This ten minute video provides an overview of consciousness, creativity and the latest scientific understanding of mind and matter from quantum physics. It introduces the concept that we live in a holographic universe where the entire whole is constituted within its parts, as in each one of us. Thanks to my friend Jay Kumar for sharing the video.
After completing my Masters in Environmental Peace and Security last year, I still had a desire to continue my studies. I made a decision to return to work with my employer of ten years, mostly because my senority with the company provides me with 30 days of vacation per year allowing greater flexibility to take time off as needed for classes. I researched PhD programs related to building a more sustainable society. Similar to when I applied to the University for Peace in Costa Rica, there was only one program that I felt was tailored to my specific interests. Luckilly, this time it happened to be local in the San Francisco Bay Area at the California Institute of Integral Studies. It is a combined program in Philosophy, Cosmology and Consciousness. The program was designed to help shape the intellectual, moral, and spiritual leadership necessary to address the ecological, political, and spiritual crisis of late modernity which entails a fundamental reorientation of our civilization, including a transformation of both our institutions and our own consciousness. Soon after I discovered the program, I learned that there would be a new Integral Ecology track beginning this fall. Everything came together in what seemed a logical continuation of the work I did in my Masters thesis: The Human Connection to Nature: Security, Happiness and Peace - A theoretical adventure and insights from Bhutan.
After applying, I started to consider the length of time it would take to complete the PhD while continuing to work full-time, as well as the significant financial investment it would require. Upon further thought and speaking with the advisors, I decided to go for a second Masters instead. Completion in two years is a much more palatable time frame.
In my first Masters, all of the students took the same courses, with only one elective. This program has a lot more options. There are several classes of interest for my first semester in this fall including:
The Great Turning
This intensive is devoted toward facilitating the shift toward life-sustaining society and a culture in harmony with the long-term interests of the wider Earth community.
Perspectives on Integral Ecology
This course will explore the complex character of the earth community, the factors that threaten it, and possibilities for a better way forward exploring some of the vital links between ecology and such fields as philosophy, religion, physchology and cosmology.
Nature and Eros: Forests
Nature and Eros takes the form of an intensive retreat and employs an integral educational process, including the conceptual, the emotional, the experiential, and the intuitive, in order to embrace Nature as the multidimensional matrix, not only of our bodies, minds, and souls, but of our civilization as well. In each course, participants live together for five days in a distinct natural setting: forest, ocean, wetlands, mountain, or desert. Participants turn to Nature herself because she has the power to awaken us to our true authenticity.
The Alchemical Tradition
This course explores the nature and history of alchemy. Western alchemy is traced from its origins in the Hellenistic period, through its development in Islam, to its flowering in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Chinese and Indian alchemy are also discussed. Particular attention is paid to the connections between alchemy and esoteric religious traditions, and to C. G. Jung’s modern discovery of the psychological and spiritual implications of alchemical symbolism.
The Wisdom of Rudolf Steiner
This course is an introduction to the spiritual-scientific research of Rudolf Steiner, the 20th-century esoteric-spiritual clairvoyant and initiate, and to anthroposophy, the esoteric discipline intended, in Steiner’s words, “to lead the spiritual in the individual to the spiritual in the Universe.”
And a course in the Integral Health program on Indigenous Medicine
Indigenous Medicine is the most ancient form of healing on the earth. This course is designed to introduce and inform the student of the rich, complex worldviews, Life, Death, and Healing ways of Native peoples. It includes exposure and immersion in Sacred traditions, Dreaming and healing practices of indigenous cultures through a deepening relationship with the Source, the Ancestors, Earth and all of our Relations.
This is just a preview! I look forward to sharing much more.
Today is the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. It is a good time for me to stop and reflect upon the past year. This time last year I was attending classes in Costa Rica. No holiday there. It was just another school day. It was almost by accident, that the North American students remembered to wish each other Happy Thanksgiving during the lunch break. But, in the evening about 16 of us gathered at our favorite restaurant in town for a tasty vegetarian dinner. It was a happy celebration among friends.
This year, back in the States, I searched the web for a list of restaurants open in the San Francisco Bay area for vegetarian options. The few restaurants that are open have "prix fix" menus that are generally over priced and do not offer the same variety as their regular menu. Choices were limited for anything other than the traditional fare, especially when seeking vegan dishes. This means we will go for the standby, Indian food. Cooking at home is certainly an option, but when it is just two people it is nice to get out.
No matter where I celebrate, I acknowledge tothe universe that I have had an amazing year. I am so thankful for the opportunity that I have had to go live in a foreign country and take a year off to focus on my own personal development. I highly recommend it! It is incredibly valuable to experience living outside the United States and participate in another culture. Friends and colleagues have been so welcoming upon my return to the country. The gracious responses I receive each week at work as I come across people that I haven't yet seen since my return are very meaningful to me.
One of my daily International Living postcards this week featured Costa Rica, so I thought I would share it. Author Rachael Jackson describes life in Tortuguero:
I'm in Tortuguero, a remote region of Costa Rica that is filled with dense flora and diverse fauna intersected by tightly winding canals. You can't drive here--only a one-hour plane ride from San Jose or a three-hour boat ride from the nearest city can get you to this jungle. We flew to this untamed place in the northeast corner of the country, arriving at an airport that offered in the way of facilities a single bathroom; the runway was a strip of black pavement barely narrower than the swatch of land it rested on. The town was built on this strip of land, separating lagoons and canals from the Caribbean Sea.
