The Walking Dead: The Hopes and Fears of Being Human

UPR on Campus Art

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.


UPR on Campus—Gods and Monsters: Understanding our Hopes and Fears

UPR On Campus
Spring Quarter Free Course

Meanings of America


Leviathan, Behemoth and Ziz. Ambrosiana Bible

Winter Quarter Lecture Series

Gods and Monsters:
Understanding our Hopes and Fears

Greg Salyer, Ph.D.

When we think about the most powerful beings in our symbolic worlds, we come immediately to gods and monsters. While each is charged differently (positively and negatively), a closer look reveals that they actually exist on the same continuum. Gods represent our best hopes, while monsters symbolize our greatest fears. In this ten-week study, we examine the psychological and cultural meanings of this symbolizing process. We will draw from the academic disciplines of anthropology, literature, mythology, philosophy, politics, psychology, and sociology as we examine gods and monsters in literature, film, and television.

To continue the discussion online, write Dr. Greg Salyer at for access to our UPR on Campus site.

Gods and Monsters


Lecture 10: Tuesday, March 28, 2017 (7:00-8:30 pm)

The Walking Dead: The Hopes and Fears of Being Human

It seems appropriate somehow that we end our series with zombies, our most recent and uniquely “American” monster, if only because zombies are about the end of life and civilization as we know it. It is also appropriate because zombies seem to be a super-symbol for what it means to be human. How so? Zombies capture our concerns with the body, viruses, contagion, and cannibalism, along with larger concerns such as the soul, chaos, the uncanny, ethics, and the apocalypse. Perhaps more than anything else, zombies are monsters that cause us to ask what it is to be human. Are we gods or monsters, angel or animal, both or neither? Those will be the questions for our last lecture/discussion. We may even find some answers.



Greg Salyer is the Dean and Chief Academic Officer 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 Gods and Monsters at several of these schools.

Past Lectures available on YouTube: Gods and Monsters Playlist

Lecture 1: Tuesday, January 24, 2017 (7:00-8:30 pm)

How to Make a God: Religion and Anthropomorphism

Notice that we’ve already taken an important first step by assuming from the outset that we are able to make a god. In a religious education class, we wouldn’t make that assumption. We would assume, in fact, that gods exist apart from human creation and that our task is to understand them. To do that, however, we would have to deal with texts—sacred texts—from the Vedas to the Qur’an. Very soon we would find ourselves asking about the nature of those texts, how they were produced, and interpretive strategies we would use to understand them. We would then be in the realm of human imagination and culture, which is also where this study occurs. Put a different way, should these gods exist, it would be in our collective imagination and culture, so we should look there to understand the god within even if he exists without. In this lecture we take a step back from theology and engage in anthropology, sociology, and psychology. That means we are focusing upon individuals, culture, and the meaning-making process that produces gods and monsters. What is that process? That’s the first lecture: How to Make a God.


Lecture 2: Tuesday, January 31 (7:00-8:30 pm)

How to Make a Monster: The Id and Seven Principles of Monster Culture

This week we see the other end of the gods-monsters continuum and once again analyze the processes and projections involved. Our focus now will be on how we represent our greatest fears. If we make gods in one way or another, why would we think of making monsters? But we do make them, and they keep coming back. In fact there may never have been a time when we have been more interested in monsters. What functions do these creatures serve? To conjure up horror for ourselves, there must be something dark and dangerous going on in our psyches, our cultures, and our fertile imaginations. Freud has provided the most comprehensive theory of that psychological process. He calls it the Id, and it’s a part of all of us. There is also a cultural dimension to monsters, one that may be even more interesting than the psychological one, that is appropriately termed “monster culture.” As Friedrich Nietzsche wrote: ““Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” This week, we look into the abyss to see what is looking back at us.


