UPR on Campus: The Meanings of America: The Future Nation


UPR on Campus: The Meanings of America

Meanings of America

Johns, 1930-, Three Flags, 1958

Greg Salyer, Ph.D.
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

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.

Events like movie nights are wonderful, but they require shifts in our staff schedule. We want to make sure that enough people are going to show up before we rearrange schedules to accommodate the film. Let us know if you are definitely coming, and we’ll be here for you. If fewer than four people sign up, we will need to cancel and will let you know here. Thanks for your understanding.http://doodle.com/poll/xk42m7wd2ysafbmi

Blade Runner

 Thursday, June 29, 2017,
7:00-8:30 pm


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.

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. 

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.

The Simple Road: A Book Reading with Dr. Obadiah Harris

The Simple Road 

A Book Reading with Dr. Obadiah Harris

Saturday, October 3rd at 1:30PM in the Bookstore

The University of Philosophical Research

3910 Los Feliz Blvd. Los Angeles, 90027

info@uprs.edu  |  323.663.2167

Dr. Obadiah Harris will be sharing passages from his newest book, The Simple Road, published this September by Tarcher/Penguin.  Copies of the book will be available for sale and signing. The Bookstore will be open until 3pm.

Tarcher (September 1, 2015). “This elegant, concise guide by the founder of the University of Philosophical Research distills a lifetime of spiritual seeking into one beautiful, unforgettable blueprint for inner growth.”

“When you grow exhausted with all of today’s spiritual programs, axioms, seminars, and techniques; when you feel fatigued from searching and cannot find a way forward; when it seems that years of seeking have netted so little – throw yourself upon the essential truths in this book…It can be lifesaving.” –Mitch Horowitz, from the introduction.

For more than a half-century, Obadiah Harris has studied the spiritual path, holding ministerial pulpits in traditions ranging from Pentecostalism to New Thought, and directing programs in continuing education, community-outreach, and distance-learning at major universities. As a scholar and seeker, Harris has traversed and helped shape broad swaths of our modern spiritual landscape. Now, he distills the insights he has found — all of them potent, powerful, and, above all, useful — in The Simple Road.  

The Simple Road is balm for parched souls. Whatever tradition you belong to, or if you belong to no one tradition, The Simple Road helps you locate the thread of universality that runs through all faiths, and leads you to practices, prayers, methods, and parables that lift your daily journey to a higher, better place.”

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. For almost two decades at Arizona State he designed programs in community outreach and in adult and continuing education. Harris has held numerous ministerial pulpits and collaborated with figures of major influence in contemporary spirituality, including Ernest Holmes (1887-1960). Born in northeastern Oklahoma, he lives in Los Angeles. 

The Art of Buddhism Lecture Series

The Art of Buddhism

With Debashish Banerji Ph.D. 

This course will trace Buddhism through its visual culture from its beginnings in India in the 3rd. c. B.C.E. to modern times, considering the principal sects of Buddhism and their spread through Central, Southeast and East Asia.

$10/Lecture or $15/Day. 

The Art of Buddhism Lecture Series
Lecture Number:

Lecture 1: Introduction – Life of the Buddha, philosophical basics and history of early Buddhism

Saturday, July 11th, 10:30am-11:30am / Q&A 11:30-12:00pm

This lecture will introduce the series, looking at the cultural and philosophic context of the emergence of Buddhism in India around the 5th c. B.C.E. and trace the life and teachings of Gautama Buddha. 

Lecture 2: Stupas, stambhas and storytelling – the early aniconic phase of Indian Buddhism

Saturday, July 11th, 1:00pm-2:00pm / Q&A 2:00-2:30pm

This lecture will explore the objects and ideas representing Buddhism in its early public expansion in India under the patronage of the Mauryan emperor Ashoka and his successors.

Lecture 3: The appearance and evolution of the Buddha image, and the Ajanta caves

Saturday, July 25th, 10:30am-11:30am / Q&A 11:30-12:00pm

This lecture will trace the development of the Buddha image in India from its appearance in two styles around the 1st. c. C.E. to its becoming an aesthetic icon and India’s principal cultural export around the 4th c. C.E. We will also visit the 5th c. cave sites of Ajanta to look at the sculpture and some of the finest paintings of India.

