Yuria Celidwen - The Ethics of Belonging of Indigenous Contemplative Traditions
Speaker Abstract: The unquestionable conditions of the crises of climate, health, and society demand that we ask how education leads to solutions. Environmental destruction and its loss of life, the breakdown of community and its economic systems and oppression, and the mental health epidemics and its struggles of substance abuse, loneliness, and depression are ever-excruciating realities worldwide. I assert that Indigenous traditions hold critical and timely solutions to help meet our times’ most pressing social and environmental injustices through deep cultural roots of contemplative wisdom. These practices are grounded in Indigenous principles of embodiment and action-oriented practices toward equity, community, and ecological awareness and reciprocity. These contemplative traditions have been tested and refined for millennia for their physical, psychological, and environmental benefits, documented within an empirical tradition of Indigenous science. My research charts these rich traditions from diverse corners of the world to develop a synthetic theory about their core focus in what I call the ethics of belonging.
Yuria Celidwen, PhD, is an Indigenous Nahua and Maya scholar from the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. Her interdisciplinary approach intersects Indigenous studies, cultural psychology, and contemplative science to bridge Indigenous and Western methodologies for epistemological equity. Her research examines the experience of self-transcendence in Indigenous contemplative traditions wide-reaching, and how its embodiment enhances prosocial and pro-environmental behavior towards what she suggests is an “ethics of belonging” (ethics, compassion, kindness, reverence, and a sense of awe, love, and sacredness). This work suggests an Earth-based identity to encourage relational well-being, purpose, and actions toward planetary flourishing. She works at the United Nations with a concentration on the reclamation, revitalization, and transmission of Indigenous wisdom and the advancement of the rights of Indigenous Peoples’ and the rights of Nature. She co-chairs the Indigenous Religious Traditions Unit of the American Academy of Religion, is a member of the Contemplative Studies Unit steering committee, and is contemplative faculty and scholar at the University of California, Berkeley.