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

Giving Birth to Gods and Monsters: Greece and Babylon

The oldest stories we have are those of gods and monsters, though it’s sometimes hard to tell them apart. That’s because in these ancient stories from Greece and Mesopotamia, we have gods who act monstrous and monsters who act god-like. It’s not as confusing as it sounds at first. Hesiod’s Theogony is unique in the world of mythology. While we have many wonderful and fascinating creation myths throughout the world, this story is a creation myth of the gods themselves. The text also introduces some major themes of gods and monsters, such as order and chaos. From Greece we move to Babylon and a story behind the story of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible. Enuma Elish is, like Theogony, a creation story of the gods and of the world, but it has unique and monstrous features that engage both our greatest hopes and deepest fears.


Lecture 4: Tuesday, February 14, 2017 (7:00-8:30 pm)

The Divine and Monstrous Feminine: Sophia, Medusa, and their Sisters

In the story of gods and monsters, it appears that women who are seen as the former are eventually turned into the latter. There have been many theories set out to explain this strange phenomenon. Most of them have to do with the inherent power of the woman to create life and the resulting response from masculinity to attenuate or obliterate that power. Whether we call it “womb envy” or patriarchy, the placement of women on the god-monster continuum speaks volumes about a culture’s values. Sophia is the goddess of wisdom and appears in the Hebrew Bible and Gnostic texts from the Christian era. She is said to be with God at creation. With a gaze that turns men to stone and hair writhing with snakes, Medusa has invoked fear for millennia. In fact, it is said that Medusa was made out of terror, not terror out of Medusa. Hélène Cixous put it better: “You only have to look at the Medusa straight on to see her. And she’s not deadly. She’s beautiful and she’s laughing.” Beautiful monsters and wise goddesses—it’s going to be an interesting discussion.



Lecture 5: Tuesday, February 21, 2016 (7:00-8:30 pm)

Christian Gods and Monsters: Jesus, the Devil, and the Book of Revelation

What may be familiar this week will become strange as we look at one of the most famous (and infamous) god-monster dualities. While we could spend all ten lectures just here, we will focus on the apocalyptic drama of Jesus and the Devil as it plays out in that most-monstrous of biblical texts—Revelation. Much has already been said about this devilishly difficult book, but we will take an approach here that is sure to be new to you. It is also one that will reveal the text to be more than just an hallucinatory trip through ancient symbolism that produced the most controversial book in the Bible. On the contrary, Revelation contains a well of interpretation that has yet to be fully drawn. Plus, there’s a dragon.


Lecture 6: Tuesday, February 28, 2016 (7:00-8:30 pm)

Leviathans: Gods and Monsters in the Sea and the State

Leviathan is an ancient biblical monster who appears in the Psalms and Job. He is also the title creature of Thomas Hobbes’ work seventeenth-century work on government. What do these two god-monsters have in common? More than you think. You may have heard of Hobbes’ description of life as ““solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” The only way to address this situation, according to Hobbes, is to create a body politic with a monster for a head. The features of that monster are drawn directly from the biblical leviathan. It’s time to talk politics, gods, and monsters.


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

Modern Gods and Monsters: The Death of God and the Rise of the Superman

Let’s allow Friedrich Nietzsche himself introduce this lecture/discussion: “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?” (The Gay Science). Nietzsche and his protagonist in Thus Spoke Zarathustra live on the razor’s edge of the god-monster paradox and are not fearful of being wounded by it. In that way and others, Zarathustra is a modern god and monster in one who calls us individually to become the same.


Lecture 8: Tuesday, March 14, 2017 (7:00-8:30 pm)

Frankenstein: The Hopes and Fears of Technology

The product of both a dream and a contest to write the best ghost story, Mary Shelley’s novel has become a touchstone for Western culture’s monstrous imagination. If you know Frankenstein’s monster only through film and popular culture, you do not know him at all. He is, perhaps, more human than his creator and quotes Milton and Goethe as he seeks to know his place in the world. Moreover, the monster is a modern incarnation of older gods and monsters, some of whom we have already met. No wonder, then, that the creature has become our most well-known and well-worn monster. He touches several psychological and cultural nerves in his search for his creator and meaning, and he notes at one point in the story: ““I ought to be . . . Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel.” We could say the same about ourselves as we contemplate our most famous monster.


