Episode 83: Stanislav Grof guest – Part 1 – Barack Obama and Our 21st Century Collective Heroes’ Journey
“For human evolution to continue, the conversation must deepen.” – Margaret Mead
After reading Barack Obama's two intimate autobiographies, “Dreams From My Father” and “The Audacity of Hope”, it came to me that our new President's personal life story telling his inner quest and outer challenges in his own voice so revealingly is itself a prototypical example of a new, 21st century, collaborative inner and outer initiation into a planetary consciousness beyond tribe and nation. This new larger self awareness goes further than the cultural comfort zone of our modern mind's historical individualistic, adolescent self-empowerment into the emerging mature co-creative and dialogue-based consciousness foreseen and portrayed in Living Dialogues since its inception.
The combative stance of the argument culture (see Program 72 with Deborah Tannen) gives way to a dialogue consciousness opening to expanded possibilities of harmony and enrichment in facing the accelerating diversity, uncertainty, and changes of our life experience.
This new template contains all the elements of the traditional Hero's Journey archetype across cultures so well described by Joseph Campbell in mid-20th century in his classic "Hero of a Thousand Faces" -- but goes further in uniting the best of the indigenous rites of passage and the modern mind's conceptual breakthroughs into a new collaborative midwifing I describe as our 21st century collective Heroes' Journey. While remaining responsible to show up on our own horse, we effectively “ride into the dark part of the forest” together on our larger Grail quest.
From that perspective of what we can see reflected in Barack's life story, I invited my friend and consciousness work colleague Dr. Stanslav Grof (see also Program 30 on this site) to join me in a dialogic exploration of this idea, to contextualize and encourage you to read Barack's two autobiographies from this understanding as a contemporary exemplar of each of our journeys in this transformational time. "Together we can do anything." Yes We Can.
In Part 1 (Program 83) of this Dialogue, I largely set out this template and perspective, with examples from Joseph Campbell's work and the self-described experiences of our fellow sojourner and planetary citizen named Barack ("blessed one") Obama. Stan and I dialogue together, elaborating this context, from Stan’s experience of transpersonal psychology and mine that "Dialogue is the Language of Evolutionary Transformation".
In Part 2 (Program 84) we go further in delving into the role of ritual and initiation, including vision quest in various forms of personal inner journey beyond our accustomed comfort zone and back into service to the larger community, local and global. We conclude by reprising the theme of my Dialogue 81 with Angeles Arrien on how we can go beyond our polarizing and depressing modern tendency to resist, pathologize, and dismiss our often emotionally intense experience of mystical belonging as something wrong and abnormal – to having “the audacity of hope”, able to recognize with gratitude such experience as having a profound, healing, reality and mythological resonance, connecting us to our ancestors and an alive and beneficent universe, in which we are all "blessed ones".
(See, as an illustration, the last few paragraphs at the end of Part Two of “Dreams From My Father”.)
"We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth….and we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself....For the world has changed, and we must change with it." -- Barack Obama Inaugural Address, January 20, 2009
See also my prior Program 30 with Stanislav Grof exploring in dialogue a selection of his own autobiographical experiences of transformations told in his book “When the Impossible Happens”.
“Dialogue is the Language of Evolutionary Transformation”™.
Contact me if you like at www.livingdialogues.com. Visit my blog at Duncan.personallifemedia.com. ”. (For more, including information on the Engaged Elder Wisdom Dialogue Series on my website www.livingdialogues.com, click on Episode Detail to the left above and go to Transcript section.)
Among others, programs you will find of interest on these themes are my Dialogues on this site with Ted Sorensen, David Boren, David Mendell, Deborah Tannen, Angeles Arrien, and Joseph Ellis, among others [click on their name(s) in green on right hand column of the Living Dialogues Home Page on this site].
After you listen to this Dialogue, I invite you to both explore and make possible further interesting material on Living Dialogues by taking less than 5 minutes to click on and fill out the Listener Survey. My thanks and appreciation for your participation.
“Duncan Campbell, I heard about your podcast a few months ago, and have been deeply listening to all the dialogues with your fantastic friends/guests. Your words, ideas, and wisdom are truly inspirational. You have evoked a new appetite for knowledge in me that I hope to share with a starving younger generation. Thank you for doing what you do, and creating a unique space, void of boundaries and classification. A breath of fresh air! Much love and respect.” – Amit Kapadiya
In furtherance of creating and maintaining the planetary dialogues now required in the 21st century, I featured a special series of dialogues with myself and other elders in the weeks leading up to and including the 2008 Olympics hosted by China and the U.S. 2008 elections. Those dialogues can be listened to separately on this site or as gathered as a series on my website www.livingdialogues.com under the collective title “Engaged Elder Wisdom Dialogues”. They address various specific political aspects of our planetary crisis, with its dangers and opportunities for creating and sustaining a visionary and evolutionary shift. (We remember that the Chinese character for “crisis” is often described as meaning both “danger” when visioned from a fear perspective, and “opportunity” when visioned from a wisdom perspective.)
