The Paradox of Passion

The sign of a successful caring organization may reside in how its impact ultimately overshadows its origins.

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In 1981, my wife and I founded The Hartsbrook School not far from Mind & Life’s offices here in Hadley, Massachusetts. At the time, Hartsbrook was merely an idea voiced among a few new friends in our living room. There were no students yet, no teachers, no facilities. There was only an idea, one that became our passionate aspiration. We longed to not only educate children intellectually (as important as that is), but also to cultivate their imagination by integrating the arts, music, theatre, and poetry throughout the curriculum. We wanted to teach environmental values through a program that included gardens, goats, chickens, sheep, and milk cows. And most importantly, we believed these bright young beings should experience the ever-present care and love of their teachers for all of who they were: body, mind, and spirit. Read More

Arming Introspection

Does meditation make a more ethical soldier, or a more dangerous one?

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When Buddhist-based contemplative practices burgeoned in popularity in the United States and Europe during the 1950s and 60s, their central tenets were often disregarded in universities as New Age frivolity. Departments of religion and philosophy made some allowances for their study, but the same open-mindedness rarely occurred in “respectable” laboratories of psychology, cognitive science, or neuroscience.

Since then, a major shift has occurred, and the question is no longer about the scientific value of contemplative studies but instead on how they should be implemented. Should public schools be teaching meditation? Should prisons? Corporations? Why or why not? What are the major differences, if any, between learning how to meditate in a Zen center versus being taught mindfulness by a human resources manager? And what about the military? Read More