Lecture 9: Tuesday, March 21, 2017 (7:00-8:30 pm)

Dracula: The Hopes and Fears of Eternal Life

His name means devil or dragon in Romanian, and after Frankenstein’s, Dracula is one of our most familiar monsters. We have seen that gods and monsters exist on a continuum, and Dracula falls here as well. He is cloaked in divine presence but is also clearly monstrous as he overturns sacred expectations in terrifying fashion. That terror operates on a cultural level as well, as the Count symbolizes the otherness of different cultures. In fact, we shall see that he represents specific cultural and religious traditions, some that we know from our studies to this point. As we saw in our exploration of monster culture, the monster always returns, and that’s because the monster never actually dies. The symbol of life, eternal and mortal, is blood, and that symbolism connects to some of our oldest hopes and fears. “The blood is the life,” says one of the characters. Blood, sex, death, and eternal life—it’s all in Dracula and in religion.


Second Saturday Speaker’s Platform

UPR is pleased to announce its 2017 Second Saturday Speaker’s Platform! With one faculty member each month sharing a lecture and discussion with our community, we will be offering three talks per quarter in this series.

We will have extended bookstore and library hours (10am-4pm) every 2nd Saturday of the month in conjunction with the series. A selection of our faculty will be presenting online, indicated below, available to all international and traveling students.

$12/lecture, $30/Quarter

2017 Speaker’s Platform
Lecture Date (Single Lecture):

Winter Quarter:

Saturday, January 14th, 2017:

“Mentoring the Inner Journey”

With Jonathan Young, Ph.D.

Lecture10:30am-12:00pm in the auditorium


Sometimes, seekers get help with the quest. Teachers and guides appear at key moments with bits of insight or practical suggestions. Mentor images in stories and dreams can assist us as we move toward enlightenment. Wisdom figures in mythology, literature, and film include Merlin, Glinda, Gandalf, Mary Poppins, Dumbledore, The Fairy Godmother, Baba Yaga, and Charlotte (with her web). Carl Jung was assisted by Philemon. We will discuss the role played by inner and outer advisors who show us the way.

Jonathan Young is a psychologist and storyteller who assisted mythologist Joseph Campbell at seminars and was the Founding Curator of the Joseph Campbell Archives and Library. He is also contributing producer and featured commentator on the Ancient Aliens televisions series. His books and articles focus on personal mythology. Dr. Young is on the faculty of the University of Philosophical Research

Saturday, February 11th, 2017:

“The New Philosophical Paradigm for the Spiritual Unfoldment of the Self”

With Pierre Grimes, Ph.D.

Lecture10:30am-12:00pm in the auditorium


This lecture will discuss the following:

  • The dangerous inherent power of the exercise of the dialectic.
  • The folly and origin of false beliefs about the Self.

Pierre Grimes Ph.D. Philosophy, University of Pacific; MA Comparative Philosophy, University of Pacific; BA Philosophy, San Francisco State College

He is the founder of the philosophical midwifery movement, which is an adaption of Socratic midwifey, and is a mode of philosophical counseling. The name Philosophical Midwifery comes from Plato’s dialogue, The Theaetetus.

  • Professor of Philosophy, Golden West College
  • President of the Noetic Society, Inc.
  • Director of the Open Mind Academy
  • Author of “Is It All Relative?” and “Philosophical Midwifery”

10:30 am, Saturday, March 11th, 2017:

“The Soul’s Journey”

With Richard Geldard, Ph.D.

Online Lecture Video


The idea of a soul as a symbol of the eternal, a remnant of divinity, an expression of the afterlife, has always been part of the human journey. From India, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and beyond, mystics philosophers, artists, farmers and laborers alike hold to the idea of a small piece of divinity within. The soul was born, been dormant, neglected, and revived and then lost, but always reborn. It has been in the world’s wisdom traditions that the soul has been the most consistent presence in human nature  Each of these traditions has its own knowledge and experience for us to measure against our own sense of this part of our being.

