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The Simple Road: A Handbook for the Contemporary Seeker

The Simple Road: A Handbook for the Contemporary Seeker
by Obadiah Harris

Tarcher (September 1, 2015).  Preorder Available Now on Amazon.com

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 more than a book. This concise statement is a spiritual GPS that guides the earnest seeker past dead-ends and switchbacks to locate the path that most intimately and directly connect us with the Source of all life. The methods and ideas in this book can help rescue you from a crisis and provide a daily source of practice. 

This brave work addresses head-on topics that are often shunned or ignored in works of "proper" theology, including the question of physical healing by spiritual means — a topic treated with deepest seriousness — and with the existence of hostile forces that test us on the spiritual path. 

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 (www.UPRS.edu), a nationally accredited distance-learning college that grants graduate degrees in consciousness studies and transformational psychology and undergraduate degrees in Liberal Studies. 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.

An Original Relation to the Universe

Our university has a bicameral nature, having two bodies or chambers: wisdom and tradition. We tend to think of “The Wisdom Tradition” as one, as if wisdom by definition is chambered within tradition. But twenty-five hundred years ago Heraclitus of Ephesus said, “Of all the accounts I have heard, none rises to this: that wisdom is separate from all things.” Heraclitus, who was known as “The Obscure” mistrusted tradition, considering most of its characteristics irrelevant to the needs of the present. This attitude made him unpopular with the leadership of Ephesus, those bent on maintaining tradition.

If Heraclitus was right in saying that wisdom is separate from all things, distinct from other human virtues, then wisdom must have characteristics of its separateness; it must be unique, eternal, elevated, and sacred. The Athenians worshiped Athena, goddess of Wisdom, who sprang fully formed from the forehead of Zeus, who in turn was known among the Greeks as The Great Consciousness. Wisdom then springs from a universal consciousness and since we participate in conscious awareness it is within our grasp.

The mission statement of our university states that we are dedicated to self-knowledge and its application to all fields of life, and we acquire self-knowledge through study of the great wisdom schools of the past. The key to this mission lies, therefore, in the conviction that the wisdom schools of the past are alive today, vibrant, relevant, timeless in their teaching. Hence, we can enter Plato’s Academy as a place still in existence, where we can sit at the feet of a master and learn.

According to its definition, a tradition is something handed down from one generation to another, presumably something of value to know and to have at hand. But what if in this process of handing down, something of the timeless wisdom is lost, mis-handled, worn down, no longer alive and relevant?

If the wisdom of the past still has life in it, it is revelation, not just a teaching. It was Ralph Waldo Emerson in the introduction to his very first piece of published writing who said, “The foregoing generations beheld God and nature face to face; we, through their eyes. Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe? Why should not we have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs?”

What Emerson does here is to set up an opposition to tradition by offering insight as more important. Can we say then that UPR is more properly a university of Wisdom and Insight, where insight is an attribute to be valued as the tool through which we “see” and understand? Insight by definition is immediate and personal and is, I believe, more attuned to the nature of wisdom than is tradition.

If you or I have an insight, what is its nature? Isn’t it first and foremost original in the moment? It may be original but it may also turn out to have been thought by someone in the past, but the important thing is that in the moment, it was ours and as Emerson says, “not a history of theirs.” Insight involves self-trust, which is a quality we have to cultivate through trial and error, an activity we call learning.

It is, therefore, through the insights of our time together that the study of wisdom remains vibrant and applicable to the lives we lead and is finally the true definition of higher education.

 

Richard Geldard, Ph.D. - UPR Dean of Undergraduate Studies. Dramatic Literature and Classics, Stanford University. Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Yeshiva University, Doctoral Faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute, and Author of ten books on Early Greek philosophy and the thought of Ralph Waldo Emerson (see www.rgbooks.com)

The Story & Meaning of Easter: A talk by the University’s President Dr. Obadiah Harris

 

With the the Spring season in full bloom here in Southern California, we begin to see the yearly hallmarks of Easter popping up all around us… Rabbits, church services and colored eggs fill our minds with the pastel-hued conventions of this holiday. Many of us are keenly aware and familiar with the symbols of Spring, which draw from paganism, Judaism, Egyptian Mysticism and Buddhism, like threads of continuity that weave in and out of their histories, but many of us might still be unaware of the meanings behind the kitsch and candy of this most festive time.

In this audio recording, UPR’s President, Obadiah Harris, shares his view on the story and meaning of Easter… What it has meant for generations and civilizations past and what it still can hold for us today.

