The World Behind the World

Reflections, Reconciliation, and Renewal
April 12-14, 2002 Santa Barbara, California

A conference with:
Lionel Corbett
Hendrika deVries
Christine Downing
Stanislav Grof
Dan Hocoy
Michael Meade
Sobonfu Somé
Stephen Aizenstat, Moderator

Any moment can be a turning point, but some periods are momentous and bring all aspects of life and specters of death to the crossroads of awareness. The traditional and the unknown collide; the minds and hearts of the living are the ground of conversation... Michael Meade

The events of our recent past, still unfolding, have brought us all-individually and collectively-to a solemn turning point. What, at this juncture in time and place is life asking of us? Who, from our deepest sources calls us to respond? How do we embody the wisdom of our individual psyches, our collective imagination, our cultural mythologies, and our living planet? From the wells of our soul's deepest desires we yearn to heal our Selves, each Other, and the world. Where is our lifeline, our myth, the larger meaning for our time?

We invite you to the ocean's edge-to gather with us in community, as we offer diverse and emerging insights from the fields of Mythological Studies and Depth Psychology. Through presentations, conversation, and ritual, our distinguished presenters will provide a place for reflection, reconciliation, and renewal. Join us in the challenge to glean deeper meaning and a greater understanding of our time, so that we may begin to imagine a shift in consciousness with actions toward a living peace.

Conference Presentations

Opening Remarks
Stephen Aizenstat

Stephen Aizenstat, Ph.D., is the founding President of Pacifica Graduate Institute and a licensed clinical psychologist. His areas of expertise include Depth Psychology, dream research, and archetypal psychology. Dr. Aizenstat's original research centers on a psychodynamic process of "tending the living image," particularly in the context of dreamwork. Believing that tending the dream is tending the world, Dr. Aizenstat brought the insights of Depth Psychology and dreamwork to the Earth Charter International Workshop, a United Nations project, where he was a participant observer. Still actively involved in the Earth Charter Project, he has conducted dreamwork seminars for more than 25 years throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia.

Sacred Wound, Sacred Healing: A Depth Psychological Approach to 9. 11 and Beyond
Lionel Corbett

Never is the enormous religious pluralism of the United States more visible than in times of national tragedy that involve the people of many faiths. Since our recent events, we have witnessed a massive return to religious traditions. For many, the solace found in these sectors brings a much-needed peace of mind and sense of security. Yet, at the same time, for some, the traditions seem to be helpless in preventing or adequately explaining tragedies such as the one we have just experienced. These events remind us both of Amos, who asked: "Does evil befall the city, unless the Lord has done it?" and of Isaiah, through whom God said " I make peace and create evil." Lionel Corbett will explore Jung's notion of the dark side of the Self, which suggests a psychological approach to these kinds of God-images. He will also examine the implication of Jung's idea that the unconscious comes at us from the outside, as events in our lives, so that who we are happens to us.

Lionel Corbett, M.D., trained in medicine and psychiatry in England and as a Jungian analyst at the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago. Dr. Corbett is a core faculty member at Pacifica Graduate Institute teaching Depth Psychology. He is the author of The Religious Function of the Psyche and is co-editor, with Dennis Patrick Slattery, of Depth Psychology: Meditations in the Field.

Seeing in the Dark: The Power of Mythic Perception in Troubled Times
Hendrika deVries

In liminal times such as transitions, we are thin-skinned and vulnerable, like a snake when it molts its skin and is temporarily blind. In this state, the invisible spiritual world and visible reality come together. Jean Shinoda Bolen

Hendrika de Vries grew up in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam during World War II, during which time her mother worked for the Resistance and hid a young Jewish woman in their small apartment. Through these experiences she learned that in times of darkness, when the world seems to fragment into shards of terror, we have the opportunity to access a different kind of perception, one where the veil between the worlds is parted. In the wake of September 11, we have all entered the collective darkness of suicidal homicidal terrorists, of veiled silenced women begging for their children, of tall towers and the pentagon turned into a mass grave for thousands of innocents, and of a nation's loss of naiveté. From a mythic perspective, might the image of the veiled silenced woman serve as a messenger to help us see in the dark? In the context of dealing with our own shadow, Hendrika de Vries will explore this potential healing image and the opportunity for deep change and spiritual transformation in our personal and cultural mythology.

