List of recommended books (not up to date 2015!)
Abram, David, The Spell of the Sensuous,
Vintage Books (Random House) New York 1996
Anderson, William, The Face of Glory, Bloomsbury,
London 1996. Green Man,
HarperCollins Publishers, London 1990 and HarperSanFrancisco, 1990
Sri, The Life Divine, Lotus Light Publications, Wilmot WI, 1990
Bache, Christopher, Dark Night,
Early Dawn. State university of New York Press, 2000.
Berry, Thomas, The Dream of the
Earth, Sierra Club Books, San Francisco, 1988.
ISBN 0-87156-737-7. The Great Work, Bell Tower, New York, 1999.
Evening Thoughts, Sierra Club Books, 2006
Bertell, Rosalie, Planet Earth
the Latest Weapon of War, The Women's Press, London, 2000.
Bremner, Moyra, GE: Genetic Engineering
and You, HarperCollins, 1999.
Browning, Christopher R., Ordinary Men - Reserve
Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland. Penguin Books,
London and New York, 2001
Richard Bucke, Cosmic Consciousness,
Dutton & Co., New york, 1901 & 1923
Burleigh, Michael, The Third Reich, A New History.
Macmillan Publishers Ltd., London 2000
Cadbury, Deborah, The Feminization
of Nature, Penguin Books, London, 1997.
Joseph, The Power of Myth, Doubleday, New York, 1998
Capra, Fritjof, The Web of Life,
HarperCollins, 1996 ISBN 0-00-255499. The Hidden
Connections, Doubleday, New York, 2002
Jules, The Moon: Myth and Image, Cassell, London 2002.
Cheetham, Tom, Green Man, Earth Angel:
The Prophetic Tradition and the Battle for the Soul of the World,
Suny Press, New York, 2005
Deepak, How to Know God, Harmony Books, New York, 2000
Clarke, Lindsay, Parzival and the Stone from
Heaven, Thorsons, London 2001.
de Quincey, Christian, Radical Nature, Invisible
Cities Press, Vermont USA 2002
de Giovanni, Janine, Madness Visible: A Memoir
of War, Bloomsbury, London, 2004
Dunne, Claire, Carl Jung: Wounded
Healer of the Soul, Parabola Books, New York, NY, 2000
Cooper, Rabbi David, God is a Verb - Kabbalah
and the Practice of Mystical Judaism, Riverhead Books New York,
Edward, The Psyche in Antiquity, Book Two, edited by Deborah
Inner City Books, Toronto, 1999
Archetype of the Apocalypse, Open Court, Chicago, 1999
Mircea, Shamanism, Penguin Books Ltd., London 1989
Erickson, Stephen A., The (Coming) Age of Thresholding,
Kluwer Academic Publishers, Leiden, 1999.
French, Marilyn, From Eve to Dawn: A History
of Women, McArthur & Co., Toronto, 2003
Erich, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, Penguin Books, London,
James, Violence: Reflections on Our Deadliest Epidemic. G.P.
Putnam's Sons, New York, 1996 & Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London,
Goodchild, Veronica, Eros and Chaos: The
Sacred Mysteries and Dark Shadows of Love, Nicolas-Hays Inc., Yorkbeach,
Goswami, Amit, The Self-Aware Universe, Tarcher/Putnam,
New York, 1995; The Visionary Window - a Quantum Physicists's Guide
to Enlightenment. Quest Books, Wheaton, Illinois, 2000
Gray, John, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and
Other Animals, Granta Books, London, 2002
Black Mass: Apocalypse and the Death of Utopia, London 2007
Stanislav, Beyond the Brain, Birth, Death and Transcendence in Psychotherapy,
State University of New York Press, 1985 The Cosmic Game: Explorations
in the Frontiers of Human Consciousness, Gill & Macmillan, State
University of new York Press, 1998
Roy, and Rieff, David, Crimes of War: What The Public Should
Know. W.W.Norton & Company Limited, London 1999
Patrick, The Philosophers' Secret Fire: A History of the Imgination.
Penguin Books Limited, London 2002, see also Daemonic Reality,
Viking, 1994, Arkana 1995
Harvey, Andrew, Light upon Light, Inspirations
-----North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, California
-----The Essential Mystics, HarperSanFrancisco
-----The Son of Man, The Mystical Path
to Christ, Tarcher/Putnam Inc., New York 1998.
-----The Direct Path, Rider, London
and New York, 2000.
Hedges, Chris, War is a Force That
Gives Us Meaning, Anchor Books, New York, 2002
Holland, Jack, A Brief History of
Misogyny, Constable&Robinson, London, 2006
Johnson, Chalmers, The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism,
Secrecy, and the End of the Republic, Henry Holt & Company LLC.,
New York, NY, 2004
Last Days of the American Republic, 2006
Carl Gustav, Collected Works but in particular The Undiscovered Self
and Man and His Symbols
Keen, Sam, Faces of the Enemy, Reflections
of the Hostile Imagination, Harper & Row,Publishers, San Francisco,
Kenton, Warren, A Kabbalistic Universe,
Gateway Books, Bath, 1988 & 1992
Work of the Kabbalist, Samuel Weiser, Maine, 1982 (among others)
Kingsley, Peter, In the Dark
Places of Wisdom, Golden Sufi Center Publishing, Inverness, California,
1999. ISBN 1-890350-01-X. Also Duckworth & Co.
Ltd, UK. September 2001. ISBN 0-7156311-95.
see also Reality, Golden Sufi Center Publishing, California,
Kovács, Betty J., The Miracle of Death,
The Kamlak Center, Claremont, California, 2003
Ervin, The Whispering Pond: A Personal Guide to the Emerging Vision
of Science, Element Books Inc., Rockport MA, 1996. Macroshift,
The Connectivity Hypothesis, Foundations of an Integral Science
of Quantum, Cosmos, Life and Consciousness, Suny Press, New York,
Science and the Reenchantment of the Cosmos, Inner Traditions,
Vermont, USA, 2006
The Chaos Point, Hampton Roads Publishing Company Inc., USA
and Piatkus, London, 2006
Lear, Linda, Rachel Carson, Witness for Nature,
Penguin Books, London and New York, 1997.
David (editor) The Spirit of Science: from Experiment to Experience,
Prince, Floris Books, Edinburgh, 2003
McGilchrist, Iain, The Master and His Emissary, The Divided Brain
and the Making of the Western World, Yale University Press,
McTaggart, Lynne, The Field: The Quest for the
Secret Force of the Universe, HarperCollins,
Midgley, Mary, The Myths We live By, Routledge,
Alice, The Truth Will Set You Free, Perseus Press, 2001
Miller, Judith, Engelberg, Stephen and Broad, William
J., Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War, Simon
and Schuster, New York, 2001.
Moorehead, Caroline, Human Cargo: A Journey
Among Refugees, Chatto & Windus, London, 2005
John E. Healing the Split, Integrating Spirit Into Our Understanding
of the Mentally Ill, State university of New York Press, 1994
Ó Murchu, Diarmuid, Reclaiming Spirituality,
Gateway, Dublin, 1997
Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas, Random House
Inc., New York, 2003
Perry, John Weir, Trials of the Visionary Mind: Spiritual Emergency
and the Renewal Process, State University of New York Press, 1999
Jeffrey, Jung and the Alchemical Imagination, Nicolas-Hays, Inc.,
Prof Ravi, Science and the Sacred, Quest Books, Wheaton, Ill
Rees, Martin, Our Final Century, William
Heineman, The Random House Group, London, 2003
Roy Gutman and David Rieff, editors, Crimes
of War: What the Public Should Know, WW. Norton & Co., London
and New York, 1999.
Ryley, Nancy, The Forsaken Garden,
Quest Books, Wheaton, III, 1998.
Schaup, Susanne, Sophia, Aspects of the
Divine Feminine Past and Present, Nicolas-Hays, Inc., ME, 2000
Sheldrake, Rupert, The Rebirth of Nature: New
Science and the Revival of Animism, Rider,
Sherrard, Philip The Rape of
Man and Nature, Golgonooza Press, Ipswich, Suffolk, 1987.
