Farewell, semester

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3 Responses

  1. Patrick S. O'Donnell says:


    That was exquisite. In teaching ‘comparative world religions,’ the theme of silence (often, although not exclusively, in ascetic, mystical and contemplative sub-traditions) arises frequently, and in a day and age when the fragmentation of consciousness seems ubiquitous, when the pace of our lives is dictated by an acquisitive capitalist ethos, technological gadgetry and wizadry, and obsession with status, silence does indeed provide a necessary contrast and counterpoint from which to cultivate another, if not more proper, perspective. Pico Iyer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pico_Iyer), Time magazine essayist, travel writer and novelist, has frequenlty alluded to the benefits of his annual summer sojourns to the New Camaldoli Hermitage (Benedictine monastery) in Big Sur, and one of my former teachers from graduate school, the late Walter Capps (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Capps), wrote a wonderful little book, The Monastic Impulse (1983), which in effect is a celebration of the virtues of silence. Many of my generation have been drawn to Buddhism for this very reason as well, for it has developed something on the order of a science of mind or consciousness based in part on the practice of meditation (cf. Rick Fields’ How the Swans Came to the Lake: A Narrative History of Buddhism in America, 1992 ed.).

  2. Thanks for a great visit! And best wishes for a still summer.

  3. Frank says:

    Thanks so much for your insights, Laura. I agree, there is a real lack of contemplation in the world, and we can hope the academy can be one place that will try to cultivate it–both for its permanent members, and for students, and for the community as a whole.

    I highly recommend Steven Keeva’s book, Transforming Practices: