Our society is broken. Education is both part of the problem and part of the solution. We need fresh educational visions for a mindful planetary future rooted in universal compassion and wisdom, grace and truth. A contemplative and mindful paradigm that embraces and valorises the humanities—inclusive of diverse religious, cultural, and secular worldviews—is urgently and undoubtedly necessary.
Educators and policy makers will need to know contemplative praxis and mindfulness themselves before implementing them in the curriculum. While there are diverse interpretations, this is not an insurmountable issue. We simply need to commission an expert team comprising the right people to design a contemplative curriculum that is inclusive yet authentic, and quality-assured to eliminate dodgy versions sold by unqualified gold diggers.
Nobody is suggesting a one-size fits all approach here. Certainly not me. We already have a one-size fits all education system wherein no matter which discipline you choose, there is a standard procedure and curriculum you go through. For a contemplative educational curriculum, diversity and inclusivity are part and parcel of its effectiveness.
And in the absence of a mass curriculum, leaving it to individuals to choose what resonates with them will not work. Why? Because as I previously argued, we do not live in an environment that conduces to people taking an interest in this matter. We live in a deluded world of received memes, bullshit rules (“brules” for short, a term borrowed from Vishen Lakhiani), and dominant paradigms that blind us to reality. If we leave it to individual choice alone, nothing will change.
Critical reflective thinking is generally absent in the population at large (especially in top-down societal polities), and without leadership to first evoke such critical and reflexive inquiry, nothing will shift. The forces of neoliberal capitalism are far too strong and the powers that be are far too co-opted into this mass addiction of “moneytheism” (a term borrowed from Piya Tan), for any substantive change to occur.
Faith itself is not an issue as long as we take an inclusive approach with enough flexibility to cater to different individual and community needs. Obviously, as in any program, there may be limits to this flexibility. Besides, there is much common ground among different faith traditions. Canvassing viewpoints and input from across the religious landscape is not impossible with the right leadership. It is way past time for us to go beyond superficial interfaith dialogue to real, honest, and even challenging conversations.
Alongside mindfulness and contemplative training, we need comprehensive worldview education encompassing the diversity of our global faith and secular traditions. This is not an impossible endeavour. As with any endeavour, there will always be detractors but that is where true leadership comes in to light the path and lead the way.
Ultimately, it hinges on whether parents and leaders truly see and feel that the educational system is problematic, that our world is in serious trouble, and that a transformative change is timely and necessary. Without such insight into exigency, there will be no will to enact change. This change into the new and the better (kainos), in the end, would entail more than collective human effort. Without supervening grace, nothing is possible.