Vocational Contemplative Practice

Fathom the Mind. Heal the World.

What is the root of all our problems? What is the path to genuine happiness, peace, and flourishing for each of us as individuals and for the world as a whole? We are all concerned with these core questions. The great contemplatives of human history have responded to these core questions with a simple observation borne out in their own experience of journeying from conflict and suffering to wholeness and peace: it is the untamed and unexamined mind that is the root of all our suffering; and it is the tamed, examined, and fully fathomed mind that is the ultimate ground of complete and perfect happiness and peace.Before we wake up to this fact that our own unruly and unquestioned mind is the culprit behind all the various forms of personal and collective conflict, dissatisfaction, sorrow and suffering, we all have the habit of looking outwards for the solutions to all of our problems. This is an age-old habit. We seek to change the people, communities, businesses, governments, and nations around us. We look to better technology or better politics or better economics, all the while ignoring the war and confusion within our own minds, within our own heart.Of course, all of these dimensions of civilization are important and we must seek to better them in any way we can. But we should also ask ourselves the fundamental question that reveals the futility of focusing solely on these outer dimensions of human life: How can we ever be happy and how can we ever live in global harmony if our own minds are dominated by confusion, conflict, anger, hatred, greed, craving, pride, and envy? What social, economic, or political strucutre could ever be good enough to compensate for the disorder and fundamental conflicts in our own minds?Thinking along these lines quickly reveals that if we are ever to "heal the world," to bring about genuine peace, harmony, and human flourishing on a mass scale, we must begin with understanding the root of all of our problems, we must fathom the workings and nature of our own mind, and come to see its central role in the creation of our world.

Full-time contemplative practice is aimed at just that. As a full-time contemplative practicing at the Center for Contemplative Research in Crestone, Colorado, I am devoting my time and energy to taming, examining, and ultimately fathoming the workings and nature of mind, just in the way that a scientist would spend years seeking to fathom some other natural phenomena, such as biological organisms, space-time, or the nature of the cosmos. Just as we would never expect to fathom the nature of the cosmos from spending a night here and there stargazing with our friends, we should also not expect to be able to fathom the nature of the mind and its role in the arising of happiness and suffering, or peace and conflict, by dedicating only a few moments here and there to observing and examining the workings and nature of our mind.It is for this reason that one might decide to devote oneself to full-time contemplative practice, spending weeks, months, and even years of one's life in single-pointed exploration and development of the mind. If the great contemplatives of the past and present are correct about the centrality of the mind in our experience of life, and in the creation of our world, what could be more important than coming to fully understand it and master it? The Buddha said that all things are brought under control when the mind is brought under control, and all things are understood when the mind is understood. That's a big statement! But if it's true, wow! We might want to look into this thing we call "mind" and see what it’s all about. At very least, based on an initial appraisal of the centrality of our own mind in our experience of happiness and misery, and in the nature of our behavior in the world, whether for good or evil, peace or war, this statement deserves some careful consideration and investigation.

While this "professional" dedication to exploring the nature of the mind was (and still is) honored in some societies, in our modern, westernized world, full-time contemplative practice has not yet been accepted as a legitimate vocation warranting support from social institutions and the general public. We all understand the value of supporting cancer research, or neuroscience, or physics, because we see the clear benefits of the knowledge gleaned by these disciplines in our technology and healthcare.I believe there is a current trend in popular culture and even some sectors of mainstream science towards more deeply appreciating the benefits of understanding our mind, emotions, and subjective experience of reality. The primary obstacle to this process is the loyalty of many scientists to the reductive scientific worldview of materialism, or physicalism, which asserts that everything in the universe boils down to matter and can be explained in terms of the workings of matter. This view prioritizes understanding the physical brain, rather than the subjective mind, and the subjective experience of consciousness. It marginalizes the importance of studying the mind in terms of subjective experience, and some scientists even go so far as to say that subjective experience is an illusion, or that it does not exist at all! Nonetheless, as evidence of phenomena that cannot be explained in a purely materialistic framework mounts in the scientific community, and as the general public continues to more fully appreciate the role of the subjective mind in determining individual and social wellbeing, I believe that the contemplative or meditative exploration of mind, consciousness, and being will be taken more seriously, and will ultimately take its place as an integral field of study in the overall scientific enterprise of more fully understanding the nature of reality and the true causes of suffering and happiness.In the meantime, full-time contemplatives like myself, and organizations that support such practice, like the Center for Contemplative Research, will rely on the support of people like you to continue this work. It will only be through the support of like-minded people who believe in the importance of understanding the mind and engaging in deep spiritual practice that I myself, and others like me, will be able to continue in our full-time practice.If you are interested in being part of this mission towards making contemplative science and deep spiritual practice mainstream and accessible to all, please support the Center for Contemplative Research, or other organizations like it. If you are interested in specifically supporting my contemplative retreat practice, you can make a donation here. Thank you so much for your support, it means so much to me. I really believe that together we can turn things around for humanity, clear away our confusion and conflicts, and move into a period of unprecedented human flourishing and awakening!With deep love and appreciation,

Thank You

I look forward to connecting with you soon.