Compassion, Creativity, and Spirituality:
An Annotated Bibliography
Scott Appleby, John Paul Lederach, and Natalia Rojas
(with great appreciation for the editing work of Katy-Marie Lance)
We are grateful to the Fetzer Institute for support of this initial overview of literature.
In our approach we initially identified published research or popular writing on the themes of compassion, creativity, and spirituality across five bodies of literature broadly defined as the arts, neuroscience, helping professions, peacebuilding, and the contemplative traditions. This creates a matrix that the bibliographic entries follow.
This bibliography (May 2015) should be considered in process, incomplete, and open. We recognize that we have only scratched the surface of volumes and articles on the three topical areas across five bodies of literature. We invite your submissions in the style of short summary paragraphs with reference material for articles or books. Feel free to indicate where you feel it best fits.
Section I: COMPASSION
Cleveland, William. Art and Upheaval: Artists on the World's Frontlines. Oakland, CA: New Village Press, 2008. Print.
Community art is when citizens come together to make art that reflects common concerns. The human creative spirit is social, political, and environmental. William Cleveland believes this creative spirit is a part of the human condition that comes out of us in times of death and destruction as a solution to seemingly impossible situations. Instead of attempting objective scientific research, Cleveland examines six case studies—Northern Ireland, Cambodia, South Africa, Los Angeles, Australia, and Serbia—where creative spirits helped heal or keep alive a community going through destruction and devastation, while discussing patterns he has found from his exploration.
Many patterns emerged from Cleveland’s examination of the power of art. Against the common notion of creative geniuses, creative acts come from everyday people. Creative acts of art are found surrounded by fellow creators that both individually and collectively achieve creative solutions. Each creative episode took great pains to achieve its goal or message. Creative solutions are not a modern event. Brutal regimes are often more attuned to and aware of art and creativity than peaceful ones.
Crowe, Barbara. Music and Soulmaking: Toward a New Theory of Music Therapy. Lanham, MD, USA: Scarecrow Press Inc., 2004. Print.
Barbara Crowe begins her book with a detailed history of science’s stoic focus on the accepted scientific method for experimentation. She believes that although many scientific endeavors can be examined successfully through this method, some systems are so complex that this model is unable to accurately predict outcomes. Weather systems can change drastically from miniscule changes in the environment that makes it impossible for long-term predictions. Science is now within a paradigm shift that is opening up to complex science, a model of scientific exploration grounded in the belief that some systems are more than the sum of their parts and can only be understood and examined as a whole. While the human body has had a long history of being examined as a summation of its parts, holistic medicines come from the belief that miniscule changes and imbalances in the body can produce drastic effects on the whole system.
Leading from this, Crowe gives a detailed history of music’s origin and emergence in society. While music has many parallels with language, music is thought to predate it. Crowe explains tones, pitches, notes, harmonies, melodies, and other various aspects of musical language. She begins to explore how listening and being exposed to music can be stimuli of harmony for the holistic system of our bodies that aid in recovery and repair.
McNiff, Shaun. Art Heals: How Creativity Cures the Soul. Boston, MA: Shambhala, 2004. Print.
Recovery can only be whole with intentional involvement from each patient. Liberating creative processes within recovery empower an individual in the healing processes by exploring the deeper self. If psychology were to utilize interpretation of clients’ artistic processes, the practitioner would be able to foster the client’s artistic expressions for healing. Once the client’s creativity is allowed to flow freely, a practitioner can guide the healing within a holistic path of transformation. Shaun McNiff details both one-on-one therapy as well as groups working along with each other with a desire to not only promote this atmosphere in therapy, but to also create an environment conducive to fostering creativity in daily life.
Skull, John, ed. Conflict and Compassion. Triptee, Essex, UK: Anchor Press, 1969. Print.
This anthology of poems compiled by editor John Skull focuses on the major conflicts and wars of the twentieth century as seen through poetry. The book has major and minor poets, poems that link with photography on themes like the bomb, war, innocent victims, etc. The editor does not provide a commentary or essay, but has arranged the categories to match poems and photos.
The Dalai Lama, and Paul Ekman. Emotional Awareness: Overcoming the Obstacles to Psychological Balance. New York: Holt Paperbacks, 2009. Print.
Dr. Paul Ekman is a clinical psychology expert in nonverbal behavior. He uses this background for his exploration into negative emotions and human capacity to transform them. Emotions not only have lasting emotional effects, but physical effects as well. When an event creates a state of mind, the brain will recall that emotion more readily with similar actions or events. When we feel an emotion, neural inputs transcribe it to our face. This is an example of how neural inputs have a lasting effect on our whole body. Negative emotions raise blood pressure, increase tension, and are capable of deregulating normal body functions over long periods of time. Dr. Eckman describes the science behind what emotions consist of and our ability to control them. One entire chapter is dedicated to compassion, explaining its positive physical and emotional attributes that come along with regulating our emotions towards it.
Davidson, Richard, and Anne Harrington, eds. Visions of Compassion: Western Scientists and Tibetan Buddhists Examine Human Nature. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print.
Visions of Compassion was written as a consensus of ideas and topics drawn from papers and conversations at the 1995 Mind and Life conference “Altruism, Ethics, and Compassion”. This book examines the points of contention between scientific research and Buddhist traditions on altruism, ethics, and compassion, with the possibility for a new paradigm of cross dialogue between science and religion.
The essays begin by explaining the new focus on studies of meditation and learned compassion. The study done through the Mind and Life Center included ten experienced monks from Tibet. During this study, the challenges with studying meditation, aside from the lack of consensus of what meditation is and which type should be studied, were quickly discovered, leading to a much larger undertaking than previously planned. These challenges are some reasons why scientific research on this topic is still on going, and why it is difficult to reach definitive conclusions regarding meditation and compassion.
The origins of science are discussed to explain possible reasoning behind science’s lack of involvement in this area. A shift in thinking happened when scientific knowledge broke away from the religious ties it began with. Science split from religion as humans began viewing violence and evil as a part of human nature, and therefore it was science’s job (human’s job) to discover a cure. Now being discussed is whether or not science is a neutral endeavor, as well as what type of motivations create a framework for scientists’ research. These topics resulted in a discussion on human nature. The Dalai Lama speaks about understanding reality from a subjective lens. The Dalai Lama believes it is obvious that all human beings seek happiness and therefore compassion and gentleness are root components to human nature.
Covering the topic of emotion, and whether or not compassion is an emotion, Buddhist scholars discuss how afflictions affect us positively and negatively. This topic must be studied to understand how we can change our mindsets in order to transform into a more compassionate society.
Hanson, Rick. Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 2009. Print.
Using an intersection of psychology, neurology, and contemplative practices, the two questions these authors are trying to answer are: What brain states underlie the mental states of happiness, love, and wisdom? How can you use your mind to stimulate and strengthen these positive brain states? Compassion and assertiveness work to bring caring and strength together. In order to have compassion, one must first feel something of what the other person is going through, and therefore empathy is a vital part of compassion. Empathy is also the foundation for any meaningful relationship because it breaks down the barrier of ‘me and you’ and turns it into ‘us’.
Hanson and Mendius explain effective ways for dealing with difficult states of mind including: stress, low mood, distractibility, relationship issues, anxiety, sorrow, and anger. They also express the importance of positive psychology and then give methods for increasing positive well-being and personal growth. This is all done with the latest scientific evidence along with corresponding cases studies in the three sub-categories of happiness, love, and wisdom. Compassion is the building block to healthy human relationships and therefore vital for all three. They intend for the book to be a platform that displays the gaps where science needs to further investigate.
Keltner, Dacher, Jeremy Adam Smith, and Jason Marsh, eds. The Compassionate Instinct: The Science of Human Goodness. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010. Print.
The Compassionate Instinct is a collection of articles originally published in The Great Good magazine on the subject of compassion in three areas: the scientific roots of human goodness, how to cultivate goodness in relationships, and how to cultivate goodness in society and politics. A previous belief within the scientific community was that humans are intrinsically selfish; however, there is new scientific evidence supporting intrinsic, basic human goodness.
Research in evolution has shown a positive human progression towards peace and goodness. Everett Worthington, in ‘The New Science of Forgiveness’, explains how studies show that adding compassion to forgiveness deepens and strengthens forgiveness as well as the bond between the individuals. Neural bases of emotions like love and compassion have been discovered. Studies also find that while individuals naturally respond with given emotions due to environment and temperament, these emotions can be changed for the better.
There has also been progress in finding evolutionary basis for empathy, gratitude, compassion, altruism, fairness, trust, and cooperation, as well as how this knowledge can lead to better lives. Robert Emmons, in ‘Pay it Forward’, found that grateful people were also more likely to be attributed to compassion than ungrateful people. His findings thus suggest that certain positive emotions may be associated with strengthening and cultivating further positive emotions. Moreover, compassion and other positive emotions are also found to support physical health.
Sacks, Oliver. Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain. New York, NY: Vintage, 2008. Print.
Oliver Sacks explores the powerful and possibly transforming human experience of both listening to and making music through case studies of unusual brain disorders, scientific precedent, knowledge of music, and personal experiences. He believes that through studying the harmonies of music, we can find insight into how our life is formed, both as individuals and within larger community contexts. Because humans are, as Sacks puts it, ‘musical species’, understanding music may mean understanding more about humans.
Sacks uses his now classic approach of exploring emergent themes by way of case studies. The thematic areas attend to unusual brain accidents and how music intersects with a universal, shared world. In fact, sometimes music is one’s last remaining mode of connection.
Siegel, Daniel. The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-being. New York, USA: W. W. Norton & Company, 2007. Print.
With a focus on mindful awareness as an avenue for a healthy relationship with oneself, Siegel examines the ways in which being mindfully aware leads to the enhancement of our physiology, mental functions, and interpersonal relationships. Siegel frames his book in four sections: 1) an overview of mindful awareness, 2) direct experiences with mindful awareness, 3) insights from scientific and professional literature, and finally, 4) implications of mindfulness on education, clinical work, and disciplines of psychotherapy.
The overview defines the mind as a process that regulates the flow of energy and information. Mindfulness is being aware of aspects of your mind that allow you to experience life. Being mindfully aware has been proven to regulate emotion, combat emotional dysfunction, improve patterns of thinking, and reduce negative mindsets. It also enables us to approach each present moment with curiosity, openness, acceptance, and love.
Siegel went on a weeklong silent meditation retreat with a hundred other scientists at the Insight Meditation Society. In his section on the experience, Siegel writes about his days at the silent retreat. He begins by reflecting on the tension that he first experience when he was unable to express himself verbally. He goes on to describe his eventual discovery of how multi-faceted his attention and awareness truly is, even though these aspects of his senses are often latent and remain - for the most part - unnoticed.
This leads into the scientific and professional literature on mindful awareness. The problem of having subjectivity in science creates points of contention. Research on the attention networks involved in mindful awareness is still being examined. He uses his metaphor of the wheel of awareness to explain how we receive information from our environment and how past tendencies influence those present experiences. Since awareness is a skill that can be learned, we have the potential to shape our brain for the better. The learned skills that are given to us in education should then include mindful awareness training. We can take control of the relationships we have in life, as well as the way we feel about ourselves. It allows us to live life to our fullest potential, and to find internal attunement that can aid us in peace throughout.
Spiegel, David, and Catherine Classen. Group Therapy for Cancer Patients: A Research-Based Handbook for Psychosocial Care. New York: Basic Books, 2000. Print.
Following a study on group therapy and its effects on cancer patients, this book reviews the relevant literature on both the benefits of group therapy and models for successful group therapy. Although the original study included only breast cancer patients, the research reviews group therapy for people facing any type of life-threatening illness. Compared to those in the control group, patients who had gone through group therapy had less distress, less denial, less avoidance, were capable of coping better, and were in less pain than patients not receiving group therapy. There was an unexpected higher average of survival for the therapy group; however, that result is still under review in recent studies. A central motivation for this study is a want for the medicine field to focus on caring, as well as curing, patients with illnesses.
The review of literature begins by explaining the physical and emotional strains that result from having cancer. Humans are social beings and therefore when confronting the negative aspects of both treatment and illness, we look for support from other people. This support is especially complex with something as unique as cancer, and group therapy can give that specialized container of support. Hypnosis, absorption (attention), dissociation (focus), and suggestibility (acceptance), are outlined as means for pain management. Creating an environment that supports compassionate interactions and open expression allows patients to confront difficult issues while also building a support network. Being supported to share their experiences in such an environment can eventually help patients bring peace to their lives. Various examples are used through the book to explore problems that may come up with group therapy; the book also provides suggestions for building a healing atmosphere.
Cloke, Kenneth and Joan Goldsmith. The Art of Waking People Up. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2003. Print.
The authors explore approaches based in mindfulness, awareness, and cultivating personal integrity and authenticity in workplace settings. The context builds from the finding that workplaces often create atmospheres where employees feel they are “just getting by”: environments that numb individuals’ creative capacity. People in these settings are not fully present and do not bring a sense of engagement that incites creativity, passion, and presence. The chapters in this book unfold in a series of suggestions and techniques to inspire greater connection, personal integrity, stronger communication, and awareness in organizational settings. The underpinning approaches have parallels to the notions of being fully present and enhancing compassion and creativity.
Gilbert, Paul. Compassion Focused Therapy: Distinctive Features. New York: Routledge, 2010. Print.
Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), developed for individuals struggling with mental health issues linked to shame or self-criticism, centers on cultivating one’s self-compassion. Gilbert adopts the Dalai Lama’s definition of compassion, explaining it as sensitivity to the suffering of self and others, with a deep commitment to relieve it. He regards compassion within CFT as a mindset. This mindset is formed and strengthened to engage with one’s pain sensitively and directly. Mindfulness is central to healing within CFT because it allows an individual to open up their mental paradigm to the methods of self-compassionate healing. Methods of CFT explored include: attention, reasoning and rumination, behavior, emotions, motives, and imagery. While self-compassion is the central aim, the therapeutic relationship is fostered through compassion between the patient and the therapist.
The book is written in two main sections: compassion theory and compassion practice. Compassion as a mindset involves rejecting other mindsets that threaten the healing process. A threat mindset is common after trauma and must be reset to an environment that is open to healing. Gilbert develops this through the concepts of multi-mindedness, attachment, shame, self-criticism, and self-correction. Compassion practices are methods to strengthen one’s tendency towards a compassionate mindset, including mindfulness and imagery.
