Hello. I practice at the intersections of ecologies, Buddhist-inspired meditation and philosophy, contemplative education, and psycho-social political change. My ongoing appreciation for those practices join together in the Four Fields.
I am a father, partner, and practitioner-scholar of philosophy and religion. Or perhaps I am a rogue Buddhist minister. Or an environmental justice activist and Ecodharma guide. Or maybe ontologically indeterminate.
My teachings focus on ecological thought and practice, the open awareness and elemental methods of Dzogchen Tibetan Buddhism and Bön, spiritual "warriorship," contemporary philosophy and "theory," and inoperative politics. My work in this world is learning to weave such practices together.
A professor of Ecopsychology, Buddhist and phenomenological psychology, and a Certified Focusing Professional, I am curious about cultural therapeutics for our collapsing society.
I spend a lot of time reading, contemplating, visiting a petrochemical plant, protesting, in dialogue with friends and mentors while sipping tea, listening to electronic drone compositions, cooking for my family, doing dishes, teaching, and wandering lands. I remain attuned-to glimpses of reverent, just, terrestrial civilization. I love this world.
More about my bio below...
Adam Lobel (PhD, MDiv, Harvard University) lives in Western Pennsylvania—lands stolen from Seneca and Osage peoples. He is a father of two boys—Javin and Kinen—and lives with his wife Alexandra, their old hound dog Orion, their cat Bhadria, and often a foster cat (or two). Their household and garden are an everyday practice.
Living in a rust-belt city surrounded by plentiful land of mossy forests and rich agriculture, ravaged by colonialism and the steel, coal, and now fracking industries, Adam is involved with local environmental justice movements. As much as possible, he protects lands from the petrochemical industry in his bioregion and is developing a relationship with the regional rivers, forests, and wasted landscapes. He has guided bearing witness retreats to fracking pads, oil sites, plastic plants, and deep within limestone mines and regularly co-leads meditations to listen to the Ohio River—one of the most polluted rivers in the continent. With his activist colleagues he was recently a preceptor for a ritual at a City Council Building in which participants consumed plastic pellets in order to make visible the plastic waste generated in his region (see the picture to the right).
With his friends-collaborators Fitzhugh Shaw and Michelle King, he offers seasonal Ecodharma workshops called Silent Transformations and teaches Ecopsychology at the Falk School of Sustainability at Chatham University. Over the past few years, he was a founding teacher-practitioner of the City of Bridges alternative High School and taught Buddhist and Phenomenological Psychology at Point Park University. He has been a visiting lecturer in the Philosophy Department at Pittsburgh University, at the Carnegie Mellon School of Design "Future Lab," and the Arizona State University School of Sustainability and the Department of Social Transformation. Adam leads experimental workshops on postnatural meditation at the Center for Post Natural History.
Adam is a Guiding Teacher for One Earth Sangha where he is a teacher for the EcoSattva Training. A panelist on Buddhism and Ecology for the Future of American Buddhism Conference, an "Emerging Researcher" at the Mind and Life Summer Research Institute on "The Mind, the Human-Earth Connection, and the Climate Crisis," Adam is a GreenFaith Fellow and has been a speaker at the United Nations and the Washington DC Climate March as well as prayer leader for the Indigenous led People vs. Fossil Fuel protests. He studied Ecopsychology at Pacifica Graduate School and Radical Ecopsychology with Andy Fisher. He was honored to be present at the Standing Rock encampments in 2016.
A member of the Editorial Advisor's Board for the Arrow Journal for Wakeful Society, Culture, and Politics, Adam often contributes writings and interviews. He is also honored to serve on the Board of the contemplative psychology nonprofit Karuna Training North America. Adam also served as a founding Board member of Awaken Pittsburgh with whom he continues to teach and collaborate.
Adam is a Certified Focusing Professional and is involved with extending Eugene Gendlin's groundbreaking insights about the bodily felt-sense into political and ecological realms.