Lecture 4: The early spread of Buddhism – the Silk Road, Dunhuang and Bodhisattva cults

Saturday, July 25th, 1:00pm-2:00pm / Q&A 2:00-2:30pm

In this lecture we will consider the spread of early Buddhism along the Silk Route and the the variety of Buddhist sects that found representation in the cave sites of Mogao in Dunhuang in the Taklamakan desert on the western fringe of China. This will introduce early Mahayana bodhisatvas such as Avalokiteshvara, Maitreya and Manjushri.

Lecture 5:  Theravada Buddhism – Buddhism in Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand

Saturday, August 8th, 10:30am-11:30am / Q&A 11:30-12:00pm

In this lecture, we will consider the art of Theravada Buddhism as expressed in countries predominantly practicing Theravada, which is strongly focused on monasticism and meditation.

Lecture 6: The cult of Vairochana and the Flower Garland Sutra, Borobudur

Saturday, August 8th, 1:00pm-2:00pm / Q&A 2:00-2:30pm

This lecture discusses the cult of the transcendental Buddha Vairochana and the early expressions of this form of Buddhism, particularly as expressed in the spectacular Javanese mandala-mountain Borobudur.

Lecture 7: Western Pure Land Buddhism in China, Korea and Japan

Saturday, August 22nd, 10:30am-11:30am / Q&A 11:30-12:00pm

In this lecture, we will look at Pure Land Buddhism, a spin-off of the Vairochana cult dedicated to Amitabha Buddha that grew very popular in China, Korea and Japan

Lecture 8: Tantric Buddhism in Tibet, China. Mongolia and Japan

Saturday, August 22nd, 1:00pm-2:00pm / Q&A 2:00-2:30pm

In this lecture we will consider Tantric or esoteric Buddhism, with its meditation diagrams (mandalas), magical incantations (mantras) and multi-limbed deities embracing their female counterparts (yab-yum).

Lecture 9: Chan/Zen Buddhism

Saturday, September 5th, 10:30am-11:30am / Q&A 11:30-12:00pm

In this lecture we will look at the art of Chan Buddhism, a sect that developed in China from the teachings of the Indian teacher Bodhidharma and then spread to Japan, where it is called Zen.

Lecture 10: Buddhism in the Modern World

Saturday, September 5th, 1:00pm-2:00pm / Q&A 2:00-2:30pm

In this last lecture, we will consider the modern and contemporary manifestations of Buddhist art, seeing how the sects dealt with above continue to produce artworks and how individuals practicing Buddhism in the modern world have expressed themselves.

Abrahamic Traditions: Thursdays, May 21st – June 18th

This ten week course will examine the historical development of the three great monotheistic traditions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam which each trace their lineage to the biblical patriarch Abraham. Commonalities and differences between the religions will be explored with a focus on understanding the historical roots of contemporary issues stemming from these three traditions. 

Free! RSVP at: info@uprs.edu


Thursday, May 21st:

Lecture 1 – Introduction to the World of the Patriarchs 1:30-2:30pmThis lecture will introduce students to the course and will focus on the pre-biblical world of the Middle East, including a discussion on the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Babylonian creation myth the Enuma Elish and the religion of Canaan as understood by the archaeological discovery of the ancient Canaanite city of Ugarit. We will also examine the Documentary Hypothesis in regards to the composition of the Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible.

Lecture 2 – Abraham, Faith and the Covenant with God 3:00-4:00pmThis lecture will introduce students to the course and will focus on the pre-biblical world of the Middle East, including a discussion on the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Babylonian creation myth the Enuma Elish and the religion of Canaan as understood by the archaeological discovery of the ancient Canaanite city of Ugarit. We will also examine the Documentary Hypothesis in regards to the composition of the Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible.


