Lyn Miller
Associate Professor of Religion

Lyn Miller’s courses, research, and personal practices all reflect her commitment to contemplation and mindfulness. That interest has taken her on pilgrimages to Japan, where she later led a May Term trip‚ and on faculty trips to India and China. Most recently she is exploring mindful learning in a student-faculty research project. The group’s goal is to develop and recommend methods Earlham can use to enhance students’ self-awareness, resilience, fearless inquiry, and skillful action in the world.

“Nothing is unrelated to my scholarship,” Lyn says. “It might be interesting to note that over the years I’ve lived in a women’s collective, a Catholic convent, and a Zen Center, and underwent dream analysis in the Archetypal Psychology tradition of James Hillman. I really only learn by immersion!”

Contact Info

Campus Mail
Drawer 144



330 Carpenter Hall


  • Religion
  • Japanese Studies
  • East Asian Studies
  • Women's, Gender, Sexuality Studies
  • Chinese Studies


  • Th.D., Harvard University, Divinity School
  • M.T.S., Harvard University, Divinity School
  • B.A., College of St. Catherine

Selected Courses:

“REL 172 Buddhist Traditions”: In this course, following the Buddha’s example and guided mostly by contemporary masters, we inquire into our own minds and the construction of self and reality while learning the fundamentals of the three main schools of Buddhism.

“REL 171 Sacred Traditions of India”: In this course, by means of readings, videos, and films, we explore four dominant communities of religious belief and practice in contemporary India: Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Tibetan Buddhists. We read portions of India’s profound visionary works—the Rig Veda, the Upanishads, and the Bhagavad Gita—and then explore living religion in India today as ancient traditions interact with rapid social and economic change.

“Religion and Psychology: Mapping Selves”: In this interdisciplinary, student-driven experimental course we engage and bring into relationship multiple current models for understanding self in the world: neuroscience, ecopsychology, cognitive sociology, existential psychology, and Eastern and Western religious constructions of soul and consciousness. For each model, we create a map in our preferred medium: e.g., language, painting, sculpture, photography. The final product is a portfolio of maps accompanied by reflection upon their connections (or not) with one another. An evitable correlate of our map-making is inquiry into the nature of authentic knowing, and the kinds of knowledge that count and do not count in the dominant knowledge-communities we inhabit.

At present, two topics: 1) Contemplative pedagogy, including dialogue between Christian and Buddhist worldviews and meditative practices; dialogue between religious and scientific constructions of mind and consciousness; the connection between contemplative and critical inquiry; and the effects of mindfulness practices on learning and the production of new knowledge.  2) The social history of American families as a way of understanding identity through interdependence.

“Fire Sermon,” in Stiller’s Pond: New Fiction from the Upper Midwest (Moorhead, Minn.: New Rivers Press, 1996)

“Bound to Freedom,” in Walking in Two Worlds: Women’s Spiritual Paths (St. Cloud, Minn.: North Star Press, 1991)

“What Has Divinity to Do with Democracy? Metaphysics, Transcendence, and Critical The*logy of Liberation,” in Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, 25:1 (Spring 2009).

American Academy of Religion
Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education


Freedom to be myself in the classroom and teach out of my passions; focus on teaching as our primary task; desire to participate in an intentional community with social values I share, and an emphasis on collaborative governance; opportunity for close relationships with my students; Midwestern landscape with fields, forests, and a wide-open sky; modest campus environment, on a scale that allows us to see the earth and town around us and know one another face to face in our daily lives together.

Independent, smart, quirky, pluralistic, passionate, committed to social change.

May Term Temple and Shrine Pilgrimage to Kyoto: Practicing Buddhist lay precepts, students visited over two dozen Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines in the environs of Kyoto; learned Zen meditation from a monk at a major temple complex; participated in tea ceremony at a famous tea house; attended Aoi Matsuri (the Shinto hollyhock festival); climbed Mt. Kurama for an international interfaith full-moon ceremony; and took a cable car to the top of Koyasan, one of Japan’s holiest mountains, to stay overnight at a Shingon temple and attend early morning worship.

I’ve also traveled to India and China, thanks to Earlham, and made two pilgrimage journeys of my own to Japan prior to leading the May Term.

This spring I will teach my first Ford-Knight, entitled Mindful Learning, in which students and I will explore the experience and scholarship of mindfulness-based practices for effective learning. Together we will practice mindful techniques connected with meditation, diet and exercise, tending the earth, and art-making. We will also investigate emerging programs in contemplative pedagogy being developed at major colleges and universities around the country like Vanderbilt, Brown, and the University of Michigan, and review the research being conducted on the effects of mindful practices upon both the ability to learn and the capacity for empathy and compassion. Our goal will be to develop and recommend to the college pedagogical methods and programming to enhance self-awareness, resilience, fearless inquiry, and skillful action in the world.

Zen: A Christian Zen practitioner, I’m a member of the Korean Kwan Um School of Zen as well as lay-ordained in the Japanese Soto Zen lineage of Rev. Shohaku Okumura centered at Sanshin Zen Community in Bloomington.

Researching and writing family history for myself and others.

Country drives through the fields around Richmond
Long, solitary road trips around the country
Creative writing
Reading historical fiction and murder mysteries

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