Consciousness Studies

A few days ago I received an email notifying me that I was accepted to Goddard College’s MA program! I’ll do my best to document the experience and share my studies via blogging. It’s a unique school in that you only attend Goddard’s physical location for about a week, where you work intensively with your instructors as they set up your studies for the rest of the semester. When you go home, you email packets and stay in contact with the professor. The college’s philosophy is oriented towards a student’s individual paths and goals, rather than impressing upon them a set curriculum (something I liked very much). For those of you who are interested in doing something related to consciousness studies, there’s a number of other schools in the US that offer similar degrees. Take CIIS for one (although they have a more set curriculum), Naropa University or even Maharishi University out West.

While I’m at Goddard I will be focusing my studies on contemplative practices, mystical experiences, and transformations in consciousness (both individual and cultural). The thesis will definitely evolve, but I think what I’m looking for in this is a way to further understand what I’m already passionate about writing. Another dimension of my studies will be learning how to make some rather esoteric and obscure ideas more accessible without “dumbing” them down, or mis-representing them. If the world is in the midst of a transformation, or as Thompson puts it, a shift from one cultural mentality to another, how can we both explore and present such a shift in human society in a way that is both accessible to a larger audience and challenging enough not to be dismissed? Do we develop sophisticated lingo, akin to what Wilber and his Integral-Institute have done (Spiral Dynamics, etc), or can we ground our language in less abstraction and more (to put it as Gebser did) concretion?

I’ll be looking at a number of different perspectives on how a transformation of consciousness occurs. To name a few that are on the list: Owen Barfield, Jean Gebser, Sri Aurobindo, and William Irwin Thompson. I’m wary of using Ken Wilber’s works, mainly because after having read so many alternatives, or even his own sources (Gebser, etc), I am doubtful about the integrity of his “theory of everything.”

To put it in an analogy, Wilber’s AQAL theory is something like the Dewey-decimal system of consciousness. It may have a place for everything, but that may be beside the point. I’ll still be referencing him, but not as a central authority, or even a base-line. For that you have to go deeper and read the challenging works, like The Life Divine or Ever Present Origin. Even if this is the case (I might be wrong about Wilber), does it mean that the potential for these ideas is forever-lost to obscurity? Or can we go back, unearth some of the forgotten and essential pieces of the puzzle and present them in a way that others can more easily access them? This is going to the subject of an article on Evolutionary Landscapes.

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