Skafte, Dianne When Oracles Speak,
Thorsons, London 1997.
Huston, Cleansing the Doors of Perception, Tarcher/Putnam, New
Pitirim, The Crisis of Our Age, Oneworld Publications Ltd., Oxford,
Swimme, Brian, The Hidden Heart
of the Cosmos,Orbis Books, New York, 1966.
Brian and Berry, Thomas, The Universe Story, HarperSanFrancisco,
Tarnas, Richard, The Passion
of the Western Mind, Ballantine Books, New York,
1991 and 1993. ISBN 0-345-36809-6;
Cosmos and Psyche, Viking, New York, 2006.
de Chardin, Pierre, Activation of Energy, Collins, London
The Fabric of the Future: Women Visionaries
of Today Illuminate the Path to Tomorrow. Edited by M.J. Ryan. Conari
Press, California, 1998. ISBN 1-57324-129-6.
Tick, Edward, PH.D., War and the
Soul. Quest Books, Wheaton IL., 2005.
Tilby, Angela, Science and the Soul, New Cosmology,
the Self and God, SPCK, London, 1992
Todorov, Tzvetan, Hope and Memory: Reflections
on the Twentieth Century, Atlantic Books, London, 2003
Walsch, Neile Donald, Conversations with God,
Vols 1 - 4, Hampton Road Publishing Inc., Charlottesville, VA, 1995.
Ken, A Brief History of Everything, Gill & Macmillan Ltd., 1996
A Theory of Everything, Shambhala, Boston, 2000
Woolger, Roger Other Lives, Other Selves HarperCollins.
Zohar, Danah and Ian Marshall, SQ
- Spiritual Intelligence, the Ultimate Intelligence, Bloomsbury,
London, 2000. ISBN 0-7475-4676-2.
Felicity de, From Pain to Violence: The Traumatic Roots of Destructiveness,
Whurr Publishers, London, 1993
Book Review 1
Title: Planet Earth the Latest Weapon
By Rosalie Bertell,
The Women's Press, London, 2000.
This article is the copyright © of Moyra Bremner.
First published in Caduceus Magazine, issue 51, spring 2001.
ALL THINGS ARE CONNECTED
Rosalie Bertell's new book, Planet
Earth the Latest weapon of War, reveals the unbelievable truth in
the new generation of super-weapons.
Important books are rare - very rare.
Planet Earth the Latest Weapon of War is one such rarity. Like
Rachel Carson's Silent Spring it deserves to be read by everyone
who cares a jot about their future. For it reveals that, behind carefully
spin doctored names like 'the Star Wars project', the military is now
testing radically new weapons which so profoundly imperil the earth,
and all life on it, that to deploy them in the name of security is like
suggesting that becoming a suicide-bomber increases life expectancy.
----- As a distinguished
American scientist, world expert on radiation, and winner of major international
awards for science, Dr Bertell is no scaremonger. Yet her cool, incisive,
fact-packed, prose not only reveals weapons worthy of science fiction,
but shows that testing them may be costing thousands of innocent civilian
lives - in peacetime.
----- She exposes
how the military have, for decades, been secretly conducting experiments,
including high-level nuclear explosions, which may disrupt the vital
layers of the atmosphere which protect us from the sun's lethal radiation.
She says these experiments are often conducted without even discussing
with non-military experts the hazards of damaging these life-preserving
earth-veils. And she believes that such experiments may already have
accelerated global warming and contributed to earthquakes and freak
----- The story unfolds
gently. She tells us that, for four years, a Russian thermonuclear bomb
a thousand times more powerful than Hiroshima bomb circled above our
heads. And that a single rocket launched by the US military merely carried
enough plutonium to cause lung cancer in 20 million people - had it
exploded like some of its non-loaded predecessors.
----- In July
1962 NASA announced that high altitude nuclear tests had created a new
radiation belt 750 miles deep, girdling the earth. This damage and pollution
was compounded by 'me too' experiments by the USSR. Dr Bertell says
it was 10 years before American scientists realised that it would be
hundreds of years before the vital earth-shielding Van Allen belts of
the earth's atmosphere would recover from such onslaughts.
the repercussions may not be limited to the atmosphere itself. She says
that, after one nuclear experiment, which created new electromagnetic
belts in the atmosphere, the caribou mysteriously failed to migrate
for the first time in 3000 years. A warning perhaps of how the migration
of animals, fish and birds may be affected by disturbances to electromagnetic
fields - and of the potential impact on man. For, without the caribou,
many Inuit people starved to death. Moreover, the nuclear radiation
was not confined to the upper atmosphere: caribou and people who survived
were dangerously contaminated with caesium 137, and cancer, lung disease
and infant mortality soared.
----- Despite opposition
from the International Union of Astronomers, the US military even put
350,000,000 copper needles into orbit. An experiment which Dr Bertell
says some scientist believed may have upset the balance of the planetary
magnetic field, causing the massive 8.5 Alaskan earthquake and losing
Chile part of its coast. Yet she shows that such experiments are small
beer compared with what is being done today - and is to come.
HAARP - Ionosphere modification
example, she describes HAARP (America's High-frequency Active Auroral
Research Programme) a multimillion pound 'civilian' installation, hidden
away in Alaska, ostensibly intended to 'alter the performance of communications
and surveillance systems'. Seemingly innocent enough, until she explains
that this grid of 180 transmission towers is funded by the military
and is part of the 'Star Wars' defence network. HAARP, and its linked
brother projects are, she says, known to the military as 'ionosphere
modification facilities'. For, according to the proposal for its
installation, HAARP is intended to trigger and control natural processes
in the ionosphere in ways 'that could be potentially exploited for
department of Defence Purposes'. In other words the ionosphere,
which shelters the earth, will be used as the barrel of the gun.
-----Dr Bertell suggests that so great
is the power of such transmitters that even living near them could be
dangerous. She quotes a US federal Environmental Impact statement which
says that HAARP can 'raise the internal body temperature of nearby
people …(and) detonate aerial munitions, scramble aircraft communications
and flight controls'. Even slight increases in body temperature
can alter functioning of brain and body and, as she points out, even
a small rise in electromagnetic radiation may cause an increase in cataracts
and leukaemia and alter brain and body chemistry, blood pressure and
heart rates. But such direct harm is the mere tip of the iceberg.
----- In one type of experiment these transmission
towers will, Dr Bertell reveals, combine to emit a giant beam, of such
power that, 'in a burst lasting more than a few minutes - it will
slice through the ionosphere like a microwave knife' producing a
long incision in this vital layer of the atmosphere. However, the main
aim of HAARP is, she explains, to heat sections of the ionosphere until
they bulge to form a curved 'lens' which will 'reflect' HAARP's massive
energy beams back to earth to destroy selected targets - presumably
without leaving even a trace of what caused the devastation.
----- The layers of our atmosphere are
so little understood that no one can possibly know the impact of cutting
the ionosphere open, or of making it bulge like a lens. Moreover, she
points out that scientists have warned that the energy from HAARP may
combine with a natural wave frequency with results which are 'quite
disproportionate to the level of input' - including disrupting the
harmony between 'earth life forms….and….earth's life support systems'.
----- The rings round
Saturn are thought to have been caused by a comparable interaction between
energy waves. So, the possibility that HAARP, and its confreres, might
trigger catastrophic changes to this planet cannot be ruled out. As
Dr Bertell explains, everything is connected, 'everything in our
universe is in dynamic equilibrium and this interference (from HAARP)
may destabilise a system that has established and maintained its own
cycle for millions of years' - protecting life on earth.
ELF pulsed into the earth
is that all. Dr Bertell says that both HAARP and installations in Russia
- on which America has, remarkably, collaborated - can also create pulsed,
extremely low frequency (ELF) waves which have been directed deep into
the earth itself, potentially disrupting delicately poised tectonic
plates of the earth's crust, such as those of California's San Andreas
fault. Given the little understood interplay between tectonic plates,
volcano's and the earth's molten core, to call this playing with fire
would be an absurd understatement.
----- Nor, it seems
are these the only military installations threatening earth's viability.
