Roland Leonard Gibson
Track: New Horizons in Science and Cosmology
The Origins and Future of Holistic Cosmology
Stanislav Grof’s research of psychedelics and other “spiritual technologies” mandates a radical change to the conception of the human psyche, showing it to be “essentially commensurate with all of existence and ultimately identical with the cosmic creative principle itself.”
Western philosophy has origins in the spiritual technologies of ancient Greek mystery religions. The ecstatic, psychedelic ritual of the Eleusinian Mysteries promoted an experience of death and rebirth that inspired dramatic insight into the nature of things by opening new eyes upon the world.
Psychedelic and other spiritual technologies can facilitate an experiential ontology that realizes the benefits of the ancient mysteries and allows them to be imbued with modern discoveries that broaden the spectrum of human knowledge.
Over time philosophy forsook the holistic experience the mysteries evoked. Psychedelics open the possibility of cultivating ecstatic experience to remedy modern philosophy’s analytic deconstruction of metaphysics and cosmology.
Besides bringing renewed perspective to topics such as the mind-body problem, the nature of experience, and of space and time, ecstatic experience can keep us from prematurely closing accounts with reality, per William James’s warning, on many other topics of philosophical and metaphysical investigation.
Alfred North Whitehead is the singular modern philosopher whose cosmology readily affords a framework for psychedelic exploration of cosmology. Similarly to Grof, he says that the present moment of the soul “holds within itself the complete sum of existence, backwards and forwards, that whole amplitude of time, which is eternity.”
Whitehead suggests a new cosmology that conceives the fundamental realities of the universe not as bits of inert matter, but as occasions of experience such as spiritual technologies illuminate. His new cosmology holds promise for solving the paradoxes of modern science by imbuing deliverances from ancient mysteries.
Leonard Gibson graduated from Williams College and earned doctorates from Claremont Graduate School in philosophy and The University of Texas at Austin in psychology. He has taught at The University of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Lesley College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He served a clinical psychology internship at The Veterans Administration Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and is a Stanislav and Christina Grof certified Holotropic Breathwork facilitator. Most recently he has taught Transpersonal Psychology at Burlington College. With his wife Elizabeth, also a certified facilitator, they have conducted more than 250 Holotropic Breathwork workshops since 1994 in this country and abroad, and at their rural Pawlet, Vermont retreat. He is a founding and continuing director of the Community Health Centers of the Rutland Region, a Federally Qualified Health Center serving 40,000 patients. As a sixteen-year survivor of throat cancer, he facilitates the Head and Neck Cancer Support Group at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. He and his wife play regularly in local bands. They raise vegetables, fruit, and beef cattle on their homestead, where they homeschooled their two children.