4 November 2013
Chris Clarke: The psychology and physics of consciousness
Since 1939 the nature of consciousness and its possible role in physics has been hotly contended. Now, thanks to progress in understanding mental processes and interpreting quantum physics, a clearer picture is emerging that points to an essential function of consciousness throughout the universe.
Chris Clarke was Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Southampton, leading theoretical work on the physics of the brain and the large-scale structure of the universe, until moving to free lance research in 1999. Recent non-technical books are Weaving the Cosmos and Ways of Knowing (edited). His website is
1 October 2013
Richard Tarnas: The Role of ‘Heroic’ Learning Communities in the Postmodern Era
In a time of such critical and rapid historical change as ours, what is the role and cultural significance of “heroic” learning communities: that is, communities consciously oriented toward a framework of values, or a vision of the good, which in some manner fundamentally challenges that of the larger mainstream society? The Scientific and Medical Network can be seen as one such community, as can the California Institute of Integral Studies where I teach. So too the Institute of Noetic Sciences in the U.S., or Findhorn in Scotland, Schumacher in England, Damanhur in Italy, Auroville in Indiam, Esalen in California, Naropa in Colorado, Omega Institute or the Open Center in New York. Here we can include nonlocal communities as well, so significant in our digital and wired era. And also atemporal communities, that extend back in time through the centuries, providing current communities with deeper roots, inspiration, even a kind of dialogue.
I am taking the term ‘heroic’ from Charles Taylor’s analysis in Sources of the Self of that deep tradition within Western culture of the heroic stance, whether that of the individual philosopher like Socrates or the individual prophet as in ancient Israel, which defines a moral or cosmological vision that stands in sharp contrast with, even defiance of, the larger society. But I am applying it here specifically to a community rather than an individual, and want to suggest the peculiar necessity of such communities in our time ‘ for the individual, but also ultimately for the larger society and civilization, perhaps the Earth community itself. This necessity is particularly connected to the state of our civilization’s world view in the late modern and postmodern age, which in crucial respects is unprecedented in human history.
Prof Richard Tarnas is a Professor of psychology and cultural history at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, where he founded the graduate program in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness. He also lectures on archetypal studies and depth psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara. He is the author of The Passion of the Western Mind, a history of the Western world view from the ancient Greek to the postmodern that became both a best seller and a required text in many universities; and Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View, which received the Book of the Year Prize from the Scientific and Medical Network in the UK.
9 September 2013
George Ellis: Emergence, Top Down Causation and Reductionism
Higher level properties such as life and thought emerge of out of lower level properties characterised by physics. It would seem however that the physics, being causally closed, completely determines what happens at all higher levels: so how is the room for any higher level causal powers to emerge? Higher levels must be epiphenomena. This talk will argue that as well as bottom up causation, top-down effects occur in the hierarchy of structure and causation, allowing emergence of higher levels with genuine causal powers; and will consider how this is possible in the face of lower level physical and chemical causation. Digital computers provide an illuminating example of how this can happen: in that case, abstract algorithms rather than physics drive what happens.
Prof George Ellis FRS is Professor Emeritus at the University of Cape Town, specialising in general relativity theory and cosmology, but also working in complexity theory and the way the mind works. His honors include the Star of South Africa medal awarded by President Nelson Mandela, the Order of Mapungubwe awarded by President Thabo Mbeki, honorary degrees from UCT and 3 other universities, and the Templeton Prize. He wrote The Large Scale Structure of Spacetime with Stephen Hawking, and On the Moral Nature of the Universe with Nancey Murphy.
12 August 2013
David Rousseau: The Dimensions of Spirituality
There is much confusion about what spirituality is, the forms it can take, and its role in social and personal life. This confusion arises in part because different academic disciplines are generally only studying particular aspects of spirituality, with each discipline emphasizing their own perspective. In this presentation David Rousseau will show that by looking across the disciplines we can see that these aspects represent dimensions of spirituality that work together in a systematic way, so that this apparent diversity in fact reflects a deep unity. When viewed in this way, it is possible to see that spirituality is rooted in deep intuitions about the nature of persons and the world, and about the meaning, value and purpose of life. Academics typically dismiss these ‘spiritual intuitions’ as neurological illusions or cultural conditioning, but David will show that there is evidence for their grounding in the nature of Reality.