Dr Bertell tells us that HAARP is just one of a growing chain of astonishingly
powerful, and potentially interactive, military installations, using
varied types of electromagnetic fields or wavelengths, each with a different
ability to affect the earth or its atmosphere. For example, an installation
in Alaska will have a magnetic field more than 60,000 times greater
than the earth itself.
----- To anyone who
knows the impact of magnetic fields on the human body the potential
risks of such an installation are obvious. Equally, as Dr Bertell points
out, the earth's magnetic field is both produced by electric currents
in the earth's liquid core and interacts with the Van Allen belts of
the earth's atmosphere in ways not yet understood.
----- With typical
restraint, she chooses not to guesstimate the effect that a magnetic
field 60,000 times greater than the earth's will have on the earth's
core or the atmosphere. Yet she believes that military tests may already
have disturbed earth equilibrium. In addition to showing how earlier
military tests have massively contributed to ozone depletion and global
warming Dr Bertell suggests that some freak weather conditions and 'natural'
disasters may have been directly caused by testing installations such
Links to earthquakes and freak weather
For example, in 1977 a freak storm which devastated a small town
in Wisconsin and destroyed 350 hectares of forest, followed hot on the
heels of a government ELF wave experiment. While The Bulletin of
the Atomic Scientist reported that an ELF wave transmitter lay right
in the middle of another storm which brought down 150 - 200 times more
rain than normal. These links are more than purely circumstantial, for
she says that weather modification is on the US air force agenda, and
in 1992 the Russians told the Wall Street Journal they could
already achieve it. And the Wisconsin storm offers what looks very much
like direct evidence.
----- The question
is, does anyone have the wisdom to control weather wisely, and unselfishly?
And do they even begin to understand the potential for unexpected side-affects
from all these experiments. As she points out, it is since the inception
of Star Wars experiments that El Nino has changed its cycle and become
far more severe with devastating effects.
----- Equally, a
Soviet experiment with the ionosphere directly preceded an earthquake
in China which killed 650,000 people. While in America ELF - type waves
were detected immediately before a San Francisco earthquake in 1989,
and unnatural and unexplained low frequency waves were detected before
earthquakes in Japan and California in 1989, and before an earthquake
in Los Angeles in 1994. We can only wonder whether such ELF waves preceded
the recent earthquakes in El Salvador and India this year, and whether
the carnage has been caused by 'security experiments' by one of the
----- What is certain,
as Dr Bertell shows, is that, globally, the number of earthquakes a
year has more than doubled since the inception of military experiments
which affect the earth and its atmosphere. Even this could, of course,
be mere coincidence but another fact suggests something unusual is going
on. Inexplicably, an earthquake in Bolivia in 1994 originated 600km
below the earth's surface - 24 times deeper than normal.
----- However, even
if no such disasters can be laid at the door of the world's military,
weapons which interfere with the atmosphere violate the 1976 Environment
Modification Convention. Yet, she tells us that in January 1991, despite
America having signed that convention, the White House waived the requirement
for actions by the Pentagon to be assessed for environmental impact.
However, America and Russia are not alone in possessing such weapons.
Her revelations of 30 years of military innovations show that Britain,
Germany and NATO have all been involved in military developments which
show a cavalier disregard for life on earth.
----- Dr Bertell
is perhaps one of the few people in the world who could write this book.
As leader of medical commissions to both Bhopal and Chernobyl she is
skilled in unearthing facts from beneath mountains of dis-information
- accurately scooping the world's media, on the truth about depleted
uranium weapons, by more than a year. As a nun dedicated to serving
in the world she does not shrink from the unpopularity accorded a messenger.
And her standing as a scientist, personal integrity, and evidence of
meticulous research, challenge any yearning to disbelieve her.
----- A long-standing
opponent of nuclear weapons, she sees today's military research as a
'cancer of the body politic' consuming human, financial, and
natural resources which are desperately needed elsewhere. 'I would
liken society's dependence on the military to a family in which one
partner is addicted to something and claims a large proportion of money
for feeding the addiction'. As she points out, the billions annexed
by defence projects create the very deprivation which eventually fosters
war. Moreover, she says military research sequesters many top scientists,
'This "brain drain" from the civilian economy may be depriving us
of those who could resolve the most serious survival problems now facing
----- This is not
a comfortable, or easy, book and needs to be chewed slowly, in small
helpings. Yet it is well worth chewing and her overall message is one
of hope. She says we need to redefine the militaristic word 'security'
to mean 'the protection and responsible stewardship of the Earth' -
and redirect former military expenditure towards conflict resolution,
social justice and sustainable living. A change which, she believes,
can be achieved through active citizenship, global co-operation, information
exchange between caring people and organisations, and the kind of peaceful
pressure which, in 1996, led to the International Court of Justice declaring
the use of nuclear weapons unlawful.
----- She concludes:
----- 'I hope
this book has given readers some inspiration as to how the might become
involved in helping this peaceful planet evolve to its full potential.
Despite years of abuse, it is still an amazing and beautiful creation.
It deserves our best efforts. Enjoy it, love it, and save it'.
----- There she is
wrong. It is not the planet which may die: it is us. It is ourselves
we must love enough to cherish the miraculous web of life which radiates
from the earth's core to the farthest limits of our universe.
an aerial analysis of the storm, (In Wisconsin) based on an aerial
survey. This analysis revealed as many as 25 local centres for the
storm..'Straight line winds diverged out violently from local centres,
each in their own downburst type of configuration.' It was almost
as if there were 25 separate storms in action over a limited area.
There was also evidence of a direct relationship between these 'centres'
and the position of ELF transmitters….It has been speculated that
an 'electronic dam' can be set up using ELF generators - a magnetic
field is created which stalls or blocks a weather front, therefore
causing torrential rain over an area. This is hard to confirm or deny
because of the secrecy which protects this activity.' (page 135)
things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons
of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand
in it. Whatever he does to the web he does to himself'. Attributed
to Chief Seattle, 1854
Book Review 2
Title: In the Dark Places
by Peter Kingsley http://peterkingsley.org
Golden Sufi Center Publishing, Inverness,
ISBN 1-890350-01-X. To be published in UK autumn 2001. Duckworth & Co.
Review copyright © Anne Baring.
The Western philosophical tradition rests
on the foundation laid by Plato nearly 2400 years ago. It seems now
to have come to a dead end, having for decades had nothing of relevance
or interest to say to our culture and having lost the vision of the
original meaning of the word philosophy - the love of wisdom.
----- In this small
masterpiece of immaculate and luminous scholarship, Dr. Kingsley recovers
for us the treasures of wisdom bequeathed to Plato and future generations
by Parmenides, one of the greatest of the Pre-Socratic philosophers
and the true "father" of Western philosophy, metaphysics and logic.
Plato for some reason chose to discard the vital experiential aspect
of Parmenides' teaching and we have consequently been deprived of a
tradition that might have made a profound contribution to the formation
of Western civilization. Kingsley recovers this tradition for us and
offers it to us in the form of a gripping detective story.
was descended from a people called the Phocaeans who lived on the Carian
coast of Turkey, close to the island of Samos. They were great sea and
land travellers, and their city became a meeting place of East and West.
About 540 BC, the Phocaeans were forced out of their city by the Persian
army and fled first to Corsica and then to the coast of Italy, just
south of the Gulf of Sorrento, where they founded a city called Velia.
Only five per cent of this city has so far been excavated.
was born in Velia soon after these events. Only a few fragments of his
teaching survive and we know of them mainly through Plato and later
commentaries on them. But he did leave a poem, an extraordinary poem
that has never really been taken very seriously by scholars. He wrote
it in the incantory metre of the great epic poems of the past, "poetry
created," as Kingsley writes, "under divine inspiration, revealing what
humans on their own can never see or know."
poem describes his journey into the underworld, his quest for the light
revealed in darkness, and his encounter with someone whom he calls simply
"The Goddess" although we know that her name was Persephone. The poem
The mares that carry me as far as longing can reach
----- rode on, once
they had come and fetched me onto the legendary
road of the divinity that carries the man who knows
----- through the
vast and dark unknown…
poem was written in three parts. The first describes his descent into
the realm of the goddess; the second describes what she taught him about
"the unshaken heart of persuasive Truth"; the third describes our world
and "the opinion of mortals, in which there's nothing that can truthfully
be trusted at all." As Kingsley writes: "Every single figure Parmenides
encounters in his poem is a woman or a girl. Even the animals are female.
