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Charis and Agnes Scott College welcome Sophie Wu in conversation with Alan Pope and Jan Willis for a discussion of Awakening Dignity: A Guide to Living a Life of Deep Fulfillment. A Buddhist master’s guide to cultivating dignity through meditation to live a meaningful and fulfilling life. This event is co-sponsored by the Agnes Scott College History Department, Asian Studies Department, and Department of Religious Studies.
The notion of dignity is crucial to the question of how best to live a meaningful and fulfilling life, particularly for today’s environment in which so many of us experience self-doubt, low self-esteem, and feelings of being trapped by anxiety, dissatisfaction, or even success. How, in such a circumstance, can we gain authentic and unshakeable dignity? In Awakening Dignity, Phakchok Rinpoche draws from the Tibetan Buddhist wisdom tradition to offer a unique and fresh approach to answer this question.
From the Buddhist perspective, dignity is an inherent quality of fundamental wholeness and completeness that we all naturally possess: our true nature is pure and our heart is noble. In this guide, Phakchok Rinpoche shows how knowing that we are whole and complete already—and gaining trust and certainty in that understanding—can counteract the common feeling that we are not enough, that something is missing.
Gaining unwavering trust in ourselves protects us from life’s ups and downs. With genuine dignity, we are not riddled with uncertainty, anxiety, or self-doubt. Rather, we are able to face any circumstance with confidence, clarity, and compassion. Through reflections, examples, and simple meditations—such as embracing adversity and practicing compassion—Awakening Dignity provides all the tools necessary to fully embody our fundamental dignity.
Sophie (Shu-Chin) Wu, Ph.D., is trained in Chinese intellectual history at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Sophie teaches Asian history and philosophy, including Buddhism, as an associate professor at Agnes Scott College. Her current academic research focuses on Chinese and Tibetan independent films and contemplative education. As a longtime student of Buddhism, Sophie is a board member and meditation instructor for Phakchok Rinpoche’s organization. She lives in Atlanta with her husband. In her (imaginary) free time, Sophie enjoys home-roasted coffee, nature hikes, and traveling.
Alan Pope, Ph.D., is a Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of West Georgia. Trained in clinical existential phenomenological psychology at Duquesne University, Alan is also a long-term student of Tibetan Buddhism who serves as a meditation instructor in Phakchok Rinpoche’s organization. During his career, Alan regularly taught courses such as Buddhist Psychology, Psychology of Meditation, and Eastern and Transpersonal Psychologies. He is the author of From Child to Elder: Personal Transformation in Becoming an Orphan at Midlife.
Jan Willis is Professor Emerita of Religion at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. Born in Docena, Alabama, in 1948 and profoundly affected by the Civil Rights movement, Jan majored in philosophy at Cornell University and met Buddhism while traveling in Asia in the 1970s. She went on to earn her Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies at Columbia University and has studied with Tibetan Buddhists in India, Nepal, Switzerland, and the U.S. for over five decades. The author of several books and numerous articles and essays on Buddhist philosophy and history, meditation, women, and Buddhism and Buddhism and race, her memoir Dreaming Me: Black, Baptist, and Buddhist was first published in 2001. In December of 2000, TIME magazine named Willis one of six "spiritual innovators for the new millennium." In 2003, she was a recipient of Wesleyan University's Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching. In September of 2005, Newsweek's "Spirituality in America" issue included a profile of her and, in its May 2007 edition, Ebony magazine named Willis one of its "Power 150" most influential African Americans.
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A Buddhist master’s guide to cultivating dignity through meditation to live a meaningful and fulfilling life.