Using Spiritual Practices to Teach for Happiness and Spiritual Growth in a World Religions Course: An Action Research Perspective

2014-01-22 06.32.59

The decisive question for man is: Is he related to something infinite or not? That is the telling question of his life.

– Carl Jung

Introduction

For years I have focused on service learning as the path for social conscience education in my Humanities I in Action class. However, in the last few years, as I’ve started to teach World Religions, I’ve been intrigued to see if I can develop a religion curriculum that prompts inner awakening within students. In the last three years of exploration, I have come to believe that the most effective pedagogical strategy to develop personal growth in a religion course is by placing spiritual practices at the center of the course curriculum. A World Religions curriculum can not only give students a working knowledge of various world religions, but, more significantly, can also provide students with spiritual insights into their own lives through the use spiritual practices.

Course Content Overview

World Religions is a semester-length course required for all grade 9 students. The curriculum calls for the study of Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam. Since HKIS is a Christian school, many students are Christian, and I as the instructor am also a practicing Christian, students often reflect on these four world faiths using Christianity as indexa common point of reference. We use World Religions: A Voyage of Discovery by Jeffrey Brodd as a textbook for the class. (*To view the course units and a list of class activities, see the addendum below.) Student assessments are similar to other humanities courses. I use a variety of blog responses, reading quizzes, class presentations, and a final essay to determine their semester grade.

Four Key Teaching Methods

Early on in the course I tell the students that I want them to actually experience world religions, not simply learn a lot of facts about them. Religion, I explain, is like a sport: you learn best through practice. Whenever I can, then, I ask students to experience religion, not just talk about it. Given that the students are from multiple faiths or, more commonly, no practicing faith tradition at all, this spiritual practice approach is somewhat unusual, and one that I have developed cautiously with student feedback over the last three years.

On day 1 this year, I gave a presentation, borrowed from Mark Williams indexand Danny Penman’s book Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan to Finding Peace in a Frantic World, about the difference between doing and being. Attending a school like HKIS, my students are experts in doing, but put little priority on finding how to be content with themselves and their lives. We then did a chocolate meditation, also recommended by Williams and Penman, to help them slow down and savor the simple experience of eating one piece of chocolate. This first day activity attempted to illustrate to them that this course could offer them the opportunity to explore themselves in a way that may be unique in their high school experience.

From student evaluations and their final papers, it became clear that this course used four key teaching methods that facilitated the goal of self-exploration.

Field Trips. The first strategy was using field trips to sites in Hong Kong representative of each world religion studied. Our first visit was to ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) in Tsim Sha Tsui. Following a PowerPoint introduction about Hinduism, students were able to experience meditation, yoga, and chanting. For many students, this experience of the beauty of devotion (bhakti yoga) came as a total eye-opener. Even if they question whether a supernatural world exists, it seemed obvious that our Hindu hosts were personally fulfilled and led joyous lives through their singing, the life stories they shared, and their generous hospitality to our group.

2014-01-22 06.57.25Our second field trip was to the Su Bong Zen Buddhist Monastery in Causeway Bay. Whereas ISKCON is about exuberant sights, sounds, and smells, the Subong Monastery is simple and pleasantly austere. A monk named Anjay taught us that the goal of Zen Buddhism was to find your true self through spiritual practice. A calmer mind allows a person to focus on one activity at a time. Anjay advised, “Remember the Nike phrase – Just Do It.” While at Subong Anjay taught us meditation, chanting, and prostrations. The prostrations, or bowing, was something completely new for my students, and a good number of them found it to be surprisingly meaningful.

DSC_3124The third field trip was to Ohel Leah synagogue on Robinson Road in the Mid-Levels. Besides an introduction to Jewish worship and practice, the main value of this visit was experiencing the beauty of this sacred space, and having the opportunity to view the Torah scrolls in the Ark of the Covenant.