Thursday, May 28th:

Lecture 3 – Exodus and the Birth of Israel 1:30-2:30pmThis lecture will focus on the story of Moses and the Exodus and its importance to the Jewish tradition. The entry of the Israelites into Canaan under Joshua and the period of the Judges will be briefly examined with emphasis placed on the creation of the monarchy and a united Israel

Lecture 4 – Exile, Empire and the Age of Prophesy 3:00-4:00pmThis lecture will discuss the conquest of Israel by Assyria, the Babylonian invasion of Judah and subsequent exile and the birth of Biblical prophetic tradition.  The influence on Jewish theology by the Persian Zoroastrian tradition and Hellenization resulting from the conquest of Alexander the Great will also be discussed.


Thursday, June 4th:

Lecture 5 – Jesus of History, Jesus of Faith 1:30-2:30pmThis lecture will explore what can be known of the historical Jesus and his relationship to the Jewish tradition. The development of the New Testament scriptures, including the four canonical gospels and the letters of Paul will also be explored.

Lecture 6 – The First Christians 3:00-4:00pmThis lecture will examine the early Jesus movement and how it eventually separated from Judaism to become an independent religion.  The diversity of early Christianity will be explored, with special emphasis placed on the Gnostic Christians and the process in which Christian dogma developed and was adopted.


Thursday, June 11th:

Lecture 7 – Islam 1:30-2:30pmThis lecture will introduce the traditional narrative of the life of Mohammad and the revelation of the Qu’ran.  It will include a discussion of the Five Pillars of Islam and will explore the commonalities and differences between Islam, Judaism and Christianity. 

Lecture 8 – Logos and Gnosis 3:00-4:00pmThis lecture will examine some of the key theological debates which arose in response to the “re-discovery” of Greek philosophy, in particular the thought of Aristotle. It will also explore the mystical strands that appear in each tradition, with special emphasis being made upon connections to Platonism and the development of nature mysticism. 


Thursday, June 18th:

Lecture 9 – Enlightenment and Modernity 1:30-2:30pmThis lecture will explore the challenges faced by all three of the western monotheistic traditions with the advent of the Enlightenment and Modernity. The development of religious fundamentalism as a response to these challenges will also be discussed.

Lecture 10 – The Monotheistic Faiths in the 20th Century and Beyond 3:00-4:00pmIn this concluding lecture, the consequences of the religious response to the challenges of the Enlightenment and modernity will be explored. Special focus will be placed on the question of religious fundamentalism and extremism.


Nick Mather has an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Metropolitan State College of Denver and holds a graduate degree in Religious Studies from the University of Denver. He is currently a doctoral candidate in the Philosophy, Cosmology and Consciousness program at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. His areas of specialty include the history of religion, environmental virtue ethics and religion and ecology. He has been teaching a variety of religious studies and philosophy courses at several area community colleges for the last ten years.


A Ten-Lecture Series on Ancient Egyptian Mythology

A Ten-Lecture Series on Ancient Egyptian Mythology

Lydia E. Ringwald (B.A. Scripps College – Comparative Literature. M.A.University of California Irvine – Comparative Literature. Ph.D. (candidate), University of Connecticut)

University of Philosophical Research Professor Lydia E. Ringwald shares insights into Ancient Egyptian mythology in a series of 10 lectures that explore a spiritual belief system with a pantheon of gods and goddesses that inspired some of the most astounding art, artifacts and architecture in the history of humankind.

In Ancient Egyptian culture, art was a magical conduit to eternity. The act of making art was a magical act. Art treasures exhumed by archeologists from pyramids, temples and tombs: paintings, sculpture, bas relief and emblematic artifacts; jewelry, mirrors and palettes had magical meaning that represented mythological concepts and stories. In a visually vivid powerpoint presentation of world renown and recently discovered art treasures, we explore the mythological consciousness of this ancient culture that continues to inspire us today.