In the depths of those canals our tour guide shows us floating caimans hiding themselves in vegetation. He points out a bright toucan and a florescent blue butterfly. During the entire trip we see but one other tiny boat--the second tour boat. The jungle is ours.
A real jungle comes with real dangers. Red frogs coated in poisonous slime jump around the forest floor. An elusive jaguar's eyes could be trained on us at any time. After a question about snakes, our guide points to his deformed toe. Years ago, a fer-de-lance, the deadliest snake in Costa Rica, sunk its teeth in, leaving his big toe stunted and shriveled in his plastic flip flop. He only survived because the snake's venom store was low.
We're staying at a little place on the ocean for $10 a night. Tortuguero is a funky place of bright signs and perpetually muddy roads. We dine on coconut rice and drink fresh papaya blended with ice.
Later that night we return from a fishing trip in the large lagoon that meshes with the Caribbean. Our guide points to little red dots on the surface of the water. In San Jose, they might be lights put in place by the hotel to help you find your way back. Not here. "Those are crocodile eyes," he says in Spanish.
Last year when I spent a month at the Findhorn community in Scotland, it took me until the last week of my visit before I was able to get a good night of sleep. Certainly the time change was a big factor, but also it includes sleeping in a different bed, climate, temperature, sounds and smells to name a few. As a child I didn't particularly enjoy staying over at friends houses, and that hasn't changed much as I have gotten older.
I have now been in Costa Rica for one day over a month and last night was the first night that I can say I got a full night of sleep without waking up at some point. Ahhh, what a relief it was to wake up and realize that I had really slept well for the first time in over a month. The distractions include cats meowing outside, overhearing loud Spanish speaking neighbors, sleeping in a much moister climate which impacts how the temperature feels, and of course the large variety of friendly bugs. Surely it is no coincidence that I finally put up a mosquito net last evening. I am much happier now.
I woke up at 4:00 in the morning to discover that the power was out. Apparently this happens often in Costa Rica. By the time my alarm went off in the morning it was back up and running. Last week during our orientation sessions at the University, the power was out for several hours in the morning. You just get used to it and go on about your day/evening as best you can.
After three visits to ICE, two trips to the RACSA Internet Service provider, and two separate attempts to set up the modem/service over the past two weeks, I am finally connected to the Internet from my casita. Yeah!
The cats had a very difficult week before I left. Each day got more stressful for them as I packed up my house and got the boxes into storage. The last day at my house Buddie wasn't really eating or drinking. We stayed at Jeet's house before flying them to my mom's house in Texas. Emilie was ok but Buddie was under the bed the whole time. Again he didn't come out to eat or go to the bathroom. By the time we arrived in Texas Buddie hadn't done anything for three days, so we immediately took him to the vet. to get him hydrated. He has to be spoon fed and watered for several days. Both cats stayed under the bed for the three days we were in Texas. Emilie started sneezing and we had to take her to the vet. before we left for Costa Rica. This was another disaster, since she had a vivid memory of the previous weeks visit to the vet.
My mom arrived home after being in Costa Rica for a week and the good news was that Buddie was on the top of the bed when she came home. Emilie is still under the bed and hissing and growling at my mom. The cats are no longer confined to the bedroom and now get to socialize with my moms four cats that they will have to live with for the next year.
Packing the house took me much longer than I expected it would. I spent two days just trying to prioritize what I would need in Costa Rica for the next year. It was not easy to keep things to a minimum, yet still try to remember anything I might need. After deciding what I would need, it was not very fun packing up the rest of the house. I realized just how much "stuff" I had accumulated in three and a half years in my house even though I am very good about having garage sales or donating excess items to charity. I suspect that when I come back, I will end up getting rid of a lot of things after living more simply for a year. Clearing the clutter is a good thing. It frees us to focus on more important things.
I spent nearly two days last week determining what "stuff" I wanted to ship down to Costa Rica. My landlord down south says I could spend a day or two just dealing with customs, so bring a minimal amount of items. I am sure the experience dealing with customs will be one of the first things I write about when I get down there. I'll probably be sorry I brought as much as I did.
After going through the exercise of deciding what is really needed for a year, it is all the more painful to pack up a house full of stuff that you don't need. My friend Erica was helping me do some packing of the house yesterday and she said "you will probably come back and get rid of a lot." I think that is likely to be the case.
Writing out the address on the DHL airbill to the location the university suggested we ship our personal items for each box was a nightmare. It isn't a simple address, its a full on list of directions telling the drivers how to get there. Same thing for the address that my landlord gave me for my casita. No street address, you det directions in relationship to local landmarks that people will recognize.
Yesterday was my last official workday for a while, as I begin a personal leave of absence from the firm that I have been with for the past eight and a half years, to prepare for a year living in Costa Rica working on a Masters degree. It was definitely an emotional experience to say goodbye. While I have had many career opportunities with the company, it is the interactions that I have had with so many interesting, smart and talented people throughout the organization that have been the most meaningful. I really appreciate all the kind words of encouragement and enthusiasm that so many people have shared with me in anticipation of this new journey.
I have always wanted to have the flexibility to be mobile and experience other parts of the world. Each place I visit adds a new dimension to the overall person that I am. The interactions I have, whether it is with people, new cultures or the natural environment always provide me with new insight and guidance for my life journey. I am looking forward to sharing what I learn with a larger forum. It should be a fun year!