Tuesday, October 29, 2013

‘Jung Mann’s Book Sale to Start Soon’


The Kristine Mann Library at the C.G. Jung Center will open its month-long book sale on Monday. Call (212) 697-7877 to confirm open hours, but the sale will run through November 30.

The event is renowned for its surprises and low prices. It is recommended you arrive sooner rather than later.

The library is located at 28 East 39th Street in Manhattan. Actually, I don’t know if this is confusing or the height of simplicity, but that address is home to:

C.G. Jung Center,
C.G. Jung Foundation for Analytical Psychology,
C.G. Jung Institute of New York,
Kristine Mann Library,
and more.

Friday, October 25, 2013

‘NYU: Meditation in Four Faith Traditions’




I wish I had become aware of New York University’s Mindfulness Project and Center for Spiritual Life earlier. So much for my own mindfulness.

While I have yet to gather my notes and photos from the Mystical Union lecture of last Tuesday night for a Magpie post, let me share this announcement for an event coming in two weeks that sounds wonderful. From the publicity:

The Silent Center:
Mindfulness and Meditation
in Four Faith Traditions
Sunday, November 10
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
NYU Kimmel Center
60 Washington Square South, Room 802

Mindfulness and meditation have historically played a role in nearly every major religious tradition, and yet it is only in recent times that many of these traditions are reclaiming those practices, educating their communities, and incorporating them into their spiritual lives. What are the meditation practices in Judaism, Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism? How do they differ in each tradition, and how are they similar? Why is a renaissance of these practices important now? Internationally renowned spiritual teachers from each tradition will engage us in this conversation, followed by Q&A.

Featuring: Dr. Cynthia Bourgeault (Christianity), Rabbi David Ingber (Judaism), Imam Khalid Latif (Islam), and Roshi Enkyo O’Hara (Buddhism). Moderated by Yael Shy, Co-Director of NYU’s Of Many Institute for Multifaith Leadership.

Made possible by a grant from the Trust for the Meditation Process, a charitable foundation encouraging meditation and contemplative prayer.

Co-sponsored by the Of Many Institute, the Mindfulness Project at NYU, the Contemplative Studies Project of the Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life, the Islamic Center at NYU, PLAN, and Congregation Romemu.

Free Admission. Light brunch will be served.

Advance registration is required, so click here.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

‘Pioneering Spirituality in Higher Education’

New York Open Center offers a free program for Friday night in conjunction with California Institute of Integral Studies. A Conversation between CIIS President Joseph Subbiondo and President Emeritus Robert McDermott will begin at 6:30. Advance registration is required but, again, admission is free.

What is Integral Education? As CIIS phrases it:

Providing an integral education for a changing world, the Institute creates and integrates knowledge beyond the confines of traditional academic disciplines…. In exploring the interplay of mind, body, and spirit, integral education connects the spiritual and practical dimensions of intellectual life. The integration of the wisdom traditions presents an evolution of consciousness that has never been more relevant and crucial than it is today.

From Open Center’s publicity:

Join CIIS President Joseph Subbiondo and President Emeritus Robert McDermott for a conversation on “CIIS- Pioneering Spirituality in Higher Education,” moderated by Dean of Alumni Richard Buggs.

Established In 1968 by Dr. Haridas Chaudhuri and his wife, Bina, the California Institute of Integral Studies drew on the inspiration of the renowned philosopher Sri Aurobindo and is an internationally recognized leader in integral education. Originally focused on the integration of Eastern and Western studies, CIIS has grown to include programs that offer a broad array of multicultural perspectives and has an enrollment of 1,400 students. While expanding the range of its programs, CIIS has retained the intimacy of an academic community rare in U.S. higher education. Robert McDermott, CIIS president emeritus and professor of philosophy and religion and CIIS President Joseph Subbiondo will share perspectives on CIIS’ pioneering vision and innovative future endeavors.

