Courses Overview >> Short courses >> Mind in Nature 2016 - Three Week Intensive

Mind in Nature 2016 - Three Week Intensive

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Course dates: 
Monday, 15 February, 2016 to Friday, 4 March, 2016
This course is full.

With, Rupert Sheldrake, Stephan Harding, Jonathan Horwitz, Zara Waldebäck, Shantena Sabbadini and Philip Franses

For the last 200 years, we have been taught that nature is a mere machine, without consciousness, purpose or meaning. This view has led to a devastating destruction of life on earth. Today’s emerging science is turning this understanding on its head, revealing life as inherently intelligent, purposive and meaningfully communicative. According to this new science, there really is mind in nature.

You will examine and experience the concept of ‘Mind in Nature’ through the work of Jonathan Horwitz, Zara Waldebäck, Rupert Sheldrake Shantena Sabbadini and our College faculty in this 3 week intensive. You will be joined by a number of students from Schumacher College Postgraduate Programmes in Holistic Science and Economics for Transition which will allow for rich interaction between long-term students and participants.

Week One

15 - 19 February

With Rupert Sheldrake and Stephan Harding

Are our minds trapped within our physical bodies as a by-product of our brains? Or is it possible for us to experience a greater mind located beyond ourselves in the world around us? These are some of the questions that will come up during this week with Rupert Sheldrake and Stephan Harding, who will explore the concept of ‘Mind in Nature’.

Taking conventional science as a starting point, both Rupert and Stephan will consider whether it is possible for nature to have an underlying mental aspect, or whether, as the materialist view insists, our world is nothing more than a complex aggregation of mindless matter. They will look at the scientific evidence supporting the concept of ‘nature’s mind’ and lead participants on a participatory journey to experience it directly.

Rupert will share evidence from his latest ground-breaking research with humans and animals which suggests that the mind of an individual reaches out into the world beyond its physical body to influence the collective memory of its kind through the process of morphic resonance. He will also explore the implications of his radical discoveries for both science and society.

Recent scientific discoveries show that cognitive ability and emotional empathy are present in a wide range of animal species, and that plants also have a sophisticated responsive ability which some scientists are daring to call ‘intelligence’. Stephan will describe some of these discoveries, and will explore their implications for our relationships with living beings and with our living planet. He will also explore the general outlines of a ‘panpsychist’  world view, in which sentience is perceived as permeating all of matter.

Rupert Sheldrake

Rupert Sheldrake is one of the world’s most innovative biologists and writers, and is best known for his theory of morphic fields and morphic resonance, which leads to a vision of a living, developing universe with its own inherent memory. He worked in developmental biology at Cambridge University, where he was a Fellow of Clare College. He was then Principal Plant Physiologist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), in Hyderabad, India. From 2005 to 2010 he was Director of the Perrott-Warrick project, funded from Trinity College, Cambridge.

Stephan Harding

Stephan Harding is Programme Coordinator of the MSc in Holistic Science and resident Ecologist at Schumacher College teaching on the MSc core modules and on most short courses at the College. He holds a doctorate in behavioural ecology from Oxford University, and before coming to the college taught ecology at the National University in Costa Rica. He is a close associate of James Lovelock and an expert in the study of Gaia theory and deep ecology. He is the author of Animate Earth and Grow Small, Think Beautiful: Ideas for a Sustainable World from Schumacher College. Click here to read his full staff profile >>

Week Two

22- 26 February

With Jonathan Horwitz and Zara Waldebäck

The world is alive – and so are we. Join world-famous teachers of shamanism Jonathan Horwitz and Zara Waldebäck to explore and experience the living qualities of mind, soul and spirit in the more-than-human world. From ancient times shamans have worked together with the Spirits of Nature for healing, power, knowledge and wisdom. In gratitude for all the help, the shaman also asks what to give back, and knows the true value of inter-dependent relationships.

In this workshop you will be introduced to the shaman’s way of engaging with life, of seeing the soul in everything, and opening up to both the physical and spiritual sides of nature. The shaman creates an intimate and personal relationship with both seen and un-seen, and learns how to communicate with the hidden sides of life.

