Gebser and Asia

In 1961, Jean Gebser’s peregrinations in consciousness led him to visit parts of Asia, including India, Nepal, Pakistan, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Japan, and China. While in Sarnath, India—the place where Buddha delivered his first sermon some 2,500 years ago—Gebser had an unexpected and significant experience of satori, a kind of Buddhist awakening experience which resonated with his previous writing on aperspectival consciousness. At the same time that Gebser was experiencing and integrating this awakening in Sarnath, the Tibetan Buddhist master Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche was in exile in Northern India teaching Buddhist monks. While Gebser was heading toward further journeys in the East and writing a book on Asia (Asien Lächelt Anders / Asia Smiles Differently), Trungpa was heading to the West to study at Oxford University, which propelled him into an innovative career of teaching and writing about Buddhism in North America. In 1974, Trungpa founded Naropa University, a Buddhism-inspired center of learning which draws from both Eastern and Western traditions and aims to integrate rigorous academics, contemplative practices, meditation practices, experiential learning, artistic expression, social justice, and cultural creativity.

For the 48th Annual Conference of the Jean Gebser Society, we seek proposals for presentations that address theoretical, practical, and engaged approaches to Gebser, especially in relation to Asian thinkers and traditions. The 2018 Conference will draw on the resources of Naropa University to bring together the uniqueness of our Colorado location along with joining Asian and western approaches and methodologies.

Here are some themes to consider:

  • How are we to understand the relationships between the awarings of Gebser and various Asian traditions and thinkers, such as Buddhist traditions, Taoist philosophers, Ramana Maharshi, Sri Aurobindo, D.T. Suzuki, Trungpa Rinpoche, Georg Feuerstein, Anagarika Govinda, and others—in the 21st century?
  • How might Asian meditative and contemplative practices help us access, explore, and integrate the Gebserian structures of awareness? What methodologies might help us to access what Gebser expresses as aperspectival awaring, diaphainon, synairesis, and achronon?
  • In 1963, Thích Nhất Hạnh developed the notion of Engaged Buddhism. The essence of Engaged Buddhism is the integration of insights from meditation practice and dharma teachings with actions taken in fields of environmental, social, political, and economic injustice and suffering. What are some of these insights? What does Engaged Buddhism bring to life in the aperspectival world? What does an Engaged Gebserian approach look like? How can Buddhist approaches benefit from Gebser’s work and vice versa?
  • Presentations reflecting complementary or other themes in Gebser’s work and life.

Proposals should be submitted by July 31st 2018. Please see the link on the conference page to submit your abstracts and stay tuned for the conference registration. 

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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.

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