DSC_2016Our final field trip was to a local Moslem mosque in Chai Wan. The students were very impressed by Imam Tufail, who answered all our questions about Islam with grace, warmth, and a twinkle in his eye. Students were so impressed by the high regard the imam had for other religions. He would sometimes say, “Jesus, peace be upon him.” Christian students found his respect of their faith in contrast to the general attitude of their churches towards Islam.

2014-05-22 02.30.49Guest Speakers. In addition to the field trips, we had three guests come to visit our class. Our first guest was Roy Horan (pictured below), a professor of creativity in Hong Kong, who came to share with us his spiritual journey throughout his life. Then Rabten, a monk from the Kadampa Meditation Center in Causeway Bay, told us about how he gave up his life as a design student in England to commit himself to a lifetime of service as a monk. Finally, a highly successful engineer and conductor, Vincent Cheng, spoke about his recent spiritual journey away from worldly achievement to a new life of counseling and helping others make the same transition. Students made reference to all three speakers in their final essays.

DSC_3819Spiritual Practices. According to student evaluations, the most important teaching strategy was a project on spiritual practices. In the middle of the semester, students had to create their own spiritual practice, research it, do their chosen practice at least 10 times, and share it in a project. Most students found this very insightful to have some experience practicing being rather than doing. Students did all kinds of practices: meditation, writing prayers, drawing a mandala, making a prayer wheel, and Zentangle. This project is explained in more detail below.

Big Questions. The final strategy is one that developed late in the semester. In the last two weeks, I had several sessions where students could ask their biggest questions about religion. Some were philosophical – does a spiritual world exist? Others revealed personal struggle – how do I develop more gratitude in my life? Still others reflected the cosmopolitan world of an international school – is it better to observe one religion or fuse various traditions together? While asking big questions seems like an obvious pedagogical strategy to take in a course aiming at spiritual idenitty, I had opted more for immersing students in experiences that would cause them to question their previously held assumptions that would build through the semester. This, in fact, did happen, but next semester I plan to see if I can engage students with these questions near the beginning of the course.

Results

At the end of the semester, students wrote a 3+ page paper that quite simply asked them to develop a thesis around their biggest learning in the course. They needed to support this thesis with references to four of the religions (Christianity could be considered a choice as well as the four mentioned above) that we studied. I also asked them at two different points at the end of the year to evaluate the course materials and experiences, and to identify the most important take-aways for themselves through their semester of study. The results below are based on these various forms of feedback.

Outcome 1: Religion class is more valuable than students had expected because it helps them grow on a personal level.

Most students entered World Religions with a negative attitude about the class. As Ben describes:

“Growing up in an atheist family, I had never had much contact with religion. To me, this subject felt as if it was a wasted credit. I understood that studying this subject would help me become a ‘global citizen,’ and help me later in the future when interacting with people of different cultural backgrounds, but besides this, religion did not mean anything.”

Aryan comments further:

“My biggest take away from this course was the fact that religion is not a boring class and in fact hold the key to my true self and belief which can benefit my whole life.”

Mari explains how her attitude towards religion shifted through this course:

“I definitely feel that the most difference this course has made on me was my perspective. I now think religions are very interesting now. I have a new respect toward other religions . . . . I am now grateful for this class for changing my perspective to a positive one.”

It seems that what students did not want was a religion class that used a textbook to repeat basic religious tenets that they believed they were already quite familiar with. What they valued in this course was the personal connections and insights that emerged through their study. As two students summarized:

“All the projects, studying, and research have enabled me to step forward into ‘being’, rather than just ‘doing’ “ (Danyal).

“All religion is just a medium that helps us find true enlightenment and inner peace in this realm that we call reality” (Brian).

Once students overcame their initial misgivings about religion class, they were able to focus on the their learning. The following outcomes reflect the three most important results of studying in World Religions class for my semester two students.

Outcome 2: Religion or spirituality is an inner journey that helps students find a path towards happiness.

