Rest and Creativity

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Issue Contents

Editor’s Introduction: The Gorilla and the Cardinal
Gabriel Dayley

Lazy Days in the Clay Fields
Melanie Anne Gin
To rest is to allow the body to discern the path forward, to follow its intuition to the clay fields, the dishes, and the garden. Keywords: mindfulness, rest, creativity

Body, (un)Body: Breaking with the Unbearable
Kirsten Mundt
As climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic wash away our illusions that life will go our way because we deserve it, or because we are good, I often struggle to discern accountable action when my body does not provide guid- ance. Like many others, I am faced with the task of choosing when I must col- lude with toxic systems to survive, and what to do when my choices have run out. Keywords: decoloniality, hapticality, embodiment, trauma, cruel optimism

Rest and the Five Remembrances
Mario Obando
The short essay shares my personal history finding an engaged Buddhism rooted in racial justice within and beyond the violence of the publish and perish model of academia. Structured around “The Five Remembrances” from the Chanting Book used in Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village community, I share the impact on my personal health that this model has had on me. Drawing on my experience across several years in academia, from undergraduate to graduate school, and as a daily practitioner of meditation and contemplation, I argue that meditation and contemplation offer pathways for understanding our past in healing and loving ways in the present. I also suggest that this is a conducive way to pay respect to the radical forms of relational compassion shared by the late engaged Buddhist and social justice figures bell hooks and Thich Nhat Hanh. Keywords: The Five Remembrances, publish or perish, rest, trauma

The Dukkha of Racism
Yenkuei Chuang
Dukkha exists, and no one is exempt.  A Pali word from the time of the Buddha, dukkha means the suffering, malaise or unreliability that arises from meeting aging, sickness, death, and loss in our lives.  The simplicity and power of this universal truth cannot be overstated.  Sickness, aging, death, and loss happen to all of us.  Instead of feeling as if we are being punished or that we could have done something to avoid it, we can accept this universal truth without personal shaming and over-identification.  When we learn how to suffer wisely, we achieve sovereignty and freedom from all causes of suffering, even racism. 

beach dreams / seeking paradise
shah noor hussein

Outrageous Love: Teaching Our Students of Color in a Broken World
Sandra Del Valle
Using the author’s own experiences as a teacher, the essay looks at educating Students of Color in a post-pandemic world in which issues of social inequity can no longer be ignored. The essay offers an approach for teaching Students of Color, calling it “outrageous love,” as a living practice of upāya, the Buddhist concept of “skillful means.”  In the context of teaching, upāya means holding outrage about the world our Students of Color must manage in dynamic tension with hope and love for our students themselves. Martin Luther King’s words that we be of “tough mind and tender heart” reflects this tension and leads us to consider what is possible in loving classrooms where teachers privilege the experiences of their students whose own self-love must be built or maintained. This article also addresses the need for teachers to investigate themselves and accept full responsibility for their classrooms as essential aspects of this work. Keywords: Education, Students of Color, love, courage, Buddhism, equity

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast! Stillness Is Key to Creativity and Insight in Higher Education
Gabriella F. Buttarazzi
This article begins with a critique of the current state of higher education, which moves at an increasingly frenetic pace and prioritizes productivity and efficiency at the expense of stillness and receptivity. Drawing upon meditation and other contemplative practices, I argue that these ancient and modern practices offer to pedagogues in higher education—and in turn, therefore, to their students—a much-needed antidote. In our teaching and learning, it is within our capacity as contemplative educators in higher education settings to “gently” resist the dominant ethos that hinders the flourishing of creativity and insight within us all. Despite the tenderness of many contemplative practices, engaging in contemplative practice within the neoliberal academy can be a subtle and effective act of resistance. While they may also engage in other practices, contemplative pedagogues can primarily adopt practices that honor stillness as a means of augmenting teaching and learning opportunities for creativity and insight through embodied practice. The first consequence of engaging in contemplative practices is the relaxing of the default mode network (DMN)—the mechanism in our brains that is in constant flux between past and future thinking—which prepares the way for creativity and insight to flourish. Beginning with “quiet” resistance, in the form of contemplative practices as individual inward-focused endeavours, can both serve as a precursor to and work in tandem with broadening this resistance into a “louder” collective approach. Keywords: Contemplative practices, higher education, meditation, academic life, default mode network (DMN), slow time activities, quiet resistance, stillness, creativity, insight

Cultivating Space in University Life
Ajit Pyati
University campuses, particularly the spaces which faculty members inhabit, are often empty and lifeless. This reality existed long before the pandemic but has intensified in the COVID-19 era. This essay is a personal reflection on how insights from a meditation practice and knowledge of the ancient Indian art of vāstu can bring a fresh perspective to the issue of desolate campus spaces. Specifically, it explores how cultivating wholesome spaciousness within oneself is one way to enliven physical university spaces, such that conviviality, connection, and resistance to the neoliberal immiseration of university life can find expression. Keywords: campus space; vāstu; faculty life; inner space; academic capitalism; university community

Reimagining Rest: An Interview with Aarti Tejuja & Sojourner Zenobia
Aarti Tejuja & Sojourner Zenobia
The Arrow’s Managing Editor shah noor hussein and Chief Editor Gabriel Dayley had the opportunity to speak with Sojourner Wright and Aarti Tejuja, co-founders of Antara, whose “mission is to facilitate the transformative space of the in-between so that inner change can guide us to collectively build a more interconnected and liberated world.” On their website, Aarti and Sojourner observe, “antara is a Sanskrit word meaning within, in the middle, between. The in-between space is where rest, creativity, healing, learning and evolving happens.” We asked them about their experience of rest and creativity in their personal lives and work.

In Conversation on the Climate Crisis: An Interview with Kristin Barker
Kristin Barker
The Arrow’s Chief Editor Gabriel Dayley sat down with Kristin Barker, co-founder and director of One Earth Sangha, for a conversation on applying Buddhist teachings to show up with bravery and skill in the face of climate disruption. One Earth Sangha’s mission “is to support humanity in a transformative response to ecological crises based on the insights and practices of the Buddhist tradition.” The conversation explores working with the emotional toll of the climate crisis, understanding how humanity arrived at this juncture through a Buddhist lens, and how we can arouse fierce compassion in the years ahead.

Illustrations by Rae Minji Lee and Chetna Mehta