Professor Richard Geldard, PhD is a member of the UPR and Holmes Institute faculties. He teaches courses in Ancient Greek Thought, New England Transcendentalism, Hermeticism, and The Examined Life. He is the author of a dozen books, the latest being “The Soul’s Journey,” His web site is


Spring Quarter:

Saturday, April 8th, 2017:

“The Peculiar Spirituality of T.S. Eliot”

Lecture10:30am-12:00pm in the auditorium

With Tim Shaughnessy, Ph.D.


This lecture concentrates on a small selection of T.S. Eliot’s major poems.  Emphasis focuses on words, images, symbols, and a creative style that when blended together creates verse of profound metaphysical significance.  We will review and discuss quotes from Eliot’s early works, The Waste Land, Hollow Men, and move forward to his later work, The Four Quartets.  Along the way, we hopefully gain insight into Eliot’s peculiar spirituality.The critic Scott James, notes:  There is no portrayal of common emotions.  All the things which common people think of as practical and desirable vanish into insignificance under Eliot’s vision.In his own words, “ Poetry is of course not to be defined by its uses.  It may effect revolutions in sensibility, such as are periodically needed; may help to  brake  up the conventional modes of perception and valuation which are perpetually forming; and make people see the world afresh, or some new part of it.  It may make us from time to time a  little more aware of the deeper, unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate; for our lives are usually a constant evasion of our selves, and an evasion of the visible and sensible  world.  But to say all this is only to say what you know already, if you have felt poetry and thought about your feelings.”Screen Shot 2016-10-19 at 4.07.02 PMTimothy Shaughnessy, Ph.D.  B.A. degree In English Literature from Arizona StateUniversity; Masters in English Literature from Northern Arizona State University; Ph.D in Educational Administration and Supervision from Arizona State University, emphasis in Research and Community Education. Teaching experience at University of the Pacific, CA, in English Composition, Arizona State University in Public Administration and grant administration. Served in four U.S. federal agencies; Department of Health and Human Services as a program specialist,: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as a compliance analysis; Department of State, Voice of American as Director of Management Analysis, and the Internal Revenue Service as Chief of Financial Revenue and Chief of Educational Services Program. Consultant to the U.S. Department of Education and Veterans’ Administration. Consultant to the University of Philosophical Research.


Saturday, May 13th, 2017:

“Rebirth, Reincarnation & Transmigration: An Overview”

With James Santucci, Ph.D.

Lecture10:30am-12:00pm in the auditorium


An examination of the process of reincarnation.  Is reincarnation the same as transmigration, metepsychosis, and rebirth?  What is  reincarnating?  What is the difference between resurrection and reincarnation?

Dr. James A. Santucci is a retired Professor of Comparative Religion at California State University, Fullerton.   He received his Ph.D. degree from the Australian National University (Canberra, Australia) in Asian Civilization with an emphasis on the Veda. He is the editor of Theosophical History and Theosophical History Occasional Papers and the author of La società teosofica and An Outline of Vedic Literature, articles and book chapters appearing, among others, in the Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism, Nova Religio, Alternative Christs, and The Cambridge Companion to New Religious Movements.  He is also a contributor (the Sanskrit language) to the Intercontinental Dictionary Series (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig).

Saturday, June 10th, 2017:

“In Excess of Being: A Phenomenological Practice of Nature”


With Sabrina Dalla Valle M.F.A.

Online Lecture Video
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Is nature understood today as more a symptom of something else we haven’t yet discovered?  Out of physical necessity, I attempt to follow this inquiry in a Goethean sense, looking at nature as “the pregnant point from which a series of phenomena governs itself from within outward.” For anything that is alive retains a certain potential…and it is here that we understand the primary order of things. Being recently affected by lung toxicity I am acutely aware of the coherency between inner and outer atmospheric conditions. In such a disabled state, dualism is implicitly dissolved. There is only one ‘nature’ flowing between human and environment. To understand what this means on a more concrete level, l am observing the external atmosphere in which I live by way of light quality, climate and sound- and my own inner breath in terms of lung capacity for air and congestion. In this description, I am also attempting to look beyond the tensions of the inner imagination and the outer world so as to experience time forms not bound to the psyche or measured cycles active in current scientific observation of atmosphere.

