By Jessie Kostosky, Program Coordinator for the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness Programs
We know that we are not alone on Earth. Every day, we interact with others—friends, family, colleagues—but we know there is still more. If we look around and truly feel into our relationships, we can see them expand outward faster than a comet hurtling through the night sky.
When I stop to notice, I see that I include my neighbors in my relationships, but also my non-human pets and the talkative jays that visit outside my window. If I look outside of the two- and four-legged boundary, I see that some important beings in my life are the plants in my garden, as well as the redwood tree across the street. All of this continues to the micro- and macro- levels, where I see that I'm deeply related to the creatures that hold together the soil and work to make it healthier, as well as to the energy and power streaming down to me through the sun's electrons.
Am I in community with these other beings? I think so. Ecology, in a very real way, is community; I find myself already part of a web of interrelationships, spanning from the smallest microscopic creatures to the largest cycles of the planets and stars. On one level, community is not a choice, yet I can become increasingly more aware of it and decide to participate with it at a greater than surface level. I can be not simply aware of those "others," but I can relate to them in different ways. I can get to know them through histories where I find out about their past, or discussions and observation where we mutually probe each other’s inner worlds.
This is the part of being in community that is a choice: It is the decision to go deeper than the mundane and superficial in order to bring the "other" closer to oneself.
In the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness program, we work to become closer to these so-called "others." We learn about them from varying approaches, and in doing so we learn more about ourselves. By placing ourselves in relation to other entities, our worldview shifts—we are more than the skin encapsulated ego, more than our names and histories. We are as large as our concept of community allows. I think when this happens, when I become a reflection of my understanding of community, an ethical shift occurs—I am now responsible to and for my expanded circle of relations.
By Richard Buggs, Dean of
Alumni and Director of Travel Programs
Are you looking to getaway this summer to a breathtakingly beautiful South Pacific island that
also provides an immersion into the arts? Look no further than the CIIS Travel
Program, which is hosting a tour to Bali.
The Arts and Spirituality
of Bali tour is a unique opportunity that combines deep relaxation with an
exploration of Bali’s most important religious and artistic traditions. Wake up
early and stroll through verdant rice paddies; snorkel in startlingly clear,
warm water, with miles of coral reefs and schools of technicolor fish to gaze
upon; put on your finest batik sarong for the full moon festival at goddess
Saraswati’s temple; and learn the ancient art of shadow puppetry.
While Bali has shares many
commonalities with other Asian cultures, it’s set apart by its Bali-Hindu
religion (a blend of Hinduism, Animism, and Buddhism). According to Balinese
Hindu tradition, the arts are seen as powerful bridges, connecting the sekala
(tangible world) and niskala (intangible world of spirit). In this way,
Balinese Hindu tradition invokes transformation on an individual and collective
level through its arts, rituals, and festivals.
Our Bali tour will be based
in the city of Ubud, considered the center of Bali’s artistic life. Participants
will study a wide range of artistic practices, from Balinese gamelan
music to dance, batik and woodcarving. We will take a 3-day tour of the island
and visit various religious sites, including the most sacred Mother temple,
Join us this summer from
July 20 through August 7. For more information, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.