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"The Red Swan" 1979,
Oil on board, 33"x24" © Robin Baring

Booklist and Reviews

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Click below for book reviews

Planet Earth, the Latest Weapon of War click
By Rosalie Bertell
, Reviewed by Moyra Bremner.
In the Dark Places of Wisdom click
Peter Kingsley, Reviewed by Anne Baring
The Inquisition click
By Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh,

Reviewed by Anne Baring
The Passion of the Western Mind click
By Richard Tarnas,
Reviewed by Anne Baring
Revisioning Transpersonal Theory: click
A Participatory Vision of Human Spirituality,

By Jorge N.Ferrer - Foreword by Richard Tarnas



New Vision

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List of recommended books (not up to date 2015!)

Abram, David, The Spell of the Sensuous, Vintage Books (Random House) New York 1996

Anderson, William, The Face of Glory, Bloomsbury, London 1996. Green Man, HarperCollins Publishers, London 1990 and HarperSanFrancisco, 1990

Aurobindo, Sri, The Life Divine, Lotus Light Publications, Wilmot WI, 1990

Bache, Christopher, Dark Night, Early Dawn. State university of New York Press, 2000.
ISBN 0-7914-4606.

Berry, Thomas, The Dream of the Earth, Sierra Club Books, San Francisco, 1988.
ISBN 0-87156-737-7. The Great Work, Bell Tower, New York, 1999. ISBN 0-609-80499-5
Evening Thoughts, Sierra Club Books, 2006

Bertell, Rosalie, Planet Earth the Latest Weapon of War, The Women's Press, London, 2000.

Bremner, Moyra, GE: Genetic Engineering and You, HarperCollins, 1999.
ISBN 0-00-653190-3.

Browning, Christopher R., Ordinary Men - Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland. Penguin Books, London and New York, 2001

Richard Bucke, Cosmic Consciousness, Dutton & Co., New york, 1901 & 1923

Burleigh, Michael, The Third Reich, A New History. Macmillan Publishers Ltd., London 2000

Cadbury, Deborah, The Feminization of Nature, Penguin Books, London, 1997.
ISBN 0-14-026205-9.

Campbell, Joseph, The Power of Myth, Doubleday, New York, 1998

Capra, Fritjof, The Web of Life, HarperCollins, 1996 ISBN 0-00-255499. The Hidden
Doubleday, New York, 2002

Cashford, Jules, The Moon: Myth and Image, Cassell, London 2002.

Cheetham, Tom, Green Man, Earth Angel: The Prophetic Tradition and the Battle for the Soul of the World, Suny Press, New York, 2005

Chopra, Deepak, How to Know God, Harmony Books, New York, 2000

Clarke, Lindsay, Parzival and the Stone from Heaven, Thorsons, London 2001.

de Quincey, Christian, Radical Nature, Invisible Cities Press, Vermont USA 2002

de Giovanni, Janine, Madness Visible: A Memoir of War, Bloomsbury, London, 2004

Dunne, Claire, Carl Jung: Wounded Healer of the Soul, Parabola Books, New York, NY, 2000

Cooper, Rabbi David, God is a Verb - Kabbalah and the Practice of Mystical Judaism, Riverhead Books New York, 1997

Edinger, Edward, The Psyche in Antiquity, Book Two, edited by Deborah A. Wesley,
Inner City Books, Toronto, 1999
Archetype of the Apocalypse, Open Court, Chicago, 1999

Eliade, Mircea, Shamanism, Penguin Books Ltd., London 1989

Erickson, Stephen A., The (Coming) Age of Thresholding, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Leiden, 1999.

French, Marilyn, From Eve to Dawn: A History of Women, McArthur & Co., Toronto, 2003

Fromm, Erich, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, Penguin Books, London, 1977

Gilligan, James, Violence: Reflections on Our Deadliest Epidemic. G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1996 & Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London, 2000

Goodchild, Veronica, Eros and Chaos: The Sacred Mysteries and Dark Shadows of Love, Nicolas-Hays Inc., Yorkbeach, Maine, 2001

Goswami, Amit, The Self-Aware Universe, Tarcher/Putnam, New York, 1995; The Visionary Window - a Quantum Physicists's Guide to Enlightenment. Quest Books, Wheaton, Illinois, 2000

Gray, John, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals, Granta Books, London, 2002
Black Mass: Apocalypse and the Death of Utopia, London 2007

Grof, Stanislav, Beyond the Brain, Birth, Death and Transcendence in Psychotherapy, State University of New York Press, 1985 The Cosmic Game: Explorations in the Frontiers of Human Consciousness, Gill & Macmillan, State University of new York Press, 1998

Gutman, Roy, and Rieff, David, Crimes of War: What The Public Should Know. W.W.Norton & Company Limited, London 1999

Harpur, Patrick, The Philosophers' Secret Fire: A History of the Imgination. Penguin Books Limited, London 2002, see also Daemonic Reality, Viking, 1994, Arkana 1995

Harvey, Andrew, Light upon Light, Inspirations from Rumi,
-----North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, California 1996.
-----The Essential Mystics, HarperSanFrancisco 1996.
-----The Son of Man, The Mystical Path to Christ, Tarcher/Putnam Inc., New York 1998.
-----The Direct Path, Rider, London and New York, 2000.

Hedges, Chris, War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, Anchor Books, New York, 2002

Holland, Jack, A Brief History of Misogyny, Constable&Robinson, London, 2006

Johnson, Chalmers, The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic, Henry Holt & Company LLC., New York, NY, 2004
The Last Days of the American Republic, 2006

Jung, Carl Gustav, Collected Works but in particular The Undiscovered Self and Man and His Symbols

Keen, Sam, Faces of the Enemy, Reflections of the Hostile Imagination, Harper & Row,Publishers, San Francisco, 1986

Kenton, Warren, A Kabbalistic Universe, Gateway Books, Bath, 1988 & 1992
                           The Work of the Kabbalist, Samuel Weiser, Maine, 1982 (among others)

Kingsley, Peter, In the Dark Places of Wisdom, Golden Sufi Center Publishing, Inverness, California,
1999. ISBN 1-890350-01-X.
Also Duckworth & Co. Ltd, UK. September 2001. ISBN 0-7156311-95.
see also Reality, Golden Sufi Center Publishing, California, 2003

Kovács, Betty J., The Miracle of Death, The Kamlak Center, Claremont, California, 2003

Laszlo, Ervin, The Whispering Pond: A Personal Guide to the Emerging Vision of Science, Element Books Inc., Rockport MA, 1996. Macroshift, Berret-Koeler, 2001
The Connectivity Hypothesis, Foundations of an Integral Science of Quantum, Cosmos, Life and Consciousness, Suny Press, New York, 2003
Science and the Reenchantment of the Cosmos, Inner Traditions, Vermont, USA, 2006
The Chaos Point, Hampton Roads Publishing Company Inc., USA and Piatkus, London, 2006

Lear, Linda, Rachel Carson, Witness for Nature, Penguin Books, London and New York, 1997.

Lorimer, David (editor) The Spirit of Science: from Experiment to Experience, Floris Books,
Edinburgh, 1998
            Radical Prince, Floris Books, Edinburgh, 2003

McGilchrist, Iain, The Master and His Emissary, The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, Yale University Press,

McTaggart, Lynne, The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe, HarperCollins,
London, 2001.

Midgley, Mary, The Myths We live By, Routledge, London, 2004

Miller, Alice, The Truth Will Set You Free, Perseus Press, 2001

Miller, Judith, Engelberg, Stephen and Broad, William J., Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War, Simon and Schuster, New York, 2001.

