Educating the whole person entails both formal study and self-discovery, shared inquiry and self-understanding. The liberal arts are meant to instruct and inspire. Descriptions and prescriptions for such self-cultivation are found across classical texts. Whether explicitly or implicitly, these diverse authors invite and encourage the reader to seriously consider and know for themselves what it means to be fully human—intellectually, socially, aesthetically, emotionally, and spiritually. So, along with our regular academic offerings, DRBU sets aside time each semester exclusively devoted to contemplative study and practice.
During this time, students can unplug from their ordinary routines to directly experience a variety of disciplined forms of self-reflection, centering practices, and more intuitive modes of knowing—all aimed at increasing a subtler awareness within and without: of oneself, and one’s place in the larger world. Classes and non-essential service scholarship are suspended so that students can get the most out of this important “laboratory” experience. Taken together the contemplative program—quiet reflection, training in meditation, mind-body integration, and retreat-like immersions—exists to more fully delve into what it means to “know thyself.”
With guidance from classical texts and contemporary practitioners, the contemplative sessions offer DRBU students a chance and space to “look within”—to access and attend to their own hearts and minds, and in so doing compass a profound freedom to pursue the highest goals of human existence. This hands-on experiential learning can also open up fresh insights into what it means to be human, the workings of causality, and inspire new ways of imagining and engaging in the interconnected world of ourselves, others, and the natural environment.