Hendrika de Vries, M.A., is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in Santa Barbara. She is a core faculty member at Pacifica Graduate Institute, teaching Mythology and Personal Transformation in the Mythological Studies Program. She also leads workshops in personal mythology and has an extensive background in theology, mysticism, mythology, and Depth Psychology.

"After the First Collapse There is No Other"
Christine Downing

After the First Collapse There is No Other-or is there? Is there something about us that makes each fresh assault on our taken-for-granted stable world seem to be the first? Depth Psychology can help us appreciate the power of the pull to recovered innocence, to upperworld complacencies. It can help us understand how unprepared we always seem to be for the violent intrusion of underworld realities, for the reappearance of violence and chaos and death. Its deeper lesson, however, is that this other world is deeply familiar, is one in which our souls are at home.

Christine Downing, Ph.D., is a core faculty member of Pacifica Graduate Institute and former chair of Religious Studies at San Diego State University. Her nine books include The Goddess; Myths & Mysteries of Same-Sex Love; Gods in Our Midst; and The Long Journey Home.

Psychospiritual Roots of Violence: A Transpersonal Perspective
Stanislav Grof

The current global crisis that presents a serious threat to humanity and all life on this planet is extremely complex and manifests in a number of areas. Diplomatic negotiations, administrative and legal measures, economic and social sanctions, military interventions, and other similar efforts so far have had very little success. As a matter of fact, they have often created more problems than they solved. In this slide-illustrated presentation, Stanislav Grof will explore observations from modern consciousness research and transpersonal psychology that reveal deep psychospiritual roots underlying the current crisis and suggest strategies that could help alleviate it.

Stanislav Grof, M.D., is a psychiatrist who has been involved in research of non-ordinary states of consciousness for the last forty-five years. He is one of the founders and chief theoreticians of transpersonal psychology and author of many books, including Beyond the Brain, The Adventure of Self-Exploration, The Cosmic Game, and Psychology of the Future. Dr. Grof is an adjunct faculty member at Pacifica Graduate Institute.

Depth Psychology: A Transformative Force Toward Intergroup Understanding and World Peace
Dan Hocoy

The inherent fractures in relationship underlying intergroup conflict ultimately occur within the borders of the psyche. Consequently, human discord has both basis and potential resolution in the unconscious. With its emphasis in the unconscious, Depth Psychology offers a unique contribution in understanding social unrest and in facilitating the reconciliation of opposing voices. By bringing to awareness the unconscious mechanisms that contribute to intolerance and global strife, it offers an alternative in which difference is met with curiosity rather than fear and diversity is addressed with openness instead of suppression. It strives to diminish the marginalization and disparity that are primary sources of personal and interpersonal turmoil. By acknowledging the impact of shadow and facilitating dialogical spaces where there are walls to self and mutual understanding, Depth Psychology has the potential to serve as a transformative force in community and international crises. In these tenuous times, Dan Hocoy will examine Depth Psychology's role in providing hope for restoring that which is fractured and reconciliation in that which has been alienated- both in our psyches and our planet.

Dan Hocoy, Ph.D., is a core faculty member at Pacifica Graduate Institute and author of numerous articles and book chapters exploring the intersection of depth, community, and cross-cultural psychology. His work currently focuses on the psychological sources of intergroup conflict. Dr. Hocoy has a long standing interest in social justice issues and has worked as a consultant to governments and agencies addressing intergroup conflict, including South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Canada's Correctional Services.

