4-part series: Saturday and Sunday September 11- 12, 18 – 19
9:00am PDT | 12:00pm EDT | 5:00pm BST | 6:00pm CEST
Each session is 2 hours
with John Briggs PhD, Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Writing and Aesthetics at WCSU
and coauthor of three books with F. David Peat
Robert Toth: Former Executive Director of the Merton Institute for Contemplative Living
Ofelia Rivas: Elder of the Tohono O’odham Nation
Shantena Augusto Sabbatini, Director of The Pari Center
James Peat Barbieri, Associate Program Director of The Pari Center
Indigenous peoples alive today are rooted in a consciousness of Earth that once provided the guiding mode of consciousness for humans but which at this point in time most of the rest of humanity has lost. The mainstream mode of consciousness is the “anthropocentric” or human-centered mode—a consciousness of objects, causality, competition and hierarchy that focuses on the individual self and on the conflict for survival of the individual. By contrast, the holomorphic or Earth-Mind consciousness is a holistic awareness; it’s an awareness of living in dynamic balance with other beings as “relatives,” including mountains, trees, rivers, wind. It’s an awareness of the deeply metaphoric nature of our relationship to reality and of our obligation to engage in “reciprocity” with all beings, animate or inanimate.
Everyone comes to life naturally endowed with both modes of consciousness, but the holistic Earth-Mind has been suppressed by the all-consuming anthropocentric structures of thought and self-interest that have moved to control nature since the Neolithic Revolution. In the words of one Native elder: “Instead of taking care, we are taking over.”
The objective of the four sessions of this course is to alert participants to the existence of the Earth-Mind mode of awareness in their own consciousness and to explore the implication of this mode of awareness for their individual lives and the collective life of the planet.
The sessions will be interactive. Through simple activities, participants will engage their Earth-Mind and report back to the group for discussion what they find. Guests will include Ofelia Rivas elder of the Tohono O’odam Nation in Southern Arizona and Mexico. Physicists Shantena Sabbadini and James Peat Barbieri will join the final session in a dialogue exploring how modern physics and ideas of the whole might find resonance with the holistic mode of consciousness that grounds traditional People.
Session 1: A Holistic Kind of Consciousness—Saturday September 11
Climate change and catastrophic species extinction have resulted from a way of thinking that could be called anthropocentric or “human-centered.” This is thinking about the world and ourselves in terms of separate objects and interchangeable parts. The so-called “human enhancement project” exemplifies this kind of thinking that most people would conclude is, for better and ill, the only kind of human thinking there is short of enlightenment. However, Indigenous people around the world are guided by another mode of consciousness, a holomorphic or Earth-Mind consciousness. This first session will sketch the characteristics of Earth-Mind consciousness. Short selections of reading will be assigned along with an activity. Both will be discussed on Sept. 18 in session 3.Session 2: A Conversation with O’odam Elder Ofelia Rivas—Sunday September 12
Among the items Ofelia will discuss: her experience of reality as flux, relations with other entities, ceremony, reciprocity, balance, the original instructions. What is the role of the feminine in maintaining balance in the flux of the world? What is it like for her to live under the pressures of a toxic anthropocentric society? This session will end with a recommendation that participants engage in two simple activities over the next week and come prepared to communicate their experiences on the 18th, session 3.Session 3: Living with Our Relatives—Saturday September 18
This session is devoted to participants’ thoughts about the reading selections and their experiences as they engaged the recommended “homework” activities. Final assignment will be given to view two short videos on YouTube in preparation for the last session.Session 4: What Is the Whole?—Sunday September 19
Physics has pursued the idea of a universe made of separate objects connected by forces and causality. But figuring out how the smallest objects come together to make the world eventually led to the discovery of a missing ingredient in scientific theories: the whole. What is the whole according to chaos theory, quantum mechanics and David Bohm’s implicte order? The final session will unfold as a dialogue with physicists Shantena Augusto Sabbadini and James Peat Barberi exploring physical conceptions of holism and their possible connections to Earth-Mind consciousness.John Briggs, PhD, taught for 25 years at Western Connecticut State University. He has taught aesthetics, journalism, and creative writing and served as co-chair of the English Department; he was one of the founders of the Department of Writing, Linguistics and Creative Process and one of the principal developers of the MFA in Professional and Creative Writing. He is now Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Writing and Aesthetics at WCSU. Among his many publications are three books he co-authored with David Peat, Looking Glass Universe (1984), Turbulent Mirror: An Illustrated Guide to Chaos Theory and the Science of Wholeness (1989), and Seven Life Lessons of Chaos (1999). He lives in the New England town of Granville, Massachusetts.