Moorehead, Caroline, Human Cargo: A Journey Among Refugees, Chatto & Windus, London, 2005

Nelson, John E. Healing the Split, Integrating Spirit Into Our Understanding of the Mentally Ill, State university of New York Press, 1994

Ó Murchu, Diarmuid, Reclaiming Spirituality, Gateway, Dublin, 1997

Pagels, Elaine, Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas, Random House Inc., New York, 2003

, John Weir, Trials of the Visionary Mind: Spiritual Emergency and the Renewal Process, State University of New York Press, 1999

Raff, Jeffrey, Jung and the Alchemical Imagination, Nicolas-Hays, Inc., ME, 2000

Ravindra, Prof Ravi, Science and the Sacred, Quest Books, Wheaton, Ill 2002

Rees, Martin, Our Final Century, William Heineman, The Random House Group, London, 2003

Roy Gutman and David Rieff, editors, Crimes of War: What the Public Should Know, WW. Norton & Co., London and New York, 1999.

Ryley, Nancy, The Forsaken Garden, Quest Books, Wheaton, III, 1998.

Schaup, Susanne, Sophia, Aspects of the Divine Feminine Past and Present, Nicolas-Hays, Inc., ME, 2000

Sheldrake, Rupert, The Rebirth of Nature: New Science and the Revival of Animism, Rider,
London 1993

Sherrard, Philip The Rape of Man and Nature, Golgonooza Press, Ipswich, Suffolk, 1987.

Skafte, Dianne When Oracles Speak, Thorsons, London 1997.

Smith, Huston, Cleansing the Doors of Perception, Tarcher/Putnam, New York, 2000

Sorokin, Pitirim, The Crisis of Our Age, Oneworld Publications Ltd., Oxford, 1992

Swimme, Brian, The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos,Orbis Books, New York, 1966.
ISBN 1-57075-058-0.

Swimme, Brian and Berry, Thomas, The Universe Story, HarperSanFrancisco, 1992

Tarnas, Richard, The Passion of the Western Mind, Ballantine Books, New York,
1991 and 1993. ISBN 0-345-36809-6;

Cosmos and Psyche,
Viking, New York, 2006.

Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre, Activation of Energy, Collins, London 1970

The Fabric of the Future: Women Visionaries of Today Illuminate the Path to Tomorrow. Edited by M.J. Ryan. Conari Press, California, 1998. ISBN 1-57324-129-6.

Tick, Edward, PH.D., War and the Soul. Quest Books, Wheaton IL., 2005.

Tilby, Angela, Science and the Soul, New Cosmology, the Self and God, SPCK, London, 1992

Todorov, Tzvetan, Hope and Memory: Reflections on the Twentieth Century, Atlantic Books, London, 2003

Walsch, Neile Donald, Conversations with God, Vols 1 - 4, Hampton Road Publishing Inc., Charlottesville, VA, 1995.

Wilber, Ken, A Brief History of Everything, Gill & Macmillan Ltd., 1996 A Theory of Everything, Shambhala, Boston, 2000

Woolger, Roger Other Lives, Other Selves HarperCollins.

Zohar, Danah and Ian Marshall, SQ - Spiritual Intelligence, the Ultimate Intelligence, Bloomsbury, London, 2000. ISBN 0-7475-4676-2.

Zulueta, Felicity de, From Pain to Violence: The Traumatic Roots of Destructiveness, Whurr Publishers, London, 1993

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Book Review 1
Title: Planet Earth the Latest Weapon of War,

By Rosalie Bertell,
The Women's Press, London, 2000.

This article is the copyright © of Moyra Bremner.

First published in Caduceus Magazine, issue 51, spring 2001.


Rosalie Bertell's new book, Planet Earth the Latest weapon of War, reveals the unbelievable truth in the new generation of super-weapons.

Important books are rare - very rare. Planet Earth the Latest Weapon of War is one such rarity. Like Rachel Carson's Silent Spring it deserves to be read by everyone who cares a jot about their future. For it reveals that, behind carefully spin doctored names like 'the Star Wars project', the military is now testing radically new weapons which so profoundly imperil the earth, and all life on it, that to deploy them in the name of security is like suggesting that becoming a suicide-bomber increases life expectancy.
As a distinguished American scientist, world expert on radiation, and winner of major international awards for science, Dr Bertell is no scaremonger. Yet her cool, incisive, fact-packed, prose not only reveals weapons worthy of science fiction, but shows that testing them may be costing thousands of innocent civilian lives - in peacetime.
She exposes how the military have, for decades, been secretly conducting experiments, including high-level nuclear explosions, which may disrupt the vital layers of the atmosphere which protect us from the sun's lethal radiation. She says these experiments are often conducted without even discussing with non-military experts the hazards of damaging these life-preserving earth-veils. And she believes that such experiments may already have accelerated global warming and contributed to earthquakes and freak weather conditions.
The story unfolds gently. She tells us that, for four years, a Russian thermonuclear bomb a thousand times more powerful than Hiroshima bomb circled above our heads. And that a single rocket launched by the US military merely carried enough plutonium to cause lung cancer in 20 million people - had it exploded like some of its non-loaded predecessors.

Radiation belt
In July 1962 NASA announced that high altitude nuclear tests had created a new radiation belt 750 miles deep, girdling the earth. This damage and pollution was compounded by 'me too' experiments by the USSR. Dr Bertell says it was 10 years before American scientists realised that it would be hundreds of years before the vital earth-shielding Van Allen belts of the earth's atmosphere would recover from such onslaughts.
----- However, the repercussions may not be limited to the atmosphere itself. She says that, after one nuclear experiment, which created new electromagnetic belts in the atmosphere, the caribou mysteriously failed to migrate for the first time in 3000 years. A warning perhaps of how the migration of animals, fish and birds may be affected by disturbances to electromagnetic fields - and of the potential impact on man. For, without the caribou, many Inuit people starved to death. Moreover, the nuclear radiation was not confined to the upper atmosphere: caribou and people who survived were dangerously contaminated with caesium 137, and cancer, lung disease and infant mortality soared.
Despite opposition from the International Union of Astronomers, the US military even put 350,000,000 copper needles into orbit. An experiment which Dr Bertell says some scientist believed may have upset the balance of the planetary magnetic field, causing the massive 8.5 Alaskan earthquake and losing Chile part of its coast. Yet she shows that such experiments are small beer compared with what is being done today - and is to come.

HAARP - Ionosphere modification

----- For example, she describes HAARP (America's High-frequency Active Auroral Research Programme) a multimillion pound 'civilian' installation, hidden away in Alaska, ostensibly intended to 'alter the performance of communications and surveillance systems'. Seemingly innocent enough, until she explains that this grid of 180 transmission towers is funded by the military and is part of the 'Star Wars' defence network. HAARP, and its linked brother projects are, she says, known to the military as 'ionosphere modification facilities'. For, according to the proposal for its installation, HAARP is intended to trigger and control natural processes in the ionosphere in ways 'that could be potentially exploited for department of Defence Purposes'. In other words the ionosphere, which shelters the earth, will be used as the barrel of the gun.
-----Dr Bertell suggests that so great is the power of such transmitters that even living near them could be dangerous. She quotes a US federal Environmental Impact statement which says that HAARP can 'raise the internal body temperature of nearby people …(and) detonate aerial munitions, scramble aircraft communications and flight controls'. Even slight increases in body temperature can alter functioning of brain and body and, as she points out, even a small rise in electromagnetic radiation may cause an increase in cataracts and leukaemia and alter brain and body chemistry, blood pressure and heart rates. But such direct harm is the mere tip of the iceberg.
----- In one type of experiment these transmission towers will, Dr Bertell reveals, combine to emit a giant beam, of such power that, 'in a burst lasting more than a few minutes - it will slice through the ionosphere like a microwave knife' producing a long incision in this vital layer of the atmosphere. However, the main aim of HAARP is, she explains, to heat sections of the ionosphere until they bulge to form a curved 'lens' which will 'reflect' HAARP's massive energy beams back to earth to destroy selected targets - presumably without leaving even a trace of what caused the devastation.
----- The layers of our atmosphere are so little understood that no one can possibly know the impact of cutting the ionosphere open, or of making it bulge like a lens. Moreover, she points out that scientists have warned that the energy from HAARP may combine with a natural wave frequency with results which are 'quite disproportionate to the level of input' - including disrupting the harmony between 'earth life forms….and….earth's life support systems'.
The rings round Saturn are thought to have been caused by a comparable interaction between energy waves. So, the possibility that HAARP, and its confreres, might trigger catastrophic changes to this planet cannot be ruled out. As Dr Bertell explains, everything is connected, 'everything in our universe is in dynamic equilibrium and this interference (from HAARP) may destabilise a system that has established and maintained its own cycle for millions of years' - protecting life on earth.

