This Advent Season: Born Divine


The tradition of Advent translates directly in Latin to “coming,” specifically in this season to the four Sundays preceding the arrival of baby Jesus as written in the Bible all those winters ago. In celebration of this tradition, UPR President Dr. Obadiah Harris has compiled four essays reflecting on the true meaning of Christmas, as a small booklet titled The Birth of Christ available online as both an e-book and pamphlet.

UPR would like to share each essay every Sunday preceding Christmas with our students and online community as a gift this year. The first of these essays titled, Born Divine, is available here below:



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.

Understanding the World’s Religions Lecture Recordings



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.


Ritual and 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.


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.


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.

Sabrina Dalla Valle in the UPR Bookstore



Last Tuesday, we had the pleasure of inviting one of our undergraduate faculty members, Sabrina Dalla Valle to our bookstore for a reading and discussion of poetics and its connection to philosophical research.

We thank all those who attended and helped to create a beautiful evening in our bookstore.

To listen to and/or download  an mp3 file of Sabrina’s reading from her book and illuminating presentation of her poetic and artistic practice, please visit the following link:



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.

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

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.



Jeffrey Mishlove – Radio Interview

Jeffrey Mishlove, Dean of Transformational PsychologyA few days ago the Dean of our Transformational Psychology degree program was interviewed on the national radio program, Coast to Coast AM. The topic: Parapsychology & Psychokinesis. We’ve captured a few highlights from the interview which you can listen to or download here:




End of the Human: Extinction or Transcendence?

Posthumanism, Transhumanism, and Superhumanism in the 21st Century

The symposium on Transhumanism, held on Sunday afternoon, May 13, 2012, was well attended and conducted through a set of four talks whose ideas (and related discussion) seemed to develop synergistically, though this was clearly unpremeditated.

The tone was set by Dr. Obadiah Harris, president of UPR, who read out his paper on “The Creative Aspect of Evolution.” Corresponding to a physical evolution, as introduced by Darwin, was the philosophy of an evolution of consciousness Dr. Harris drew on philosophy, religion and science, the three muses of the Philosophical Research Society, who have parted company in modern times, to show how an emergent evolutionary perspective could be seen at the base of each of these, when read deeply. Contemporary scientific theories of chaos pointed in the direction of the emergence of new complexities of order. This yielded the new science of emergent systems, which at the animate level, could be applied to the phenomena of consciousness. Dr. Harris also touched on the philosophy of evolutionary consciousness in our times and ended with the theological idea of evolving consciousness present in mystical Christianity. The movement towards the superhuman was the realization of Christ in man, according to this view, achieved through “conscious evolution,” not an unconscious process as in the rest of nature.

Dr. Harris’ talk was backgrounded by a number of modern philosophers whom he didn’t name explicitly, but whose ideas were clearly present in his views. Some of these thinkers were Henri Bergson, the philosopher of creative evolution, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the thinker of the noosphere, and Sri Aurobindo, the modern philosopher-yogi of India who spoke of human self-transcendence and the emergence of the superman. All these thinkers were referenced in the talks that followed.

The next talk was by Debashish Banerji, faculty at UPR and professor of Indian and Sri Aurobindo studies as well as an art historian. Dr. Banerji further specified the post-Enlightenment history of the Modern Age, showing its ideological nature and encapsulating its philosophy in G.W.F. Hegel’s Philosophy of History. Hegel’s philosophy however, left little creativity to humans, making them instruments of a cosmic agency (Time-Spirit or Zeitgeist) which worked out is experiments leading towards the emergence of Philosophic Man, the apotheosis of the European Enlightenment, who had arrived at perfect rationality due to the full emergence of the Logos. Banerji contrasted this vision with that of Friedrich Nietzsche, who displaced the cosmic agency of the Logos to the Will-to-Power, active in many forms, but in its higher forms, present as the creative Will-to-Aesthesis in the human being. This force led towards self-exceeding in the individual and presaged a state beyond the human, in the Overman (Ubermensch). Nietzsche was not unconscious of the more destructive aspects of the Will-to-Power, either as a blind will-to-survival or the fascist will-to-ideological-subordination or the will-to-technology. Banerji dwelt also on the philosophy of Martin Heidegger, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and the postmodern philosopher of social media, Marshall McLuhan.