Goldberg, Carl, and Virginia Crespo. Seeking the Compassionate Life: The Moral Crisis for Psychotherapy and Society. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 2004. Print.
In this book, Carl Goldberg strives to understand the path to living a compassionate life. He believes compassion is required for people to live a fulfilling life due to the existence of suffering and despair. In particular, he identifies seven factors as essential to achieve a compassionate life: constructive shame, curiosity, self-reflection, moral courage, personal agency, and social/moral responsibility. While exploring these dimensions of a compassionate life, Goldberg stresses the importance a moral agenda holds for transferring society toward goodwill and reason.
To understand how a person lives a compassionate life entails the study of virtue, a topic greatly disputed within academic disciplines. There are multiple competing systems of morality within society with which we try to reconcile, including the core contention between righteousness and conscience. Goldberg’s examination of these two moral systems in the acquisition of compassion leads to his thesis that a conscience system of morality has the desired component of self-reflection and therefore consists of the seven major factors of compassion. To bolster his argument, he demonstrates the viability of a conscience system in fostering compassion through various case studies.
Levine, Peter A. Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body. Boulder, CO: Sounds True, 2008. Print.
Peter Levine facilitated this edited volume, which explores trauma healing using a unique compilation of researchers, clinicians, and theoreticians. The contributors employ emerging paradigms of trauma treatment in order to present a comprehensive discussion of healing—one that involves biological, developmental, and social components. The book is divided in two sections: the first focuses on theory, the second on praxis. The theoretical chapters take special interest in developmental factors that create or heighten the risk of suffering long-term trauma. In turn, the practical discussion includes various models of therapeutic treatments based on the theory, especially couples theory (whereby trauma victims suffer attachment disorder).
Levine, Peter A. Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 1997. Print.
Modern medicine underestimates the power of the connection between the body and mind in revealing our natural capacity to heal. Both neuroscience and psycho-neuroimmunology insights are removing the barriers that take away from a holistic understanding of trauma. If we allow ourselves to understand our bodies, down to each organ, we can tap into our innate capacity to heal. PTSD sufferers often experience challenging symptoms after the traumatic event, pointing to the lived experience in all of our person. Levine draws from physiology neuroscience, animal behavior, mathematics, psychology, and philosophy to develop a method of therapy that balances and incorporates both body and mind.
Beings have an instinctual and deeply biological knowing that will guide natural processes of healing. Levine’s developed method, named Somatic Experiencing uses tools of re-enactment, awareness, renegotiation, flow, and transformation to open a patient up to listening to their bodies and allowing the body to regulate back to normal function towards healing the entire self.
Lown, Bernard. The Lost Art of Healing: Practicing Compassion in Medicine. Ballantine Books, 1999. Print.
Confronting the irony of having both the best health care in the world, and also an increasingly high level of patient dissatisfaction, many doctors and patients blame the profit-centered health care system. However, Bernard Lown focuses on the broken relationship between the “healer” and the patient as an explanation for the crisis of satisfaction.
In Lown’s analysis, the idea of “healing” a person has been subordinated to the goal of treating the symptoms of a sick person. Technology has taken the place of a holistic approach to the individual. Test results alone now produce diagnoses and prescriptions. Fading or absent is the practice of engaging the patient as a person and linking treatment to the well-being of the whole person. According to Lown, doctors and nurses have become hostages to technology.
Lown argues that until doctors are reconnected to their original vocation as healers, no trusting and lasting relationship can be formed. Without denying the technological advances that have improved our lives, Lown makes the case that healing the patient though medical treatment is both an art and science.
Santorelli, Saki. Heal Thy Self: Lessons on Mindfulness in Medicine. New York, NY: Random House, 2000. Print.
This guide for healing is aimed at both helping professions and patients. Saki Santorelli believes that the relationship is one of, if not the largest, factors in healing. To aid in this relationship is mindfulness, a tool that can bridge a bond between the suffering and the healer. This book details a retreat for creating better healing relationships both professionally and personally.
Inner healing is drastically important in each individual and aids one in taking control of his or her own life. Therefore, the suffering must build a healing relationship between oneself and the healer. Comfort with the relationship is the first step in healing. It allows the barriers to dissolve and reality to be seen clearly. There then must be an inquiry into truly discovering what needs to heal. After building a healing relationship, both with oneself and one’s healer, one can begin to heal. A healer is a guide through this process of self-transformation.
Shapiro, Shauna, and Linda Carlson, eds. The Art and Science of Mindfulness: Integrating Mindfulness into Psychology and the Helping Professions. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2009. Print.
Shauna Shapiro and Linda Carlson review the science of mindfulness within the context of psychology and helping professions. Intention is a vital key to any human action. Mindfulness, which is an awareness of one’s intention to oneself and the other, is an open and accepting method for building an authentic relationship. It is mindfulness, a universal human condition, which enables two people to bridge the gap between them. Such a relationship is key to any healing process.
The authors focus on promoting well-being for the therapist and the patient, both as individuals and as a relational pair. Strengthening one’s mindfulness is done through intention, attention, and attitude. First you must have the intention to be in the present moment and then you must pay attention to others and yourself. Finally you must have an open and compassionate attitude that leads to a relationship that creates and fosters healing.
Siegel, Daniel. The Mindful Therapist: A Clinician's Guide to Mindsight and Neural Integration. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010. Print.
Using the theories and information from his first book The Mindful Brain, Daniel Siegel addresses specifically how and why presence can change patients’ healing. The way we shape and sense energy and information is what Siegel calls “mindsight”. Clarity of our mindsight enables us to modify our presence through being mindful. Our presence with others as well as ourselves promotes empathy and self-compassion by cultivating well- being both mentally and physically. We must know ourselves in order to be able to know the inner workings of others. He explains the processes of developing our presence through his acronym: PART.
Presence: the experience of openness to whatever arises in reality. This allows a
relationship to form with yourself (as the therapist) as well as the patient.
Attunement: Being present to the incoming streams of information without preconceived
notions of biases. This helps begin a healing relationship.
Resonance: This is the alignment of presence and attunement from the interdependent.
state of two autonomous beings. This allows us to influence and affect each other.
Trust: Promotes openness within a relationship.
Truth: Opening oneself to the reality of each moment in order to face that reality and
Tripod: Openness, objectivity, and observation enable us to see our mind clearly.
Triception: Sensing the flow of energy between relationships, mind, and brain allows for
Tracking: Neural integration is control of that flow of energy and information.
Traits: Understanding our own patterns of tendencies shows us our predispositions.
Trauma: Both small and large traumas shape our mind and brain and must be addressed
in order to resolve them.
Transition: The natural flow of energy from chaos to well-being.
Training: Ability to strengthen neural integration towards the desired states of mind.
Transformation: Neuroplasticity, as adults we can still change the structural connections
in our brains.
Tranquility: Living a life of compassion, equanimity, and connection aids in healing.
Transpiration: Being aware of all these parts moves us towards rewiring negative
tendencies and opening ourselves up to healing the holistic patient as well as our own self (as the therapist).
Once we open ourselves up to the individual aspects of PART, we can understand fully how presence aids in healing.
Smalley, Susan and Diana Winston. Fully Present: The Science, Art, and Practice of Mindfulness. Philadelphia: De Capo Press, 2010. Print
The authors of Fully Present include Susan Smalley, PhD in behavior genetics, and mindfulness teacher, Diana Winston. They collaborate together at the Mindful Awareness Research Center at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Their effort provides the reader with access to the primary practices of mindfulness and the existing research supporting and tracking its impact in stress reduction, immune system changes, self-awareness, compassion, and happiness. It contains many practical suggestions for application and learning of mindfulness practices while also providing a sense of how these contribute to healthy relationships -- in particular the capacity to reduce reactivity and increase curiosity and understanding.
Smith, Patricia. To Weep for A Stranger: Compassion Fatigue in Caregiving. CreateSpace Publishing, 2009. Print.
Patricia Smith is the founder of Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project. She aims to show that compassionate care can be authentic and sustainable at the same time. Compassion is often equated with caring as much as one can while taking on a responsibility of healing for those who are suffering. When compassion fatigue sets in, caregivers often brush it aside because they view those who they are helping or those having experienced traumatic events the ones who are ‘really suffering’. This often leads to a cycle of self-doubt and questioning that plagues the helping individual.
Compassion fatigue is a secondary traumatic stress syndrome that can have severe physical and emotional effects. Helping professionals must realize their unique exposure to trauma from their relationships with traumatized individuals. Compassion not only has its limits, but we must also have compassion for ourselves.
Smith goes through the signs and symptoms of compassion fatigue. She explains in detail how burnout can happen if a caregiver is not taking care of him/herself. A caregiver must stop thinking in terms of healing the individual, focusing instead on simply being present to the sufferer. She offers self-care tips as well as structure for those who are just entering the helping professions.
Armstrong, Karen. Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. New York: Knopf, 2010. Print.
The interconnection of humans due to globalization puts a unique demand on the realization and internalization of compassion. Karen Armstrong defines compassion as enduring something with another person, putting ourselves in somebody else’s shoes. It is to feel another’s pain as though it were your own, and to enter into her point of view with generosity. It can also be defined as an attitude of principled, consistent altruism. Therefore, to be compassionate is to be consistently orienting oneself to others. Instead of a focus on healing the other, this definition of compassion focuses on an individual taking part in the suffering from the mindset of the person suffering. Armstrong investigates the existence of compassion in various religious traditions to show how not only does compassion exist in them, but they also explain compassion as a natural attribute to humans. She believes that compassion has surfaced independently throughout history, suggesting that it is essential to our humanity.
Armstrong’s Twelve Steps to Compassion:
1) Learn about compassion
2) Look at your own world
3) Compassion for yourself
7) How little we know about compassion
8) Speaking to others with compassion
9) Concern for everybody
12) Love your enemies
Barasch, Marc Ian. The Compassionate Life. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler, 2009. Print.
Though The Compassionate Life does not espouse a particular religious view or academic discipline, Barasch’s background in psychology and Buddhist teachings informs his work. The book follows Barasch’s open curiosity around facets of compassion, ranging from lived experiences of organ donors, to contemplatives studied by neurologists, to the far fringes of scientific studies about relationship, energy, the universe, and ecology. His exploratory journey takes him into prisons and into the depths of the extraordinary stories of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Berry, Wendell. Blessed Are The Peacemakers: Christ’s Teaching About Love, Compassion and Forgiveness. Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint, 2005. Print.
Wendell Berry - farmer, poet, and novelist - writes a short, clear book on his understandings of the Christian tradition focused on the life and teachings of Jesus. He makes the case that Christianity has, for the most part, bypassed the direct teachings of Christ in relationship to violence, war, and peace. The central part of the book approaches the four Gospels and highlights the relevant teachings of Christ that pertain to the themes of love, compassion, and forgiveness. These texts are bracketed with two essays by Berry. The first is a short introduction to the topic and his approach, and the second is the conclusion, titled “The Burden of the Gospels”, which provides his interpretation of how the themes can be understood in contemporary Christian circles and modern day politics. Of interest here is the endeavor of a poet who explores (in great detail) the underpinning values and proposals emerging from Jesus’ teachings. Berry believes that love, which both engenders and is engendered by compassion and forgiveness, leads towards freedom and abundant life. But, according to Berry, this quality of love is actually practiced in the here and now with neighbors, friends, and enemies. He notes with irony that these are the most ignored passages of Christian expression, as the faith has consistently sought to justify the use of violence as a means to address and end violence, and thereby raises significant questions about the very nature of what it means to use the terms of “following Christ”.
Borg, Marcus J. Meeting Jesus Again For The First Time. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1994. Print.
Borg does not write from within a Christian contemplative tradition per se, but rather as a classically trained theologian speaking to a contemporary audience on the relevance and reframing of Jesus’ life and teachings. Among his central concerns is the tension between viewing Jesus through a lens focusing on “holiness” or “purity” as compared to one that places compassion at its center. Borg argues that the compassion motif provides a different way to both understand and assess the core of Jesus’ ministry and the message of God’s presence in a world of suffering. This, he suggests, is found in the imitatio Dei (imitation of God) in which Jesus provides an example of, and appeals to follow, the mandate to be compassionate as God is compassionate. By definition, a purity system falls quickly toward external appearance and forms of separation (social and religious). Compassion, on the other hand, requires a capacity to feel with others at a deep level, to truly recognize and understand the importance of the well-being and inclusion of “the other”. This, Borg suggests, leads toward a more compassionate form of politics and moves us toward the embodiment of love.
The Dalai Lama. An Open Heart. Ed. Nicholas Vreeland. Boston, MA: Little Brown and Company, 2001. Print.
Compassion defined by The Dalai Lama: A wish that all beings be free from their suffering. (91).
The Dalai Lama writes about how to live a compassionate life through the practices passed down within the Buddhist tradition. The Dalai Lama specifically notes that one can practice this path towards compassion within another faith and that all religious traditions have the goal of compassion within them. The central way towards living with compassion in all aspects of one’s life is letting go of the negative emotions that cause suffering. This can only be done through understanding, in the deepest and fullest sense, of the nature of both suffering and nirvana. The three tenants for understanding are: “understanding derived through listening”, “understanding derived through contemplation” and “understanding derived through meditation”. The Dalai Lama explains the two disciplines of meditation, analytical meditation and settled meditation, as techniques for changing our minds from what is causing our suffering to a virtuous mind that can lead to our happiness.
Analytical meditation aims towards understanding the object of your focus, such as compassion. If one tries to be compassionate without fully understanding it, they will fall short of truly living it. Settled meditation is remaining in a chosen state without a need of engaging in the analytical focus of that state. Both are essential to training your mind to constantly be in a compassionate state. This requires the ability to bring your mind and heart back to a compassionate state when they deviate from it. The Dalai Lama explores the Buddhist ideas of karma and emptiness, and their role in human suffering.
Eppensteiner, Fred, ed. The Path of Compassion: Writings on Socially Engaged Buddhism. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press, 1988. Print.