ELF pulsed into the earth

----- Nor is that all. Dr Bertell says that both HAARP and installations in Russia - on which America has, remarkably, collaborated - can also create pulsed, extremely low frequency (ELF) waves which have been directed deep into the earth itself, potentially disrupting delicately poised tectonic plates of the earth's crust, such as those of California's San Andreas fault. Given the little understood interplay between tectonic plates, volcano's and the earth's molten core, to call this playing with fire would be an absurd understatement.
Nor, it seems are these the only military installations threatening earth's viability. Dr Bertell tells us that HAARP is just one of a growing chain of astonishingly powerful, and potentially interactive, military installations, using varied types of electromagnetic fields or wavelengths, each with a different ability to affect the earth or its atmosphere. For example, an installation in Alaska will have a magnetic field more than 60,000 times greater than the earth itself.
To anyone who knows the impact of magnetic fields on the human body the potential risks of such an installation are obvious. Equally, as Dr Bertell points out, the earth's magnetic field is both produced by electric currents in the earth's liquid core and interacts with the Van Allen belts of the earth's atmosphere in ways not yet understood.
With typical restraint, she chooses not to guesstimate the effect that a magnetic field 60,000 times greater than the earth's will have on the earth's core or the atmosphere. Yet she believes that military tests may already have disturbed earth equilibrium. In addition to showing how earlier military tests have massively contributed to ozone depletion and global warming Dr Bertell suggests that some freak weather conditions and 'natural' disasters may have been directly caused by testing installations such as HAARP.

Links to earthquakes and freak weather

----- For example, in 1977 a freak storm which devastated a small town in Wisconsin and destroyed 350 hectares of forest, followed hot on the heels of a government ELF wave experiment. While The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist reported that an ELF wave transmitter lay right in the middle of another storm which brought down 150 - 200 times more rain than normal. These links are more than purely circumstantial, for she says that weather modification is on the US air force agenda, and in 1992 the Russians told the Wall Street Journal they could already achieve it. And the Wisconsin storm offers what looks very much like direct evidence.
The question is, does anyone have the wisdom to control weather wisely, and unselfishly? And do they even begin to understand the potential for unexpected side-affects from all these experiments. As she points out, it is since the inception of Star Wars experiments that El Nino has changed its cycle and become far more severe with devastating effects.
Equally, a Soviet experiment with the ionosphere directly preceded an earthquake in China which killed 650,000 people. While in America ELF - type waves were detected immediately before a San Francisco earthquake in 1989, and unnatural and unexplained low frequency waves were detected before earthquakes in Japan and California in 1989, and before an earthquake in Los Angeles in 1994. We can only wonder whether such ELF waves preceded the recent earthquakes in El Salvador and India this year, and whether the carnage has been caused by 'security experiments' by one of the 'great powers'.
What is certain, as Dr Bertell shows, is that, globally, the number of earthquakes a year has more than doubled since the inception of military experiments which affect the earth and its atmosphere. Even this could, of course, be mere coincidence but another fact suggests something unusual is going on. Inexplicably, an earthquake in Bolivia in 1994 originated 600km below the earth's surface - 24 times deeper than normal.
However, even if no such disasters can be laid at the door of the world's military, weapons which interfere with the atmosphere violate the 1976 Environment Modification Convention. Yet, she tells us that in January 1991, despite America having signed that convention, the White House waived the requirement for actions by the Pentagon to be assessed for environmental impact. However, America and Russia are not alone in possessing such weapons. Her revelations of 30 years of military innovations show that Britain, Germany and NATO have all been involved in military developments which show a cavalier disregard for life on earth.
Dr Bertell is perhaps one of the few people in the world who could write this book. As leader of medical commissions to both Bhopal and Chernobyl she is skilled in unearthing facts from beneath mountains of dis-information - accurately scooping the world's media, on the truth about depleted uranium weapons, by more than a year. As a nun dedicated to serving in the world she does not shrink from the unpopularity accorded a messenger. And her standing as a scientist, personal integrity, and evidence of meticulous research, challenge any yearning to disbelieve her.
A long-standing opponent of nuclear weapons, she sees today's military research as a 'cancer of the body politic' consuming human, financial, and natural resources which are desperately needed elsewhere. 'I would liken society's dependence on the military to a family in which one partner is addicted to something and claims a large proportion of money for feeding the addiction'. As she points out, the billions annexed by defence projects create the very deprivation which eventually fosters war. Moreover, she says military research sequesters many top scientists, 'This "brain drain" from the civilian economy may be depriving us of those who could resolve the most serious survival problems now facing the biosphere'.
This is not a comfortable, or easy, book and needs to be chewed slowly, in small helpings. Yet it is well worth chewing and her overall message is one of hope. She says we need to redefine the militaristic word 'security' to mean 'the protection and responsible stewardship of the Earth' - and redirect former military expenditure towards conflict resolution, social justice and sustainable living. A change which, she believes, can be achieved through active citizenship, global co-operation, information exchange between caring people and organisations, and the kind of peaceful pressure which, in 1996, led to the International Court of Justice declaring the use of nuclear weapons unlawful.
She concludes:
'I hope this book has given readers some inspiration as to how the might become involved in helping this peaceful planet evolve to its full potential. Despite years of abuse, it is still an amazing and beautiful creation. It deserves our best efforts. Enjoy it, love it, and save it'.
There she is wrong. It is not the planet which may die: it is us. It is ourselves we must love enough to cherish the miraculous web of life which radiates from the earth's core to the farthest limits of our universe.

'Geophysicists…conducted an aerial analysis of the storm, (In Wisconsin) based on an aerial survey. This analysis revealed as many as 25 local centres for the storm..'Straight line winds diverged out violently from local centres, each in their own downburst type of configuration.' It was almost as if there were 25 separate storms in action over a limited area. There was also evidence of a direct relationship between these 'centres' and the position of ELF transmitters….It has been speculated that an 'electronic dam' can be set up using ELF generators - a magnetic field is created which stalls or blocks a weather front, therefore causing torrential rain over an area. This is hard to confirm or deny because of the secrecy which protects this activity.' (page 135) 'All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web he does to himself'. Attributed to Chief Seattle, 1854

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Book Review 2
Title: In the Dark Places of Wisdom

by Peter Kingsley

Golden Sufi Center Publishing, Inverness, California, 1999.
ISBN 1-890350-01-X. To be published in UK autumn 2001. Duckworth & Co.

Review copyright © Anne Baring.

