6 weeks from Nov. 13 - Dec. 18, 2017
In this course you will learn to identify the six great stations and phases of your soul’s journey through human life: incarnation and conception; birth and infancy; the springtime of youth; the mid-life turning;old age, elderhood and dying; the hereafter and rebirth. The teachings of the ancient mystery religions as well as the findings of modern science, psychology
and medicine will help you understand and navigate this life journey for deep healing and creativity.
We are accustomed to thinking of a human life extending from the year of birth to the year of death, through the stages of childhood, adult life and old age. Yet Eastern spiritual traditions, modern scientific findings and the observations from entheogenic experiences converge in giving us a greatly expanded vision and understanding of the life cycle – the immortal soul’s journey of incarnation into, through and beyond this lifetime. You will be exploring these new approaches to accessing realms of consciousness that are traditionally considered the deepest spiritual mysteries of our lives.
Comparing and integrating insights from entheogenic experiences, shamanic journeys, breathwork, hypnotherapy journeys as well as meditative experiences and dreams, we find remarkable convergences of modern findings with esoteric teachings that have long been relegated to the hinterlands, far from mainstream discussion. You will learn to approach these areas with an attitude of radical empiricism – going beyond dogma and unquestioned assumption to learning from experience and comparing findings.
Through this course, you will gain a deeper understanding of the totality of your life cycle and heightened ability to navigate the challenges and opportunities of your life from before conception and birth to the after death realms and reincarnation.
In this course, we will draw on my book Ecology of Consciousness, especially Part Four, which deals with the life cycle of the human soul, and also Part Two, chapter 7, on the stages of the life cycle. Each 1 and ½ hour session will consist of a 1 hour talk by Ralph Metzner, illustrated with visual diagrams and charts, followed by a ½ hour of Q&A in which you can ask questions and engage in live dialogue with Ralph. All talks and discussions are recorded and can then be watched at leisure in your home.
Session 1: Incarnation and Conception – Parental, Ancestral and Past Life Influences
Monday , November 13
In the sonata of our life, that we are always composing and performing and improvising, there are three movements and a prelude. The prenatal phase is the prelude – a completely different kind of existence, in which egoic identity is indistinguishable from the watery womb matrix. Drawing on experiential memory and divination practices we’re finding that people can consciously remember being conceived, as well as being born, and consciously identify patterns inherited or acquired from parental and ancestral lineages.
Connecting to long-forgotten or ignored ancestral lineages, including those we “never knew” we can learn to balance out the weaknesses, both genetic and psychic and build on the strengths. We can tune in to maternal and paternal ancestry lineages, each with its characteristic personal, ethnic, national and cultural patterns, that are woven into the open-ended tapestry of our lives. In addition to the two genetic ancestral lineages, each soul incarnates with residual imprints of previous lives – when we had different genders, national and ethnic identities as well as karmic lesson plans. The familial ancestral lines and incarnational lines can often intersect in unexpected ways, shedding light on present challenges.
Session 2: Birth and Infancy - The Primal Expansion of Consciousness
Monday, November 20
The innovative methodology of holotropic breathing pioneered by Stanislav Grof, has identified four characteristic experiential phases of the birth process that correlate with a vast cross-cultural array of mythic imagery, that can also be experienced in entheogenic states While most of us remember only fragments from early childhood and infancy, new research from several sources has shown that people with practice can learn to identify the immediate familial circumstances around their birth. A certain percentage of births are accompanied by various kinds of traumata, both for the new born as well as the parents, which connect significantly to later life experience. At the opposite end of the continuum from traumatic birth, we have learned of water-birth practices that can bring about ecstatic, even orgasmic birthing. Midwives and physicians in Russia and elsewhere have pioneered methods of painless fully conscious birthing in a spiritual atmosphere, involving extensive preparation and community support. From Otto Rank and Sigmund Freud onwards, psychoanalysis and developmental psychology have developed detailed time-tables and behavioral descriptions for the post-natal stages of infancy and child development.
Session 3: The Springtime of Youth – Ecstasy and Turmoil
Monday, November 27
After the prenatal prelude and the emergence of birth, the whole first movement of the sonata of our life is allegro, in four seven-year phases up to the Saturn return at around age 28. Each phase is a significant expansion of awareness and identity from the one before. Phase One - the infant starts to walk and becomes a toddler, starts to talk and becomes a child; the image of the world and others, expands from mother-infant, then father, siblings, grandparents, first teachers. Phase Two - from 7 to 14, other children, friends and rivals, other adults, teachers, relatives, explosive growth of learning, language, self-expression; then puberty, the bewildering storm of sexual hormones and emotions, physical growth and crises of self-esteem. Phase Three - from 14 to 21, more expansions of consciousness and identity, differentiation, abrupt or gradual, peaceful or painful, from the parental/familial matrix. Phase Four – 21 to 28, the youthful psyche searching for life purpose, work, meaning, goals. Recognition of a soul’s life purpose may emerge from a person’s growing awareness of the parents’ disparate ethnicity, religion, nationality, class or culture and similarly attraction to a person of diverse background as a potential future mate.