This edited volume brings together a wider range of Buddhist practitioners who explore the linkages and differences among the works on meditation and mindfulness. This includes works focused on inner peace, increased compassion, and joy with the external response, which compels the writers toward action and social responsibility. Written by key authors who have become quite prominent in the wider field of how compassion relates to social justice and peacebuilding like Thich Nhat Hanh, Maha Ghosananda, and the Dalai Lama, this edited volume explores their early thinking and recommendations. The book also includes a wide range of American Buddhist writers and thinkers. Overall conclusions include that individual contemplative practices to deepen compassion have a natural, fluid and seamless connection to engagement in social change processes and activism.
Fox, Matthew. A Spirituality Named Compassion. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 1999. Print.
Fox defines compassion as creativity put to the service of justice. However, in order for compassion to prevail, people must recognize the interconnectedness of everything in the universe. Spirituality’s purpose is genuine love to all our relations.
His unique change in the way we look at compassion is rooted in a desire to release it from the limiting structure of sentiment, and instead begin to see it as a way of life. Compassion is a celebration of life that is active and public. It is caring that comes from a flow of the fullest human energy. Rather than the usual connection to altruism, compassion is self-love and other-love combined. Fox goes through psychology, science, economics, and politics illuminating the lack of compassion within current systems. Psychology must come down to a human level of healing. Science must return to a connection with nature and its purpose to serve humankind. Economics must shift from a profit-orientated model and instead seek to support all the individual players. And lastly, politics must be a universal system of human beings that protects and honors all life. Compassion breaks down the boundaries that society has built to separate arbitrary labeled groups from each other, and reunites the basic human connectedness.
Ghosananda, Maha. Step by Step. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press, 1992. Print.
Maha Ghosananda, a revered Buddhist monk in Cambodia, led a campaign of response in the aftermath of Cambodia’s genocide. The campaign took the form of a march across Cambodia and especially into the rural areas. This short book provides his primary teachings in short 1-2 page essays on topics that explore compassion, peace, justice and the contemplative Buddhist tradition. Step by step was part of his famous saying that mindfulness requires slowing down and that each step is a prayer. Foreword and introductions to Ghosananda provided by Dith Pran (well known journalist profiled in The Killing Fields) and Jack Kornfield.
Habito, Ruben L. F. Healing Breath: Zen for Christians and Buddhists in a Wounded World. Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2006. Print.
This elegant introduction and guide to Zen Buddhist practice is deceptively simple: the book is nothing less than an accessible comparison of the Christian and Buddhist wisdom traditions which leaves the integrity of each fully intact. Wearing his impressive erudition lightly, the author reassures Christians who are curious or even anxious about “crossing over” into another contemplative tradition than their own, that Buddhist and Christian contemplative practices and spiritual insights converge at the deepest level. Formally, the book explores Buddhist teachings as a path to embarking upon zazen—the Zen equivalent of centering prayer, practiced by sitting in an erect posture and following one’s breath in the cycle of inhaling and exhaling. This is the “healing breath” of the book’s title and, if the Christian reader is led to think of the Holy Spirit, Habito skillfully pursues the analogy without fully endorsing it in every ontological detail. Love understood as transformative compassion is the fruit of the practice, and Habito extends its “applications” from the personal to the social to the ecological. One could place several of Habito’s writings (including Living Zen, Loving God) into this category of texts that bring together compassion and spirituality; but they also illuminate the nexus between contemplative practice and healing, understood in the fullest sense.
Hudson, Trevor. A Mile in My Shoes: Cultivating Compassion. Nashville, TN: Upper Room, 2005. Print.
Compassion is being personally and deeply aware of the suffering of your neighbors. This concept of compassion is derived from the golden rule: ‘love you neighbor as yourself’. Three essential ingredients to cultivating compassion are: encounter, reflection, and transformation. Once we encounter the suffering of our neighbors, it forms into our reality and then the pull of compassion creates a call to action. Reflecting on experiences is important because it allows one to analyze and digest information that may be overwhelming. Not reflecting on experiences can make it difficult for one to live in the present moment, they may instead get stuck re-living the past. Lastly, we must utilize our encounters and reflections for transforming ourselves to compassionate Christ-Followers. Once we transform, we are able to see the daily tasks that are calling for us to be compassionate to our neighbors. He also discusses how compassion fatigue must be acknowledged. In addition, one must recognize that daily limits are essential and serve as a form of compassion toward the self.
Marty, Martin E. A Cry of Absence: Reflections for the Winter of the Heart. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1982. Print.
Martin Marty opens his book with a metaphor, “seasons of the heart”, to introduce his exploration of the threat of Absence (Absence of God). He then surveys authors who have paved the way towards understanding the unique disposition and needs of those who experience this threat. John Crowe Ransom initially began the discovery of the event of Absence. Karl Rahner wrote on two sorts of spiritualities, labeled here as the summery and wintery spiritualities. While the summery is more attractive and therefore desired to be the central focus in many communities, it is the wintery-hearted that are in need of leadership in a time where they find Absence of God in their horizon. Friedrich Heiler discusses how the distinct prayer qualities and needs of the differing types contribute to exploration of understanding both summery and wintery hearts. Lastly, Pieter Geyl discusses how a wintry heart comes from a spiritual horizon of doubt with hope for signs of the divine. Winterers find themselves with a distant heart and a smaller opening that needs a distinctly unique response.
Marty goes through common mindsets and attitudes of the wintery spirited to not only explore the landscape but also validate the individuals who find themselves within winter. Marty believes that the needs of the wintery are based in texts (italicized for emphasis). Texts provide words from times when divine presence was manifest, building trust and disclosing modes of being less familiar when divinity seems removed. He explores the text of the Psalms to show how it is a building block for the wintery through inspiration of spirit, familiarization with death, and spiritual responsibility.
There are many challenges in warming those with wintery hearts; however, those in winter cannot help but look towards spring because they have not given up on the search for God. When winterers begin to thaw, they find it difficult to believe in that relief. Many find that they slip back into winter and become completely closed off from their horizon to God. Spirituality, however, does not sustain itself without practice and therefore must involve patience for community and hope. While not all desire summer after the winter, Marty explains, “hope is an element in the human makeup” (169).
Nepo, Mark. The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by being Present to the Life You Have. San Francisco, CA: Conari Press, 2000. Print.
The Book of Awakening is a collection of writings—a daily reflection for each day of the year—with which Mark Nepo hopes to guide individuals towards a journey of self-discovery. Through stories, experiences, observations, and poetry, Nepo invites his readers to partake in the struggle that awakened him during a battle with cancer.
He defines compassion as embracing everything clearly without imposing who we are and without losing who we are. He aims to inspire an introspective life that leads to appreciation of our own present moment. Each entry is followed by suggestions to interpret action into your life, with hope that we have the ability to transform our mindsets to see the daily miracles life has to offer us.
Nouwen, Henri, Donald P. Mcneill, and Douglas A. Morrison. Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life. New York, NY: Image, 2005. Print.
In their book, Nouwen, Mcneill, and Morrison make two main cases regarding compassion. First, it is at the core of Christian life and as such must fully pervade the human spirit. Secondly, compassion is located in and rises from the intimate nexus between prayer and action. This deeper—rather than simply reactive-based— compassion is more aligned with the feeling sympathy evokes as a passing emotion. It has its origins in the very spirit of God’s action through Jesus with a “downward” pull to fully embrace and experience the nature and plight of the human experience, what the authors call the exemplar God-with-us that defines the core quality of compassion. Nouwen, Mcneill, and Morrison suggest a complementary understanding of obedience -- tracing to the Latin audire (to listen) -- as the full attention, the complete engagement of the other, creating a quality of presence best seen in how Jesus was with people and their suffering. In this sense they put forth Jesus as the embodiment of compassion.
They note the twelve times in the Gospel when Jesus was “moved” using the Greek term splanchnizomai (“feeling it in the guts”). Splanchnizomai is related to the Hebrew word rachamim, or the womb of God. Thus, in these instances, Jesus was “moved with compassion” from and to a deep intimate location - a place at one with the divine “womb” of God - revealing a tenderness but also the birthing of the creative response found in Jesus’ healing outreach. Similarly, the notion of the downward pull requires an “emptied” self, taking the image from Paul’s writings in Philippians, which seamlessly ties the inner prayer with the outer touch and engagement with the suffering of the world. The ultimate notion of this is to consider the other as better than yourself, a radical form of humility and respect.
Exploring the Latin com (with) and pati (suffering) permits the authors to hold together the concepts of com-passi-on and com-pati-ence. This connection reveals the notion of time, found in the many instances that “time” in the Gospels was described as fullness, not a linear clock time, but completely present in the pregnancy of the moment and revealing of the Divine.
Their definition of compassion provided a certain simplicity and fullness revealed in God’s birthing of Jesus: “The full immersion in the condition of being human”.
Rinpoche, Chökyi Nyima, and David R. Shlim. Medicine and Compassion: A Tibetan Lama's Guidance for Caregivers. First Trade Paper Edition ed. Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2006. Print.
Straightforward, very easy to comprehend explanations of Tibetan Buddhism’s views about compassion focused on the medical professional in the West. Strengths of this book are the simple examples and explanations he gives of key concepts and disciplines. For example, when explaining the Buddha’s teaching on emptiness he suggests this could be understood as openness. He talks about the natural state and the meditation practice as finding a way to be truly calm. He suggests we have greater capacity to be compassionate when we are deeply calm and relaxed. The practices can be as simple as attempting to make the last thought at night about the well being of another and the first in the morning a noble one. The Tibetan view is not that compassion is “created” but rather that it is inherent human nature and the various practices (patience, perseverance, meditation, etc.) allow it to occur, to let something already within us to come forth and blossom.
The chapters of the book relate basic themes emergent in Tibetan Buddhist understandings. However, throughout and particularly toward the end practical advice is provided to the medical caretakers in particular, both in terms of understanding the need for a more holistic approach but also in reference to responding to anger and frustration of patients, dealing with death and dying in a dignified way, and practices specific to medical professional’s engagement of the other.
Shah-Kazemi, Reza. My Mercy Encompasses All. Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint, 2007. Print.
Shah-Kazemi, in a series initiated by Wendell Berry (who also provides an introduction to this small book), provides a text in which he gathers the teachings of the Koran that support and relate to the concepts of compassion, peace and love. The author provides a short overview and introduction to the work noting that the references in the Koran around these themes exceed any other thematic teaching found therein. Particular emphasis is placed on the central value afforded to the notion of mercy and compassion which, as the title of the book suggests, relates to the very nature of Allah and encompasses all. The reader will find an extraordinary resource to explore the centrality and the many ways the Koran affirms and builds from an understanding of compassion.
Tutu, Desmond. No Future Without Forgiveness. New York: Doubleday, 1999. Print.
Well known for his role in the transformation of South Africa, particularly in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, this book represents the Archbishop’s foundational description on the themes of forgiveness, justice, peace and reconciliation.
Tutu makes the case that the past must not be ignored, noting that the future is limited if we do not deeply engage in forgiveness and justice. Based primarily on examples from the Commission and years of struggle, Archbishop Tutu provides great insight into the hard work of public acknowledgement, engagement of hatred and injustice, while making the case for compassion, and forgiveness.
Andreas, Mark. Sweet Fruit from the Bitter Tree: 61 Stories of Creative and Compassionates Ways out of Conflict. Boulder, CO: Real People Press, 2011. Print.
In the introduction Mark Andreas describes his personal engagement with story and the impact that a short narrative can have on understanding how people dealt unexpectedly with situations of conflict. Mark comes from background in conflict resolution and compiled 61 stories about compassion, creativity, and breaking out of what seem impossible challenges. The stories cover all kinds of settings, domestic, and international.
Atkinson, Judy. Trauma Trails: Recreating Song Lines. North Melbourne, Australia: Spinifex Press, 2002. Print.
Judy Atkinson began her research with the Aboriginal people of central Queensland, first to examine their phenomena of violence and resulting experience of trauma, and second to understand their cultural and individual experiences of healing (9). Atkinson is of Jiman and Bundjalung descent, making this journey into the Aboriginal culture deeply personal and unique. Through her initial exploration into the culture, she was introduced to dadirri, an Aboriginal concept of contemplative listening, which she found vital to any research into the violence and trauma of these people. She explores this concept while weaving it into her research model, showing how dadirri allowed her to explore the experiences of the Aboriginal community while finding unique and integrating ways of healing.
Dadirri is a process of listening, reflecting, observing, and learning. During this cyclic process, re-listening at deeper levels of understanding and knowledge-building ultimately ends in acting with integrity and fidelity to what has been learnt (19). Atkinson incorporated values from dadirri into her research model. Throughout this project, there was a need to honor the integrity and fidelity of the community while working within the principles of reciprocity within relationships. Lastly, by being constantly aware of any assumptions or bias, learning can come from listening and witnessing without prejudice while being responsible for the self in relationship to others in the process (20).
Atkinson describes the Aboriginal world as existing within social structures which are both composed and informed in relation to their country. Colonialization has therefore created intricate experiences of traumatized individuals and communities for Aboriginal peoples that magnifies across lifelines and generations (91). By utilizing dadirri within the exploration of this trauma, the experience is given a safe place (145). Through dadirri, Atkinson is able to come close to understanding these personal experiences and construct a pathway for healing. First, the Aboriginal people must rebuild the community, deepening both self-knowledge of the individual and the community. Then they can rebuild the essence and experience of family and community. By using the principles of ceremony, healing processes strengthen cultural and spiritual identities while awakening people to their own ability for healing (212-213). Atkinson uses this knowledge to build a model of healing with education as a foundation, aiming for a safe and healthy environment for all.
Peacemaking: Public and Private. Philadelphia, PA: The Wider Quaker Fellowship, 1978. Print.
In The Middle: Non-official Mediation in Violent Situations. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1986. Print.
Tools For Transformation: A Person Study. Stroud, UK: Hawthorn Press, 1990. Print.
This series of publications from a pioneer of both faith-based (Quaker) mediation into violent, armed conflicts and peace studies (first Professor of Peace Studies at Bradford) provides an inquiry into the framework and skills required for the nonofficial international intermediary.
Tools for Transformation goes beyond the peacemaking frame of reference to also explore Curle’s experience in development and education. Throughout, the author explores his religious and value-based understandings, primarily emergent in the Quaker tradition but significantly growing to include the impact of Buddhism on his understanding and work.
