Courses Overview >> Short courses >> Contemplative Action: coming from the heart in this ecospiritual moment

Contemplative Action: coming from the heart in this ecospiritual moment

Key Info: 
  • Gain a better understanding of the ecological crisis that defines our time
  • Understand and practice radical surrender
  • Consider genuine and surprising ways forward

With Prof Rupert Read, Deepak Rughani, Skeena Rathor, Kanada Gorla

£ 795.00
Course fees include all vegetarian meals, field trips, materials and all teaching sessions.
The programme will run from Saturday to Wednesday and includes four nights private accommodation from the first lunchtime you arrive through until the lunchtime before your departure.

The idea of this course is to investigate deeply the spiritual orientation(s) that best suits the country’s growing truth-telling, Non-Violent Direct Action (NVDA) movements - movements that are almost certainly our last chance at averting or softening societal collapse.

Course programme

Day 1: Radical surrender as the basis for personal spiritual health
This course will begin with the reasonably-familiar (but nevertheless extraordinary and paradoxical) claim that the basis of individual mental health is the spiritual practice of completely surrendering to what is. This claim will be explored in some detail, including with regard to some of its deepest antecedents (such as the first three of the Buddha’s Noble Truths), and in actual meditative practice exercises. [Including some feed-in from Deepak Rughani.]

Day 2: The extreme ecological crisis: This civilisation is finished
Day 2 of the course takes the student deep into the devastating ecological crisis that defines our time, of which the climate crisis is merely the worst symptom at present from the perspective of humanity. Read will argue for why he thinks it certain that this civilisation is finished; the only way we can now prevent eco-induced societal/global collapse is by changing everything so far and fast that what remains will look completely different from society as we know it. Coming to accept this frees one up to be able to consider genuine and surprising ways forward.
All the more so once one acknowledges that the ‘individual’ considered on Day 1 does not really exist. (We all know this, proclaim it. Why don’t we practice it more? (Because of our egos. Practice radical surrender...))

Day 3: Radical surrender as the basis for collective spiritual health
Day 3 BRINGS TOGETHER the apparently-separate teachings of the first two days, and marks the most surprising claim of the course. Just as on the micro-cosmic level, so on the macro-cosmic: surrendering to how things are, accepting that there is a profound sense in which things even now are as they have to be and even as they should be, is the truest and most powerful basis for orienting ourselves (together) adequately to our past, present and future. One has to surrender to (and grieve over) the terrible truth about what we have destroyed and about the ending of our civilisation, in order to find any way beyond it (via transformative and deep adaptation). Things right now in the world really are in this way just as they should be: they are the perfect basis for the unprecedented flowering of human beauty-in-action that has started and that is to come. If one sees the world aright, one sees that it is perfect right now — so long as one includes in it, as obviously one must, the way we (and so many others) are positioned in it: as radically out of sympathy with the status quo and with our likely trajectory (unless we do something extraordinary) toward mass self-destruction.

We re-become a healthy world by truly accepting the totality (including the sickness) of our world as it stands, and then inevitably changing our path henceforth:

Day 4: The personal is ecopolitical: via ecopsychology to Extinction Rebellion. [Including guest lecture by Skeena Rathor, XR Vision Holding group, by Skype.]
There is an enormous new mental-health-emergency coming, as people wake up to what we have done to our fellow beings and to our future. But this emergency could be the making of us. It is healthy to grieve, to fear, even to despair.

Once one has faced the awesome truth about the eco-crisis, and once one understands that there is no escape from it on an individual basis (that we really are all in this together, and that a collective response is the only possible response; that it was the story of separation that took us into this crisis, and that only a story of inter-being can lead us out of it), then one is committed to radical action. Facing up to climate reality — truly accepting that things are as they are — means radical liberation from tethers such as mainstream assumptions about career, future, about law-abidingness, etc. Movements such as XR are fostered by, and are or could properly be based, in this understanding.

For our ecological perception, our psycho-spiritual awakening and our socio-political uprising are quite simply the same thing: they are different ways of looking at the same whole, the same process.

