Plato's 3 Great
Two week seminar on the analogies of the Sun, the Divided Line and the Cave in relation to the good (agathos), the true (aletheia) and the beautiful .(kalos)
The Ten
Ox Herding
Two week seminar on symbolic significance of Ten drawings and poems from 11th-century Japan depicting the evolutionary process of training and awakening of the mind.
The Wheel
of Life
Two week seminar examining the classic Tibetan artwork (thangka) symbolically depicting the wheel of life, or the wheel of saṃsāra .
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A series of two-week seminars related to The Symbolic Life of Yoga and Tantra and based on such texts as the UpanishadsYoga SutrasSamkhya texts, various Tantric texts, the Bhagavad Gita as well as texts and traditions from other cultures. Participation in these seminars does not require attendance to any other seminar or course in this series.

Between the years 327 and 325 BCE, the Greek philosopher Pyrrho, traveling with Alexander the Great's army in Northwest India, encountered a group of people he called the gymnosophia "naked philosophers." He was impressed by their austere, philosophical mode of living. Less impressed by him, they are said to have told Pyrrho that he would never attain to wisdom if he fawned before kings such as Alexander. The Greek philosopher took their advice to heart and resolved to change his life.

This  ancient story, more than 2,000 years old, has been retold and relived countless times with slight variations up until the present day. The profound influence of India's philosophical and spiritual traditions on life in the West cannot be underestimated. The teachings of the yogis and tantrikas of ancient India have found their way into the minds of French, German and English philosophers of the 18th and 19th century and the American Transcendentalists of the 19th century (for example, Emerson and Thoreau), and Indian philosophy has exerted a deep influence on 19th and 20th century psychologists such as William James, Carl Jung, Erich Fromm, Carl Rogers, Stanislav Grof, and others. Today, the teachings of yoga and tantra have become ubiquitous in the West. From our choice of contemplative or spiritual paths and healing methods, to creative expressions in the arts and popular culture, the influence of yoga and tantra is is widespread and even as common as apple pie.

These courses are concerned with the symbolic and archetypal meanings of the paths of yoga and tantra. The language of these philosophies has found its way into our culture: we embrace mindfulness practice, stress management, conscious community, and spiritual seeking, but do we truly understand these ancient, foreign voices, and do we know how to translate their words and apply them to our life experience today? If these questions matter to you, please join me in this series as we delve into the  Symbolic Life of Yoga and Tantra.

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Bhavachakra: The Wheel of Life Seminar

Two-Week Seminar beginning
Thursday, August 17, 2023
7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Plato's Three Great Analogies

Two-Week Seminar beginning
Thursday, August 31, 2023
7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

The Ten Ox-Herding Pictures Seminar

Two-Week Seminar beginning
Thursday, October 26 2023
7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Thursday Evening Seminar Calendar

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About Sunday morning

Sunday Morning Contemplation is informed by Eastern and Western contemplative traditions. The first, lectio divina has its origins in 6th century Europe. It unfolds in four steps or stages: reading (lectio), reflecting (meditatio), responding (oratio), and silent abiding (contemplatio). Our Eastern inspiration come from the Indian Upanishads (800-200 BCE), where contemplative practice consists of three steps or stages: listening (śravana), reflecting (manana), and meditating (nididhyāsana or dhyāna). Our contemplative practice on Sundays embraces both approaches, and each contemplation will be based on a reading from either tradition.

The texts and teachers I have chosen played a significant role in my life and I believe have much to offer. I will read presellected texts, slowly, with pauses between verses or quotes. The readings will be accompanied by soothing background music. To lessen distraction, I suggest participants close their eyes and listen. However, the screen will display the text so that people can choose to read along or mute the sound and read on their own. If there is time remaining after the contemplative period, participants can choose to either leave or stay for a short discussion.

As a preface to the reading, I will provide a 10-15 minute introduction to the text. When relevant, I’ll review facts about the author/teacher’s life. I will also present a brief explanation of the terms and language encountered in the reading.

Finally, when the contemplation is over, all texts read will be available online to read and/or download at any time on the website.

What I mean by
The Symbolic Life

This website makes liberal use of classical Indian visual art and refers mostly to traditional Indian texts (for example, the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Sutras) in the courses, seminars, and discussions on offer. However, I am not presenting lessons in Hinduism; in fact, teaching mainstream Hinduism is neither my area of interest nor expertise. Rather, my interest in Yoga and Tantra is grounded in the concrete situation in which we find ourselves, in the places where we arrive and from which we depart. Beginning in the here and now, we will explore the underlying meaning of the symbols, stories, images, philosophies, and techniques found in Indian philosophical texts and practice, in light of our world and our current circumstance. We will excavate the meaning of the aphorisms and teaching stories; the symbolic figures of gods, people, and nature; and the sometimes terse, sometimes poetic, philosophy of the texts. Thus, in referring to the Symbolic Life of Yoga and Tantra, I mean not just the symbols themselves, but the rich explication of life that the symbols represent.

Our lived, concrete situation is wonderfully captured in the Sanskrit word loka, whose ancient meaning is “the world.”  The root meaning of both the Sanskrit loka and the English locate (and local, locale, and location) is identical. In the ancient Indian mind, the world is where we are located, in our current circumstance. Thus, the meaning of the symbols of Yoga and Tantra can occur only in the now, in the places where we find ourselves, and not in any imagined ancient and/or foreign world.

To emphasize our place of origin and return, I use the terms “archetypal” and “symbolic” quite frequently. Archetypal meaning is associated with the universal and collective aspects of human experience—what we intimately share with all others regardless of culture or era or epoch—while symbolic language forms a bridge between the realms of the universal with the culturally specific and local. Symbols are the scaffolding upon which human beings build a world and imbue it with meaning.

Think for a moment of pain and pleasure, sorrow and joy, hatred and love, and greed and generosity—universal experiences that ancient Indian thinkers called the dvandva-s. This Sanskrit term is a combination of two words, or rather, one word spoken twice: the word dva (meaning the same as the English “two”) duplicated. Dvandva is commonly translated as “the pair of opposites” or literally “the two-twos” (dvadva). The ancients who coined this compact symbol gave voice to an archetypal human experience that can be further unpacked to reveal deep insights into the human condition. Once we gain an understanding of the various symbols of Yoga and Tantra, we can further excavate their meaning and the archetypes they convey, and thus gain access to, in a practical and meaningful way, the vision of life experienced by the sages. These insights are available to us and are still relevant today, as are the resilient and adaptable techniques and forms of practice that can help us lead richer and more fulfilling lives