A New Esalen CTR Conference Series
|Through that which to others seems a mere dead mass, my eye beholds this eternal life and movement in every vein of sensible and spiritual Nature, and sees this life rising in ever-increasing growth, and ever purifying itself to a more spiritual expression. The universe is to me no longer what it was before—the ever-recurring circle, the eternally-repeated play, the monster swallowing itself up only to bring itself forth again. It has become transfigured before me, and now bears the one stamp of spiritual life—a constant progress towards higher perfection in a line that runs out into the Infinite.|
Johann Gottlieb Fichte
The Vocation of Man, published 1800
(Die Bestimmung des Menschen)
Below is a brief overview of the background and goals for CTR's conference series called Evolutionary Metaphysics. If you would prefer to go directly to the summary for the first conference: click here for the 2006 summary.
Alfred North Whitehead once wrote that each new epoch in history is accompanied by a profound cosmological vision—an underlying meta-view that refreshes and orients its host culture anew. In this era of globalization, such a momentous philosophy must address some grand complexities as well as many daunting empirical tests.
It must, for example, reconcile the recognition of a world-transcendent and eternal consciousness—reported by men and women around the world since the dawn of human history—with the emergent energy and matter of this evolving universe as these are progressively revealed by contemporary science. It must also account for the immense range of human potentials revealed by many fields of research, including the supernormal human attributes witnessed to by the shamanic and scriptural traditions, modern psychical research, cultural anthropology, and the comparative study of religion. Do such areas of inquiry point to a greater life that is emerging in us? Such a philosophical vision must also embrace fundamental issues raised by the contemporary study of post-mortem survival, including questions about when individuating souls began to participate in our world's advance. Did our souls exist in some form before the Big Bang?
Although it has not been recognized as a lineage of thought, nor has it been given a widely accepted name, the seed-form of a vision that can do all these things has been growing haphazardly, we believe, since about 1800, heralded by such seminal visionaries as Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, Bergson, Whitehead, Gebser, Aurobindo, and Teilhard de Chardin.
In December 2006, the Esalen Center for Theory and Research (CTR) will initiate a series of conferences to explore this way of viewing God, the cosmos, and humankind. In previous historical eras, this task was given the name “metaphysics,” a type of philosophical exploration into the deepest nature of things, both spiritual andmaterial. Until we find a better name, we propose to call our own metaphysics “evolutionary panentheism.”
It is important to note in this context that we are not attempting a broad “consilience” of the sciences, social sciences and humanities in the manner of Esalen's recent conferences on evolutionary theory, which brought together atheists, agnostics, and mystics. Instead we are assembling thinkers who fully recognize: 1. the reality of a world-transcendent Being or Divinity; 2. unseen or occult worlds of consciousness and energy (however conceived or articulated in symbol and doctrine); and 3. the scientifically revealed facts of our evolving universe. And, most importantly, we are doing this to create an integral synthesis that embraces all of these realities within an overarching vision, or metaphysics, that is not dogmatic but nevertheless represents a thought-movement, Weltanschauung, or school of philosophy that illuminates and advances an evolutionary panentheism adequate to our age.