Ralph White is co-founder of the New York Open Center, the leading urban center of holistic learning in America, and author of the highly regarded new memoir, The Jeweled Highway: On the Quest for a Life of Meaning. A pioneer of the consciousness movement, he has directed a twenty one year conference series known as Esoteric Quests on rediscovering the lost spiritual history of the West. He will give a lecture on Friday, September 23, and a workshop on Saturday, September 24.
You can purchase tickets to his events on our “Events” Page.
How can an understanding of consciousness help us live more meaningful lives?
The nature of consciousness is the great issue of both philosophy and science. It remains the profound mystery at the heart of the human experience. We live in a time when there is an enormous and growing interest in the nature of consciousness and spirituality. Are we just machines of flesh with consciousness some kind of byproduct of the brain, or does consciousness exist independently of the brain? The world’s mystical and esoteric traditions, to which we have unprecedented access, would answer with a resounding affirmation of the primacy of consciousness over matter.
From this viewpoint, we are soul and spirit beings whose objective in life is the expansion of compassion, wisdom, empathy, meaning, service and the development of higher consciousness itself. This holistic worldview is emerging with tremendous strength as we seek a path beyond materialistic science or a society guided by little more than consumerism.
Why do these programs matter?
A lot of mainstream media and much of the academic establishment still subscribes to a materialistic worldview in which explorations of consciousness may be tolerated but are rarely taken seriously. These programs provide a serious and substantial program examining new developments in consciousness studies, spiritual traditions that throw light on the inner nature of the human being, and reports on how the ‘consciousness movement is evolving nationally and worldwide.
So the Symposium is making an important contribution to a subject that is core to the interests of our time but that tends to be ignored in more conventional organizations.
Why should people come to hear your lecture?
My lecture will be about both my own spiritual journey and the awakening of consciousness in our time and the multiple forms it has taken – including the Global Network of Holistic Centers. The talk will cover the narrative of my memoir, The Jeweled Highway, and address my own philosophical and existential concerns and doubts as a youth growing up in post war Britain in a gritty industrial environment far removed from any fresh approaches to questions of the spirit.
It follows my search through hitchiking to Maccu Picchu at the age of 23, explorations of West Coast counterculture, my arrival at a core commitment to the creation of a more holistic and ecological world, and my own involvement in the co-creation of major centers of learning that have been of value to literally hundreds of thousands of seekers for the last thirty or forty years. It also looks at my own deep interest in the phenomenal legacy of the philosopher, educator and reformer, Rudolf Steiner, and my role as director of a 21 year series of Esoteric Quests, the last one of which – An Esoteric Quest for the Mysteries of the North in Iceland – I just returned from a few days ago. It was outrageous and unforgettable with many of Iceland’s leading musicians, theologians, psychologists and even pagans!
So people should come to the lecture to hear a pioneer in the Consciousness Movement who has seen its rise, its movement from the periphery to a place much closer to the heart of society over the last few decades, and who has many engaging stories (as a Welsh storyteller) as well as insights to offer an audience engaged with the shift of our society toward a more healthy and sustainable future
How will the workshop supplement your lecture?
My workshop will address the lost spiritual history of the West and how it is being rediscovered to complement the widespread interest in Buddhism, yoga and shamanism among people today on an inner quest. My lecture deals more directly with my memoir, The Jeweled Highway, my own journey toward meaning, and what I have done with my life to express that meaning in the world, especially in the creation of centers of holistic learning in the US and Scotland. So the workshop places my own quest in a larger, more historical context where it appears as a classic search for truth and wisdom with a long and noble tradition in our own Western culture as well as in the East.