The Western philosophical tradition rests on the foundation laid by Plato nearly 2400 years ago. It seems now to have come to a dead end, having for decades had nothing of relevance or interest to say to our culture and having lost the vision of the original meaning of the word philosophy - the love of wisdom.
In this small masterpiece of immaculate and luminous scholarship, Dr. Kingsley recovers for us the treasures of wisdom bequeathed to Plato and future generations by Parmenides, one of the greatest of the Pre-Socratic philosophers and the true "father" of Western philosophy, metaphysics and logic. Plato for some reason chose to discard the vital experiential aspect of Parmenides' teaching and we have consequently been deprived of a tradition that might have made a profound contribution to the formation of Western civilization. Kingsley recovers this tradition for us and offers it to us in the form of a gripping detective story.
Parmenides was descended from a people called the Phocaeans who lived on the Carian coast of Turkey, close to the island of Samos. They were great sea and land travellers, and their city became a meeting place of East and West. About 540 BC, the Phocaeans were forced out of their city by the Persian army and fled first to Corsica and then to the coast of Italy, just south of the Gulf of Sorrento, where they founded a city called Velia. Only five per cent of this city has so far been excavated.
Parmenides was born in Velia soon after these events. Only a few fragments of his teaching survive and we know of them mainly through Plato and later commentaries on them. But he did leave a poem, an extraordinary poem that has never really been taken very seriously by scholars. He wrote it in the incantory metre of the great epic poems of the past, "poetry created," as Kingsley writes, "under divine inspiration, revealing what humans on their own can never see or know."
Parmenides' poem describes his journey into the underworld, his quest for the light revealed in darkness, and his encounter with someone whom he calls simply "The Goddess" although we know that her name was Persephone. The poem begins:
----- The mares that carry me as far as longing can reach
rode on, once they had come and fetched me onto the legendary
----- road of the divinity that carries the man who knows
through the vast and dark unknown…

----- The poem was written in three parts. The first describes his descent into the realm of the goddess; the second describes what she taught him about "the unshaken heart of persuasive Truth"; the third describes our world and "the opinion of mortals, in which there's nothing that can truthfully be trusted at all." As Kingsley writes: "Every single figure Parmenides encounters in his poem is a woman or a girl. Even the animals are female. The universe he describes is a feminine one."
What Parmenides' poem reveals is that he was a master of the shamanic rites of incubation brought from Phocaea and that his writings about Truth, Justice and the right ordering of human existence were not the creation of his "rational mind" but were derived from his encounter with that other dimension of reality. It also reveals that the great divide in our culture between the rational and the non-rational did not exist then and does not need to exist now. It is the creation of our fear of the unknown and our need to repudiate a dimension of consciousness that we have no knowledge or experience of.
The earliest and greatest of the Greek philosophers made the hero's journey into that other dimension, bringing back to their culture the "treasures of darkness and the hidden wisdom of secret places." They were, as Kingsley says, links in an initiatory chain of philosophers, healers and prophets who received their laws and their teaching from another world.
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this book is its witness to a method of healing which treated soul and body as a single entity. Three titles described these initiates: the title Iatromantis meant a healer of a particular kind, one who could enter a dimension of consciousness that is beyond waking and dreaming yet is present in both. They healed the underlying psychic disturbance causing the symptoms of those who came to them for help. They paid close attention to dreams - their own dreams and the dreams of those who sought healing for mind or body. The title Pholarchos meant 'Lord of the Lair' or master of the technique of incubation through which they gained their power to heal. The title Ouliades meant 'priest of Apollo'" - an Apollo who was not the god of light and reason familiar to us - but a god of darkness, associated with healing, the underworld and death. As 'Lord of the Lair' Apollo presided over the hidden caves where the rites of incubation were practised at dead of night, rites that originated on the Carian (western) coast of Anatolia and were carried to Velia by the Phocaeans.
Professor Jacob Needleman comments: "To absorb what this book says is to encounter a completely new vision of the ancient world that lies at the root of our own civilization. Right there, at our own feet, lies a forgotten tradition that has the power to transform all our views about our culture and our life."
I could not put the book down, nor can words express my appreciation to the author.

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Book Review 3
Title: The Inquisition

By Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, Viking 1999.

ISBN 0-670-88032-9. 318pp. Price hardback £16.99.

Review copyright © Anne Baring.

This is a deeply disturbing book. It brings to light facts that are unknown to many people and describes in detail the evil that an institution becomes capable of when it falls into the messianic delusion that it is the appointed agent of God's will and stands above the laws of man. The book lays bare the pathology of this belief and tells the story of the indescribable suffering that resulted from it. More than this, it shows how a carefully thought out and minutely organised policy using intimidation, sadism and fear as its tools of power offered a model of cruelty and violence as a method of ensuring conformity of belief among vast numbers of people, so creating a precedent for the behaviour of totalitarian states in this century: a precedent made more powerful because it was practised by the highest religious authority.

-----Until the time of the Reformation, people believed in the Church absolutely and lived in fear of incurring its displeasure. They could not risk rebellion and protest against the methods it used to ensure obedience. They were in effect brain-washed by a mixture of unquestioning belief and fear into accepting behaviour that was truly evil towards those the Church designated as heretics or a threat to Christendom. With the methods of the Holy Office of the Inquisition and the fear of it deeply imprinted on the European psyche it is not surprising that within barely a century of its demise as an instrument of persecution its methods were adopted (whether consciously or unconsciously) by modern totalitarian states. As late as 1846, spying, torture by Inquisitors and mass repression were still being practised in the Papal States in Italy. The terror once aroused by the persecutory agents of the Inquisition is no different from that aroused by the agents of the modern totalitarian states.
----- As the writers comment:

"The Inquisition rapidly developed a methodology and control that was impressively effective - so much so that one can see in it the precursor of Stalin's secret police, of the Nazi SS and Gestapo…Here was a prototype for the kind of computerised records kept by modern police forces."