Quite a few students identified the main purpose of religion is to help adherents find happiness, as can be seen below:

“The purpose of religion is simple: religion serves to helps the individual find an alternative path to happiness. Happiness is the ultimate goal of religion” (Thomas).

“All religions teach us how to find liberation or salvation, and although the path may differ, the outcome is always a way to find the key to happiness” (Saul).

“I found it interesting how if you compare religions, they all are trying to find the same thing, a state where they are at peace and happiness” (Pablo).

“Religion is not just worshiping a G-d and listening to what He says. It is a way of life, there’s something unique to each religion, but they all strive to remedy the basic human problem. They all help us to find true happiness” (Joseph).

For many students happiness in the context of our study involved coming to an understanding of their identity:

“Although there are many differences between Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, these religions are overlapped by the common importance of morality and finding the truest form of oneself . . . . When Roy Horan [guest speaker] asked our class, “Which one of you guys think you are on a spiritual journey?” only two hands were raised. If he were to visit us again, I would be proud to tell him that yes indeed I am on a journey of self-realization and fine-tuning my moral compass” (Jee Won).

“This class has taught me that religion is not only about the story and the text but about your true self and finding your inner spirituality from following and reading the texts or doing the prayers. This class has changed my view” (Aryan).

“Religion helps us recognize who we are, and guides us in reflecting [on] the actions that we have done. If I were to adhere to religion, I would essentially be exploring my purpose here on this planet. This is a ‘spiritual identity’ “ (Ben).

“I have gained . . . something that cannot be taught from merely reading a textbook, or watching a documentary; I have learned more about the definition of ‘happiness,’ as well as, who I am, what I am, and about my spiritual identity” (Jennifer).

For Jennifer, happiness emerged from a newfound conviction that the spiritual dimension of life could nourish her more than materialism:

“Living in a materialist world can blind us from finding true happiness . . . . Our left brain helps us achieve but it does not help us connect. Many of us are too caught up with our daily schedules, plans, and materialistic lives that we become like robots. Smartphones, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and other newer technology allow us to think and imagine that we are connected around the world. It may have breadth but it certainly lacks in depth. Religion helps our human race take a deep breath of realization . . . . From these religion classes, I have noticed how narrow-minded and blind I was. I was one of those materialistic human beings stressed about homework, grades, tests, lessons, and family. Religion teaches us how to pace our journeys in life, to not fast-forward, but slow down. It teaches us of creating wholeness through connectedness . . . . Religion teaches us of a peaceful yet meaningful life where we fully, wholly, and completely engaged ourselves with the people and environment around us.”

Some students commented directly how this course helped them move towards a greater sense of happiness:

“From this class, I was able to find the religious and spiritual pathway that I want to follow. Now, I have discovered that I don’t need to be religious in order to be spiritual. Therefore, instead of looking for a religion to follow, my new goal is to explore my inner self and experience [through a] spiritual journey” (Brian).

“The biggest thing that I learned this year is that people have it in themselves to be happy. We don’t need anything to make us happy; it is a personal journey that anyone can make” (anonymous).

In a related result, several students associated the goal of religion with compassion. For example, Yamini defined her final paper’s thesis in this way:

“Every religion, regardless of race, culture, or bias, has a strong fundamental foundation built on compassion and empathy.”

Overall, happiness and related concepts emerged as the most prominent theme of the final essays and evaluations.

Outcome 3: Spiritual practices promote spiritual growth.

On their final evaluations student identified spiritual practices project as the most valuable activity in the course. Given the popularity of the four field trips and the guest speakers, the selection of the spiritual practices project as the most valued activity is significant. Here are a number of student comments illustrating the importance of doing spiritual practices:

“The easiest way to learn about religion is by practicing them” (Saul).

“The spiritual practices project was the only project that caused me to connect to the material and push me to experience aspects of my religion that I had never considered” (Yamini).

