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Contemplify

The Contemplify podcast kindles the examined life for contemplatives in the world. Through artful musings with scholars, creatives, and master teachers each episode delivers a subtly intoxicating* exchange on the contemplative lifestyle with practical takeaways to emulate in daily life. Host, Paul Swanson, is a husband, father and contemplative educator at the Center for Action and Contemplation**. *Contemplify is best served with a pint in hand. Please listen responsibly. ** All shenanigans, tom foolery and bally-hoo posted on Contemplify are my own. Contemplify is not representative of the Center for Action and Contemplation or Richard Rohr on any matter.
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Now displaying: 2016
Dec 20, 2016

Alison (Ali) Kirkpatrick is a writer, speaker and educator and you might say professional inspirer of goodness. You can find her blog #SignsOfLove at alisonkirkpatrick.com.

Mark Longhurst is a pastor and a curator of the collaborative contemplative website ordinarymystic.net. If you ever get the chance to dance in the same room as Mark...do it.

In this episode, Ali and Mark each share a reflection on a book that has made a deep impact on their personal contemplative journey, and offer a little insight on how each book might improve my own.

Dec 2, 2016

Barbara Holmes served as president of United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, as well as professor of ethics and African American religious studies. She was ordained in the Latter Rain Apostolic Holiness Church in Dallas, Texas, and has privilege of call in the United Church of Christ and recognition of ministerial standing in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). In addition to her work with law firms, Holmes has worked with homeless missions, HIV/AIDS ministries, and international ministries in Kenya (the Presbyterian Church of East Africa) and Japan. The author of five books and numerous articles, her most recent publications include: Dreaming (Fortress Press, 2012), Liberation and the Cosmos: Conversations with the Elders (Fortress Press, 2008), and Joy Unspeakable: Contemplative Practices of the Black Church (Augsburg Fortress, 2004). Holmes earned an MS from Southern Connecticut University, an MDiv from Columbia Theological Seminary, a PhD from Vanderbilt University, and a JD from Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University. (adapted from The Association of Theological Schools' website)

In this episode, Barbara shares about her own contemplative lineage, reflections on the contemplative aspects of the Black Lives Matter movement, the contemplative and social impact of Kendrick Lamar and Beyonce,  and her sense of hope in the next generation.

Nov 21, 2016

Raghu Markus is currently the Executive Director of the Love Serve Remember Foundation and has been an associate producer for on-line and television events for Ram Dass and Oprah Winfrey as well as Eckhart Tolle. Raghu is the host of Mindrolling, a podcast “about coming unstuck and the recent history of awoken awareness. It’s about the intersection of culture, consciousness and realization.” (adapted from beherenownetwork.com)

In this episode, Raghu shares reflections on the transformative power of John Coltrane, how he first met Ram Dass, and the lasting importance of wonder.

Nov 12, 2016

“Marianne is one of the best teachers I’ve experienced and I’ve been a teacher for many years.” - Brene Brown

Marianne Elliot is a human rights advocate and a writer. She served in the United Nations mission in Afghanistan with a focus on human rights and gender issues, helped develop human rights strategies for the governments of New Zealand and Timor-Leste and worked as Policy Advisor for Oxfam. She's written a book about doing good and being well in Afghanistan (Zen Under Fire, Penguin NZ, 2012) and writes for the Huffington Post. (Adapted from marianne-elliott.com)

Nov 1, 2016

“Jenny Phillips is a cultural anthropologist, filmmaker, writer and psychiatric nurse. She has a psychotherapy practice in Concord, MA, specializing in crisis intervention, family and marriage therapy, behavioral medicine, and mindfulness training. In 2002, working with the Alabama DOC, Jenny successfully brought a Vipassana meditation program inside a maximum-security prison in Alabama. In 2008, Phillips produced and directed a documentary film, The Dhamma Brothers, with a national theatrical release and national broadcast on public television. Jenny is producer/director of Beyond the Wall.” (from http://beyondthewallfilm.com/)

Oct 20, 2016

"Munindra was one of the most important teachers for Westerners in the establishment of Vipassana and mindfulness meditation." 

- Jack Kornfield

“Mirka Knaster is the author of Living This Life Fully: Stories and Teachings of Munindra, a book about the Bengali meditation master who was a grandfather of the vipassana/​mindfulness movement in the West and who taught many of today's most prominent Western dharma teachers. She interviewed nearly 200 people around the world for their down-to-earth yet inspiring poignant and humorous remembrances of someone who embodied the qualities of awakening and who believed it was possible for all of us to cultivate them. The book also draws on discussions Robert Pryor had with Munindra before his death in 2003, early talks Munindra gave in the U.S., and includes rare photographs. Shambhala is the publisher (October 2010). Mirka collaborated with Robert Pryor on this project. The book has been translated into Vietnamese and Korean.” (from mirkaknaster.com)

In this episode, Mirka shares reflections on Munindra’s life and teachings, his quirkiness and the path of awakening.