Dr David Rousseau is Director of the Centre for Systems Philosophy, and is doing research into the unity of knowledge, the modelling of worldviews, and the ultimate foundations of spiritual intuitions. He has a background in Engineering, Mind-Body Philosophy and Religious Studies, and chairs the Research Activities Committee of the Society for Psychical Research.
29 July 2013
Chris Todhunter: The Western musical tradition and the Enlightenment: an experiment in Consciousness
The Enlightenment can be seen as a triumph for objectivity, yet music is essentially subjective. But the way music, especially harmony, developed closely mirrors the enlightenment. This talk will explore the origins of music, how harmony emerged after 1600, how it affects our emotions and what conclusions can be drawn regarding the perception of sound and silence.
Chris Todhunter is not a musical pundit, nor a historian nor a scientist, but an architect: so he is in a good position to bring all these aspects together, with the help of the always articulate audience at 38 Denning Road.
25 June 2013
Ravi Ravindra: Questioning Einstein on Science and Religion
Einstein’s remark that ‘Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind’ is often quoted with approval by religious people. However, this remark needs to be critically examined as it it assumes a certain kind of religion while excluding the insight based wisdom traditions.
Ravi Ravindra: A native of India, he emigrated to Canada and is Professor Emeritus at Dalhousie University, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he served for many years as a professor in three Departments: Comparative Religion, Philosophy, and Physics. He was a Member of the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton, a Fellow of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study in Simla, and Founding Director of the Threshold Award for Integrative Knowledge. He has been a member of the Board of Judges for the prestigious Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion. He is an honorary member of the Scientific and Medical Network. Ravindra’s spiritual search has led him to the teachings of J. Krishnamurti, G. Gurdjieff, Yoga, Zen, and a deep immersion in the mystical teachings of the Indian and Christian traditions. He is the author of many books on religion, science, and spiritual disciplines, including:
The Gospel of John in the Light of Indian Mysticism (formerly titled The Yoga of the Christ)
Science and the Sacred
Pilgrim Without Boundaries
The Spiritual Roots of Yoga
The Wisdom of PataΓ±jali’s Yoga Sutras
Ravindra is the Series Editor of an eight volume series dealing with The Inner Journey in the major spiritual traditions of the world. The series has been published by the Morning Light Press, Sandpoint, Idaho.
13th May 2013
Maggie la Tourelle: The Gift of Alzheimer’s – Heart & Soul Journey
This talk will draw on Maggie La Tourelle’s new book, The Gift of Alzheimer’s. It shows that contrary to popular belief, Alzheimer’s can be a very positive experience. Maggie will take us on a journey into the unchartered world of Alzheimer’s. Here we will learn about the vicissitudes of the disease and the healing power of love. We will also discover that when we are open and seek meaning we can find wisdom in the midst of confusion, and freedom from suffering, and bliss, in other world dimensions.
Maggie’s mother had Alzheimer’s and Maggie will talk about the vital comfort and support that a loving and understanding relationship can give to someone suffering from this disease. For over three years she documented their journey together, using her knowledge as a psychotherapist and healer to try and understand what her mother was thinking, saying and doing. This provided her with an invaluable account of the dissolution process that gradually strips away the personality, leaving the essential central core and the possibility of seeing into the self and what is beyond. Maggie will talk about this process and share some of the extraordinary things that happened in this sacred space.
She will review her mother’s experiences in the light of research in the field that shows the potential there is in many people with Alzheimer’s disease. Based on this information and her own experience, she will provide some guidelines as to how we can to help people with Alzheimer’s towards a peaceful transition to the other world, and what we can gain from this ourselves.
Maggie La Tourelle has worked in the field of Holistic Healthcare for 30 years as a practitioner, educator and writer integrating psychotherapy, NLP, kinesiology and healing. More information can be found on:
29th April 2013
Marianne Rankin: Spiritual Experience Today
The talk will focus on the awareness of Ultimate Reality, as experienced by the founders of religious traditions as well as ordinary people today. An overview will be given of the work of Sir Alister Hardy, which led to the establishment of an archive of accounts of religious and spiritual experience, now at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David in Lampeter. Examples will be given of the variety of experiences – visions, voices, speaking in tongues, spiritual healing and constant sense of presence as well as experiences around death ‘ End of Life Experiences, Near Death Experiences and Post Death Communication. The fruits, interpretation and meaning of such experiences will be considered.