In all my Living Dialogues from their inception I talk in various ways about the call to generate dialogues across generational, ethnic, gender, and national boundaries -- building bridges of understanding and wisdom in the cooperative spirit and reaching out -- required by our 21st century realities, and the essential roles that we all are called to play in our evolution for it to take place.
This is the time for renewed dialogue, for visionary and inspiring discourse producing practical and innovative ways of living and sharing together, to engage our own elder wisdom and youthful inspiration, and in so doing to experience and exemplify that “Dialogue is the Language of Evolutionary Transformation”™.
And that is what we all do, in our mutual roles as host, deep listeners, and guests, when we gather together here from all parts of the globe in Living Dialogues.
SUBSCRIBE HERE FOR FREE TO LIVING DIALOGUES AND IN THE COMING WEEKS HEAR DUNCAN CAMPELL’S DIALOGUES WITH OTHER GROUND-BREAKING TRANSFORMATIONAL THINKERS LISTED ON THE WEBSITE WWW.LIVINGDIALOGUES.COM. TO LISTEN TO PREVIOUS RELATED DIALOGUES ON THIS SITE, SCROLL DOWN ON THE LIVING DIALOGUES SHOW PAGE HERE -- OR CLICK ON THE NAME OF A GUEST ON THE LIST AT THE RIGHT -- TO HEAR DUNCAN’S DIALOGUES WITH DR. ANDREW WEIL, BRIAN WEISS, COLEMAN BARKS, RUPERT SHELDRAKE, LARRY DOSSEY, JUDY COLLINS, MARIANNE WILLIAMSON, MATTHEW FOX, JOSEPH CHILTON PEARCE, DEEPAK CHOPRA, BYRON KATIE AND STEPHEN MITCHELL, CAROLINE MYSS, GANGAJI, VINE DELORIA, JR., MICHAEL DOWD (THE UNIVERSE STORY OF THOMAS BERRY AND BRIAN SWIMME), STEVE MCINTOSH, FRANCES MOORE LAPPE, STANISLAV GROF, RICHARD TARNAS, MARC BEKOFF AND JANE GOODALL, RICHARD MOSS, PAUL HAWKEN, PAUL RAY, JOSEPH ELLIS, DUANE ELGIN, LYNNE MCTAGGART, ECKHART TOLLE, MICHAEL MEADE, ANGELES ARRIEN, SOBONFU SOME. TED SORENSEN, ROBERT THURMAN, DAVID MARANISS, DAVID BOREN, GEORGE LAKOFF, TOM HAYDEN, JAY INSLEE, BRACKEN HENDRICKS, BOB GOUGH, VAN JONES, BARBARA MARX HUBBARD, LESTER BROWN, DAVID MENDELL, DEBORAH TANNEN, JOHN GRAY, ARI BERK, SUSAN JACOBY, AND OTHER EVOLUTIONARY THINKERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD.
The best way to reach me is through my website: www.livingdialogues.com. Many thanks again for your attentive deep listening in helping co-create this program.
All the best, Duncan.
P.S. As a way of further acknowledging and appreciating your part in these dialogues, and since I cannot personally answer all of them, I have begun to publish from time to time in these pages some of the appreciations received from you.
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Duncan Campbell: From time immemorial beginning with indigenous counsels and ancient wisdom traditions, through the work of western visionaries such as Plato, Galileo, and quantum physicist David Boehm, mutually participatory dialogue has been seen as the key to evolving and transforming consciousness, evoking a flow of meaning, a dia-flow of logos, meaning: beyond what any one individual can bring through alone. So join us now as together with you, the active deep listener, we evoke and engage in Living Dialogues.
Duncan Campbell: Welcome to the program. I'm your host Duncan Campbell, and with me for this particular program, I'm truly delighted to have as my guest, my great friend, colleague and someone who's been on this program several times before, Stanislav Grof, Dr. Stanislav Grof, who is known to many of you for the work that he has done with his wife Christina Grof in founding and conducting the whole Holotropic Breathwork Workshops around the world. And this is followed on a fifty year career in which he has been one of the great leaders in the uncovery and the discovery of the inner recesses of our psyche, both personal and collective. He stands very prominently in the line of C. G. Young, James Hillman, Abraham Maslow, with whom Dr. Maslow, he co-founded what has become known as the “Transpersonal Psychology Movement.” His studies have taken psychology and psychiatry well beyond the conventional borders and confines of its initial cradle with Freud in the western world, into the vastly expanded world we can now see unfolding within and all around us. It has been the expanding premise of a number of the programs that I have done, from their inception, that the evolution of a new world view is progressively beginning to dawn in human consciousness. Birth by a co-creative planetary sharing. Now this is a view that has also been verified and confirmed by Stan Grof's fifty years plus of research. Our most recent program was documenting a number of stories from his personal life when he was resident teacher at Esalen Institute in California where he worked with Joseph Campbell on many occasions and a number of other visionary thinkers and leaders from a number of disciplines. He is the founder and past president of the Transpersonal Association. And with all of that, Stan, we could go on and on. One last thing I think I did want to let people know before I just welcome you very warmly to the program is that in 2007 you received the very prestigious VISION 97 award, granted by the foundation of Dagmar and Vaclav Havel in Prague, your home city and your home country. And so, Stan, what a great pleasure as always it is to have you here on the program.
