Ceremony marks opening of CSWR meditation room

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The Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School dedicated its new nondenominational meditation room in a ceremony on Monday, Oct. 4. New CSWR director Francis X. Clooney  presided over the event, which drew a large audience composed of members of the broad University community.

HDS faculty members Janet Gyatso, Hershey Professor of Buddhists Studies, and Susan Abraham, assistant professor of ministry studies, provided reflections on meditation and the spiritual and intellectual life.

“For me, mediation is the practice of unselving, but not in a modern sense of self flagellation,” said Abraham. “It is the idea that I am but a speck in the universe—a divinely reflected speck—but not the most important thing in the universe. There is a role I have to play, and perhaps that role is to be a channel, to use a Franciscan metaphor, for a divine energy.”

Two musical pieces were performed by Harvard graduate students and CSWR residents Michael Klinger, Matt Lyons, and Rory Lindsay.

After the musical reflections and the remarks by Gyatso and Abraham, Swami Tyagananda, a member of the Harvard chaplains and a Hindu monk (sannyasi) of the Ramakrishna Order, shepherded the crowd to the front of the meditation room. As people gathered around him, he untied a decorative ribbon on the doorway and then led as many people who could fit inside the space. After removing their shoes, some participants sat on rugs while others stood to listen to him deliver a Sanskrit blessing. The end of the ceremony was marked by applause. The room, open during normal business hours, is open to all members of the Harvard community.