In Public and Private, Curle suggests that the more visible side of this work – with a parallel to diplomacy and the skills of conflict resolution – requires the nurturing of the less visible though a deeper side of character and spirit of peacefulness within the mediator. Through levels of listening, he demonstrates the need for compassion for others, and capacity to mindfully peel back the layers of outer protection in order to see “what is vital and living” in another. This theme replicates throughout his writing in subsequent years and creates his view to approach peacemaking and intermediary work with a commitment to integration. Public peacemaking, he argues, is what “we do” while private peacemaking nurtures who “we are”.
In The Middle provides detailed, though fictional, conversations common to international mediation that depict actions, questions, and responses of a mediator in order to illustrate many of his main points.
Hicks, Donna. Dignity The Essential Role It Plays In Resolving Conflict. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011. Print.
With a background in psychology and conflict resolution, Donna Hicks develops a “dignity” model for understanding conflict, healing, and reconciliation. The model provides ten essential elements that define dignity: acceptance of identity, inclusion, safety, acknowledgement, recognition, fairness, benefit of the doubt, understanding, independence, and accountability. Each of these form a major chapter with examples from her work in international conflict settings, philosophical underpinnings, and scientific evidence. On the other side of the coin she also provides ten temptations that violate dignity including: taking the bait, saving face, shirking responsibility, seeking false dignity, false security, avoiding conflict, being the victim, resisting feedback, blaming and shaming, and engaging in false intimacy and demeaning gossip.
The book provides a clear focus on what dignity entails, how it functions in human relationships and why it is central for transformative processes. Parallel discussions about compassion, vulnerability, and respect are included as well as very practical applications of how to engage and mobilize an understanding of dignity in the midst of conflict.
Lederach, John Paul. The Poetic Unfolding of the Human Spirit. Kalamazoo, MI: The Fetzer Institute, 2011. Print.
John Paul Lederach was invited to write for the Fetzer Institute’s Global Dream project. The initiative focused on authors who presented a dream for the whole of creation and humanity.
Written in a form of a haibun—a mixture of prose and haiku—Lederach creates a travelogue reflecting on his journey as a peacebuilder with a focus on significant relationships and conversations in the year 2009. Weaving together personal insights, experiences, and his artistic self, Lederach brings together an insightful look at the challenge of working for peace in the midst of violence. Peace often occurs in moments that are deeply unique and personal to the individuals within the violence, finding their own spirit to begin the healing processes. As peacebuilders, it is imperative to foster other’s, as well as our own, unfolding poetic spirit.
McConnell, John A. Mindful Mediation: A Handbook for Buddhist Peacemakers. Dehiwala, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Research Institute, 2001.
McConnell provides a useful overview of Buddhist teachings and in numerous instances the Buddha’s responses to work with and mediate conflict. The themes parallel those of other lenses examining conflict and intermediary work, such as those on root causes and escalation, or deepening one’s skills in listening and problem-solving. However, the author also provides direct links to the Dhamma to illustrate the unique spiritual disciplines and understandings provided by Buddhism.
An important theme throughout is how to mobilize and understand the role of compassion for the Buddhist mediator. While the most significant understanding remains the overall concern to reduce suffering, compassion for the mediator has numerous elements. Listening with compassion requires mindfulness and full attention to the person, as well as to the wider setting, such as the causes and those affected by the conflict, or rather, “all that is creating a setting of conflict”.
This understanding emerges from a concern to not exclusively alleviate suffering of a particular individual, especially one who is a friend or colleague whose suffering touches the mediator, but rather to hold concern for the suffering of all beings. This concern leads to compassionate understanding, which essentially suggests a discipline of being “gentle” with one’s “own mind and the other’s”. This stance of the Buddhist mediator thus requires what McConnell calls a “detached compassion”. Here, detachment is not seen as neutrality or distance, but rather as the search for understanding and action. Both of which require the deeper mindful exploration of four Truths when one is fully cognizant of greed, craving, and impermanence prevalent in Buddhist teaching. The detached compassion thus functions in ways that help the mediator to be mindful of the individual’s suffering and also to the suffering of all.
The book is replete with case studies, practical examples and guideposts for mediators who wish to work within a Buddhist frame of reference. Two extensive and well-documented studies provide the Buddha’s response and intervention tactics in different conflict situations. These cases draw on the lessons, challenges, and approaches used. The careful exploration of texts along with examples and articulate explanations make this book useful for both Buddhist and non-Buddhist readers interested in better understanding the Dhamma.
Zehr, Howard. Doing Life: Reflections of Men and Women Serving Life Sentences. Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 1996. Print.
Similar to Howard Zehr’s earlier work in Transcending, Doing Life aims at understanding the lives of inmates sentenced to life in prison without a chance of parole. Pennsylvania has one of the most merciless sentencing systems: anyone convicted of first- or second-degree murder is automatically sentenced to life without parole. Due to a desire to use inmates’ perspectives on life as a tool for compassion towards inmates, Zehr conducted over 60 interviews with individuals sentenced to life within this prison system. 58 of the interviews are complete with a corresponding portrait. Some also include pictures of the interviewees prior to their time in prison. These photos help readers to better grasp the change that takes place in an individual sentenced to life in prison. Zehr took the portraits against a plain muslin background with eyes pointed at the camera, while the individuals picked their own clothing and body language.
As Zehr points out, our society tends to focus on the label of “criminal” while stripping inmates of their actual personhood. Automatic life without parole does this to a greater degree because it takes away the individual circumstance and experience or rather it makes all of the inmates the same prisoner to a certain degree. Zehr wants to put the face to the criminal in hopes that it will make us, as a society, think harder and more creatively about the problem of crime. Ultimately, Zehr promotes victim offender reconciliation programs, as well as developing restorative justice that is centered on accountability (118-119). He holds a seminar that aims at helping each inmate find empathy for his or her victims.
In addition to research findings on the topic, prison staff also attest that lifers are some of the most mature inmates and seem to be the least likely to do re-commit their crime (3). To begin his project, Zehr asked the Pennsylvania prison system to connect him with individuals who would be willing to reflect on life and their experiences in prison. He also asked that participants in his project represent a variety of ethnic backgrounds, ages, and perspectives. Interviews were conducted with direct questions about what it means to serve a life sentence, how inmates understand their experiences in prison, and how someone with a life sentence can be capable of having hope (3).
Section II: CREATIVITY
Cameron, Julia. The Artist's Way. 10th ed. New York, NY: Tarcher, 2002. Print.
Everyone is capable of being creative if they know how to tap into the creative energy inside of them. In The Artist’s Way, Cameron writes about her personal path towards creativity through art, specifically art that calls on individuals to tap into their own inner creativity. One [k1] must understand any possible personal blockages or barriers in order to open up to the flow of creativity. In other words, at the heart of learning higher creativity lies the practice of opening new pathways of consciousness through which creativity may pass.
Cameron begins with basic principles and tools of creativity. The basic principles describe creativity as an energy source fundamental to human nature as well as all life forms. We must first understand that it is human nature to be creative prior to being capable of touching our own energy. The two most basic tools are morning pages and the artist date.
Morning pages is the act of writing three pages in a stream of consciousness style every morning. Morning pages begin to break down one’s structured actions and allow for the inner self to come through unadulterated. The artist date is two to three hours of quality time set aside each week nurturing allowing one to nurture his/her creative side. Releasing a creative side takes dedication and focus. Cameron’s 12-week self-discovery process is filled with tips and activities, which enable and empower readers to not only embrace their creative selves, but also to allow for a conscious flow of creativity in their lives.
Franck, Frederick. The Zen of Seeing: Seeing/Drawing as Meditation. New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1973. Print[KL2] .
Frederick Franck discusses how when combined, spirituality, creativity, and art, enhance, strengthen, and clarify one another. When lecturing at a conference entitled “Creativity in a Non-Creative Environment”, Franck began to explore his methods of Seeing/Drawing as meditation for creativity. He invited his students to look at an object and see the object, in order to find the object’s essence. When you start drawing, your hand creates the object while your eyes and mind still look at and see the object you are drawing. This is how Franck believes art can deepen our creativity and spirituality, while enhancing mindfulness and our presence in every moment.
Once you start seeing objects for their essences, you realize how you have gone without really seeing the world around you. As you rediscover the world, your awareness and attention meet and become contemplation. This life of contemplation is an authentic personal experience. Franck explores his methods as he explains seeing a rock, a tree, a circus horse, a city, and various other drawings that he includes in his book. What you are searching for is each object’s essence, which allows you to see the human condition in each person and object you draw. The unique experience of drawing people allows you to discover the relatedness between yourself and the entire universe.
Loori, John Daido. The Zen of Creativity: Cultivating Your Artistic Life. New York, NY: Ballantine Books, 2005. Print.
John Daido Loori, a research scientist, changed his life direction to found and direct the Zen Mountain Monastery. His book explores creativity, tips on finding your creative side, and delves into how this gives us a deeper understanding of art.
The creative process parallels a spiritual journey in that it is “intuitive, non-linear, and experimental” (2). When we are able to be silent in our minds, creative energy –
known as wu-wei in the Zen tradition – flows out of us. Zen art is focused on the relationship between a student and his teacher; however, a creative art journey can be accomplished alone. The book is meant to be like a teacher. Art is capable of pointing us to the nature of reality, because art in its purest form is nature. When we are capable of exploring art through our creative energy that is given to us by our human nature, the practices of art become lessons on life.
The four characteristics of life are wabi, sabi, aware, and yugen. Wabi is loneliness, sabi is ordinary, aware is nostalgia and yugen is mystery. Once we are in touch with the creative energy inside of us, we are communicating spiritual insight through art. “The creative act expresses our inherent perfection and enlarges the universe by making visible the invisible” (8).
May, Rollo. The Courage to Create. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 1994. Print.
Creativity is a natural condition of being human. Rollo May writes that, in his modern art of ‘limbo’, we can either shut ourselves off from the unknown or have the courage to mold the world into a society that fosters life (12). Drawing from the works of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Camus, and Sartre, May defines courage as the capacity to move ahead in spite of despair. Courage requires a centeredness of self that gives way to the values of relationships (13). Unlike all other life, humans need commitment in order to have the courage to enter more fully into being and becoming.
May describes four different perspectives of courage: physical, moral, social, and creative. Because creativity is the process of bringing something new into being, it is partaking in the myth of actual creation that gives way to what we constitute as meaning (134). Creative awareness fosters insight from a state of heightened consciousness. Encounters deepen and strengthen our relation to the world that constitutes our being.
Rogers, Natalie. The Creative Connection: Expressive Arts as Healing. Palo Alto, CA: Science and Behavior Books, 1997. Print.
Expressive arts assist emotional healing, illuminate inner conflict, and awaken our creativity. Because art allows someone to explore their inner most self, more authentic and deeper relationships are created. Rogers models expressive arts as a pathway of awakening and releasing our depths in order to give us a new perspective on being. In releasing our capacity for creativity, we open up to flexible and expanding ways to heal and grow.
Art builds a bridge between therapist and client, while also strengthening that relationship. Carl Rogers, Natalie Roger’s father, developed his program around a person-centered model of therapy. A therapist’s role within a therapeutic relationship is an empathic and caring person, listening to a client who has an innate capacity to reach his or her own full potential of living.
Ball, Philip. The Music Instinct: How Music Works and Why We Can’t Do Without It. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.
Ball begins by briefly engaging with past theories and knowledge of music, including Pinker (who views music as pure pleasure technology) and Carroll (who views music as part of the noble nature of art). Through that discussion, Ball ultimately reveals that he believes music to be ingrained in our auditory, cognitive, and motor functions, and therefore implicit to human personal and social construction. His major concentration explores why we obtain pleasure from music, whether listening to or making it. Because the context of music is integral to the physical and mental effect it has on us, music can say a great deal about us as beings.
Cropley, David H., et al., eds. The Dark Side of Creativity. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Print.
Creativity in normally viewed as neutral, if not positive. This view drives research on what creativity is and how we can foster it in individuals. The Dark Side of Creativity reviews various creative products such as biological weapons, nuclear weapons, crime, September 11th, automobiles, and counterterrorism, emphasizing that creativity can lead to harm and destruction. Research on creativity must recognize and understand this darker side. Deepening this understanding could eventually lead to understanding how to counter these negative sides of creativity.
While the major focus on this book is exploring the negative consequences of creativity, Robert Sternberg’s section focuses on a possible solution to this problem. He suggests that a neutral position when teaching creativity is what leads to the possibility of negative or positive outcomes. If wisdom is emphasized as children cultivate their creative sides, we can foster “good” creativity. Wisdom within creativity emphasizes achievement of the common good through intrapersonal, interpersonal, and extrapersonal interests over both the short and long run. This balances existing environments while also shaping current or new environments. With a framework taught for human creativity, side constraints are constructed for the process and products of our imagination.
Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Flow: The Classic Work on how to Achieve Happiness. New York, NY: Random House, 2002. Print.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s exploration into creativity began with an exploration into the positive aspects of the human experience. He explores the universal goal of “being happy” in one’s life, along with an inquiry into the various ways that one can obtain happiness. Csikszentmihalyi linked this search for happiness to creativity, a quality observed in individuals who seemed most satisfied with their work in life. He began interviewing creative individuals in order to understand the internal states during creative episodes. He found that by taking control of our consciousness and feeling in control of our lives, we achieve optimal experience. These moments of happiness are what he calls “flow”. Flow can be achieved when the mind and body, stretched to its limits, attempt something difficult and worthwhile that requires complete control of our consciousness, as well as an expansion of our known facilities. Flow is written from the accumulation of Csikszentmihalyi’s research on how we can intentionally find flow in our lives.
Csikszentmihalyi begins with the science of consciousness and how our consciousness can be controlled (mindfulness). He explains that people most often find optimal experience when faced with challenges and or when working to achieve certain goals. Refining our skills (creativity) creates larger challenges and aids in a life of optimal experiences. These challenges and goals give purpose to our actions while giving more meaning to our lives. Csikszentmihalyi also gives examples of activities that have led to flow. These are physical, sensory, and symbolic skills that include: arts, hobbies, sports, yoga, and work.
