Die Before You Die: Facing Fear on a Spiritual Retreat


The inviting, human-scaled central courtyard of the Te Moata Retreat Center where 40 of us gathered from February 4-9 to attend Australasia’s first Wisdom School taught by Cynthia Bourgeault. In the upper right hand are the loft quarters where I slept at night.

Perhaps it had something to do with Jesus’ statement in the Gospel of Thomas from the previous night’s study, “I assure you, whoever grasps their meaning will not know the taste of death.” Certainly it had something to do with the bed, which was so flexible that it seemed to split in two when I lay in it, sandwiching me in the mattress. It was my second night at the Buddhist Retreat Center in Te Moata, New Zealand, about 3 hours southeast of the capital of Auckland, and I was relieved to sleep after a restless first night in the simple loft quarters of the retreat house.

At 4:30 in the morning my sleep was broken and I awoke to a pitch dark room. Continue reading

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In Search of Transformative Power in Education (Presentation at Hong Kong Institute of Education)

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 10.08.13 PMI was invited by assistant professor Tracey Alviar-Martin to speak to her International Education class on January 25 at the Hong Kong Institute of Education to address how I have developed new courses for students at Hong Kong International School.

In this presentation I share how students at international schools like HKIS face the challenge of very high levels of achievement, as well as commensurate levels of stress, that seem at odds with these schools’ inspiring mission statements. Through many years of experimentation I have created a 9th grade interdisciplinary service-learning course called, “Humanities I in Action,” and a senior religion elective entitled, “Service, Society, and the Sacred,” that assists students to re-frame their sense of purpose. As I share in the presentation, Humanities I in Action fosters a greater sense of compassion within students, while Service, Society, and the Sacred aims to develop inner awakening. Together compassionate action and inner awakening offer students a far more fulfilling educational experience than the achievement model alone.

You may scroll through the slides or view as a slideshow at the bottom of the entry.

Continue reading

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Rising and Falling: Best Books and Resources of 2015

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 3.13.47 PMIntroduction

With the exception of a summer religion class in Bhutan, this past year had little of note in the externals of my life, teaching the same classes at HKIS in my 25th and 26th year at the school. However, something was astir internally that I’ve struggled with throughout the year. I had a distinct sense, beginning in late fall of 2014 and becoming most palpable in the early months of 2015, of a rising energy. It was as if something inside was trying to break through an invisible ceiling. It became such a preoccupation that I sought out the counsel of three friends in separate conversations in February and March, but to no avail. Continue reading

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“For Hongkongers who feel life is going too fast, walking a labyrinth can help” SCMP, Sunday, January 3, 2016


Dear reader,

I met HKIS alum Martha Collard about 6 years ago, and since then I have frequently taken my “Service, Society, and the Sacred” class to visit her and walk a labyrinth as a spiritual practice at her center.  Walking a labyrinth is a way to bring a greater sense of wholeness to our lives. Continue reading

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In Search of a Science-Religion Rapprochement: Introducing the Life and Vision of Teilhard de Chardin

Dear Students,

Most of you that I teach in my religion classes genuinely wonder about the relationship between science and religion. The question seems quite straightforward: how can we reconcile, both intellectually and personally, the powerful and predictable usefulness of science with the unsurpassed beauty, meaning, and wholeness of religion? It seems abundantly clear that the future of the planet, as well as fulfillment of our personal lives, depends to a large extent on coming to some kind of rapprochement between science and religion. Continue reading

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Separation or Interbeing: Teaching for Wisdom in an Age of Technology


“We exist within a sea of aliveness; the entire universe is one vast orchestration.”

~Duane Elgin, The Living Universe

Steep yourself in the sea of matter, bathe in its fiery waters, for it is the source of your life and your youthfulness.”

– Teilhard de Chardin, Writings in Times of War, p. 28.

Course and Unit Overview

This semester in my junior/senior elective course called “Service, Society, and the Sacred,” I have been attempting to teach towards the goal of wisdom. Specifically, I have framed our study around the practical question, “What should I do with my life?” as students wrestle with the primary quest of adolescence: what future professional pursuits are worthy of their time and energy? In the search for insight, I have drawn upon the Wisdom Tradition[1] to teach about the intelligence of the body, the mind, and the heart. Continue reading

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“Hong Kong Students Get a Taste of Dire World of the Poor and Displaced” by Angela Baura (South China Morning Post, October 6, 2015, C10)


Every year our Humanities I in Action students participate in a Refugee Run simulation run by Crossroads, a Hong Kong charity founded by HKIS family Malcolm and Sally Begbie. This outing is a key component of our unit on genocide, as we want students to have a visceral understanding of the books and movies that are part of our study. For many students, this is the second most memorable experience of the course (after the Foshan trip).

An article has been published on October 6, 2015 in the South China Morning Post  (C10) about the Refugee Run simulation that our students experience, including quotes from students and myself. Continue reading

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