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.