We are in the middle of a global catastrophe that cannot be avoided, only mitigated. Now, we are faced with a choice - global devastation or the rebirth of the human spirit. This rebirth would make possible a new society and a new way of life. So, with this in mind, we reach out to those who no longer can pretend that everything is going to be alright. It is exactly those people who can no longer sustain a life that is degrading to themselves, to others and to the planet that can make a difference. They are the people who can be of real help in a global turning towards life. It is they who can transform themselves and serve in the transformation of their society. A transformation from the old world based on egoism and power to a new world based on service and love.
Three problems have set this catastrophe in motion:
First, society as a collective has suppressed and sublimated peoples’ spirit to the point of turning people in to a machine-like ghost of their real selves lacking entirely in substance. This has produced a social life where the will and spirit of people is suppressed making people into slaves of a autonomous social machine.
Second, the continual rape of the planet’s environment by an over-industrialized society is starting to negatively affect billions of peopleworld-wide. Soon, environmental problems will become so severe that they will be unable to be ignored by even the wealthy.
Third, there is a population explosion that is unstoppable which will precipitate the negative impacts of the first two components.
This population explosion when combined with increasing industrialization is a mix that when fueled by racial, religious and nationalistic fantasies makes the coming global disaster a certainty. This disaster will include wars, famine, disease and the mass migration of hundreds of millions of people seeking food, water and shelter. This, as people and nations compete for the increasingly scarce necessities of life and the materials to continue to fuel the industrial machine to which we have become dependent.
We face a dire future unless we are able to transform the causative factor. That causative factor is man. We must face the aberrations within our individual soul and within the collective social life of humankind if we are to be able to deal with the coming catastrophe. The mechanisms of the present social system will not be able to prevent or mitigate the coming catastrophe that is in front of us. It is in fact the problem. We must create a new human world by first transforming ourselves and in conjunction with the social life in which we live. Without this, there is little chance of avoiding the coming misery. As this condition is of human creation we can still mitigate the disaster and transform the old world into a new world in harmony with each other and the environment in which we live.
The origin of the present society and the root cause of much of the problems we face and of much of the world’s misery go back a long time. Upon investigation, you will find that the causes of the difficulties are external and environmental in origin and can be understood and overcome.
About 5,000 - 7,000 years ago, society took a very wrong turn. Joseph Campbell in his book The Flight of the Wild Gander and in Oriental Mythology explains how it came about. At the onset of agriculture, at the time of the early Neolithic village or small town a pattern emerged that exists till the the present - A pattern to ensure social cohesion. This pattern was a move to efficiency that seemed to require the sublimation of the individual to the group. This was accomplished by the suppression and repression of the individual soul and spirit to ensure a malleable group consciousness. This deal with the devil continues even to the present day. The apparent success of this efficiency was amazing and prolific. It was so successful that all has been swept before it. Once individuals with their individualism are out of the way the system wins.
This system of suppression and repression has been so successful that all life on the planet is in danger. Campbell, referring to these communities says that
the whole society was mad. He goes to on to say that
the kings and priests were creating something for themselves. In essence, the kings and the priests were manipulating the people for their own benefit.
This matrix of conditioning is the primary base for the present global system. In this system, once the individual is cut off from their own spiritualized will, being externalized and materialized they are cut off from objective reason and conscience - the source of individual responsibility. In this condition, a person can be manipulated through conceptual mind by those insane egoists who wish for power and use all means at their disposal in order to obtain it. With the sublimation of the spiritualized will by suppression and repression, the ego as a survival mechanism took its place at the center of the psyche. It was at this time that the dualistic and hierarchical state came into existence. This produced a stratified social structure which was based on masters and slaves - a priesthood with all its divisions and religion with an ascendancy of gods, heaven, earth and hell with a corresponding architecture and the whole disaster of a culture based on egoism with all its competition for wealth and power based on suppression and repression. This catastrophe was first recorded by the prophet and teacher Zarathustra in 1200 BC. In his gathas (poems) he speaks for the earth in lamentation.
In Yasna 46:11, he states:
O God, unto thee the soul of creation cries,
For whom and for what did thou create me?
Wars, greed, violence and arrogance of might oppress me;
None have I to protect me save Thee!
Give unto me then the blessings of a peaceful and harmonious life.
He goes on to teach that within each person there is the good mind, good soul, and the spirit of the divine truth. By trusting in these we can
The priests, kings and princes - the possessors of power,
have tyrannized and propagandized the people,
subduing mankind under the yoke of their dominion.
Their evil actions are destructive of life, and they are united in trying to destroy the spiritual true lives of the people by their evil deeds.
In their last day, as they approach judgement,
they shall be ashamed of their souls and their inner selves shall be held accountable by their own conscience,
thus, they are prevented from the good dominion,
and they will fall into the dark abode of the house of the lie forever.
choose truth, oppose the lie and always strive for good words, good thoughts and good deeds.
