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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.

Christian Mysticism: A Talk by Obadiah Harris

 

Our Christmas talk for this year reflects the history of the Christian Mysticism and its manifestation through a variety of outstanding seers throughout the ages. Traditionally they have been prosecuted and misunderstood. It is only after their lifetime are they genuinely appreciated. This would be a good time to reveal their lives and their teachings as well as other mystics, and to see if we can emulate their life and come to a deeper understanding of their teaching.


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 January 25th

In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer…. ~Albert Camus

  
With the days getting shorter and the nights colder, we are all beginning to feel winter creeping in. As we begin to wrap up 2015 we also begin to plan for the year to come. What new wisdom might it have in store for us? Where could such knowledge lead us? During this potent time, UPR wishes to invite you to join us this Winter Quarter on a one-of-a-kind educational journey.
 
This upcoming quarter we will be offering access to lectures for one of our undergraduate courses: REL 241 – Introduction to Indic Wisdom Literature on a non-credit basis free of cost. For more information on our undergraduate program and additional enrollment options, please visit the following link.
 
UPR's Winter Enrollment Deadline is Monday, January 11th, two weeks before the quarter is scheduled to begin on January 25th. 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.

 


Here's what we're offering:

B.A. Courses

PHI 202 – Foundations of Greek Philosophy 
PSY 202 – Attention Mechanics
CUL 251 – The Transcendent in Science Fiction
REL 241 – Introduction to Indic Wisdom Literature*

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

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: /undergraduate-academics/

The Power of Thanksgiving

 

The Power of Thanksgiving

On November 26th the people of our state and nation will join in celebrating a unique national holiday. One which is different from all others in dedication and in what it commemorates.

Except for the Thanksgiving holiday, all of our other national holidays are of a secular or temporal nature. New years day is an event of the calendar, July 4th memorializes our political independence, but Thanksgiving day alone is what might be called God's holiday for on that day only of all the holidays we render thanks to the Divine Spirit for the blessings that we enjoy.

In accordance with the Thanksgiving Day Proclamation issued by every president since George Washington, as President of the University of Philosophical Research and the Philosophical Research Society, and on behalf of its Board of Trustees and members and friends, I hereby tender our thanks to the Supreme Divine.

With that in mind let us look upon this coming sacred holiday and the power of thanksgiving in a new and deeper way. One which we hope will open the way to much to be thankful for in the years ahead.

Jesus said, “I thank thee O Father Lord in heaven and earth that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and has revealed them unto babes.” Let us look for that revelation and in doing so may we be as Paul who said, “Rejoice in the Lord always, have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication and with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God and the peace that passes all understanding will keep your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.”

This Thanksgiving will be a far cry from that which the Wampanoag people and the colonists celebrated many years ago on the rock bound coasts of New England.

They did not feast on that first holiday in the midst of safety and comfort but in peril and hardship they offered thanks. At such a moment of drastic change and unfamiliarity, the Wampanoag people shared their resources and intuitive knowledge of the land with these early colonists. They possessed a knowledge that perceives God in all things and events and understands them as part of the Divine purpose. A knowledge that receives all happenings with love and joy and without rebellion as coming from God. And that in purity of deed all of its work and all that it has to do as an offering to God.

As religious dissenters, the colonists had undergone persecution in the old world and had come to the new determined to continue at all cost toward the spiritual goal they had set for themselves. In them, I believe, was a sense of selfless devotion to a great truth of the spirit, inner strength, and perseverance. Fundamental in their motivation was the guiding impulse of mankind, that impels him forward toward ever free and higher spiritual unfoldment and perfection. Not denying old and eternal truths but realizing them to an even larger extent in their lives and in world nature.

This was the rise of a great nation on the North American continent destined to lead humanity so that all human kind may enjoy the same free unfoldment of the spirit and may have all material blessings necessary to the wellbeing of the human race and the peace of the world.

If we are to be wise and provident and learn from the story of these early Americans, we too must have as they did a selfless devotion to an even greater truth of spirit and even greater reliance on the power of thanksgiving. If we can do this it will lead us not only to a free nation but to something yet greater, to a free world and a happy mankind. That new devotion which we should undertake today should not be for ourselves, but for all of human kind. Its purpose should be to carry out the divine will in the world. To bring about a spiritual transformation and to receive into our lives and into that of humanity a divine nature.

It is not for spiritual bliss alone, but for the realization of the kingdom of heaven on earth. The ideal that is closest to the heart of all peoples, the aim of the Messianic era of the Hebrews, the Divine Anunda, or Golden era of the Hindus. No mere external rearrangements alone, whether political, social or religious can bring this about, the change must be inner.

The state of the world will not change until human nature changes, until that rebirth occurs, until man becomes not an instrument of his ego but a realized soul. Not as some supernatural after death expectation, but as a spiritual fulfillment of the natural realm. In that great day all will have cause to be thankful for each man will then see himself in the selves of others and then in his own self and the Divine in all. This spiritually reborn man will have a greater knowledge, sympathy, power and self effectuation of the Divine Truth. He will be aware of and identified with the inner being of all men.

As man evolves towards spiritual liberation and identity with all others, he evolves toward spiritual oneness and the unity and harmony of mankind. It is this way that the change in human nature will come about. In this there will be reconciliation of all differences. The true equality in which all are children of God, an end to the clashes of the individual and communal egoism and abolishing of any imposition on the spirit, mind, or body.

