March, 2009 Newsletter
CONSCIOUSNESS OF THE HEART
Olga Louchakova, M.D., Ph.D.
Beyond the idea that the mind can be connected with the heart, there lies the reality of the living heart-consciousness, or, as Sufi would say, a “taste” of the heart-self. While many people have the direct spontaneous experience of this Heart-consciousness, it can also open through spiritual practices such as the Christian Prayer of the Heart, the Vedantic Atma-Vichara, or the Islamic Dhikr of Divine Names. Leading to the direct, pre-reflective, immediate apperception of the realities of the Heart-consciousness, these practices were considered to be esoteric and hidden from the uninitiated. Traditionally, self-awareness rising from these practices served as a source of depth-psychological and spiritual insights, archetypal revelations, and esoteric self-knowledge.
Even though Heart-consciousness is richly reflected in linguistic metaphors and represented in art and in the perennial philosophy, it is only modestly explored by science. Scientific investigations were mainly concerned with the anatomical heart as a possible substratum of the mind, and its connection with emotions, altruism and compassion. From our perspective, based on the research philosophy of Merleau-Ponty, consciousness of the heart can be successfully studied scientifically only after the structures of consciousness are identified and described. To that end, we conducted phenomenological analysis of the consciousness of the heart using methods of Edmund Husserl and Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka. Data streams in the study included accounts of contemporary meditators (n > 300), accounts of experts in spiritual traditions cultivating consciousness of the heart, accounts of people with spontaneous awakening of the heart, traditional texts such as Philokalia or Tarjuman al-Ashwaq by Ibn al-Arabi, and the first person introspective data obtained by the author. Results show that consciousness of the heart is constituted within two major conditions, egological (including the notion of individual self), and non-egological, which possibly serve as the experiential origins of two powerful trends in spirituality which are based on the notion of Reality as the self (Vedanta), and as the no- self (Theravada Buddhism). The egological condition, i.e. consciousness of the self in the heart, is organized in five major domains, related to the imaginal worlds, and individual and collective aspects of one’s psyche. Intentional constitution of these five domains is organized around the center of subtle consciousness known as Qalb in Sufism, and the Spiritual Heart in Hesychasm (Eastern and early Christian mysticism). The Spiritual heart serves as a junction between the consciousness of separateness, and consciousness of totality or oneness. Phenomenological architecture of self-awareness in the heart is in the process of constant becoming and renewal, which presents limitless possibilities of positive self-transformation. The talk will address the results of phenomenological investigations of the consciousness of the heart, and, time permitting, will introduce guided meditations on the heart which are helpful in individual transformative work.
PLACE: Christ Episcopal Church
1040 Border Road, Los Altos, CA
SPEAKER: Olga Louchakova, M.D., Ph.D. (neuroscience) is a core faculty at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, California, and a founding director of the Neurophenomenology Center implementing novel trans-disciplinary methodologies in the study of meditation, contemplative prayer, and human psychospiritual development. Her work was acknowledged by awards from Shemyakin Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry in Russia, and Spitzer and Zimmer family foundations in the United States. Formerly a senior scientist at the Pavlov Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, she holds mandates in spiritual teaching from the school of contemporary Hesychasm (St. Petersburg, Russia), and Arsha Vidya Gurukulam (Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania), and maintains private practice in spiritual counseling in Palo Alto.
Students with ID, a $5 donation is asked
From Hwy 101:
1. Take the San Antonio Road exit into Mtn. View.
2. Continue on San Antonio Road past Camino Real to Foothill Expressway (approximately
3. Turn left on Foothill Expressway.
4. Turn right at the first corner onto El Monte Road.
5. Turn left at the first stop light onto University Ave until it ends and you must turn right onto Anita Ave., then follow the University Avenue/Anita Ave. instructions below.
From Hwy 280:
1. Take the El Monte/Moody Road exit in Los Altos.
2. Turn on El Monte toward SF Bay.
3. Turn right at the stop light onto University Ave until it ends and you must turn right onto Anita Ave., and then follow the University Avenue/Anita instructions below.
From University Avenue/Anita Avenue:
1. Turn right on Anita Ave, take an immediate left onto Border Road for 1-1/2 blocks.
2. Pass the junction with Border Hill Dr., then turn right at the first large driveway and go up the road on the LEFT SIDE to the top church parking lot. (Sign will say Church Office).
3. Park in the large lot at the TOP of the slope.
4. FMBR meets in the bldg. on the left, opposite the main door to the church sanctuary.
ONTOPOIESIS AND SPIRITUAL EMERGENCE
By Olga Louchakova MD, PhD
The concept of ontopoiesis, as developed in the phenomenology of life of Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka, defines the self-creative activity of consciousness. As abstractly philosophical as the topic may see, it has distinct psychological and spiritual implications. As the notions of enlightenment, spiritual awakening and non-duality enter the mainstream consciousness, the possibility of spiritual realization is less and less the prerogative of separate mystics. More and more people report the changes in their minds resulting from the experience of spiritual awakening, from the eternal “now” recognizable in their own practice of living. Transpersonal psychology with its focus on human spiritual development studies the processes which happen after the experience of spiritual awakening, or self-realization. Ontopoiesis, or the self-induced development of consciousness, “kicks in” after the adult person experiences the non-dual insight.