From 2005 until resigning in 2018, Adam was an Acharya or empowered, senior teacher within the Shambhala tradition. He taught regularly with renowned teacher, Pema Chödron. Responsible for developing the curriculum and training teachers for the large, international modern Buddhist community, Adam also served on the Board and was a founding member of the Shambhala Office of Social Engagement. He was the primary architect of the “Way of Shambhala” curriculum, the main path of practice within the over 200 Shambhala Centers. For over 20 years, he was inspired by the Shambhala “vision” of creating enlightened society and the prophecy of the Shambhala warriors who would arise during times of warfare and famine in order to establish a society of basic goodness.
Yet he resigned from his role as an Acharya, along with many of his colleagues, and cut most of his ties with the Shambhala organization amid a traumatic ethical crisis as the #metoo movement revealed a long history of sexual abuse and abuse of power within the Shambhala tradition. For more on Adam’s role in Shambhala and his perspective on the ethical collapse, see the additional letters and essays on Shambhala in the Writings area.
Adam holds a PhD in Religious Studies from Harvard University and a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School where he helped to develop a program in Buddhist Ministry. His dissertation was entitled Allowing Spontaneity: Practice, Theory, and Ethical Cultivation in Longchenpa’s Great Perfection Philosophy of Action. It explored the meaning of “practice” within the Great Perfection or Dzogchen teachings, especially when those practices were understood to be effortless, spontaneous, and “natural.” Engaging in cross-cultural philosophy, the research brought together the renowned 14th Century mystical philosopher Longchenpa with European philosophers, especially Martin Heidegger and Giorgio Agamben.
During his undergraduate studies of Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies, Adam helped to start a non-denominational Department of Theology at Bard College in the Hudson Valley, New York.
Travelling widely from a young age, Adam received a Youth for Understanding scholarship to visit Japan when he was 15. In 1993, at age 16, Adam traveled to Paraguay to live and study with the Chamacoco or Ishir Indigenous people of the northern Chaco region. Adam studied Lakota Sioux tradition from Ed Eagle Elk on Pine Ridge reservation. He has traveled to and lived in China, Tibet, Nepal, and India where he studied with a variety of Buddhist teachers. An avid outdoorsperson, he has hiked, camped, and backpacked in many of the National and State Parks in the Northeast, Montana, Colorado, and the four corners area of the US Southwest as well as parts of Latin America. “Solo” quests are an important land-based practice for Adam.
A product of the early 90s underground rave culture, Adam creates electronic music every now and then, tries to go out dancing as often as life allows, and used to DJ. He remains passionate about underground electronic music. When he was younger, he used to think that raves and drum circles and Rainbow Gatherings would change the world. Now, he enjoys the occasional pilgrimage to Berghain.
Growing up in a small, forested town in Connecticut in the Northeast of the US, Adam spent his days climbing around waterfalls, swimming in lakes, and wandering through the woods and swamps around his home. He and his sister had a privileged childhood with loving, generous, supportive parents and an extended nearby family of aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. Raised in a secular Jewish household, Adam identifies as a Jewish person, though he is just beginning to study Jewish philosophy and religion in earnest.
Aikido and yoga have long been an important part of Adam’s life since he attended the Cambridge School of Weston for high school. He now practices Qi Gong under Eva Wong’s guidance.
Adam enjoys studying the ontological turn in Anthropology, feminist New Materialism, Speculative Realism, OOO, and tends to return to reading Elizabeth Povinelli, Claire Colebrook, Fred Moten, Timothy Morton, Cary Wolfe, Catherine Malabou, Graham Harman, Giorgio Agamben, Michele Foucault, Martin Heidegger, Deleuze and Guatarri, and D.G. Leahy.
An early member of the New York Philosophical Corporation surrounding the thinking of D.G. Leahy, Adam has moderated recent symposiums on the Thinking Now Occurring.
He is learning about somatic approaches to healing trauma, intensively studies the Diamond Approach and in the Animas Valley School and closely follows the Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures collective.
Adam is currently working on co-editing an academic, cross-cultural book on the relation between philosopher Giorgio Agamben’s writings and Buddhist thought. He is focused on developing the “four fields” of eco-political contemplative practice. He considers himself a friend of the Natural Dharma Fellowship, the Mountains and River Order, the Courage of Care Network, the Boundless in Motion sangha, the Pyrenees and Rocky Mountain EcoDharma Centers, the Ulex Project, and Incite Seminars.