Stanislav Grof: Good morning and thank you very much for having me. It's always a pleasure to have these conversations with you.
Duncan Campbell: And one of the things I'd like to do here in honoring your birthplace and your birth nation is to quote something that you yourself quoted when you were asked in 2005 to give a kind of reflection, in writing, at a conference on “What would replace the 'American dream,vision'?” not only for this country but for the world, something that has held out a beacon since its inception with the American Revolution, a new experiment; “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” And I always think of life and liberty as feminine and masculine, so that when the feminine and masculine can come together, the life energy of the feminine, the liberty energy of the masculine, we have a kind of sacred marriage or hiros gamos, as it is frequently referred to using the Greek terminology in psychiatry and [Young?] and in mythology. And the reason I mention all that, is that, we see now that there's been a transformation over time. That that original vision, in a sense, somehow devolved during the latter part of the twentieth century after World War II into what Sam Keen, the philosopher, has called a religion of consumerism, of secular humanism that's lost its real enlightenment, inspiration, and, and become a source of dis-empowerment. Like the poet Wordsworth said, “We all come in trailing clouds of glory, but getting and spending, we lay waste our power.” And so, I say all that as an introduction because the current global crisis that we're facing is not just one of an economic nature or of a military nature with conflict spreading all over the globe, particularly among conflicting religions, but as you say, as I say, as Vaclav Havel and many people have come to say, it really starts with a crisis of consciousness. And here I quote Vaclav Havel from when he was the president of the Czech Republic. After the Velvet Revolution, he said, and I quote Vaclav Havel, “It seems to me that one of the most basic human experiences, one that is genuinely universal, and unites, or more precisely could unite all of humanity, is the experience of transcendence, in the broadest sense of the word.” And it was your colleague Joseph Campbell who recognized that that actual experience of transcendence, not just talking about it or yearning for it, but actually experiencing it, held a key to bringing, not only a family together, or the psyche of an individual, but entire countries and indeed the world. And so, my last part of the introduction I am going to quote from Joseph Campbell from the third edition of his great book, The Hero With A Thousand Faces. The third edition was compiled by the Joe Campbell Foundation and released just this last July, forty years after the second edition, which I originally read back in 1968. And here is Joseph Campbell. “There are of course differences between the numerous mythologies and religions of mankind, but this is a book about similarities. And once these mythologies of human and collective development, focused on the hero, are understood, the differences will be found to be much less great than is popularly and politically supposed. My hope is that a comparative elucidation of these mythological stories, which have endured for thousands of years, may contribute to those forces that are working in the present world for unification, not in the name of some Ecclesiastical or political empire, but in the sense of human mutual understanding. As we are told in the [Vedas ?], truth is one. The sages speak of it by many names.” And so the title of today's program is “Barrack Obama and Our Collective Hero's Journey.” And the evolution that's taken place in that hero's journey in our time, represents a real shift in the zeitgeist, the spirit of the times, and of the national, personal and global consciousness. So, Stan, I'd like you to just dive into that topic. We've talked about this before, personally, and we want to elucidate this now in a way that enables people to take advantage of the fact that we have now, prospectively, a President of the United States with a global celebration that's taken place around his election, who illustrates in his own biography and how he's handled his own consciousness, a hero's journey that has real archival significance for all of us.
Stanislav Grof: Well, I think I would start by referring to something that you mentioned in your wonderful introduction, which is that people in the transpersonal movement very strongly believe and you know, have experience in their own, in their journeys that the crisis that we are currently experience have just many, many facets: military, political, religious, diplomatic and so on. It's essentially one crisis and the underlying problem is the state of development, of evolution of human consciousness. And that it's hardly conceivable that we can make some significant changes unless large numbers of people experience some deep inner transformation. And a significant part of that would be that spirituality somehow returns into our collective consciousness. We have seen, you know, many people who have done significant inner work on themselves using various methods from some kind of significant systematic spiritual practice to, let's say, the holotropic breathwork, which is a method my wife, Christina and myself have developed, where people work with breath, with music and stuff to kind of bodywork and have very powerful experiences. And we have seen that people who do some significant amount of this kind of focused systematic work, that they develop a certain kind of vision. They develop a certain world view. They develop certain hierarchy of values. And part of it is seeing what our planet and humanity should be like. And it's quite amazing that you don't have to teach people, you know. This kind of vision emerges spontaneously in people who have done some significant inner work on themselves. And I was just amazingly impressed, you know, seeing the different aspects of Barrack Obama's vision, how similar it is to what we have been seeing emerging in people who have done a lot of self-reflection.
For full transcript, please contact Duncan Campbell