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Beyond Mindfulness in Education

In June 2019 I participated in the “What’s after mindfulness?” Urban retreat of the 11thGlobal conference on Buddhism in Berkeley, California. Our panel was “Beyond Mindfulness in Education.” My remarks were based in my experience as a professor, a teacher, counselor and researcher with late adolescents at prestigious universities (Harvard, Stanford, Tokyo University). The growing awareness of the spiritual emptiness of our “elite” institutions of higher learning and the people in it, came from observing the suffering of the most successful youth who are still lost, numb, self-centered, or misguided.

Seeing myself as part of the problem, taking responsibility, I asked “What can I do?” The answer was simple, “Do what you can with what you’ve got.” So I developed an educational program designed to offer students a brief moment of connectedness and gratitude, by engaging in collective knowing and appreciative learning. With “beginner’s mind” we come together with vulnerability and humility to heal and grow in community. I call this “heartfulness” as it takes us beyond the individualistic focus of mindfulness to a place of compassion and responsibility as we seek to transform not only ourselves but also society.

Though I get to speak on a big stage, I know that what I do may not be much in the face of the tremendous problems confronting us in education. But it makes me come alive, and it’s what I can do. I see my students come alive too and know that they will go out into the world as more compassionate leaders in their own spheres of life. This belief and trust in our fellow humans sustains the work of countless people who find meaning and purpose in life through service.

The video recording of the session:

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