Ophelia Rivas My people are the O’odham from the desert, O’odham means people. The O’odham oral history teaches us where and when we originated and how to live on the land and follow our way of life called the Him’dag. My homelands are illegally occupied by the United States of America and the Republic States of Mexico—an International Boundary bisected my homelands. Today we live on reservations “wards of the state”, where the poverty levels are above national levels. My father’s community is in Cu:Wi I-gersk, Sonora, Mexico and my mother’s community is Ali Jegk, Arizona, USA. I hold my alliance with my Indigenous brothers and sisters and my traditional O’odham Elders and ceremony leaders. The traditional O´odham hold their alliance to Mother Earth. No written documents required. I carry the words from my traditional elders and ceremony leaders. They call for solidarity to defend the sacred places of our people for our survival. They call to defend the source of our original birthplaces as people, Mother Earth, Father Sky and the sacred Water and Air.Robert G. Toth served as Executive Director the Merton Institute for Contemplative Living from 1998 to 2010. He co-edited Bridges to Contemplative Living with Thomas Merton, a popular series designed for small group dialogue. He is an active member of The Contemplative Alliance, an initiative of the Global Peace Initiative of Women, which organizes dialogues and programs around the world to advance contemplative approaches to issues affecting the welfare of all being. He also serves on the Board of the Lake Erie Institute which offers holistic ecological leadership programs to individuals engaged in creating flourishing, regenerative, and socially just communities.Shantena Sabbadini graduated from the University of Milan in 1968 and was awarded his PhD in physics from the University of California in 1976. In Milan he researched the foundations of quantum physics, laying the base for what is currently known as the decoherence interpretation of quantum physics. At the University of California, he contributed to the theoretical work behind the first identification of a black hole, the X-ray source Cygnus X-1. In the 1990s he was scientific consultant for the Eranos Foundation, an East-West research center founded under the auspices of C.G. Jung in the 1930s. In that context he produced various translations and commentaries of Chinese classics in Italian and English, including the Yijing and the trilogy of Daoist classics, the Laozi, the Zhuangzi and the Liezi. From 2002 onwards he collaborated with F. David Peat running the Pari Center for New Learning and in 2017 he succeeded his friend and colleague as director of the center.
Shantena leads workshops and courses on the philosophical implications of quantum physics, on Daoism, and on using the Yijing as a tool for introspection. His most recent book in English, Pilgrimages to Emptiness: Rethinking Reality through Quantum Physics, was published by Pari Publishing in 2017.
James Peat Barbieri is the Associate Programme Director at the Pari Center, and host of the Pari Center online events. He studied at a professional dance school, Ateneo della Danza, Siena, but moved on to academic studies. James is now a King’s College, University of London graduate in Physics and Philosophy. His other interests include Film, Art, and Philosophy. He is interested in analysing cinema and works of art by applying philosophical approaches such as aesthetics and the Continental philosophies.
James has been taking part in conferences and courses at the Pari Center since he was 11. He was David Peat’s Teaching Assistant from the age of 15 and has since then given several presentations at the Pari Center, including two mini-courses on Beauty and Mathematics, dealing with the relationship of Nature and the Golden Section, on Hegel’s philosophy and its symmetry with the works of David Bohm, and the historical relationship between Art and Science.