Robert McDermott, Ph.D., Boston University (Philosophy, 1969), is CIIS president emeritus and professor of philosophy and religion. He taught at Manhattanville College (1964-71) and is professor emeritus and former chair of the Department of Philosophy at Baruch College, CUNY (1971-90). His publications include Radhakrishnan (1970), The Essential Aurobindo (1974), The Essential Steiner (1984), and the Introduction to William James, Essays in Psychical Research (Harvard University Press, 1986). Robert’s essays have appeared in International Philosophical Quarterly, Cross Currents, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, and Philosophy East and West. From 1978 to 1980, he was director of a National Endowment for the Humanities project for the review of audiovisual materials for the study of Hinduism and Buddhism. He is the founding chair of the board of Sophia Project (two homes in Oakland, CA, for mothers and children at risk of homelessness), and has been chair of the board and president of many other institutions.

Joseph L. Subbiondo has been president of CIIS since 1999 and brings a 30-year history of achievement in higher education, including appointments on several international academic committees; and he has been active on many accreditation teams for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Subbiondo’s publications include extensive writings on the history of linguistics. Among his publications are studies of the history of philosophical language, 17th century British educational reform, and the relation between language and the evolution of consciousness. Prior to coming to CIIS, he served as dean of the School of Liberal Arts at St. Mary’s College of California; vice president for academic affairs at the University of the Pacific; dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Santa Clara University; and as a professor of English and linguistics at four universities.

New York Open Center is located at 22 East 30th Street in Manhattan. Register in advance for this free event by emailing to registration(at)opencenter.org

Monday, October 21, 2013

‘The Brooklyn Mysteries’


Apropos of nothing, maybe just because it reminds me of this time of year, here is a photo of an untitled work by artist Martha Posner, made of honeysuckle and mixed media. I shot this photo a few years ago when the piece was one of the many works exhibited on the grounds of Boscobel, approximately across the Hudson from West Point.

It’s been several weeks already, so I better tell you about the Eleusinian Mysteries ceremony I attended at Observatory in Brooklyn last month, before what’s left of my mind loses the beautiful details.

Courtesy The Daily Green
Actually I won’t describe it in too much detail because it should be experienced; it was very well presented and, except for my own allergic reaction to a certain fruit—that I kept to myself—everything went off without a hitch. Ms. Pam Grossman began by leading us through an opening ritual, and concluded by leading us through a closing ritual, both of which I think would be recognizable and appreciated in most esoteric circles. Wholesome ones, anyway. In between those was a harmonious mix of readings and hands-on transmissions all intended to channel, if not recreate somewhat, the Eleusinian initiatory rites of ancient Greece.

The evening’s activities engaged the four cardinal directions, and several others; involved the four classical elements, and beyond; and a variety of ritual elements gratified the five physical senses, and then some. It all can succeed in, to phrase it basically, changing one’s state of mind. That is essential to receiving an initiation, which that night, was presented in the form of the story of Demeter, the central mythological figure in the Eleusinian Mysteries. You can read the essence of this here.

Courtesy deviantART

Longtime Magpie readers have come to expect detailed descriptions of special occasions, but I have to treat this differently since I was only a visitor accepting an invitation. If Ms. Grossman will host this event again next fall, I surely will publicize it here and encourage you to check it out. It’s really worth your time.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

‘NYU: Perspectives on Mystical Union’

And speaking of New York University and neuroscience, an interesting discussion is scheduled for next Wednesday night, hosted by the Mindfulness Project at NYU.

From the publicity:

What is Non-Duality?
Perspectives on Mystical Union
from Philosophy, Psychology and Neuroscience

Wednesday, October 16
6:30 to 8 p.m.
238 Thompson Street, Room 475

Anecdotal reports of contemplative experiences often describe a sense of unity that transcends self-object dichotomy and subsumes the multiplicity of phenomena in a unified field of awareness/consciousness. This talk will explore different perspectives on nonduality. The neuroimaging data will be discussed in light of experiential meditation, and the different models for the neural correlates of nondual awareness will be presented, including the recent research from our lab at NYU (Josipovic et al., 2012; Josipovic, 2013).

