Naropa University Oakland

Master of Liberal Arts Program in Creation Spirituality




CSP 625B         Number of Credit Units:  1 Unit


Instructor: Charles Burack, PhD; (510) 654-8643;


Class Schedule: Fall 2003, November 22-23 (Saturday 9-12, 1-3; Sunday 10-1)


Course Description:   In this seminar, we’ll study modern poetic masterpieces that depict the varieties of spiritual experience.   We’ll discuss how these poems reveal various creation-centered themes and explore such questions as:  How do we experience and express the sacred?  How do the Four Paths apply to our spiritual journeys? What role do religious traditions play in shaping our spiritual encounters?   How can we invite holy moments into our lives?   Poets include: Wendell Berry, William Blake, Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot, Marcia Falk, Ginsberg, Louise Gluck, Brenda Hillman, Jane Hirshfield, D. H. Lawrence, Mary Oliver, Marge Piercy, Adrienne Rich, Rainer Rilke, Walt Whitman,  William Wordsworth, W. B. Yeats, and others.  Meditations and writing exercises will help us connect with and write about our own spiritual journeys.


Course Objectives: To explore the varieties of spiritual experience.  To examine the phases and paths of the spiritual journey.  To appreciate modern mystical poetry.  To examine creation spirituality themes in modern poetry.  To expand our spiritual vocabulary.  To understand how language can be used to express the inexpressible.  To study the symbols and metaphors of the sacred.  To appreciate the evocative and transformational power of poetry.  To deepen our own spiritual lives and expressive powers.


Course Requirements:

            1. Attendance                                                   20%

            (Attendance at each session of the weekend is required to gain course credit.)

            2. Readings                                                       30%

            3. Class participation                                          30%

            4. Final paper (4-5 pages) (due Dec. 8)               20%


Required Texts: Course Reader containing poems, entitled Mystical Poets & Creation Spirituality; Charles Burack’s essay “Speaking Silence: Poetry, Mysticism and Meditation.”


Recommended Texts:  Ralph Metzner’s The Unfolding Self.




1.                   Saturday Morning: introduction to modern mystical poetry; exploration of key terms like “sacred,” “spiritual,” “soul” and “religious”; focus on Romantic poems that portray sacred experiences in nature

2.                   Saturday Afternoon: exploration of poems that focus on the spirituality of love, the body, and suffering

3.                   Sunday Morning: exploration of poems that focus on creativity, prayer and social transformation

4.                   All sessions will be interlaced with meditations, chants and writing exercises.



Art as Meditation to accompany CSP 625B (Mystical Poets and Creation Spirituality)


“Writing as Meditation” (Genny Lim)

Through writing exercises, combining meditation, visualization, stream of consciousness and body poetry, we will connect with the intuitive source of innate imagination and creativity.  Writing as a form of meditative practice, in order to reconnect with the past in a healing way, becomes a natural process in this hands-on approach.  We will also draw inspiration from mystic poets such as Rumi, Hafiz, Mirabai and others.