many people struggle with today (i.e., anxiety, depression, substance abuse, stress). This skill is also helpful for dealing with some of the overwhelming problems facing our global society, such as environmental destruction. Engaged Buddhism is a form of Buddhism in which mindfulness is practiced with the intention of alleviating suffering both in oneself and in the world. We will read the works of the Vietnamese Zen master, poet, peace activist, and scholar, Thich Nhat Hanh, along with several other authors who write about the connection between spiritual and social transformation. Through intellectual study, hands-on practice, and sustainability work, we will examine how mindfulness can be a resource for developing our sense of personal and social responsibility. WC