“There’s a Story Behind That”: Panel Discussion of Twin Peaks

lpYou’ve pondered it, argued over it, been confused by it, reveled in it, and marveled over it. Come and do all those things with us after the season is over by attending a panel discussion of this “strange and wonderful” return of Twin Peaks.

Panelists:

  • Greg Salyer, Ph.D., President, UPR
  • David Orr, Art Curator/Artist-in-Residence, UPR
  • Gustavo Turner, Ph.D., Los Angeles Writer and Photographer
“Welcome to Twin Peaks. My name is Margaret Lanterman. I live in Twin Peaks. I am known as the Log Lady. There is a story behind that. There are many stories in Twin Peaks — some of them are sad, some funny. Some of them are stories of madness, of violence. Some are ordinary. Yet they all have about them a sense of mystery — the mystery of life. Sometimes, the mystery of death. The mystery of the woods. The woods surrounding Twin Peaks. To introduce this story, let me just say it encompasses the All — it is beyond the “Fire,” though few would know that meaning. It is a story of many, but begins with one — and I knew her. The one leading to the many is Laura Palmer. Laura is the one.”

Sunday, September 10, 2017
Auditorium
5:00-6:30 pm

Doughnuts, Pie, and Damn Fine Coffee

Finding Your Way Back Home with Jonathan Young, Ph.D.

Finding_Your_Way

LittleRedDoorSaturday, September 16th, 2017

A six-hour seminar with Jonathan Young and Anne Bach 

Also available as a Webinar

The University of Philosophical Research

3910 Los Feliz Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90027

From the realms of magic and dream come tales of wonder. This seminar enters the mythic imagination to explore the journey toward wholeness. Surprising guidance can be drawn from stories about finding ourselves in unfamiliar experiences. We will discuss Hansel & Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood to see how such initiatory adventures can help in our quests.

In a spirit of play, we will follow these enchanting tales to learn more about the lessons of the forest journeys. Mythic stories can teach us about the riches of the inner life. Characters from folklore and mythology can reveal the patterns in our own lives and connect us with dimensions beyond ordinary experience. The key is in the psychological symbolism of the tales. For example, we will take a close look at the many meanings of a visit to the wise old woman of the woods.

Learning Objectives

  • Recognize how stories can help in the search for fulfillment
  • Detect psychological patterns reflected in forest adventures
  • Identify how plot stages mirror key development tasks
  • 

Demonstrate how narrative tasks can clarify specific life challenges
  • Explain the use of dream analysis methods to draw insights from favorite tales
  • Discuss methods of engaging the imagination to claim emotional resources

Instructors:

Jonathan Young, Ph.D., PSY10231, is a psychologist storyteller, and writer on mythic stories. He assisted mythologist Joseph Campbell at seminars and was the Founding Curator of the Joseph Campbell Archives and Library. His books and articles focus on personal mythology. Dr. Young is on the faculty of the University of Philosophical Research.     

Anne Bach, M.S., MFT 38891, is a specialist in uses of writing in psychotherapy. She gives presentations on creativity as inner work at major conferences, and lectures widely on psychological dimensions of expressive writing. Her clinical background includes poetry therapy with residential mentally ill patients.   

Tuition: 

In person: $140 with CE credit   ~   $95 non-credit

Webinar: $95 with CE credit   ~   $45 non-credit

Day Schedule

9:30 – Check-in begins.
10:00 - The folktale as window to the world within
- The fairytale as window to the unconscious
11:15 – Break (approximate time)
11:30 - Adult development reflected in forest tales
12:30 – Lunch Break – On your own, please return on time
1:30 - Plot and role in lived narratives
2:30 – Break (approximate time)
2:40 – Unconscious dynamics in the mythic imagination
3:50 – Break (approximate time)
4:00 - Stories and inner work
5:00 – Course concludes – Be sure to sign out

CE Credit Information:

The material is presented at an introductory level, requiring no background in mythic studies, narrative theory, or Jungian psychology. Non-credit: Those not needing verification of attendance, such as teachers, writers, clergy, and artists – are welcome as non-credit attendees. Spouses, friends, students, and others not needing verification of attendance can also choose the lower non-credit tuition.

Counts as a real-time in-person course (not home-study) for Psychology, MFT, LCSW, LPCC, etc : 6 CE hours, Nursing: 7 hours. Most teachers must get credits approved by their school administration. Credits are provided by the Center for Story and Symbol. Center courses meet the requirements in most states.

Psychology ~ The Center for Story and Symbol is approved by the American Psychology Association to sponsor continuing education hours for psychologists. The Center maintains responsibility for these programs and their contents. CE hours are accepted by the California MCEP program. Full attendance is required for psychologists – no partial credit.

MFT, LCSW, LPCC ~ California BBS Provider Number PCE 3903  RN ~ Provider approved by the Calif. Board of Registered Nursing, BRN Provider Number CEP 12477.

Teachers ~ Continuing Education courses are customarily approved by immediate supervisors. It is usually sufficient for teachers to attend on a non-credit (auditing) basis and present a receipt for the course.

*Discounted tuition is available for UPR Students and Alumni. Please phone 323-663-2167 for pricing.


Finding Your Way Back Home — Click for Tuition Options:



Making Meaning in 2017: Or, How not to be an Ass

Greg Salyer

President of the University of Philosophical Research

July 8, 2017

Making Meaning in 2017
Or, How not to be an Ass

 
Apuleius_Metamorphoses_c._65Lucius takes human form, in a 1345 illustration of the
Metamorphoses (ms. Vat. Lat. 2194, 
Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana).

Now! I’d like to string together various tales in the Milesian style, and charm your kindly ear with seductive murmurs, so long as you’re ready to be amazed at human forms and fortunes changed radically and then restored in turn in mutual exchange, and don’t object to reading Egyptian papyri, inscribed by a sly reed from the Nile. (Book I:I)

So begins the ancient novel of Apuleius come down to us as The Golden Ass. It is a fitting opening and frame for a lecture on making meaning in 2017, as I will do the same stringing of tales, only without the papyri and reed. In this work from the late second-century of the Common Era, our hero is a man named Lucius, an ordinary man on business but with a curious turn. Arriving in Hypata and staying with his old friend Milo whose wife happens to be a witch, Lucius is fascinated as he watches her transform herself into a bird and decides that he would like to become a witch and a bird as well. Lucius, however, is not schooled in the art of witchcraft, which is really the art of transformation, and experiences an unfortunate outcome of his spell.