Spring Quarter Invitation

With only two weeks left in our Winter quarter and with the Los Angeles cityscape bursting into bloom, UPR has begun to gear up for Spring. If you have been thinking of enrolling for any of our programs or taking single courses for the Bachelor’s completion, now is the time to apply. Application details may be found at the following link.
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If you’re interested in taking a single course at the B.A. level, check out our new enrollment options, including one free non-credit course offered each quarter, by clicking here. The official application deadline for the Spring quarter is April 13th, 2015, so don’t delay if you know one of our programs is right for you!
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Here’s what we’re offering:

Clicking in any of these will take you to the course page with a sample video. Further detail on the courses and faculty can be found at: http://www.uprs.edu/graduate-academics/
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B.A. Courses

PHI 241   Mind Matter and Space Time: The Reality Continuum

PHI 221 – Political Theory: a Multicultural Perspective

PSY 203 – Introduction to C.G. Jung*

CUL 208 – Creativity: The Integral Journey

REL 221 – The Shaman’s Medicine Wheel

*Offered this upcoming quarter on a non-credit basis for a limited time free of cost. 

More about these courses can be found here: 

http://www.uprs.edu/undergraduate-academics/undergraduate-courses/
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Our Admissions Staff is in the office Monday-Friday 10am-4pm (Pacific) and happy to answer any questions you might have.

Philosophy Bots?

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Philosophy Bots?

If you are paying attention to the outside world at all, you may be aware of the rapid transformation of our world into “robo-world,” that is a place where robotic devices are swiftly taking over tasks currently or historically done by human beings. Soon, our cars and trucks will be self-driven by bot technology and promise to be safer getting us where we wish to go. Driverless truck caravans will be delivering all those things we need and want, most of which will be designed, fabricated, grown and sold by consumer bots.

We will have bot doctors that listen, research and prescribe, even do the surgery while human beings watch and admire the speed and accuracy of bodily repair. We already have bot writers that prepare, format and present articles on the web for us to read. [Side note: this article was not written by a bot]. In law offices and on Wall Street, research is done and decisions are made by bots while human beings transmit data that influence millions of lives and livelihoods.

So, as you look through course offerings on this web site and consider whether or not you wish to enter a world of Consciousness Studies, Transformational Psychology or Liberal Arts, you might consider what jobs may in a decade or two be taken over by bots and which jobs will likely or necessarily remain the province of human beings. And when you are thinking about it, you might also consider whether taking up this study will prepare you for that choice.

As a professor of philosophy here at UPR, I am aware of the robotic revolution in all areas of the economy and culture. It is not a difficult matter for a bot to research, gather, organize, present, and even evaluate course performance in philosophy or psychology. I am reminded by a joke in three panels in the New Yorker years ago showing a professor giving a lecture to students, then a computer giving the lecture to the students, and finally a computer giving a lecture to a room full of computers. Is that happening here?

No it isn’t, and here’s why. In the wisdom tradition, which is the historical and living thread of knowledge followed here at UPR, the emphasis is upon a personal study of materials, ideas, and principles thoughtfully transmitted from one person to another with a focus on individual development and not as a matter of simply passing along information.

We recognize and celebrate the conviction that human beings are tripartite in nature, that is made up of body, mind and spirit, and that all three aspects of this trinity must be addressed as a unity, leaving no part of this nature neglected or no part given more attention than another. And no matter what the individual chooses to do in order to thrive in the world, this unity will always be a present and articulated reality.

The principle of interaction in the format of this educational experience cannot be presented by a bot, no matter how sophisticated or cleverly programmed. We learned early on through Alan Turing (an individual life featured currently in the film “The Imitation Game”) that human beings and machines will never have the same capacity to think because they are inherently different. A machine may be able to mimic a person in conversation or the performance of a task, but will never make the transcendent leap of thought and feeling that is the true character of being human.

You may ask, how do we insure that the study of the wisdom tradition is transmitted personally in a distance learning format? The answer is that it is precisely because the distance learning format presents that challenge and that UPR strives to make certain that a personal connection between faculty and student never becomes mechanical or impersonal. We do this through phone conferences, forum discussions, individually framed papers and individual emails. And of course, it is up to the student to take advantage of this personal connection during every week of the course of study.

America’s founding thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.” What he meant is contained in the word “integrity,” a word meaning whole, or integrated. It is the mind, the individual consciousness, that has the task of keeping body, mind and spirit integrated. That task is the challenge we undertake in every week of every class. And we make sure that the computer, the old Turing machine, serves and does not replace what it means to be a human being.

Richard Geldard, Ph.D. UPR Dean of Undergraduate Studies. Dramatic Literature and Classics, Stanford University. Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Yeshiva University, Doctoral Faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute, and Author of ten books on Early Greek philosophy and the thought of Ralph Waldo Emerson (see www.rgbooks.com)

 

Professor Raymond Moody Returns for Upcoming Winter Quarter

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UPR welcomes back professor Raymond Moody, who coined the term “near death experiences” and will be teaching two courses this upcoming Winter quarter, along with his assistant and collaborator Lisa Smartt.

