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Christ as Avatar

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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 second of these essays titled, Christ as Avatar, is available here below. Click here to listen to, Born Divine, chapter one of this series.

 


 

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.

Winter Quarter Begins

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“If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” – Percy Bysshe Shelley

As the temperature begins to drop and the new year quickly approaches we begin to reflect on the months past and we begin to look ahead. We begin to envision a future more in line with our truest aspirations, with a new determination and willingness to believe and work towards a higher good.

This upcoming year will be filled with all kinds of new excitement at UPR. We will be kicking off our Second Saturday Speaker’s Platform on January 14th with “Mentoring the Inner Journey,” a lecture and discussion with Dr. Jonathan Young in our auditorium. In conjunction with this series, our library and bookstore will be open to the public each second Saturday of the month. We welcome everyone to come visit and join our Los Angeles and global, online community. We hope to see you soon.

UPR’s Winter Enrollment Deadline is Monday, January 9th, two weeks before the quarter is scheduled to begin on the 23rd. If you have been thinking of enrolling into any of our programs or taking single courses, now is the time to contact us for more information and to begin your application process. Our offices are open M-F 10am-4pm Pacific time. Give us a call during these hours at 323.663.2167 or email us at info@uprs.edu and a university representative will be happy to assist you.

Winter Quarter Courses:

B.A. Liberal Studies:

PHI 302 – Foundations of Greek Philosophy
PSY 302 – Attention Mechanics
CUL 323 – Stories That Tell Us Who We Are: Myth and Meaning for Today
REL 341 – Introduction to Indic Wisdom Literature

 

M.A. Transformational Psychology / M.A. Consciousness Studies

REL 513 – Wisdom of the Kabbalah
REL 521 – The Language of the Gods
PHI 532 – Conceptions & Experiences of the Afterlife
PSY 506 – Essentials of Mind-Body Medicine
PSY 532 – Near Death Experiences
PSY 513 – Dreams & the Quest for Meaning

 

LA Weekly: The Strange History of Los Feliz’s Mysterious Metaphysical Research Center

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The Strange History of Los Feliz’s Mysterious Metaphysical Research Center
by Gustavo Turner

 

No, it’s not a Scientology front.

Nor is it “a Christian Science thing.” Or the Angelus Temple (that’s in nearby Echo Park). Or an exclusive league of Theosophists, Rosicrucians or Illuminati, or followers of Rudolf Steiner or Gurdjieff or any other specific mystic, either local or exotic. It’s definitely not a den of Aleister Crowley worship.

When people venture guesses as to what goes on at the University of Philosophical Research (formerly known as the Philosophical Research Society) — the strange-looking, Mayan-style mini compound on Los Feliz Boulevard, across from the southern boundary of Griffith Park, right next to the traffic jam–prone access to the 5 freeway — they often get it very wrong.

For a good part of the 20th century, the Philosophical Research Society was the physical extension of the largely metaphysical interests and activities of its formidable founder, Manly P. Hall.Hall was a self-educated writer and lecturer who flourished in the extremely fertile spiritual soil of post-WWI Los Angeles, where New World (and New Age) religions mixed freely with the esoteric traditions of Europe and what used to be called “the wisdom of the East.”
Seekers hungry for enlightenment flocked to lectures that could range from yoga and meditation, to Jungian psychoanalysis, to the hidden rites of the Freemasons, to the secret codes hidden in Shakespeare plays or the fables of the ancient world.

An Examined Life: In Search of the Ground of Being

 UPR is pleased to announce the publication of Dr. Richard Geldard’s newest book:

AN EXAMINED LIFE

In Search of the Ground of Being

Richard G. Geldard

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When Socrates famously said that the unexamined life was not worth having, his declaration begged the question what, then, was an examined life? And when his student Plato described the prisoners in the cave living an unexamined life, philosophy began to speak of a life lived consciously and reflectively rather than mechanically and habitually.

This book is part personal description of an examined life and part challenge to the reader to develop the means to awaken to a life lived consciously and reflectively. It was Henry Thoreau who set a high standard for the examined life when he wrote, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and to see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

That is the challenge, and the gifts to come are the rewards from the effort.

“Richard Geldard’s personal quest for a meaningful life has taken him all the way from the PreSocratics to Gurdjieff and back again, but the life-line tying it all together has for many years been the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Geldard is a serious philosophical reader of Emerson, and he is a gifted teacher and writer and thinker able to reach any good modern reader willing to give it a shot. Geldard’s deeply moving and unflinchingly personal account puts him in that small circle of important philosophical Emersonians that includes Stanley Cavell and George Kateb. This is a lovely book.” – Robert D. Richardson, author of Emerson: The Mind on Fire

Visit http://www.rgbooks.com/ to purchase this newest release.