I spread out my arms and flapped them up and down one after the other, trying my best to become a bird . . . No plumage appeared, not a single feather! Instead the hair on my body turned to bristles, and my soft skin hardened to hide, my fingers and toes merged with hands and feet, squeezing together into individual hooves, and a long tail shot from the tip of my spine. Now my face was enormous, my mouth immense, my nostrils gaped, and my lips hung down. My ears too were ludicrously long and hairy. The only consolation I found in my wretched transformation was that though I could no longer embrace [my lover], at least my member had grown. I examined every part of my body hopelessly, and saw I was no bird but an ass. (Book III:24)

We are all asses. We want cheap and easy ways to transformation, and by using them, we are indeed transformed—into asses. The secret lotion that Lucius covers himself with is provided by his lover Photis, who is herself not a witch but the servant of the witch. She assures Lucius that she knows what she is doing, and Lucius, no doubt blinded by lust for Photis and desire for the bird nature she promises to provide him, believes in this pseudo-wisdom. His uninformed belief wedded to base desire makes him an ass. This old alchemy still works for most people in 2017, only our potion, our mechanism for metamorphosis, is primarily but not exclusively social media.

I will not insult you by telling what you already know about social media, its promises and failures, its reality-TV-for-everyone seductiveness, its fetid discourse. What I will say is that it is analogous to the theory of the expanding universe. Like planets, we are speeding away from each other at tremendous velocity, but our communications technologies are faster and have made it appear that we are closer than ever. That illusion is the product of a kind of witchcraft, the kind that promises easy paths to communication and community. Social media is bad witchcraft that turns us into asses; however, it is not the medium that is at fault here, anymore than it is the potion that is at fault for Lucius. What matters is intention. What psychological and philosophical needs are we hoping to satisfy when we go onto Facebook and Twitter? What do we seek from our magic, whether it is herb-infused potions or Twitter? Whence this need making us desperate enough to revert to third-grade discourse? (Apologies to third-graders for that reference.) Do we really need to be bird, or is it enough to be a human?

There are many answers to these questions in the wisdom of the world. Let me explore just one with you today. Ernest Becker has a profound response in his book The Denial of Death. As he puts it most bluntly: “We are gods with anuses.” Perhaps we could paraphrase that to say we are gods and asses. What he means is that we are cursed with consciousness, self-aware of our own mortality and broken by that duality. Here is Becker with some added nuance:

This is the paradox: [we are] out of nature and hopelessly in it; [we are] dual, up in the stars and yet housed in a heart-pumping, breath-gasping body that once belonged to a fish and still carries the gill-marks to prove it. [Our] body is a material fleshy casing that is alien to [us] in many ways—the strangest and most repugnant way being that it aches and bleeds and will decay and die. [We are] literally split in two: [we have] an awareness of [our] own splendid uniqueness in that [we] stick out of nature with a towering majesty, and yet [we go] back into the ground a few feet in order to blindly and dumbly rot and disappear forever. (Kindle Location 690).

Good morning mutated fish and ultimate worm food! It is good to have you here. Actually, saying that sentence and laughing at it proves Becker’s point. That we are bags of bones and blood is one thing, that we are aware of it is another, and that we can laugh at is still another, and a point that I will come to later.

How, then, do we respond to this absurd situation? Becker argues that we create theaters of heroism in which to assert our transcendence over our animal natures. These heroic venues are familiar to us from ancient literature and myth: journeys, wars, founding a city, and generating a culture, etc. Most of those venues and ventures depended upon their novel character, that is, heroic feats done for the first—or at least one of the first—times. Losing that originality, we found heroic theaters in new and different places, such as the so-called New World of the Americas. Running out of time and space, we shifted the heroic realm into smaller and more mundane venues, and the hero became a good citizen, worker, parent, or spouse. As the theaters for displaying our heroism shifted and shrank, the great monster of our animal nature crept up even closer to the edges of these artificial worlds and reminded us that despite—and maybe even because—we have made ourselves heroes, we have also made ourselves asses. And that monster was right.

Our god-like consciousness always loses to our ass nature because as an animal, we die. Sure, we can make more theaters and venues for heroic display, and we do so beautifully. We make heavens and hells to organize human life into saints and sinners, heroes and villains. We create concepts such as reincarnation and enlightenment to take us beyond our nature as asses. We create new technologies and virtual worlds into which we cast our hero plots. Maybe those imaginary worlds are ultimately true and real, but what remains with us here and now is the ass and our ass-awareness. It is this consciousness that propels us, as Becker notes.

All this gives [human] life a quality of drivenness, of underlying desperation, an obsession with the meaning of it and with [our] own significance as a creature. And this is what drives [us] to try to make [our] mark on the world, to try to twist it and turn it to [our] own designs, to bury over the rumbling anxieties; and this usually means that [we try] to twist and turn others, make [our] mark on them, use them to justify [our] own problematic [lives]. (The Birth and Death of Meaning, 122)

We can go straight from that observation to social media. We have created a global theatre of heroism that is accessed by a device and presented, for example, in 140 characters. Becker writes “[We] cannot endure [our] own littleness unless [we] can translate it into meaningfulness on the largest possible level” (Kindle Location 3568). Writing in 1973, Becker could not have imagined that we could access a global community from a rectangle in our hand. And yet on the “largest possible level,” it is our ass nature that is revealed more than our heroism. Becker would have had one hell of a Twitter account and would have destroyed all trolls, including those in office.

To summarize with the help of Sam Keen’s introduction to the latest edition of The Denial of Death, Becker espouses four ignoble truths, we might say.  Firstly, the world is terrifying, or as Becker puts it “Mother Nature is a brutal bitch, red in tooth and claw, who destroys what she creates” (Kindle Location 102-103). Secondly, our basic human need is to deny the terror of death. Thirdly, the terror of death is so profound that we must project it outward, and the function of culture is to create theaters of heroism for that purpose. After all, heroes do not ultimately die. Finally, and here let me quote Becker’s friend Sam Keen for full effect:

Our heroic projects that are aimed at destroying evil have the paradoxical effect of bringing more evil into the world. Human conflicts are life and death struggles—my gods against your gods, my immortality project against your immortality project. The root of humanly caused evil is not man’s animal nature, not territorial aggression, or innate selfishness, but our need to gain self-esteem, deny our mortality, and achieve a heroic self-image. (Kindle Location 124)

So in an ironic turn, it is our participation in culture that taps into our “brutal bitch, red in tooth and claw,” more so than our participation in nature. The picture that emerges from Becker’s seemingly unassailable argument is of a uniquely dysfunctional animal, an animal disabled by its highest ideals.

Disabled by our highest ideals. Nothing quite captures that inversion like great literature, and in particular William Butler Yeats poem “The Second Coming.” Though I suspect you know this poem, a full reading is worth the time, especially in a discussion of making meaning in 2017.

The Second Coming

BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? (poets.org)

It is as if Ernest Becker’s thesis were an exegesis of Yeat’s dark apocalyptic vision. The two parts of the poem themselves demonstrate the rise and fall of the heroic process as the first stanza, full of poetic insight, falls into the second, where our narrator slouches into despair. Indeed, the visions here are conjured from Yeat’s own occult philosophy, but they have resonated for nearly a century now because they are so apt.

Our friend Lucius the ass has a similar complaint.

