Ecology, Spirituality, and Contemplative Inquiry in Education

September 05, 2014

Date: Friday, September 5, 2014
Time: 1:30 pm - 4:30 pm (Door opens at 1:15pm)
Location: SFU Vancouver campus, 515 West Hastings; Room 1425
Cost: FREE, but seating is limited.

Registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Keynote by Tarchin Hearn: “Ecology, Meditation and Meaningful Education” – an eco-buddhist approach to mindfulness and integrated living 

Western education has become fragmented into departments and disciplines that often turn a blind eye to the fact that life on earth has evolved as a vast interconnected wholeness. Today, even meditation and the study of ecology have become compartmentalised, losing touch with the unbroken wholeness of lived experience that lies at the heart of each of us. During this afternoon symposium, Tarchin Hearn will address these questions and outline an approach to education and living that is profoundly integrative and deeply healing. ~Tarchin Hearn, Author of True Refuge (2014)


Tarchin Hearn is a Buddhist writer and teacher from New Zealand. Tarchin’s approach to meditation is non-sectarian and universal in nature, linking personal healing with a deep ecological perspective in ways that have inspired a wide range of people from a variety of diverse backgrounds and traditions. He has helped establish a number of centres for retreat and healing in various countries. For more than 40 years he has studied and practiced in both Theravadin and Mahayana schools of Buddhism with 12 of those years as an ordained monk (he was originally ordained by the Ven. Kalu Rinpoché, and received the full Gelong/Bhikkhu ordination from H.H. the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, and trained extensively with the Ven. Namgyal Rinpoche and the Ven. Sayadaw U Thila Wanta of Burma). Tarchin is the author of several meditation books including: True Refuge (2014), Something Beautiful for the World: a Shakuhachi Sadhana (illustrated by Canadian artist Robert Sinclair, 2008), Breathing: The Natural Way to Meditate (revised edition, 2005), Growth and Unfolding – Our Human Birthright (new edition 2004), The Daily Puja Book (fifth edition, 2007), Walking in Wisdom (2003), Natural Awakening (1995). Tarchin is a wonderful and compassionate teacher who rarely teaches in Canada so this visit to SFU is a great opportunity.


  • Dr. Mark Winston, SFU Dialogue Centre
  • Dr. Kimberly Franklin, Trinity Western U, Faculty of Education
  • Dr. Robert Daum, Green College, UBC
  • Dr. Paul Crowe, Humanities Department, SFU
  • Dr. Avraham Cohen, Counselling Programs, City University of Seattle, Vancouver Campus

Dialouge Facilitator:

Dr. Laurie Anderson (Exec. Director, SFU / Downtown)

Colloquium Convenors:

Prof. Heesoon Bai (SFU Education) & Derek Rasmussen (SFU Education)

The real issue [behind honeybee collapse], though, is not the volume of problems, but the interactions among them. Here we find a core lesson from the bees that we ignore at our peril: the concept of synergy, where one plus one equals three, or four, or more. . . . Bees also provide some clues to how we may build a more collaborative relationship with the services that ecosystems can provide. ~Mark Winston

St. Isaac the Syrian, a 7th century Christian desert monastic, said to love stillness more than feeding the hungry or saving the world. These words are somewhat shocking in a western culture dedicated to activism, progress and efficiency; but without stillness, our activism, and the conviction that we can make the world a better place, easily becomes ego-driven violence or imposition. Stillness brings us to a place of humility and communion: we recognize our absolute contingency, and we come to see the world integratively, compassionately, and gently. ~ Kimberly Franklin

Speculation about the efficacy, ethics, purpose, methods, value, and risks of varieties of contemplation has been a significant theme in Jewish scholarly tradition for at least eighteen centuries. Wrestling with ancient, medieval, and early modern tales about some contemplative "types" found in classical Hebrew and Aramaic sources, such as the legendary Honi the Circle-Drawer, is a venerable contemplative tradition in and of itself. Aspects of these textured, multi-layered, and highly divergent ancient discussions seem pertinent to our postmodern academic inquiry about the value of contemplative inquiry in education. ~ Robert Daum

How do we stop being terrestrial parasites and assume a symbiotic relationship, informed by respect and gratitude, with our parents, the sky and the earth? In doing so we could ensure health far beyond the fragile and limited confines of our bodies and secure an internal peace, balance and stability that permits us to behave with moral rectitude and regard for our fellow human beings and the delicate ecological connections that sustain our very lives. ~ Paul Crowe, inspired by the Scripture of Great Peace (Taiping jing 太平經), late Han Dynasty

Being good at whatever a person does is not separate from being a person who is committed to the process of self-cultivation and progress towards an enlightened state of being. Those who have a commitment to a spiritual practice and care for the world are often hampered by their own lack of insight into their own inner processes that have developed in the service of survival and subsequently are formed into reified egoic structures. Inner work/self- cultivation practices are completely aligned with freeing of the natural spirit that is awaiting liberation within each person, relationship, community, and the whole of the universe. ~ Avraham Cohen