The universe he describes is a feminine one."
----- What Parmenides'
poem reveals is that he was a master of the shamanic rites of incubation
brought from Phocaea and that his writings about Truth, Justice and
the right ordering of human existence were not the creation of his "rational
mind" but were derived from his encounter with that other dimension
of reality. It also reveals that the great divide in our culture between
the rational and the non-rational did not exist then and does not need
to exist now. It is the creation of our fear of the unknown and our
need to repudiate a dimension of consciousness that we have no knowledge
or experience of.
----- The earliest
and greatest of the Greek philosophers made the hero's journey into
that other dimension, bringing back to their culture the "treasures
of darkness and the hidden wisdom of secret places." They were, as Kingsley
says, links in an initiatory chain of philosophers, healers and prophets
who received their laws and their teaching from another world.
----- Perhaps the
most fascinating aspect of this book is its witness to a method of healing
which treated soul and body as a single entity. Three titles described
these initiates: the title Iatromantis meant a healer of a particular
kind, one who could enter a dimension of consciousness that is beyond
waking and dreaming yet is present in both. They healed the underlying
psychic disturbance causing the symptoms of those who came to them for
help. They paid close attention to dreams - their own dreams and the
dreams of those who sought healing for mind or body. The title Pholarchos
meant 'Lord of the Lair' or master of the technique of incubation through
which they gained their power to heal. The title Ouliades meant
'priest of Apollo'" - an Apollo who was not the god of light and reason
familiar to us - but a god of darkness, associated with healing, the
underworld and death. As 'Lord of the Lair' Apollo presided over the
hidden caves where the rites of incubation were practised at dead of
night, rites that originated on the Carian (western) coast of Anatolia
and were carried to Velia by the Phocaeans.
----- Professor Jacob
Needleman comments: "To absorb what this book says is to encounter a
completely new vision of the ancient world that lies at the root of
our own civilization. Right there, at our own feet, lies a forgotten
tradition that has the power to transform all our views about our culture
and our life."
----- I could not
put the book down, nor can words express my appreciation to the author.
Book Review 3
Title: The Inquisition
By Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, Viking 1999.
ISBN 0-670-88032-9. 318pp. Price
Review copyright © Anne Baring.
This is a deeply disturbing book. It brings to light facts
that are unknown to many people and describes in detail the evil that
an institution becomes capable of when it falls into the messianic delusion
that it is the appointed agent of God's will and stands above the laws
of man. The book lays bare the pathology of this belief and tells the
story of the indescribable suffering that resulted from it. More than
this, it shows how a carefully thought out and minutely organised policy
using intimidation, sadism and fear as its tools of power offered a
model of cruelty and violence as a method of ensuring conformity of
belief among vast numbers of people, so creating a precedent for the
behaviour of totalitarian states in this century: a precedent made more
powerful because it was practised by the highest religious authority.
-----Until the time of the
Reformation, people believed in the Church absolutely and lived in fear
of incurring its displeasure. They could not risk rebellion and protest
against the methods it used to ensure obedience. They were in effect
brain-washed by a mixture of unquestioning belief and fear into accepting
behaviour that was truly evil towards those the Church designated as
heretics or a threat to Christendom. With the methods of the Holy Office
of the Inquisition and the fear of it deeply imprinted on the European
psyche it is not surprising that within barely a century of its demise
as an instrument of persecution its methods were adopted (whether consciously
or unconsciously) by modern totalitarian states. As late as 1846, spying,
torture by Inquisitors and mass repression were still being practised
in the Papal States in Italy. The terror once aroused by the persecutory
agents of the Inquisition is no different from that aroused by the agents
of the modern totalitarian states.
----- As the writers comment:
"The Inquisition rapidly developed a methodology and
control that was impressively effective - so much so that one can see
in it the precursor of Stalin's secret police, of the Nazi SS and Gestapo…Here
was a prototype for the kind of computerised records kept by modern
-----They describe how, in
the reign of terror which prevailed in different parts of Europe for
centuries, people were encouraged to inform on their neighbours - wives
on their husbands, children on their parents - and were rewarded for
this betrayal exactly as they were to be under the totalitarian regimes
in Germany, the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The worst aspects of
human nature - cruelty, envy, greed, hatred - were encouraged. Anyone
who denounced his or her neighbour was rewarded. Anyone who spoke up
in defence of the persecuted risked falling under the taint of heresy.
When this persecution was at its height, no-one could be trusted.
----- The suffering created by the exercise
of this power was beyond description: destitute women and their children,
outcasts of society, were left to fend for themselves when their husbands
were murdered and their homes and property confiscated; children lost
mothers who were burnt at the stake as witches. Thousands (mainly Jews)
were expelled from countries that had been home to their families for
centuries. The Inquisition was even exported to the New World with the
Spanish colonisation of Central America. We have not seen the end of
the social and cultural effects of the seeds sown during these centuries
by the Church: the hatred and enmity between different religious groups;
the repression and manipulation of women; the habit of demonising others.
The facts are incontrovertible; the loss to European civilisation immeasurable.
----- The book raises the question of how
these crimes against men and women could ever have been defended as
the "internal" matter of a religious institution. How could they have
been justified by the Church? A great part of the wealth of the Office
of the Inquisition during these centuries was derived from the confiscated
property of those it had murdered or exiled. How did a religion founded
on the principles of love, compassion, justice and forgiveness fall
into predatory and sadistic behaviour that was so contrary to the teaching
of Christ? How did priests who proclaimed themselves followers of Christ
come to believe they were doing God's will in acting as the Church's
agents of oppression? There is no doubt that in choosing this path,
the Church attracted to its service men who derived pleasure from the
exercise of omnipotent control over others and who obeyed orders without
----- Today we try people for crimes against
humanity. Reading the catalogue of evil and repression detailed in this
book I wonder why the Catholic Church (or for that matter the Protestant
one which practised similar atrocities, although not on the same scale)
has not been called to account for these crimes. The dead cannot speak
but the living can bear witness to what was done by bringing to light,
as these authors have done, the evidence which has long existed in European
----- The authors describe how the First
Crusade in 1095 established the model for demonising an enemy - in this
case the Muslims who had occupied the city of Jerusalem. By the thirteenth
century this policy had been extended to Jews and heretics in France,
and from here the pathology of demonising and persecuting others spread
throughout Europe. Many people connect the Inquisition with Spain and
do not know that the Holy Office of the Inquisition was first established
in south-western France and that it took root there as a tool with which
to extirpate the Cathar 'heresy'. In 1208 a Crusade was launched by
Pope Innocent III which was to accomplish the destruction of the remarkable
culture which nurtured this 'heresy'. Had this culture, which fostered
tolerance of Jews and Muslims, respect for women and women priests,
the appreciation of poetry, music and beauty, been allowed to survive
and thrive, it is possible that Europe might have been spared its wars
of religion, its witch-hunts and its holocausts of victims sacrificed
in later centuries to religious and ideological bigotry.
----- There were two events arising out
of this Crusade which laid the foundations of the Inquisition. The first
was the decree of the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 which stated that
Catholics who assumed the cross and devoted themselves to the extermination
of heretics on this Crusade should enjoy the same indulgence and privilege
as those who went to the Holy Land. (1) Another
defined heresy as a sin that could incur (if the heretic did not recant)
the punishment of being "exterminated from the world by death…"
----- The second event was the establishment
in 1216 of the Dominican Order which was originally founded to counter
the teaching of the popular Cathar priesthood with theological arguments.
