2019-2020 General Education Summer Course
UGED2297  Understanding in Practice: From Meditation to Mindfulness (2 credits)

Faced with social unrest and challenges to interpersonal relations, our life easily becomes a chaotic swirl of stress, anger, fear, or even hopelessness. If a storm is inevitable, can we find that stillness within the storm to rethink the real purpose of life, and to renew hope for fulfillment and happiness of oneself and the others? The course offers an orientation into mindfulness meditation as a possible way of “resetting,” which emphasizes reflective participation beyond knowledge and theory.

From the formal practice of sitting cross-legged and quietly counting the breaths to the informal practice of embracing each moment in daily life, students will be guided to cultivate “right mindfulness,” one of the Eightfold Paths to end suffering. Such practices are grounded in ancient Buddhist sutras named Anapanasati (“mindfulness breathing”) and Satipatthana (“foundation of mindfulness”), and 2,500 years of lay and monastic practice. At Plum Village, created by the founder and practitioner of engaged Buddhism Thich Nhat Hahn, we will learn new and homey ways of developing one-pointed concentration on the body, feelings, mind, and phenomena, and together meditate on their impermanence, contemplate no-self, and cultivate loving-kindness.

In addition to a one-week retreat in Plum Village, France, this year we may have a chance to spend three days practicing with the Taize Community (to be confirmed). Taize is a monastic order promoting Christian unity among Churches, with a strong devotion to peace and justice through prayer, hymns, and meditation. Through undisturbed practice with peers and monastics, students will master the basics of Buddhist (and Christian) meditation for stillness, wisdom, and a habit of mindful living. The ultimate goal is to foster the capacity for inner calm and wise action.

Course Structure

The course consists of three parts:

  1. Pre-trip classes: Students are required to attend two lectures at CUHK to gain basic knowledge about mindfulness meditation and its applications. At least one of the lectures will be followed by a practical workshop (e.g., nonviolent communication). Students will complete readings and submit a report on a book/article prior to the trip. Attendance at both lectures is a prerequisite for participation in the retreat.

  2. Experiential learning: In a seven-day retreat at Plum Village (Dordogne [next to Bordeaux], France), students will learn the basic skills of meditation and practice mindfulness in sitting, walking, eating, working, singing, and noble silence. Students will cultivate understanding and loving-kindness through deep listening, sharing, and participation in talks and ceremonies. Subject to the feasibility of related arrangements, students will extend their meditative practices in a renewed Christian tradition through a 3-day retreat at Taize Community (Burgundy, France).

  3. Seminar: After the retreat, students are required to give group presentations reporting their learning during the retreat, and to submit a personal reflective essay on the experience.

Course Review

In June 2019, 16 students from different disciplines and years of study visited Plum Village, France for 7 days. Under the guidance of devoted nuns, students engaged in a series of meditative activities and some decided to receive the Five Mindfulness Trainings at the end. For a glimpse of the experience, visit the following link to see a short video: https://youtu.be/sy79SOxmFHg.

Medium of Instruction

The lectures and seminars at CUHK will be delivered in Cantonese. Guided mindfulness practices in Plum Village and Taize Community (to be confirmed) will be conducted in English.

Fee

The Office of University General Education will cover all the basic costs of the retreat in France, including tuition, vegan meals, accommodation (in shared tents or rooms), and transportation between Sainte Foy La Grande train station and Plum Village. If the visit to Taize is confirmed, transportation from Plum Village to Taize Community will also be provided. Students are responsible for arranging the air travels between Hong Kong and Bordeaux, France, and any necessary gears and gadgets for the retreat (e.g. sleeping bags). Further subsidies are available for application by students with financial needs (recipients of full grant from The Tertiary Student Finance Scheme - Publicly-funded Programmes (TSFS)). Please indicate your interest in the application form and submit the TSFS notification letter as proof that you are a recipient of their full grant. Applications will be reviewed depending on students’ financial needs, the number of applicants and the financial resource of the Office of University General Education.

Application

Students must have taken or be taking the course “UGFH1000 In Dialogue with Humanity” at the time of application. Students should complete the online application form on or before 27 December 2019 (Friday), uploading a personal statement and a copy of an updated academic transcript at CUHK. The personal statement will make important reference for selecting students for the course. Students may explain the motivation for taking the course, personal expectations, prior knowledge (if any) of mindfulness and its applications, and prior experience (if any) with related practices. It should be no longer than 1,000 characters in Chinese, or 700 words in English. Year-one students without an academic transcript at the time of application should upload a list of courses taken in the present term; they should submit the transcript once the grades are released in mid-January 2020.

Important Dates

23 December 2019

Information Session

Time: 2:30-3:30 pm

Venue: HYS 701

Language: Cantonese

pdf logo Presentation Powerpoint
video Video Recording

17 December 2019

Application Deadline

10 January 2020

Interview

15 January 2020

Announcement of Interview Results

17-20 January 2020

Confirmation and Payment of Refundable Deposit by Students

20-24 June 2020*

Lectures and workshops at CUHK

30 June - 2 July 2020*

Retreat at Taize Community

3-10 July 2020*

Retreat at Plum Village

20 July 2020*

Seminar in CUHK

 * updated on 2 March 2020

Notes

Organizing the retreat involves a lot of planning and coordination in advance. The course will therefore not follow the regular schedule of course enrollment at CUHK. Once the interview results are announced, shortlisted students will be required to indicate acceptance of the offer and pay a caution deposit of HK$2,000, which is fully refundable on the successful completion of the course. The Office of University General Education will then proceed with the course enrollment on CUSIS, and students may book their air tickets for early-bird rates. The meeting point will be in Sainte Foy La Grande train station, Bordeaux, France, from which a shuttle will be arranged to take them to Plum Village. A flight itinerary (for Hong Kong-Bordeaux) will be proposed to students, but students may make other arrangements as they see fit. Once enrolled, students are not allowed to drop the course except under special circumstances.

For details about Plum Village, please visit: https://plumvillage.org/.

For details about Taize Community, please visit: https://www.taize.fr/en.

For any queries, please email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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