Rich Carlson followed Banerji’s talk with further considerations of Marshall McLuhan and the co-evolution of technology and human consciousness. Going back to Plato, Carlson, developed the idea of technology (particularly contemporary communication technologies) as pharmakon, something which could be curative or poisonous depending on its use. He drew on such contemporary thinkers as Jean Beaudrillard, Bernard Stiegler and Katherine Hayles to demonstrate how contemporary technology has broth us into an age in which simulacrum becomes collective reality, attention deficiency disorder abounds and deep attention is replaced by hyper attention and increasingly more real-time targeted stimulation. Carlson ended with the thinking of Friedrich Nietzsche and the late thought of Michel Foucault, calling for resistance at the individual level through the “disciplines of the self.” Carlson related these Greek-inspired systems of askesis with the ancient Hindu idea of tapas (or generation of heat through concentration), which returns in our times in the thought of Sri Aurobindo, who like Nietzsche, called for a human self-exceeding into the superman. Carlson dwelt further on Foucauldian processes of subjectivation (as opposed to the objectification of institutional and non-institutional modern discourse) and pointed to the dangers of the reification of future-seeing practitioners such as Sri Aurobindo, whose teachings run the risk of being turned into a religion, instead of remaining open as forms of experience. Carlson ended by pointing to the self-exceeding of the human as a possibility of “poetizing the self” in the Neitzschean, Foucauldian and Aurobindian sense and thus a practice refusing homogeneity and embracing instead a radical plurality.

Dr. Jon Dorbolo, director of technology across the curriculum at Oregon State University followed with a talk and power-point presentation on Collective Intelligence. He drew on a genealogy which began with the public library system in the US as a space of collective reference and dialog and expanded this through a history of communicative technologies of cross-referencing leading to hyper-text on cyberspace. The individual here was demonstrated by Dorbolo to be a participatory subjectivity in becoming, expanding through hyper-text into something perhaps akin to a cosmic consciousness. (Dorbolo did not use this term but it seemed to this author that the braiding of a plural text made such an expansion possible). It brought to mind the fact that though Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote of the first phase of an expansion beyond the human as a noogenesis, the development of a kind of cosmic mind, the second phase was seen by him to be a Christogenesis, the individuation of such a cosmic consciousness in each person. Such a vision would resonate with Dr. Harris’ mystical reading of a post-human evolutionary becoming in the teachings of Christ. Returning to the thought of McLuhan, if cyberspace could be thought of as a kind of impersonal collective or cosmic consciousness, with its pharmakon-like capacity to destroy individuality and deep attention or enable it, depending on its use, Dorbolo was pointing to the kind of agency of a will-towards-knowledge accessing a structurally pliable universal archive plurally and making for multiple individualized idea-cosmoses, expanding through self-practice. However, the dangers of self-fragmentation through the ubiquitous technologies of subjective targeting and control were no less severe here, but countered by the creative practice of hyper-attention. What this left unsaid but implicit, is that for this to be effective, what was needed at the individual level, was the cultivation of deep attention, a will-towards-knowledge which is an askesis in itself.

The final talk was by Dr. Makarand Paranjape, professor of culture studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India. Dr. Paranjape was visiting on a Science and Spirituality grant, so as to prepare the ground for an international conference on Transhumanism in New Delhi early next year. He acknowledged the various ideas which had been expressed and expressed the need for a dialog between the critique of technology in transhumanism and the seeking for a technological immortality by transhumanists such as Ray Kurzweil.

Tech-transhumanists see human beings at this stage of history working towards the construction of a new silicon and carbon hybrid lifeform which would far exceed the capacities of the human and into which human beings could “upload” their memories and subjective experiences. These would then be the overmen or supermen dreamed by prophets and philosophers, premised on the obsolescence of the human. The “deep problem of consciousness” is of course begged in such visions, which continue to equate consciousness with rationality, as per the project of the Enlightenment. Paranjape was also interested in the dimension of science fiction to project collective archetypes of future possibilities of human transcendence, both utopian and dystopian. He ended with an invitation to all participants to attend the international conference in New Delhi in early 2013.