Sabrina Dalla Valle, MFA, is a writer of experimental and philosophical texts. She is author of Bee as Timbral Space :  a post-geometric eclogue (2016, Logosophia Books), 7 Days and Night in the Desert (Tracing the Origin) selected by Mei Mei Berssenbrugge for Best First Book Award (2013, Kelsey Street Press). Her writing has been anthologized and archived in  Mindmade Books 2012 chapbook series; Alchemical Traditions (2013, Numen Books); University of Pennsylvania’s The Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing (PennSound), 2014; San Francisco State University’s The Poetry Center Archives, 2014; UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, 2016.  She is co-founding editor of Diaphany, a peer-reviewed journal and nocturne for the publication of written and visual work that explores phenomenological perception and integral expression.


Summer Quarter:

Saturday, July 8th, 2017:

 “Making Meaning in the Age of Irony

With Greg Salyer, Ph.D.

Lecture10:30am-12:00pm in the auditorium

After September 11, 2001, some commentators claimed that it was the “end of irony.” Little did we know it was in fact the beginning of a resurgence of irony through “hyperreality,” satire, and parody. In this presentation Professor Salyer explores the history of meaning-making from the ancient world to the present and shows how irony is always at the center of our efforts to understand the world and ourselves.

Front Camera

Professor Salyer is the author of Leslie Marmon Silko, a study of the prominent Laguna Pueblo writer’s work, and the co-editor of Literature and Theology at Century’s End. He has published many essays and given numerous presentations on Native American literature, contemporary fiction, and literature and religion. He received his Ph.D. from Emory University in literary theory, contemporary fiction, and religious studies. Greg has chaired numerous departments and directed several programs, including English, liberal studies, and writing programs. He has been teaching online since 2000 and is the Dean of Students at the University of Philosophical Research.

Saturday, August 12th, 2017:

“The Deadlock of Modern Theoretical Physics as a Fallout of the Crisis of Materialism and Education: A Critical View From the Perspective of a Scientist, Teacher and Spiritualist”


With Marco Masi, Ph.D.

Online Lecture Video


Contrary to popular belief, the foundations of physics are facing one of its deepest intellectual crisis. While applied physics experienced a tremendous development, and several new discoveries from the micro- to macro-cosmos revolutionized our understanding of the physical world, the progress in the conceptual foundations of modern theoretical physics stagnated. For more than half a century now physicists worldwide tried to unify quantum mechanics with general relativity and conceived of a plethora of new ‘quantum gravity” theories (like superstrings, etc.) But recent results coming from particle accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) are telling us that nature ignores them. How the universe works at these levels remains mysterious more than ever. Overall the net impression is that of a great confusion and incertitude, which clearly signals a deep foundational as methodological crises. What is left among many is a sense of dissatisfaction and frustration for the lack of real progress, and nobody knows why. I suggest that the problem is not merely technical or scientific, but has its roots in a cultural and social understanding of how education should work. Our schools and academia are designed to foster too much the intellectual and rational faculties of the child, student and academic, and tends to suppress the contact with our inner being. With most of us not being aware of it, our educational systems are designed to expunge a priori the intuitive thinker, the seer, the naive but free visionary. The lack of these spiritual and intuitive personalities in mainstream science, is best reflected in those activities of science which are not practical oriented but more of a conceptual and philosophical nature. I will discuss how this has been the case with particle physics and modern unification theories.

Marco Masi graduated in physics at the university of Padua, Italy, obtained a Ph.D in physics at the university of Trento and worked as a researcher in universities in Italy, France, and Germany, where he now lives. His interests veered towards new forms of individual learning and a new concept of free-progress education originated from his activity both as a tutor in several universities and in the last two years as a maths and physics teacher in a high school, which gave him a deep insight into the modern educational system with all its systemic, social and also unconscious intricacies that are at the root of many modern educational issues.