The actual project is quite simple: choose a spiritual practice that takes at least 10 minutes and repeat this practice over 10 days. Students chose to do a range of spiritual practices this semester:

• Listening to Christian music, writing a puppet show using Bible stories, and performing a skit for elementary school children.

• Performing traditional prayers in their family’s faith.

• Making a prayer wheel or a mandala.

• Writing out sacred prayers

• Using Zentangle, which is basically doodling, to calm the mind.

• Experimenting with various different forms of meditation

• Performing prostrations

My sense is that students liked this project because, first, it was very creative. It wasn’t book learning, but they had to create and monitor a practice for themselves. It could come from a particular religion or it could be a practice that they created for themselves. Another reason students seemed to like the project is because it was inherently holistic; their practices combined mind, body, and the soul. Finally, students needed to decided for themselves if their project was helping them in their goals for growth.

Joseph, who comes from a traditional Jewish family, chose to practice prayers from within his tradition at home. He did an excellent job sharing the prayers that he did in his class presentation and why it was a deeply meaningful project for him. This is his year-end reflection on spiritual practices:

“Not only has World Religions provided me with insightful knowledge of the course material, it has [also] fueled me with the ambition to learn more about the benefits of spiritual practice in relation to religion and how it answers the basic human problem . . . . I now believe it is quintessential to add spiritual practices to your life. It is a way to connect your physical body with your soul and in some ways, with the universe itself.”

Jodi did her project on meditation, and to her surprise, she felt she benefited from the practice:

“At first I thought that meditation was just a waste of time, because [when] I attempted to meditate it didn’t feel real to me . . . . This semester of world religions has taught me that inner peace and calmness can be achieved by meditation. I’ve found that meditating before I go to bed really helps me sleep well and wake up feeling rejuvenated the next day . . . . I have come to learn that even if I don’t subscribe to a particular religion, I would still need to follow a set of morals and principals [sic] to live life to the best of my ability. If meditation can help me become a better person, then perhaps that is something I could practice.”

Brian enjoyed learning about prostrations on our trip to the Su Bong monastery. This is his final reflection on the Spiritual Practices project:

“Definitely keep this assignment. It was really beneficial to my spiritual journey and is my favorite project of the year.”

I’d like conclude this spiritual practices outcome section with a second extended quote from Brian whose parents had given him the freedom to find his own religious pathway. He came into the class consciously searching for a religion to follow. In his final essay, he focused on his journey through the class, which combines most of the key elements noted in this section:

“After scheduling a second visit to the monastery for our Spiritual Practice Project, Saul, DSC_3129Markus, and I were hoping to experience what Anjay had told us and hopefully feel something special. Our three hour session at the monastery began with 10 minutes of chanting from the book. I must admit, chanting with the people the second time was a completely different experience [than when our class went on our field trip]. The sound we created was resonant and hypnotizing. Within a minute, I had entered that state of “nothingness” and just continued chanting sub-consciously. After the bell was hit to signify the end of the chanting, I came to understand what Anjay had meant by saying “just do it.” When chanting, the only thought that crossed my mind was the text. Nothing else. Then, we followed with twenty minutes of meditation and 324 total prostrations. Again, I had attained the same state of mind as the one I had whilst chanting. However, I found it more effective with the prostrations than with the meditation.

At the end of the day, I came to realize that without even noticing, I had actually gained a state of awareness that I did not have previously. For a brief time, this state of awareness allowed me to think and reflect about what and who I truly am. Unlike the first two times where I wasn’t sure what spirituality felt like, this time, I was confident that the state of “nothingness” and level of awareness I have achieved through these spiritual practices was what spirituality feels like. It was almost like an inner-awakening. This experience was been extremely valuable to me. After all those years asking myself the same thing, I can finally say that I have answered my question of, “which religion should I follow.” What this semester has taught me, is that maybe I don’t need to follow religion. Maybe I have been looking at this question in the wrong perspective the whole time. Personally, I feel like being spiritual is more important than being religious. Spirituality gives a meaning to life and draws one to transcend oneself. It is an inner patheway way that enables one to discover the inner essence of one’s being. Spirituality emphasizes and embraces the idea of an immaterial reality and provides an alternate way to discover happiness. One that is far more satisfying than happiness achieved through materialism. However, more importantly is that spirituality can be sought, not only through religion, but through other means such as the spiritual activities that I have done . . . . All those years I had spent searching for the perfect religion, I should have actually been searching for my inner self and inner essence. This new perspective has definitely changed the way I look at not only myself, but above all, the way I look at life.”

