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ICNAP,  Ramapo College, May 26-28, 201

Panel of the Society for the Phenomenology of Religious Experience

The Mindfulness of Migration:The Odyssey, the Exodus, the Nativity, Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia, and the Yogacāra’s Rise of Compassion

The necessity for constant collective mindfulness of human migration has been stressed by Lev Gumilev in his concept of “passionarity”. As a phenomenon, migration is indeed an irrevocable part of the human condition, and is essential for the vitality and prosperity of nations. However, the socio-political narrative of the Trump era recontextualizes migration in a perverse attempt to create a travesty of mindfulness with regard to the phenomenon of migration. Contextualized exclusively as politically religious rather than existential and human condition, migration turns into a life-negating aspect of Lebenswelt causing sorrow and even trauma. In this symposium, we call for the positive mindfulness of migration as a necessity in the human condition. To that end, we examine the phenomenology of migration in the myths of the Odyssey, Exodus, and the Christian Nativity; we outline the constitutive aspects of suffering-in-migration; we become mindful of the eternal longing for one’s home; and we examine those ontopoietic possibilities in the archetype of migration which are conditioned on love (in Christianity) and compassion (in the Chinese development of Indian Yogacāra).

Titles of the Papers

“The Continuation of Givenness”: Toward a Mindful Phenomenology of the Christian Nativity and Immigration

 Peter Costello, Providence College, USA

Attentiveness in Odysseus and Ovid, and the mindfulness of Exodus

Olga Louchakova-Schwartz, UC Davis, USA

Phenomenon of Nostalghia as Eternal Yearning for Home in Artistic Visions of Andrei Tarkovsky

Jana Trajtelová, University of Trnava, Slovakia

Experience of Otherness and the Rise of Compassion: The Account of Other Minds in Buddhist Phenomenology

Jingjing Li, McGill University, Canada




“The Continuation of Givenness”: Toward a Mindful Phenomenology of the Christian Nativity and Immigration

Peter Costello


In this paper, I focus on the issue of givenness for Edmund Husserl and its role in a more mindful (less dogmatic) understanding the stories of the Christian Nativity.  The paper has two main parts.


In the first, theoretical part, I look at how givenness entails being mindful of the intertwining of subject and object and intersubjectivity. Then I look at how givenness, as a single noetic-noematic whole, entails a third intertwining–that of the act of explication (an act which Husserl calls “the continuation of givenness” ) and phenomena.


In the second part, I read the nativity stories of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke and show how the very process of explication of the Christian nativity entails a phenomenology of (and a mindfulness of) the divine as immigrant. Sacred personhood, sacred place, is not static. Rather, it is a mindful continuation, a genetic co-constitution– an ongoing unfolding and deployment–of the significance of “love,” which is first announced within the book of Deuteronomy and its exhortation to “love the stranger, for you were once strangers in Egypt.”


Attentiveness in Odysseus and Ovid, and the mindfulness of Exodus

Olga Louchakova-Schwartz


Attentive reading of Odyssey, of the poetry of Ovid, of the Biblical Exodus reveals the same theme, migration, common to all of them.  Centuries after these texts were composed, ca. 2000, the Spanish psychiatrist Joseba Achotegui discovered the Ulysses Syndrome (USyn) as the chronic, multiple, and inescapable stress experienced by migrants. The present author’s previous studies demonstrated that the phenomenology of the USyn entails a collapse of non-objectifying embodied self-awareness, and a simultaneous loss of Schutzian typification in intentional consciousness. Phenomenologically reconstitutive of the self, these are also failures of ordinary attentiveness in the natural attitude. Resonant in phenomenological materiality as suffering, these processes are at the same time carry potentialities expressed in ontopoietic creativity and in reconstitution of the self in the wake of immigration. On the social scale, we see that Silicon Vally executives prefer to hire immigrant manager; and America itself is a result of the social creationism of its Founding Fathers, who were first and second generation immigrants. We will further outline the ontopoetic constitution of the archetype of migration in the Odyssey, Exodus, and Ovid’s nostalgia, examining how love, compassion, and the experience of otherness can reorient the telos of the archetype, moving from suffering to exhilaration. Mindfullness, attentiveness, redirection of attention from suffering to creativity, is crucial for reconfiguring of the attentional changes in migration, and converting the USyn into a possibility for creativity and personal growth.


