Environmentalism and the Politics of Contemplative Inquiry


  • Paul Wapner American University


mindfulness, contemplation, interiority, critical thinking, politics, environmental studies


Many are familiar with the ways contemplative practice enhances outer engagement. Meditation, yoga, journaling, and so forth provide techniques for settling the mind, heightening concentration, clarifying values, and otherwise preparing one for conscious teaching, political activism, and professional work. Less familiar is how outer engagements inform contemplative life. This article explores the ways political activism can provide a route toward spiritual awakening. Specifically, it examines how wrestling with environmental issues opens new chambers of the heart, deepens one compassion, and offers concrete opportunities to “go within.” Originally delivered as the inaugural Arthur Zajonc Lecture on Contemplative Education, the article uses insights from Zajonc’s scholarship to illuminate the productive interface between internal and external experience.


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Arthur Zajonc Lecture on Contemplative Education