And in its place the outstretched hand of love. Not by might nor power but by my spirit saith the Lord, not by the material armor of science, but by the spiritual armor of love shall we enter the joy of a new thanksgiving for all people. As Paul the apostle to the gentiles let us be the apostle to all men so that this thanksgiving may come into their lives. This is the thanksgiving and the table of that feast, the feast of the spirit spoken in the 23rd Psalm, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies, my cup runneth over surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Today, when we look upon humanity we see suffering, ignorant humanity torn apart by racial and religious barriers. We see materialistic nations, worshipping at the altars of science. We see wars and hear rumors of wars even to the annihilation of mankind. But when we look up, we see light breaking in the east, the dawning of a new day, and in the rosy hue of that new horizon, we see the form of a new kind of individual. Transformed perfected, clothed in a light from heaven, and deep in the silence of our souls we hear a voice saying, my dearly beloved, that person is you, the whole of human kind, transformed lifted up, made new. Let us look up and give thanksgiving for our redemption draws near.

 


 

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. 

Fall Quarter Invitation

 

No spring nor summer’s beauty hath such grace / As I have seen in one Autumnal face…. ~John Donne, "Elegy IX: The Autumnal"

  
With Fall right around the corner, colors begin to change and this Summer's excitement ripens to reveal the cool calmness of Autumn. UPR wishes to invite all seekers, scholars and learners to join us this Fall quarter in a one-of-a-kind educational journey.
 
This Fall quarter we will be offering access to lectures for one of our undergraduate courses: PSY 201 – Self-Regulation and Human Potential on a non-credit basis free of cost. For more information on our undergraduate program and additional enrollment options, please visit the following link.
 
Don't miss Jonathan Young and Anne Bach's upcoming workshop and webinar, The Inner life of the Holidays (click here for more information) on September 12th, or a reading with Dr. Obadiah Harris on October 3rd in our bookstore from his newest book, The Simple Life, published and released by Tarcher Penguin this September. Click here to purchase a copy now on Amazon. Make sure to join our mailing list at the bottom of this page to stay updated on an exciting new series of events we plan to offer this upcoming quarter.
 
UPR's Fall enrollment deadline is Monday, October 12th, two weeks before the quarter is scheduled to begin on October 26th. 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.

 


Here's what we're offering:

B.A. Courses

PHI 201 – Introduction to Philosophy
PHI 251 – Introduction to Modern Western Esotericism
PSY 201 – Self Regulation and Human Potential*
CUL 206 – The Art of the Essay
REL 201 – Introduction to Religions of the World
 

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

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: /undergraduate-academics/

Open to the Whole

 

Open to the Whole


Many years ago now, the philosopher and teacher Leo Strauss made the following statement in one of his lectures: “Man is that part of the whole that is open to the whole.” Always one who challenged the more traditional materialist positions of his colleagues at the University of Chicago, Straus was not only stating the difference between human beings and other creatures in matters of consciousness, but he was also making the case for our very identity.

We have all been placed here with the gift of a unique perception within the Whole of the known universe and its deeper mysteries. It is our gift from an intelligence within which we take our life and from which we are invited to enter the portal to the beginnings of wisdom.

The space we enter, not unlike the porch of an ancient temple, is only a beginning of wisdom because merely having a perception of the Whole does not mean that we have an understanding of our place within its nature. An astronomer can grasp a sense of the visible Whole while not being open to it as a personal relation. A continuing study of the wisdom traditions, on the other hand, provides a rare opportunity to become open to the Whole and to know how to live with that openness.

Here at UPR, we have the means to study the philosophy of this consciousness of the Whole as well as the psychology behind that relationship. Together, these two disciplines provide handles with which to grasp and hold on to its mysteries. Without those handles our position is, in effect, unhandsome, that is, not having a handle on our own lives.

As UPR begins its undergraduate program in earnest, inviting students to complete a degree already begun perhaps in a more traditional setting, we open a portal into the nature and character of the Whole. It is a rare invitation, not suited to everyone, but recognized on some level of an understanding seen perhaps as a deep curiosity or a search for meaning. Once completed, the degree invites a deeper grasp of the wisdom tradition with completion of a graduate degree.

One of the rarities of the UPR setting is that the faculty we have assembled for this study have both a sense of the true nature of the Whole and are also open to being a contributing part of it on behalf of those willing and able to discover what that openness entails.

Richard Geldard, Ph.D. 

UPR Dean of Undergraduate StudiesAdjunct 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.

Summer Quarter Invitation

The summer night is like a perfection of thought. – Wallace Stevens

This Summer at UPR is looking to be an exciting one. We will be offering our community a new lecture series on The Art of Buddhism through September and an all day Workshop and Webinar with Jonathan Young and Anne Bach. We are also pleased to announce our newest graduate course, PHI 531 - The Hermetic Tradition, taught by professor Richard Geldard, M.A. Consciousness Studies faculty and UPR’s undergraduate Dean of Academics.
This upcoming quarter we will be offering access to lectures for two of our undergraduate courses: PHI 203 – The Examined Life and REL 202 – Stages of Spiritual Growth on a non-credit basis free of cost. For more information on our undergraduate program and additional enrollment options, visit the following link.

UPR’s Summer enrollment deadline is Monday, July 13th, two weeks before the quarter is scheduled to begin (July 27th). 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 hourse at 323.663.2167 or email us at info@uprs.edu and a university representative will be happy to assist you.

Here’s what we’re offering:

M.A. courses:

PHI 531 – The Hermetic Tradition
REL 511 – Understanding the Bible
REL 512 – The Wisdom of Islam
REL 523 – Buddhism in the Modern World
PSY 521 – Spiritual Psychology
PSY 523 – Buddhist Psychology & Methods of Healing
PSY 524 – The Yoga of Integral Transformation

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/

B.A. Courses

PHI 203 – The Examined Life*
PSY 222 – The I Ching: Archetypes of Transformation
CUL 251 – The Transcendent in Science Fiction
REL 202 – Stages of Spiritual Growth*
REL 203 – The Human & The Divine: A Comparative Anthropology

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

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/undergraduate-academics/

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.

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