Dr. Jay Kumar on Neuroscience

We recently hosted Dr. Jay Kumar for a 2-hour workshop exploring human consciousness and the mysteries of the brain from the various disciplines of neuroscience, psychology, and spiritual thought. Each of those perspectives provides a key understanding regarding the nature of human cognition and notions of reality. Recent discoveries in neuroscience continue to unravel the mysteries of human consciousness, while possibly also reconciling the traditional rift between science and spirituality. This engaging and multimedia workshop advances a new understanding of human consciousness, of our place in the universe, and of our connection to the divine. And the audio recording is now available for your listening pleasure.

LISTEN HERE:   Part 1 | Part 2

Dr. Jay Kumar holds a Ph.D. in philosophy, religion, and cognitive studies and an M.A. in international affairs from Columbia University. He has also conducted advanced graduate work in Sanskrit and linguistics at both UCLA and Georgetown. His areas of research encompass Yoga philosophy, comparative religion, mind-body medicine, and the neuroscience of consciousness. Jay is also a certified Yoga and meditation instructor, motivational speaker, writer, and host of the weekly national radio show “AWAKE with Dr. Jay Kumar!” He recently co-founded the Holospheria Project, a global multi-media organization dedicated to helping people and the planet awaken to the emerging paradigm of empowered wholeness.To learn more please visit or visit his Facebook page @ Dr. Jay Kumar.

Stories That Tell Us Who We Are

Some stories do not just entertain. They are tales that make us say, “This is how the universe really works,” or “This is who I really am, ideally” — and they become parts of us that will not let us go. These stories are myths, in the highest and best sense of the word. This course will look at myths from around the world, and from ancient Greece and Japan up to modern tales like The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. It will reflect on how vibrant myth can empower one’s life and also examine the dangers of “mythic thinking.” Join us as we explore some of the most engaging and dynamic narratives ever known to humankind.

Jung on Religion & The Red Book

Wisdom of The Kabbalah


The course focuses on the central teachings of Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical tradition that emerged in 12th-century Provence and profoundly influenced European spirituality. We will explore the themes of Ein Sof (God as “Infinity”), Ayin (the divine “no-thingness”), Shekhinah (the feminine “presence” of God), and Raising the Sparks (discovering God in everyday life). We will study the original teachings of Kabbalah, translated from Hebrew and Aramaic by the instructor in his book, The Essential Kabbalah.


This course is divided into ten, one-hour sessions. The introductory session, The Nature of God is presented in both audio and video format to better acquaint the student with the instructor.

Session 1 | The Nature of God
Session 2 | Mystical No-thingness—Ayin
Session 3 | The Ten Sefirot
Session 4 | Creation
Session 5 | Meditation
Session 6 | Revelation & Torah
Session 7 | Finding God in Everyday Life
Session 8 | Sexuality & Heretical Faith
Session 9 | Ein Sof & The Sefirot (Review)
Session 10 | God and the Big Bang


Outcome 1:  Students will be able to explain how the Jewish mystics transformed the traditional understanding of God from “father in heaven” to the energy that animates all being.

Outcome 2:  Students will be able to explain how the Jewish mystics balanced a masculine image of God with a feminine image of God.

Outcome 3:  Students will be able to explain how the mystics were able to articulate the potential meaning of Scripture. Scripture, for them was not a frozen document but something living and dynamic. In the reading of Scripture, one engages the text and evokes new meaning relevant to his/her life. Students will be able to describe how this approach can enrich our contemporary reading of Scripture.

Outcome 4:  Students will be able to describe how everyday, mundane activities serve as spiritual opportunities and delineate the danger involved in this type of spirituality.


This course was created and recorded by:

Daniel Matt, Ph.D. – Brandeis Univ. Prof., Center for Jewish Studies, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA. Author, “The Essential Kabbalah”, and “God and the Big Bang”.

This course will be administered and graded by:

Ron Feldman, Ph.D. – Jewish Studies, Graduate Theological Union. Dr. Feldman is fluent in Hebrew and has taught in the Jewish Studies Program at San Francisco State University and is the author of Fundamentals of Jewish Mysticism and Kabbalah.



The lecture series from this course is also available for independent study.
>> Click Here to order these course materials.