Beyond the dominant trends in Contemplative Studies, namely, Buddhocentrism, neuroscientific hegemony, privileging of so-called "contemplative science," overemphasis on STEM, and the conflation of meditation with mindfulness, especially secularized and therapeutic mindfulness, something else is possible.

In the USD Contemplative Studies program, we have an alternative vision and imagine potential new directions:

  • Research on the entire breadth and depth of contemplative practices, with particular consideration of religiously-committed and tradition-based expressions. This includes attentive to the multi-dimensional characteristics of holistic and integrated contemplative systems, beyond the reduction of contemplative practice to mere technique. One key need in this area involves literary and academic translations of contemplative literature, including technical meditation manuals, guides to prayer, and the like.
  • Facilitation of a truly interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary approach in which each specific field and discipline is recognized, honored and supported. We are particularly interested in the liberal arts and what might be referred to as the "interdiciplinary contemplative humanities." Along these lines, comparative Religious Studies approaches offer important perspectives, especially with respect to lived and living contemplative traditions as well as critical meta-discussions about the field of Contemplative Studies itself.
  • Exploration and development of critical first-person approaches, including participant-observation, scholar-practitioner methodologies, and critical adherence. Here religious adherents, "professional contemplatives," and their associated communities have essential contributions to make.
  • Inter-contemplative dialogue, especially with individuals who have dedicated their lives to consistent and prolonged contemplative practice. On the most basic level, this is a contemplative form of inter-religious dialogue, but "trans-tradition" contemplative exchanges are also possible.

If you have questions or would like more information, please email Program Coordinator Louis Komjathy at