Kaufman, James C., and Robert J. Sternberg, eds. The International Handbook of Creativity. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Print.
In order to fully understand the human act of creativity, international perspectives must be taken into account when discussing and defining creativity and defining creative thought. Research on creativity is being done around the world and the essays within this book review the differing approaches that stem from the authors’ individual conceptions of creativity.
For example, in Scandinavian countries, creativity is seen as an attitude towards life and how an individual deals with various challenges. In China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, creativity has been historically devalued; however, there is now an emphasis on creativity in regards to intelligence and giftedness. French culture emphasizes the four p’s: person, process, product, and press (environment). In Germany, research on creativity is focused on the creative process and problem solving. In Israel, an emphasis is also placed on creative problem solving, but not the creative process. Meanwhile, the Italians emphasize creative geniuses. In Poland, research began with a focus on divine creativity, but has now shifted to a focus on “small c” creativity (everyday creativity).
Citizens of Soviet-Russia hold two trains of thoughts. Some note that Marxist roots produced a focus on productive thinking and insight while others focus on giftedness. In terms of African countries, the differences among languages are key. Only Arabic has a word for creativity. Other African languages use words such as resourcefulness, intelligence, talent, and artistic capabilities to express the idea of ‘creativity’. In Turkey, fantasy fuels creativity. Research focuses on creativity in art, literature, science, as well as other disciplines. In South Korea, creativity is seen as having original ideas or being interested in original ideas. The majority of the focus is on testing and developing creativity.
In Latin America on the other hand, science is not culturally valued and therefore little research has been done on the subject of creativity. However, the region is promoting a program called Learning for Creating, which aims at developing creativity in schools. In Spain, the Education Act of 1970 focused on developing creativity in the classroom. Qualities of creative individuals, tools to measure creativity, training teachers, and highly gifted students are all foci of research. Last, but not least, in India, creativity is the result of doing something original or novel that is also useful. Indians also consider creativity to be a natural human desire, which stems from the importance of transformation within Indian culture. Additionally, the term in Hindi for creativity indicates that it is the desire or purpose to create.
Levitin, Daniel J. This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession. New York, NY: Penguin Group, 2007. Print.
Daniel Levitin uses his own background in cognitive neuroscience to explore the field of science in music through a wide range of perspectives including psychology, memory, perception, creativity, and the brain. Outlining the latest studies being done on music, music meaning, and music pleasure, Levitin displays how music has the ability to reach nearly every region of the brain. This may result in breakthroughs towards understanding how our brains are still changing, even as adults, and how music can unlock avenues to creating a more healthy brain, and in turn, person.
Perlman, James Ph D. Science without Limits: Toward a Theory of Interaction between Nature and Knowledge. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1995. Print.
James Perlman analyzes the role of the scientist in the process of understanding the world through science. He believes that there needs to be a reexamination of scientific paradigms due to the role of the human in science. Scientific conclusions are often considered fact without understanding the human subjectivity involved in producing them. Science is seen as the highest level in the hierarchy of natural systems instead of understanding the gaps and holes that are prevalent throughout scientific theory. Scientists use sense, mind, muscles, intuition, and imagination to draw conclusions and develop theories. What needs to be seen instead is a science of man which also includes an interpretation of one’s natural and sociocultural surroundings. There then needs to be recognition of the inevitability of revolutions within scientific theory. Too often change is seen as negative, because acknowledging that science can be wrong brings doubt to a system seen as infallible. Perlman also discusses a historical examination of scientific natural order, rhythms in nature, use of faiths and assumptions, feedback, and reorganization of ideas.
Sawyer, R. Keith. Explaining Creativity: The Science of Human Innovation. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2006. Print.
Keith Sawyer begins Explaining Creativity by attempting to define creativity, quickly shown as a difficult, if not impossible, thing to do. He explains how many people believe they know what creativity is. Sawyer, however, argues against these common notions of creativity, including: everyone is creative, creativity comes from the unconscious, creativity is spontaneous inspiration, and fine art is more creative than craft. Instead, creativity is not merely an expression of the inner self that comes from something outside of us, but rather it is a product of one’s culture and time-period that is conscious, skillful, and guided hard work.
Sawyer’s book is largely invested in the exploration of Creativity (upper-case C) that results in “some socially valuable product”. Businesses are beginning to realize that creativity holds their viability in an ever-changing market, and that leadership is an increasingly demanding creative role. Through research in various fields including science, art, and history, Sawyer show that creativity can be intentional, learned, and used in all professions. His book lays a concise foundation for the subject of creativity, while bridging creativity from art to the other disciplines in which creativity plays, or should play, a role.
Weisberg, Robert W. Creativity: Understanding Innovation in Problem Solving, Science, Invention, and the Arts. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2006. Print.
This text is easily understood from outside the psychology discipline while still being advanced enough for research on the topic of science and creativity. Weisberg supports the cognitive theory of creativity and goes through great lengths to explain this research. He explores all of the modern theories of creativity and uses cases studies to support or contradict each theory that range from science to art. Summaries of these theories follow.
The gods and madness theory explains creativity as a source outside of ordinary thinking. This includes unconscious thinking, leaps of insight, psychopathological thinking, and divergent thinking. The unconscious thinking theory explains creativity as a process of connections happening underneath and through our conscious mind. While we constantly input data from the world, creativity makes connections and associations that then come to us as new ideas. The leap of insight theory describes creativity as extraordinary thinking. It is that moment when ideas pop into someone’s head. These “ah-ha” moments happens outside of our thinking processes and outside of our control. Psychopathological theories come from the common notion that creativity is linked with psychotic behavior. Divergent theory explains creativity as the production of numerous ideas, which are then picked through via a bottom-up processing approach until we come to a viable option.
Evolutionary theory on creativity expresses the view that there are blind variations of new ideas until one is viable enough to work. Cognitive theory describes creativity as ordinary thinking. It stems from the same top-down processes involved in problem solving that take place every day. Confluence theories attempt to integrate theories by mixing cognition, personality, and social environment.
Bein, Andrew. The Zen of Helping: Spiritual Practices for Mindful and Open-Hearted Practice. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2008. Print.
Andrew Bein writes from the framework that compassionate, clear-minded, and creative approaches can strengthen and support helping professionals. He uses this to explore how to let go, how to create a container of healing for the practitioner/client relationship, how cultivating a sense of calling matters, and how radical acceptance for the present moment, as well as the patient, allows you to find creative personal growth. Letting go is important for a helping professional in order to not take on the world’s suffering while at the same time being able to engage personally and effectively. Bein explains that in order to create a healing container, the helping professional must focus on a relationship consisting of two individuals, and a relationship centering in mindful compassion and creativity. The idea of radical acceptance not only pertains to accepting the present moment as reality, but also accepting the people for exactly who they are in that present moment. If you are constantly thinking about how much they have not progressed or how much you dislike their mindset, you will move the container away from healing opportunities.
Bein introduces the Zen concept of “strong back, soft front”. “Strong back” refers to the development of a container rooted in mindful and skillful responses, which at the same time embraces the present moment. He explains that this must be physically represented by sitting up straight with strength and taking command of the room. A soft front refers to constantly having a compassionate presence of understanding. Putting your shoulders back and your heart physically represent soft front forward. By allowing oneself to break away from a concentration on structured diagnostic framework that stunts creativity, a professional helper can cultivate acceptance, as well as open relationships, without focusing on desired results.
Furman, Rich, Carol Langer, and Debra Anderson. "The Poet/Practitioner: A Paradigm for the Profession " Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare 33.3 (2006): 29, 30-50. Print.
This article begins by explaining the origins of the commonly used scientist/practitioner paradigm. While the authors believe there is merit to this framework, they also believe that without a holistic view of the patient, the individual client is lost. This can lead to an over emphasis on assessment and treatment that may have come from the discovery of psychotropic drugs and our ability to medically change human behavior. A paradigm of poet/practitioner is suggested as a method to approach social work as a creative endeavor that is a unique and dynamic vocation requiring unique methods of healing.
Poetry is both personal and social and therefore a reflection and commentary on society. A poet/practitioner must see the client as something more than a symptom/diagnostic goal. They must see the circumstances surrounding the client that have lead to the client’s need for help. Poets have a dedication to their craft. A poet engages in creative processes that create flexibility in approaching a given task. This creative approach breaks a practitioner out of frameworks and into personally engaged interactions. This is not meant to deduce previous training as useless but is instead meant to see the damage done when training aids are used as an ultimate end. As both the practitioner and client aim towards truth and self-assessment, meaning and purpose can be established in order to work through the challenges openly and honestly. This framework allows the practitioner to establish a value-based approach to their work.
Leveton, Eva. Healing Collective Trauma using Sociodrama and Drama Therapy. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company, 2010. Print.
Healing is not curing; it is both big and small changes that move an individual towards developing a more livable life. Bringing healing processes into a group context allows individuals to see others heal. The group also brings in an element of trust as members work together and expose their personal struggles and fears. Psychodrama adds to the group benefit by teaching individuals flexibility in their responses to situations, which helps them move away from the learned traumatic responses that prevent them from living a full life. It creates a space separate from their everyday lives where individuals can feel safe. Individual chapters include both professional and personal stories of healing with sociodrama that gives the reader creative avenues of healing. Case studies and theory are both explored in order to be easily adaptable to unique group dynamics. Art, music, and poetry are all explored as elements of sociodrama.
Levine, Peter. In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness. 1st Edition ed. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2010. Print.
Peter Levine utilizes case studies ranging from biology to psychotherapy as means for exploring the nature of trauma of the body and the mind. He investigates animal ethnology, brain research, and indigenous healing rituals along with his own personal clinical knowledge to display our own inherent ability to self-heal. Somatic Experience (the model of healing he previously introduced in his book Waking the Tiger) engages our innate capacity to self-regulate high states of arousal from intense emotions of fight-or-flight responses during and following trauma.
Levine, Stephen K. Poiesis: The Language of Psychology and the Speech of the Soul. Second ed. Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 1997. Print.
Poiesis in Greek means ‘to make’ referring to the creative act as craft or art. Levine comes from the backgrounds of philosophy, psychiatry, and the arts. He develops the idea that engaging with our ability for poiesis reflects our true identity and is intrinsically linked to our humanity. This link opens up to new possibilities for healing. Stephen Levine writes in both essays and poems while exploring how expressive arts within therapeutic processes open up new pathways. Always moving towards an aim of promoting integration within the helping professions with wholeness and reconciliation, poiesis allows a deeper examination of the human experience. Poiesis is a cyclical movement of death and re-birth, the creation and destruction that reflects our cyclical life and death on this earth. Psychotherapy is itself an art form which emphasizes one’s wholeness. Wholeness, therefore, may be viewed as the goal, or perhaps rather as a creation of psychotherapeutic treatment. If psychology were to integrate poiesis, it would be able to access this reflection in order to embody healing at its fullest.
Levine, Stephen K. Trauma, Tragedy, Therapy: The Arts and Human Suffering. First ed. Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2009. Print.
Levine critiques the evolution of psychiatry and trauma toward victimhood as the key definition of identity. He explores philosophy and the arts, opting for a Dionysian orientation of response and creativity requires re-imaging and re-living experiences through an artistic act engendering the potential to change our agency within the provoked experience and reset the dominant definition of self as a victim. A central aim of Peter Levine’s is to address concerns over stoic methods of healing trauma that do not speak to the unique, complex facets of human responses. The use of fragmentation in both art and life are utilized in Levine’s work in order to deepen meaning within healing processes so that memory and imagination are able to change the presence of life.
Nouwen, Henri. The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society. New York, NY: Image, 1979. Print.
Henri Nouwen addresses the challenges and demands that contemporary society creates for ministering to those in need. He explores ministry through three different perspectives: the world, the generation, and the man. Through his exploration, he also seek to address the challenges unique to each of these varying perspectives.
A historical dislocation, a fragmented ideology, and a changing immorality characterize the dislocated world. Human society is turning away from tradition that no longer fits into the identity of modernity. Without tradition, the world must look for another framework to set conditions for life. Christianity needs to answer these problems, while addressing the new context where it finds itself.
An inward, fatherless, and convulsive generation marks the rootless generation. There is distrust in authority that calls for a turn inward in order to search for answers to life’s questions and mysteries. To truly be compassionate, ministers must address individuals by turning inward themselves.
The hopeless man is characterized by an identity crisis, caught in the paradox of having nothing to live for while simultaneously fearing death. A minister is called to give a personal presence that creates a relationship with the hopeless man. This relationship creates a context for identity, while creating a space that can be used to find values and meaning for today, and hope for tomorrow. Being a minister means being a wounded healer as you take on the world’s struggles. Therefore, a minister must continuously heal oneself in order to be fully present and to each individual in need of help.
Apostolos-Cappadona, Diane, ed. Art, Creativity, and the Sacred: An Anthology in Religion and Art. New York, NY: The Crossword Publishing Company, 1984. Print.
This edited collection of articles addresses the symbiotic relationship between art and spirituality: the spiritual can impact the artistic while the artistic is also capable of expressing the spiritual. Although the various contributors cover a wide array of disciplines, Diane Apostolos-Cappadona intends to promote a balance in both specialized and broad academic analysis. The articles are arranged in five separate chapters that reach for general understanding on the development and expression of art and the sacred.
The first section consists of artists’ personal qualitative analyses of spiritual experiences. The various essays discuss spiritual development, authenticity as an artist, artists in their medium, and art’s unique inquiry into the human life. The second section contains historical accounts on theological and spiritual elements within artistic processes. The third section explores the relationship of religion and art from the perspective of world religions. The fourth section employs a more philosophical and theological perspective towards art. The discussion in this section focuses on the role of aesthetics in the development of theology as well as common fundamental human experiences with art. The fifth section uses an interdisciplinary framework to investigate the mutual relationship art and religion share with each other.
Fox, Matthew. Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet. New York, NY: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 2002. Print.
Creativity is when each individual is in his or her most true and intimate state. Creativity is intimate because it is the spirit working through us and is a place were divine powers of creativity and human powers of imagination join forces. We can create and destroy with our ability for imagination. Fox discusses how salvation is a return to creativity through the spirit. If the world engages and strengthens an individual’s ability of creativity, society can transform the negative consequences of our actions. Fox writes on the sustainability that can be achieved when creativity is honored and practiced for justice and compassion. Learning to praise, opening ourselves up to joy, honoring the child inside, praying to the muses, and deepening our gratitude allows us to tap into our creative side, which in turn can better the world.