Shamanism is humanity's oldest spiritual practice, a tradition for healing and problem solving and for coming into connection with the world around us. It is a way of maintaining balance in the individual, and between the individual and the rest of creation. For shamans, the focus is not restricted to one isolated human at a time. It is always aware of a more communal consciousness which acknowledges how all life is connected and in continual motion.

More than ever, the Earth is calling to us – but how are we to listen? The work this week will open the door to a deeply symbiotic relationship with nature through a range of shamanic practices in the woods and fields around Schumacher College. You will learn how to shift your consciousness to come directly into contact with different aspects of nature and begin to understand what she needs from us at this time of global crisis.

Jonathan Horwitz

Jonathan Horwitz has been working with shamanism since 1972. From 1984 to 1993 he worked as a teacher and field researcher at the Foundation for Shamanic Studies with Michael Harner. In 1986, he founded the Scandinavian Center for Shamanic Studies (www.shamanism.dk) together with Annette Høst and has been teaching internationally ever since. Jonathan sees shamanism as a spiritual path and his main focus today is shamanic healing, spiritual ecology and shamanic community work, and how these three aspects can work together for the future of the Earth. He has a master's degree in anthropology, contributes regularly to Sacred Hoop magazine and is European Editor of Journal of Contemporary Shamanism. This will be his fifth time teaching at Schumacher College.

Zara Waldebäck

Zara Waldebäck has been working with stories and writing for 20 years, mainly as a screenwriter, script coach and university lecturer. She has collaborated with psychologists to explore story in healing and therapeutic contexts, developed techniques for spontaneous storytelling, and researched links between shamanism and story. She has practised shamanism for 10 years, co-teaching workshops with Jonathan since 2010. Zara has run courses on shamanism and creativity for writers, presented papers on the shamanic journey as story, and written two books on screenwriting - "Writing for the Screen" (2008) and "The Creative Screenwriter" (2012).

Together, Jonathan and Zara run the spiritual retreat center Åsbacka (www.asbacka.org) in the woods of southern Sweden, where they hold courses and offer shamanic healing, guidance and spiritual mentoring. They teach all over Europe, including England, Ireland, Scandinavia, Italy, Hungary and Russia. The heart of their practice is shamanism as a spiritual path, finding healing in all they do, and working with the Spirits in a way that invites power, presence, joy and responsibility.

Week Three

29 February to 4 March

With Shantena Sabbadini and Philip Franses

If we don’t know the language of nature, how can we join the conversation?

The focus of this week will be on the notions of mind and matter, consciousness and world. Can we meaningfully speak about an interaction between these two or should we rather view them as one, the same fundamental reality looked at from different angles? We will consider this and similar questions in the light of the description of the world suggested by quantum physics – which in turn will lead us to examine in-depth some of the central riddles of that theory.

The implications of such an examination are surprising and far-reaching. They touch upon our notions of who we are, what the world is made of and what is this vast mystery we are immersed in. And, as they shake some of our basic presuppositions and ordinary taken for granted views of reality, they open up larger views, invite us to new ways of thinking, being and acting in the world.

Many strands of thought converge towards such new ways. Some of them come from advances in neuroscience, some are supported by the re-discovery of ancient wisdom traditions. We will consider in some detail two forms of this remarkable convergence: the right brain/left brain theory put forward by Iain McGilchrist and the ancient Taoist wisdom as it is represented in the Tao Te Ching.

Ultimately the aim of this week’s work is re-discovering our beginner’s mind, nourishing our sense of wonder and remembering our oneness with all beings and things.

Shantena Sabbadini

Shantena 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: www.shantena.com (link is external).

Philip Franses

Philip worked with the late Brian Goodwin here at the College on the use of language as a tool for interpreting and drawing meaning from the world. He will show how all of life, from individual genes to humans themselves, make use of their ability to communicate with each other and the world around them to live grounded and meaningful lives. Philip Frances lectures on the MSc in Holistic Science as teacher of complexity. Click here to read his full staff profile >>

Fee: 
£ 2 200.00
Course fees include single accommodation, all meals, field trips, materials and all teaching sessions.
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