Zoran Josipovic, Ph.D., is the director of Contemplative Science Lab in the Psychology Department at NYU, and adjunct assistant professor for cognitive and affective neuroscience. He is the founding director of Nonduality Institute in Woodstock, New York. His research interests are states of consciousness cultivated through contemplative practice; what these states can tell us about the nature of consciousness and its relation to authentic subjectivity; and the relevance they have for understanding the global and local organization in the brain. Zoran is a long-time practitioner of meditation in the nondual traditions of Dzogchen, Mahamudra and Advaita Vedanta.

Reservations are required, so click here. I do not know why the flier says Room 451 and the press release says Room 475, but we’ll figure it out when we get there.

Friday, October 11, 2013

‘A temple in Syria’

Amid all the horrible news of death and destruction in Syria today comes updated word of a most curious ancient temple archeologists have been excavating and studying. The ’Ain Dara temple in northern Syria is, according to the Biblical Archaeology Society, practically a twin of the ancient center of Israelite life: Solomon’s Temple.

I don’t think I’ve ever reproduced anyone else’s entire article before on The Magpie, but this is worthwhile. ©Biblical Archaeology Society, 2013. (In the past I have recommended subscribing to its magazine, and do so again. Click here.)

for the Temple
of King Solomon

For centuries, scholars have searched in vain for any remnant of Solomon’s Temple. The fabled Jerusalem sanctuary, described in such exacting detail in 1 Kings 6, was no doubt one the most stunning achievements of King Solomon in the Bible, yet nothing of the building itself has been found because excavation on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, site of the Temple of King Solomon, is impossible.

Fortunately, several Iron Age temples discovered throughout the Levant bear a striking resemblance to the Temple of King Solomon in the Bible. Through these remains, we gain extraordinary insight into the architectural grandeur of the building that stood atop Jerusalem’s Temple Mount nearly 3,000 years ago.

The black basalt ruins of the Iron Age temple discovered at ’Ain Dara in northern Syria offer the closest known parallel to the Temple of King Solomon in the Bible. Photo: Ben Churcher

As reported by archaeologist John Monson in the pages of BAR, the closest known parallel to the Temple of King Solomon is the recently discovered ’Ain Dara temple in northern Syria. Nearly every aspect of the ’Ain Dara temple—its age, its size, its plan, its decoration—parallels the vivid description of the Temple of King Solomon in the Bible. In fact, Monson identified more than 30 architectural and decorative elements shared by the ’Ain Dara structure and the Jerusalem Temple described by the Biblical writers.

The ’Ain Dara temple and the Biblical Temple of King Solomon share very similar plans. Images: Ben Churcher

The similarities between the ’Ain Dara temple and the temple described in the Bible are indeed striking. Both buildings were erected on huge artificial platforms built on the highest point in their respective cities. The buildings likewise have similar tripartite plans: an entry porch supported by two columns, a main sanctuary hall (the hall of the ’Ain Dara temple is divided between an antechamber and a main chamber) and then, behind a partition, an elevated shrine, or Holy of Holies. They were also both flanked on three of their sides by a series of multistoried rooms and chambers that served various functions.

Even the decorative schemes of ’Ain Dara temple and the temple described in the Bible are similar: Nearly every surface, both interior and exterior, of the ’Ain Dara temple was carved with lions, mythical animals (cherubim and sphinxes), and floral and geometric patterns, the same imagery that, according to 1 Kings 6:29, adorned the Temple of King Solomon in the Bible.

It is the date of the ’Ain Dara temple, however, that offers the most compelling evidence for the authenticity of the Biblical Temple of King Solomon. The ’Ain Dara temple was originally built around 1300 B.C. and remained in use for more than 550 years, until 740 B.C. The plan and decoration of such majestic temples no doubt inspired the Phoenician engineers and craftsmen who built Solomon’s grand edifice in the tenth century B.C. As noted by Lawrence Stager of Harvard University, the existence of the ’Ain Dara temple proves that the Biblical description of Solomon’s Temple was “neither an anachronistic account based on later temple archetypes nor a literary creation. The plan, size, date and architectural details fit squarely into the tradition of sacred architecture from north Syria (and probably Phoenicia) from the tenth to eighth centuries B.C.”