I groaned from the depths of my heart, and it occurred to me it was not for nothing that wise men of old imagined Fortune as blind, and even proclaimed she was born lacking eyes, since she forever favors the evil and undeserving, and never shows justice in dealing with human beings, but chooses to lodge with precisely those whom she’d flee furthest from if she could see. And worse than that, she bestows on men their diametrically opposite reputation, with the sinful being considered virtuous, while the most innocent is subject to noxious rumors. After all, she’d attacked me most savagely, and reduced me to a beast, to a quadruped of the lowest order. Even the least sympathetic would find my troubles worthy of grief and pity. (Book VII:3)

We could call so many to testify to this state of meaninglessness and of despair: Gilgamesh, Job, the writer of Ecclesiastes to Nietzsche, Camus, Kierkegaard, and almost any Twitter feed.

Is that it, then? For making meaning in 2017, are our choices rumination on our ass nature, apocalyptic spectacle, or the false heroics afforded by social media? Yes, those are the only choices. Thank you for coming. There are, of course, other choices. In our remaining time, let me explore just three, the three that matter most to me.

The first is wisdom or what the ancients called sophia. It is the word from which we make philosophy. It may be no surprise coming from the president of the University of Philosophical Research that I am advocating philosophy as a way to make meaning in 2017, but let me be clear about what I mean here. As in our other “tales strung together to charm your kindly ear,” philosophy has suffered a similar fate to our narrators and heroes in waiting. What begins as aspiration and idealization ends in disappointment and cynicism. You may have experienced this fall personally if you have ever taken Philosophy 101 and ended up in a course on logical positivism. What begins as a unique way of seeing the world that itself opened up other worlds ends as a tautological technical exercise for the purpose of perpetuating a gnostic discourse without any gnosis. To be sure, other ways of knowing fall into this trap. It is just that other ways of knowing do not aspire to the “love of wisdom” and thus do not have as far to fall.

As in most cases, Manly P. Hall, our founder, put it better. He calls his book First Principles of Philosophy an “attempt to rescue the wisdom of the ancients from scholasticism’s ponderosity” (7). And yet, his intention is humble: “It is far from my intention to burden an opinion-riddled world with more ill-digested speculation. The fallacies of perverse thought are everywhere apparent” (8). We foist our ill-conceived and self-serving opinions upon the world even though there are better-conceived and world-serving opinions that have been available to us for centuries: “Is it not amazing that remain so unwise having inherited so much wisdom? That possessing so much that is good and noble, we remain unrefined and ignoble” (8)? Hall’s solution was elegant and simple: create ways for those who seek wisdom to find it and for those who love wisdom to be guided by it, as the very word philosophy suggests: “It has been my purpose to focus the light of an ageless wisdom upon the problems of today; to discover, if possible, from those who have lived well the secret of right living, from those who have thought well, the secret of noble action” (9-10). Hall continues: “I want you to look upon philosophy not as an abstract and difficult word, suggesting arduous labor, but as a simple and friendly term standing for all that is good and all that is real in knowledge. I want you to make philosophy the great work of your life” (12). Philosophy as a simple and friendly term. The love of wisdom as the great work of one’s life. I like that very much, and I suspect we are all trying to do something like that anyway, only without the conscious intention or clear path that Hall lays out. Finally, as if to address directly the previous status of our ass nature, romance with apocalyptic spectacle, and seductions of false heroism, Manly P. Hall writes this:

The world we live in today is ruled by fear—fear of life and fear of death. Wisdom alone can overcome fear. Love rules the sphere of the wise. Those who have learned to love life in its deepest and most mystical sense have escaped from bondage to fear and dwell in peace with all things. (14)

How do we make meaning in 2017? The same way we have for centuries—through philosophy, through the pursuit and love of wisdom.

Perhaps you agree with me and Manly P. Hall in that assessment. If you do, or even if you do not, imagine putting the line “We can make meaning through philosophy” on a Twitter or Facebook page. Imagine saying it in a bar or at a party. What would happen? In most cases the statement would be met with sarcasm, scoffing, and scorn. Why should this be? Ernest Becker might say that offering such a statement in those venues might be seen as an attempt to become a hero, to single oneself out for uniqueness in a sea of similarity, thus producing antagonists who seek the same. There may be other reasons as well.

For example, the statement “We can make meaning through philosophy” sounds (and actually is) derivative. Sure, it is derived from the great wisdom traditions of the world and from those who have lived them, but the charge of derivativeness has become a way to dismiss ideas rather than to receive them. We want new paths to wisdom because the old ones are associated with failure and ultimately pain. For example, I grew up as a religious fundamentalist in the South, so for much of my life, when I encountered fundamentalism or the South, I responded with various forms of dismissal. These things had hurt me deeply, so I held them at bay through sarcasm, scoff, and scorn. I do not think this is just me. I think our world in 2017 harms us in new ways, and even though they are really the same old ways, we feel as if we need new mechanisms of dismissal. In his book For Common Things, Jedediah Purdy makes the following observation regarding a statement such as “Philosophy is a way to make meaning”:

What do we find so untrustworthy that we dare put such scant weight on it? We surely mistrust our own capacity to bear disappointment. So far as we are [sarcastic], we are determined not to be made suckers. The great fear of the [sarcastic person] is being caught out having staked a good part of his all on a false hope—personal, political, or both. (31)

Living in sarcasm, or in rigid resistance, is living in a cultural prison where one cannot speak for fear of being unoriginal. As Purdy puts it:

It begins from the idea that each of us should be radically independent, should generate ourselves from our own will and imagination. When that ambition disappoints, and his phrases and acts do not glisten with newness, the [sarcastic person] treats his own derivative behavior with the vague contempt that a selfishly expectant parent might show toward a child who fails to perform. Refusing to take seriously such mundane things as the familiar vocabularies of thought, friendship, and romance, he stops his knowledge of them at a pointedly superficial conversance. And superficial conversance is not enough for intelligence, not enough to form a personality. (106-07)

And we might add, for our purposes, not enough to make meaning.

I now have a confession to make. I have doctored Purdy’s quotations. I understand this is increasingly acceptable in the public sphere, and I do not apologize for it even if it were not. I will not even argue that this is a small change. It is a rather large one. The reason for my manipulation is that I think Purdy, brilliant as he is, gets something very wrong here. The word he uses and that I replaced with sarcasm is in fact the word irony. And that is the second of the three ways to make meaning in 2017 that I will now discuss.

Sarcasm is a kind of cheap and easy irony that is really more about the speaker than the issue. Ultimately irony is deeply philosophical, as we shall see. In fact, I really do not need to point out irony because it has been here in this presentation all along. Irony is replete in The Golden Ass as a man seeks transformation into a bird and instead becomes an ass. Ernest Becker’s depiction of human beings as “gods with anuses” is a classic example of dramatic irony where, as characters in the play, we think the situation is one thing when it is another. Yeat’s “Second Coming” works via ironic reversals of—well—the Second Coming, not to mention lines such as “the ceremony of innocence is drowned.” In contrast with sarcasm, whose etymology is “to tear the flesh,” the etymology of the word irony is itself ironic. We know it as “”a figure of speech in which the intended meaning is the opposite of the literal meaning,” but if we dig deeper we discover that its roots are in speaking itself. The Greek word is eironeia, which means ”dissimulation, assumed ignorance,” is likely related to eirein “to speak.” The “assumed ignorance” definition is telling, as it takes us back to another ancient figure and—ironically—to philosophy itself (“Irony,” Etymology Online Dictionary).