It is with this awakening of the first great teacher that the great tradition begins. This tradition teaches the value of the individual soul with the possibility and responsibility for transformation. It is with this that freedom and balance within each person and within society can begin to be restored. This great tradition continues in the teaching of Buddha, Lao Tzu, Socrates, Plato, Jesus, Mohammad and their spiritual successors until this present day.
This great tradition leads from slavery to freedom - from misery to liberation of the body, soul and spirit. This path of transformation restores the spirit to the center of the human totality. Once this has begun, the individual is able to bring about the rebirth of their own soul and a free responsible and meaningful life.
As you can see the conditions are not new. However, they are now global. The situation we now face has been met by others in the past. With each renewal further progress is made in the social and individual lives of humankind. We are at such a time once more. At this time we are faced with global devastation or the rebirth of the human spirit. If and how we respond to the challenge before us, will determine whether we will succumb to an ignoble fate or a creative and noble destiny.
The people of The Northwest Academy for Continuous Education have for the last thirty-three years responded to this challenge in our own way. We, like many people around the world, who each in their own way are trying to mitigate or prevent this coming and ongoing calamity, have chosen what we consider the a critical component which enables the necessary unity, for the other efforts to be successful. That is the renewal and transformation of the human spirit, To this end, we have dedicated ourselves - we have investigated, tested, and experienced the paths and methods of the major schools of transformation. During this time we have separated the dogma from the spiritual. Doing this we have retained the universal values, sustaining the religious goals, while rejecting the dogma that turns a religious path into a divisive sectarian religion. In this search we have discovered, as others have before us, the unitythat is atthecore of the teachings of allthe great teachers and messengers and the means to access and experience the truth of this great teaching for oneself.
We have a saying ‘ believe nothing, verify everything’. This is the hallmark of how we work. There is that in each person; their own soul, spirit, and conscience, which in the end is ones only source of verification. It is from within and through our own personal experience that we can verify the truth of our experience. No external source can provide us with anything but suitable conditions and guidance. It is we , as individuals, that must do the work ofverification if we are to know and experience liberation, freedom, and love. We at the Northwest Academy can only make conditions available, but we cannot do your work for you. It is for you to discern what you experience and to what use that youput this experience and understanding within your own life.
The following four statements are the preamble or mission statement of articles of incorporation of the Northwest Academy. The Northwest Academy for Continuous Education was established in 1974 with the following aims and objectives:
- To promote research into the study of factors which influence the total development or retrogression in man and their operation in individuals and communities, to study scientific hypothesis, secular and religious philosophies and to investigate their origin, elaboration and bearing on the general theories of man and his place in the universe.
- To provide facilities for such research and to study, organize and conduct courses of instruction, practical demonstrations, lectures and seminars by members of the staff or by extramural authorities dealing with the continuous development and spiritual awaking of the whole man.
- To promote the understanding of man and his three-fold nature: mental, emotional and physical and to promote conditions in which these three natures can come into continuous and dynamic balance, enabling individual spiritual growth and individual creative activity within the society to take place.
- To prepare, present, print, publish, acquire, collect and circulate books, papers, periodicals and other literary understandings, to establish enterprises in the community, as a means by which members learn how to creatively apply objective values to everyday life situations, through application of psychokinetic methods of spiritual transformation elucidated in all activities of the Academy, both theoretical and practical, to promote and support intentional communities based on psychokinetic principles, to aid in making openly available the service of such communities to the society to which we all belong.
We are a small group of people who banded together in 1974 to undertake the above aims and objectives. We have been actively engaged in many of our objectives and aims and are in the process of actualizing others. We did not drop from the sky or come up with our own invention so to speak. These aims and objectives were mostly the ones of our predecessor organizations: The Institute for Comparative Study of History, Philosophy and Sciences, The International Academy for Continuous Education and The Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man.
The last of these the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man was established by George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff in Tiflis Georgia in 1919 and later at Fontainebleau near Paris.
The others were organized by John G. Bennett in England. The Institute for the Comparative Study of History, Philosophy and the Sciences by Bennett was founded in 1946 in order to continue and expand upon all that he had learned from G.I. Gurdjieff and P.D. Ouspensky. The third, also organized by Bennett at the Sherborne House, Sherborne England in 1971 was Bennett’s attempt to pass on all that he had acquired from Gurdjieff and also from his later teachers: the Shibapuri Baba and Hasan Shushud. The Northwest Academy was established in 1974 by some of Bennett’s students, myself included, fresh from a years study with Bennett at Sherborne House.
