“On Retreat with Three Wisdom Streams: Contemplating the Dao De Jing, the Christian Desert Fathers and Mothers, and the Bhagavad Gita” by Marty Schmidt and Sangeeta Bansal

The first multi-day spiritual retreat with HKIS faculty in many years was held October 14-15, 2017 at Tao Fung Shan retreat center above Shatin.

Dear Teachers,

Welcome to a very special retreat, which will be held on Saturday-Sunday, January 26-27 at the Tao Fung Shan Christian Centre above Shatin. We are writing this background to the retreat to entice you to come as well as introduce you to the extremely rich content that will be offered. We will present the writings of three major religious traditions: the Taoist classic Dao De Jing; the writings of the early Christian desert fathers and mothers of the 4th and 5th century; and selected readings from the Hindu classic scripture the Bhagavad Gita. Both of us have recently read the Dao De Jing and found it to be the most accessible ancient wisdom text that we’ve ever read. Additionally, Marty found study of the Christian desert tradition to be totally eye-opening only a few years ago on a retreat in New Zealand, while the foundations of Sangeeta’s spiritual life – like many others from the Indian subcontinent – are found in the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita. To bring these rich traditions together for a weekend of study, discussion, practice, and quiet abiding is a privilege for us. Continue reading

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Being Present to Presence: Goal-Setting and the Spiritual Life


On retreat with Cynthia on Holy Isle, Scotland, June, 2017

“[Prayer] is a way of… living in awareness of the Presence, and even enjoying the Presence. The contemplative is not just aware of God’s Loving Presence, but trusts, allows, and delights in it.”

-Richard Rohr, October 29, 2018


Nothing marks our teaching as international Image result for goal-settingschool educators more than goal-setting, which we do at every level: school-wide, departments, teams, individuals. Our daily to-do lists writ large. Goal-setting is part and parcel of our institutional settings, and certainly is the implicit message we pass down to our students.

And so when we come to our spiritual lives, Image result for spiritual goal-settingwe do the same thing. If I read this many books, do my meditation sittings twice a day for 20 minutes, attend such and such retreats, then at some point I’ll reach the spiritual state that I’ve been striving for for so long.

How does this goal-setting approach square with the Wisdom Tradition? Continue reading

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All You Need is Love: The Body’s Natural Aptitude for Wisdom

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Conscious walking and grounding practices
in “Service, Society, and the Sacred.”

“Helping the human family move toward the next step of human evolution in love is the most urgent and challenging task of contemporary spirituality….God wants creation to become fully conscious that it is imbued with divine love and living in that love.”

-Richard Rohr, “Evolving in Love,” November, 8, 2018.

“We can know God only through sensation. Pure sensation is the name of God – pure, burning sensation. The body is the instrument for experiencing this.”

-J. deSalzman, Reality of Being, p. 226

Dear Students,

Now that we are approaching 2/3 of the way through “Service, Society, and the Sacred,” we come to what for most students is the most crucial point. My argument all along has been that your intended destiny as a member of the human race is to live a satisfying life of self-understanding and authentic service to society. But to do so requires a journey of discernment to find your particular niche in the matrix of life in the 21st century. TheSPEX Logo E path towards this destiny is to wake up the body and heart centers that have lain dormant for most of you for some time, and to integrate these with the overdeveloped faculty of the mind. Most of you have come to a better understanding of your specific strengths and areas of imbalance through the course, culminating in the personal application of the Enneagram to your life circumstances. The crucial next step of this process, then, is to choose a spiritual practice that aims to rebalance your personality type’s habitual patterns of thought and behavior that ill-serve your quest for a life well-lived. Continue reading

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Humanities I in Action Curriculum and the Impact of Social Conscience Education

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I believe this is the oldest class picture I have going back to the earliest days of Humanities I in Action, which started in 2003. This blog entry provides information about social conscience education that I began gathering at the onset of the course, but has not been shared so directly. First, I present a summary of the current Humanities I in Action curriculum, which has truly been a work in progress over the last 15 years, but has finally come – with the addition of couple of key changes in the last two years – to a stable place.  Second, I share the 18-step “Journey of Social Conscience” model from my research about the impact of a course like Humanities I in Action. In the past I have referred many times to the triangles that summarize this impact, but now I want to publish the entire narrative form of that journey.  Despite its length, then, this entry is the most succinct summary of the Humanities I in Action curriculum and its impact on students on the blog.

Continue reading

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Enchanted Chanting: Experiencing Peace and Purity in the High School Classroom

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Is it possible to give my stressed out students an undeniable experience of inner peace in a group setting? This thought motivated my recent experiment to bring chanting into an elective religion course that I teach at HKIS called “Service, Society, and the Society.” The course aims to awaken my students’ body-mind-heart selves so that they can make a more deeply informed response to their key developmental task as high school students: what should I do with my life?  Could chanting be a part of a more enlightened form of decision-making for them?  Continue reading

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“Dream Dreams that are Larger than Life:” An Opening Word to the First Humanities II in Action Classes

Screen Shot 2018-06-08 at 4.02.29 PM.pngDear Humanities II in Action Students,

Welcome back to a new school year! Every year brings excitement of what’s to come, but today is a very special first day for me because it is the beginning of Humanities II in Action, an idea that some of us suggested 10 years ago and then 4 years ago, but it wasn’t the right time.

But today that time has come!

Continue reading

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Descent from Mind to Body: A Journey into Bodily Intelligence through Tai Chi


Early morning tai chi practice at Whidbey Institute, Washington.

“The physical practice sometimes called Tai Chi…is a delightful method of allowing my body to learn to move with a natural fluidity that blesses my whole being….What delights me about this practice is the way it integrates the physical universe (Tai Chi) with the Mysterious (Wu Chi). I can feel the interplay of the two, dancing within me, as I move my body in gentle and flexible ease.

William Martin, Day 20 of Tao Te Ching course with Spirituality and Practice


When I think how my approach to education has evolved over the years, I often recall a 5-week NEH[1] summer course studying Himalayan cultures that I took in Worcester, Massachusetts in 2004. (In retrospect I should have just gone to Bhutan instead!)  My particular interest was in creating a curriculum for a new “Who is Buddha” course I was to offer the following year at HKIS. I applied myself earnestly to the program, creating a blog summarizing the curriculum I planned to teach, assiduously highlighting readings and taking careful notes, and writing a long glossary of terms with definitions that would familiarize myself with a flood of new Sanskrit and Pali terms. My strategy to understanding Buddhism – undoubtedly for the end goal of spiritual growth – was academic mastery. Not once did I consider meditating, creating a mandala, or circumambulating a temple. Continue reading

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