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PSY 432 – Near Death Experiences and Paranormal Phenomena

This course is an overview of extraordinary experiences related to death and dying. In connection, lectures bring to light critical weaknesses in the three traditional perspectives on the paranormal—parapsychology, “skeptical” scientism, and fundamentalist demonology—and propose a new theory of paranormal phenomena, rooted in ancient practices for facilitating the common experience of seeing spirits of deceased loved ones. The course will close with a prospectus for exciting future research that portends to shed light on the most fascinating enigma of all—the mystery of life after death. 

 

 

PHI202_coverPHI 202 – Foundations of Greek Philosophy

During a period of only two hundred and eighty years (600 to 320 BCE), a handful of Greek thinkers set the agenda for the Western intellectual and academic tradition that has followed. In that relatively short time, they formulated the basic concepts of grammar, truth and falsehood, material substance and force. They founded the university system that persists today and devised the first code of logic. They propounded a theory of evolution and the atomic theory of matter. But the early Greek philosophers did not separate the search for knowledge from the spiritual quest. This course sets ancient philosophy against its spiritual and paranormal background: oracular prophecies, out-of-body experiences, shamanic journeys into the other world, and evocation of the spirits of the deceased.

 

 

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Raymond A. Moody, Jr, M.D., Ph.D. | M.D., Medical College of Georgia, Ph.D., Philosophy, University of Virginia, specializing in logic, philosophy of language, and Ancient Greek philosophy. Author of Life After Life and other books about near-death experiences, alternate states of consciousness and paranormal phenomena. Dr. Moody was resident in psychiatry at University of Virginia Medical Center and has served as a professor of philosophy and psychology at various universities.

 

Feeling Good: The Science of Well-Being

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Feeling Good: The Science of Well-Being: A Review by UPR Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Richard Geldard

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Some time ago now I was presented with a copy of this book , written by C. Robert Cloninger, M.D. I put it aside because I was both writing and teaching and had little time for reading. Also, I had to admit, the title “Feeling Good” was initially off-putting, even when followed by its much sturdier subtitle. And I suppose, also, I was feeling pretty good at the time. Then, as the sacred texts have it, it came to pass that I met the author, who was without question a person deeply endowed with wisdom and the kind of knowledge that was and is important to me. Our interaction over time as he visited family in our area took me back to the book, and I began reading in earnest.

Dr. Cloninger is a psychiatrist and geneticist noted for his research on the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual foundation of both mental health and illness. He holds the Wallace Renard Professorship of Psychiatry, is professor of psychology and genetics, and serves as director of the Sansone Family Center for Well-Being at Washington University in St. Louis. In addition to these impressive responsibilities, he is a student of self-aware consciousness, a field of study close to many at UPR and related institutions.

The book is a revealing account of Dr. Cloninger’s research into the treatment of mental disorders and his discovery that the traditional world of medical and psychological knowledge and research was inadequate to his desire to help both disturbed individuals but also to inform those regarded as well adjusted. As a result, his studies and readings in philosophy and consciousness research revealed a clear sense that there existed three distinct stages of self-aware consciousness which are key to true and lasting well-being.

 For example, as the author tells us in philosophy these three stages can be described by Hegel:

 The first stage is “immediate sensuous consciousness,” which is the determination of the physical and intuitive senses in the here-and-now, as is typical of ordinary states of self-centered thinking in people after the age of 4 years. The second stage is “consciousness of the reflected object,” which is an abstraction from time and place, as is typical of meditation and some mature idealistic states of dualistic thinking. The third stage is “consciousness of the object as that which is within itself, as living being or spiritual essence,” which is characteristic of contemplation and non-dualistic thinking. Such spiritual consciousness includes time and place without being limited to what is immediately present.

 For most adults who have explored questions of being and existence, stage two is a recognizable state, whereas stage three is normally achieved only through grace, disciplined spiritual work or initiatory experience. In this stage, insight into questions of who we are, what is the truth of being and how we achieve a genuine experience of wellbeing brings with it what Cloninger describes as illumination:

 In illumination, the subconscious [psyche or soul] is seen to be the presence (i.e., living being) of the individual, which exists inseparably within the universal unity of being. Therefore, only those who have experienced illumination would describe the gate to the subconscious as the Gate of God. The gate of the subconscious is recognized as the gate of the presence of living being in the third stage of self-aware consciousness.

From this point in this remarkable text, Cloninger fills out the experience described above by using as a reference the American Transcendentalists, or the Emerson Circle in the 1830s through the 1850s in Massachusetts and especially Concord. He goes there in order to learn and then teach us how to measure the extent and quality of their personal experience and how that translates to an elevated well-being among a group, a few of whom had reached the third stage of self-aware consciousness.