Saturday, September 9th, 2017:

“Infinite Information, Worlds Without End: Myth and Religion in the Age of the Internet”

With Robert Ellwood, Ph.D. (Assisted by Richard Ellwood)

Lecture10:30am-12:00pm in the auditorium


The Internet has greatly changed the ways we humans learn, practice, and understand religion.  This presentation will survey some of those ways, from basic information, to blogs discussing religious issues, to on-line services and even whole religions, to the mythologies of computer games, to “Second Life” religious exploration, to “Cyber Apocalyptic” speculation that in time cyborgs, human-computer hybrids, will emerge to change wholly the nature of human life, and so of religion.  Richard Ellwood will project relevant websites on a screen as the talk and conversation proceed, and will demonstrate an oculus rift device which can put the wearer in an alternative reality.

Robert Ellwood, a Ph.D. in history of religion from the University of Chicago, is emeritus professor of religion at the University of Southern California, and the author of religious studies textbooks.  He now lives in Ojai, CA, with his spouse and two cats.  Richard Ellwood is technology director at Besant Hill School in Ojai.


Fall Quarter:

Saturday, October 14th, 2017:

The Impact of the Renaissance on Occult Traditions and the Birth of Hermetic Tarot

With Yolanda Robinson, Ph.D.

Lecture10:30am-12:00pm in the auditorium

One of the most important contributions of the Renaissance to the history of Western thought was the fusion of Humanism with pagan traditions, pre-Socratic thought, Platonism, Aristotelianism, Christianity, and even Cabala. Classical texts were rediscovered at this time, and works like the Corpus Hermeticum, the Hymns of Orpheus, and the Chaldean Oracles (attributed to Zoroaster) were embraced as wisdom literature. Tarot, tarocchi, is a child of the Renaissance and shares many of the characteristics of the cultural and social life of that time. Hermetic Tarot also carries its own consciousness and has accrued even more hermetic and occult characteristics beyond the 17th century and into modern times.


  • To provide background and examples of the way that Tarot (tarocchi) evolved within a hermetic-cabalistic current that defined the consciousness of the Renaissance.
  • To show how magic, alchemy, astrology and mystery traditions in general were incorporated into the art and literature of the Renaissance.
  • To suggest, using the concept of “poesis of the psyche,” how the birth of Hermetic Tarot coincides with the birth of the Renaissance Magus.

Yolanda M. Robinson, Ph.D, has been researching Hermetic traditions and working with Tarot for over thirty years. She holds a M.S. in Transformational Psychology from UPRS. Dr. Robinson is a retired Foreign Service Officer and is presently on the faculty of the University of Philosophical Research. She recently edited the new edition of the Knapp-Hall deck (2014) and published a book on Mysticism and Cabala in the Knapp-Hall deck (2015).

Saturday, November 11th, 2017:

“Principles of Transcendental Leadership: Leadership Connected to the Heart of Universal Intelligence and Collective Wisdom”


With Shawne Mitchell, M.A.

Lecture10:30am-12:00pm in the auditorium

In this talk, we will explore a new modality of leadership that is a radical attempt to synthesize leading-edge thinking, ancient wisdom, and the present conscious evolution, in order to affect profound individual and collective change – so acutely needed in our world today.Transcendental Leadership shifts us away from the old paradigms of leadership models into a new leadership modality highlighting interconnection and wholeness. We know that the complex problems of today will not be resolved by the consciousness that created them. Transcendental Leadership offers us a model to provide leadership that can contribute to the evolution of the world where the conscious awareness of all of humanity is developed for the betterment of all. 

Leading from a place of transcendence, from a consciousness of wholeness, David Bohm explained:

Your self is actually the whole of mankind … the past is enfolded in each of us in a very subtle way. If you reach deeply enough into yourself, you are reaching into the very essence of mankind. When you do this, you will be led into the generating depth of consciousness that is common to the whole of mankind and that has the whole of mankind enfolded into it. The individual’s ability to be sensitive to that becomes the key to the change of mankind. We are all connected. If this could be taught, and if people could understand it, we would have a different consciousness. 

