I have asked John Freese to visit my Understanding Religion classes at TCU for the past three fall semesterss. For an hour, students sit transfixed as he weaves together his personal narrative, the teaching of Buddhism, and the tenets of Buddhist meditation. He then leads students in a short meditative exercise. While the exercise is voluntary, almost all students participate. In each class, after John’s visit, I have students who explore meditation further, some choosing to practice it regularly. And every year, students cite the hour with John as one of the class highlights. I often feel at a loss each spring semester, with John’s absence, as I struggle to make Buddhism feel alive and real to the students. John has a quiet and gentle way of conveying his enthusiasm. His willingness to share his personal narrative and weave it into a larger narrative becomes the ideal introduction to the practice of Buddhism. I highly recommend John to any person curious about Buddhism and eager to try meditation. He is also skilled in leading larger groups.
Prof. Betsy Flowers, TCU
Every year I look forward to John’s visit in Texas. He is the reason why I have a regular mediation practice. I had struggled with meditation for some time; John finally said to just DO it. Sit, observe your breath and see what happens. Living in India most of the year, he is able to look at our hectic life in a very detached manner and is able to give life-changing advice.
John has long experience with a variety of contemplative practices, and is a skilled presenter in and outside of the classroom. He models the value of meditation and offers, with clarity and humor, easy to follow lessons introducing students to contemplative experience.
Prof. Andrew Fort, TCU
For many years, I had an awareness of the benefits of a meditation practice, but had never made the commitment to one. A few years ago, when I joined John’s group meditations, it gave me just what I needed to begin my own practice. I am now drawn back to my practice, as opposed to it being something that I know “I need to do.” I am able to access a whole new sense of clarity and groundedness through my meditation practice. I am also able to open the door to, and be with my innermost truth, my God Self. Meditation within a group setting is a wonderful way to begin, sustain or grow your own meditation practice. John is gentle, humble, and easy to connect with. I am so grateful for the guidance and love that I have found through John, and more over, within!
My name is Mark Dennis and I teach East Asian Religious traditions at Texas Christian University. John has regularly visited my classes on World Religions and Buddhism to speak to my students about his experiences with both Buddhist and Hindu forms of meditation, and to offer guidance on the basics of meditation. John’s calm and thoughtful presence and his ability to listen closely to their questions have offered my students a sense of the benefits that come with a committed meditative practice. Indeed, a number of them have gone on to attend the evening meditation sessions John offers on campus after meeting him in class. But I think his approach has also resonated with my students because he is able to couch the sometimes arcane ideas of Buddhism and Hinduism in clear, relevant language that draws on his own extended and intensive experiences with these meditative practices. In particular, his discussions of slowing the mind and practicing self-reflexivity–regardless of whether one is sitting in a classroom on the TCU campus or in a temple or ashram in a distant land–has caught the attention of my students and offered them an alternative way to conceive of critical thinking. John teaches with an “open hand,” and I am delighted that we have had the chance to “grasp” that which he has so kindly offered.
Prof. Mark Dennis, TCU