News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

October 26, 2013

A place for peace

Indiana State dedicates a new contemplative garden, fountain on campus

TERRE HAUTE — “Meditation brings wisdom” — The Buddha

That was one of the sayings engraved on a stone in a new garden, which is designed to be a place for quiet reflection, at the heart of Indiana State University.

The new Contemplative Garden, located in the courtyard of Root Hall, was dedicated Friday afternoon in the presence of organizers, supporters and donors.

“Connecting with space, connecting with the outdoors is a way of connecting with oneself,” said Dr. Jean Kristeller,  professor emerita of psychology and co-founder of the Center for the Study of Health, Religion and Spirituality.

Kristeller, who initiated the project about two years ago, said the new garden is a place where students, faculty and community members can visit “to sit, to be quiet ... to move away from the daily chatter of our minds, go to a deeper place, let go of some stress.”

“That’s a way to connect with wisdom,” she said.

Which is in line with the university’s mission.

 “We certainly would hope that our students, as they move through their studies here, gain not only in knowledge but also in wisdom,” Kristeller told more than 20 people attending the dedication, which was followed by a reception.

 The garden includes several stone benches, a walking path for meditation, stones inscribed with contemplative sayings, and a fountain.

“Very purposefully, there are things that catch your eye but also openness that lets your gaze be more exploratory,” Kristeller said.

“The space, I consider really perfect because it’s both accessible and protected,” she said of the location.

Other stones with contemplative sayings will be added to the garden, which will be made possible by more donations, Kristeller said.

Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics chairwoman Leslie Barratt said contemplative phrases from other languages, including Thai, Korean and Chinese, will be added. She read some of them during the dedication.

One of them is the popular Latin phrase, “Carpe Diem,” which actually means “gather this moment,” she said.

 “We hope when people go through it, that they’ll reflect on the wisdom that’s coming from other cultures and other traditions,” Barratt said.

 The garden was a result of partnership and support from the Center for the Study of Health, Religion and Spirituality, the ISU Foundation, the College of Arts and Sciences, other departments and private donations.  

“The garden is informed by the traditions of many world religious and spiritual traditions as a way to cultivate a sense of peace, well-being and wisdom by providing a space for quiet reflection,” an ISU release said.

“The contemplative space is present in every major world religious tradition as a way to connect with one’s spiritual being, spiritual health,” Kristeller said.

One student, who looked to be in the middle of quiet reflection, sat on one of the stone benches before the dedication.

“It’s a nice place to come to,” said engineering and technology student Daniel Vermillion.

He said the place “looked comfortable.”

“I will just enjoy it,” he added.

And he won’t be alone.

 “This is a place for both quiet and contemplation. It’s wonderful to have it here at ISU,” John Murray, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said.

“This is a space that I will come to. I know I will,” he said.

Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or dianne.powell@tribstar.com.

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