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A Great Love of Mine

Updated: May 28, 2020

Dear Contemplatives:

If you wish to contemplate the spiritual mysteries of life and learn more about India’s great philosophical legacy, one that includes yoga but also reaches beyond it, I have a gift for you. The Metaphysical Roadmaps course will take you on a ride that unpacks abundant traditions and ponders profound spiritual reflections. This course will also explore material that is very close to my heart.

One of my passions is studying the spiritual philosophies of India. While many people argue that studying philosophy is inert and doesn’t “do anything,” to change a human, I couldn’t disagree more. The act of sustained contemplation on a text or proposition can be a sacred practice that impacts our perspectives, hearts, and actions. The usual suspects will all be there: you will read history and engage in writing and analysis. However, this course makes room for a special joy, one that can be found when a new idea is allowed to nest within us—in a quiet state of absorption; this is a moment that can give rise to profound insight and possibly, a genuine paradigm shift.

This course centers around the philosophical and metaphysical landscape of India's great religious traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism. It also reviews the very notion of spirituality and religion as a whole: how those constructs are defined and the value to be found in studying them. We also look at how these traditions have answered some of these questions: What is the meaning of life? What is human freedom? What is fundamentally real? What is the primary cause of human suffering, and how can we eradicate it? What is the role of spiritual practice? What is the nature of the cosmos and its relationship, if any, to non-physical realms? Is there a God (or Gods)? If there is or is not, what is the reasoning? What are the various conceptions of a soul or self?

Do not worry when new philosophical ideas challenge you. The moment we feel vulnerable because a concept isn’t immediately landing in our minds in a happy cohesion is the moment we are ripe for transformation. Meet the discomfort and vulnerability with calm and loving-kindness. Studying philosophy is very much like going to the gym. The moment we feel the burn, the pain, and the exhaustion is the moment we instinctually want to stop and retract back into previously defined boundaries. But you are here to slowly and skillfully train beyond your current conceptually operational self. You are here to learn. Remember: this is ultimately for your personal development; there are no grades or research papers. But it's also not a cakewalk, so it's essential to practice compassion and self-care along the way.

Despite the expansive nature of the material, this is still an introductory course that presupposes no prior knowledge of the topics we explore. Module one provides everyone, regardless of their background, a solid foundation before we begin exploring more sophisticated philosophical material later in the course. Some of our students who have had previous training in yoga philosophy have found it helpful, but it's not necessary. And don’t forget that after the course completes, you will always have the reading and study kit to review whenever you wish! But perhaps most importantly, keep in mind that this course seeks to nurture self-knowledge and strengthen empathy while fostering a greater understanding of India’s diverse spiritual landscape.

I look forward to our first conversation.

In Love and Learning

Sati (Shannon Chmelar)

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