Viewed as a “mechanism” of consciousness operating within the individual psyche, ontopoiesis underlies the human development, and serves not only as the foundation for development after the deep spiritual experience, but also as the basis for life transitions, transformations of meaning, and reconstruction of the human self affected by trauma. Insofar as transpersonal psychology is concerned, ontopoiesis brings out the higher stages of human development beyond the ego, functions in the exceptional human experiences such as near-death experiences, and underlies characterological transformation. Ontopoietic expressions in the individual psyche appear in connection with the so called spiritual emergence, i.e. the spontaneous opening of spiritual consciousness in people living in basically secularized post-postmodern western culture.
Early works of transpersonal psychologists Perry and Sanella interpreted spiritual emergence as a one-time non-ordinary event. In 1986, Grof and Grof mention that spiritual emergence is a developmental condition. Spiritual emergence was mistreated and pathologized by psychology and medicine until in 1998, Lukoff, Lu and Turner legitimized it as the healthy condition of the mind by introducing it as a non-pathologic diagnostic category. Currently, Louchakova suggests that the spontaneous opening of spiritual experience in contemporary westerners signifies a special, “fast” track in overall life-span development. Spontaneous spiritual experiences are both the manifestation of, and catalysts to individuation/ego-development. They serve to open the sense of identity beyond the ego, change the emotional structure and ethical position of the person, change the attitude towards death etc. Spiritual experiences of particular classes can be used as stage-markers in the stage-based model of psychospiritual development through the life span, defining the alternative clinical strategies for healing and guidance.
Examination of the self-development of consciousness as it is reflected in live accounts of adults after spiritual experiences shows that this inner developmental activity of consciousness is an important ongoing component of their lives. People having spontaneous spiritual experiences with the gestalt of pure consciousness stand out in their awareness of the interior of their consciousness, and in the awareness of their own development. It is as if their whole mind gets “illumined” by the sudden opening of blazing pure consciousness, and it’s deepest content, including dynamic processes related to development, becomes available to awareness and pre-reflective and reflective verbalization.
Phenomenological analysis shows how these experiences are catalytically connected to ego-development. Analysis allows to identify phenomenological foundations for several ontopoiesis-related processes, such birth of the new archetypal and meaningful contents, structure-building, and archetypal transformation. The psyche reformulates itself from the primordial chaos to the order, and acquires a “flexibility”, “liquidity”, and “drive towards integrity of the self”, which makes it into a field of conscious ontopoietic expression. The phenomenon of wholeness of the self, as opposite to neurotic split-edness, self-envy and other afflictions of the self, is looked upon as a result of specific process in the psyche, identified as ontopoietic restoration, which will be different from the known in therapy restoration of the self after trauma or psychotic episode. Ontopoietic restoration not only restores the wholeness, but establishes the higher and specific forms of self-organization (as shown in the analysis of the particular account of B.G.), i.e. individuation beyond the limits of individual identity.
FMBR UPCOMING EVENTS
FUTURE FMBR MEETINGS
May 22 & 23, 2009:
Lisa Rafel lecture + workshop. Lisa is an internationally recognized teacher, presenter, healer and chantress.
Smart Life Forum
March 19, Bernard Siegel – on “Latest Stem Cell Developments”
April 16, Dave Steenblock, MD
May 21, Aubrey De Grey, PhD
*** Important: FMBR is in need of volunteers ***
We need help with the monthly operations, special event production and more. Please let us know your interest (at email@example.com) and we will find something that is mutually interesting and rewarding.
INFORMATION ABOUT THE
FOUNDATION FOR MIND-BEING RESEARCH
The Foundation was established in 1980 to assist in the evolution of consciousness studies and to help bring this new field into wider recognition as a bona fide science. The interdisciplinary nature of the field is reflected in the activities of the organization and in the breadth of interests of its members who currently represent areas of engineering, science, medicine, the humanities, and the arts.
With its major focus on facilitating the development of an integrated model of consciousness, the Foundation provides encouragement and resources to a rather unique group of creative researchers and scientists with the objective of betterment of the individual, the society, and the environment.
Because of the special nature of scientific inquiry in this area, the Foundation is interested in building its regular membership with competent individuals who:
* are open to a multidisciplinary approach to knowledge
* recognize they are an integral part of any experiment
* know and are prepared to extend their own level of consciousness
The intention is to develop high standards of credibility in all research activities and publications.
Donations made to the Foundation are tax deductible.
The Foundation is incorporated under the laws of the State of California and operates as a non-profit scientific research organization under IRS code 509 (a)2 with tax exempt status under section 501 (c)3
Foundation for Mind-Being Research
P.O. Box 449, Los Altos, Ca 94023-0449
Cofounder/CEO Emeritus - - William C. Gough
Chairman of Board - - - - - - - Edie Fischer
President - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Yevgeniy Gorodetskiy
V.P. Commmunications - - - - Kenneth Morley
Director New Business - - - - - Greg Yau
Treasurer - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Austin Marx
Secretary - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Tiffany Schneider
Audio-Visual Manager - - - - - Francis Lee
Director At-Large - - - - - - - - - Jerry Gin