Contemplative summer institute and Nordic "people's education" - the project idea

What is contemplation? What do Buddha and Grundtvig have in common? Who are the seminars for? What is the basic philosophy of "people's education"? Read about it below.


What is contemplation?

Contemplation means “gazing” - in a sense of being aware and present with things without having projects with them. When you contemplate, you are not busy with having, being or accomplishing something – you rest or flow in the deeper layers. Many use the word as synonymous with meditation, but it can also be used to point to a broader stream – including meditative ways of thinking, building friendships, creating music or art, etc. Centuries ago, European culture had more space for the contemplative element, at least in some places. It was said that Man has two kinds of life, the active vita activa and the contemplative vita contemplativa. The modern Western world has forgotten so much of contemplative life – or hidden it so well within art and science – that many find inspiration from Eastern traditions. In Gomde Højskole we believe this inspiration is the beginning of many kinds of cross-fertilization of Eastern and Western spirit.

Buddha og buddhismen

Buddha and Buddhism is not just an exotic oriental phenomenon, it is living cultural world heritage. Its core contribution is spiritual practice – concrete steps to cultivate spirit, wakefulness, compassion etc. in one’s own life. This heritage may be particularly present in meditation centers such as Gomde, but it is also generally becoming a strong cultural factor in the modern West. In the summer institute it will be a shared background for contributions and discussions from inside and outside the tradition. In the summer institute you can learn more about meditation whether you have little or much experience, and spirituality will be explored as an important dimension of all the subjects we work with. In this interview with Erik Pema Kunsang you can read more about the buddhist contribution to a contemplative nordic folk high school.


The core of Buddhism is spiritual practice - conkrete steps to cultivate spirite, wakeful and compassion in one's own life.


Grundtvig and the Nordic folk high school

Grundtvig and the Nordic folk high school represent a world heritage that also understands itself as a deeply spiritual awakening - or at least used to - although in a different sense than the Eastern contemplative traditions. Spirit is understood as that which lights up a loving and living community. In order to build schools that prepare for a truly good life together, one must teach more than facts and competences, there must be historical reflection, dialogue, shared engagement in realizing the best human values we have envsioned so far, and a poetic playfulness of taking it further. In this interview with Anders Laugesen you can read more about the Grundtvigian tradition of nourishing free and “enlightened” communities, and how this tradition may create new spaces for contemplative life in our time.

Grundtvig and the "Folk High School" movement also represent a deeply spiritual heritage - as openness in dialogue, community and a heartfelt engagement into our time

Contemplative Folk High School means

"Contemplative Folk High School” means that we work in the Grundtvigian tradition of education based on some particular outspoken ground of values and inspirations, combined with an open, dialogical engagement in contemporary problems and openings. Much of the ground in Gomde Højskole will be Buddhism and other contemplative traditions in a broad sense. But on this basis it will open a broader perspective - contemplative life in our time, as it exists an as it may evlolve.

Therefore, there is characteristic combination in the program, the themes and the team of contributors, with strong elements that are from "inside" the traditional Buddhist and contemplative basis, and also strong elements from "outside". Not in order to obtain completeness or balance between all views, but in order to nourish fertile dialogues where contemplative insight and practice becomes relevant and alive in a contemporary Western cultural landscape.  

The Højskole seminars will have a basis in Buddhism and other contemplative traditions, by deepening acquaintance with their roots and follow their contemporary ramifications in influences on our society. We will open constructive reflections into different applications and tensions in our time. We will open reflections on the relationship between mindfulness and psychotherapy. We will discuss how meditation can exist in schools and worksplaces, perhaps even as a management tool. We will explore how a personal contemplative life can look in a modern everyday life. And we will look into the ways Eastern and Western spirituality may challenge or enrich each other. 

In practice we will secure that highly qualified, inspiring and non-sectarian introductions to meditation and other methods are available for beginners and others. And we will offer a range of practical shared activities where buddhist / meditative inspiration can be expressed in fresh, sustainable ways.

You can read more about the content in the descriptions of seminar 1 and seminar 2.


An explorative journey with the Buddhist / contemplative stream of spirit, following its branches into many aspects of modern society.

For whom

The contemplative summer institute is mainly aimed at young people. This includes everyone who is young in the deeper sense of still shaping one’s life. Perhaps you are a student feeling a need of stronger connection between personal spiritual / meditative interests and the content of your studies, dissertation etc. Or perhaps you are looking for similar perspectives in relation to job and career choice.

The courses aim to be attractive and useful for participants with many different kinds of backgrounds – including those who have a particular Buddhist background and knowledge, those who have experiences and engagements i a broader field of mediation and spirituality, and everyone interested in human and ecological flourishing.

What is Gomde

Gomde Denmark has existed for 20 years as a center for Buddhist meditation and philosophy, with a close connection to a particular Tibetan tradition (see Gomde's own website here.) So far the activities have mainly been “inward” towards Danish and international Buddhists and experienced practitioners. But the field of Buddhism and Buddhist inspired wisdom and meditation attracts a growing interest from many others who wish to apply the inspiration from Buddhist practice and insight in different contexts. Gomde has facilities for running seminars for 100-200 people, situated in Denmark’s most beautiful nature – till now unused for weeks during the summer holiday season. Gomde har eksisteret i 20 år som center for buddhistisk meditation og filosofi, knyttet til en bestemt tibetansk tradition. Gomde ligger på Helgenæs, midt i noget af Danmarks smukkeste natur, med bakker, æbleplantager, skove og strande.Hidtil har Gomde mest været brugt af buddhister og erfarne mediterende. Men feltet af meditation og buddhistisk inspireret visdom har fået betydning for mange andre som finder inspiration og bruger den i mange forskellige kontekster. Du kan læse meget mere om Gomde på Gomdes egen webside..

The contemplative summerschool / "Højskolen" is particularly aimed at young people. Those who are experienced within a particular contemplativ tradition and those who have not practiced anything but have an open interest.