Loy, David R. The World Is Made of Stories. Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2010. Print.
David Loy argues that the stories we tell about the world around us provide a constructive basis for both our experience of the world and the existence of the world itself. Loy offers his readers a unique micro-story format by using quotations from various authors to constantly remind the reader of the larger story weaving its way through Loy’s words. Because our stories shape the world, we must understand our stories to in order know ourselves.
Palmer, Parker. The Active Life: A Spirituality of Work, Creativity, and Caring. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1999. Print.
A conflict between dedicating to an active or contemplative life arose within Parker Palmer: he believed the way to God was through contemplation, yet in his heart, he wanted to take action. Parker uses lessons from a variety of religious traditions—including Taoism, Judaism, and Christianity—to engage in a dialogue about the heart of what it means to live a spiritual life. Contemplation is the unmasking of illusions in order to see reality. Action therefore is not its direct opposite. One does not have to choose between the two. Parker writes that each individual has unique gifts and callings from God that leads to a spiritual life right for them. He uses six stories—‘Active Life’ by Chuang Tzu, ‘The Woodcarver’ by Tzu, ‘The Angel’ by Martin Buber, the temptation of Jesus, Jesus feeding 5000, and ‘Threatened with Resurrection’ by Julia Esquirel—as he details that the spiritual life is a task of becoming ourselves in the revelation of finding God.
Arai, Tatsushi. Creativity and Conflict Resolution. New York, NY: Routledge, 2009. Print.
This book is written to explore how creative ways of resolving social conflicts emerge, evolve, and subsequently come to be accepted or rejected in inter-group relations. Tatsushi Arai’s goal of this book is to find a heuristic model of creative peacebuilding by searching for common threads and patterns when reviewing past creative conflict resolutions. The reason behind exploring creativity in peacebuilding is points of contention that arise from situations that bring in habits, experience, intuitions, and ideological commitments, while using their conflict assessments effectively .
The framework for analysis is a four-step phased conflict dynamic: incipience (kernel present but still needs to be integrated), origination (integrated for application), evolution (shaping and reshaping), acceptance (recognized as a new rallying point for change), and sustenance (new reality anchored with sustained momentum). This phased conflict dynamic is used to analyze the chosen case studies.
For this book, Arai focused on sixteen different case studies related to conflict resolution, some of which failed while others proved successful. Arai included cases based on qualifications of the practitioners working within the conflict context . Thus all of the practitioners presented in his book met the following criteria: 1) had at least ten years of experience, 2) had diverse roles within the case study, 3) had various organizational affiliations, and finally, 4) came from diverse geographic contexts.
Six themes that emerged across the case studies included:
1) Analogizing (exploring relationships between the different contexts in new ways)
2) Value commitments (supporting change based on normative aspirations)
3) Combining elements in a new way
4) Unconventionality out of convention
5) Principled Flexibility
6) Discoveries in retrospect
Five working concepts found were:
1) Creativity of parties, intermediaries, and actors
2) The longitudinal nature of creativity
3) Outcome-process typology
4) System-element link
Conflict paradigm: systematic entrenchment of perceptual and interactive patterns inherent in social conflict
Facci, Paula Ditzel. On Human Potential: Peace and Conflict Transformation Fostered through Dance. 3 Vol. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2011. Print.
Peace, while commonly described as the absence of violence, also has its own quality of presence. Dance can be a human expression of peace, putting into symbols what words alone cannot convey. Relationships within and between individuals, groups, communities, and society are integral to peace processes. The expanse of diversity within humans and their social structures point to the variety of solutions to violence. This should motivate the peacebuilder to engage in the human quality of creativity to release the potential for transforming conflicts.
Facci, specifically investigating practices of individual agency, began focusing on art, for its unique connection to human emotions creates the potential to bond individuals (13). Throughout her writing, Facci offers personal experiences to exemplify how dance invokes individuals to improve relationships with themselves and others, thus cultivating inner peace. Moreover, Facci writes on political association, community, dialogue, and educational issues that would benefit from deeper relationships within a community.
Lang, Michael and Alison Taylor. The Making of a Mediator: Developing Artistry in Practice. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass. 2000. Print.
Lang and Taylor provide an overview and blueprint for developing an artistic level of practice in mediation. They envision this as representing a more evolved phase of mediation practice that has moved through novice, apprentice, and practitioner to artist.
Artistry requires a foundation of practice that includes well-honed skills, understanding of process, and clarity about theoretical underpinnings that support the mediation process. Artistry emerges from a level of concentration and flow of process (drawing from the work of psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) that display certain qualities and hallmarks. These include a commitment to curiosity, learning, and exploration that must link practice with intentional reflection prior to, during, and after mediation sessions. The artistry is in their words. It is not a destination, but an on-going commitment to deepen practice with intentionality. The notion of an artist continually returns to the basics, but opens up toward curiosity and innovation. They provide a good overview of these concepts, concrete practices, and approaches to engagement of how this “artistry in practice” may be taught.
Lederach, John Paul. The Moral Imagination: The Art and Soul of Building Peace. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2005. Print.
Lederach provides four stories that illustrate the creative and unexpected response of individuals and communities who broke out of cycles of violence. Four key themes emerge that form what he calls the moral imagination: the capacity to imagine oneself in a web of relationships that includes the enemy, the capacity to remain curious and not fall into simple dualistic view of right/wrong, good/bad guys; imagination as an artistic process, the capacity to bring into existence that which does not yet exist, and the imagination of risk.
The book explores these themes through the arts and spirituality undergirding peacebuilding; unpacking ways in which constructive change follows patterns of the artistic process. Lederach concludes with a chapter on the vocation of peacebuilding, noting that this specific vocation requires technical capacity, artistic endeavor, and a sense of spirit and soul which gives birth to the creative process in settings of protracted conflict.
Lederach, John Paul, and Angela Jill Lederach. When Blood and Bones Cry Out: Journeys through the Soundscape of Healing and Reconciliation. Oxford University Press, New York, NY: 2011. Print.
The authors explore personal and observed local community processes of healing and reconciliation. They note that while much of the formal literature on these topics observes that healing and reconciliation are not linear processes, few have deepened this understanding by diving into the details underlying these nonlinear aspects. How can we integrate them into a theory of constructive change? What do they contribute? To take up the nonlinear aspects to which the book is dedicated requires exploration of metaphor and parallel fields such as sound, music, poetry and mothering.
A key concept emergent in the book is that of social healing. Lessons from this book prove relevant to cases of both individual, personal healing and even broader types of social healing, such as national reconciliation. The core metaphor of sound provides a guidepost for developing theories of social healing that takes seriously the directionality of deepening, circling, surrounding, penetrating and expanding in waves or ripples, all components of sound that have direct connection to the experience of healing from violence expressed by many local communities, and which are not based on a linear understanding of directionality. The chapters look at cases from Somalia, West Africa, and Colombia to explore how individuals and communities have sought healing both in the midst of and in the aftermath of violence.
O'Connell, John Morgan, and Salwa El-Shawan Castelo-Branco, eds. Music and Conflict. 1st Edition ed. University of Illinois Press, 2010. Print.
Studying music gives insight into humanity due to its significance being deeply contextual. Ethnomusicology is the study of social and cultural aspects of music and dance in both local and global contexts. The works in this volume were compiled in order to study and better understand the intersection between music and conflict resolution present in many conflicts. The various writers give both theoretical models and analyses of case studies to deepen the readers’ understanding of music and peace. In his introduction, John O’Connell specifically speaks about Music and Conflict Transformation, and its shortcomings due to methodological fragmentation, which cause semantic ambiguity (10). He hopes that this book adds to established literature on music and conflict by encompassing several dichotomies covering scale, intensity, and character of conflict from a musical perspective. He seeks to present ways in which musicians can offer new solutions and pathways for ending violence and building peace.
Schirch, Lisa. Ritual and Symbol in Peacebuilding. Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Press Inc, 2005. Print.
Lisa Schirch uses a broad framework to define ritual with three necessary characteristics: 1) eitual as a unique social space apart from normative life, 2) ritual as communication through symbols, senses, and heightened emotions rather than words, and 3) ritual as a process that confirms and transforms worldviews, identities, and relationships.
Conflict has three main dimensions that are approached by a peacebuilder: material, social, and cultural. While peacebuilders have rational frameworks of analysis and strategy to help them decide on a solution, these approaches do not always work. In regards to material conflict, the process looks at objective criteria in order to find a solution that includes separating the people from the problem and focusing on interests and mutual gain. But, a major element of conflict is the relationship of conflicting groups and individuals that cannot be ignored or left out. In the social dimension of conflict, groups are encouraged to communicate and work together with respect and recognition. Communication, however, is assumed to be the same with every culture. Each culture has differing ways of expressing emotion and showing respect. This must be addressed and understood in order to bridge the gap and find a context for communication. Worldviews shape our perceptions, culture, values, identity along with our emotional and sensual cognition.
Rituals create a space that is set aside from the conflict and aids in a new form of communication that goes beyond a social identity. Schirch‘s case study of the smudging ceremony, where a group uses smoke to clean their body and mind in order to create a clean context for communication, shows how rituals enable groups to start with the space needed and desired to work through problems. The individuals are no longer identified as conflicted with one another, but rather are free to explore issues in a new creative light.
Urbain, Olivier, ed. Music and Conflict Transformation: Harmonies and Dissonance in Geopolitics. I. B. Tauris, 2008. Print.
Olivier Urbain edited this collection of essays of differing disciplines and viewpoints on music’s role in conflict transformation with the intent for it to flow as a collective whole. The authors engage with each other while building or departing from a given concept, often times speaking directly to a certain idea or author. The fifteen essays are broken up into four main categorizations: theory/frameworks, politics, healing and education, and case studies.
Beginning with the chapters on the conceptualization of music within conflict transformation, Felicity Laurence asserts that music has the capacity to arise and strengthen one’s empathy, a core function within peacebuilding. Laurence begins by defining empathy as actively and imaginatively understanding other’s feelings and experiences within the world. At the same time, we still retain our own sense of distinct consciousness; we reflect this knowledge into our feelings while maintaining respect for the other’s human dignity and our shared humanity (24). Cynthia Cohen then writes about music having universal aspects as well as culturally sensitive manifestations (28). Acknowledging both of these particulars within music opens its uses to the potential in peacebuilding to foster reconciliation. Johan Galtung points to reconciling false dichotomies within frameworks in order to refocus mindsets on uniting both art and intellect for the full potential of human ability.
Following from theory is the consideration of political uses for music. Anne-Marie Gray illustrates how music is a tool that can be used to understand the culture and histories of a given community. Baruch Whitehead explains that peace must encompass the totality of human nature in order to be sustainable and authentic, with music being onecway humans connect to each other and their world. Changing pace, Karen Abi-Ezzi writes on music’s application as a form of resistance. Within a social constructionist framework, Abi-Ezzi explores this through the example of Gilad Atzmon, a musician who wishes to resist the Zionist frameworks within peace processes. He mixes Jewish soul music, Israeli folk music, and Palestinian folk music as a way of uniting the identities at war with each other (101). George Kent reminds the reader that music is an energy that does not have a value of goodness, but instead can be used for either healing or hurting, depending on the intention or side effects of the musician.
Additionally, as authors note that music, already predominantly used within therapeutic communities, can be used in healing and education. Kjell Skyllstad examines music within the prison system as a “voice of compassion” (116) that recognizes and displays the suffering of inmates. He also writes about music was an educational tool for promoting empathic relationships. Maria Elena López Vinader highlights the progression of music therapy to illuminate avenues for peace and healing.
The last section explores stories from the field, illustrating through individuals’ personal experiences how music holds the many qualities discussed throughout the previous chapters. Rik Palieri examines personal stories where he has experienced music that moved people against injustice and war, stopping violence, and calming conflict. Unlike Abi-Ezzi’s essay on the resistance of Atzmon, Olivier Urbain details the work of Yair Dalal, a declared ‘Arab Israeli Jew’ whose music aims to support the peace processes through building a united community of identity (202). June Boyce-Tillman concludes the book with a discussion on music within education models for value building. She posits that music can be used to enter metanarratives within a community to build both peace and justice (224).
Zehr, Howard. The Little Book of Contemplative Photography. Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 2005. Print.
Whether in ourselves or others, photography can engender change. Howard Zehr specifically focuses on how photography can strengthen our own imagination, intuition, and appreciation of the aesthetic (3). In this way, it encourages us to open our mind to the lessons of life that creativity offers. Zehr writes in the style of a daily journal, presenting exercises that use photography to lead us down an enlightening path. Each day focuses on a distinct aspect of the artistic endeavor photography can be, cultivating reflexive mindsets that can renew our daily experience.
According to Zehr, first you must ‘”see/feel/think” (11). This concept promotes a heightened sense of awareness to the details that surround us in all forms of stimuli. Once we enter the perspective of intentional awareness, we open ourselves to infinite possibilities through the lens of a camera. By practicing mindfulness, we develop our patience for meticulous exploration, which allows us to capture the moments that would normally slip by unnoticed (24). This unobstructed view of the world’s beauty evokes awe and wonder. We can find new things in the familiar, seeing our environment through the lens of “see/feel/think”. It can be a humble experience when we first notice all that has been passing us by, but it is also an exciting time to play with our new abilities to capture these moments (48). In turn, once you become comfortable with these new experiences, you can begin to explore how to translate them into self-expression. Photography allows us to see ourselves through differing perspectives while also seeing the larger, external picture just as well.
Section III: SPIRITUALITY
Allen, Pat. Art is a Way of Knowing. Boston, MA: Shambhala, 1995. Print.
Pat Allen is a Professor of Art Therapy at the Art Institute of Chicago. Allen revolves her approach to art therapy around the use of images, both external and internal, as an avenue to explore and know your true and authentic self. She finds that art therapy often runs the risk of being a ‘profession’ that is driven by goals and results. Art, in and of itself, is driven by a creative soul that makes art therapy pregnant with endless possibilities for each individual’s uniqueness.