We hope you will join us in this afternoon of change-making.

Shawne holds a Masters Degree in Consciousness Studies from the University of Philosophical Research and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Washington. Shawne has been practicing meditation for over 35 years. Her deep wisdom, combined with her travels and experiences, has evolved into speaking, teaching, workshops, published articles and books.

She is preparing a course, Mystical Traditions and Contemplative Practices, which she will be teaching at the University of Philosophical Research in 2017.

Saturday, December 9th, 2017:

“The Journey of the Fool: an Exploration of the Major Arcana as a Mythology on Life”

With Athena Kolinski, M.A.

Lecture10:30am-12:00pm in the auditorium

A journey through the Major Arcana of the Tarot will take you down roads you will know well. The experiences with both the outer and inner worlds take you to through the mundane, to the challenges of the dark night of the soul, to rebirth into new levels of who we are.

Together we will explore the movement through the cards, how they interface with each other, the characters and how they speak to you in this life. Watch the mythology of the Major Arcana come to life before your eyes, and see it in a whole new light.

Athena Johnson-Kolinski, M.A. teaches at University of Philosophical Research, where her second master’s degree was obtained in Consciousness Studies. Athena is a Dreamworker, Certified Tarotpy Practitioner and New Dreamwork Coach for Star Card Dreaming (, as well as an active member of International Association for the Study of Dreams.



UPR on Campus—Understanding the World’s Religions


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


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,

Radio Interview with Dr. Obadiah Harris


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 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.

Claiming Our Stories


Swan at SunsetSaturday, September 10th, 2016

A six-hour seminar with Jonathan Young and Anne Bach. 

A sense of life-story can have a strong impact on our inner development. This course explores major themes in formative myths. We will look at how hidden motivations and expectations can shape the unfolding adventure. Such patterns influence perceptions, choices, and possibilities. Tales like The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Anderson are more than entertainments. They have guiding wisdom for how we see our own journeys. Life fulfillment can be seen as a project of creating a satisfactory biography. It is crucial to cultivate a vision that nurtures our best qualities. Central tasks include finding authenticity, being loyal to cherished values, and having compassion towards oneself and others. Integration involves cultivating a radical sense of acceptance of our stories as they are.

Learning Objectives

  1. Discern the shaping influence of life stories.
  2. Recognize how crises of faith, courage, and identity can be calls for renewal.
  3. Establish how reflecting on personal storyline can aid in the integration of competing goals.

Open to everyone. The course is not just for psychotherapists. It is open to all those interested in archetypal perspectives. The lectures are presented at the introductory level and require no background in mythology, narrative theory, or Jungian psychology. 


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.   


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

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

Call (323) 663-2167 ext. 112 to reserve your ticket over the phone or select one of the following to purchase tickets online:

Claiming Our Stories — Click for Tuition Options:

 For half-price tuition (students and UPR alumni only) please call (323) 663-2167 ext. 112

Day Schedule:

Checking-in begins at 9:30 a.m.

10:00 – Underlying Patterns in Life Stories

11:15 – Break (approximate time)

11:30 – Character as Identity and Purpose

12:30 – Lunch Break

1:30 – Cultivating the Richness of Destiny

2:30 – Break(approximate time)

2:50 – Harvesting the Layers of Emerging Narratives

3:50 – Break(approximate time)

4:00 – Story Work in Helping People

5:00 – Course concludes – Total 6 hours (RNs 7 hours)

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. 

Continuing Education hours are available for psychologists, marriage & family therapists, social workers, nurses, and other mental health professionals. The course meets CE requirements in most states. The certificate of completion will be provided by the Center for Story and Symbol. 

The following CE credits are available:

Psychology, MFT, LCSW, LPCC : 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. 

CE Hours: 

Psychology, MFT, LCSW, LPCC, Ed Psych: 6 CE hours   –   Nursing : 7 hours  Approvals:  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. The level is introductory for psychologists. 

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. 

