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Generative Contemplation Symposium April 20-21

April 20 @ 9:00 am - April 21 @ 4:30 pm

Generative Contemplation Symposium: The Art and Science of Effortless and Self-Emergence Contemplative Practices

Event website and registration
Across the multi-millennial discourse on contemplative practices within Indian and Tibetan Buddhism, there is a pervasive tension that persists between practices that apply effort and those that are effortless. Recently this has emerged as an important framework for interdisciplinary engagement about enhanced cognitive performance. While presented as a binary in classical accounts—as if effort is a fixed and static quantity that is present or absent—it is better understood as a descriptive framework for a spectrum of contemplative dynamics that unfold during meditative experiences, and which can be intentionally enacted, or fostered, by different contemplative techniques. These practices are performed in ongoing and dynamic shifts across a spectrum of intensities of effort.
The symposium promises to catalyze transdisciplinary research collaborations to advance a collective understanding of the underlying dynamics of contemplative practices. We are bringing together leading specialists for an exploration of these practices in light of contemporary philosophical inquiry and psychological research on effort and effortless, self-emergent experiences. Themes of effortlessness and self-emergence in Indian and Tibetan Buddhist contemplative practices will be addressed in four overlapping domains: (I.) Cognitive Effort and Control Practices, (II.) Nondual Practices, (III.) Dream and Illusion Practices. (IV.) Self-Emergent Visionary Practices. Each domain will involve a creative mix of Buddhist Studies scholars, scientists, philosophers, and teacher-practitioners with distinct bodies of expertise – textual, experiential, and empirical.
THURSDAY, April 20 
9:00-9:30am – Opening Remarks
9:30am12:30pm – Session I: Cognitive Effort and Control Practices
12:30-1:30pm – LUNCH
1:30-4:30pm – Session II: Nondual Practices  
7:00-10:00pm – “TUKDAM: Between Worlds” documentary film screening at the Violet Crown cinema.
FRIDAY, April 21 
9:00-9:30am – Opening Remarks
9:30am-12:30pm – Session III: Dream and Illusion Practices 
12:30-1:30 pm – LUNCH
1:30-4:30pm – Session IV: Self-Emergent Visionary Practices
*The schedule is subject to change.  Details on session content and speakers available on symposium website.
Registration for the two-day symposium includes a ticket for the film screening of “TUKDAM: Between Worlds” for each registered attendee. Screening will be held a the Violet Crown theater in downtown Charlottesville.
This is an in-person public event at the University of Virginia. The symposium is designed to foster dialogue with an international community of scholars, scientists, and practitioners as part of the Generative Contemplation Initiative hosted by the Contemplative Sciences Center. Given this in-person focus, the symposium will not be on Zoom or otherwise broadcasted. Sessions will be recorded and disseminated at a date yet to be determined. Online registration to attend the event will open in February.
The Generative Contemplation Symposium is hosted by the Contemplative Sciences Center and co-sponsored by the UVA Tibet Center. Funding support is provided by the Hemera Foundation, Frederick P. Lenz Foundation, Page-Barbour Workshops at UVA, and Virginia Center for the Study of Religion.
For further information, contact Michael Sheehy at sheehy@virginia.edu.  


Harrison Institute and Small Special Collections Library Auditorium at the University of Virginia
160 McCormick Rd
Charlottesville, VA 22904
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Contemplative Sciences Center
(434) 982-6057
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