Allen begins with an examination of the imagination and memory, exploring their vital formation to our present and our person. She then goes through various techniques to conjure and create images of our personal story that allow us to become familiar with our self. Through this process of knowing, we are able to understand how images play a role in our identity. Once we open ourselves to the images that create our person, we can control the images on which we place importance, which can aid in transformation.
Azara, Nancy. Spirit Taking Form: Making a Spiritual Practice of Making Art. Boston, MA: Red Wheel, 2002. Print.
Artistic expression is a visual description of a language in shape, color, and form, through a dialogue different from words. Because of art’s utilization of a variety of mediums, it offers a more holistic dimension of communication more spacious than just words. Nancy Azara’s process is rooted in art’s connection to the imagination and imagination’s connection to meditation. If you want your creative side to flourish, you can do so through a spiritual journey of imagination and meditation. This journey to accessing your creative potential can be a catalyst for growth and change because art is a door to communicating with your whole self. Azara discusses her own personal spiritual journey through art, and uses it as a template to aid readers in their own artistic exploration. At the heart of her explanations always lies the link between imagination and meditation, which when taken together allow us to rethink preconceived notions of art. Through her journey of art, the artist inside of us is invited to constantly examine life at a deeper and more meaningful level.
Khan, Hazrat Inayat. The Mysticism of Sound and Music. Shambhala Dragon Edition ed. Shambhala, 1996. Print.
Largely responsible for Sufism in the west, Inayat Khan comes from a background in classical Indian music. He believes that divine unity can be achieved through love, harmony and beauty: the three characteristics of music. Music is the purest form for humans to be in the presence of the divine because the spirit is most important to our spirituality.
Sufism believes that music reflects the perfect harmony of the universe and moves us towards the divine. This book details a way of channeling our human ability to play music in a way that enlightens and pulls us toward perfection. While the text is complicated and aged, the motion throughout is a detailed love story of music and an open invitation for Khan’s readers to join him. He goes through both the theories and histories of music to shed light on its harmonious nature. Khan also discusses different styles and methods for experiencing music as a spiritual act.
Nepo, Mark. Finding Inner Courage. San Francisco, CA: Conari Press, 2011. Print.
Poet Mark Nepo explains courage as invoking the best of yourself in all moments. Referring to the Latin root of the word courage, -cor, Nepo associates courage with core identity. Being courageous is a journey of self-discovery involving two distinct paths: going within to understand oneself, and turning outward to make one vulnerable to life experiences. Through a variation of personal experiences, poetry, metaphors, and stories, Nepo discusses this journey in three stages: facing the lion, being the lion, and finding your inner courage.
Facing the lion involves coming to terms with and facing the struggles that come with being human because Nepo believes that what we don’t release will eventually come to haunt us. He tells a story of a girl he met, having previously lost her entire family to war, who was pulling the wings off a butterfly: “What we don’t face we perpetrate on others” (16). Consciousness and compassion help us face the undiscovered in ourselves. How many of us suffer from our wings being torn off, and what will we do to prevent it? He explores stories and experiences to show how facing what we fear, whether in ourselves or in something external, allows the control over that fear and allows the heart to blossom. When we have the courage to live through all of life’s experiences, our unfolding and God’s unfolding are entwined.
Once we are the lion, we are awakened to the present moment which begins thinning the line between inner and outer reality. This is the mind-heart; it can be confusing and painful. Torn open, life is more beautiful however wounded it makes us. It can also make us lonely. Yet, with the beginner’s mind we can see life from a new and fresh perspective. In addition, the beginner’s heart, which embodies true giving and receiving, allows us to see life in it totality. Together, with both the beginner’s mind and heart, we are able to grasp the interconnections of all humans, thus combatting the pain and sense of isolation one may feel when being in the present moment or rather, when being the lion.
Lastly, this being the lion leads us to find our inner courage. Living life by our inner courage means standing true to our core, our true selves, and involves the courage to inhabit our inlet to God. Finding comfort in our own being takes a journey of self-realization that can only be maintained through the daily practice of inner courage.
O'Donohue, John. Beauty: The Invisible Embrace. New York, NY: Harper Perennial, 2005. Print.
There is joy to be found with the presence of beauty in our daily life. Our imagination can be a tool for beauty’s entrance into us by way of our innate quality of creativity. Ultimately, this joy that is found through our experience with beauty is due to its connection with God. John O’Donohue believes that it is now, when societal institutions have become chaotic and insecure, that we must awaken to beauty (4). Our neglect of beauty has led to the crisis of conscience we find ourselves in today.
If we become considerate of the ways in which we allow ugliness into our lives, we are able to see how ugliness creates an absence within our spirit. Beauty, often mistaken for glamour, is “order, conference, and unity” (5). We have become overrun by a “mechanical mind” (5), a singular and linear energy making it so that vision and imagination are taken over by construction and manipulation. O’Donohue finds that when we actively partake in beauty, our hearts are overcome with courage, which ultimately brings back hope. Creativity is the tool that summons beauty to our attention. Beauty connects us to its wholesome unity and delivers us to the divine.
O’Donohue discusses instances where he has felt beauty, explaining how these experiences can be shared by all people. He presents pieces of writing from various authors and philosophers about beauty. O’Donohue does not write with a logical argument, but instead writes as if in a personal conversation with his reader. His message is shared not only through the content of this converastion, but also in the writing itself. O’Donohue writes in a poetic verse that has its own distinct rhythm as you read across the page, thus directly modeling the invisible embrace of beauty.
Sullivan, Michael. Windows into the Soul: Art as Spiritual Expression. New York, NY: Morehouse Publishing, 2006. Print.
The process of creating art, in all forms, helps people explore their person as well as open themselves up to real self-transformation. Michael Sullivan is a sculptor, once lawyer, and now a rector of an Episcopal church. He finds that a science-like approach to God often falls short of connecting to a deep spiritual life. Art allows God to be a subject and the artist a muse to explore creation and life. The process of creating art allows time set aside to explore your person through abnormal avenues. Sullivan learned this after the sudden and tragic death of two young parishioners. When faced with questioning his spirituality, Sullivan turned to his sculpting and found a unique, spiritual path back to God.
His book is advice for healing that comes from what he learned about spirituality through his art. First, you must find a medium of art with which you connect. As you begin devoting time to art, treat the art like prayer. Once you have opened yourself up to a prayerful life, you can begin exploring God in the intimate setting that art makes available to you. Each chapter explains how different artistic endeavors can promote a prayerful and spiritually inquisitive pathway. The different mediums include: collages, alters, painting, and poetry.
Wuthnow, Robert. Creative Spirituality: The Way of the Artist. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2003. Print.
As our society’s doubt in religious creeds and institutions increases, individuals are turning toward artists who they believe have an intuitive sense of the sacred that is available to the public through symbols and imagery. Robert Wuthnow examines how artists can shed light on spirituality while also teaching how we as individuals can use art to explore spirituality in ourselves.
Wuthnow believes that there are alternatives to gaining knowledge and that an artist’s center of self-reflection illuminates their own spiritual journey. Wuthnow conducted a research study to explore what can be learned from examining artists’ creative expressions in relation to their spirituality. He examined the spiritual dimensions of artists being ‘creators’ as well as their relationship to the object created. He found that artists’ work and the relationship to their work reveals insights to spirituality and life, from which we, the public, can learn and grow. One of the first artists he introduces is David Ellsworth, a wood carver who developed his career after struggling from a divorce. Ellsworth discusses the intimacy an artist has with himself during the process of perfecting his trade, which allows an artist to know himself in a much deeper and thorough way. He also discusses how his relationship with the piece created forms a pathway to reflect on the universe’s relationship with the object created within it.
Beauregard, Mario, and Denyse O'leary. The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul. Reprinted ed. New York, NY: HarperOne, 2008. Print.
Mario Beauregard is a neuroscientist. In The Spiritual Brain, Beauregard critiques the trend in science media to explain away religious experience as a brain artifact, pathology, or evolution. There is a danger in forcing complex varieties, such as the nature of God, into simplistic categories. When we attempt to diminish complex phenomena to our own capacities of understanding, we loose touch with our connection to something that is beyond this physical world. His book is a mixture of neuroscience, philosophy, and anthropology that does not try to prove God; rather, it explores what we can know about God.
There is a materialist versus non-materialist split within neuroscience. The majority of publications involving religion and neuroscience are from a materialist lens. The authors of such works believe that scientific explanations are capable of coming down to the physical elements of our universe. Non-materialists, on the other hand, believe that there are some subjects that go beyond the physical world. The Templeton Foundation sponsored Beauregard’s study on Carmelite nuns and their spiritual experiences. His results went against the proposed ‘god gene’ or ‘god switch.’ Though he does not regard the task as accomplished, Beauregard aims to eventually prove that the mind is separate from the brain and that thoughts and feelings are more than just physical matter.
Bradley Hagerty, Barbara. Fingerprints of God: The Search for the Science of Spirituality. Riverhead Hardcover, 2009. Print.
Barbara Hagerty was raised a Christian Scientist and later in life decided to break away after she found relief from science in over-the-counter flu medicine. After her decision to leave, she began exploring science’s quest into the assumption, revelation, or explanation of God. This book explores the various avenues that science is taking when tackling the spectrum of ‘God’ issues. In turn, she finds that her research reveals that science can be entirely consistent with God, depending on how you approach the idea of ‘God’.
Science has left the topic of spiritual experiences out of experiments due to the subjective and controversial nature of them. Anna Harrington, Professor of History of Science at Harvard University, explains how recently, due to the growing numbers of individuals who express an experience with the mystical or spiritual, scientists are beginning this exploration. The main topics discussed and people interviewed include:
William Miller, Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of New Mexico examines individuals’ spiritual experiences through personal interviews. He is one of the first academics to do this type of research.
Gail Ironson, Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry explores how prayer impacts individuals. Ironson was working with HIV positive patients and noticed that individuals with active spiritual lives were less likely to get sick. Her study, although controversial and in early stages, has shown positive results.
Patrick McNamara, a neurologist at BU School of Medicine researches the biology of stress and neurology of meditation.
Dean Hamer and Francis Collins, geneticists at the National Institutes of Health are searching for genetic indicators for individuals more likely to be actively spiritual. They are also looking for chemicals in the brain that coincide with religious experiences, such as dopamine.
Roland Griffins, John Hopkins University researches psilocybin and its parallel to mystical experiences in order to explore brain activity during mystical (or spiritual) experiences.
Clayton, Philip, and Jim Schaal, eds. Practicing Science, Living Faith: Interviews with Twelve Leading Scientists. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2007. Print.
Philip Clayton and Jim Schaal interviewed more than one-hundred-twenty scientists during the Science and the Spiritual Quest project at the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences in Berkeley, California. This book contains interviews from twelve chosen scientists with particularly enlightening ideas and lives. They discuss the benefits, struggles, and possibilities that are created through the integration of a life of science with a life of faith. The scientists with a biology background struggle to connect the chaotic and random nature of science with the spiritual. On the other hand, scientists who deal with bigger picture realms of the universe are often at awe with the order and balance of life, and thus find an easier connection to God. Some find can easily find this connection while others struggle with accounting for both an authentic faith and an authentic science. While science and spirituality can seem to be opposing forces, they can also give great value to each other. It helped lead Donna Auguste, an African American computer scientist, to establish the Leave a Little Room Foundation: a nonprofit organization that helps bring technology and infrastructure to rising communities. Other examples of scientists bridging their work with faith or spirituatality include Dr. Satoto is a Muslim nutritionist who works to improve Indonesian child development and Ursala Goodenough, a cell biologist, who writes on naturalistic approaches to spirituality.
The varieties of answers, stories, and dilemmas seek to shed light on where science and religion can intersect. Living both can be done authentically because science is not just theory but includes actual practice from the objective human. What we do with science matters if we are spiritual, and therefore it necessarily changes the lives of scientists. Faith, as well as science, can grow and deepen through the discoveries of the universe with a scientific eye.
The twelve scientists interviewed include:
Hendrik Pieter Barendregt
The Dalai Lama. The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality. New York, NY: Morgan Road Books, 2005. Print.
The Dalai Lama confronts the common held notion that science and religion are at odds with each other, while at the same time exploring how they can be mutually beneficial to each other. Science, like religion, influences ethics and human values that are fundamental to alleviating human suffering. Science is not a neutral endeavor because humans are in control of how discoveries are used and emerge within society, therefore creating ethical motivation to underlie scientists’ actions.
Religion and science are both searching for an understanding reality. The Dalai Lama explores the theories of relativity, quantum physics, the big bang, evolution, and consciousness. He then discusses the Buddhist notions of emptiness, the beginningless universe, a world of sentience, karma, and consciousness in conjuncture to corresponding scientific theories. While fully acknowledging the limitations of Buddhist tradition, such as cosmology and evolution, he explains that Buddhism must evolve with the scientific progress that has proven some theories false. Science also needs to acknowledge that there are some areas, such as how the universe began (before the big bang), into which religion can offer insight. The Dalai Lama posits the idea of creating a new paradigm where the third person perspective is enhanced by the first person perspective. He then explains how Buddhist meditation helped scientists develop a better understanding of neuroplasticity and begin a focus of exploration in trained emotions.
Newberg, Andrew M. D., and Mark Robert Waldman. How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist. New York, NY: Ballantine Books, 2009. Print.
Andrew Newberg is the director of research at the Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Medical College. Newberg is interested in investigating how the brain is affected during spiritual practices and experiences, as well as what this can tell us about spirituality. When individuals concentrate on God, synapses are fired in the brain and neural pathways are formed. The more God becomes a part of reality, the more it has the ability to change the brain. Practices of spirituality are capable of changing your life for the better. Every brain is unique and uses different pathways and perceptions to think about God.
Newberg and Waldman lay out the different parts of the brain that are used when contemplating spirituality. Consistent spiritual experiences have the ability to change the brain permanently. Meditation strengthens the body’s ability to remain in harmony and under control of emotions and mental states. It also enables an individual to expand their creativity and communication skills with an open mind and heart. This is what associates spiritual individuals with higher levels of compassion. Moreover, mental states such as anger, fear, and fundamentalism in our brain close neural pathways. This leads to a smaller area of focus and lowers one’s ability to control such emotions and mental states. Newberg and Waldman discuss how this research displays our ability for positive self-transformation through meditation and other spiritual experiences.
