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Monday, July 13, 2009

Houston-born Humanist Contemplatives spreading

Many Humanists are already aware (and proud of) the Humanist Chaplancy at Harvard University. Recently a regular Humanist Contemplative group has begun at Cambridge. What does 'Humanist Contemplative' mean?

On June 29, 2006, I started something called the Humanist Contemplative Club in my local Humanist organization, based around the concept of the 'Humanist Contemplative'. The Humanist Contemplative concept is designed, not to be a separate branch of Humanism, but rather to help contribute to the course Humanism takes in the future by working within current Humanist organizations and communities, while reaching out to new people who may have found Humanism wanting in the past, or who may not have even heard of Humanism.

It was born out of a concern that modern Humanism was becoming:
  1. Too focused on criticism of others' beliefs
  2. Too academic and debating
  3. Too blurred and lost within the atheist and secular agenda
  4. Too political in its activity and organizational nature
It also took to heart Sam Harris' call for our participation in the contemplative life.

[Explore further: The Humanist Contemplative]

The group operated for over a year and we had a lot of wonderful experiences. I know I grew from it. I later decided to move on to working on my own on the concept, as I didn't really have the time to run such a group. But this blog, as well as much of my other local work, is all geared toward practicing and talking about Humanism as a contemplative.

That's why I was pleased when Zach Alexander contacted me to inform me that he was starting a Humanist Contemplative group in the Boston area. He describes the group as follows:

Looking for something deeper than socializing and more personal than intellectual debate? Join the Humanist Contemplative Group for biweekly meditations, discussions, and sharing of insights. 
  We're as wary of words like "spiritual" as you are, yet we've found meditative practices to clear our minds, calm our emotions, and enhance our compassion – all good things that have nothing to do with supernaturalism. 

Meetings will be eclectic, with formats inspired by Quakerism, Buddhism, Unitarian Universalism, and other sources; we encourage debate about what contemplative practices can (or can't) be appropriated by Humanists.
Their meetings take place at Harvard University. For those in the area who would like to attend, you can see their Facebook group page, or join their listserv.

Lately I've also been contacted by someone in Los Angeles interested in the concept and look forward to correspondence with them as well. For more on the Humanist Contemplative concept, please see my website: The Humanist Contemplative.

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