Each lesson will offer roughly one hour of material to work with, including weekly video teachings, prompts for reflection, optional quizzes, and a communal discussion board. There will also be suggested take-home practices, including guided meditations on mindfulness, lovingkindness, the aggregates and more. You are free to progress entirely at your own pace. Once enrolled, you retain unlimited access to the course.
Unit 1 | Understanding Tribalism
Our political and social worlds are increasingly polarized and divided. Robert looks at the way our allegiances have become so strong that we often cannot see ourselves and others clearly.
Unit 2 | Tackling Bias
While we assume that our perception of the world has mirror-like accuracy, we are often the unwitting victims of cognitive biases. These biases dupe us in ways that would have historically given our genes a better chance of surviving but that do not serve us now. Fortunately, mindfulness can have a corrective effect.
Unit 3 | When a Weed Is Not a Weed
The experience of emptiness is a key development in Buddhist meditation. It reveals that the labels we apply to things are simply projections. There is nothing inherent in any person that makes them fundamentally our enemy. Yet our cognitive biases often suggest the opposite. As we explore Buddhist philosophy we see how meditation defuses our tribal tendencies on deeper and deeper levels.
Unit 4 | Healing the Divide
The clarity afforded by mindfulness can help us perceive our enemies more objectively and understand their perspectives and motives through "cognitive empathy." This can be of immense benefit to us as it diminishes the negative emotions and mind states we personally experience. It also de-escalates the cycle of outrage that is perpetuated through needless antagonism.
Unit 5 | Anger and Rage
What function did these uncomfortable emotions serve in our evolutionary development? Do they have a place in the modern world? Robert explains the utility and limitations of these emotions and indicates why mindfulness and civility is often the better path.
Unit 6 | The Bigger Picture
As the course concludes, Robert contends that to overcome tribalism and solve the many problems afflicting the world we must move collectively towards something like the Buddha's enlightenment even if, as a practical matter, this movement will be modest and incremental.