Wonder seeking Wisdom
We value intellectual integrity based on critical thinking and empirical evidence as well as historically and anthropologically informed argumentation. At the same time, we cultivate an attitude of epistemic humility as we are aware that some things are not meant to be grasped by reason or language. There is nevertheless ample room for more nuanced and refined understandings of the content of our human experience. We regard intellectual discourse and theoretical knowledge as a source of empowerment and freedom.
We conduct research on the relationship between various forms of creative and contemplative arts. This include performing arts traditions such as Grotowski's paratheatre or West African Griots, physical practices such as Butoh or the Gurdjieff movements, and vocal pracices such as Dhikr, traditional polyphonic chants, or Roy Hart voice techniques. The wealth and diversity of creative and contemplative arts across the globe constitutes a treasure trove of wisdom passed down and revamped from generation to generation.
Creative and contemplative arts allow us to capture and give voice to some of the ineffable dimensions of the human condition. They enable us to gain access to imaginal realms and states of consciousness that have been largely neglected in the Western world. We believe that it is through these art forms that we can best recover our sense of beauty, wonder, and reverence without which we cannot truly feel at home with ourselves, with others, and with nature.
A core aim of the Institute of Devotional Arts is to bring together conceptual and embodied knowledge, or theory and practice. To this end, we actively promote interdisciplinary and intercultural research that addresses the entire human person – body, mind, heart, spirit, imagination, intuition, and so on. We believe that these multiple perspectives make for a richer understanding of the world and of our place in it.
Some of the epistemological insights upon which we draw remain on the fringes of our present-day materialistic world-view. These include transpersonal or depth psychology, integral theory, and the perennial philosophy, as well as the study of myth and mysticism. We believe many a tradition decried as deluded or dangerous by the established order are actually invaluable repositories of wisdom.
Art and spirituality are central and essential features of the good life. We view aesthetic and contemplative experiences as concomitant and complementary phenomena that elevate our appreciation of existence. We believe that we need to reclaim these fundamental ways of being to fully flourish as human beings on earth.
Intellect takes you to the door, but it doesn’t take you into the house.