However, in 1233 a Papal Bull conferred on the Order the task of eradicating
heresy and it then became the vehicle of the Inquisition, given authority
over and above local Catholic bishops to convict suspected heretics
without any possibility of appeal. The Dominicans set up an efficient
machinery for the "process of the investigation, indictment, trial,
torture and execution of heretics." Inquisitors were granted the right
to expropriate the entire property of heretics. Even the bodies of the
dead suspected of heresy were dug up and burnt. At first the Dominicans
were not permitted to administer torture themselves but from 1252 they
were given Papal permission to do so although they still handed over
their victims to the civil authorities for execution. There are, the
authors write, copious records showing that victims could be tortured
twice a day for a week or more by methods which assiduously avoided
the shedding of blood but maximised the degree of pain and terror inflicted
until a confession of guilt was obtained. Again, to avoid the shedding
of blood, death by burning at the stake was the preferred method of
----- When, two hundred and fifty years
later, the Inquisition was established in Spain, it was not accountable
to the Papacy as elsewhere in Europe, but to the monarchs Ferdinand
and Isabella. With its help, Spain was purged of Muslims and Jews as
well as Pagan and Christian heretics. With this persecution went the
massive accumulation of wealth since the Inquisition appropriated here,
as elsewhere, the entire property of the condemned. Many Jewish families
had converted to Christianity in the last decade of the fourteenth century
because of the persecution already directed against them. They were
known as 'conversos' and many held the highest offices of state and
were both rich and influential. The Inquisition, presided over by Torquemada,
called for the expulsion of all Jews from Spain, including the 'conversos'.
They were accused of heresy, imprisoned, exiled or sent to the stake
and their wealth and land seized. As contemporary illustrations show,
these human sacrifices, often timed to coincide with a public holiday,
were made an occasion for rejoicing in the pious certainty that God's
will had been done. The writers comment: "In the virulence and systematic
nature of its anti-Semitic activities, the Inquisition in Spain was
to anticipate the pathology of twentieth-century Nazism."
----- The demonising of heretics and Jews
in southern France and Spain is only one aspect of this dark story.
Another was the attempt to extirpate all vestiges of pagan animism under
the heading of heresy and witchcraft. A monstrous document called the
Malleus Maleficarum ('The Hammer of the Evil-doers') - "among
the most notorious and obscene works in the entire history of Western
civilisation," as the authors rightly describe it - was written by two
Dominicans and published in 1487-9. It went through nineteen editions
over the next 300 years. This manual became the textbook of the Inquisition,
and came into the hands of every Inquisitor, judge and magistrate. (It
was also used later by Protestants). Never has woman been more systematically
degraded than during this century when, as the authors write, "fear
and paranoia were to be promulgated until they clamped the entirety
of Europe in a vicelike grip." In the delusional certainty that the
will of God was being done, tens of thousands of women were tortured
and burnt at the stake in this and subsequent centuries (by the Inquisition's
own admission 30,000 in 150 years). Many of those burnt were women who
acted as mid-wives, herbalists and healers in villages where the poor
had no access to medicine or physicians. Anything that went wrong in
the community from natural disasters to still-births, was attributed
to the malevolent activity of women in league with the devil.
-----Misogyny had always been intrinsic
to the Church's attitude to women but now it was given carte blanche
to persecute them. Through the malevolent influence of the Malleus
Maleficarum, the demonising of women was disseminated in subsequent
centuries throughout Europe and even to the New World. The last witch
was executed in 1782. The faint legacy of this time still lingers in
ours, reflected in the reluctance to ordain women to the priesthood
and in the official opposition to complementary medicine in certain
-----By the mid-nineteenth century, the
Inquisition no longer functioned as an instrument of overt persecution
but the power of excommunication and the Index (list of prohibited books)
were two of the tools of control it still used. The Index, which came
into being in 1559, was only formally abolished in 1966 but the Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith (as the former Holy Office of the Inquisition
was renamed) can even now ban books deemed unacceptable to it, can still
"muzzle, investigate, suppress or even excommunicate a dissident theologian…and
is still the single most powerful department of the Vatican."
-----A recent example of this is the resignation
of a Roman Catholic nun, Dr. Lavinia Byrne, from her Order (January
2000) because she can no longer tolerate the bullying and intimidation
of this Office. Her book, Woman at the Altar, which set out the arguments
in favour of women priests, has been banned and 1300 copies of it confiscated.
She felt she had no choice but to resign when she was asked to make
a public declaration supporting the Roman Catholic Church's stance against
artificial birth control (Humanae Vitae) and the ordination of
-----Christianity has flourished in Europe
for nearly two thousand years and has inspired the highest expression
of art, music, literature and architecture. Countless millions of people
have been helped and enriched by this path to God. Yet, at the end of
this book, I am left with the question: What is the root of the pathology
in the Christian psyche (both Catholic and Protestant) which has been
expressed as the need to establish supremacy and obedience by engaging
in the torture, murder and extermination of others? How can the evangelical
impulse to convert others to the "true" religion be justified? A Church
which claimed to receive its authority directly from Christ, savagely
betrayed its mission in its persecution of Jews, Muslims and any individual
or group (such as the Freemasons) which threatened its religious imperialism.
It has consistently shown itself to be fearful and suspicious of the
new and unknown, rejecting and persecuting many of its most creative
thinkers from Origen and the Gnostics in the third and fourth centuries,
to Eckhart in the fourteenth, Galileo and Giordano Bruno in the sixteenth
and Hans Kung and Matthew Fox (among others) in the twentieth.
----- The present Pope has launched this
Holy Year (2000) with a call for repentance, urging people to redress
the wrongs of the past and saying that "At times people have refused
to respect and love their brothers of a different faith or race and
have denied fundamental rights to individuals and nations." I wonder
if he himself is fully aware of how profoundly the institution of the
Papacy has denied those rights, refused that respect and love. As long
as there is no recognition of evil, no acknowledgement of guilt, there
can be no conscious repudiation of the drive to convert, control and
manipulate others "for their own good" or otherwise. As this book demonstrates,
the pathology of evil established in the past will be repeated and amplified
in the present and future.
----- If the Papacy could have the courage
and humility to acknowledge the wrong done by the Inquisition, this
pattern of repression and control could be recognised as something that
must never be allowed to repeat itself in the name of any group or institution,
secular or religious. It would tell people all over the world that this
was wrong and not only wrong but totally antithetical to the teaching
of Christ and the will of God.
----- Today our great achievements in science,
medicine, standards of living, respect for human rights, are threatened
by our reluctance to explore the roots of the drive for omnipotence
and control that lies in the shadow aspect of our own human nature.
An intrinsic aspect of that drive is the demonising of others and the
delusion that an individual or association of individuals, whether religious
or political, has the right to persecute, murder and control others
in order to establish or maintain its supremacy. The closer to an absolute
truth or the more in touch with God people believe themselves to be,
the greater their adherance to an ideology, whether secular or religious,
the greater the risk of inflation and megalomania.
----- This revealing book is not written
as an academic study but as a call to recognise the abuse of power in
a religious institution. At a time when certain revisionist historians
are downplaying or even denying Nazi and Stalinist persecution it is
a vital contribution to our understanding of how events in the past
may influence the present. It could help people everywhere to recognise
the characteristics of a totalitarian ideology wherever these begin
to become apparent.
1. Henry Bettenson, Documents
of the Christian Church, OUP, 1963, p. 133
Book Review 4
Title: The Passion of the Western
By Richard Tarnas,
Ballantine Books, New York 1991 (Still
Review copyright © Anne Baring.
For over ten years Richard Tarnas was Director of Programmes
at Esalen Institute, California. During these years he wrote The
Passion of the Western Mind. It is a superb, enthralling book -
a masterpiece - as gripping as a detective story, as moving as a poem.
Tarnas writes lucidly, brilliantly, passionately, unfolding the great
drama of the evolution of the Western mind act by act, scene by scene
in precise and scholarly detail.
----- We need to know our roots, he says,
if we are to respond adequately to the crucial challenge of our age.
Whereas Spengler in his Decline of the West, explored the symptoms
of the degeneration of our culture, offering little hope for the future,
Tarnas sees the whole history of the West as leading to this vital moment
of kairos, which encompasses the disintegration of many aspects
of an old and outworn cultural paradigm in preparation for the emergence
of a new one. He brings to this magisterial work three great gifts:
an intellect honed to serve his vision; deep insight born of reflection
and psychological knowledge; compassion for the courage and endurance
of human beings serving a purpose whose intention they could not clearly
discern until the present time.
