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Articles & Essays: 2011
Cultivating the Greater Self

The "humble willingness to learn from others," writes Daisaku Ikeda, "is profoundly meaningful, invariably fostering deep, empathetic connections. Not only does this resonance enable us to understand others on a deeper level, it acts as a mighty impetus for our true self — our greater self — to flower within us."



A Report from "Cultivating the Greater Self"
On October 22, 2011, Virginia Benson, Ann Diller, Bernice Lerner, and Lou Marinoff were joined at the Center by nearly 100 attendees to discuss cross-cultural visions of the greater self and the best ways to actualize it in everyday life. Topics explored during the daylong forum included: 1) internal and external dialogue as means of cultivating the greater self, and 2) the role of one's attitude and view of life in promoting or impeding the greater self's emergence. >> Read the article


"The Flowering of the Greater Self"
For our first resource of our 2011 we are featuring this message from Daisaku Ikeda, written to commemorate the publishing of Creating Waldens: An East-West Conversation on the American Renaissance, which features Ikeda in dialogue with Ronald A. Bosco and Joel Myerson. Speaking of Creating Waldens Ikeda says: "Our conversations reaffirmed for me that unlimited promise and power lies within every individual; and that for this truth to take root and flower, one must develop a 'self-culture' that transforms the very core of one’s being. What flowers from this self-culture is not the fragile, forlorn bud of the smaller self but the majestic blossom of the larger self — with its boundless capacity for empathy and understanding." >> Read the message

On the Meaning and Value of the Greater Self
This resource collects excerpts from Daisaku Ikeda's university addresses that shed light on the Mahayana Buddhist concept of the greater self. In these short pieces, Ikeda explains the relationship between the greater and the lesser, ego-driven self. Also explored: the value of the greater self in our quest for personal, social, and global well-being. >> Read more


"Social Healing and the Greater Self"
In five brief video clips Judith Thompson, who is co-director of the Social Healing Project, explores various dimensions of the relationship between social healing and the greater self. She addresses questions such as: Why does social healing constitute an evolutionary paradigm? How do we transcend the delusion of separation? How does compassion expand us? >> Watch the videos


"Public Health: The Foundation of Global Flourishing"
In this June 2011 essay, biologist Janet Hart contends that our efforts in pursuit of global peace and well being risk failure at every level unless we tackle the systemic health challenges that plague the least-advantaged among us.
She asks: "How can children be educated so that they improve their lives and societies when they don't even have access to clean drinking water?" The essay highlights three public health innovators who, through their work on behalf of suffering people, embody the greater self as they promote its emergence in others. >> Read more

"Education and the Greater Self: Love Has a Lot To Do With It"
This new essay by the Center's Mitch Bogen argues that educating for the cultivation of the greater self is education of the most ambitious sort: It promotes a learning process that is ongoing and inclusive in scope and noble and compassionate in character. This vision of learning begins with the individual and expands outward to include all of life in its sphere of concern. >> Read more


Visions of the Greater Self in Whitman's Leaves of Grass
With its intense identification with all the beings and phenomena of our world, Walt Whitman's nineteenth century masterpiece celebrates an expansive, inclusive vision of selfhood. In this feature, we have compiled excerpts from Leaves of Grass that illustrate Whitman's unique, cosmic vision. >> Read more

Viktor Frankl: Believing In the Highest Potential of Humans
In this wise and humorous video clip from 1972, the famed neurologist, psychiatrist, and author Viktor Frankl explains how idealizing our capacities for good calls forth our truest, most honorable identity as dignified persons seeking meaning in an oft-unjust world. Frankl is best known for his 1946 book Man's Search for Meaning, which recounted his experiences in the Auschwitz concentration camp. >> View the video

Vincent Harding: Love and the Struggle for Social Transformation
Last November, historian Vincent Harding sat down with the Center to record a series of video reflections on the democratic spirit. In the third installment of that series Dr. Harding discussed spiritual love as a necessary component in struggles for social transformation. Acting out of deep, authentic love, he said, one seeks not to defeat or diminish the opponent; instead, one aims to draw forth and expand his or her best human possibilities — a powerful example of the greater self in action.

>> View Harding Clip 1: Love & the Struggle for Social Transformation
>> View Harding Clip 2: Overcoming Resistance to Love


See the Previous Years section for articles and essays from our 2008 focus, "Understanding Death, Appreciating Life," our 2009 focus, "Humanizing Our Lives, Humanizing Our World," and our 2010 focus, "The Democratic Spirit."




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