The greatest philosopher the world has known was also the world’s greatest ironist. There is even a special category of this “assumed ignorance” named “Socratic Irony” after this philosopher. Socrates’ method, his way of philosophy, his way to wisdom, was irony. If that sounds as strange to you as it did to me when I first heard it, it is because philosophy as a discipline has had a hard time getting the joke. Before Gregory Vlastos’ Socrates: Ironist and Moral Philosopher, there was Søren Kierkegaard’s 400-page dissertation titled On the Concept of Irony, with Continual Reference to Socrates. It is a delicious irony in itself that it would take a Christian theologian to explore and explain the Socratic method as irony. If you do not think of Socrates as an ironist, then you are in good company. You are also, may I say unsarcastically but perhaps ironically, wrong.

And it is not just you, but Socrates’ most famous student, Plato, who is wrong, at least according to Kierkegaard. The issue of Socrates’ ironic way of being and knowing concerns the Oracle at Delphi. When asked who was the smartest man alive, the answer came back as Socrates, who himself is bemused by the response. Seeing a philosophical quest at hand, Socrates interrogates the wise men of the world and determines that he is in fact the wisest among them but only because he did not claim to know anything. Accordingly, as a knower of nothing, Socrates seeks knowledge from those who say they know, and invariably finds them wanting. In fact legend has it that Socrates said “I know that I know nothing,” and that is the source of his wisdom. To know nothing, then, is to know more than anyone else. This is the Socratic paradox, a philosophical irony, and a way to make meaning in the world.

This “way” is also the Way according to the Tao te Ching, the ancient Chinese text of Lao Tzu, who wrote “He who says does not know. He who knows does not say (1).” This “way” of making meaning is also the way of Zen: “All is not what it seems, nor is it otherwise,” reads a Zen saying. This “way” is the way of the Individual according to Nietzsche, who wrote: “Objection, evasion, joyous distrust, and love of irony are signs of health; everything absolute belongs to pathology” (Beyond Good and Evil, 155). This “way” is the way of the Christian mystics who travel the via negativa, that is, who find God by discovering where he is not. And may I say, this “way” is the way of all of us who distrust pre-packaged, market-analyzed, focus-group-tested ideas and propositions designed to sell us everything from cheap food to expensive cars, and from easy religion to expensive salvation. Irony is the antidote to bad witchcraft. When used as sarcasm, irony makes you an ass. When used Socratically, irony is a way to make meaning by exposing falsehood.

Finally and briefly, the third way we can make meaning in 2017 is difficult to describe because it goes beyond words and convention. How does one speak of the ineffable? Ironically, to be sure, but I would also say symbolically. Manly P. Hall, Joseph Campbell, Suzanne Langer, and many other great scholar-teachers have consistently reminded us that there is a world beyond words. The religious and philosophical traditions throughout and history and all over the planet have taught us the same thing. I am reminded of an amazing little book titled The Cosmic Serpent by Jeremy Narby, an anthropologist who studied shamanism and molecular biology among the Peruvian Amazon tribes. Moving from observer to participant, Narby ingested the hallucinogen ayahuasca in the appropriate ritual setting. He recounts his experience of speaking with twin snakes, and he suggests that the two snakes are actually the two strands of DNA. Accordingly, the subtitle of his work is DNA and the Origins of Knowledge. I do not know about the validity of Narby’s thesis, and others have criticized his conclusions and methodology. What interests me and frankly convinces me most about Narby’s experience and conclusion is this—the two snakes laugh at him. Even more they mock him. Even more, they mock him for losing his language. “Poor human, they say. What will you do now without your language now?” while Narby lies beneath them, mute. What do we do without language? Strange and wonderful things, actually.

Now I am going to speak a moment about television, and yes, I am going to speak about the Showtime series Twin Peaks and its creator David Lynch. For those of you who are not following the new, third season, do not worry. I will be brief. For those who are, I am sorry. I will be brief. My point is simple. Season 3, Episode 8 is being hailed as one of the most bizarre and brilliant sixty minutes of television in the medium’s history. I agree that it is both, and it is impossible for me to even recap the episode for you here because it moves beyond words and into the symbolism of music, art, and video. Imagine some twenty-six minutes of an hour-long episode containing no dialogue and a visual representation of the first atomic bomb test, the explosion of evil it releases, the response of a giant and a woman on a rock island, the generation of golden bubbles from the giant’s head as he levitates toward the ceiling, the electric charges of light and energy in a small, New Mexico gas station, and the movement of ghostly figures in and out during these charges. Now set it all to Krzysztof Penderecki’s epic and profound musical composition titled Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima. Suffice it to say that it is one of the most brilliant creations I have seen on any kind of screen, and I remain baffled and seduced by its multivalent meanings. Art, music, dance—these ways of making meaning touch the face of the sacred precisely because they transcend words.

Let us leave with a little hope because we certainly can use it in 2017. Remember our old friend, Lucius the ass? It is worth telling you the ending of his story. The middle part of the novel involves Lucius searching for a cure for his ass-ness. He is to eat some roses, but every time it appears that fortune favors him, something ghastly occurs. Here is the ass himself describing his many journeys:

But, in truth, if Fortune so decrees, nothing turns out right for human beings: neither wise counsel nor clever devices can subvert or remold the fated workings of divine providence. In this case, a similar event to that which seemed to have worked my instant salvation threatened further danger, or rather the risk of imminent destruction. (Book IX:1)

No ass has lived such a miserable existence, and really, all he wanted to do was fly. I like to think that Lucius is all of us and just wanted to make some meaning of his life, but as he notes, “if fortune so decrees,” we are denied that wish. The problem, of course, is that we do not know the meaning we seek. We think it means being a bird, when it might just mean being a better human, or, the case of Lucius, a servant to an older wisdom that makes us new again. Lucius finally finds the right roses to eat, the right magic, and meaning, and they come from the goddess Isis. He is transformed back into a human and more, a human with meaning and purpose. We can do the same today through philosophy, irony, and symbolism and other ways of making meaning.

I will let the priest of Isis describe the meaning of the ass’s transformation and offer us our own benediction today.

Wear a happier face, to match the white robe you wear now, and join the procession of the saving Goddess with a joyful and conquering step. . . . Behold, Lucius, freed from his former troubles, delighting in the favor of mighty Isis, triumphing over fate. And to be more secure, enlist in the protection of this holy cadre, to whose oath of obedience you were but now summoned, Dedicate yourself to the commands of our sect, accept the burden of your own free will; for once you begin to serve the Goddess, you will know the fruits of freedom more completely.’ (Book XI:15)

 

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Fall Symposium | September 23, 2017

savethedate

 

You are invited to the first annual Fall Symposium of the University of Philosophical Research on September 23, 2017 beginning at 2:00 pm.