Gigantic footprints belonging
to the resident deity were carved
at the temple’s entrance.
Photo: A.M. Appa
Certain features of the ’Ain Dara temple also provide dramatic insight into ancient Near Eastern conceptions of gods and the temples in which they were thought to reside. Carved side-by-side in the threshold of the ’Ain Dara temple are two gigantic footprints. As one enters the antechamber of the sanctuary, there is another carving of a right foot, followed 30 feet away (at the threshold between the antechamber and the main chamber) by a carving of a left foot. The footprints, each of which measures 3 feet in length, were intended to show the presence (and enormity) of the resident deity as he or she entered the temple and approached his or her throne in the Holy of Holies. Indeed, the 30-foot stride between the oversize footprints indicates a god who would have stood 65 feet tall! In Solomon’s Temple, the presence of a massive throne formed by the wings of two giant cherubim with 17-foot wingspans (1 Kings 6:23–26) may indicate that some Israelites envisaged their God, Yahweh, in a similar manner.

‘Rosicrucian Order relocates to 23rd Street’

The Rosicrucian Order, having left the Gramercy Park area a few weeks ago, will begin meeting in the Flatiron tomorrow. Some new place on 23rd Street.

A full program of events is scheduled for Saturday, beginning at 3 p.m. on the tenth floor inside what is named the Colonial Room. At six o’clock, the doors will open for a social gathering, where members and non-members alike are welcome to come, ask questions, etc.

71 West 23rd Street. Never heard of it.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

‘Let there be songs to fill the air’

In my music tastes, I long ago left behind, but sometimes revisit, the sounds I enjoyed in my youth, and last night was one of those time-travel occasions. Robert Hunter, lyricist of the Grateful Dead, performed at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester. This is not the same as seeing the Dead, which I had on a dozen or more nights between 1983 and, maybe, 1991. Mr. Hunter is not dynamic; his performance: a man and his guitar. Never a powerful vocalist, his singing today is that of an elderly man who battled cancer and who wants to enjoy playing his music to audiences while he still can.

Robert Hunter at the Capitol Theatre
in Port Chester, New York last night.
It is unfortunate that his music and the entire Grateful Dead experience were made synonymous in most people’s minds with seedy hedonism: the rampant drug consumption, poor hygiene, and general annoyance of the locusts who followed the band around the country and even outside the country. (I make a distinction between genuine music-lovers who, however they made it possible, toured with the band in some culture of idealist escapism, and those who came along around the time that I did, but who were determined to become part of a world they didn’t understand. They were a “believing is seeing” kind of folk, born too late to be hippies and figuring they had to capture a lifestyle from an earlier time, to put it as gently as I can.)

Projection upon the theater walls last night.
Or maybe my grasp of that situation is lacking, but the point of this edition of The Magpie Mind is the spiritual content of Hunter’s music, something that doesn’t get a lot of attention. (I think it funny that the iconography of the Grateful Dead, which is dominated by enough skulls and roses to make a Rosicrucian’s head explode, seems never to spark any conversation in esoteric circles.) Let me cite this tiny article from the Summer 1994 issue of Gnosis magazine, the painfully missed quarterly periodical on spiritual and esoteric subjects, to lead into some samples of Hunter’s lyrics from the songs he performed last night. Excerpted:

Robert Hunter is primarily known as the lyricist for the Grateful Dead, but he has also recorded many albums of his own, and his songs have been recorded by the likes of Bob Dylan. While never quite identifying himself as an esotericist, Hunter has written a whole corpus of visionary verse to rival Coleridge, outlining way stations between death and rebirth (Terrapin Station), celebrating the breaking through of gnosis (St. Stephen, Scarlet Begonias), or warning the seeker of unrealistic expectations of the afterlife (One Thing to Try, Stella Blue). His lyrics, which he readily concedes as sometimes being the work of his muses, have weird ways of becoming self-fulfilling prophecies (Uncle John’s Band, Playing in the Band), and there’s no doubt that his songs have launched thousands of peak experiences, with our without chemical enhancement. His most famous work, Ripple, details the sweet electric shock of suddenly knowing that the Unnamable Presence is in the room:

If my words did glow
with the gold of sunshine
and my tunes were played
on the harp unstrung
would you hear my voice
come through the music
and hold it near
as it were your own?