Polkinghorne, John. Beyond Science: The Wider Human Context. New York, NY: Cambridge University Pres, 1998. Print.
John Polkinghorne was a particle physicist at the University of Cambridge and is now an ordained priest within the Anglican Church. He writes this book from the belief that the total spectrum of reality within the human context includes experience and purpose, and that it must be included within scientific progress. When science attempts to be neutral, it is forgetting the subjective values that are producing it through human inquiry. Value and purpose gives science the creative context to do good for the community that it necessarily serves. He believes there is truth to be found in science.
Outlining the history of scientific inquiry, Polkinghorne highlights the paradigm shifts that have led to our understanding of the physical world. Using Copernicus’ radical idea of the earth rotating around the sun as an example, he explains that it is questioning the accepted scientific methods that have led to some of our largest discoveries.
He then examines the human context that science is beginning to explore. Ultimate questions of God, humanity, goodness, and purpose have pushed individuals into looking for answers through the new lens of science. Because of this new framework of the non-physical world, science is now being questioned in terms of value systems and responsibility. Science is no longer the neutral world it once was believed to be. This changing paradigm is only beginning and we must consider the human context that science’s end results affect.
Tippett, Krista. Einstein's God: Conversations about Science and the Human Spirit. Penguin, 2010. Print.
Krista Tippett first became interested in the topic of faith and science through her weekly public radio show, Speaking of Faith. She decided to focus on the intersection of faith and science by conducting interviews with leading scientists on their own knowledge and experience of where faith and science meet. Beginning with inspiration from Einstein’s quote “pursuits of cohesive knowledge and underlying truth’, Einstein’s God is a collection of her interviews that illuminates how spiritual lives have been deepened and enhanced through an exploration into science. Areas of science discussed include: theoretical physics, cosmology, surgery and bioethics, evolution, humanities, astrophysics, rheumatology, education, psychology, and theology.
Scientists examined or interviewed and their specific area of interest include:
Einstein (with Freeman Dyson and Paul Davies): Human’s capacity for wisdom
Sherwin Nuland: Human spirit as a life force
Mehmet Oz: The globalization of medicine
James Moore: The nexus of creation and evolution
V.V. Raman: How to except and understand the limits of religion and science
Janna Levin: The limit of human’s free will
Michael McCullough: Science’s move away from reductionism
Esther Sternberg: Healing ourselves
Andrew Solomon, Parker Palmer, and Anita Barrows: Human vitality
John Polkinghorne: Contemporary topics on the union of religion and science
Crisp, Beth. Spirituality and Social Work (Contemporary Social Work Studies). Ashgate, 2010. Print.
Although spirituality is difficult to discuss between a clinician and a client due to the deeply personal and unique nature of an individual’s spirituality, it is integral for a holistic approach to healing. A clinician therefore must develop a way to discuss someone spirituality through the client’s terms and perspectives, offering guidance in the client’s questioning and exploration. By approaching spirituality as a lived experienced that all individuals can identify with, the practitioner and client have a common thread to weave the fabric of growth. A dialogue of mutual respect and response begins when the client is able to grapple with their spiritual journey and the practitioner is able to help the client navigate through it. By recognizing the client’s journey, the practitioner is able to foster a deeper and more holistic healing.
Hart, Thomas. Hidden Spring (Integrating Spirituality into Pastoral Counseling). Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2002. Print.
In his book, Hart defines spirituality as the way a person lives out one’s faith in daily life and relates to the ultimate condition of existence. He posits that a sound spirituality is in itself therapeutic, while also noting that the field of psychology holds various instruments useful to achieving different healing goals. By placing therapy into a spiritual framework, not only can spirituality aid in healing, it can also bring forward the struggles that come with a spiritual life. Practical examples are offered to aid in merging these two fields of healing.
God’s presence, or a mystical presence, is experienced whether or not the therapist acknowledges it. Both helping professions and spirituality promote human growth and prosperity when having a human centered focus. God wants a life of love for us, and therefore goodness can be found in pain and suffering. We are responsible for our own becoming and therefore responsible for allowing healing into our lives.
Koenig, Harold G. Spirituality in Patient Care: Why, How, When, and What. 2nd Edition ed. West Conshohocken, PA: Templeton Press, 2007. Print.
Harold Koenig’s approaches the topic of spirituality in helping professions through a science-based lens. He outlines and examines research and clinical practices that inform spirituality in healing. He specifically covers the work of professionals such as: nurses, chaplains, social workers, and both occupational and physical therapists. Koenig not only shows why spirituality is necessary, but also addresses its implications for actual practice.
During the process of healing, addressing spirituality is vital in order to treat the whole person. Each individual has a unique spirituality; therefore, Koenig addresses specific religious traditions and the sacred healing practices of each. Helping professionals must be taught to be aware of the dynamic of spirituality and be capable of approaching everyone with knowledge and sensitivity.
Umbreit, Alexa W. and Mark S. Umbreit. Pathways to Spirituality and Healing. Minneapolis, MN: Fairview Press. 2002.
Mark Umbreit has been a significant leader and writer in the field of restorative justice. Here, however, Umbreit is a co-author with his wife. In their book, the wife-husband team relates their personal story of facing breast cancer and experiencing a near death in their family. Their search for meaning, resilience, and spirituality during this period led to an exploration of resources and approaches they found helpful. The book first provides the narrative of their story from each person’s experience: Alexa’s experience of battling cancer and Mark’s experience as her primary caregiver. It then explores the pathways towards spirituality and healing that they discovered during this time. They present these pathways in detail in hopes that they may be useful for others struggling with serious illness. They cast a wide yet discerning net that starts in their Christian faith and crosses over into resources found in Judiasm, Islam, Native American spirituality, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism. Of particular note, the Umbreits link the inner search for transcendence and spirituality in facing illness to the outward journey and search of justice and peace, thereby connecting this book with Mark’s previous work.
Dunne, John S. Deep Rhythm and the Riddle of Eternal Life. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2008. Print.
Questioning the end of life on earth and the possibility of eternal life is often unsettling and troubles individuals throughout their life. John Dunne uses the Gospel of John with its metaphor of life, light, and love to reflect on searching for rest in the restless heart that comes with such struggles. Life, light, and love are capable of not only illuminating this life, but they also can shine through to the eternal life. Written as a journey of finding peace within our hearts now, Dunne reaches out to our own restlessness to take us on our own journey of the riddle of the eternal life.
Dunne, John S. The Reasons of the Heart: A Journey into Solitude and Back again into the Human Circle. New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1978. Print.
Using the classical metaphor of a journey, John Dunne insists that his readers draw from the wisdom of great spiritual masters, whether Western or Eastern—such as Buddha, Jesus, John’s Gospel, Augustine, Aquinas, and Kierkegaard—to help illuminate the pathway. Dunne believes religion is about an individual’s action with his or her own spiritual and human solitariness. Still, he hopes that through this journey the individual will choose to rejoin and find God within his human community.
Nouwen, Henri J. M. Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith. Eds. Michael J. Christensen and Rebecca Laird. New York, NY: HarperOne, 2006. Print.
Accountability, community, and authentic relationships can deepen and strengthen one’s faith in God. Michael Christensen and Rebecca Laird, students of Henri Nouwen, present a compilation of stories, readings, and guided reflections on spiritual direction in the Christian life from their experiences with Nouwen as their mentor. Spiritual direction is a relationship that begins when a spiritual seeker finds a mature person of faith who is willing to pray and respond with wisdom and understanding to questions about living a spiritual life (ix). Through direction, we are capable of finding God in our hearts, in the scripture, in the church, and the faith community.
The heart is the most essential spiritual practice and the first place to center on God. Introspection and contemplative prayer allow us to see God living in us. Once we are awakened to the God in us, we must learn to be present to the wisdom that can be found there as well. Then God can be found in scripture: lectiodivina is the sacred reading of the scriptures and other spiritual writings. This is the devotional reading and meditation on a sacred text in the form of a prayer. Meditation allows a word of God to become a word for us. We can then develop the ability to draw from God’s words to detect and comprehend his personal message to us. Then we can find God within the community by building relationships with the people of God. Finally, we find God in our body. Our responsibility to the world around us reflects the responsibility we have to our own self. God became the body, calling for intimacy and affection to be self-transcendent and sacred. Through these tools Nouwen hopes to aid individuals along a successful journey of spiritual direction.
Bamat, Tomas, and Mary Ann Cejka, eds. Artisans of Peace: Grassroots Peacemaking among Christian Communities. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2003. Print.
Artisans of Peace is a collaboration of research examining differing communities of Christians in the midst of violence. The communities of Christians discussed range across the globe, including: Guatemala, Northern Ireland, Philippines, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, South Sudan, and United States of America. Christian communities have been faced with violence throughout history, responding in ways that they saw fit at the time. Some communities have failed to respond, some have added to the present violence, and others have been able to lay the foundation for a healing transformation.
The prevalence of internal violence in modern warfare is changing how we understand conflict resolution. With the rise of ethnic killing and the intimate relationship ethnicity and religion have with each other, understanding religion’s role in conflict has become imperative. A debate has taken place recently within peace studies on whether or not violence is intrinsic to religion. This book seeks to strengthen the position that while religion can promote violence, the religious community is better at fostering peace.
The aim of the editors is to explore the lessons that can be learned from Christian peacebuilding communities. Grassroots organizing is important in peacebuilding due to organizers’ direct and intimate experience with coexistence during and after periods of violence. Often their responses use traditions and creativity unique to bottom-up decisions. Careful exploration into these communities has the capacity to aid us in further understanding successful grassroots community peacebuilding. Qualitative and quantitative research methods were use that are rooted within six questions (7):
1) What have been the grassroots responses to the violence?
2) Who has participated in the action (numbers, composition, leadership roles?)
3) How have grassroots actors sought to transform the conflict?
4) What has motivated the grassroots responses?
5) What problems and constraints were encountered?
6) What were the effects of the grassroots responses?
Cloke, Kenneth. Mediating Dangerously. San Francisco: Jossey Bass. 2001. Print.
Cloke, Kenneth. The Crossroads of Conflict. Lexington, KY: Janis Publications. 2006. Print.
In these two books, Kenneth Cloke - mediator and teacher of conflict resolution –
explores two horizons – the inner resources for those engaged in conflict response, particularly mediation and the application of mediation and conflict resolution to extreme conflicts including cases of oppression, severe power imbalances and facism. Particularly in the Crossroads of Conflict, Cloke explores the concerns for spirituality and transcendence as an inner journey, a resource, and as a significant aspect of conflict. His wide-ranging thinking significantly expands the traditional boundaries in these fields.
Glassman, Bernie. Bearing Witness: A Zen Master's Lessons in Making Peace. New York, NY: Harmony/Bell Tower, 1999. Print.
Bernie Glassman is the founder of Zen Peacemakers. He writes from the central thesis that to be active peacemakers, we must allow opening ourselves to the unknown and be fully present in order for healing to arise. Glassman discusses various retreats and experiences that have lead to his understanding of social justice and peacebuilding.
He begins with a retreat held at the concentration camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau. There he explores how a common thread for humanity is diversity, and that the acceptance of this creates the vital difference between sameness and oneness. With oneness, we cross the boundaries that being individuals creates. This allows us to open ourselves to the beauty of everyone.
A central vow of a peacemaker should be the wholeness of life. Bearing witness to those who are suffering does not come from a place of knowing, but instead a place of listening. When we can empty ourselves, we allow others to emerge. This is how we can open the doors of healing to others’ suffering. Glassman held a retreat with 10 individuals begging on the streets for the week leading up to Passover. He explains how this retreat reveals a fundamental belief in the goodness of life. There is abundance in this world and faith in that goodness allows us to open up to that abundance and bring others into it. He talks about an individual within the prison system that began the National Prison Hospice Association. This is an example of how we must bear witness to the system. We are all a part of a dynamic society that is failing. Peacebuilders must relate to that system, to explore it as a whole, and make changes that go to the root of those problems. This includes the bearing witness to vows we create in our daily lives in order to lead with intention and dedication to peace.
Smock, David R., ed. Interfaith Dialogue and Peacebuilding. Washington D.C.: United States Institute of Peace, 2002. Print.
Interfaith Dialogue and Peacebuilding is a collection of essays from differing religious perspectives—including Christian, Muslim, and Jewish—discussing the interaction of faith and conflict with the potential to be integral in promoting understanding and reconciliation. The first chapter explores interfaith dialogue, addressing its multiple applications and benefits in the face and wake of conflict. The second chapter analyzes its practice in actual zones of conflict, surveying the Middle East, Yugoslavia, and Northern Ireland. The last chapter then evaluates the place of interfaith dialogue within international organizations, considering the experiences of the Conscience Foundation and the United Religious Initiative.
Zehr, Howard. Transcending: Reflections on Crime Victims. Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 2001. Print.
Howard Zehr finds that victims remain faceless because we try not to feel vulnerable in the wake of violent crimes surrounding us. Because of this aversion, we are unable to understand the pains and needs of crime victims. Zehr set forth with the goal of this project being a space for the voice of crime victims to say what they need and want to say; a vital aspect to restorative justice (2). This book can also serve as a guide, and may also be a source of hope, to others in the same journey of healing after violence, as well as a resource for individuals who desire an understanding of crime victims.
Transcending is Zehr’s compilation of interviews he conducted with 39 victims of crime. Although he condenses and clarifies what each person said, he still aimed at only putting across the heart of what each individual revealed (3). The various interviewees are at differing places in their healing process. Zehr presents these interviews in order to illuminate how transformation is a constantly changing journey. Interviewees only had to meet two criteria in order to be interviews: 1) they had to have experienced some form of severe criminal violence and 2) the crime had not been committed recently (e.g. the experience happened several years ago) (3). Zehr conducted his interviews in a loose conversational format. Responses flowed from a general question on how one goes on after severe violence. Some themes that guided his questions were: stages, critical moments, tools of healing, justice, and faith (4). Through his work, Zehr ultimately sought to capture a glimpse into the question of life through the perspective of those healing from severe violence, while at the same time gaining a deeper understanding into their process of healing.