Mirka Knaster holds a Ph.D. in Asian and Comparative Studies, is an author, artist and blogger. You can learn more about Mirka and her work through her websites:

  • mirkaknaster.com (writing website)
  • mirkaart.com (textile art)
  • exploringtheheartofit.weebly.com (art blog)

 

Oct 11, 2016

David Germano is a man who holds many posts at the University of Virginia. Germano's astute and focused work related to the integration of contemplation into all facets of life makes him an easy conversation partner on Contemplify. His deep attention to the contemplative sciences is astounding to witness and damn near impossible to keep pace with. Be sure to check out the U.Va.'s Contemplative Sciences Center to hear what he, his team and his students are engaged in.

“David Germano has taught and researched Tibetan and Buddhist Studies at the University of Virginia since 1992. U.Va.'s Tibetan Studies program is the largest in the Americas, while the Buddhist Studies program is one of the largest in the West. In 2000, he founded the Tibetan and Himalayan Library, which has become the world's largest digital initiative building collaborative knowledge on the region. He is the founding director of the the Tibet Center in the College of Arts and Sciences, which is home to a large exchange program with Tibetans in Tibet, as well as the most extensive set of foreign-led academic operations in the region (four offices in China and Bhutan, and seventeen full-time staff on site). Germano's personal research focuses on the history of Tibetan with a special focus on contemplative and philosophical traditions. He has lived for many years in Tibetan communities in China, in the context of which he has also worked extensively on programs of scholarly engagement, community service, participatory knowledge, and digital technology initiatives. More recently, Germano acted as the founding director of SHANTI (Sciences, Humanities and the Arts Network of Technological Initiatives,www.uvashanti.org), an initiative aimed at the mainstreaming of cutting edge digital technology for faculty, students, and staff across the University. Since 2011, Germano has played a lead role in preparing and then organizing U.Va.’s new Contemplative Sciences Center (www.uvacontemplation.org), which he currently directs. He works extensively with each of the eleven schools at U.Va. to explore learning, research, and engagement initiatives regarding contemplation in their own disciplinary and professional areas, as well as new partnerships across the schools. He is currently focused on the exploration of contemplative ideas, values, and practices involving scientific methodologies and new applications in diverse fields; he also holds a faculty appointment in the School of Nursing..” (from David's U.Va. page)

In this episode we cover David’s journey into Tibetan Buddhism, contemplation in academia and the public schools, resilience and contemplation and starting points for those curious in Tibetan Buddhism.

David Germano is the founding director of the Contemplative Sciences Center at the University of Virginia (amongst his many, many other roles at U.Va.). He is the co-editor of the book, Embodying the Dharma: Buddhist Relic Veneration in Asia. You can learn more about him through his U.Va. page.

 

Oct 1, 2016

Lama Rod Owens (@lamarod1) holds the space for vulnerable conversation to unfold. I was going to write a spot-on bio, but the one posted on his website mirrors my experience and understanding of him:

“Considered one of the leaders of the next generation of Dharma teachers, Lama Rod Owens has a blend of formal Buddhist training and life experience that gives him a unique ability to understand, relate and engage with those around him in a way that’s spacious and sincere. His gentle, laid-back demeanor and willingness to bare his heart and soul makes others want to do the same. Even when seated in front of a room, he’s next to you, sharing his stories and struggles with an openness vulnerability and gentle humor that makes you genuinely feel good about who you are, with all your flaws and foibles, you’re lovable and deserving of happiness and joy. He invites you into the cross sections of his life as a Black, queer male, born and raised in the South, and heavily influenced by the church and its community.” (from lamarod.com)

In this episode we cover Lama Rod’s journey into Tibetan Buddhism, issues of race in American Buddhism, sexuality, his contemplative practice and his thoughts on sex education.

Lama Rod Owens is a teacher, activist and author of Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love and Liberation. You can learn more about him through his website, lamarod.com, Instagram, Soundcloud and Twitter.

Sep 20, 2016

T.D. Mischke (@TommyMischke) is a radioman that has fled the studio for the open road and the stories waiting to be told via his latest project, The Mischke Roadshow. My conversational history with Mischke dates back to 1996 when I first rang his radio program as a 16-year old. Ever a beacon of creativity, Mischke is an artist and storyteller who has always allowed his natural curiosity to carve the path forward. His talent is enormous (James Fallows of The Atlantic lauded Mischke as “truly original”), his disposition humble, and with his podcast, his soul remains free to wander.

In this episode, Mischke shares the process of shedding skins to make room for the unknown, the impact of a mentor, his fascination with Bob Dylan, and his discoveries along his spiritual wanderings.

T.D. Mischke is a podcast host and producer at The Mischke Roadshow, musician and writer.

Sep 10, 2016

Andrew Gingerich embraces a prophetic, contemplative lifestyle. Of course he would object to this description, because his pursuit is internally driven and extrinsic validation does not go far with him. At times he speaks like a modern-day Desert Father (in our conversation he unknowingly paraphrases one of the most famous lines by Abba Moses), with the winsome nature of Thoreau and the delivery of The Dude from The Big Lebowski. In this episode, I sit in Andy’s shack during a soft rain to talk about his years of minimalist living and the intention behind it, the integration of human imagination and material goods, the meaning of literally sleeping in your values, and unexpected lessons about community, neighborhood that only come from living in a shack.