Many of the course themes have come together for Brian in a way that he believes feels like an inner awakening.

Outcome 4: Studying other religions not only increases respect for these faiths, but challenges and strengthens students to grow in their own faith.

A final significant result involved students who entered the course as active followers of a particular religion. Asking them to spend time studying faiths that were not only unfamiliar, but sometimes ones that their own tradition suggested should be avoided certainly was a cause of some cognitive dissonance for them. However, all of the students who had initial concerns felt that they had developed greater respect for other religions.

“I learned the true value of other religions. Some parts of these religions are actually more admirable than my religion (Christianity)” (Markus).

“To understand your own religion, you have to understand others . . . . The concept of knowing that I’m not betraying my religion by doing things from other religions (ex. prostrations or meditation, also chanting)” (Pablo).

“Over the course of this semester of world religions class, I have especially gained a deeper respect for the other monotheistic religions, Islam and Judaism, because of how similar some of their values and beliefs are to my Christian understanding . . . . I used to be very dismissive of other faiths and didn’t think about their worldview compared to mine . . . . I think by visiting and getting to know people of other religions, I could step into their shoes and see the world from their standpoint” (Olivia).

A second theme for those followers of a faith tradition was that study of other faces both challenged them to take a critical look at their own faith while simultaneously helped them to grow in their faith.

“Towards the end of our visit we started to chant ‘Hare Krishna.’ When I looked at Lily, 2014-01-22 06.57.25she was transformed. Her voice had taken on some different kind of quality. It held an enormous power within it, and her face held some incredible type of serenity. The room itself was crystallized in a state of calmness. Never before had myself experienced something so spiritual. In Christianity, despite the fact that I have attended churches where gospels are sung, you rarely ever feel quite as connected with other people and God as I had in that room. It was such a unifying power that I was overwhelmed. When I went home I studied more in spiritual practices such as that. I found that virtually every religion does something quite similar (this invoked a slight feeling of jealousy in me, you see. If Christianity had an effect like that, I would certainly partake more in the religion and church services)” (Anthea).

“Not only was I able to recognize similarities between my own faith and other world religions, but also I have realized my bond with Islam can be strengthened by learning about other religions . . . . I have never felt so close to my own faith, finally understanding the lessons they were meant to teach me” (Danyal).

“As a Jew, I found it quite difficult to indulge in the learning of different religions, practices and prayers. I was always told to stray from them as I may be influenced or come back with negative feelings about my own religion. It is through this course that I realized this advice hindered me from understanding other people, their culture, their beliefs and ultimately, impeded the connections we could have established. Saying you respect another religion is completely different from having experienced what it is like to be a member of their religion. World Religions class has taught us precisely what it means to be a follower of the other religions through visits to a mosque, a monastery, a synagogue, and a temple. Each and every location of religious practice we had gone to emitted a unique sensation upon entering . . . . “ (Joseph)

One of my fundamental commitments as a religion teacher is that their experience in my classes should be faith-affirming. It is, then, important to me that the study of world religions for those students who entered with a faith commitment already in tact experienced the dual benefit of deepening their own faith while helping them be more open to the beliefs of others.