Click here to download a printable flyer for this series 


Lecture 1: A Pantheon of Gods and Goddesses – Emblems for Eternity. Saturday, March 14th, 10:30am-11:30am / Q&A 11:30-11:45am

In this lecture, Professor Lydia Ringwald shares insights into the cult meanings of the Ankh, Eye of Horus, Eye of Ra, Scarab, Was and the Djed Pillar and the pantheon of Ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses: Nun and Nunet, Atem and Mut, Geb and Nut, Osiris, Isis, Set and Nepthys, Anubis, Thoth, Hathor, Baset, Sekhmet.

Lecture 2: The Myth of Osiris and Isis – Sacred Recycling – Resurrection. Saturday, March 14th, 1:00pm-2:00pm / Q&A 2:00-2:15pm

Professor Lydia E. Ringwald explores in depth the myth of Osiris and Isis, concepts of resurrection and sacred recycling as the basis of the mythological belief systems of the Ancient Egyptians.

Lecture 3: Sacred Sites – History of Ancient Egypt. Saturday, April 11th, 10:30am-11:30am / Q&A 11:30-11:45am

The archeological sites of Upper and Lower Egypt tell the 3000 year history of Ancient Egypt, a civilization whose magical mythology inspires us as a model for the future. In a vivid slide presentation, Professor Lydia E. Ringwald shares insights into history and mystery of the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, the temples in Luxor and Karnak, tombs in the Valley of the Kings and Queens, as well as prominent cult sites in Saqaara, Memphis, Dashur, Philae and Aswan.

Lecture 4: Journey through the Underworld – The Book of the Dead, The Book of Gates. Saturday, April 11th, 1:00pm-2:00pm / Q&A 2:00-2:15pm

The papyrus scrolls of the Book of the Dead, the sculpted and painted bas-relief on tomb walls of the Book of Gates, are a code to the passage through death to eternal life. Explore mythological concepts of the Afterlife with Lydia E. Ringwald in this fascinating lecture that includes insights into the sacred Pyramid Texts, coffin paintings, Shabti, amulets inscribed with powerful incantations and spells.

Lecture 5: Pharaohs and Queens. Saturday, April 25th, 10:30am-11:30am / Q&A 11:30-11:45am

There are pivotal points in any culture, times of rapid progress, where innovation and the evolution of ideas hurl consciousness forward. Great leaders have the vision to develop the culture and move its mythology to a new level. In this lecture, we will explore the artistic accomplishments, architectural feats and mythological innovations during the reign of some of Ancient Egypt’s greatest Pharaohs and Queens. The practices of Priests and Priestesses, who honored both gods and goddesses, have a message for us today.

Lecture 6: The Amarna PeriodSaturday, April 25th, 1:00pm-2:00pm / Q&A 2:00-2:15pm

Akhenaten, a Pharaoh of the Amarna period is an anomaly, a unique aberration in Ancient Egypt’s mythological tradition. This lecture explores an experiment in monotheism, worship of the sun god Aten that disrupted the traditions of the past but was a harbinger for the future. Conflict with monotheism during the reign of Akhenaten and his wife Queen Nefertiti resulted in a reverse back to traditional values. However, the art, architecture and literary achievement of the Amarna period, represent a high point civilization of Ancient Egypt.

Lecture 7: T he History of Archeology in EgyptSaturday, May 9th, 10:30am-11:30am / Q&A 11:30-11:45pm

Scholars and visitors to Egypt; from the Greek historian Herodotus to Napoleon’s savants, from the expeditions of the Egypt Exploration Society to the research of archeologists from major universities today, have uncovered treasures of art and architecture, revealing insights into the wisdom of the Ancient Egyptian civilization. In this lecture, we will explore the intriguing history of archeology in Egypt and learn more about the astounding discoveries of Egypt’s most prominent archeologists.

Lecture 8: The Ptolemaic EraSaturday, May 9th, 1:00pm-2:00pm / Q&A 2:00-2:15pm

The Ptolemaic Era represents the final phase of the 3000-year history Ancient Egypt. Alexander the Great conquered a civilization that he admired so much that a city, Alexandria, was named in his honor, and he became an honorary Egyptian Pharaoh. The Ptolemy’s, Greeks by origin, ruled Egypt for another 300 years after Alexander’s conquest, continuing and contributing to Ancient Egypt’s architecture and art, its sacred deities and traditions. In a grand finale, Cleopatra, Egypt’s last Queen and Pharaoh attempted a trucemwith the leaders of Roman Empire, only to succumb to their power in the end.