 The form of his investigation is unique in that he chooses what he calls a matrix of Conflicts in Human Thought (or Dualistic Consciousness). These planes, as he calls them, are as follows: Sexuality, Intention, Emotion, Intellect, and Spirit. What then takes place is an examination of these aspects or planes as a way to find clarity and to make advances in well-being.

In addition to form, the method of investigation is measurement, a numbering system from one through seven found within mind and body through meditation and sensory impression. One has to read the book in order to apply this method to the planes of consciousness experience.

This a book is for the serious student and seeker. It is encyclopedic in scope and yet also thoughtful and caring in expression and content. Personally, I will be keeping it close at hand as a reference as well as an encouragement.

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Professor Richard G. Geldard

UPR Dean of Undergraduate Studies

Dramatic Literature and Classics, Stanford University. Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Yeshiva University, Doctoral Faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute, and Author of ten books on Early Greek philosophy and the thought of Ralph Waldo Emerson (see www.rgbooks.com)

Winter Quarter Invitation

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As 2014 comes to an end, we’re getting ready for our Winter quarter, which runs from January 26 – April 5, 2015. If you have been thinking of enrolling for any of our programs or taking single courses for the Bachelor’s completion, now is the time to apply. Application details may be found at the following link.
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If you’re interested in taking a single course at the BA level, check out our new options by clicking here. The application deadline is January 5th, 2015, but if you call before that, we may be able to extend that date for you. We have an exciting set of courses this quarter in both of our graduate programs and our newly opened BA completion program in Liberal Studies.
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Here’s what we’re offering:

Clicking in any of these will take you to the course page with a sample video. Further detail on the courses and faculty can be found at: http://www.uprs.edu/graduate-academics/
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More about these courses can be found here: 
http://www.uprs.edu/undergraduate-academics/undergraduate-courses/
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To view or download the undergraduate catalog, click here.
To view the graduate catalog, click here.
Our Admissions Staff is in the office Monday-Friday 10am-4pm (PDT) and happy to answer any questions you might have.

 

Born Divine

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The study of wisdom literature is not to look for facts but meaning. This talk by UPR President Dr. Obadiah Harris discusses the archetypes on which the birth of Jesus is constructed and identifies the meaning of every birth.
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Consciousness and Paradigm Shift

Consciousness and Paradigm Shift

It was in 1962 that the philosopher Thomas Kuhn wrote The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and the term “paradigm shift” first appeared. Kuhn used the term to describe the monumental scientific revolution instigated by Albert Einstein’s theories and the subsequent development of quantum mechanics. The dramatic shift away from Newtonian physics into this new paradigm effectively changed the world. In addition to paradigm shift, Kuhn also popularized the term incommensurable, which means that two competing theories cannot be reconciled.

In our own time, the problem of the nature of consciousness may also be facing a paradigm shift and certain incommensurability. After decades of study and countless books and papers trying to explain consciousness as a function of brain chemistry, we are no closer to defining and accepting the nature of consciousness as an epiphenomenon of evolution. As Einstein himself said, how is it that human beings are able to discover and formulate equations for the laws of the universe when such a skill has no evolutionary advantage for doing so? Some more universal connection must be at work.
Another answer to that question comes from ancient sources in the wisdom tradition.

Stated simply, consciousness is an essential attribute of the universe itself and permeates space/time along with matter, dark matter and dark energy. This theory of the presence of a universal consciousness, which all living things have access to, is becoming in our own time a viable theory in a broad range of disciplines. Including cosmology, philosophy, psychology, religion, and physics.

Great minds, like Einstein, Bohr, Schrodinger in physics; Plato, Plotinus, Spinoza in philosophy, the great sages of the Eastern sacred texts; and now more contemporary writers and thinkers, are postulating this theory of consciousness as a serious alternative to brain chemistry. And of course the theory is incommensurate with materialism and biology.

One such contemporary advocate of this potential paradigm shift is Ervin Laszlo, the Hungarian philosopher, scientist, and systems theorist, who has been studying what he terms “quantum consciousness.” László’s 2004 book, Science and the Akashic Field: An Integral Theory of Everything, develops his theory in broad terms, including cosmology, physics, and Eastern traditions as a means of defining what Ken Wilbur calls the integral operating system. Laszlo’s most recent book (2014) is entitled The Immortal Mind and he has taken Kuhn one step further by coining the term Macroshift to suggest the coming revolution in thinking.

That we are now beyond the point of labeling a theory of universal consciousness the product of delusional imagination should be obvious, given the quality of work being disseminated. Whether or not we are in the midst of a paradigm shift, however, will no doubt await a major shift in consciousness, because it is also true that testing such a theory in the lab is incommensurate. There’s the rub.

Professor Richard Geldard

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