Session 4: The Middle Phase and the Mid-life Turning
Monday, December 4
The middle years of adult maturity, the thirties, forties and fifties, are the time when we pursue our careers, practice our profession, raise our children, explore the world, make contributions to our communities and involve ourselves, to a greater or lesser degree, in the political and economic affairs of the society or state in which we live. Our lives unfold in dynamic interaction between the inner impulses to express our soul’s vision and the external circumstances and conditions imposed by the realities of fate. A basic division of the life-cycle into two halves is common in traditional societies and has entered into modern discourse through the idea of the mid-life crisis. Astrologers relate the mid-life turning of the middle 40s to one-half the transit of Uranus, one quarter of the cycle of Neptune, and half-way of the second Saturn cycle. “In the middle of the journey of my life, I found myself in a dark forest, and I had lost my way” – so opens Dante’s classic Divina Commedia, as the poet-pilgrim begins his journey through the many realms of hell, purgatory and heaven.
C. G. Jung wrote that in the first half of life the psyche is extraverted, acquiring skills and building relations, defining one’s individuality. In the second half of life, our basic orientation becomes more introverted, balancing the opposites within the psyche and moving toward wholeness or individuation.
Session 5: Old Age, Elderhood and Dying
Monday, December 11
As we move into the later phases of the middle period, the interest in spiritual matters grows and deepens.
People may spend more time in spiritual practices perhaps finding a spiritual community or sangha. Questions of mortality and the after-life inevitably play an increasing role in the psychic life of those in the elder phase, triggered by increasing deaths of older generation family members. The willingness to consciously confront the basic issues of death and life make the difference between living an elder phase of continued growth and depth, and an old age existence marked by anxious clinging to diminishing capacities and pointless distractions.
“Ageing is what happens when you stop growing” said Ashley Montague. In the elder phase, the relationships between grandparents and grandchildren can be among the most precious and beautiful of our lives, supportive and encouraging without the anxious clinging that sometimes confuses parents and their adult children. Karmic patterns of guilt and responsibility are carried through the generations, and can best be resolved through intentional connection with the spirits of the ancestors, whether alive or already “on the other side.” The ancient, mythic and symbolic expression of the life cycle is in the image of the triple goddess and three-fold Hermes. And Hermes is also our guide or psychopomp to the realms beyond death.
Session 6 : The Hereafter and Rebirth
Monday, December 18
Elaborate cartographies exist in many cultures, the so-called Books of the Dead, describing the experiential landscape of the after-life. In modern times the literature of near-death experiences (NDE) occurring during surgery or accidents confirms and expands on many of the traditional teachings. It is important to distinguish the ego-dying experiences, whether sudden or prolonged, that can occur in psychedelic states from the NDE that can occur when there has been an actual, temporary stoppage of the heart and sometimes a visit to the worlds beyond. The Psychedelic Experience, by Tim Leary and cohorts, used the Tibetan Book of the Dead as a metaphorical model for psychedelic consciousness expansion. But in its original form it was a guidebook to the processes involved in actual, not metaphorical dying, in three phases called bardos: one, the process of dying itself, releasing the bodily form, whether peacefully or with struggle; phase two, journeying through the many realms of the other world, losing and finding one’s way, with ancestral and spiritual guidance, through the intermediate realms, both heavenly and hellish; and in the third phase the soul’s meeting with the council of spirit guides, to choose another time and place and family in which to be reborn. The bardo of rebirth encompasses the experience of the whole prenatal period from before conception to the actual birth, 9 months later, into a new life.
By participating in this online course offered by Green Earth Foundation, you will receive:
* Six one hour live video seminars with Ralph Metzner, on Mondays, November 6, November 13, November 20, November 27, December 4, December 11, at 8:00 pm EST/5:00 pm PST.
* 30 minutes of question and answer discussions following each seminar.
* Unlimited online access to recordings of all presentations and discussions.
*Live classes will meet using the Zoom video conferencing platform. Registered participants will receive a link to join the sessions via email after registering. Zoom accounts are NOT required to join the sessions. Simply click on the link provided to join.