 

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

 

MLA Style Guide

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For both our Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree programs, UPR students will now be expected to use the Modern Language Association (MLA) style guide for all written assignments rather than the American Psychological Association (APA) style. The MLA is the style guide more applicable for our programs. All new students must refer to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers 8th Edition as they develop papers and/or the Master’s thesis. Currently enrolled students have an option to continue with the APA style or may adopt to the MLA style. Students may also find a link to the MLA style guide in the UPR Research Toolkit.

 

 

A Letter From the Dean

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From the President:

I would like to welcome and introduce you to a new professor and administrator at our university.  He is Dr. Greg Salyer who will also serve as Dean of Students. He comes to us with a Ph.D. in Literature and Religious Studies from Emory University. His experience includes many years working in higher education administration – most recently Dr. Salyer developed an undergraduate program at Boston University. He is totally at home at UPR where integral philosophy and wisdom literature are emphasized with all programs. He is comfortable with online coursework as he has a decade of teaching experience using this format.

We are delighted to have Dr. Salyer with us. You will enjoy him too.

Obadiah Harris, Ph.D.

President

University of Philosophical Research

 

Greg_SalyerDear Students, Friends, and Faculty at the University of Philosophical Research,

I tend to interpret my life in terms of literature, especially mythology. When I think of my professional journeys, I always think of Odysseus, Homer’s reluctant hero who travels far and experiences much. It’s been a fascinating journey with not a few gods and monsters along the way. I’m pleased to add the University of Philosophical Research to this trek, where it feels as if I have come home.

My journey has included numerous teaching and administrative positions from small liberal arts colleges to major research universities. I have written and presented on a variety of topics in literature, philosophy, and religion. My first online course was in 2000, and I have taught online in one form or another since then. It is a fascinating time in higher education, and I look forward to being a part of UPR and its contributions to new and vital ways of learning wisdom.

And I look forward to learning from and with you. Already, I have seen that the UPRS community is unique. Competencies and credentialing are important, and we certainly celebrate both. More important than those, however, is wisdom, which is your goal (and mine). Wisdom is the story behind every story, the presence behind every argument, and the alpha and omega of life itself. I congratulate you on choosing to seek wisdom and to do so along this unique and communal path that is the University of Philosophical Research. It is my great pleasure to join you.

 

Greg Salyer, Ph.D.

Dean of Students

The University of Philosophical Research

 

 

The Road Before You

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A onetime protégé to Science of Mind founder Ernest Holmes, Obadiah Harris has lived a life deeply interwoven with the history of New Thought. An accomplished university administrator and now president of the University of Philosophical Research, Dr. Harris is a living link between the Pentecostal tradition of his youth and Science of Mind, which he learned directly from Ernest Holmes. Here we present Mitch Horowitz’s historical introduction to Dr. Harris’s recent book, The Simple Road, in which Mitch highlights several intriguing aspects of New Thought history.  

BY MITCH HOROWITZ

The book you are about to read could save your life. That is not some maudlin claim. I know it as fact – because it helped save mine.

Its author, Obadiah Harris, a university administrator, scholar of religion, and lifelong seeker, says little about himself. He makes hardly a personal reference throughout this book. So, before getting into what you will discover in this work – and defending the claim I make above – I will say something about the man behind it. Understanding the author and his background will illuminate how he reached his conclusions, and what they may hold for you…

See the full article here.

 

Finding a Working Philosophy

Writing in a private journal over seventy years ago, the literary critic Alfred Kazin said, “More and more, it is clear to me that what I suffer from is the lack of a working philosophy, of a strong central belief, of something outside to which my ‘self’ can hold and, for once, forget its ‘self.’”

Most people probably don’t ever approach the idea of finding a “working” philosophy, or for that matter a philosophy of any kind. Satisfied with the “self” that guides their thoughts and actions, they glide (or not) through life oblivious of the need or desire to know more about the nature of the life they are living. But at some point they may encounter a moment, a crisis, a serious bump in the road and ask, “Who am I? What am I to do with this life? Why am I here? At this point, like Kazin, we might start looking for what he called a working philosophy, a set of propositions, of questions and possible answers to those questions. What is interesting about what Kazin penned those many years ago is the complexity of the notion of finding something that the “self can hold…and then…forget its self.” That last thought is more complex than just grabbing hold of a philosophy and holding on to it like a life raft.