  • John Pillsbury: Memories of Manly P. Hall
  • Walter Hansell: Beginning and Sustaining a University: The Tenure of  President Emeritus Obadiah Harris, Ph.D.
  • President Greg Salyer, Ph.D.: The Future of the University of Philosophical Research and the Philosophical Research Society
  • Food | Drink | Music | and More

symposium |simˈpōzēəm| noun (plural symposia |-zēə| or symposiums) a conference or meeting to discuss a particular subject.• a collection of essays or papers on a particular subject by a number of contributors.• a drinking party or convivial discussion, especially as held in ancient Greece after a banquet (and notable as the title of a work by Plato).

Symposium_scene_Nicias_Painter_MAN

UPR on Campus: The Meanings of America

Meanings of America

Jasper
Johns, 1930-, Three Flags, 1958

Greg Salyer, Ph.D.
President
University of Philosophical Research

To continue the discussion online and to view resources on the topics,
write Dr. Greg Salyer at gregsalyer@uprs.edu for
access to our UPR on Campus site.

Tuesday Lectures Thursday Films
The Native Nation

Tuesday, April 25, 2017
7:00-8:30 pm

Before there was “America,” there was a continent of more than 500 nations and cultures varying widely in language, religion, and social structure. They practiced sophisticated land management, created a vast network of roads, and constructed large cities rivaling those of Europe. When the Europeans invaded, these 500 nations became one in the new American imagination, los indios or “the Indians.” The name arose from a mistake in navigation and remained as a mistake of the imagination to this day. Despite a calculated and prolonged genocide by Euro-Americans, Native people remain on the continent and survive through their ceremonies and humor.

Watch the lecture on Vimeo

Smoke Signals

Thursday, April 27, 2017
7:00-8:30 pm

The Religious Nation

Tuesday, May 2, 2017
7:00-8:30 pm

America’s creation myth is about religious freedom from a Europe still bleeding from its religious wars that were tied to state-sponsored religion. Members of the Plymouth Colony landed in Massachusetts in 1620 and provided a religious counterpart to the Virginia Company that had settled in Jamestown in 1607. The Plymouth Colony’s “freedom from” religion of the state and “freedom to” practice their own beliefs remains a pivotal tension at the heart of the America as a religious nation. The First Amendment of the Constitution articulates this paradox: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . .”

Watch the lecture/discussion on YouTube

The Crucible

Thursday, May 4, 2017
7:00-8:30 pm

The Immigrant Nation
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
7:00-8:30 pm

The meaning of America has been articulated since its beginning in the Latin phrase e pluribus unum, out of many, one. The many, of course, are immigrants. The one is harder to imagine and realize. This three-word myth assumes an America that is open and secure, diverse and unified, and constantly changing and fundamentally stable. That is an idealistic and perhaps impossible goal for a community, much less a nation of this size. A symbol that is usually associated with this myth is the melting pot, which appears instructive on the surface until we begin to ask questions of it. Who is doing the melting, and what is the result? What is lost and what is gained in the melting? Is it language, culture, identity? Such questions are more pressing than ever as the myth of the immigrant nation undergoes unique challenges and revisions.

The Immigrant

Thursday, May 11, 2017
7:00-8:30 pm

The Destined Nation
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
7:00-8:30 pm

It has been argued that the myth of the American West is the longest-lived of the American myths. Expansion to the Pacific Ocean represented a culmination of the colonization of the continent and finalized the nation-building that began with contact. In fact, Frederick Jackson Turner called the settling of the frontier the second founding of the republic, and this consummation of the myth of destiny did not end at the western ocean. Instead, it continued to grow into the nation’s first foreign policy doctrine of Manifest Destiny, a mythologically loaded phrase if there ever was one. Less of a consensus than the melting pot, Manifest Destiny nevertheless provided an ideology of American colonization and war that found
particular expression around the globe.

Dead Man

Thursday, May 18, 2017
7:00-8:30 pm
The Self-Reliant Nation
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
7:00-8:30 pm

Mythologies have heroes, and the American mythology has a hero at its center. That hero is you, the American. This hero myth is not reserved for noble ones or founders of cities, as in ancient mythology. Part of the American mythology is that the hero myth is available to all by their birthright as Americans. The myth connects to the nerve centers of the American mythos: individualism (and new spaces and resources in which to practice it), self-reliance, rags to riches, the American dream, and American exceptionalism. Moreover, the hero myth finds a home in everything from the American farmer to the American philosopher. Even those who had been excluded from the American dream by previous bigotry can (mythologically at least) become an American hero.

American Beauty
Thursday, May 25, 2017
7:00-8:30 pm
The Capitalist Nation
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
7:00-8:30 pm

There is a good chance that any time a concept is presented as natural, self-evident, or inevitable we are talking about a myth. As Roland Barthes noted, “Myth transforms history into nature.” This observation is uniquely true of capitalism in America. The American Dream is a “self-evident” capitalist dream, thanks especially to popular novels of the nineteenth-century young adult writer Horatio Alger’s and his rags to riches myth. Any myth, however, must interface with other myths in the whole mythology. How does capitalism fare in this scheme? Surprisingly well, actually. In this lecture/discussion we will see just how and why capitalism is woven into the meanings of
America.

There Will be BloodThursday, June 1, 2017
7:00-8:30 pm
The Anti-Intellectual Nation
Tuesday, June 6, 2017
7:00-8:30 pm

Like their Hebrew mythological forebears, the founders of America used the concept of the chosen nation to define themselves against the “others.” Among these others are Europeans, and a primary feature of European mythologies is what has been described as a certain intellectual elitism. Never mind that it was such intellectualism that conceived and inaugurated America in the beginning. The emergent and still-present myth of the “plain-spoken” and “simple” American has been plied into political power repeatedly and effectively. Why should a nation value anti-intellectualism and how does it play into the meanings of America? The answers may be surprising and revealing.

No screening Thursday, June 8. Watch Being There on your own and discuss it during the next lecture if you like.

The Violent Nation
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
7:00-8:30 pm

Violence is the ritual practice of American myth. Given the belief that America was a “wilderness” that needed to be subdued, especially in regard to its Native people, violence becomes a sacrament of nation building and mythological regeneration. Congruent with the value of violence is the value of its tools, that is, arms. That America is and has been one of the most violent countries in history is directly related to the meaning and use of violence as establishing and renewing the meaning of America.

No screening Thursday, June 15. Watch Birth of a Nation on your own and discuss it during the next lecture if you like.

The Innocent Nation
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
7:00-8:30 pm

While all nations avoid admitting complicity in nefarious acts, America has a unique approach to innocence that is drawn directly from the other meanings of America that we have been studying. Innocence is also related to another prominent meaning of America, that is, exceptional. Innocence and exceptionalism make for a powerful mythological identity that allows for Manifest Destiny and other mythologies to proceed without critique, or at least a critique that is recognized and accounted for. As such, it is a self-sustaining myth and also an extremely dangerous one both for citizens and the nation’s others.