Future Areas of Development

Next school year I plan to further develop the course curriculum.* Although I didn’t intentionally use the word “worldview” as frequently as I do in my Humanities I in Action class, the comments above make it clear that many of the students did experience a significant change in perspective. For next year I want to more fully develop the concept of the traditional vs. modern worldview in which spirit-in-matter belief system is contrasted with a materialist paradigm. I will use 10 worldview questions at the beginning of the semester as a guide (see Addendum II). I am also re-reading Huston Smith’s Why Religion Matters, and finding it helpful in considering how to challenge students to engage this question. I also have recently come across Dean Radin’s lecture, “Was Buddha Just a Nice Guy?”, which neatly contrasts the realist and idealist worldview in which the key question is whether awareness of consciousness emerges from a fundamentally materialist universe (realist) or whether awareness is the basis of reality (idealist). As students raised primarily within the materialist worldview, I hope to level the playing field by sharing research as well as anecdotes (from Near Death Experiences and reincarnation) that question this framework. This will supplement an activity that I used this year, based on Walter Wink’s summary in The Powers That Be, that compares five different worldviews: ancient, spiritualist, materialist, dualist, and integral. This lesson worked very well to provide students with the big picture of worldview options; reinforcing these concepts with additional lessons should strengthen this part of the course. Finally, I hope to tie all of this together with greater discussion from students about their big questions from the start of the course.

Conclusion

The big surprise in teaching World Religions this year has been the success of the spiritual practices aspect of the course with these grade 9 students. This has caused me to reconsider a basic pedagogical dichotomy that we have often used here at the high school level. Because of the multiplicity of faiths in our community, we as a Christian school often say that we are not trying to inculcate Christian beliefs or commitment into students through religion classes. Rather, our academic study is meant as a non-threatening approach to the material. While this approach respects students’ right to believe as they wish in our required courses, it also tends to shy away from the most important questions students have about their spiritual identity. Having students actually do spiritual practices both in class and at home has put the focus back on the subjective experience that has historically been the main value of religions to their adherents. Although I have many grades in my gradebook by the end of the semester, the course puts experience and meaning ahead of an academic approach to the material.

This spiritual practices approach was a major recommendation in Cultivating the Spirit: How College Can Enhance Students’ Spiritual Lives (Astin, Astin and Lindholm, 2011). The authors of this seminal research on student spirituality at American universities found that four pedagogical strategies help students grow in this area: study abroad, interdisciplinarity, service learning, and contemplative practices. Of these four, however, the authors note that spiritual practices as an instructional tool is nearly unexplored at U.S. universities. My experience with grade nine students in the last several years suggests that this is an especially powerful area for personal and spiritual growth.

The course, then, straddles the line between academic study and personal exploration. While religion class – with its quizzes, readings, projects, and final papers – oftentimes feels like other academic subjects, the highly personal approach to spiritual practices makes it clear to students that there is something far more important than the report card grade. Judging by the results from their papers and evaluations, this approach seems to meet the deeper needs of students.

References

Astin, A.W., Astin, H.S., & Lindholm, J.A. (2011). Cultivating the spirit: How college can enhance students’ spiritual lives. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons.

Brodd, J. (2009). World religions: A voyage of discovery (3rd Edition). Winona, Minnesota: St. Mary’s Press.

Radin, D. (2012). “Was Buddha Just a Nice Guy?” Science and Non-Duality Conference, May 28-June 2, 2013, Doorn, The Netherlands.

Smith, H. (2001). Why religion matters: The fate of the human spirit in an age of unbelief. New York: HarperCollins.

Williams, M. & Penman, D. (2011). Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Program to Finding Peace in a Frantic World. London: Rodale.

Wink, W. (1998). The powers that be: Theology for a new millennium. New York: Doubleday.