----- Tarnas uses both the Platonic concept
of Archetypal Ideas or Forms - expressing the divine intelligence that
orders and reveals itself in the dimension of our reality - and the
Hegelian paradigm of the dialectical process of opposition and synthesis
operating within history as the foundation of his understanding of the
development of the Western mind: "Every stage of philosophy from the
ancient Pre-Socratics onward, every form of thought in human history,
was both an incomplete perspective and yet a necessary step in this
great intellectual evolution. Every era's world view was both a valid
truth unto itself and also an imperfect stage in the larger process
of absolute truth's self-unfolding." God is not beyond creation, but
is the creative process itself, accessible to our understanding as nature.
(Aurobindo's words in The Life Divine - a comparable analysis
of the evolution of consciousness - come to mind: "Hidden Nature is
secret God"). The human mind is intrinsic to this creative process,
the organ through which life comes to consciousness of itself. "Nature
becomes Intelligible to itself through the human mind."
----- Tarnas defines the problem of our
time: "The intellectual question that looms over our time is whether
the current state of profound metaphysical and epistemological irresolution
is something that will continue indefinitely…or whether it represents
an epochal transition to another era altogether, bringing a new form
of civilization and a new world view with principles and ideals fundamentally
different from those that have impelled the modern world through its
----- And he offers the solution to it
in the remarkable Epilogue where the grandeur and pathos of his theme
reaches its climax: he views the whole Promethean quest of the Western
mind a an attenuated process of birth, or a series of births: the birth
of human consciousness out of the matrix of nature. "The driving impulse
of the West's masculine consciousness has been its dialectical quest
not only to realize itself, to forge its own autonomy but also, finally,
to recover its connection with the whole, to come to terms with the
great feminine principle in life: to differentiate from but then to
rediscover and reunite with the feminine, with the mystery of life,
of nature, of soul."
----- The extraordinary individuals who
have shaped Western culture have acted as mid-wives to a succession
of births, bringing new eras into being through the power of their genius.
But beneath their search and their vision is life itself, the creative
ground of being, continually giving birth through these individuals
to the revelation of itself in the evolution of our understanding of
life. Depth psychology, as the most recent of these births, gives us
the means to comprehend ourselves and to heal the wound that has resulted
from our dissociation from the ground of life. The work of the psychiatrist,
Stanislav Grof, gave Tarnas the deepest insights into this metaphor
of birth, and led him to apply it to an understanding of an archetypal
process taking place in the culture as a whole.
----- The history of the last two and a
half thousand years has been an overwhelmingly masculine phenomenon,
forged by men, dominated by male perspectives. Throughout this time,
everything projectively identified as "other" or feminine by men was
repressed, because it was associated with nature, but this very repression,
pursued unconsciously over millennia, invites the return of the other,
reunion with the other. It is as if the very momentum of our alienation
from the ground of our being has created the dynamic which is drawing
us back to it.
----- And this, Tarnas concludes, is the
aim of the entire drama: for life not only to give birth to human consciousness
out of itself, forging its autonomy in the crucible of nature, but also
to draw its child, now fully grown, back to itself for a conscious
union with it. This he sees as the great challenge of our time, "the
evolutionary imperative for the masculine to see through and overcome
its hubris and one-sidedness, to own its unconscious shadow, to choose
to enter into a fundamentally new relationship of mutuality with the
feminine in all its forms…source, goal and immanent presence."
----- This marriage of masculine and feminine
is the larger synthesis for which life has so painstakingly prepared
us over the last two and a half thousand years. The Passion of the
Western Mind inspires us to find the necessary discernment, imagination,
courage and trust to make this commitment to the feminine, to let go
of the old paradigm based on separation and dissociation and open ourselves
to a totally different understanding of reality which would "shatter
our most established beliefs about ourselves and the world." The entire
trajectory of our spiritual and cultural history has led us to this
time of conscious choice. I cannot think of another book which prepares
us so effectively for self-transcendence and regeneration.
Book Review 5
Title: Revisioning Transpersonal
A Participatory Vision of Human Spirituality
By Jorge N. Ferrer
State University of New York Press,
Foreward © Richard Tarnas
Revolutions in human thought seldom take
place in a single clean sweep. Whether in science or philosophy, religion
or art, major advances always emerge in a particular context and with
a specific historical background that deeply shape and even constrain
the way they unfold. A paradigm shift will often be initiated by a distinct,
extraordinary break from the past - a kind of declaration of independence
- yet this initial breakthrough will retain from the old paradigmatic
structure certain essential and usually unexamined assumptions that
limit the success of the new breakthrough.
----- These limiting assumptions held over
from the past are, to use Erich Voegelin's term, like a mortgage imposed
on the new paradigm by the historical circumstances of its origin. On
the one hand, the retained principles make possible the paradigm revolution
in the first place, since the intellectual climate and presuppositions
of the time could not have successfully supported a more radical break
all at once. Yet on the other hand, the unconscious holdover often weakens
the power of the new paradigm, and can even threaten to destroy it.
Eventually, a crisis is reached. It may then happen that a second intervention
will take place, a second conceptual breakthrough virtually as essential
as the first, which will emancipate the original revolution from its
unconscious limitations and allow the full paradigm shift to be realized.
----- We see this dramatic sequence in
the classic case of the Copernican revolution. Copernicus's fundamental
insight, that a more elegant and compelling cosmology could be conceived
around a planetary Earth and a central Sun, was deeply constrained by
his retaining the long-established ancient Greek assumption that the
planets must move with uniform circular motion. This unquestioned principle
forced Copernicus's system to have as much mathematical complexity as
Ptolemy's, requiring the retention of various ad hoc epicyclic constructions
in order to approximate the observed planetary positions. Even with
these elaborate corrections the heliocentric theory proved no more accurate
than the old geocentric model in matching the empirical data. This was
the situation for more than half a century until the arrival of Kepler,
fully committed to the Copernican hypothesis, yet willing to confront
squarely the stubborn anomalies and ad hoc epicyclic complexities that
undermined the theory's viability. Having arduously attempted to fit
the most recent planetary observations against every possible hypothetical
system of circles and epicycles he could devise, he was finally obliged
to conclude that some other geometrical figure must be the true form
of planetary orbits. By daring to step outside the ancient framework
of assumptions about what could possibly be true, Kepler discovered
that the observations precisely matched orbits that were not circular
in shape but elliptical, sweeping out equal areas in equal time. Kepler
thereby dispensed with all the inadequate epicyclic corrective devices
of the Ptolemaic system and brilliantly solved the ancient "problem
of the planets" that had driven and riddled astronomical theory for
two thousand years. By so doing, Kepler liberated the Copernican hypothesis
from its unconscious fetters. Within a few months of the publication
of Kepler's discovery, Galileo turned his telescope to the heavens,
and the Copernican revolution proceeded on to its epochal triumph in
the modern age.
----- We can now recognize a similar situation
with respect to the paradigm shift initiated by transpersonal psychology.
From its birth in the late 1960s with the seminal work of Abraham Maslow
and Stanislav Grof, the transpersonal movement represented a profoundly
liberating impulse, and in certain respects a revolutionary break from
the past, within the field of psychology. Compared with the positivism
and reductionism that had long dominated the field, transpersonal psychology's
inclusion and validation of the spiritual dimension of human experience
opened the modern psychological vision to a radically expanded universe
of realities-Eastern and Western, ancient and contemporary, esoteric
and mystical, shamanic and therapeutic, ordinary and non-ordinary, human
and cosmic. Spirituality was now recognized as not only an important
focus of psychological theory and research but an essential foundation
of psychological health and healing. Developing ideas and directions
pioneered by William James and C.G. Jung, transpersonal psychology and
theory began to address the great schism between religion and science
that so deeply divided the modern sensibility.
