Floris Books has put up a peek at my new book, The Caretakers of the Cosmos, due out next month. Take a look.
This fall I’ll be teaching an online course in the evolution of consciousness for the California Institute of Integral Studies, based on my book A Secret History of Consciousness. We will be looking at the work of William James, Henri Bergson, P.D. Ouspensky, Colin Wilson, Jean Gebser, Rudolf Steiner and other thinkers, in an attempt to trace the outline of what I call “participatory epistemology,” an overly abstract term for the fundamental insight that consciousness does not merely mirror the world, but actually participates in bringing it into being. I will be trying to link a phenomenological analysis of consciousness to some central esoteric themes. The class code is TDS 8225 and you can find it the CIIS course listings. The description of the course currently on view is different from what we’ll be looking at, and is from a previous class. Here’s an overview of what we’ll be doing:
TSD 8225 ‘Evolution of Consciousness’
For the last four centuries, science has tried to account for everything in terms of atoms and molecules and the physical laws they obey. In recent years, this effort has been extended to include the inner world of human beings, with debatable results. But throughout the period of science’s dominance, there has been another approach which sees consciousness not as a result of neurons and molecules, but as the creative force behind them. In this view of consciousness, ‘meaning’ is not something we passively absorb from the outer world, but is a product of consciousness’ interaction with reality. In this approach, consciousness is a living, evolving presence whose different stages can be charted through different historical periods.
This course will focus on how the idea of an evolution of consciousness is presented in the work of both esoteric thinkers such as Madame Blavatsky, Rudolf Steiner, P.D. Ouspensky and others, but also in the ideas of mainstream philosophers such as William James and Henri Bergson. It will also look at the important but little known work of contemporary thinkers such as Jean Gebser, Colin Wilson, Jurij Moskvitin and others. The central text is my book A Secret History of Consciousness with forays into the work of the different thinkers discussed in an attempt to uncover the secrets of this important current in the history of the human mind.
I’m not sure if you need to be a full-time CIIS student in order to take the course, or if it’s available to people outside the Institute, but I will be posting more information and links as they become available. In any case, it’s an honour to be doing the course and I’m thrilled about having an opportunity to share and discuss these ideas with others.
My new book ,The Caretakers of the Cosmos, published by Floris Books, will be released on August 22 on both amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. It addresses the question of the meaning of human existence and develops themes I address in my earlier books A Secret History of Consciousness and The Quest for Hermes Trismegistus. In it I look at ideas about the human task of ‘repairing the universe’, as expressed in the Kabbalistic notion of tikkun and relate these to similar ideas in Hermeticism, and in the work of Swedenborg, Abraham Maslow, Colin Wilson, Iain McGilchrist, Rudolf Steiner,and philosophers such as Max Scheler, Nikolai Berdyaev, and Ernst Cassirer, among others. I will be posting excerpts from it in the coming months, so keep an eye out for them. And please, take care.
Here’s a link to a brief article on secret societies that I wrote for the Munich-based magazine Earnest & Algernon (obviously inspired by Oscar Wilde…)
Here are links to two recent interviews about Madame Blavatsky. One is with Erik Davis and Maja D’Aoust as part of their excellent Expanding Mind series. The other is with David Crumm at the interfaith website, Read the Spirit. Both are broad and open conversations about Blavatsky’s influence in the modern world.
Here is a long interview with me and the people at Mysterious Universe, a radio show broadcast from Australia, about Madame Blavatsky. As my readers might have recognized by now, I take the people I write about seriously enough to have a sense of humour about them, something HPB herself excelled in. Too often followers of spiritual teachers become defensive and sanctimonious if their gurus are spoken of in less than saintly terms. HPB encouraged a light hearted view of things, especially herself. As she told A.P. Sinnett, she was a hippopotamus.
Here’s an interview with me about Madame Blavatsky and other things on Miguel Connor’s Gnostic Radio show, Aeon Byte. The Einstein story is apocryphal, I’m sure. But I did hear that Stephen Hawking is a closet reader of Isis Unveiled, although I cannot reveal my sources…
Here is a review of my new book, Madame Blavatsky: The Mother of Modern Spirituality (Tarcher/Penguin 2012). I should perhaps point out that the reviewer is not a ‘mainstream’ Theosophist – if such a creature exists – and is part of a lively new breed interested in HPB’s life and work, but who are not convinced devotees. Precisely the kind of people, I would think, she would be interested in reaching.
Here is an excerpt from my new book, Madame Blavatsky: The Mother of Modern Spirituality, courtesy of the Reality Sandwich site. Take a bite.
An excellent new film about Swedenborg, Heaven, Hell, and Other Places, has recently been released by the Swedenborg Society. I’m interviewed in it and I contribute a short essay to the booklet. Swedenborg remains one of the best kept open secrets of the western inner tradition. This film explains why.