Track: New Horizons in Science and Cosmology
Is Modern Humanity Undergoing a Rite of Passage?
“We are living in what the Greeks called the kairos - the right moment - for a ‘metamorphosis of the gods,’ of the fundamental principles and symbols.” C. G. Jung
Our time is pervaded by a great paradox. On the one hand, we see signs of an unprecedented level of engaged global awareness, moral sensitivity to the human and non-human community, psychological self-awareness, and fertile spiritual pluralism. On the other hand, we confront the most critical, and in some respects catastrophic, state of the Earth in human history. Both these conditions have emerged directly from the modern age, whose light and shadow consequences now affect every part of the planet. The past and the future are converging with extraordinary force. Old structures are cracking, the moment of creative chaos is upon us: What new principles, what new structures will emerge to shape our future?
Our current planetary situation bears a striking resemblance to what takes place on the individual level in initiatory rites of passage, in near-death experiences, in spiritual crises, and in critical stages of what Jung called the individuation process, and what Grof has called the perinatal death-rebirth process. Can we find a center and grounding, an eye in the storm, from which we can engage this time of intense polarization and radical change? And what is the role of "heroic” communities, such as the transpersonal community, that carry principles and perspectives running counter to the mainstream modern world view?
Richard Tarnas, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy and cultural history at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, where in 1994 he founded the graduate program in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness. He frequently lectures on archetypal studies and depth psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, and was formerly the director of programs and education at Esalen Institute in Big Sur. A graduate of Harvard University and Saybrook Institute, he is the author of The Passion of the Western Mind, a history of the Western world view from the ancient Greek to the postmodern widely used in universities. His second book, Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View, received the Book of the Year Prize from the Scientific and Medical Network, and is the basis for the upcoming documentary film Changing of the Gods. He is a past president of the International Transpersonal Association and served on the Board of Governors for the C. G. Jung Institute of San Francisco. His website is CosmosandPsyche.com.