-----They describe how, in the reign of terror which prevailed in different parts of Europe for centuries, people were encouraged to inform on their neighbours - wives on their husbands, children on their parents - and were rewarded for this betrayal exactly as they were to be under the totalitarian regimes in Germany, the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The worst aspects of human nature - cruelty, envy, greed, hatred - were encouraged. Anyone who denounced his or her neighbour was rewarded. Anyone who spoke up in defence of the persecuted risked falling under the taint of heresy. When this persecution was at its height, no-one could be trusted.
----- The suffering created by the exercise of this power was beyond description: destitute women and their children, outcasts of society, were left to fend for themselves when their husbands were murdered and their homes and property confiscated; children lost mothers who were burnt at the stake as witches. Thousands (mainly Jews) were expelled from countries that had been home to their families for centuries. The Inquisition was even exported to the New World with the Spanish colonisation of Central America. We have not seen the end of the social and cultural effects of the seeds sown during these centuries by the Church: the hatred and enmity between different religious groups; the repression and manipulation of women; the habit of demonising others. The facts are incontrovertible; the loss to European civilisation immeasurable.
----- The book raises the question of how these crimes against men and women could ever have been defended as the "internal" matter of a religious institution. How could they have been justified by the Church? A great part of the wealth of the Office of the Inquisition during these centuries was derived from the confiscated property of those it had murdered or exiled. How did a religion founded on the principles of love, compassion, justice and forgiveness fall into predatory and sadistic behaviour that was so contrary to the teaching of Christ? How did priests who proclaimed themselves followers of Christ come to believe they were doing God's will in acting as the Church's agents of oppression? There is no doubt that in choosing this path, the Church attracted to its service men who derived pleasure from the exercise of omnipotent control over others and who obeyed orders without question.
----- Today we try people for crimes against humanity. Reading the catalogue of evil and repression detailed in this book I wonder why the Catholic Church (or for that matter the Protestant one which practised similar atrocities, although not on the same scale) has not been called to account for these crimes. The dead cannot speak but the living can bear witness to what was done by bringing to light, as these authors have done, the evidence which has long existed in European archives.
----- The authors describe how the First Crusade in 1095 established the model for demonising an enemy - in this case the Muslims who had occupied the city of Jerusalem. By the thirteenth century this policy had been extended to Jews and heretics in France, and from here the pathology of demonising and persecuting others spread throughout Europe. Many people connect the Inquisition with Spain and do not know that the Holy Office of the Inquisition was first established in south-western France and that it took root there as a tool with which to extirpate the Cathar 'heresy'. In 1208 a Crusade was launched by Pope Innocent III which was to accomplish the destruction of the remarkable culture which nurtured this 'heresy'. Had this culture, which fostered tolerance of Jews and Muslims, respect for women and women priests, the appreciation of poetry, music and beauty, been allowed to survive and thrive, it is possible that Europe might have been spared its wars of religion, its witch-hunts and its holocausts of victims sacrificed in later centuries to religious and ideological bigotry.
----- There were two events arising out of this Crusade which laid the foundations of the Inquisition. The first was the decree of the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 which stated that Catholics who assumed the cross and devoted themselves to the extermination of heretics on this Crusade should enjoy the same indulgence and privilege as those who went to the Holy Land. (1) Another defined heresy as a sin that could incur (if the heretic did not recant) the punishment of being "exterminated from the world by death…"
----- The second event was the establishment in 1216 of the Dominican Order which was originally founded to counter the teaching of the popular Cathar priesthood with theological arguments. However, in 1233 a Papal Bull conferred on the Order the task of eradicating heresy and it then became the vehicle of the Inquisition, given authority over and above local Catholic bishops to convict suspected heretics without any possibility of appeal. The Dominicans set up an efficient machinery for the "process of the investigation, indictment, trial, torture and execution of heretics." Inquisitors were granted the right to expropriate the entire property of heretics. Even the bodies of the dead suspected of heresy were dug up and burnt. At first the Dominicans were not permitted to administer torture themselves but from 1252 they were given Papal permission to do so although they still handed over their victims to the civil authorities for execution. There are, the authors write, copious records showing that victims could be tortured twice a day for a week or more by methods which assiduously avoided the shedding of blood but maximised the degree of pain and terror inflicted until a confession of guilt was obtained. Again, to avoid the shedding of blood, death by burning at the stake was the preferred method of "extermination".
----- When, two hundred and fifty years later, the Inquisition was established in Spain, it was not accountable to the Papacy as elsewhere in Europe, but to the monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella. With its help, Spain was purged of Muslims and Jews as well as Pagan and Christian heretics. With this persecution went the massive accumulation of wealth since the Inquisition appropriated here, as elsewhere, the entire property of the condemned. Many Jewish families had converted to Christianity in the last decade of the fourteenth century because of the persecution already directed against them. They were known as 'conversos' and many held the highest offices of state and were both rich and influential. The Inquisition, presided over by Torquemada, called for the expulsion of all Jews from Spain, including the 'conversos'. They were accused of heresy, imprisoned, exiled or sent to the stake and their wealth and land seized. As contemporary illustrations show, these human sacrifices, often timed to coincide with a public holiday, were made an occasion for rejoicing in the pious certainty that God's will had been done. The writers comment: "In the virulence and systematic nature of its anti-Semitic activities, the Inquisition in Spain was to anticipate the pathology of twentieth-century Nazism."
----- The demonising of heretics and Jews in southern France and Spain is only one aspect of this dark story. Another was the attempt to extirpate all vestiges of pagan animism under the heading of heresy and witchcraft. A monstrous document called the Malleus Maleficarum ('The Hammer of the Evil-doers') - "among the most notorious and obscene works in the entire history of Western civilisation," as the authors rightly describe it - was written by two Dominicans and published in 1487-9. It went through nineteen editions over the next 300 years. This manual became the textbook of the Inquisition, and came into the hands of every Inquisitor, judge and magistrate. (It was also used later by Protestants). Never has woman been more systematically degraded than during this century when, as the authors write, "fear and paranoia were to be promulgated until they clamped the entirety of Europe in a vicelike grip." In the delusional certainty that the will of God was being done, tens of thousands of women were tortured and burnt at the stake in this and subsequent centuries (by the Inquisition's own admission 30,000 in 150 years). Many of those burnt were women who acted as mid-wives, herbalists and healers in villages where the poor had no access to medicine or physicians. Anything that went wrong in the community from natural disasters to still-births, was attributed to the malevolent activity of women in league with the devil.
-----Misogyny had always been intrinsic to the Church's attitude to women but now it was given carte blanche to persecute them. Through the malevolent influence of the Malleus Maleficarum, the demonising of women was disseminated in subsequent centuries throughout Europe and even to the New World. The last witch was executed in 1782. The faint legacy of this time still lingers in ours, reflected in the reluctance to ordain women to the priesthood and in the official opposition to complementary medicine in certain countries.
-----By the mid-nineteenth century, the Inquisition no longer functioned as an instrument of overt persecution but the power of excommunication and the Index (list of prohibited books) were two of the tools of control it still used. The Index, which came into being in 1559, was only formally abolished in 1966 but the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (as the former Holy Office of the Inquisition was renamed) can even now ban books deemed unacceptable to it, can still "muzzle, investigate, suppress or even excommunicate a dissident theologian…and is still the single most powerful department of the Vatican."
-----A recent example of this is the resignation of a Roman Catholic nun, Dr. Lavinia Byrne, from her Order (January 2000) because she can no longer tolerate the bullying and intimidation of this Office. Her book, Woman at the Altar, which set out the arguments in favour of women priests, has been banned and 1300 copies of it confiscated. She felt she had no choice but to resign when she was asked to make a public declaration supporting the Roman Catholic Church's stance against artificial birth control (Humanae Vitae) and the ordination of women priests.
-----Christianity has flourished in Europe for nearly two thousand years and has inspired the highest expression of art, music, literature and architecture. Countless millions of people have been helped and enriched by this path to God. Yet, at the end of this book, I am left with the question: What is the root of the pathology in the Christian psyche (both Catholic and Protestant) which has been expressed as the need to establish supremacy and obedience by engaging in the torture, murder and extermination of others? How can the evangelical impulse to convert others to the "true" religion be justified? A Church which claimed to receive its authority directly from Christ, savagely betrayed its mission in its persecution of Jews, Muslims and any individual or group (such as the Freemasons) which threatened its religious imperialism. It has consistently shown itself to be fearful and suspicious of the new and unknown, rejecting and persecuting many of its most creative thinkers from Origen and the Gnostics in the third and fourth centuries, to Eckhart in the fourteenth, Galileo and Giordano Bruno in the sixteenth and Hans Kung and Matthew Fox (among others) in the twentieth.
----- The present Pope has launched this Holy Year (2000) with a call for repentance, urging people to redress the wrongs of the past and saying that "At times people have refused to respect and love their brothers of a different faith or race and have denied fundamental rights to individuals and nations." I wonder if he himself is fully aware of how profoundly the institution of the Papacy has denied those rights, refused that respect and love. As long as there is no recognition of evil, no acknowledgement of guilt, there can be no conscious repudiation of the drive to convert, control and manipulate others "for their own good" or otherwise. As this book demonstrates, the pathology of evil established in the past will be repeated and amplified in the present and future.
----- If the Papacy could have the courage and humility to acknowledge the wrong done by the Inquisition, this pattern of repression and control could be recognised as something that must never be allowed to repeat itself in the name of any group or institution, secular or religious. It would tell people all over the world that this was wrong and not only wrong but totally antithetical to the teaching of Christ and the will of God.
----- Today our great achievements in science, medicine, standards of living, respect for human rights, are threatened by our reluctance to explore the roots of the drive for omnipotence and control that lies in the shadow aspect of our own human nature. An intrinsic aspect of that drive is the demonising of others and the delusion that an individual or association of individuals, whether religious or political, has the right to persecute, murder and control others in order to establish or maintain its supremacy. The closer to an absolute truth or the more in touch with God people believe themselves to be, the greater their adherance to an ideology, whether secular or religious, the greater the risk of inflation and megalomania.
----- This revealing book is not written as an academic study but as a call to recognise the abuse of power in a religious institution. At a time when certain revisionist historians are downplaying or even denying Nazi and Stalinist persecution it is a vital contribution to our understanding of how events in the past may influence the present. It could help people everywhere to recognise the characteristics of a totalitarian ideology wherever these begin to become apparent.

1. Henry Bettenson, Documents of the Christian Church, OUP, 1963, p. 133

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Book Review 4
Title: The Passion of the Western Mind

By Richard Tarnas,

Ballantine Books, New York 1991 (Still available)

Review copyright © Anne Baring.

