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Spirit, Science And Consciousness: Living With The Paradoxes

February 13 – March 2, 2012

This course is open for bookings.

Teachers: Jean Boulton, Chris Clarke, Shantena Sabbadini, Amit Goswami and Nora Bateson

For centuries, philosophers and scientists have struggled with understanding how mind and matter relate. Does consciousness reside throughout the material world or does it just inhabit the human brain? And what do we make of the greater sense of self that arises from spiritual experience?

Within the mechanistic Newtonian world view, these questions seem unanswerable or meaningless, but new scientific insights, particularly in quantum physics and complexity science, are leading to a very different understanding of how the world works, which shares many common themes with the paradoxes of ancient wisdom and philosophy.

This course brings together a range of scientists to reflect on these perennial questions from the perspective of modern scientific research, Jungian psychology and Eastern philosophy.

Week 1 – February 13-17, 2012: Exploring Science and Consciousness Jean Boulton and Chris Clarke

Jean Boulton begins the week by looking at the different kinds of science, from ancient cosmologies to complexity theory, and reflecting on the limits to this kind of knowledge. She will discuss what the “new” sciences have to say about spirituality and how they connect with the world of imagination, dreams and intuition.

In the second half of the week, Chris Clarke shifts the focus to quantum theory and consciousness. Does consciousness influence quantum events? He will introduce basic ideas of quantum physics and invite course participants to consider different meanings of the term “consciousness”, including practical exercises to reflect on their own awareness.


Jean Boulton, PhD, MBA is Visiting Fellow at Cranfield School of Management and also with the Department of Social and Policy Science at the University of Bath. She has a PhD in quantum physics from the University of Cambridge and a first degree in physics from the University of Oxford. She has a particular interest in complexity theory and has been teaching and writing on this subject, and its applications for human and natural systems, for several years. Recent research centres on the nature of science and its relationship with the imaginal, the numinous and the uniqueness of individual experience. She is drawn to Buddhist philosophy. Jean is currently co-authoring ‘Embracing Complexity’ with Professor Peter Allen, to be published by Oxford University Press in 2012.

Chris Clarke was Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Southampton, UK, publishing 3 books and over 80 papers in General Relativity, cosmology and the physics of the brain, until going free lance in 2009 to work on science and spirituality. He has served on two Institute of Physics editorial boards and has been chairperson of The Scientific and Medical Network and of GreenSpirit, as well as serving on the York Diocesan Synod of the Church of England. His current interests include leading a weekly Circle Dance group. Website

Week 2 February 20-24, 2012: Physics, Tao and Synchronicity Shantena Sabbadini

Plus Special Screening An Ecology of mind and discussion with Nora Bateson

Course Outline

Shantena Sabbadini will explore how the quantum revolution has shaken the classical separation of observer and observed, and present the Tao Te Ching as a view of reality that fits with the fundamental notions and paradoxes of quantum physics and offers a perspective that can help us develop a saner relationship to fellow humans and our environment. He will look at Jung’s notion of synchronicity and the worldview underlying it in East and West, including introspective work with the I Ching. What light do these approaches shed on the eternal problem of the mind/matter split?

A brief outline of the development of Western thought

This will follow the development of Western thought from the primitive participatory mode (Levy-Bruhl’s participation mystique) through the advent of monotheism, the Copernican revolution, Descartes’ mind/matter split and the origins of modern science as a progressive loss of the anima mundi, leading to the vast, cold, impersonal universe so impressively described by Nietsche and the existentialists. It will then point out a reversal of this trend, starting in the 19th century with the romantics and powerfully exploding within the precinct of science itself at the beginning of the 20th century with the quantum revolution. We shall note it is an incomplete revolution: quantum thinking has not yet penetrated mainstream thinking, and the dominant worldview of our time is still essentially pre-quantum.

Quantum physics and the subject/object split

In this part of the course we shall examine in greater detail the nature of the quantum revolution. We shall describe the experiences that shake the classical separation of observer and observed, consider various interpretations of those experiences, and we shall note how, almost a hundred years after the beginning of the theory, a basic riddle at the core of quantum physics remains essentially open. How we solve that riddle has fundamental implications for the kind of world image we build and therefore ultimately for how we relate to the world around us.