Phenomenon of Nostalghia as Eternal Yearning for Home in Artistic Visions of Andrei Tarkovsky


Jana Trajtelová


What is a home? A place I was born into? A nation? A linguistic community? Friends or a family where I belong to? An embrace of a beloved one? Or all of these enjoyable occurrences together?

There is vast phenomenological literature written on relation of the one and the other, ownness and otherness, homeworld and alienworld. The phenomenological framework for my paper will be provided by Husserlian notions of “home” and “alien” as they were carefully elaborated by Anthony J. Steinbock and Bernhard Waldenfels. Expounding their main ideas on the encounter and interpenetration of the two, I will add other considerations into these observations. I will suggest that experience of being at home (and being a home) does not pertain merely to physical or psychological dimensions of human experience but reaches beyond its tangible limitations (such as borders of the countries or alienating differences among cultures, religions, languages, races and individual characters).

What is the meaning of belonging and connectedness? And what is the existential and spiritual sense of experiencing individual and collective uprootedness and isolation, which are unavoidably involved in the vicious circle of mindless fears and insane hunting for self-protection? What are the real borders and where are the real limits of true integration of the other in the midst of our homes? Who, in fact, is an emigrant, or rather, who is not a one?

In my article, I attempt to rethink the phenomena of home and “the beyond” and follow the movements of integration and disintegration, both individual and collective. In the light of spiritual (religious) experiences of profound personal and transpersonal inter-connectedness, loving community and unity (as implications and actual expressions of the true individual and collective mindfulness), I will search for deeper foundations and constitutive movements of the investigated phenomena. Through artistic images and profound religious and humanistic insights of Tarkovsky’s films, I will explore the phenomena of home as belonging to and nostalgia as eternal yearning for home, e.g. for the true overcoming of individual and collective isolation, hence for the authentic connectedness – with other human beings, with the whole of the creation and with God.


Experience of Otherness and the Rise of compassion: The Account of Other Minds in Buddhist Phenomenology

Jingjing Li


The fourth panelist shifts the focus to Far East and enquires into the issue of compassion and the experience of others in Yogācāra Buddhism. Through the examination of the phenomenological account for the loss and rise of compassion in our experience of others provided by the Yogācārins. Through this analysis, I argue that otherness is an indispensable part of our experience which can awaken our non-egoistic compassion. In what follows, I draw a parallel between Husserl’s analysis of our experience of others and the Yogācāra theory of other minds (section1). Chinese Yogācārins compare our perception of other minds as seeing through the mirror (T31N1585, P39c13). Drawing on Husserl’s phenomenology, I understand this mirroring experience as that which manifests the invisible minds through the second-person and third-person perspectives. Such an experience raises an open possibility between the rise and loss of compassion (section2). If we perceive other minds as sui generis and immutable, we tend to polarize them with our own ego and then formulate criteria to fortify this polarization. For the Yogācārins, it is from such a polarization that greed, hatred, and conceit stems. In our current era of globalization and migration, such self-other polarization further obstructs us in realizing how the construction of self-identity as such is a cause of suffering. Thus, to remove such polarization, we need to engage in trainings that allow us to reveal the otherness in us (section3). These trainings consist of two levels, the habitual and the intellectual. At the intellectual level, mindfulness and meditation enable us to detach from wrong ideas. At the habitual level, moral actions help us change the egocentric way of living. Through these trainings that mutually advance one another, devotees will be able to see things as they really are and awaken their compassion to others.




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