For over ten years Richard Tarnas was Director of Programmes at Esalen Institute, California. During these years he wrote The Passion of the Western Mind. It is a superb, enthralling book - a masterpiece - as gripping as a detective story, as moving as a poem. Tarnas writes lucidly, brilliantly, passionately, unfolding the great drama of the evolution of the Western mind act by act, scene by scene in precise and scholarly detail.
----- We need to know our roots, he says, if we are to respond adequately to the crucial challenge of our age. Whereas Spengler in his Decline of the West, explored the symptoms of the degeneration of our culture, offering little hope for the future, Tarnas sees the whole history of the West as leading to this vital moment of kairos, which encompasses the disintegration of many aspects of an old and outworn cultural paradigm in preparation for the emergence of a new one. He brings to this magisterial work three great gifts: an intellect honed to serve his vision; deep insight born of reflection and psychological knowledge; compassion for the courage and endurance of human beings serving a purpose whose intention they could not clearly discern until the present time.
----- Tarnas uses both the Platonic concept of Archetypal Ideas or Forms - expressing the divine intelligence that orders and reveals itself in the dimension of our reality - and the Hegelian paradigm of the dialectical process of opposition and synthesis operating within history as the foundation of his understanding of the development of the Western mind: "Every stage of philosophy from the ancient Pre-Socratics onward, every form of thought in human history, was both an incomplete perspective and yet a necessary step in this great intellectual evolution. Every era's world view was both a valid truth unto itself and also an imperfect stage in the larger process of absolute truth's self-unfolding." God is not beyond creation, but is the creative process itself, accessible to our understanding as nature. (Aurobindo's words in The Life Divine - a comparable analysis of the evolution of consciousness - come to mind: "Hidden Nature is secret God"). The human mind is intrinsic to this creative process, the organ through which life comes to consciousness of itself. "Nature becomes Intelligible to itself through the human mind."
----- Tarnas defines the problem of our time: "The intellectual question that looms over our time is whether the current state of profound metaphysical and epistemological irresolution is something that will continue indefinitely…or whether it represents an epochal transition to another era altogether, bringing a new form of civilization and a new world view with principles and ideals fundamentally different from those that have impelled the modern world through its dramatic trajectory."
----- And he offers the solution to it in the remarkable Epilogue where the grandeur and pathos of his theme reaches its climax: he views the whole Promethean quest of the Western mind a an attenuated process of birth, or a series of births: the birth of human consciousness out of the matrix of nature. "The driving impulse of the West's masculine consciousness has been its dialectical quest not only to realize itself, to forge its own autonomy but also, finally, to recover its connection with the whole, to come to terms with the great feminine principle in life: to differentiate from but then to rediscover and reunite with the feminine, with the mystery of life, of nature, of soul."
----- The extraordinary individuals who have shaped Western culture have acted as mid-wives to a succession of births, bringing new eras into being through the power of their genius. But beneath their search and their vision is life itself, the creative ground of being, continually giving birth through these individuals to the revelation of itself in the evolution of our understanding of life. Depth psychology, as the most recent of these births, gives us the means to comprehend ourselves and to heal the wound that has resulted from our dissociation from the ground of life. The work of the psychiatrist, Stanislav Grof, gave Tarnas the deepest insights into this metaphor of birth, and led him to apply it to an understanding of an archetypal process taking place in the culture as a whole.
----- The history of the last two and a half thousand years has been an overwhelmingly masculine phenomenon, forged by men, dominated by male perspectives. Throughout this time, everything projectively identified as "other" or feminine by men was repressed, because it was associated with nature, but this very repression, pursued unconsciously over millennia, invites the return of the other, reunion with the other. It is as if the very momentum of our alienation from the ground of our being has created the dynamic which is drawing us back to it.
----- And this, Tarnas concludes, is the aim of the entire drama: for life not only to give birth to human consciousness out of itself, forging its autonomy in the crucible of nature, but also to draw its child, now fully grown, back to itself for a conscious union with it. This he sees as the great challenge of our time, "the evolutionary imperative for the masculine to see through and overcome its hubris and one-sidedness, to own its unconscious shadow, to choose to enter into a fundamentally new relationship of mutuality with the feminine in all its forms…source, goal and immanent presence."
----- This marriage of masculine and feminine is the larger synthesis for which life has so painstakingly prepared us over the last two and a half thousand years. The Passion of the Western Mind inspires us to find the necessary discernment, imagination, courage and trust to make this commitment to the feminine, to let go of the old paradigm based on separation and dissociation and open ourselves to a totally different understanding of reality which would "shatter our most established beliefs about ourselves and the world." The entire trajectory of our spiritual and cultural history has led us to this time of conscious choice. I cannot think of another book which prepares us so effectively for self-transcendence and regeneration.

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Book Review 5
Title: Revisioning Transpersonal Theory
A Participatory Vision of Human Spirituality

