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*Olio Seminar* Break On Through: Creativity and the Mystic Experience

Presented with St John's Episcopal Church

Mysticmama

"Ah, not to be cut off,
not through the slightest partition
shut out from the law of the stars.
The inner- what is it?
if not the intensified sky,
hurled through with birds and deep
with the winds of homecoming."

-Rainer Maria Rilke

 Break On Through: The Dynamics of Mysticism 

4-Part Seminar meeting on Mondays: Feb 12th, 26th, March 5th & 12th


Mysticism. Mystery. Myth. All these words share a common etymological root, the ancient Greek myein, “to close, to shut, to hide.”  Unfortunately, the veiled nature of the mystic leads us to exoticise an entire field of human endeavor, and in so doing cut ourselves off from one of the most generative and life giving sources available to us- the mystical experience. Many contemporary scholars of theology and mythology assert that the institutions of religion are rapidly losing relevance in the post-modern world because they are now addressing social problems and ethics rather than the mystical experience.

But what is it that is being hidden? In this Olio, we will look at mysticism not as a thing that is blocked from our knowing, but rather a dynamic that can be understood. We will seek to unveil the processes and traditions of mysticism in a way that connects to direct subjective experience. We will investigate consciousness through four lenses: mythological, psychological, religious, and artistic. This is only to serve as a ground; while theoretical models are useful and illuminating, ultimately the individual mind must be studied through rigorous observation of individual experience. Towards that end, readings and discussions will be supplemented with short, optional meditation exercises.


 Session One: The Hero’s Path: Myth and Experience

 In our first meeting, we will examine mythology as a method of understanding experience.  Mythology springs from the human experience of being alive, and as such contains a richness and diversity equal to that of the world itself. Simply put, mythology asserts that there is a deeper world than that which meets the eye- an invisible plane that permeates and supports the world of the everyday.

 
Readings:
Carl Jung: The Individuated Self
Joseph Campbell: The Hero With a Thousand Faces
Robert Bringhurst: Everywhere Being is Dancing


Session Two: The Longing: Mysticism in World Religions

Our second meeting will continue the exploration of mystical traditions from Christianity, Hinduism and the Lakota Sioux tribe. Building on our new understanding of mythology, we will seek to expand our connection between written accounts on the part of individual mystics and direct subjective experience.

Readings:
Diane Eck: Darsan
John Fire Lame Deer: Alone on the Hilltop
Meister Eckhart: Wandering Joy



Session Three: Shadow Deities

Meeting three will go deep. We will confront the uncomfortable truth that mysticism involves fear and pain, often intense and very personal. Buddhism offers a viewpoint of these dark forces that may allow us space to understand them in a new way. By drawing on mystical traditions outlined in the Tibetan Book of the Dead and the meditation practices of Tara Brach, we will expand our discussion into direct subjective experience via a short guided meditation in the Sanctuary of St. Johns church where we will seek to find and understand some of the subconscious dark forces that keep us pinned down. We are digging in the dirt , which is not for everyone. Therefor the meditation section is optional.

Readings:
Rob Linrothe and Jeff Watt: The Demonic Divine
Tara Brach: Radical Self Acceptance
Francesca Fremantle: Luminous Emptiness: Understanding the Tibetan Book of the Dead


 
Session 4: Creativity: A Treasure Wrapped in Rags and You Can Too

 For our final meeting, we will seek to gain a new and resonant model of creativity. Any artist, musician, writer or poet will tell you that the feeling of creating, when it is good, is the experience of being a vessel for ideas and inspirations that feel like signals coming from another place. This connection to the human imagination is not limited to artists, rather it is a birthright for all of us, and is directly connected to the dynamics of mysticism. Using some of my paintings and projects, and discussing some of the problems in the studio, I will seek to show you how the lessons of mythology, meditative practice and painting come together to allow a greater access to the fountain within all of us.

 
Reading:
Diane Apostolo-Cappadona: Art, Creativity and the Sacred
Julie Burnstein: Spark, How Creativity Works





Location: St John's Episcopal Church

139 St Johns Place, Brooklyn, NY 11217-3401

The first rector of St. John’s, a strong opponent of slavery, planned and built this multiracial parish in 1826,while slavery continued to be the law of the state of New York. 

St. John's episcopal remains a multiracial community, welcoming all people and rejoicing in their diversity of age, race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, and cultural background. Think Olio came across this church as one of their teachers, Michael Prettyman, was commissioned to paint a mural in their church's basement. After meeting all of the warm and welcoming people at the church, Think Olio's mission of accessible education was also welcomed and the church offered to provide a beautiful conference room for our seminars.


Other upcoming Olios


Jan 22

America's Expansion, Influence, and Uncertain Global Power

Taught by Olio Happy Hour
7:30 p.m. at Strong Rope Brewery

Sign Up - $15

Jan 23

Sound and NYC: Exploring Silence in the City

Taught by Whitney George
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Feb 2

Mysticism Happy Hour: Psychedelic Humanities & Confronting the Shadows

Taught by Olio Happy Hour
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Feb 8

Democracy Without Truth

Taught by Manuel Rodeiro
7:30 p.m. at BAM Fisher

Sign Up - $25

Feb 9

The Body in a Cage: Modern Prisons, External and Internal

Taught by Jamie Warren
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Feb 23

Questioning the Origins of Sexual Desire

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20


Find out when we launch new classes!