What can he mean by forgetting his self? One answer is to be found in the Perennial Philosophy, that thin thread of wisdom traditions that began when the first human beings discovered the very idea of a self, a personal identity that said, “I exist. I am an individual person, not like others, and I can think things, and I can choose what I do.” It is at this point that selfconsciousness is born, and that birth often results in a divided self, an inner and outer persona and was what Kazin was asking not to suffer from with its feelings of separation and conflict.

That sense of separation is often called the Fall of Man and is what traditional religions offer as relief through faith, devotions and feelings of safety from conflict. But sometimes these traditions may not satisfy or provide relief from what in Kazin’s time was called an existential crisis.

A true working philosophy is one which can be practiced, not just studied. It can be put to work for us and provide a sense of unity and clarity. It addresses our longings and crises, and the only allegiance it demands is consistent attention. The Wisdom Traditions here at UPR offer an opportunity for students to find a working philosophy through the study of a history of the human effort to find a personal set of values and examples of how some human beings have found a path that is life-enhancing.

The traditions are Eastern and Western, culturally diverse and intellectually stimulating. They address the physical, mental and spiritual nature of human existence in an expansive cosmos of great mystery and wonder, while at the same time providing the opportunity to acquire undergraduate and graduate degrees. And this year, with the support and coordination of our national accreditation partner, the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) we are beginning work on a Doctoral program with a primary focus on the Wisdom Traditions within our dual programs of Consciousness Studies and Transformative Psychology.

Professor Richard Geldard, Consciousness 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)

Easter: The Secret of Life Everlasting

Christians believe that Jesus died for the sins of the world. In ancient Greece, there was a tradition of making a particular individual into a scapegoat who symbolically took on the sins of the people and was expelled from the city or put to death. They called this person a pharmakos. Before his death he was clad in holy garments, wreathed with sacred plants, fed on the purest of food. Through his sacred sacrifice, the sins of the city were banished. The fate of a pharmakos was to be insulted, beaten, disrespected in every way and put to death.

The mysteries of Mithras, celebrated their sacrificial rites symbolically, rather than literally. An icon of Mithras slaughtering a bull was used as an altarpiece rather than by enacting the sacrifice itself. “Thou hast saved us by shedding the eternal blood,” reads an inscription not to Jesus, but to Mithras. Although centuries later, Christians would express gratitude to their savior in nearly the same language.

Now, the cross was a sacred symbol for the ancients. Its four arms represented the four elements: earth, air, fire and water. The fifth element, spirit, was bound to materiality by these four elements. Plato refers to the desires of the body as nails that one-by-one fasten the soul to the body. The four nails used to crucify man through hands and feet would have been symbolic of our sensual desires, which attach the soul to the world of the four elements.

In the same way that Osiris was synthesized by the Greeks, with the indigenous god Dionysus to create the the Greek mysteries, other Mediterranean cultures that adopted the mystery religion also transformed one of their indigenous deities into the dying and resurrecting god-man. So the deity was known as Osiris in Egypt, Dionysus in Greece, Attis in Asia Minor, Adonis in Syria, Bacchus in Italy, Mithras in Persia and so on and so on. His forms were many, but essentially he was the same perennial figure whose collective identity was referred to as Osiris-Dionysus.

The Spring festival in the mysteries of Attis, like Easter, lasted for three days. During this time, the myth of Attis was performed as a passion play, just as the story of Jesus was performed as a passion play in the Middle Ages. An effigy of the corpse of Attis was tied to a sacred pine tree and decorated with flowers sacred to both Attis and the Syrian counterpart Adonis. It was then buried in a sepulcher. Like Jesus, on the third day, Attis rose again. The mythologist Sir James Frazier writes, “But when night had fallen, the sorrow of the worshippers was turned to joy, for suddenly a light shone in the darkness: the tomb was opened: the god had risen from the dead and as the priest touched the lips of the weeping mourners with balm, he softly whispered in their ears the glad tidings of salvation. The resurrection of the god was hailed by his disciples as a promise that they too would issue triumphant from the corruption of the grave. On the morrow, the twenty-fifth day of March, which was reckoned the vernal equinox, the divine resurrection was celebrated with a wild outburst of glee. At Rome and probably elsewhere, the celebration took the form of a carnival. It was the Festival of Joy.”

Paul, at around 50 CE, talks of a spiritual resurrection: "Someone will ask, how are the dead raised up? With what body do they come?'' Now listen to his answer: "Fool, what you sow does not come to life unless it dies. As for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or some other grain. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor and raised in glory. It is sown in weakness and raised in power. It is sown a physical body; it is raised a spiritual body."

