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Upaaya - a centre for contemplative practice, study and research

“To meet the challenges of this century, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility” - The 14th Dalai Lama



Lead:

Dipankar Khanna, Scholar-in-residence and Incubator @ Upaaya


Mandate

Upaaya encompasses the essence of Ancient Indian Awareness and Mindfulness Practices.

In its essence it is:

  • The Practice Mindfulness & Awareness
  • Ethics Arising from a sense of Universal Responsibility
  • Pedagogic Versatility to suit the Individual’s uniqueness
  • Creativity, Elegance and Gentleness
  • Emotional Resilience and Balance


Upaaya’s Vision:

To be part of an integral universal meme with an inclusiveness that appreciates the goodness in all. It strives to create and sustain a forum of outreach, focusing on both formal and informal meditative, mindfulness retreat and contemplative lifestyle, structured processes and academic curriculum at the post-graduate level. Also to collaborate closely with the scientific community to further enable and to facilitate study and research for the purpose of making ancient contemplative traditions practices available easily.


Upaaya’s Objectives:

The primary purpose is to see communicated, supported and enacted, a path to realization of the highest potential of human consciousness. The secondary purpose is to share the benefits that arise out of this path with individuals and society, including collaboration with scientific inquiry.


Mission:

To achieve the Vision and Mission stated above, Upaaya – Centre for Contemplative Practice and Research offers a selection of programs in the practice, study and research of contemplation and meditation relevant to and easily practiced in contemporary spaces


Activities, Projects:

  • Mindfulness & Awareness Programs under auspices of The Garden of Samadhi Mind Centre (endorsed by His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche:
  • We conduct both internal and public outreach programs for both our internal and extended community in and around our Institute.
  • We provide basic meditation training in mindfulness, attention, empathy, emotional balance including Joy of Living Level 1 workshops.
  • We contextualizing these practices in education, mental healthcare as a performance enhancing process
  • We conduct meditation retreats focusing on basic practices such as shamatha, and vipassana, the nature of the mind as taught in ancient Indian contemplative traditions
  • Also provide instruction and tools retreats, for authentic exploration of levels of consciousness via techniques and practices preserved in ancient Indian spiritual traditions in a non-denominational way.
  • We also intend to collate data, form new collaboration with scientific research, study
  • Collaborating with doctors, artists, social scientists, trans-disciplinary scholars and neuro-scientists to test the effects of such meditations in day to day applications and the derived benefits to the humanity and ec-sphere at holistically.

Programs conducted by us under The Garden of Samadhi Mind Centre in the recent past:

  • A three day retreat by Gen Svensson “Cultivating Emotional Balance”.
  • A three day workshop by Dr. Alan Wallace “The Power of the Focussed Mind: Application of India’s Legacy of Samadhi in the Modern World”.
  • Upaaya@Srishti co-hosted the 6th “Integrating Sceientific Approaches to Explore the Mind” along with NIMHANS and The Garden of Samadhi Mind Centre.
  • On invitation from The Garden of Samadhi Mind Centre and Srishti His Holiness The Dalai Lama address the Symposium. Mr Richar Gere introduced The Garden of Samadhi Mind Centre.
  • Dr. Eve Ekman conducted “Cultivating Emotional Balance (CEB) workshop the Srishti’s wellness team and other psychologists including Nimhans at Christ University. This workshop was also conducted in Delhi at IHC.
  • We have hosted at Srishti campus talks by Venerable Ani Thubten Chodron on “Dealing With Situations When Things Fall Apart.
  • There is a robust on-going Meditation Program based on Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche’s Joy of Living Level I that is offered as a NAC to students and faculty.




Upaaya organized various Contemplative, Mindfulness and Spiritual Lectures at Srishti for staff and students

  • Out-reach program as a formal on-going PhD Program:
  • This outreach includes 350+ students from Po0rna Prajna Educational society and Delhi Public School, Bangalore North.
  • In this academic year we have conducted over 130 interventions to these students.
  • Research data has been collected based on scientifically designed questionnaires completion mid-March 2020
  • We have inputs and worked in close collaboration in this project Prof Sisir Roy (senior Homi Bhabha Fellow at IIsc- NIAS, Prof. Alan Bekowitz and Dr. Satabdi Samtani, Research Scientist from College of Education University of Missouri-St. Louis and Centre for Character & Citizenship).