By Jorge N. Ferrer

State University of New York Press, 2001

Foreward © Richard Tarnas

Revolutions in human thought seldom take place in a single clean sweep. Whether in science or philosophy, religion or art, major advances always emerge in a particular context and with a specific historical background that deeply shape and even constrain the way they unfold. A paradigm shift will often be initiated by a distinct, extraordinary break from the past - a kind of declaration of independence - yet this initial breakthrough will retain from the old paradigmatic structure certain essential and usually unexamined assumptions that limit the success of the new breakthrough.
----- These limiting assumptions held over from the past are, to use Erich Voegelin's term, like a mortgage imposed on the new paradigm by the historical circumstances of its origin. On the one hand, the retained principles make possible the paradigm revolution in the first place, since the intellectual climate and presuppositions of the time could not have successfully supported a more radical break all at once. Yet on the other hand, the unconscious holdover often weakens the power of the new paradigm, and can even threaten to destroy it. Eventually, a crisis is reached. It may then happen that a second intervention will take place, a second conceptual breakthrough virtually as essential as the first, which will emancipate the original revolution from its unconscious limitations and allow the full paradigm shift to be realized.
----- We see this dramatic sequence in the classic case of the Copernican revolution. Copernicus's fundamental insight, that a more elegant and compelling cosmology could be conceived around a planetary Earth and a central Sun, was deeply constrained by his retaining the long-established ancient Greek assumption that the planets must move with uniform circular motion. This unquestioned principle forced Copernicus's system to have as much mathematical complexity as Ptolemy's, requiring the retention of various ad hoc epicyclic constructions in order to approximate the observed planetary positions. Even with these elaborate corrections the heliocentric theory proved no more accurate than the old geocentric model in matching the empirical data. This was the situation for more than half a century until the arrival of Kepler, fully committed to the Copernican hypothesis, yet willing to confront squarely the stubborn anomalies and ad hoc epicyclic complexities that undermined the theory's viability. Having arduously attempted to fit the most recent planetary observations against every possible hypothetical system of circles and epicycles he could devise, he was finally obliged to conclude that some other geometrical figure must be the true form of planetary orbits. By daring to step outside the ancient framework of assumptions about what could possibly be true, Kepler discovered that the observations precisely matched orbits that were not circular in shape but elliptical, sweeping out equal areas in equal time. Kepler thereby dispensed with all the inadequate epicyclic corrective devices of the Ptolemaic system and brilliantly solved the ancient "problem of the planets" that had driven and riddled astronomical theory for two thousand years. By so doing, Kepler liberated the Copernican hypothesis from its unconscious fetters. Within a few months of the publication of Kepler's discovery, Galileo turned his telescope to the heavens, and the Copernican revolution proceeded on to its epochal triumph in the modern age.
----- We can now recognize a similar situation with respect to the paradigm shift initiated by transpersonal psychology. From its birth in the late 1960s with the seminal work of Abraham Maslow and Stanislav Grof, the transpersonal movement represented a profoundly liberating impulse, and in certain respects a revolutionary break from the past, within the field of psychology. Compared with the positivism and reductionism that had long dominated the field, transpersonal psychology's inclusion and validation of the spiritual dimension of human experience opened the modern psychological vision to a radically expanded universe of realities-Eastern and Western, ancient and contemporary, esoteric and mystical, shamanic and therapeutic, ordinary and non-ordinary, human and cosmic. Spirituality was now recognized as not only an important focus of psychological theory and research but an essential foundation of psychological health and healing. Developing ideas and directions pioneered by William James and C.G. Jung, transpersonal psychology and theory began to address the great schism between religion and science that so deeply divided the modern sensibility.
----- But as the work of Jorge Ferrer now illuminates, the very circumstances of transpersonal psychology's origins, born as it was out of a modern science with philosophical roots in the Enlightenment, compelled the field to build its theoretical structures and foundations on inherited principles that - while crucial for its immediate success - gradually revealed themselves to be acutely problematic in the long term. With modernity's focus on the individual Cartesian subject as the starting point and foundation for any understanding of reality, with its pervasive assertion of the knowing subject's epistemic separation from an independent objective reality, and finally with the modern disenchantment of the external world of nature and the cosmos, it was virtually inevitable that transpersonal psychology would emerge in the form that it did: namely, with an overriding commitment to legitimate the spiritual dimension of existence by defending the empirical status of private, individual intrasubjective experiences of an independent and universal spiritual reality. With modern cosmology's voiding of any intrinsic spiritual meaning or structure in the publicly accessible external universe, empirical validation of a spiritual reality had to be via private and intrasubjective experience. And since experience of the ultimate spiritual reality was regarded as one shared by mystics of all ages, it was, like scientific truth, empirically replicable by anyone properly prepared to engage in the appropriate practices. In turn, this consensually validated supreme reality was seen as constituting a single absolute Truth which subsumed the diverse plurality of all possible cultural and spiritual perspectives within its ultimate unity. This was the essential transcendent Truth in which all religions at their mystical core ultimately converged.
----- Transpersonal psychology's commitment to such an epistemology and ontology certainly also reflected the powerful legacy of modern humanism and the longer Western humanistic tradition dating back to the Renaissance and earlier to ancient Greece, which exalted the sovereign value of the individual - of individual human experience, human potential, and self-actualization. Moreover, the expansive and intense private subjectivity of much psychedelic experience, a key factor in the philosophical transformation of a generation of transpersonal thinkers, played a critical role in strengthening transpersonal psychology's commitment to an inner empiricism.
----- Less obvious, though no less influential, was the great underlying drama of the modern Western self as it strove to emerge from its historical religious matrix, that is, to define itself autonomously and thus in some sense to disengage itself from Christianity, the dominant vessel of the West's spiritual impulse for the better part of two millennia. The leading figures in transpersonal psychology were all working within and reacting against a Western cultural tradition whose religious imagination had been deeply informed, and problematically dominated, by Christianity. The reasons for this tension were many and complex, but an antagonistic response-sometimes subtle, other times explicit - to the Judaeo-Christian legacy in the West was generally shared by the entire transpersonal community and the larger counterculture of which it was part, and this in turn influenced and encouraged its immense attraction to the spiritual riches of the East. But beyond the explicitly spiritual and religious dimension of this attitude, all the leaders of the transpersonal movement shared the larger background of the Enlightenment's historical struggle with the Christian religion for dominance in the modern world view.
----- The Enlightenment impulse to privilege the universal truth of an objective reality - an unambiguous independent truth that could be reliably confirmed by direct experience and the appropriate experimental procedures, that transcended the diversity of various cultural and personal perspectives, that cleansed the mind of all subjective distortions and superstitious delusions, that demystified reality of all mythological baggage and anthropomorphic projections - this overriding impulse had effectively served the modern project of freeing modern thought from the perceived constrictions of a dogmatic Christianity.
----- But transpersonal psychology was now motivated by the same impulse in a new quest, focused this time not on the nature of the material world but on the nature of spirituality: namely, to free spirituality from its previous obligatory association with the now increasingly relativized Christian religion, yet also to free spirituality from its negation by modern science while remaining true to scientific principles of empiricist testing and validation. In turn, this quest was deeply affected by the widespread encounter with various Asian mystical practices and perspectives, usually removed from their complex cultural contexts and emphasizing a contemplative goal of nondual transcendence. The combined result of these several factors was transpersonal theory's commitment to a "perennial philosophy" which in essence privileged the same kind of truth in the psychospiritual world that the rationalist Enlightenment had privileged with respect to the physical world: an independent, impersonal, universal truth that transcended all subjective and cultural interpretations and that could be empirically verified with appropriate methodologies employed by an appropriate community of investigators. This perennialist Truth was the highest truth, superior to all others. It was a Truth exclusively capable of including and defining all other truths.
----- In a sense, the pioneers and leading theorists of transpersonal psychology had two aims. They wished to legitimate their new discipline and the ontological status of spirituality in the eyes of empirical science, the dominant force in the modern world view. Yet they equally sought to legitimate spirituality and their discipline in their own eyes, which required them to satisfy those standards and assumptions of empirical science that they themselves had internalized in the course of their own intellectual development.
----- The belief in an independent objective reality - whether spiritual or material - that could be empirically validated; the further conviction that this pre-given reality was ultimately single and universal, and that its deep structures could be described by progressively more accurate representations as the history of thought advanced; the corollary belief that on this basis, sharply bivalent assessments, either affirmative or rejecting, could be made of all "competing" spiritual and psychological perspectives, and that hierarchical rankings of religious traditions and mystical experiences as more or less evolved could thereby be established according to their relative accuracy in representing this independent reality: all these principles, derived from the scientific ideology of modernity, were carried forth into the transpersonal paradigm. And in being carried forth, they at once helped legitimate the paradigm and yet increasingly began to engender internal tensions, theoretical incoherencies, and even internecine conflicts.
----- In practice - on the ground level, as it were, in its lived reality - the transpersonal tent from the beginning was an extraordinarily embracing, tolerant, richly pluralistic community of seekers and scholars, students and teachers. The periodic large gatherings around the world of the International Transpersonal Association, founded by Grof in the 1970s, were exceptionally encompassing events, each one a combination of wide-ranging psychology conference, new age cultural festival, and something resembling the World Parliament of Religions. Few gatherings could have been more fertilely dialogical. A similar ethos pervaded the ongoing seminars, symposia, and workshops at Esalen Institute, for many years an epicenter of the transpersonal world.