So what is this secret of rebirth, as played out in countless mythologies throughout history? Perhaps it is an allegory through which we can awaken to our immortal soul – to remind us that man's problem is that in his ignorance he believes himself to be just a body, one that will grow old, suffer and die. His sense of injustice at the inevitability of this fate leads him to hurt himself and others, either through lust for more life or fear of approaching death. These crimes serve further to bind the soul to the body and so increase man's suffering.

It seems to me that the greatest tragedy of our time, the greatest tragedy in the modern world, is the atomizing of everything. Each of us is beginning to believe that we are somehow insular beings. And so we identify ourselves as separate beings. I suggest no more of such atomizing. Instead, let us begin to see that we are being reborn as one integral being, one undivided universal Self, belonging to one common human family.

I suggest that this is how we should celebrate Easter. We should celebrate the death of the dark ages of religious fundamentalism and literalism, with its good and evil, its saints and sinners, its insiders and outsiders, and the resurrection of the golden age with its higher level of consciousness in which the old becomes new and the new becomes sacred. Let us listen to our breath a little more. Resolve that we are going to spend a little more time in meditation, a little more time in self-reflection this coming year. This is the beginning of the year to the ancients: Easter is the beginning of the year; the beginning of a new life and a new hope. 


Obadiah Harris is the founder and president of the University of Philosophical Research. Harris has a long and storied career in both mainstream academia and the American metaphysical culture.  He holds a Ph.D. in education administration and supervision from the University of Michigan and an MA in education from Arizona State University, where he was an associate professor of education and director of community education.  

 

Why Science Fiction?

 

Why Science Fiction?

by Mary-John Hart, instructor of
The Transcendent in Science Fiction

For the past 75 years, give or take a few, we humans have been experiencing radical change in ourselves, in the human-created realm, and in the life-world. This transformation has been occurring on both the macro and micro scales and has taken place from approximately 1950 to 2016. It is a product of exponential change in science and technology. The ripple effect caused by those developments is transforming how we are human in the world, how we imagine ourselves in the future, and how we understand our planet without which we cannot survive.

During this time, and as a reflection of this transformation, science fiction has evolved from a cult or fringe or pulp phenomenon to a powerful and dominant cultural force worldwide – witness the extraordinary response to the arrival of the latest “Star Wars” movie, which has shattered all previous box office records regardless of genre.

Just so far this century we have seen such films as “Artificial Intelligence” (2001), “Minority Report” (2002), “The Matrix Reloaded” (2003), “I, Robot” (2004), “Serenity” (2005), “Children of Men” (2006), “V for Vendetta” (2006), “The Man From Earth” (2007), “Wall-E” and “Hancock” (2008), “Star Trek,” “Avatar,” and “District 9” (2009), “Beyond the Black Rainbow” (2010), “Super 8” and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), “Prometheus” and “The Hunger Games” (2012), “Gravity,” “Snowpiercer,” “Star Trek into Darkness,” and “Elysium” (2013), “Edge of Tomorrow, “Interstellar,” and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” (2014), “Ex Machina” and “The Martian” (2015). That’s just a sampling of what’s emerged so far. There is now even a cable TV station that deals exclusively with science fiction. Who knows what fan demand and genius will produce in the very near future?

This growth in the influence of and demand for ever more inventive and thrilling kinds of science fiction brings to mind questions for those of us who would study such things as soul and purpose and deep-meaning and God-by-many-names-and-in-many- forms. What are the implications for human life of this transformation with its intensifying acceleration? What is science fiction really about – as if any one person could answer a question about a field that is now so vast and multi-layered that no one person or institution or course or group of courses could possibly embrace it. Is science fiction about the past, the present, or the future?

Author, N.K. Jemisin is quoted in “Wired” magazine, November 2015 (“War of the Words”, a highly recommended article): “Science fiction is not actually the literature of the future. It’s the literature of the present.” And, I would add, the “present is merely the most recent past. The article points to a pivotal issue that is quite heated in human culture at this time and has to do with what’s going on in gaming and technology between males and females and in science fiction between those who include in their work gender and societal issues (the so-called politically correct) and those who have no use or patience for such “correctness.” This debate is now also reflected in our current presidential election and concerns, at bottom, the past being absorbed into the present (or future). To conclude, science fiction is a place where our questions (however deep or shallow) concerning what it is to be human in what kind of brave new world can be asked though certainly not fully or permanently answered.


Mary-John Hart has her Ph.D. in Depth Psychology on the role of the image. She also has graduate work and teaching and administration experience in drama, and is an award winning science fiction writer, famous in her pesudonym Mary Staton for her book The Legend of Biel. In this course, she shares her depth psychological understanding of the structures of science fiction through the use of her own novel as an illustration.

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