Marianne Rankin was Chair of the Alister Hardy Society (now renamed the AH Society for the Study of Spiritual Experience) for six years and ran the Oxford/Cotswold Group for ten years. This national organisation supports the work of the Religious Experience Research Centre at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David in Lampeter, which holds an archive of over 6000 accounts of different types of spiritual experience.
For almost twenty years Marianne lived in South East Asia, mainly in Singapore, where she worked as a teacher, translator and interpreter and freelance writer. On her return to U.K. she took a Master of Studies in the Study of Religion at Oxford University. She is also interested in Oriental Art and has given workshops on Chinese Brush Painting.
She is the author of An Introduction to Religious and Spiritual Experience as well as having written on Dame Cicely Saunders, Founder of the Modern Hospice Movement.
25th March 2013
Chris Hewer: Key themes in Understanding Islam
The following themes inter alia will be addressed:
Islam as the natural state for all creation.
Islam in its final and earlier forms pre-Muhammad.
The Qur’an as the final book of guidance
Muhammad as the perfect human being
Vertical and horizontal aspects of religion
The imperative to build a just society
Life is one long struggle!
This life is not all that there is.
Dr Chris Hewer comes from a background in Christian theology, education, Islamic studies and inter-faith studies and has worked in the field of Muslims in Britain and Christian-Muslim relations since 1986, first at the Centre for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at Selly Oak in Birmingham and from 1999 to 2005, as the Adviser on Inter-Faith Relations to the Bishop of Birmingham. From 2006-2010, he was the St Ethelburga Fellow in Christian-Muslim Relations in London, with a brief to deliver adult popular education courses, study days and talks around
Greater London. His current work is to teach study days and residential courses, and to develop written and electronic resources.
18th February 2013
Jill Purce: The Healing Voice and Healing the Family and Ancestors
This experiential lecture will explore how sound and the voice have been understood and used in different traditions as one of the most effective ways to balance the mind and body and ultimately achieve enlightenment. Jill will show how we can empower our lives by using our voice to release a uniquely powerful energy, which can be used for physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual healing. By freeing the voice in certain ways it is possible to find physical health and emotional joy and spiritual ecstasy. We will experience the ancient magic of Mongolian overtone chanting, sacred songs, chants, sonic meditations and more. Jill will also talk about her development of sonorous family constellations, which heal the resonant field of the family. When earlier family members die or ‘leave’ prematurely, trapped and painful patterns of exclusion act as magnets or attractors for later generations. Jill will talk about her work, which finds the key to unlock persistent patterns, so
order is restored and the family system opened to the light of revelation and redemption, the key that sets the individual and the family and later generations free. Have fun while learning to use, share, extend and free your voice with the international pioneer of sound and ancestral healing.
JILL PURCE is recognised internationally as the pioneer of the Sound Healing and Ancestral Healing movements, through her rediscovery of ancient vocal techniques, the power of group chant, and the spiritual potential of the voice as a magical instrument for healing and meditation. She gives workshops throughout the world, ‘Healing Voice’, teaching diverse forms of sacred chant, and especially Mongolian overtone chanting and ‘Healing the Family and Ancestors’, combining Family Constellations with chant and ceremony. Author of The Mystic Spiral and Overtone Chanting Meditations, she guides non-singers as much as international opera performers in their pursuit of the lost voice.
21 January 2013
Mike King: Neoplatonism and the Dolphin Paradigm
Mike King will talk about the Neoplatonist tradition and its importance for the sciences and the arts in the West, characterising it as a ‘Via Positiva’, a spiritual path for our time. He will finish with a presentation of what he calls ‘The Dolphin Paradigm’ and its inspiration in a central idea of Neoplatonism: that we recapitulate the universe within us.
Dr. Mike King is a freelance author (see link below) and formerly a member of the board of the SMN.