Without preaching, without dogma, Hunter has provided the voice of the Spirit to a generation, many of whom could no longer find it in their received traditions. References to Christ are multidimensional:

What you gonna call that pretty baby?
You must call it one thing or another.
This one parted water
that one walked upon
Perhaps I’ll call this child
a Rose of Sharon.

While I’m at it, might as well explain the name Grateful Dead. From Funk & Wagnall’s New Practical Dictionary of the English Language, Britannica World Language Edition, Volume One, 1955. Click the image to enlarge.

Grateful Dead – The motif of a cycle of folk tales which begin with the hero’s coming upon a group of people ill-treating or refusing to bury the corpse of a man who had died without paying his debts. He gives his last penny, either to pay the man’s debts or to give him a decent burial. Within a few hours he meets with a traveling companion who aids him in some impossible task, gets him a fortune, saves his life, etc. The story ends with the companion’s disclosing himself as the man whose corpse the other had befriended.

But about the lyrics, just a few songs to consider:

Dire Wolf

In the timbers of Fennario
the wolves are running round
The winter was so hard and cold
froze ten feet neath the ground

Don’t murder me
I beg of you don't murder me
don’t murder me

I sat down to my supper
T’was a bottle of red whiskey
I said my prayers and went to bed
That’s the last they saw of me

Don’t murder me
I beg of you don’t murder me
don't murder me
When I awoke, the Dire Wolf
Six hundred pounds of sin
Was grinnin at my window
All I said was “come on in”

Don’t murder me
I beg of you don’t murder me
don’t murder me

The wolf came in, I got my cards
We sat down for a game
I cut my deck to the Queen of Spades
but the cards were all the same

Don’t murder me
I beg of you don’t murder me
don’t murder me

In the backwash of Fennario
The black and bloody mire
The Dire Wolf collects his due
while the boys sing round the fire

Don’t murder me
I beg of you don’t murder me
don’t murder me

Brokedown Palace

Fare you well my honey
Fare you well my only true one
All the birds that were singing
Have flown except you alone

Goin to leave this Brokedown Palace
On my hands and my knees I will roll roll roll
Make myself a bed by the waterside
In my time - in my time - I will roll roll roll

In a bed, in a bed
by the waterside I will lay my head
Listen to the river sing sweet songs
to rock my soul

River gonna take me
Sing me sweet and sleepy
Sing me sweet and sleepy
all the way back back home
It’s a far gone lullaby
sung many years ago
Mama, Mama, many worlds I’ve come
since I first left home

Goin home, goin home
by the waterside I will rest my bones
Listen to the river sing sweet songs
to rock my soul

Goin to plant a weeping willow
On the banks green edge it will grow grow grow
Sing a lullaby beside the water
Lovers come and go - the river roll roll roll

Fare you well, fare you well
I love you more than words can tell
Listen to the river sing sweet songs
to rock my soul


If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung
Would you hear my voice come through the music?
Would you hold it near, as it were your own?

It’s a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken
Perhaps they’re better left unsung
I don't know, don’t really care
Let there be songs to fill the air

Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow

Reach out your hand if your cup be empty
If your cup is full may it be again
Let it be known there is a fountain
That was not made by the hands of man

There is a road, no simple highway
Between the dawn and the dark of night
And if you go, no one may follow
That path is for your steps alone
Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow
You who choose to lead must follow
But if you fall, you fall alone
If you should stand, then who’s to guide you?
If I knew the way, I would take you home

All lyrics Copyright © Robert Hunter.