Day 5: What is leadership, in the long ecological emergency? [Including joint lecture on ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ leadership by Rupert Read, Kanada Gorla and Deepak Rughani.]
What then is to be done? Everyone who understands this teaching is called upon to play a part in real-ising it. This will require a good deal of bravery, originality: leadership, of one kind of another.
Read, Gorla and Rughani discuss the forms of leadership required: including leadership through courage, leadership by example, charismatic leadership, thought-leadership, and collective leadership. We will seek to set out how ‘outer’ leadership is impossible without ‘inner’ leadership too. (We will draw here on Simon Western’s work analysing leadership discourses which leads up to the concept of eco-leadership: systemic, networked, distributed, collaborative and also acting as a meta discourse influencing how the other kinds of leadership can work together.)
If we lead, together, then we can be happy, win or lose. For we know we are doing what is needful; one thing we then do not have to face any longer is what so many are likely to face, after it is too late (if that is what occurs): terrible regret that one didn’t try harder while one — while we — still had the chance...

*The Booking Deadline gives us an accurate idea of course participant numbers at approximately 6 weeks before the course is due to run, at which point we confirm the course, add additional time for people to book on or cancel the course. We encourage people to register early for courses as places are limited.

With Prof Rupert Read, Deepak Rughani, Skeena Rathor, Kanada Gorla
Prof Rupert Read

Prof Rupert Read

Prof Rupert Read is one of the definitive spokespersons on ‘The Collapse’. He is the co-author of This Civilisation is Finished. The book describes how Industrial civilisation has no future. It requires limitless economic growth on a finite planet. The reckless combustion of fossil fuels means that Earth’s climate is changing disastrously in ways that cannot be resolved by piecemeal reform or technological innovation…. Unless humanity does something beautiful and unprecedented, the ending of industrial civilisation will take the form of collapse, which could mean a harrowing die-off of billions of people’. He has been a frequent spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion. This has involved meetings with senior politicians from across the political spectrum. He represents Extinction Rebellion on national radio and television, including Radio 4’s Today programme and the BBC’s Question Time and Politics Live. He teaches philosophy at the University of East Anglia, and created and (until recently) led the ‘philosophy of presence’ group in Norwich. He was taught by Joanna Macy, Thich Nhat-Hanh, Richard Rorty and Stanley Cavell.

Deepak Rughani

Deepak Rughani

Deepak Rughani is co-founder of Biofuelwatch, the leading NGO combatting the turning of biodiverse forests into pellets and monocultures. He is a trained ecologist and a leading change-manager.

Skeena Rathor

Skeena Rathor

Skeena Rathor co-leads the XR ‘Vision Sensing’ group, the spiritual centre of XR. She is also an elected Councillor on Stroud District Council, as well as a national spokesperson for XR who has appeared widely on TV and radio.

Kanada Elizabeth Gorla

Kanada Elizabeth Gorla

Kanada Elizabeth Gorla is a leadership and transformational change catalyst, mentoring and coaching individuals, teams and senior executives within both large and small organisations. She aims to build cultures of compassion, resilience and innovation and empowers leaders and change-makers of all ages and walks of life to that end. For that purpose, she has founded SHINE: her organisational vehicle to develop radical leadership to transform our world. Current projects include a leadership and culture transformation journey with Riverford Organic Farmers Board and Senior Managers; and on-going empowerment work with young adults e.g. the Catalyst Course at Embercombe. Kanada is a long-time meditator, creative arts facilitator and nature connection practitioner. Her background as an opera/theatre director and community arts animateur has informed her methodology and approach to transformative learning.

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A place can not be guaranteed unless we receive your deposit or payment on your chosen course. If you would like to apply for a bursary, please do this before making your course application.


Short Course Bursaries create an opportunity for an individual to experience the powerful transformative learning by joining a course that assists the participant to inspire their wider community and benefits from the participant’s own unique contribution. It is our hope that our bursaries support a wide cross section of participation on our short course programme. The number of bursaries available is limited, competition is strong and funding is not always available for every short course. Please be aware that most bursaries are in the region of 10% – 20% of the course fee so please be prepared to raise funding from other sources.  A bursary award is not intended to cover travel or incidental expenses.

Applications are viewed on a case-by-case basis and we are unable to enter into discussions on any decisions. We generally have many more applications for bursaries than we have funding available. We can only offer one bursary per person per year and priority is given to those who have not attended the college or received a bursary before. To help us support as many people as possible, please only apply if you would be unable to attend the course without a bursary.

How to apply for a bursary

NB: Please do not pay your deposit for the course yet. Any applications received where a deposit has been paid will be rejected and the deposit refunded.

Six weeks before the course is due to start all bursary applications will be considered and responded to.  If successful you will be required to accept our Bursary Terms and Conditions.

Please answer the following:

  1. What does a bursary mean to you?
  2. How will your attendance on this course benefit the wider community?
  3. If your financial situation justifies you applying for a bursary, how much are you able to contribute towards attending this course?

Please be prepared to supply an appropriate reference in support of your application.