Meditation, Spirituality and Neohumanism – WEST

Meditation is an activity of the mind. Given the complexity of human minds, there is naturally an abundance of different forms of meditation. In today’s culture, some forms of meditation have been intentionally designed to eliminate spiritual characteristics, due to cultural fears of spirituality. This session will examine meditation, the transformation of conscious experience, and how embracing spirituality may provide special benefits to meditators. Further, there will be discussion of how the cultivation of spiritual sentiments is linked to Neohumanism, both as an essential base for Neohumanism and that Neohumanism purifies spirituality. This session will end with a guided meditation, providing an opportunity for a meditative experience.

Sucharit Katyal will discuss the progress that has been made in recent decades in the cognitive science of meditation and examine the cognitive neuroscience framework of meditation based on how Shrii P.R. Sarkar defines meditation, i.e., as “concentrated thinking”. This will include how brain and bodily processes interact in the process of developing concentrated thinking. In line with this framework, he will also discuss some neuroscientific findings from a recent study he conducted on Ananda Marga meditators along with a group of non-meditators investigating how the practice of meditation transforms conscious experience in different degrees of meditation depth.

Richard Maxwell will argue that spirituality contributes important qualities to meditation that are typically lacking in meditation research. He will present as yet unpublished data from a survey of practitioners of Ananda Marga meditation that demonstrate growth of positive feeling states, increased mindfulness, and increased feelings of closeness with the Divine. This will include descriptions of peak experiences by a number of the participants.

Dada Rainjitananda will discuss the importance of spirituality and meditation in the development of neohumanist sensitivities and how spirituality is the base for Neohumanism.

Dada Shambhushivananda will introduce the idea of “Pseudo vs Perfect Spirituality”. He will examine the role of faith in spirituality and how neohumanism protects spirituality from turning into a dogma.

Didi Ananda Lalita will lead a Loving Kindness Meditation.
In this meditation practice, we start by directing loving kindness inwards, towards the innerself, then in a gradual progression we extend loving kindness to someone we love, someone we have challenges with; and gradually extend it towards all beings animate and inanimate from near and afar. Gradually we guide the loving kindness back to our inner self.

Presenters:

Sucharit Katyal

Sucharit Katyal is a cognitive neuroscientist by profession. He received his Bachelors in Computer Science from Delhi College of Engineering and PhD in Psychology from the University of Texas Austin. His research includes the study of human mind and brain on various topics ranging from how humans perceive the visual world, to how human experience changes with meditation training. You can follow his research at researchgate.net/profile/Sucharit_Katyal.

Richard Maxwell

Richard Maxwell is a retired clinical psychologist who specialized in neuropsychology, having worked in Upstate New York with individuals who had emotional problems and/or neurological disorders affecting brain function. He served on the board of the Ananda Vratii Master Unit in Pennsylvania for nearly 20 years. Following that, he has volunteered in several capacities for the Ananda Viplava Master Unit in New York. In 2009, he had an article published in Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, which was titled, The Physiological Foundation of Yoga Chakra Expression. He has since been working to analyze results from a comprehensive survey of meditation experiences in Ananda Marga meditators.

Dada Shambhushivananda

Dada Shambhúshivánanda is the Chancellor of Ánanda Márga Gurukula. Dadaji has been a yogic monk and teacher of meditation since 1979. Prior to his life as a monk, he was a gold medalist of Punjab University, and received Masters and PhD in Business and Applied Economics from the Wharton School, School of Arts and Sciences of the University of Pennsylvania. He has served on the faculties of several universities (University of Scranton, Rutgers, Drexel, PCTS (Philadelphia University), etc, in the Eastern United States before dedicating his life for the cause of building “One Human Society” based on spiritual lifestyle. In 1992, Dadaji was the honourable recipient of the International Mahatma Gandhi Award for his contribution towards building a global community based on ecological ethics and spiritual values. The Indian Research Association also awarded him the Karyalaya Shiromani Award the same year.

Since 1990 Dadaji has been the Chancellor of Ánanda Márga Gurukula (AMGK). Dadaji works to develop and coordinate all of the activities of the neohumanist international network, and has contributed greatly to the development of the Neohumanist Education system around the world. Dadaji is also the founding director of CNS-Sweden, NERI (Netherlands) and AM Gurukul Teachers Training College (TTC) at Anandanagar, West Bengal, India. He is the author of PROUT-Neohumanist Economics (1989) Mystic Verses (2016), Thoughts for a New Era (2018) , a contributor to ”Economic Renaissance in the age of Artificial Intelligence”(2019), and Towards a Brighter Future (2020).

Dada Rainjitananda

Dada Rainjitananda is a Yogic monk and meditation teacher since 1984 with a background in Engineering and a Masters in Business Administration. Dada has been teaching online since 2011 reaching audiences in English, Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian, on topics of Neo-humanism, spiritual philosophy and Yoga practices. At present Dada is working on various projects covering different fields of human endeavor such as:

– a master unit rural development project in the Catskills, New York State – www.anandaviplava.org
– an online leadership program – Planetary Leadership Training – www.planetaryleadershiptraining.com
– a charitable foundation, Foundation Emanuele Antola – www.emanueleantola.org
– a spiritual organization that teaches meditation and Yoga on a non-commercial basis, The Path of Bliss, Inc – www.pathofbliss.com

Didi Ananda Lalita

Didi Ananda Lalita, originally from Taiwan, is a yogic nun, educator & lover of nature. She became a spiritual teacher (Acharya) in 1982. Didi has traveled extensively teaching yoga – meditation to thousands of people and has set up children’s educational and Eco Spiritual Centers in Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Sierra Nevada Foothills of Northern California. Didi has dedicated her life to sharing the beauty & wisdom of Tantra Yoga spiritual meditation practices.