Gurdjieff in conjunction with others set out to find and gather the wisdom that they believed had been known in the past and which still survived in some places. They were called by Gurdjieff The Seekers of Truth and they gathered knowledge and techniques from various sources in the Middle East and Central Asia which they shared with one another. These methods and knowledge were put to use for personal transformation of psychic energies of the individual and the group. At a certain time Gurdjieff entered a Dervish monastery perhaps a Yesevi tekke near Kashgaria where he entered the life of the tekke and learned much that he had been seeking and which he later used in his institution. I believe that at this time he came to the first stages of great liberation. With this liberation, one experiences the unity and diversity which dramatically changes an individuals concerns from individual transformation of being to transformation beyond being - from soul development to service of the common good. It is at this time that Bennett says that Gurdjieff’s aim changes. Bennett says:
To this end Gurdjieff set out to somehow help mitigate this plague and dilemma of modern man. Gurdjieff, after tremendous efforts and personal sacrifices did not achieve his aim. At every turn owing to external conditions and personal limitations, his hoped for aims in great part failed during his lifetime. All this can be read about in the many books written by his students - some of whom were of short duration and by speculators of mysticism.
The second sojourn in the same place was again the occasion of a revision of Gurdjieff’s life aim. We have already seen the profound effect made on him by witnessing the terrible consequences of mass-hypnosis and he now set himself the task of finding how to free people from their propensity to suggestibility. This represents a dramatic departure from the earlier objective of gaining access to the knowledge and powers possessed by the schools of wisdom. The change was, in part, due to his decision to put aside the exercise of his psychic powers for his own personal benefit and in part the consequence of the compassion aroused in him by his growing awareness of the dilemma of modern man. He saw man’s power to dominate and destroy nature increasing side by side with a progressive decline in self-discipline and loss of inner freedom.
Gurdjieff: Making a New World p. 103
Having personally met twelve of his students and having been a student of J.G. Bennett and a close friend to George and Mary Cornelious, I can say that Gurdjieff’s beneficial influence was such that they dedicated their lives to the continuance and development of what they were given in being, knowledge and understanding for the rest of their lives. To them I am eternally grateful for their help in my own quest.
John G. Bennett, one of my own teachers, established the two institutes named above. He, like Gurdjieff did not sit waiting for roast chicken to fly into his mouth. Through the years, he worked to develop what he had gained from Gurdjieff and just like Gurdjieff what he gained from many other sources while trying to further the aims of his teacher. As he was a brilliant writer he has left a full account of his efforts, some say too much, (as a beneficiary of his prodigious effort, I am not one of those). At Sherborne House, where he died after four years of unrelenting effort, he passed on what he had come to through all his years. His many students are still working to bring to functional actualization what was passed to them by adapting it to their own aims and the values and aims that can help ourselves and our struggling world.
As stated above the Northwest Academy was established by a small group of Bennett’s students. We committed ourselves to a two year effort to come together to test the capacity of ourselves and the teaching we had been given, in the lives of those who were interested.
As our aims and objectives are clearly stated above all that needs to be said on that account is that we have since worked to make the teachings available and to further their clarity and develop their efficacy. Following Bennett’s lead, we have sought out the living source of the teaching. Unlike Gurdjieff, we were exposed to an all to available plethora of information and popularized versions of schools of the past. His difficulty was in finding sources that were able to unify the methods and techniques found. Our difficulty has been in finding wheat among the chaff. Fortunately, through genuine personal experience gained by contact with real teachers we have been able to further our quest. We are at this time able to say that we have successfully integrated many ofthe various methods and techniques and values of the great tradition in a way that can be applied to individual lives and to the global situation in which we live. This has not been an easy task. As you can see it has taken three full generations. The nature of the challenge at this time is the global nature of the need for an unity in diversity. As my beloved teacher Hasan Lutfi Shushud states in his Masters of Wisdom of Central Asia -
Who reaches the root in any path receives the total impartiality in religions. He taught the Way of Liberation (Itlaq) and explains this in the above book.
When first meeting him when he visited Sherborne House at Bennett’s request, he recommended to me to read The Way and Its Power (Tao Te Ching) translated by Arthur Waley, Meister Eckart translated by Blakney and the book The Persian Sufis (a book that his own supersedes). These three books cover much of the aim of the great tradition. But even more it signifies the global nature of our present need and the global nature of the path that links all schools.
It is not the outer forms that can be united, although each can be understood the way that languages can be understood. It is the inner goal that unites all the paths in the Great Tradition. The inner need is the same. The inner path is the same. Simply because people are the same and the global catastrophe and its consequences are the same. The great teachers each met the same problem each within their own locale. It is not a new teaching that is needed it is linguists. The unity of the teaching is and will come together, if for no other reason than the source is One.
Our school - The Northwest Academy has no dogma to which we wish to convert anyone. The central intent is to convince whomsoever comes our way that liberation from the present state of affairs is possible. If you attend any offering of our school as a Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Zoroastrian or none of the above, you will probablystill have the same exterior affiliation as you came. Our intent is to provide conditions wherein you can come toliberation, freedom and love. Thisthrough your efforts oftransformation from your present condition to that which you see is how you should be.
In the part three we will explain our organization - how we work and how we apply the path of transformation that we employ.