Welcome to Fall Semester 2017 and to the course site for Contemplative Practice, an interactive site where you will find syllabus, links, and space to comment, exchange ideas, raise questions and propose responses. You are all encouraged to use this course blog to post your queries, responses, comments, and musings. Simply click on New Post, scribble thoughtfully and add your post to an existing category or create a new category, or enter a comment to continue a previous thread. Now to start the semester off, one of our recurring topics will be “happiness.” Recent years have seen growing academic interest in and research on “happiness,” but as a topic of human reflection, speculation on the nature of happiness dates from antiquity. So what is happiness? Do you have a satisfactory definition? We will not be discussing Aristotle’s Ethics until later in the semester, but read Book I of the Ethics soon and devote some careful thought to Aristotle’s conception of happiness and your reaction, and share your responses here. And of course another important topic for the semester is “mindfulness,” an English translation of an ancient concept, a word that in recent years has become increasingly popular and increasingly widespread, and with that received the predictable increasing multiplicity of interpretations. So you will also want to begin thinking about how you have seen this word used, what it implies, and how it relates to training the mind. What does “mindfulness” mean to you?