About CCI

The Center for Creative Inquiry was founded in 2000 to explore alternate forms of knowledge and inquiry and their potential to bring about fundamental change at the individual, cultural, and social level.

Cutting across disciplines, CCI aims to identify and challenge basic assumptions that limit the methodologies we use, the styles of knowing available, and the knowledge we can discover. The creative inquiry approach is interactive, experiential, cooperative, and engaged. Never defined in advance, creative inquiry is also just plain fun: stimulating, surprising, and always new.

Creative inquiry is for teachers and students, academics and professionals, business people and artists, scientists, activists and innovators – for anyone who knows deep down that when we ask the right question, our spirits soar and we come more fully alive. Everyone can benefit from learning to ask new questions in new ways.

In creative inquiry, the one who knows and what is known arise together. Wherever we look, we are also looking at the one who is looking. Whatever we question, we are also looking into the act of questioning.

This is the way to find out who we are and what makes us tick. Knowledge becomes multidimensional, and new forms of understanding arise from moment to moment. Through active communities of inquiry, we can channel this new understanding into our own lives and into the social structures and shared perspectives of the culture we inhabit.

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The mission of CCI is to advance knowledge in fields that matter in today’s world, and to improve people’s lives and sense of well-being by introducing them to new ways of acting and knowing, new ways to be creative and overcome limitations.

The vision of CCI is to help individuals contribute to society and their own well-being through introducing and supporting more creative forms of inquiry. Our goal is to cultivate learning that makes a difference, using non-traditional forms of inquiry.

We do not want to change people’s experience; instead, we want to show them the hidden depths within ordinary experience, the extraordinary within the ordinary. We do not want to make people feel good; we want them to understand what keeps them feeling bad.

The inspiration for Creative Inquiry is the vision presented by Tarthang Tulku in a series of books published beginning in 1977. For more on the vision, click here.


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At CCI we want people to fall in love with learning, to get excited about what knowledge offers.

  • We want to create communities of inquiry eager to explore the questions that move them most.
  • We want to educate a new generation that can change our world.
  • We want a world where the head can experience what the heart feels and the mind can discover what the body knows, a world where knowledge is always new.
  • We want people everywhere to awaken to our birthright as free, knowledgeable beings, able to expand our horizons beyond what you or I or anyone can imagine.

To help support this dynamic, we host and coordinate workshops and retreats, conferences, online programs and discussion groups, public events, retreats, workshops, and conferences. You can learn more by looking at our ongoing and past programs and events . For specific applications, take a look at our fields of inquiry .

CCI makes its home in Berkeley, California, and many of its programs are held there. Retreats are sometimes held at the magnificent Ratna Ling Retreat Center , located 100 miles northwest of Berkeley on the coastal ridge overlooking the Pacific Ocean. We offer and organize programs at other locations as opportunities arise.

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 Our society is bursting with ideas, opinions, solutions, and plans, with analysis, debate, and carefully reasoned positions. And yet we suffer, both individually and collectively, from a pervasive sense of being lost, confused, and unsure of our direction. Clearly something is missing.

If we want to break out of these patterns, we need to stop telling ourselves worn-out stories that leave us feeling stuck and hopeless. We need new questions to ask and new ways of asking.

Creative inquiry is about waking up to these kinds of new possibilities – across disciplines and in every field of human concern.Without abandoning concepts and analysis, it starts from our immediate experience, our deepest convictions, and the concerns we care about most, and it asks: “Could I be doing all of this differently?”

Let’s take a specific example of the kind of question creative inquiry invites. In the years that you’ve been on this earth, you’ve built up a lot of patterns and done lots of things, some of which you are proud of and some of which you regret. What is your relationship to this accumulated past? Is it who you are? Does it condition you? Determine your future? Could you walk away from it? Relate to it differently? Change it? What is the structure of time, anyway? How do past and present and future interconnect? Is the present determined by the past, or is the past a projection of how we see things right now?

In asking these questions, the point is not to come up with an explanation or a theory. If you want to understand the way the past operates in your life, look for yourself, in this very moment. Be ready to question your commitment to a particular way of understanding the weightiness or gravity of the past.

Are there ways to do this? Plenty! We’re happy to share with you some approaches we’ve found helpful. In the end, though, it’s not about learning specific techniques, but of getting really specific about your own experience Be precise, and be audacious–both at the same time! The more you can do that, the more the gravity of the presupposed loses its hold.

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Jack PetrankerJack Petranker is the founder and director of CCI and regularly offers programs and online courses. A student of Buddhism since 1973, he is also the director of the Mangalam Research Center for Buddhist Languages and a faculty member at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute. He served as Dean of the Institute in Berkeley from 1988-1991 and as North American Vice-President of the World Fellowship of Buddhists from 1988-1992.

He is the author of When It Rains, Does Space Get Wet? (Dharma Publishing 2006), and has written numerous academic articles in consciousness studies, organizational change, political transformation, and the value of work as a spiritual practice.

Jack holds a BA from Stanford in political science, an MA from the University of California at Berkeley in political theory, and a JD from Yale Law School. He has been a member of the California Bar since 1971.

KATHLEEN DALYKathleen Daly is the Director of Operations for CCI. Kathleen has a BA in Management Information Systems from the University of LaVerne, CA. She manages and coordinates all activities, programs, workshops and events offered by CCI. Kathleen spent over 15 years in the corporate sector implementing large scale financial applications for Fortune 500 companies.

In 2000 she started her own nonprofit organization to deliver affordable technology to 501(c)(3) organizations. In 2005 Kathleen took a pilgrimage to Tibet sponsored by the Tibetan Aid Project in Berkeley.

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