Sep 2, 2016

Dar Williams (@DarWilliamsTour), "one of America's very best singer-songwriters." (The New Yorker), is thoughtful and charming as she tells stories about her local community, but don't let her laid back delivery fool you, she is passionate about community life and the revitalization of small towns everywhere. Known for her songwriting chops, Dar takes us down another avenue to talk about "positive proximity", the focus of her forthcoming book.

In this episode, Dar dives into the themes of social capital, the joys and trials of truly knowing your community, and learning the art of eavesdropping.

Aug 20, 2016

"Each day is valuable...Do not compare it with a dragon's bright pearl. A dragon's pearl may be found. But this one day out of a hundred years cannot be retrieved once it is lost." - Zen Master Dogen

This quote easily tripped off the lips of author, editor, illustrator and brush painter Toinette Lippe. An artist of many pursuits, Lippe had a distinguished publishing career at Simon and Schuster (under Robert Gottlieb, who later became editor of The New Yorker), Knopf and then as the editorial director of Bell Tower where she published 72 books from such luminaries as Ram Dass, Frederick Franck, Thomas Berry, Mirabai Starr, Stephen Levine, Rabbi Rami Shapiro and many others. Lippe has authored two of her own books, Nothing Left Over: A Plain and Simple Life (2002) and Caught in the Act: Reflections on Being, Knowing and Doing (reissued 2016) and an illustrator of the upcoming book On the Wing: Lyrical Moments (to be published December 2016). In this conversation, Toinette and I dive into the themes of harmonizing work and play (and if it is actually possible), ease of being a teacher and difficulty of being a student, lessons learned along the twists of life, and most beautifully, Toinette's life philosophy that came to her unexpectedly and under book deadline.

Aug 10, 2016

Morgan Atkinson has documented the life of Thomas Merton over two films. The poetic contemplative Thomas Merton lived an ever expanding and continual openness to God's love and Atkinson beautifully captures this on film. In this episode discover Thomas Merton as the rescuer of the contemplative tradition in Christianity, the middle-aged monk who fell ass over heels in love with a student nurse, and open dialogues with other religious traditions through the depth of each's contemplative stream. Atkinson has produced multiple documentaries on Thomas Merton, John Howard Griffin, Anna and Harlan Hubbard among many others. In our conversation we focus on what life lessons from Thomas Merton, his life as an artist and monk, what his students thought of him, and his ongoing legacy in the contemplative communities. Merton is a hero of mine, for his humor, humility, deep sense of wonder and of course for the quote that begins episode one of Contemplify, "I drink beer whenever I can lay my hands on any. I love beer, and by that very fact, the world."

Jul 30, 2016

Eric O. Springsted spends some time with Contemplify to explore the life and attention of Simone Weil.  The French philosopher, mystic and activist dared to imagine an authentic life based on the attention and practice of love for all of humanity. Weil came into her own through a contemplative stance hard-won through affliction and openness.  Springsted has spent his entire career drawing from the deep well of wisdom that is Simone Weil.  In our conversation we focus on what Simone Weil might say about the current education system, her freedom of thought, how poetry transformed Weil's life and Springsted's own story of connecting to Weil's work. Pay close attention to all that is at hand, make Weil proud. 

Jul 21, 2016

Donald Worster ( @TheWorster1979 ) connects with Contemplify to traverse the life and passion of John Muir. The American icon who combined intelligence and curiosity with a grounded love for the wilderness. Muir held a natural contemplative bent that married an abiding sense of purpose.  The landscape of John Muir's life is pretty well documented, in my conversation with Donald we focus on the unique character of John Muir, the life lessons the current generations could learn from him and the connecting with the spirit of John Muir and his predecessors. Find something stiff to drink, a night sky full of stars and go for a walk as you listen to this conversation. Donald Worster is an author, scholar and professor at Renmin University of China.

Jul 21, 2016

Amy Frykholm (@AmyFrykholm) joins Contemplify in conversation on visionary 13th century contemplative and mystic Julian of Norwich. Bring some mead to the table because we cover a lot of ground here; the near death experience of Julian that catapulted her writing (by the by, Julian was the first woman to write a book in English), Amy's life-altering encounter with Julian, a Noble prize winning contemplative geneticist who listened to corn, drink recommendations for a conversation on Julian of Norwich and much more. Amy Frykholm is an author, poet, contributor and editor at The Christian Century (@ChristianCent).

Jul 20, 2016

This episode introduces the premise and possibilities of the Contemplify podcast. Interviews with contemplative scholars, creatives and practitioners in tow for those interested in the contemplative streams of the Buddha, Stoic philosophers (Marcus Aurelius, Seneca), Christian mystics (Meister Eckhart, Julian of Norwich, etc.), Transcendentalism (Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, etc.), Naturalists and Environmentalists (John Muir, Edward Abbey, Rachel Carson, Wendell Berry, etc), Creatives (filmmakers, musicians, artists, business leaders, etc.) and much more.

Ring the bell. Rob the moment. Contemplify.

Visit us at Contemplify.com

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