The Center for Contemplative Research in Crestone, Colorado
The Center for Contemplative Research (CCR) has now been founded in the American State of Colorado, where it will soon begin operations at the exquisite site of Miyo Samten Ling, the “Hermitage of Unwavering Samadhi.” The Hermitage, which is located near the small town of Crestone, spreads across 110 acres of land graced with piñon pines, nestled at the base of the towering Sangre de Cristo mountain range.
The CCR is dedicated to contemplative and scientific research that will address two closely-related questions pertaining to human existence: (1) what is the nature of genuine well-being and (2) what is the nature of human consciousness?
Shamatha, literally meaning “quiescence,” is the specific meditative discipline that will be the primary, initial focus of such research. Shamatha includes a range of methods for cultivating exceptionally refined states of attention, concentration, mindfulness, and introspection, which can then be used for exploring the inner space of the human mind, much as a telescope is used for exploring outer space. In this endeavor, the CCR will be exploring the mind as a natural phenomenon, observing it directly with the greatest possible rigor, sophistication, and thoroughness in accordance with the principle of radical empiricism that characterizes scientific and contemplative inquiry at their best.
This research is an extension of the scientific study known as the Shamatha Project conducted in 2007 by a team of cognitive scientists led by Dr. Clifford Saron, with sixty participants meditating full-time for three months under the guidance of Dr. B. Alan Wallace. This study proved to be a resounding success, resulting in the publication of numerous research papers published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
The Center for Contemplative Research (CCR) at Miyo Samten Ling will provide an optimal setting for highly-qualified individuals to devote themselves full-time for months or years to meditative practice under the direction of Dr. Wallace and other carefully selected instructors. Such sustained, professional meditation practice culminates in the full achievement of shamatha, in which the mind becomes single-pointedly focused inwards, withdrawn from the physical senses, and immersed in a state of bliss, luminosity, and inner stillness. This state can be sustained for hours on end. By accessing this primal flow of consciousness that proceeds from one life to the next, one taps into an inner source of genuine well-being and discovers the essential nature of consciousness, characterized by luminosity and cognizance.
While the achievement of shamatha is not unique to the Buddhist tradition and does not require acceptance of any religious belief system, Buddhism does provide an exceptionally clear presentation of the stages of attentional and emotional development that lead to this state. The CCR is committed to training individuals in the practices of shamatha in collaboration with cognitive scientists, who will map these stages using the objective measures of modern sciences, while the contemplatives themselves map them in terms of their own first-person experience. The impact of such unprecedented contemplative and scientific collaboration could trigger a paradigm-shift in humanity’s understanding of the nature of genuine well-being, the potentials of the mind, and the role of consciousness in the natural world.
The CCR is intended to provide professional education in contemplative inquiry, requiring years of full-time training in conjunction with scientists and philosophers, so that when contemplatives have completed their training, they can share the benefits of their experience in the fields of mental health, education, business, athletics, the arts, and other fields. Thus, rather than the scientific research being confined to focusing on the effects of meditation on the physiology and behavior of meditators, the CCR will provide a unique and unprecedented forum for truly collaborative, cross-cultural, interdisciplinary research by contemplatives and scientists to gain insights that will be of benefit to society as a whole.
The Santa Barbara Institute (SBI) for Consciousness Studies, founded in 2003 by Dr. Wallace, will now work in close affiliation with the Center for Contemplative Research (CCR), a newly-founded Colorado religious nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering a renaissance in the world’s contemplative traditions through a focus on Buddhist contemplative practice, religious education, and dialogue with science. The Center for Contemplative Research will raise the funds for maintenance and continuous operation of Miyo Samten Ling Hermitage, as well as for major capital projects, including the construction of twenty-one additional cabins. Miyo Samten Ling, LLC, a single-member, charitable, limited liability corporation governed by the CCR, will own and operate the Hermitage.
Education and Scientific Partners
SBI has previously conducted similar research with multiple campuses of the University of California, Emory University, the University of Arizona, and the University of Vienna, and has collaborated with scientists around the world. The CCR will now work with its Scientific Advisory Board to invite open-minded scientific researchers to collaborate closely with full-time, professional contemplatives. The Scientific Advisory Board includes the Nobel Prize-winning biologist Elizabeth Blackburn (Director, Salk Institute), neuroscientist and clinical psychologist David Presti (UC Berkeley), theoretical physicist Marcelo Gleiser (Director of the Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Engagement at Dartmouth College), and philosopher Michel Bitbol (Director of Research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique).
The property, which had long been devoted to the practice of Christian contemplation under its former ownership as Nada Carmelite Hermitage, includes a chapel with a bell tower, a meeting hall in a community building, maintenance buildings, administrative offices, and eleven beautiful retreat cabins in which contemplatives will receive long-term, professional training in meditation. The land could eventually hold about thirty-two cabins and one or two large residence halls to facilitate group teachings, seminars, and scientific research.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has endorsed the vision of the CCR specifically in its new Crestone location as follows:
Regarding the plan to create a retreat center in the American State of Colorado that will also be a Center for Contemplative Research in collaboration with the scientific community, I say, “Excellent!” It is clear to me that it will be of even greater benefit if this retreat center offers training not only in the view, meditation, and way of life of Buddhism, but also in the widespread, shared, non-violent way of life that has been taught in India from the ancient Sāṃkhya school onwards. There should be teaching, reflection, and meditation with respect to the view, including the presentation of cause and effect, and with respect to meditation, including śamatha and vipaśyanā. Likewise, there should also be instruction and reflection on the view, meditation, and way of life taught in the western traditions of Christianity.
~ Tenzin Gyatso, the XIVth Dalai Lama
For an Article on the “Rationale for the Establishment of a Network of Contemplative Observatories by B. Alan Wallace: Read Here
For a more detailed explanation of the motivation for founding a Center for Contemplative Research, see the revised Epilogue and Afterword to Fathoming the Mind from Fathoming the Mind, by B. Alan Wallace.
CURRENT NEWS: July, 2, 2020
The application process is still open for long-term retreat at our new Hermitage in Crestone, which will be called Miyo Samten Ling (Unwavering Samadhi Hermitage). If you would like to apply to begin a retreat of three months, six months, a year, or more, please email [email protected]
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