No screening Thursday, June 22. Watch Forrest Gump on your own and discuss it during the next lecture if you like.

The Future Nation
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
7:00-8:30 pm

Given the meanings of America that we have explored, it is clear that American mythology is uniquely oriented toward the future. Even as the Pilgrims looked back over their shoulders at the religious wars they left behind, they looked forward to establishing themselves in this new “Promised Land.” The open frontier continued to fuel this myth, and when the frontier was “closed,” the future took on the contours of capitalism and eventually space exploration. Add in innocence and exceptionalism and we have a recipe for the future that is uniquely mythological and American. Even the world acknowledges (or used to) that the future is American, for better or for worse.

We have only one sign-up for Blade Runner, so the screening has been canceled. Thank you for your understanding.

http://doodle.com/poll/xk42m7wd2ysafbmi

 

UPR on Campus—Understanding the World’s Religions

Worlds_Religions_Archive

Beginning Tuesday, October 25th, UPR professor Dr. Greg Salyer will offer a weekly public lecture and discussion series at UPR. Touching upon the tremendous diversity of religious traditions practiced across the globe, Dr. Salyer will utilize universal notions such as myth, ritual, the idea of the sacred, and community to weave a rich tapestry of thought and discussion in order to strengthen our understanding of the world’s religions. $10 suggested donation per lecture (we ask that you try and reserve your ticket in advance so that we can best accommodate each class)

Lectures will take place in the Auditorium. Please check-in inside our bookstore. Bookstore hours are extended until 9pm on lecture nights

All lectures are being recorded and will be made available online at the following link

Greg Salyer is the Dean of Students at the University of Philosophical Research and has been a teacher and administrator in higher education for almost twenty-five years. He has a Ph.D. in Literary Theory, Contemporary Literature, and Religious Studies from Emory University’s Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts and has taught in many venues, from small liberal arts colleges to a major research university, and also online since 2000. He has taught world religions at most of these schools and has developed a unique approach to the subject, one that uses five “lenses” from the discipline of religious studies to examine particular religions.

Lecture 1: Tuesday October 25, 2016 (7:00-8:30pm)

Perspectives on Religions

Beginnings are important to a religion—and to studying it. One of the best ways to understand a phenomenon as complex as religion is to begin simply, in this case with etymology, the origin and history of the word itself.  We will also explore the five lenses we will use to study religion: the sacred, myth, ritual, community, and the individual.

Lecture 2: Tuesday November 1, 2016 (7:00-8:30pm)

The Sacred in Native American Religions

The oldest religions on earth can be found in contemporary expressions of indigenous traditions. In the face of globalisms old and new, their resilience is astonishing, and some of their adaptations are immensely creative. Their understandings of sacred space and time both predate and influence our own. Centered on the landscape and oral storytelling, these traditions represent a religious perspective that is unique and integrative.

Lecture 3: Tuesday November 8, 2016 (7:00-8:30pm)

Myth in Hinduism

Like indigenous religions, Hinduism contains traces of religious belief that antedate it by incalculable years. Hinduism emerged from these earlier beliefs and practices to create the oldest institutional religion on earth. Much of its vitality is found in its sacred texts and myths, which include deep philosophical ruminations, songs, epic poems, and manuals for the performance of rituals. We will examine Hinduism through the lens of myth, specifically, in terms of its nature and functions. 

Lecture 4: Tuesday November 15, 2016 (7:00-8:30pm)

Ritual in Buddhism

Buddhism is a branch of Hinduism that developed into its own, full-fledged religion, and it is in part a set of rituals that is uniquely centered in the body, from its beginnings in its founder’s early asceticism to its ritual practices of meditation. One of the most widespread and eclectic religions, Buddhism has many incarnations across the world. We will examine Buddhism through the lens of ritual, specifically, the body, symbol, and magic.

Lecture 5: Tuesday November 29, 2016 (7:00-8:30pm)

Community in Chinese Religions

For much of its existence, Chinese culture was closed to other cultures, especially Western cultures. As the Chinese gazed inward, they focused religiously on domestic balance and harmony. All of these religions see ethical practice, relationships, and the maintenance of institutions as the highest expressions of the sacred. We will examine Chinese religions through the lens of community, specifically, ethics and institutions.

Lecture 6: Tuesday December 6, 2016 (7:00-8:30pm)

The Individual in Zoroastrianism

Often overlooked even in world religions courses, Zoroastrianism has been a pivotal religion in the development of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, contributing much of its ideas of individuality and eschatology to them while retaining a small but dedicated group of adherents even today. Unique rituals and concepts combine to make Zoroastrianism one of the most influential and interesting world religions. We will examine Zoroastrianism through the lens of the individual, specifically, salvation and the afterlife.

Lecture 7: Tuesday December 13, 2016 (7:00-8:30pm)

The Sacred in Judaism

One of the oldest living religions, Judaism offers a unique perspective on identity and tradition by virtue of its anthropomorphic deity and vital traditions. In addition to thriving despite millennia of persecution, Judaism has given birth to other religions, notably Christianity. We will examine Judaism through the lens of the sacred, specifically, anthropomorphism and tradition.

Lecture 8: Tuesday December 20, 2016 (7:00-8:30pm)

Myth in Christianity

Christianity begins by taking another religion’s story as its own, then adding a global, evangelical element. As such, Christianity’s story has been at the center of its history and practice, even with radically diverse versions of it. We will examine Christianity through the lens of myth, specifically, its forms and relationships.

Lecture 9: Tuesday January 3, 2017 (7:00-8:30pm)

Ritual in Islam

A religion that was effectively “the world religion” for much of the Middle Ages, Islam is unique in its focus on practices, whether it is the pilgrimage to Mecca (the hajj) or one of the other five pillars. We will examine Islam through the lens of ritual, specifically, rites of passage and communitas.

Lecture 10: Tuesday January 10, 2017 (7:00-8:30pm)

Community in Sikhism, Bahá’í and New Age Religions

Religions tend to present themselves in exclusive fashion, even as they adapt to include other cultural elements, but Sikhism and Bahá’í are two religions that successfully adapt and include other religions. Sikhism blends Hinduism and Islam, Bahá’í incorporates all of the world’s religions in a fascinating mixture, while New Age Religions are eclectic by their very nature. We will examine these religions through the lens of syncretism and eclecticism.

Saturday Bookstore & Library Hours

Bookstore

Our Bookstore and Library will be open the 2nd Saturday of October, November, and December in preparation for our upcoming 2017 2nd Saturday Speaker’s Platform and the approaching Holiday Season.

Saturday 10/8/16: Bookstore & Library open 10am-4pm

Saturday 11/12/16: Bookstore & Library open 10am-4pm

Saturday 12/10/16: Bookstore & Library open 10am-4pm

The Research Library will limit occupancy to 10 visitors at a time.