Facing Death Without Fear by Dr. Barry Kerzin


Friday, June 17, 2016, at 7 PM

California Lutheran University’s Samuelson Chapel


Many people spend considerable time worrying about their ultimate death, fearing the unknown yet trying to prepare for the occurrence. Knowledge and acceptance of death as the natural extension of life may provide some comfort on our journey. The process of death involves eight stages from the
Buddhist understanding. We will discuss and contemplate on these processes. Through understanding, what is happening as we die reduces fear. I will share some experiences of unusual deaths as a physician and Buddhist monk.”

Please get a free ticket, necessary for entry, at our Altruism in Medicine Institute website

1-day workshops are June 18 & 19 and June 25 & 26.
For more info, go to

The Gospel According To The Christian Mystics


A Three-Part Lecture and Meditation Series on Christian Mysticism

“The Christian mystic,” observes William Johnson, S.J., “is one who lives the Christ-Mystery and is transformed by it.” With that working definition, the course will examine core themes in Christian mysticism. These include the Triune Godhead as the fount of mysticism, Christ as the revelation of man’s eternal unity with God, our common journey to God that re-lives the very Mysteries of Christ, the Eucharist as the great transformer of the soul, the way of silent contemplative prayer, and the omega of mystical transformation: everyman’s transformation into the one Christ of heavenly glory. 

$10/lecture – we ask that all guests please RSVP by purchasing tickets below or by calling 323.663.2167 ext. 112 

Part 1: Saturday, April 23rd, 2016, Hearing the Song of Christianity in a Mystic Key  |  10:30am – 12:00pm 1 hour lecture; 10-15 min Q &A; 20 min meditation

Conventionally considered, Christianity appears to millions to be incoherent, counter-factual, superficial, un-holistic. This is especially puzzling and ironic, given the vivid figure of the enlightened Jesus. Yet, when Christianity is heard in a mystic key, then it verily fills the air with music. This lecture presents the essence of Christian mysticism, as well as guided meditation that will make the healing realities discovered by the Christian mystics experiential to the audience. 

Part 2: Saturday, May 7th, 2016, The Ego: Not an Illusion, but Truly Oriented to God  |  10:30am – 12:00pm1 hour lecture; 10-15 min Q & A; 20 min meditation

Tacking a sign that reads SWIMMING POOL next to swamp does not turn it into oasis. Likewise, the forced smile of egotism does not make for a happy life. But is the ego, in itself, an illusion, a misleading deception, a brittle defense mechanism? Or is the ego, truly oriented, a God-designed faculty by which we may know Divine Love and be transformed by It? Students of this lecture will be led to an experiential knowledge of the inner structure of the ego, and will learn the essential orientation of the will of Christian contemplatives down the ages: a radical orientation to the divine which vitally cooperates with God’s transformation of the soul, which might be termed the “Self-Release Prayer.”

Part 3: Saturday, May 28th, 2016, The Egoless, Unitive Life, and a Clue to Life Ahead: Mystical Ecstasy |  10:30am – 12:00pm 1 hour lecture; 10-15 min Q & A; 20 min meditation

Many have interpreted Jesus’ saying, “Follow me,” to mean, “Have faith in me.” Others have interpreted it as Jesus’ call to “Follow my commandments.” But there a vastly deeper, infinitely more sublime meaning to “Follow me”– and the Christian mystics know it. This lecture will explain the surprising contemplative meaning of these words of “Follow me,” and how they point to our transformation into Christ.

Christian Mysticism Lecture Series

Please note that these lectures will be recorded. We kindly ask all participants to arrive prior to the start of each lecture, turn off all noise-making devices, and reserve all questions for the allotted Q & A time. Thank you!

Joseph Conti earned his Ph.D. in Religion and Ethics from the University of Southern California in 1993. He is the author of Holistic Christianity: The Vision of Catholic Mysticism (Paragon House, 2005). In addition to his teaching at the University of Philosophical Research, Conti is an instructor in Department of Comparative Religion at California State University at Fullerton. Dr. Conti’s research focus is Christian mysticism and the psychology of contemplative spirituality.