Students of Poorna Prajna Pracicing Trtaka, Nispandbhava nad Pratyahara Pracices

  • Vajranrithyam – An arts Research program:


Photo credit: Sanjeev Mathu

Various Vajranrithyam Dances from various parts of India


“Vajranŕtyam - an arts research program stems from an earlier film “Mount of Excellence” a documentary on a Tibetan Buddhist linage. It was one of the films selected from India at the 69th Cannes Film Festival. The voice over of the documentary was done by Kabir Bedi.

https://www.deccanherald.com/content/543617/buddha-cannes.html

https://www.dailypioneer.com/2017/vivacity/a-window-to-the-world.html


Vajranrithyam Papers and Presentations:

  • “Vajranrithyam – Dance as a Movement of Meditation in Space and Time”, IIAS, Shimla, National seminar of Indian Music and Dance: The Absence of Critical Analysis and Attention. (2017)
  • “Vajranrithyam - As a Meditative Movenment” – World Vajrayana summit, Thimpu. (2018)
  • “Vajranŕtyam: a Phenomenological Look at the Cham or Lama Dance as a Meditative” Journal of Dharma Studies.  Springer (2019).


Documentary:

Although having begun in India the tantric dance form of Vajranŕtyam has got lost in its land of origin and now only exists in the context of Tibetan Buddhism and in geographies associated with Tibetan Buddhism like Sikkim, Ladakh, Arunachal and Himachal Pradesh apart from Tibet, Mongolian and Bhutan.

This research to explore its Indian rooted from where it emanated and the various other forms of tantric dances it has dissipated and/or morphed into.

In addition to the footage from Tibetan Buddhist lineages we would also explore connects, if with other Indian mathas and their ritualistic performances based on folk-lore and myths like those of the Majuli, Purulia and similar mask makers and performers.

Our approach to craft this documentary from some existing footage and aligning it with authentic research into its historical, spiritual and cultural perspective and to bring its relevance to the present is grows from three parts of my body of work in.

Vajranŕtyam – Research & Explorations:

There is a growing feeling among the purists that Vajranŕtyam is slowly dying out as a spiritual art form and may be on the verge of extinction.

  1. What is more important for me to explore is the mythological and folk lore connects to the various elements as a spiritual value in the performance.
  2. Going behind the masks so to say – to interact not just with the teachers, performers and viewers but also the artisans, crafts-persons who fashion the masks, clothes, shows, ritual objects, musical instruments and view Vajranŕtyam from a 360 degree perspective.
  3. A critically important part of my on-going work from this research will be to develop and create pedagogy for Vajranŕtyam to be developed, taught and practiced by lay people in their daily lives just like the temple dances of India like Bharatnatyam and Odissi.
  4. This documentary will be in Hindi and English.
  5. Specific outcomes:
    • Half hour documentary
    • Accompanying booklet on Vajranŕtyam
    • Paper on pedagogy proposed in 6 above


Current Status of the Vajranŕtyam Project:

  1. We have already shot extensively in Tibetan settlements in Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka, Majuli in Assam, Purulia in West Bengal, Delhi and in Bangalore.
  2. We are currently working on tightening the script before post production commences.


On-going Activities at Upaaya

  • General Studies for Foundation, 2nd & 3rd Years – UPEKSHA
  •  Working on a manual/book based on Upeksha course.
  • Worked on the three five papers.
    • Demystifying the Buddhist Tantra.
    • Traditional Indic Virtue Ethics in Today's Perspective
    • "The Phenomena of Applied Psychology in Buddhist Practices – An action-reflection perspective on the Triyana".
  • We have created 20 + classroom modules on Happiness and Creativity curriculum for outreach students.
  • Worked updating the Mindfulness and Awareness program for Leaders (MAPL).
  • Mentoring students on their projects and, environmental exposure themes in areas of Ayurveda, yoga, psychology, neuro cognition and scared geometry.


Opportunities:

Papers, Manual, Book, Teaching, Audio-Visual documentation, Curriculum Development, Academic advancement.

Associations & Partners:

Palpung Group of Institutions and Active Peace Initiative,
Joy of Living Program
The Samadhi Foundation and Garden of Samadhi Mind Centre

Enquiries