Contemplation in Africana Traditions

Special Issue #05

Contemplation in Africana Traditions

Oludamini Ogunnaike, University of Virginia
Georgette Mulunda Ledgister, Harvard Divinity School
Funlayo E. Wood, Harvard University

< 1 min

The African continent and diaspora have a rich heritage and strong contemporary practice of contemplative traditions, many of which have historically been excluded from understandings of “contemplation,” as a result of this category’s European Christian origins and more recent Euro-American Buddhist influence. Africana traditions offer an opportunity to broaden the concept of contemplation, which often centers silence and stillness, by considering how practitioners create spaces that may be, at once, alive with movement and sound and deeply contemplative. Africana traditions of contemplation often emphasize the suspension of time in which the divine and the human intersect in ritual that is paradoxically and necessarily both timeless and time-bound; ritual that unites and transcends past, present, and future. Africana practices like divination, prayer circles, spirit possession, and communal mourning, to name a few, tap into the core aims of contemplation–direct communion with the sacred and/or being–while, at the same time, remaining profoundly practical, providing pathways for better living.

Philosophy and Contemplation in Tantric Buddhism

Special Issue #04

Philosophy and Contemplation in Tantric Buddhism

Yaroslav Komarovski, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

< 1 min

This Special Issue gives attention to intersections and relationships between philosophical and contemplative dimensions of Buddhist tantric traditions. While Buddhist philosophy and tantric practice have received increasing attention from contemporary scholarship, their intersections and mutual influences remain relatively underexplored. To fill this lacuna, this issue will explore how historical and contemporary Buddhist tantric practices are informed by philosophical ideas developed within tantric social circles and assimilated from broader pools of Buddhist and/or non-Buddhist cultural matrices. Given the centrality of contemplative practice to Tantra, the Special Issue is concerned with longstanding questions about how philosophy informs tantric practice, and vice versa, how practices may inform tantric views. 

Contemplative Ecology

Special Issue #03

Contemplative Ecology

Douglas Christie, Loyola Marymount University
Simone Kotva, Cambridge University
Ariel Evan Mayse, Stanford University
Devin Zuckerman, University of Virginia

< 1 min

This Special Issue explores how contemplative practices, and the academic study of contemplation, can sensitize us to the ecological worlds in which we are embedded, and offer practices of attention and action that entail meaningful responses to ecological change. Broad and marshy in scope, authors in this special issue are invited to think with the concept of an ecotone, the transitional space between different ecosystems, as a way of conceptualizing the novel, interdisciplinary, and multi-perspectival approaches to ecology made possible under the rubric of Contemplative Studies. Invited formats for contributions therefore include research articles, short-form explorations, translations, annotated descriptions of contemplative practices with guidelines for contemporary use, and creative multimedia projects (visual art, video, music, and design).

Mindful Practices and Embodied Critical Thinking: Tensions and Transitions

Special Issue #02

Mindful Practices and Embodied Critical Thinking: Tensions and Transitions

Donata Schoeller, TECT (Training Embodied Critical Thinking)
Sigridur Thorgeirsdottir, University of Iceland
Greg Walkerden, Macquarie University, Australia

< 1 min

This Special Issue explores embodied approaches to critical, analytic, and systematic thinking in dialogue with mindfulness practices. Articles focus on (i.) basic styles of meditative attention that support staying with an experience, and (ii.) practices of embodied critical thinking that engage with complex issues to move towards change. In so doing, authors ask, “What characterizes a mindful kind of thinking that engages bodily experiences to support careful and sensitive consideration of complex issues?” Authors draw from Euro-American contemplative traditions and contemporary philosophies including pragmatism, phenomenology, and Eugene Gendlin’s process philosophy to explore novel conceptual and practical approaches.

Psychedelics, Contemplation, and Religion

Special Issue #01

Psychedelics, Contemplation, and Religion

Daniel A. Hirshberg, University of Colorado-Boulder
Stuart Ray Sarbacker, Oregon State University

< 1 min

Psychedelics are enjoying a popular and scientific resurgence of interest due to rigorous documentation of their therapeutic potential and experiences perceived to be profoundly spiritual. In this Special Issue, authors examine the role of psychedelics across a range of religious contexts and reflect on broad philosophical and interpretive frameworks utilized in research and practice. Articles contribute measured, nuanced, and accurate accounts of psychoactive substances in religion and contemplative practice. As a whole, the issue provides foundations for thinking critically and strategically about how scholarship on psychedelics can contribute to understandings of religious, therapeutic, and recreational applications of such substances in contemporary contexts.

Special Issues

Thematic issues with guest editors

About Special Issues

The Journal of Contemplative Studies publishes Special Issues with guest editors on thematically coherent topics in Contemplative Studies. Each Special Issue, curated by guest editors, invites authors to contribute original research and scholarship on a single topic. Guest editors can either be invited by a member of the JCS Executive or Editorial Board to curate a Special Issue or propose a Special Issue via the online form accessed on the Submissions webpage. Proposals are reviewed by the JCS Editors and if selected, the guest editors will be invited into the production process. While topically collated, articles are peer-reviewed and published on a rolling basis.