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Being Love
April 6 - October 13, 2023


In 2023, we are exploring Love. 

Love is present all around us in many different forms. In particular, we will be focusing on Compassionate Love, or what is also known as Neighborly Love in some spiritual traditions, the kind of love that extends to and includes those who are not in our immediate circles of family and friends, our usual tribes.


Many spiritual traditions speak of love as an experience of the heart opening and expanding, ultimately to embrace every sentient and non-sentient existence in the universe. This lies at the foundation of all forms of love. What are some of the known experiences of this happening and how do we connect to it? Perhaps therein lies the answer to some of the ills that we face in the world today.

The Being Love journey will take place over seven months as a combination of online sessions and an in-person gathering. We will use the time online to get to know each other and raise some basic questions about love, like the three blind men touching different parts of the elephant, to think and feel for ourselves the different aspects of love. We will have conversations with leading researchers and those whose lives were transformed by love, as well as learn about how love has been portrayed in literature and religions. 


Most importantly, we will support each other as a community as we explore love. The in-person retreat, especially, will focus on sharing our own personal experiences of love with stories and practices, and we hope that the journey will be one of our own hearts expanding. So for the first time, this year's Spirituality & Science Forum will be collaborating with Matthew T. Lee, professor of Baylor University and researcher at Harvard University's Human Flourishing Program, to track the changes in our understanding and experiences of love over the course of the journey. We hope that this survey will serve as a mirror to help us reflect on our exploration of love.

The 2023 Spirituality & Science Forum is organized in partnership with the Fetzer Institute.


Session Dates & Time

Online Lecture Sessions


Session 1: April 6, 2023 / 17:00-19:00 CET

ABOUT LOVE: Introduction to the Being Love Journey

with Matthew T. Lee, Professor at Baylor University and Researcher at the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University

In this introductory session, we will discuss why we chose “compassionate love” as the focus of this year’s journey. We will explore related definitions of compassionate love and their importance in the flourishing of personal lives as well as societies. A few key findings from empirical studies will illustrate this relationship, as will consideration of the lives of exemplars of love. We will also explain the survey which will help us identify where we are in our current understanding and practice of love and track the changes over the course of the journey. 



Session 2: May 4, 2023 / 17:00-19:00 CET

LOVE ACTUALLY: The Challenges of Selfless Love

with Mark Vernon, author of Love, All That Matters and Spiritual Intelligence in Seven Steps

Compassionate or neighborly love has often been regarded warily, which is partly why it is so important in spiritual traditions. This type of love signals a perception of the unity of humanity and a capacity to sacrifice one’s own good for a stranger. In this session, we will explore the challenges of this love by looking at its personal demands and social ramifications as found in the literature and religions of different cultures.



Session 3: June 8, 2023 / 17:00-19:00 CET

WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?: Love and Flourishing

with Robert Waldinger, Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development

Harvard University' research on adult development shows that good relationships are a key to a healthy and happy life. Love matters. We will be discussing the lessons from one of the longest-running studies on adult life ever conducted. 



Session 4: July 6, 2023 / 17:00-19:00 CET

THE SUPERHEROES OF LOVE: Accounts of Unitive-Conscious Love Between Circles of Two

with Neale Lundgren, PhD, author of Meditations for the Soul

There are legendary stories of persons who have experienced a love thoroughly immersed in the world and yet not of the world, both transcendent and immanent, where desire, though embodied, typifies what can be most deeply felt and experienced in the dynamic between lover and beloved. We will be introduced to May Ziadah, Lou Andreas-Salome, Matilde Urutia, Kahlil Gibran, Maria Rainer Rilke, and Pablo Neruda and their love that inspired great literary works. We will also look at the notion of the "inner beloved" exemplified in the Persian poets Hafiz, Kabir, Rumi and Mirabai, and explore the idea of the earth and nature as the beloved in the writings of Walt Whitman. Should we aspire to these extraordinary loves? Do these loves convey something about what defines all of us in our essence? We will explore what lessons these unique stories of love offer us today. 

Session 5: September 7, 2023 / 17:00-19:00 CET

WHERE IS THE LOVE?: Building A More Loving Organization

Robert Chapman, Chairman & CEO of Barry-Wehmiller

Do today’s organizations enable us to flourish? Is this the best that our workplaces can be? How can organizations make us feel “safe” and that everybody matters? We will look at the real-life cases of how some companies have transformed their culture to build more loving organizations.

Session 6: September 28, 2023 / 17:00-19:00 CET

The Spiritual Dimensions of Love

Zen Master Hyon Gak Sunim, Author and Abbot of the Zen Center Regensburg, Germany

Ultimately, it is the desire, not the desired, that we love.

- Friedrich Nietzsche

Online Practice Sessions

These sessions are optional but strongly recommended. They will also be added to the program and will be announced during the journey.

Practice Session 1: April 20, 2023 / 17:00-18:30 CET

HOW DEEP IS YOUR LOVE: Exploring Our Current State of Love and Creating A Picture of Love

with Doreen Meister, Certified Focusing Trainer: Specialization in FOAT® 


This practice session will be about listening inside to our current experience/expression of love. Where in our lives is love flowing? Where is it blocked? What gets in the way of loving compassionately the way we would like? What is our vision of compassionate love? We will use contemplative practices along with multi-modal creative expression to explore the different shades and shapes of love that are inside of us to understand the starting point of our journey on love.



Practice Session 2: May 18, 2023 / 17:00 CET

LOVE AND FREEDOM: Tapping into Blocked Emotions for Radical Self-Love

with Mozelle Armijo, Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, Certified Clinical EFT Practitioner

In this introductory experiential workshop, you will learn the basics of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), also known as tapping, and the ways in which you can use this simple somatic based tool to release any unhealthy emotions that may be hindering your ability to love yourself and others more fully. The session will not only introduce the basic theory of how EFT works, but also provide clinical data about how tapping has been able to help many people elevate, enhance, and enrich the emotional, spiritual, physical and mental terrains of their lives. 



Practice Session 3: June 22, 2023 / 17:00 CET

LET YOUR FEELINGS SHOW: Nonviolent Communication

with Angela Walkley, Assessor and Trainer with the International Center for Nonviolent Communication

This session will provide an opportunity for the group members to translate and transform barriers of love into expressions and requests around what they are yearning for, and through this, lead them into places of connection and love. The session will include anecdotes by the guide and an invitation for each group member to focus on a person and instance where there has been a barrier to love that he/she would like to open up.



Practice Session 4: August 24, 2023 / 17:00-18:30 CET

ONE LOVE: Cultivating Connection and Love

Steve Taylor, Author and Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Leeds Beckett University

Love stems from the essential oneness of all human beings. We love each other because, ultimately, we are each other. This practice session will guide us through exercises and meditations to experience our fundamental connection. We will also transcend group identity, learning to see all human beings as interconnected, sharing the same common core. We will cultivate altruism, forgiveness and unconditional love to all human beings. 






In-Person Retreat in Switzerland: October 9 - 13, 2023

Oct 9: Pick up at the meeting point. Arrival at the retreat hotel. Welcome session and dinner.

Oct 10 - 12: Main sessions. Farewell dinner on October 12.

Oct 13: Breakfast. Departure. Transportation provided to the airport.


We believe that we can best support each other in the journey of discovering love when we can have deep, open conversations in a safe space. In order to create and protect this safe space, we also ask that all participants start and finish the journey together. 


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