Addendum I

*Topics/Activities in World Religions this semester:

Introduction

1. Doing vs. Being PowerPoint; chocolate meditation.

2. “Inner Aliveness” quote and blog

3. Reincarnation Project on “Many Lives, Many Masters” by Brian Weiss

Hinduism and Buddhism

4. PowerPoint lecture on Hinduism

5. Field trip: Visit to International Society for Krishna Consciousness

6. Buddhist monk Rabten’s visit

7. Field trip: Visit to Zen Buddhist monastery

8. Guest speaker: Roy Horan’s visit

9. Comparing Hinduism and Buddhism (quiz)

10. Guest speaker: Visit by Vincent Cheng about his spiritual search

11. Spiritual Practices Project & Presentation introduced

Judaism

12. Field trip: Visit to Synagogue

13. Movie “Ushpizin”

14. Judaism project

Islam

15. Addressing our big questions in prep for visit to the mosque

16. Field trip: Visit to the Chai Wan mosque

17. Video on Islam

Final Paper

18. Eben Alexander and Near Death Experiences

19. Final exam paper sharing

Addendum II

Worldview Questions for World Religions

  1. Is the material world the only reality that exists or does reality include both visible and invisible dimensions?

Matter Only 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Matter and Spirit

  1. Were human beings created by a personal God (or some other purposeful Force) or did human beings occur by a chance of nature?

Created 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Chance

  1. Do people live on after death?

No life after death 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Life after death

  1. Do you have one lifetime or many lifetimes (reincarnation)?

One lifetime 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Many lifetimes

(YOLO)                                         (YALA – You Always Live Again)

  1. Is there only one path to God or are there many paths to God?

One Path 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Many Paths

  1. Assuming you have some personal experience with religion, do you consider yourself to be more religious or more spiritual?

More religious 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 More spiritual

  1. When you think of God (or the divine or a Supreme Being), do you think of God as “up” or “in?”

Up 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 In

  1. Is the universe (i.e., God, fate, “The Force”, etc) “on our side” helping us find meaning and purpose or is the universe indifferent (doesn’t care) to our existence?

On our side   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10   Indifferent

  1. Is it better to follow one religion or is it better to take the best of various religions and create your own?

One Religion 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Combine Religions

10. For you to become more spiritual, is it better to engage bodily sensations (e.g, singing, dancing, feasting) or to restrict    physical sensations (e.g, meditation, diet restriction, solitude)?

Engage the senses 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Restrict the senses

World Religions Class, Semester II, 2013-2014

DSC_3409World Religions Class, Semester I, 2013-2014

2013-09-02 07.12.32

Advertisements

About martinschmidtinasia

I have served as a humanities teacher at Hong Kong International School since 1990, teaching history, English, and religion courses. Since the mid-1990's I have also come to assume responsibility for many of the school's service learning initiatives. My position also included human care ministry with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in Hong Kong, southern China, and others parts of Asia from 1999-2014. Bringing my affluent students into contact with people served by the LCMS in Asia has proved to be beneficial to students and our community partners alike. Through these experience I have become committed to social conscience education, which gives students the opportunity to find their place in society in the context of challenging global realities.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Using Spiritual Practices to Teach for Happiness and Spiritual Growth in a World Religions Course: An Action Research Perspective

  1. Pingback: The Yin-Yang Symbol as Curricular Model: A Transformative Approach to Christian Education in Asia | Social Conscience Education

  2. Pingback: The Middle Way between Faith-Based and Secular Education: Teaching Spiritual Practices in a World Religions Class | Social Conscience Education

  3. Pingback: “Opening of Self to the Divine Presence:” An Introduction of Centering Prayer for Students | Social Conscience and Inner Awakening

  4. Pingback: Body, Mind and Heart: A New Curriculum Approach to “Service, Society, and the Sacred” | Social Conscience and Inner Awakening

  5. Pingback: Teaching for Self-Transcendence: Spiritual Practices in the World Religions Classroom | Social Conscience and Inner Awakening

  6. Pingback: Mind the Gap: Cynthia Bourgeault on Moving from the Small Self to the Larger Self | Social Conscience and Inner Awakening

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s