On Thursday, the Center for Religious and Multicultural Life and student club Mindfulness Over Matter launched an eight-week program based on the teachings of Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh.
Although conceptualized during the fall semester, the workshop now follows the death of Thich Nhat Hanh, who passed away on January 22. Benjamin Felser ’22, co-leader of Mindfulness Over Matter, says the program will recognize Hanh’s death, as well as celebrate his life, while promoting the importance of meditation and community, as originally envisioned by Hanh.
“Meditation is beautiful to help deepen communities because you’re all sharing an experience together,” Felser said. “You all share the same experience, even if your eyes are closed. You can comment on this and talk about it.
During the series of workshops, students will have the opportunity to listen to lectures by Thich Nhat Hanh. The lectures will cover different topics each week, ranging from “the path to liberation” to “interbeing”. Students will share their own thoughts on material that has impacted them in hopes of building community with one another.
“After I left, I felt so calm and serene,” said Ridhika Tripathee ’22, attending the series’ first event. “I think it’s hard to feel that in Bowdoin when things are going really fast and you have to think all the time. So having a moment to just be self-aware is so rare and so sought after for me personally.
Every Tuesday, the Mindfulness Over Matter club, co-run by Felser, Aadhya Ramineni ’23 and David Yang ’22, hosts 45-minute to hour-long meditation sessions, coupled with body and mind “mindfulness checks.” ‘spirit. However, the Thich Nhat Hanh series seeks to dive deep into Buddhist beliefs and meditation practices from an expert.
“One of the things I’m most excited about is just learning with everyone because he’s someone who, once you hear and are exposed to more of his ideas, starts to settle into different places,” Felser said.
Felser believes that spirituality is rarely taught academically and that this project will allow people from diverse backgrounds to learn what they can from Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings, hopefully incorporating them into their own lives.
“I’m not directing this,” Felser said. “I am not a teacher in this area. I’m really just…I’m mostly trying to [create] an environment to engage with Thich Nhat Hanh and his work.
The Thich Nhat Hanh series will take place on Thursdays at the Center for Religious and Multicultural Life at 30 College Street. Since the course is about building a community, the number of participants will be limited to those who attended the first session. Facilitators asked participants to commit to at least six of the total eight weeks.
“I really want this to stay with me forever,” Tripathee said. “I don’t want the things I learn from this to disappear once I finish this course. I hope to integrate [the lessons of the workshop] and having someone to hold me accountable, and for me to hold him accountable, hopefully that will allow me to take it with me.