----- But at the theoretical level, in books, journals, and graduate classrooms, the most energetic and widely discussed conceptual frameworks in transpersonal theory were marked by an increasingly intense commitment to a single absolute universal truth, stringent bivalent logic, and the construction of all-subsuming metasystems that confidently rejected or affirmed particular spiritual traditions and philosophical perspectives according to specific abstract criteria and ranked them in ascending evolutionary sequences. This in turn brought forth increasingly heated controversies and conflicts, as representatives of an enormous range of diverse traditions and perspectives - indigenous and shamanic, esoteric and gnostic, Romantic and Neo-Romantic, Jungian and archetypal, feminist and ecofeminist, as well as Wiccan and Goddess spirituality, Buddhism, nature mysticism, Christian and Jewish and Islamic mysticism, anthroposophy, American Transcendentalism, deep ecology, systems theory, evolutionary cosmology, Whiteheadian process theology, Bohmian physics, and many others - all asserted the intrinsic worth of their positions against theoretical superstructures by which they felt marginalized, devalued, and misrepresented. The situation was further complicated by the fact that transpersonal psychology's own data - the findings of modern consciousness research, experiential therapies, psychedelic reports, spiritual emergencies, research in non-ordinary states of consciousness, field anthropology, thanatology, the reports of mystics across diverse cultures and eras - suggested a far more complex picture than the leading theoretical systems could accommodate. By the 1990s, a kind of civil war had emerged, engulfing the field in controversy and schism.
----- It is this immensely complex and conflicted situation, in all its conceptual intricacy, that Jorge Ferrer's Revisioning Transpersonal Theory brilliantly confronts, diagnoses, and recontextualizes. This is a profoundly liberating book. Ferrer has assimilated all the major works and ideas of the field, and thought through the difficult issues at stake. He has integrated the most recent developments in fields that had heretofore been inadequately engaged by transpersonal theory - interreligious dialogue, comparative mysticism, hermeneutics and poststructuralism, post-Kuhnian philosophy of science - fields acutely relevant to the current debates. And perhaps especially important, he has explored deeply a range of transformative practices, spiritual paths, and spiritually informed social action that have brought crucial dimensions of embodiment to the intellectual and spiritual issues.
----- I will leave it to the reader to enjoy the unfolding drama of Ferrer's masterful analysis as he lays the groundwork for resolving the crisis of transpersonal theory. In essence, Ferrer has comprehended the most valuable insights of the postmodern mind and integrated them into the transpersonal vision, while fully transcending the dogmatic relativism and compulsively fragmenting skepticism that afflicted some earlier postmodern perspectives (limitations rooted in that hidden secular reductionism which served as postmodernity's own unconscious mortgage to the modern). The underlying project of the leading transpersonal metatheories has explicitly been to integrate modern science with premodern religion. To achieve this, numerous ad hoc theoretical modifications were required to explain the many resulting anomalies and incoherencies, blunt the diverse criticisms, and patch up the attempted supersynthesis. These modifications usually drew on various postmodern ideas that were helpful for meeting the specific problems at issue, but in the long run proved to be essentially epicyclic corrections for an overall strategy that could not do justice to the complex reality it sought to explain.
----- Ferrer, by contrast, has absorbed the full meaning of the postmodern turn at its deepest and irreplaceable core: He has articulated a radically participatory and pluralistic understanding of spiritual realities, spiritual practices, and spiritual knowledge. He critiques the intrasubjective empiricism imported from empiricist science that has dominated the field and colonized it with inapt and self-defeating requirements for replication, testing, and falsification. And he affirms the validity of a multiplicity of spiritual liberations, in which various spiritual traditions and practices cultivate and "enact," bring forth, through co-creative participation in a dynamic and indeterminate spiritual power, a plurality of authentic spiritual ultimates.
----- With this crucial insight into the participatory, enactive, and pluralistic nature of spiritual truth, the transpersonal field frees itself to enter into a new world of openness to the Mystery of being that is its ground, accompanied by a newly respectful and fruitful dialogue between diverse religions, metaphysical perspectives, and spiritual practices. By cutting the Gordian knot that has invisibly bound transpersonal theory to the Enlightenment like an outlived umbilical cord, the transpersonal field can open to new horizons, its vision no longer so riven by futile and too often intolerant, undialogical debate.
----- I salute Ferrer's emphatic affirmation of the Mystery with which all transpersonal and spiritual inquiry is concerned, the boundless creative freedom of the ultimate ground, its liberating defiance of all intellectual schemas that claim to theorize the whole of reality. And this affirmation is achieved, not simply by apodictic declaration, but by rigorous epistemological analysis of the relevant transpersonal theories, an equally meticulous comparison of crosscultural religious and mystical reports, and an incisive critique of contemporary spiritual practice. It is a pleasure to see here a powerful mind employed fully in service of opening to the Mystery of existence, rather than attempting to contain, categorize, and rank, in service of the needs of an overarching system.
----- This is in many ways a very simple book. It certainly is extremely clear, written with an intelligent and patient care to make every point transparent to the reader, with every position at issue represented with conscientious accuracy, and with each possible objection or alternative lucidly addressed. Each successive chapter brings greater penetration into the field's central problems and greater freedom from their constraints. One finishes this book with a clearer mind and a more spacious vision than one begins it.
----- To engage transpersonal discourse at the level required to write this book, one must have done an incalculable amount of close reading and deep thinking, on an extremely broad range of topics and in a wide range of disciplines. And because it is this particular field - involving not only epistemology and psychology but spirituality and religion - there is an even greater potential in the process of such an accomplishment for spiritual inflation.
----- But Ferrer demonstrates in this book the very qualities of scholarship and dialogue that best reflect the character of his spiritual vision - the care with which he describes both his own positions and those of others, the openness to being corrected, the ability to be critical without sarcasm or rancor, the setting forth of opposing ideas in a manner that scrupulously reflects how their exponents themselves would articulate them. The consistent priority is clearly to seek and serve truth, rather than advance or preserve one's own position and reputation at others' expense.
----- Transpersonal realities can never be adequately or accurately described by intellectually confident assessments and rankings of the multiplicity of humanity's spiritual paths and perspectives measured against a single pre-given independent universal Reality. They can be approached, rather, only by a much more subtly intelligent and more heartful dialogical engagement with the Mystery that is source of all - hence, by a dialogical engagement with each other in respectful openness to the diversity of wisdom's self-disclosures, and a dialogical engagement with one's interior being and with the cosmos itself, in reverent openness to the irreducible depths of its mystery, intelligence, and power. Such knowledge is an act of the heart as much as it is an act of the mind, the two inextricably united.
----- We can perhaps now recognize that great temptation to which our field temporarily succumbed, seen in certain stages of the spiritual and intellectual quest, a temptation that any brilliant spiritually informed mind may encounter: to attempt intellectually to master the Mystery, to overpower its power, to overcome its free spontaneity, to show how everything fits one's system, to avoid the psychological fears and anxieties of confronting the larger Unknown, that which can never be mastered. This book provides the theoretical matrix for honoring this recognition. It honors that Spirit which blows like the wind, "where it wills."
----- As the transpersonal field moves to an understanding of human spirituality as more profoundly encompassing and participatory, many have begun to see the very word "transpersonal" as needing to be addressed, and perhaps fundamentally redefined. For as we integrate more fully the amplitude and immanence of the sacred, we better discern that spiritual power moving in and through the human person in all her and his living, embodied, situated specificity: psychological and physical, gendered, relational, communal, cultural and historical, ecological and cosmic. In this understanding, "trans" recovers its original Latin larger range of meanings - signifying not only beyond but also across, through, pervading; so as to change, transform; occurring by way of. Here "transpersonal" multivalently acknowledges the sacred dimension of life dynamically moving beyond as well as within, through, and by way of the human person in a manner that is mutually transformative, complexly creative, opening to a fuller participation in the divine creativity that is the human person and the ever unfolding cosmos. It is precisely this spiritual dynamism in the human person embedded in a spiritually alive cosmos that empowers, and challenges, the human community's participatory co-creation of spiritual realities, including new realities still to unfold.
----- If the founding works of transpersonal psychology by Maslow and Grof constituted its declaration of independence, then this book may well be seen as its emancipation proclamation, its "new birth in freedom." For here transpersonal theory is liberated from that mortgage to the past, those constraining assumptions and principles inherited from its Enlightenment and modern scientific origins. As revolutionary and profound a force as transpersonal theory has been over the past three decades, it has in a fundamental way been working inside a conceptual box. It has been subtly constrained by epistemological and metaphysical blinders that have unconsciously restricted its vision, thereby engendering numerous seemingly irresolvable problems, distortions, and conflicts. Only with the recognition of these inhibiting assumptions could the full emancipatory potential of the original transpersonal breakthrough finally be fulfilled.
----- If I may draw again on the Copernican analogy, transpersonal theory in its first thirty years, after freeing itself from a kind of geocentric/egocentric materialist reductionism dominant in mainstream psychology, tended to constellate itself around the transcendent Sun of perennialism as the absolute and single fixed center of the spiritual universe. Only with time has it become apparent that we live in a much vaster, more interesting, radically pluralistic world, an omnicentered cosmos with innumerable suns and stars around which are constellated multiple universes of meaning. These meanings are not pre-given and independent objective realities but rather are participatively and co-creatively brought forth out of an indeterminate and dynamic matrix of spiritual mystery.
----- We owe a debt of gratitude to Ferrer for his courage in bringing forth this work, though in a sense it reflects the maturation of the entire field, of the wider transpersonal community. I stand in admiration before the magnitude and depth of thought and experience, dialogue and reflection that has taken place within the transpersonal field to permit the possibility of this work being written at the present time. For at a deep level, the transpersonal community itself has brought forth this book: As Ferrer would himself be the first and most enthusiastic to declare, it is not the work of one person - though we owe so much to the person who articulated it.

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