Lecture 9: Influence of Ancient Egyptian Mythology, Occultism. Saturday, May 23rd, 10:30am-11:30am / Q&A 11:30-11:45am

The pattern of resurrection and rebirth, inherent in the myth of Isis and Osiris, infliltrated later belief systems with interesting parallels to early Christianity. Occult philosophers preserved the mysteries of Ancient Egyptian mythology and cultivated new systems of thinking in early Hermeticism. In this lecture, we explore the transition from the ancient Osirian mythological belief patterns in early Christianity.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, occult thinkers, Aleister Crowley and Madame Blavatsky traveled to Egypt, to explore mysteries of the ancient past and develop occult knowledge integrating ideas from the mythology of the ancients into new ideas and belief systems that would influence the future.

Lecture 10: EgyptomaniaSaturday, May 23rd, 1:00pm-2:00pm / Q&A 2:00-2:15pm

Fascination with Ancient Egyptian culture and mythology has inspired artistry and creativity in later periods of time. In this lecture, we explore the creative art spawned by Ancient Egyptian mythology and civilization. The image of the Sphinx and the Obelisk inspired new art masterpieces. The historical artworks of the Pre-Raphaelites and explorer artists David Roberts, Orientalist painter Jean-Leon Gerome reveal insights into the astounding past. Motifs of Ancient Egyptian mythology appear in dance choreographies of Ruth St. Denis and early silent films from the 1920′s up to the technologically advanced film making of our time.

Bookstore Reading and Journal Submissions: Tuesday, August 19th!





 Please join us for an evening of tea, conversation, and poetry in the UPR Bookstore!  We are pleased to announce that author, researcher, and UPR undergraduate faculty member, Sabrina Dalla Valle, will be reading from her lyrical memoir, 7 Days and Nights in the Desert (Tracing the Origin) the evening of Tuesday, August 19th. As an integral part of her creative and scholarly process, Sabrina will use this evening to share her knowledge on poetic method and how it connects with philosophical research.

About the book: Composed in a hybrid form that braids personal narrative with philosophical reflections, Sabrina Dalla Valle’s book ponders the complexities of human communication and perception. It time-travels from the historical present to the ancient past through the reverberating voices of the oldest known thinkers. Along the way, it reaches out to mirrored existences that are as fathomless as the infinitesimal connections between our cells. In her desert journal, philosopher’s notes take the form of old chants and tales that emerge anew as thought-scapes embodying a timeless ritual of gazing at the gods.




▧▨▩  In conjunction with this event, we invite our Los Angeles  community to bring their creative work to share with one another and, if so inclined, submit them to UPR to be reviewed for publication in a digital Quarterly Arts Journal beginning this Fall quarter (with the commencement of our new B.A. in Liberal Studies program). We will accept material in the following areas: poetry, short fiction, reviews, 2D artworks (or 2D documentation of artworks), and multimedia (sound/video) works.

Each quarterly journal will trace a theme inextricably woven by the textures of the submissions received. A juried panel will locate the pattern inherent within each body of submissions, thus determining the title and context of that quarter’s journal. Submissions for the Fall publication will be accepted and reviewed until October 1st. Material may be submitted in person or online at: artsector@uprs.edu, subject: submission.

Please Note: The Arts Journal is to be a juried publication. Publication is not guaranteed upon submission.




Sabrina Dalla Valle, MFA, is an experimental writer and researcher of integral awareness. Her work is anthologized in Best Poems of 2012 by Kore Press (2013) and in Alchemical Traditions by Numen Books (2013). Sabrina lives and works in Los Angeles. Sabrina will be teaching two courses in UPR’s Bachelor’s program on integral creativity and the ethnographic imagination. 

Please visit the following link to purchase a copy of 7 Days and Nights in the Desert