----- But as the work of Jorge Ferrer now
illuminates, the very circumstances of transpersonal psychology's origins,
born as it was out of a modern science with philosophical roots in the
Enlightenment, compelled the field to build its theoretical structures
and foundations on inherited principles that - while crucial for its
immediate success - gradually revealed themselves to be acutely problematic
in the long term. With modernity's focus on the individual Cartesian
subject as the starting point and foundation for any understanding of
reality, with its pervasive assertion of the knowing subject's epistemic
separation from an independent objective reality, and finally with the
modern disenchantment of the external world of nature and the cosmos,
it was virtually inevitable that transpersonal psychology would emerge
in the form that it did: namely, with an overriding commitment to legitimate
the spiritual dimension of existence by defending the empirical status
of private, individual intrasubjective experiences of an independent
and universal spiritual reality. With modern cosmology's voiding of
any intrinsic spiritual meaning or structure in the publicly accessible
external universe, empirical validation of a spiritual reality had to
be via private and intrasubjective experience. And since experience
of the ultimate spiritual reality was regarded as one shared by mystics
of all ages, it was, like scientific truth, empirically replicable by
anyone properly prepared to engage in the appropriate practices. In
turn, this consensually validated supreme reality was seen as constituting
a single absolute Truth which subsumed the diverse plurality of all
possible cultural and spiritual perspectives within its ultimate unity.
This was the essential transcendent Truth in which all religions at
their mystical core ultimately converged.
----- Transpersonal psychology's commitment
to such an epistemology and ontology certainly also reflected the powerful
legacy of modern humanism and the longer Western humanistic tradition
dating back to the Renaissance and earlier to ancient Greece, which
exalted the sovereign value of the individual - of individual human
experience, human potential, and self-actualization. Moreover, the expansive
and intense private subjectivity of much psychedelic experience, a key
factor in the philosophical transformation of a generation of transpersonal
thinkers, played a critical role in strengthening transpersonal psychology's
commitment to an inner empiricism.
----- Less obvious, though no less influential,
was the great underlying drama of the modern Western self as it strove
to emerge from its historical religious matrix, that is, to define itself
autonomously and thus in some sense to disengage itself from Christianity,
the dominant vessel of the West's spiritual impulse for the better part
of two millennia. The leading figures in transpersonal psychology were
all working within and reacting against a Western cultural tradition
whose religious imagination had been deeply informed, and problematically
dominated, by Christianity. The reasons for this tension were many and
complex, but an antagonistic response-sometimes subtle, other times
explicit - to the Judaeo-Christian legacy in the West was generally
shared by the entire transpersonal community and the larger counterculture
of which it was part, and this in turn influenced and encouraged its
immense attraction to the spiritual riches of the East. But beyond the
explicitly spiritual and religious dimension of this attitude, all the
leaders of the transpersonal movement shared the larger background of
the Enlightenment's historical struggle with the Christian religion
for dominance in the modern world view.
----- The Enlightenment impulse to privilege
the universal truth of an objective reality - an unambiguous independent
truth that could be reliably confirmed by direct experience and the
appropriate experimental procedures, that transcended the diversity
of various cultural and personal perspectives, that cleansed the mind
of all subjective distortions and superstitious delusions, that demystified
reality of all mythological baggage and anthropomorphic projections
- this overriding impulse had effectively served the modern project
of freeing modern thought from the perceived constrictions of a dogmatic
----- But transpersonal psychology was
now motivated by the same impulse in a new quest, focused this time
not on the nature of the material world but on the nature of spirituality:
namely, to free spirituality from its previous obligatory association
with the now increasingly relativized Christian religion, yet also to
free spirituality from its negation by modern science while remaining
true to scientific principles of empiricist testing and validation.
In turn, this quest was deeply affected by the widespread encounter
with various Asian mystical practices and perspectives, usually removed
from their complex cultural contexts and emphasizing a contemplative
goal of nondual transcendence. The combined result of these several
factors was transpersonal theory's commitment to a "perennial philosophy"
which in essence privileged the same kind of truth in the psychospiritual
world that the rationalist Enlightenment had privileged with respect
to the physical world: an independent, impersonal, universal truth that
transcended all subjective and cultural interpretations and that could
be empirically verified with appropriate methodologies employed by an
appropriate community of investigators. This perennialist Truth was
the highest truth, superior to all others. It was a Truth exclusively
capable of including and defining all other truths.
----- In a sense, the pioneers and leading
theorists of transpersonal psychology had two aims. They wished to legitimate
their new discipline and the ontological status of spirituality in the
eyes of empirical science, the dominant force in the modern world view.
Yet they equally sought to legitimate spirituality and their discipline
in their own eyes, which required them to satisfy those standards and
assumptions of empirical science that they themselves had internalized
in the course of their own intellectual development.
----- The belief in an independent objective
reality - whether spiritual or material - that could be empirically
validated; the further conviction that this pre-given reality was ultimately
single and universal, and that its deep structures could be described
by progressively more accurate representations as the history of thought
advanced; the corollary belief that on this basis, sharply bivalent
assessments, either affirmative or rejecting, could be made of all "competing"
spiritual and psychological perspectives, and that hierarchical rankings
of religious traditions and mystical experiences as more or less evolved
could thereby be established according to their relative accuracy in
representing this independent reality: all these principles, derived
from the scientific ideology of modernity, were carried forth into the
transpersonal paradigm. And in being carried forth, they at once helped
legitimate the paradigm and yet increasingly began to engender internal
tensions, theoretical incoherencies, and even internecine conflicts.
----- In practice - on the ground level,
as it were, in its lived reality - the transpersonal tent from the beginning
was an extraordinarily embracing, tolerant, richly pluralistic community
of seekers and scholars, students and teachers. The periodic large gatherings
around the world of the International Transpersonal Association, founded
by Grof in the 1970s, were exceptionally encompassing events, each one
a combination of wide-ranging psychology conference, new age cultural
festival, and something resembling the World Parliament of Religions.
Few gatherings could have been more fertilely dialogical. A similar
ethos pervaded the ongoing seminars, symposia, and workshops at Esalen
Institute, for many years an epicenter of the transpersonal world.
----- But at the theoretical level, in
books, journals, and graduate classrooms, the most energetic and widely
discussed conceptual frameworks in transpersonal theory were marked
by an increasingly intense commitment to a single absolute universal
truth, stringent bivalent logic, and the construction of all-subsuming
metasystems that confidently rejected or affirmed particular spiritual
traditions and philosophical perspectives according to specific abstract
criteria and ranked them in ascending evolutionary sequences. This in
turn brought forth increasingly heated controversies and conflicts,
as representatives of an enormous range of diverse traditions and perspectives
- indigenous and shamanic, esoteric and gnostic, Romantic and Neo-Romantic,
Jungian and archetypal, feminist and ecofeminist, as well as Wiccan
and Goddess spirituality, Buddhism, nature mysticism, Christian and
Jewish and Islamic mysticism, anthroposophy, American Transcendentalism,
deep ecology, systems theory, evolutionary cosmology, Whiteheadian process
theology, Bohmian physics, and many others - all asserted the intrinsic
worth of their positions against theoretical superstructures by which
they felt marginalized, devalued, and misrepresented. The situation
was further complicated by the fact that transpersonal psychology's
own data - the findings of modern consciousness research, experiential
therapies, psychedelic reports, spiritual emergencies, research in non-ordinary
states of consciousness, field anthropology, thanatology, the reports
of mystics across diverse cultures and eras - suggested a far more complex
picture than the leading theoretical systems could accommodate. By the
1990s, a kind of civil war had emerged, engulfing the field in controversy
----- It is this immensely complex and
conflicted situation, in all its conceptual intricacy, that Jorge Ferrer's
Revisioning Transpersonal Theory brilliantly confronts, diagnoses,
and recontextualizes. This is a profoundly liberating book. Ferrer has
assimilated all the major works and ideas of the field, and thought
through the difficult issues at stake. He has integrated the most recent
developments in fields that had heretofore been inadequately engaged
by transpersonal theory - interreligious dialogue, comparative mysticism,
hermeneutics and poststructuralism, post-Kuhnian philosophy of science
- fields acutely relevant to the current debates. And perhaps especially
important, he has explored deeply a range of transformative practices,
spiritual paths, and spiritually informed social action that have brought
crucial dimensions of embodiment to the intellectual and spiritual issues.