Our Bookstore is always open Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm. Come visit us and browse our selection of new and used books spanning an expansive array of subjects and interests from Alchemy and Alternative Healing to Depth Psychology, Mythology and Buddhist Studies…As well as a selection of incense, gem stones, symbolic prints and tarot decks

We offer literature and catalogs for all of our online degree programs as well as select textbooks and course albums for audit and independent study.

We are also the original home of an in-depth selection of works published by the Philosophical Research Society spanning from the 1930s to recent releases. Click here to view PRS Publications.

Questions? Contact us at: 323.663.2167 ext.116, bookstore@uprs.edu

Radio Interview with Dr. Obadiah Harris

Common_Sense

Tune in this Friday, September 9th to hear UPR President Dr. Obadiah Harris discuss the topic of spirituality expounding upon his wealth of experience as a devoted author, educator, and spiritual seeker with host David Gaggin.

The “Common Sense Spirituality Show” will air this Friday at 9am Eastern/ 6am Pacific on W4CY and WVET. Please use link http://w4cy.com/ to listen in and share with your online communities. The podcast is usually made available on iHeart Radio the Monday following the airing.

The Common Sense Spirituality Show discusses spiritual issues ranging from topics like karma, reincarnation, souls and faith to the nature of mankind and the purpose of life. The show considers religious, scientific and metaphysical views and seeks to help the listeners expand their consciousness by finding life’s most plausible answers. Host David Gaggin, is a former Boeing engineer, Army & NASA Director, life long researcher into mankind’s greatest mysteries, and author of The Endless Journey.

Obadiah Harris is the founder and president of the University of Philosophical Research. Harris has a long and storied career in both mainstream academia and the American metaphysical culture.  He holds a Ph.D. in education administration and supervision from the University of Michigan and an MA in education from Arizona State University, where he was an associate professor of education and director of community education.

He is the author of multiple books, including his most recent title, The Simple Road: A Handbook for the Contemporary Seeker published this year by Tarcher/Penguin.

Easter: The Secret of Life Everlasting

Christians believe that Jesus died for the sins of the world. In ancient Greece, there was a tradition of making a particular individual into a scapegoat who symbolically took on the sins of the people and was expelled from the city or put to death. They called this person a pharmakos. Before his death he was clad in holy garments, wreathed with sacred plants, fed on the purest of food. Through his sacred sacrifice, the sins of the city were banished. The fate of a pharmakos was to be insulted, beaten, disrespected in every way and put to death.

The mysteries of Mithras, celebrated their sacrificial rites symbolically, rather than literally. An icon of Mithras slaughtering a bull was used as an altarpiece rather than by enacting the sacrifice itself. “Thou hast saved us by shedding the eternal blood,” reads an inscription not to Jesus, but to Mithras. Although centuries later, Christians would express gratitude to their savior in nearly the same language.

Now, the cross was a sacred symbol for the ancients. Its four arms represented the four elements: earth, air, fire and water. The fifth element, spirit, was bound to materiality by these four elements. Plato refers to the desires of the body as nails that one-by-one fasten the soul to the body. The four nails used to crucify man through hands and feet would have been symbolic of our sensual desires, which attach the soul to the world of the four elements.

In the same way that Osiris was synthesized by the Greeks, with the indigenous god Dionysus to create the the Greek mysteries, other Mediterranean cultures that adopted the mystery religion also transformed one of their indigenous deities into the dying and resurrecting god-man. So the deity was known as Osiris in Egypt, Dionysus in Greece, Attis in Asia Minor, Adonis in Syria, Bacchus in Italy, Mithras in Persia and so on and so on. His forms were many, but essentially he was the same perennial figure whose collective identity was referred to as Osiris-Dionysus.

The Spring festival in the mysteries of Attis, like Easter, lasted for three days. During this time, the myth of Attis was performed as a passion play, just as the story of Jesus was performed as a passion play in the Middle Ages. An effigy of the corpse of Attis was tied to a sacred pine tree and decorated with flowers sacred to both Attis and the Syrian counterpart Adonis. It was then buried in a sepulcher. Like Jesus, on the third day, Attis rose again. The mythologist Sir James Frazier writes, “But when night had fallen, the sorrow of the worshippers was turned to joy, for suddenly a light shone in the darkness: the tomb was opened: the god had risen from the dead and as the priest touched the lips of the weeping mourners with balm, he softly whispered in their ears the glad tidings of salvation. The resurrection of the god was hailed by his disciples as a promise that they too would issue triumphant from the corruption of the grave. On the morrow, the twenty-fifth day of March, which was reckoned the vernal equinox, the divine resurrection was celebrated with a wild outburst of glee. At Rome and probably elsewhere, the celebration took the form of a carnival. It was the Festival of Joy.”

Paul, at around 50 CE, talks of a spiritual resurrection: “Someone will ask, how are the dead raised up? With what body do they come?” Now listen to his answer: “Fool, what you sow does not come to life unless it dies. As for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or some other grain. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor and raised in glory. It is sown in weakness and raised in power. It is sown a physical body; it is raised a spiritual body.”

So what is this secret of rebirth, as played out in countless mythologies throughout history? Perhaps it is an allegory through which we can awaken to our immortal soul – to remind us that man’s problem is that in his ignorance he believes himself to be just a body, one that will grow old, suffer and die. His sense of injustice at the inevitability of this fate leads him to hurt himself and others, either through lust for more life or fear of approaching death. These crimes serve further to bind the soul to the body and so increase man’s suffering.

It seems to me that the greatest tragedy of our time, the greatest tragedy in the modern world, is the atomizing of everything. Each of us is beginning to believe that we are somehow insular beings. And so we identify ourselves as separate beings. I suggest no more of such atomizing. Instead, let us begin to see that we are being reborn as one integral being, one undivided universal Self, belonging to one common human family.

I suggest that this is how we should celebrate Easter. We should celebrate the death of the dark ages of religious fundamentalism and literalism, with its good and evil, its saints and sinners, its insiders and outsiders, and the resurrection of the golden age with its higher level of consciousness in which the old becomes new and the new becomes sacred. Let us listen to our breath a little more. Resolve that we are going to spend a little more time in meditation, a little more time in self-reflection this coming year. This is the beginning of the year to the ancients: Easter is the beginning of the year; the beginning of a new life and a new hope. 


Obadiah Harris is the founder and president of the University of Philosophical Research. Harris has a long and storied career in both mainstream academia and the American metaphysical culture.  He holds a Ph.D. in education administration and supervision from the University of Michigan and an MA in education from Arizona State University, where he was an associate professor of education and director of community education.  

 

The Living Wisdom Concert Series – Music to Nourish the Soul

The Living Wisdom Concert Series seeks to further personal and global knowledge and understanding by breathing new relevance into ancient traditions, using music as a metaphor to demonstrate the historical and cultural ties intrinsic between us all. This four-part series will feature musical traditions from India, China, Babylon, Israel, Pakistan and Morocco. Each concert will focus on a specific musical tradition that has promoted healing and well-being since the earliest days of civilization. See below for more information.