The Dream in the Moment: Conflict, Unity, and the Sublime
Michael Meade

Any moment can open or be an opening to the momentous 'world behind the world.' Yet, this invisible world only becomes visible when we have courage for the strange, enigmatic and inexplicable presence that secretly informs the dream of the human heart. Moment to moment the unseen world offers itself, yet we only find it when willing to suffer the splits, oppositions and wounds that permeate our lives and the times to which we are born. If humans are the 'makeweights' in the scales of time and the psychic ground on which the split in the world becomes conscious, there must be ways through which healing, wholeness and unity can be found. Three things continually point to both the split and its healing-Depth Psychology, mythology and ritual. Through them the psyche tries to speak messages of unity to the torn presence and suffering of our souls. Amidst the increasing chaos and threat of daily life, psyche offers glimpses of 'wholeness.' Either we find the courage to live the dream that brought us to life, or we live the half-life of fear and resignation in the face of uncertainty. Michael Meade will offer stories, ideas and images from the realms of psychology, myth and an 'living ritual' as necessary ways to enter and survive the current moment where the dream of life 'comes to life' as both nightmare and fulfillment.

Michael Meade has studied myth, anthropology, history of religion, and cross-cultural rituals for over 35 years. His hypnotic and fiery storytelling, street savvy perceptiveness, and spellbinding interpretations of ancient myths and symbols illuminate many crises in current culture. He has the unusual ability to synthesize this material, tapping ancestral sources of wisdom and connecting them to the stories people are living today. He is the author of Men and the Water of Life; editor, with James Hillman and Robert Bly, of Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart; and editor of Crossroads: A Quest for rites of Passage. Meade is Founder/Director of Mosaic Multicultural Foundation, a network of artists, teachers and activists that fosters community healing and development efforts.

Welcoming Spirit Home: Creating a Renewed Sense of Community
Sobonfu Somé

Everyone longs to belong. Yet, in the fast-paced modern society we have created, we sometimes forget that we are interrelated and interdependent. In an instant, however, the events of September 11 radically shifted the American psyche. Not only did we immediately reach out to one another-family, friends, strangers in crisis, congregations, communities, countries-we were reminded that we are undeniably intertwined. At once, a sense of community offered some solace in the midst of unspeakable chaos. What we know in our collective psyches was remembered, activated, and embraced. To welcome us home, we are honored to have with us Sobonfu Somé. Destined from birth to teach the ancient wisdom, ritual, and practices of her ancestors to those in the West, Sobonfu-whose name means "keeper of the rituals"-will share the rich spiritual life and culture of her native land, Burkina Faso. She will discuss the tribal ways of her homeland, offering insights for creating a renewed and ongoing sense of connection and community in our own homeland.

Sobonfu Somé is one of the foremost voices in African spirituality to come to the West. Recognized early on for her special gifts by the elders of her village, Sobonfu's destiny was foretold before her birth and was fostered with an early education in ritual and initiation in preparation for her life's work. Since leaving the Dagara Tribe of Burkina Faso, which ranks as one of the world's poorest countries yet one of the richest in spiritual life and custom, she has traveled extensively throughout North America and Europe conducting workshops on spirituality, ritual, the sacred and intimacy. Her work has moved African spiritual practices from beyond the realm of western anthropology to a place alongside the world's great spiritual traditions. African spiritual traditions contribute a message of profound significance and practical application for today's world. Sobonfu is the author of The Spirit of Intimacy and Welcoming Spirit Home.

Pre-Conference Workshop

Living at the Edge: Creativity, Practice, and the Life of the Soul
Michael Meade

Although the soul prefers wandering the world to taking direct routes, its wanderings and wonderings both hide and reveal the purpose within each life. Through imaginative detours we continually rediscover 'those images before which our hearts first opened.' For the depths of the psyche repeatedly present intimations of the soul's style and its life-long sense of and destiny. However, threads of genius and purpose only become visible at the edge of life, where something creative is attempted. Finding and sustaining creative practices builds pathways between the individual and the Soul of the World. The paths between allow the necessary emotions to flow and sustain the vitality inherent in life. A meaningful practice becomes an art that combines the imaginal with the concrete, the spiritual with the practical and the artful with the necessary. Through stories, exercises, and discussion, participants will explore the role of natural genius and creative practice in making the 'difficult road' and refinding our 'way' even when the world around us turns chaotic and forbidding.