----- I will leave it to the reader to
enjoy the unfolding drama of Ferrer's masterful analysis as he lays
the groundwork for resolving the crisis of transpersonal theory. In
essence, Ferrer has comprehended the most valuable insights of the postmodern
mind and integrated them into the transpersonal vision, while fully
transcending the dogmatic relativism and compulsively fragmenting skepticism
that afflicted some earlier postmodern perspectives (limitations rooted
in that hidden secular reductionism which served as postmodernity's
own unconscious mortgage to the modern). The underlying project of the
leading transpersonal metatheories has explicitly been to integrate
modern science with premodern religion. To achieve this, numerous ad
hoc theoretical modifications were required to explain the many resulting
anomalies and incoherencies, blunt the diverse criticisms, and patch
up the attempted supersynthesis. These modifications usually drew on
various postmodern ideas that were helpful for meeting the specific
problems at issue, but in the long run proved to be essentially epicyclic
corrections for an overall strategy that could not do justice to the
complex reality it sought to explain.
----- Ferrer, by contrast, has absorbed
the full meaning of the postmodern turn at its deepest and irreplaceable
core: He has articulated a radically participatory and pluralistic
understanding of spiritual realities, spiritual practices, and spiritual
knowledge. He critiques the intrasubjective empiricism imported from
empiricist science that has dominated the field and colonized it with
inapt and self-defeating requirements for replication, testing, and
falsification. And he affirms the validity of a multiplicity of spiritual
liberations, in which various spiritual traditions and practices cultivate
and "enact," bring forth, through co-creative participation in a dynamic
and indeterminate spiritual power, a plurality of authentic spiritual
----- With this crucial insight into the
participatory, enactive, and pluralistic nature of spiritual truth,
the transpersonal field frees itself to enter into a new world of openness
to the Mystery of being that is its ground, accompanied by a newly respectful
and fruitful dialogue between diverse religions, metaphysical perspectives,
and spiritual practices. By cutting the Gordian knot that has invisibly
bound transpersonal theory to the Enlightenment like an outlived umbilical
cord, the transpersonal field can open to new horizons, its vision no
longer so riven by futile and too often intolerant, undialogical debate.
----- I salute Ferrer's emphatic affirmation
of the Mystery with which all transpersonal and spiritual inquiry is
concerned, the boundless creative freedom of the ultimate ground, its
liberating defiance of all intellectual schemas that claim to theorize
the whole of reality. And this affirmation is achieved, not simply by
apodictic declaration, but by rigorous epistemological analysis of the
relevant transpersonal theories, an equally meticulous comparison of
crosscultural religious and mystical reports, and an incisive critique
of contemporary spiritual practice. It is a pleasure to see here a powerful
mind employed fully in service of opening to the Mystery of existence,
rather than attempting to contain, categorize, and rank, in service
of the needs of an overarching system.
----- This is in many ways a very simple
book. It certainly is extremely clear, written with an intelligent and
patient care to make every point transparent to the reader, with every
position at issue represented with conscientious accuracy, and with
each possible objection or alternative lucidly addressed. Each successive
chapter brings greater penetration into the field's central problems
and greater freedom from their constraints. One finishes this book with
a clearer mind and a more spacious vision than one begins it.
----- To engage transpersonal discourse
at the level required to write this book, one must have done an incalculable
amount of close reading and deep thinking, on an extremely broad range
of topics and in a wide range of disciplines. And because it is this
particular field - involving not only epistemology and psychology but
spirituality and religion - there is an even greater potential in the
process of such an accomplishment for spiritual inflation.
----- But Ferrer demonstrates in this book
the very qualities of scholarship and dialogue that best reflect the
character of his spiritual vision - the care with which he describes
both his own positions and those of others, the openness to being corrected,
the ability to be critical without sarcasm or rancor, the setting forth
of opposing ideas in a manner that scrupulously reflects how their exponents
themselves would articulate them. The consistent priority is clearly
to seek and serve truth, rather than advance or preserve one's own position
and reputation at others' expense.
----- Transpersonal realities can never
be adequately or accurately described by intellectually confident assessments
and rankings of the multiplicity of humanity's spiritual paths and perspectives
measured against a single pre-given independent universal Reality. They
can be approached, rather, only by a much more subtly intelligent and
more heartful dialogical engagement with the Mystery that is source
of all - hence, by a dialogical engagement with each other in respectful
openness to the diversity of wisdom's self-disclosures, and a dialogical
engagement with one's interior being and with the cosmos itself, in
reverent openness to the irreducible depths of its mystery, intelligence,
and power. Such knowledge is an act of the heart as much as it is an
act of the mind, the two inextricably united.
----- We can perhaps now recognize that
great temptation to which our field temporarily succumbed, seen in certain
stages of the spiritual and intellectual quest, a temptation that any
brilliant spiritually informed mind may encounter: to attempt intellectually
to master the Mystery, to overpower its power, to overcome its free
spontaneity, to show how everything fits one's system, to avoid the
psychological fears and anxieties of confronting the larger Unknown,
that which can never be mastered. This book provides the theoretical
matrix for honoring this recognition. It honors that Spirit which blows
like the wind, "where it wills."
----- As the transpersonal field moves
to an understanding of human spirituality as more profoundly encompassing
and participatory, many have begun to see the very word "transpersonal"
as needing to be addressed, and perhaps fundamentally redefined. For
as we integrate more fully the amplitude and immanence of the sacred,
we better discern that spiritual power moving in and through the human
person in all her and his living, embodied, situated specificity: psychological
and physical, gendered, relational, communal, cultural and historical,
ecological and cosmic. In this understanding, "trans" recovers its original
Latin larger range of meanings - signifying not only beyond but
also across, through, pervading; so as to change, transform; occurring
by way of. Here "transpersonal" multivalently acknowledges the sacred
dimension of life dynamically moving beyond as well as within, through,
and by way of the human person in a manner that is mutually transformative,
complexly creative, opening to a fuller participation in the divine
creativity that is the human person and the ever unfolding cosmos. It
is precisely this spiritual dynamism in the human person embedded in
a spiritually alive cosmos that empowers, and challenges, the human
community's participatory co-creation of spiritual realities, including
new realities still to unfold.
----- If the founding works of transpersonal
psychology by Maslow and Grof constituted its declaration of independence,
then this book may well be seen as its emancipation proclamation, its
"new birth in freedom." For here transpersonal theory is liberated from
that mortgage to the past, those constraining assumptions and principles
inherited from its Enlightenment and modern scientific origins. As revolutionary
and profound a force as transpersonal theory has been over the past
three decades, it has in a fundamental way been working inside a conceptual
box. It has been subtly constrained by epistemological and metaphysical
blinders that have unconsciously restricted its vision, thereby engendering
numerous seemingly irresolvable problems, distortions, and conflicts.
Only with the recognition of these inhibiting assumptions could the
full emancipatory potential of the original transpersonal breakthrough
finally be fulfilled.
----- If I may draw again on the Copernican
analogy, transpersonal theory in its first thirty years, after freeing
itself from a kind of geocentric/egocentric materialist reductionism
dominant in mainstream psychology, tended to constellate itself around
the transcendent Sun of perennialism as the absolute and single fixed
center of the spiritual universe. Only with time has it become apparent
that we live in a much vaster, more interesting, radically pluralistic
world, an omnicentered cosmos with innumerable suns and stars around
which are constellated multiple universes of meaning. These meanings
are not pre-given and independent objective realities but rather are
participatively and co-creatively brought forth out of an indeterminate
and dynamic matrix of spiritual mystery.
----- We owe a debt of gratitude to Ferrer
for his courage in bringing forth this work, though in a sense it reflects
the maturation of the entire field, of the wider transpersonal community.
I stand in admiration before the magnitude and depth of thought and
experience, dialogue and reflection that has taken place within the
transpersonal field to permit the possibility of this work being written
at the present time. For at a deep level, the transpersonal community
itself has brought forth this book: As Ferrer would himself be the first
and most enthusiastic to declare, it is not the work of one person -
though we owe so much to the person who articulated it.