The Southern California Parliament of the World’s Religions  one of LA’s leading interfaith organizations is a proud co-sponsor of UPR’s Living Wisdom Concert Series.   Since 2007 SCCPWR has been dedicated to creating multiple, groundbreaking events about current events and religious diversity involving both religious and secular communities, as well as drawing attention to the work of the global parliament. Visit www.SCCPWR.org for more information. The Southern California Parliament of the World’s Religions, one of LA’s leading interfaith organizations, is a proud co-sponsor of UPR’s Living Wisdom Concert Series.  Since 2007 SCCPWR has been dedicated to creating multiple, groundbreaking events about current events and religious diversity involving both religious and secular communities, as well as drawing attention to the work of the global parliament. Visit www.SCCPWR.org for more information.

Tickets can be purchased by phone Tuesday – Thursday, 10am – 4pm at: 323.663.2167 ext.112, at the door, 

or at this linkClick here for information on parking, location and bookstore hours

Burning Heart

Sunday, May 17th, 4pm – 6pm


We invite you to join us for the fourth and final installment of the Living Wisdom Concert Series, Burning Heart, with master Qalandar singer and harmonium player, Sukhawat Ali Khan, percussionist Jamie Papish, and Armenian master woodwind player Norik Manoukian.


Sukhawat Ali Khan a member of the Yuval Ron Ensemble, represents the family lineage of the 600-year-old Sham Chorasi traditional school of music, which was established during the reign of Emperor Akbar of India. His training in both classical raga and Sufi Qawwali singing began at the age of seven under his father, legendary Pakistani/Indian vocalist Ustad Salamat Ali Khan. A San Francisco Bay Area resident, Sukhawat teaches this musical style and performs concerts for dance and world music lovers everywhere.

Sukhawat has performed at the Montreal, Monterey and Prospect Park jazz festivals, the Fillmore in San Francisco, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and many other major venues and music festivals throughout the U.S. and Europe. His vocal abilities have been used on other recordings as well, including the Disney film, Hidalgo (2004).

The Yuval Ron Ensemble — Formed in 1999, The Yuval Ron Ensemble endeavors to alleviate national, racial, religious and cultural divides by uniting the music and dance of the people of the Middle East into a unique mystical, spiritual and inspiring musical celebration. The ensemble includes Jewish, Christian and Muslim artists who have been actively involved in creating musical bridges between people of various faiths and ethnic groups worldwide. Led by Award winning composer Yuval Ron (music for Oscar winning film “West Bank Story”) the Ensemble has enjoyed overwhelming community support, was chosen to be featured in PBS “Holiday Celebration” TV specials and was honored with the Los Angeles Treasures Award and the Lincoln/Standing Bear Gold Medal from the City of Lincoln, NE in appreciation of its efforts for peace and justice worldwide.

The Yuval Ron Ensemble Cd’s “Under The Olive Tree”, “Tree of Life” and “Seeker of Truth” have become international favorites with world music lovers and has been featured on National Public Radio’s “Echoes” and “Hearts of Space” programs. The Yuval Ron Ensemble was in residencies at numerous schools such as Yale University, John Hopkins University, UCLA, university of Chicago, Seattle University and Middlebury College and has performed numerous benefit concerts to support organizations that promote peace and help the disadvantaged. For more information: www.yuvalronmusic.com

Click here for a flyer for this event.

The Healing Power of Sound

Sunday, February 1st, 2015 4pm – 6pm


Join Yuval Ron, Master Bansuri Flutist Radha Reasad, and Gong Master Kenneth Goff in the healing sounds of Quigong and Gong Bath Meditation. Click here for the flyer for this event.

Desert Blues from the House of Wisdom

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015 4pm – 6pm


Join Yuval Ron, Moroccan singer Elinor Sitrish and talented percussionist Jamie Papish, for a concert of soulful music bringing together ancient traditions from the deserts of Babylon, the Holy Land and the Golden Age of Spain. Click here for the flyer for this event.

Music of the Psalms

Sunday, April 26th, 4pm – 6pm


We invite you to join us in the third installment of the Living Wisdom Concert Series. Coming in April, the Yuval Ron Ensemble, featuring stunning vocalist Katyanna Zoroghlian, will take you on a journey through the biblical to contemporary world. We will unearth the origins of the Psalms, how they were created and how they were used in ancient rituals in Jerusalem.


The Yuval Ron Ensemble — Formed in 1999, The Yuval Ron Ensemble endeavors to alleviate national, racial, religious and cultural divides by uniting the music and dance of the people of the Middle East into a unique mystical, spiritual and inspiring musical celebration. The ensemble includes Jewish, Christian and Muslim artists who have been actively involved in creating musical bridges between people of various faiths and ethnic groups worldwide. Led by Award winning composer Yuval Ron (music for Oscar winning film “West Bank Story”) the Ensemble has enjoyed overwhelming community support, was chosen to be featured in PBS “Holiday Celebration” TV specials and was honored with the Los Angeles Treasures Award and the Lincoln/Standing Bear Gold Medal from the City of Lincoln, NE in appreciation of its efforts for peace and justice worldwide.

The Ensemble was invited by King of Morocco to appear at the International Sacred Music Festival of Fez, 2009 and had the honor to headline the benefit concert for the Dalai Lama’s initiative “Seeds of Compassion” promoting Compassion in Education, Business and Community. The ensemble was featured four times at the World Festival of Sacred Music in Los Angeles and was honored to perform at an International Peace Festival ‘05 in South Korea. In addition, the Ensemble was chosen by the Mid-Atlantic Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts to represent the United States and its cultural diversity at the International Folk Music Festival in Lublin, Poland in 2005. In 2006 the Ensemble was the first to introduce the music of the Middle East to Chihuahua, Mexico at the International Chihuahua Festival, and in 2007 it was featured in the International Oud Festival in Jerusalem as part of a Peace Mission Tour to Israel. In 2010 The Ensemble toured in Spain performing a unique collaboration with the Gypsy Flamenco artists of Andalusia in concerts in Seville, Jerez and Madrid. In 2011 the ensemble was invited by the Intercultural forum of the Association of writers and Journalists of Turkey to give a concert for peace in Istanbul and to conduct a Peace Mission Tour throughout Turkey.

The Yuval Ron Ensemble Cd’s “Under The Olive Tree”, “Tree of Life” and “Seeker of Truth” have become international favorites with world music lovers and has been featured on National Public Radio’s “Echoes” and “Hearts of Space” programs. The Yuval Ron Ensemble was in residencies at numerous schools such as Yale University, John Hopkins University, UCLA, university of Chicago, Seattle University and Middlebury College and has performed numerous benefit concerts to support organizations that promote peace and help the disadvantaged. For more information: www.yuvalronmusic.com

Click here for a flyer for this event.

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