Video Archive

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.


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.



Reawakening The American Soul

In this video, Professor Richard Geldard shows us that indeed the “examined life” is not only possible for us but also absolutely necessary.

“Reawakening the American Soul” is led by three prominent writers and scholars with this vision. Their collective works represent a major contribution to defining and reassessing what one of them has called the “American Soul.” They are Professors Richard Geldard, Jacob Needleman and Robert Thurman.

Called the “cradle of liberty,” historic Faneuil Hall was the gathering place in the mid-1700s for the Sons of Liberty as they met to protest the arbitrary taxation policies of Great Britain. From these and subsequent meetings, protests were planned, including the Boston Tea Party, leading the way towards the ultimate liberation from British rule. Now, in our own time of crisis, with destructive forces taxing us once again, the bicentennial celebration of Emerson’s birth calls for a new birth of freedom. It was Emerson’s re-visioning of the founding principles of America, as voiced eloquently in his essays, lectures and poems, that sounded a clear, resonant and unifying note, tuning the disparate instruments and voices in his own time. This note has been heard by all the great American writers and poets down to the present.

Richard Geldard received his education at Bowdoin College, Middlebury College and his doctorate from Stanford University. He currently teaches at the Pacifica Graduate Institute in California and was Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Yeshiva University in New York. He is author of numerous books, includingThe Spiritual Teachings of Ralph Waldo EmersonGod in ConcordRemembering Heraclitus; and theTravelers’ Key to Ancient Greece. Long a student of the philosophy of Emerson, Dr. Geldard has made the challenging and inspirational work of the Seer of Concord accessible once again to a new generation of readers. His vision of Emerson allows us to take part in the spiritual quest for self-recovery in a time when immensesocial and intellectual forces are arrayed against us. Geldard has shown us that indeed the examined life as described by Socrates and Plato is not only possible for us but also absolutely necessary.

Quantum Creativity With Professor Goswami


Just as quantum mechanics has been a powerful theory unifying our understanding of physics, it can also serve as a unifying theory in the field of creativity. Dr. Amit Goswami maintains that the discontinuities observed in quantum physics allow for the creative leaps that are at the heart of all fundamental innovations. He describes the “quantum self” as that aspect of our being that is capable of direct sensitivity to the creativity of the universe.

This video segment is an excerpt from the two-part, 60-minute DVD, available at the following website: