Experiential Seminar and a Journey to Sacred Places
From Knowledge to Understanding
An experiential learning opportunity, offering students a variety of activities that support the transformation of knowledge into understanding.
Despite the hours or years of studying, much of the knowledge we acquire dissipates as time passes. Why? Because we fail to turn that knowledge into understanding. Knowledge travels through the intellectual mind. Understanding is an experience of the whole being, hard to be explained by our logic mind.
Whether we study engineering, medicine, law, or art, the key to understanding is a whole being experience. It is important that we learn to differentiate between being and doing and to practice the art of simply being.
For this reason, this project is open to all faculties, since there is not a creative, powerful doing without a real state of being. Most of our efforts are focused on “doing;” doing more, doing better, doing faster, etc. For many, this “doing” is often without intention or attention, without “being.” To move towards “understand” we must “be” first. The fact that we are alive does not necessarily imply that we live in a state of being.We can be dead inwardly and yet operate in life in a mechanical way and attend our duties without any creative impulse.
Being is an experience of the whole of the self: intellect, body, and feeling simultaneously present at the same time, pierced with a depth of an inner attention that, although is a divine quality available to human beings in general, yet is very rarely visited and questioned and so rarely experienced.The mystery behind the attention is hardly explored. What is the attention? What is the divided attention and what is its purpose?
Is focus the same as attention? Our thinking mind has access only to previous experiences and compares, defines, analyzes, interprets, and makes judgments according to these experiences.There is not really a logical sequence of things we could do in order to be. This is the difficult part to accept. Being is a state of opening, of letting go, of acceptance of what I am in this very moment.
A movement towards myself, a deeper, more sensitive connection to my body. We need to first learn to focus our attention on our bodily existence, develop a sensitivity for it. Then mind and body will start a relationship not usually present from which something can rise.Understanding is cultivated in this place—the direct contact with what is the key to developing understanding resides in one’s willingness to practice turning attention inward and discovering the impartial observer that resides in the depth of our being.
Our project offers the opportunity for students to experience direct contact with some of the most sacred places they have learned about. Through a variety of practices—individual and group activities, cultural excursions, and facilitated dialogue to evoke critical thinking, they will be immersed into a personal journey.
By journeying to sacred places around the world, students will experience a palpable connection to the Higher that can open the most closed of hearts. Emerging adults are hungry for learning and self-growth. Travel to sacred places fosters our primordial need to be unified with something beyond. It can elicit a sense of connection, something many young people are missing and searching for.
Focus on Process
In every process there is a point of growth and a point when this growth starts to evolve.How can we become aware of this point and what can we do about it?
There are different forces or qualities at play in our world and inside us and we need to discovery what they are for and how they work. In the Indian tradition these three forces are called the Gunas, but many spiritual traditions refers to this triad using a different terminology. Why are we often stocked in dyads, dichotomy, black or white, yes or no? Is there a third possibility that goes beyond conflicts? A good part of the seminar will focus on this subject.
What we offer
- A series of classes (number can vary from 3 to 9 or more) before the journey.During the classes we will offer several tool that connect with understanding, being and the laws behind processes, inside ourselves and outside.
- A journey to a worldwide destination that is connected to the subject of the course, i.e. a specific part of India for Hinduism; Ladakh, Tibet, Bhutan, or Japan for Buddhism; Rome and Italy or the Holy Land for Early Christianity. The journey will be completely tailor-made according to the needs of the students and the goal of the professors.
- One to three classes at the end of the course focused on how to integrate this experience in life.
- The course/seminar is optional, but highly recommended. In a way it is the core of the project.
- These exploration seminars would tailor the journey to relevant course material students have learned about or are currently engaged in. For example, a journey to Rome can be fulfilling for students enrolled in a course on early Christianity.
- Credit or co-curricular credit may be offered.
- Possibility to organize only the journey, without the exploration
- Opportunity to build in service learning.
- Structured sessions before and after the journey to become more familiar with the what and how of mindfulness; the practice to facilitate our inner listening.
- None of these programs are done on-line for a very good reason. It is time to reconnect people face to face, without screen interference.
- Guided exercises to practice before the journey and eventually to be integrated in life at the end of the journey.
- Facilitated group dialogue during and after the pilgrimage focused on different topics, addressing specific questions/observations.
- These journeys are largely learner driven and will foster academic, personal and spiritual learning and growth in students
A New Way
Our organization is moving towards a completely different way of perceiving travel. Regular tourism is dying since it requires a new way of seeing that cannot be purchased or offered by a new paradise on some exotic island. Things must be done in a new way, how to travel, how and when to hire guides, offering more space for personal impressions. What characterizes the ancient pilgrim is the courage of facing the unknown, something that our society runs away from.
And indeed, the key of a real human being resides in accepting and facing the unknown with courage. This is where understanding come to play a strong role and knowledge cannot support us anymore.