Mindfulness and Conflict Transformation

Subject Overview

The subject explores Buddhist peace work and conflict transformation strategies for social well-being and peaceful co-existence.

It presents “good practices” of Buddhist inclusive communities, characteristics and benefits of a moral culture (such as keeping peace with nature, nonviolence, Buddhist peace principles and ethics, etc.). Since the preparation for peace on the social level has to start with individual transformation, the greater part of the course will be dedicated to intra-psyche change based on mindfulness theory and practice.

The students will explore several techniques and aspects of conflict transformation combined with mindfulness in practice. They are expected to devote two hours per day to the practice of mindfulness in the conflict transformation process and record and reflect on their experiences.

The subject assumes a basic knowledge of Buddhism or elements of mindfulness achieved through the preliminary readings listed under prescribed readings

 

Learning Outcomes

  • Develop a critical understanding of the concepts, beliefs and world-view underlying the principal Buddhist traditions as well as conflict transformation skills and methods
  • Critically analyse fundamental issues involved in conflict transformation processes and the technical skills involved in its practice
  • Situate the role and function of mindfulness within Buddhist doctrinal frameworks as well as its applications to conflict transformation processes
  • Critically evaluate and reflect on the spectrum of techniques for the practice of mindfulness and different conflict transformation methods which have developed in different cultural and religious environments
  • Develop the skills to pose research questions, investigate and analyse the literature, and present oral and written research reports.

Content and Structure

The subject examines the systems of conflict transformation methods, focusing on mindfulness as a key component in the Buddhist doctrinal framework. It explores the theoretical foundations as well as the practical methods and techniques of “Buddhist” conflict transformation and also looks at the variety of applications of “mindful conflict transformation” and Buddhist peacework in new contexts and environments.

The subject places emphasis both on theory and on practice: apart from the critical examination of primary and secondary sources, it also explores several techniques and aspects of mindful conflict transformation and Buddhist peacework in practice.

The theoretical framework, which is accompanied by practical sessions, has the following structure:

  • Conflict transformation theory: introduction, historical overview
  • The understanding of a “conflict”: its main features and key components
  • Analyzing identity antagonism
  • Social (political, religious, etc.) and individual conflict and its deconstruction
  • Buddhist peacework: key concepts and practical examples (from ideas of rebuilding moral cultures to the Humanistic and Engaged Buddhisms of Sivaraksa, Ariyaratne, Ghosananda, etc.)
  • The concept of mindfulness: its characteristics, roles and functions
  • Buddhist understanding of a “conflict” and its application to the Buddhist concept of dependent origination)
  • Contemporary applications of mindfulness in conflict transformation practice within new paradigms: Watering the flower, Mindful mediation, Naikan, Beehive…
  • The possibility of conflict transformation: practicing different “Buddhist” transformation methods

Subject Structure

This subject runs for five weeks, with the following structure:

Week 1: Pre-reading of prescribed texts
Week 2:  Five lecture days on campus (9am – 5pm)
Weeks 3 – 5: Submission of assessments online

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ABOUT NAN TIEN INSTITUTE

Nan Tien Institute (NTI) is a private, not for profit, government accredited higher education provider offering studies in the areas of Buddhist studies, health and wellbeing, within an environment that incorporates contemplative education.

NTI offers postgraduate programs in Applied Buddhist Studies, Health and Social Wellbeing, Humanistic Buddhism, and Mental Health as well as customised Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programs and special interest subjects across the areas of meditation, mindfulness and health.