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On Thursday April 20th and Friday April 21st, 2023, the Contemplative Sciences Center at the University of Virginia is hosting the Generative Contemplation Symposium, an interdisciplinary dialogue on the art and science of effortless and self-emergence contemplative practices.

Register here for the full two-day symposium, including a private screening of the documentary film, Tukdam: Between Worlds. See the Contemplative Sciences Center website for more information.

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 Awareness 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.

Harrison Institute and Small Special Collections Library Auditorium at the University of Virginia. *This is an in-person public event.

Thursday, April 20 and Friday, April 21, 2023