An Eastern perspective: the language of Tao

We shall take as our guide Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching and explore a view of reality that, although far from the present dominant Western worldview, matches surprisingly well the fundamental notions of quantum physics and offers us a philosophical perspective capable on one hand to overcome the quantum paradoxes and on the other to support a saner relatioship to our fellow humans and to our environment.

West meets East: the notion of synchronicity

In this part of the course we shall explore Jung’s notion of synchronicity, follow some of his quarter of a century long dialogue with the Nobel prize physicist Wolfgang Pauli, and try to experience the worldview underlying such a notion in East and West by examining synchronicity in our own lives – an possibly doing some actual introspective work with the I Ching.

Beyond the mind/matter split

Finally we shall consider problems and possibilities that open up as we move beyond the Cartesian perspective of mind and matter as two separate realities. I imagine this last part of the course to be partly a review of the ground covered and partly an open discussion with the students.

Special Screening An Ecology of mind an evening with Nora Bateson

Nora Bateson is the daughter of Gregory Bateson, celebrated anthropologist, philosopher, author, naturalist, systems theorist, and filmmaker. Nora has written and directed the award winning film An Ecology of Mind.

The film includes footage from Bateson’s own films shot in the 1930s in Bali (with Margaret Mead) and New Guinea, along with photographs, filmed lectures, and interviews. His youngest child, Nora, depicts him as a man who studied the interrelationships of the complex systems in which we live with a depth motivated by scientific rigour and caring integrity.

Nora visits the College to share the film and to discuss her work and her Father’s.

Trailer – An Ecology of Mind


Shantena Sabbadini worked as a theoretical physicist at the University of Milan, Italy, and at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In Milan he helped lay the foundations for what is now called the “decoherence approach” to describing quantum observations, presently the most widely accepted understanding of this controversial subject. In Santa Barbara he contributed to the first identification of a black hole. From 1994 to 2002 he was a member of the faculty at Eranos, an East-West research center founded by C.G. Jung in Ascona, Switzerland. Since 2002, he is associate director of the Pari Center for New Learning, an alternative academic institute located in the medieval village of Pari, Tuscany, Italy. Together with the sinologist Rudolf Ritsema he has authored The Original I Ching Oracle, Watkins, London, 2005. Website:

Week 3 – February 27-March 2, 2012: The Self-Aware Universe Amit Goswami

During this week, quantum physicist Amit Goswami will explore his understanding of a new paradigm of science based on quantum physics and the primacy of consciousness. He will explain how this new paradigm integrates different forces within biology, psychology, and medicine and brings together science and spirituality. He will also introduce the idea of quantum activism, a new way to live in the world. Topics to be covered include: the self-aware universe, quantum creativity, physics of the soul, the quantum doctor and creative evolution.


Amit Goswami is professor emeritus in the physics department of the University of Oregon, where he has served since 1968. He is a pioneer of the new paradigm of science called science within consciousness and the author of the highly successful textbook Quantum Mechanics. His two volume textbook The Physicist’s View of Nature traces the decline and rediscovery of the concept of God within science. He has also written eight popular books based on his research on quantum physics and consciousness..

In his private life, he is a practitioner of spirituality and transformation. He calls himself a quantum activist. He appeared in the film “What the Bleep Do We Know?” and the documentary “Dalai Lama Renaissance.”

Course Content:

Monday: The self-aware universe: How consciousness creates the material world
Tuesday: Quantum creativity: The quantum physics of the creative process
Wednesday: Physics of the soul: A comprehensive theory of survival after death and reincarnation
Thursday: The quantum doctor: An integration of conventional and alternative medicine
Friday: Creative evolution: A resolution between Darwinism and intelligent design

Related media

Amit Goswami – Quantum Physics & Consciousness

Jean Boulton: Complexity as Worldview

Interview with Nora Bateson

Course Fees

Any One week £750
Any Two weeks £1,400 (Save £100 over weekly course price)
Three weeks £2100 (Save £150)

All course fees include accommodation, food, field trips and all teaching sessions.

For further information about Schumacher College please see About the College


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Schumacher College is part of the Dartington Hall Trust, a company limited by guarantee, registered in England and as a charity (company no. 1485560, charity no. 279756). Registered office: The Elmhirst Centre, Dartington Hall, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6EL, United Kingdom