AIHT Tunes in to Super Soul Sunday

The American Institute of Holistic Theology is proud to support the work of Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday series. We believe that Oprah took a major risk to start OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network), which is largely used to support the spiritual growth of individuals and the collective.

Therefore, we encourage our students, readers, listeners and others to tune in to OWN every Sunday morning to watch another of her amazing interviews meant to stir the soul, and open the mind and heart of every individual watching.

This season she has already interviewed Marial Hemingway, Steven Pressfield and Diana Nyad, with a second interview with Ms. Nyad coming up this Sunday at 11 am ET/PT.

Upcoming interviews include: Anne Lamott, beloved New York times bestselling author of Help Thanks Wow: Three Essential Prayers; Mark Nepo, teacher of poetry and spirituality for 40 years, and author of Seven Thousand Ways to Listen; Dani Shapiro, bestselling author of Devotion; Jack Kornfield, one of American’s leading Buddhist Teachers; Karen Armstrong, bestselling author of A History of God and several others; Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz; and Francine and David Wheeler, who lost their 6-year-old son at Sandy Hook.

And in December Oprah asks life’s “big questions” of thought leaders and spiritual teachers, including never-before-seen clips and moments from Super Soul Sunday guests, plus appearances by celebrities including Kerry Washington, George Lucas, Tina Turner, Donna Karan, T.D. Jakes, John Legend and more!

For those who are “spiritual but not religious” this is the perfect formula–sitting down in your jammies, with a cup of coffee and Super Soul Sunday to expand your vision of life.

With permission from Harpo Studios, AIHT has linked with Super Soul Sunday on the webpage http://www.aiht.edu, and hopes to continue building that relationship toward higher learning for all.

Posted in AIHT Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Core of Spirituality

When we speak of Interfaith Spirituality, we commonly think in terms of dialogue between the various world religions. We imagine great long tables where leaders from various persuasions meet to discuss issues like genocide and plurality. We imagine heated arguments and some minor agreements. And we imagine, we hope, for a time when the agreements will become more major. 

Most faiths or traditions can put some energy behind such topics as genocide. But as we can all see, genocide is an ongoing problem in many countries of the world. So though the energy is there, nothing is really changing.  But plurality–that’s another ballgame altogether–for it is here that we think that each person in the dialogue must be willing to give up a little piece of his/her own working faith to inhabit someone else’s tradition. 

But perhaps John Lennon was right when he wrote the lyrics of Imagine, released in 1972:  “Imagine there’s no heaven…and no religion too.”  Well, for most of us–that’s exactly what we DON’T want. We want to keep our religion and have peace on earth too.  And yet, we can’t imagine how that would work. 

But if we study each one of the world religions, and we get down to the mystical core of them all, we find something very, very similar–even the same. We find that when you get past it all–all the dogma; all the rules and rituals; all the ways in which we are somehow, through some ritual, prayer or experience, meant to bring ourselves to a better more noble self–that there is a mystical center.

The word mystical is a mystery to most of us. But that’s a good thing, because the meaning of the word has a great leaning toward mystery. Webster Online defines it as: 

  1. having a spiritual meaning or reality that is neither apparent to the senses nor obvious to the intelligence.
  2. involving or having the nature of an individual’s direct subjective communion with God or ultimate reality.

It even uses “mysterious” and “unintelligible” for its synonyms (Merriam Webster). But, and this is the most important part of this mysterious connection to ultimate reality, everyone who has ever had a mystical experience, knows that they’ve had one. 

Throughout world history, there have been people from all religions everywhere, who have had and reported the same mystical experience.  When asked to describe their experiences, they describe the same phenomena.  They experienced a stopping, a silence, that enveloped and overcame them, in which they were given information about themselves or life, or through which they began to develop an entirely new world view. They experienced periods of euphoria, great and powerful peace and an insistent, if temporary, sense that all is well.  And it is these experiences, if shared in an interfaith dialogue, that bridge the gaps between traditions. 

But here’s the question left for you to answer: If it is true that people from all traditions are having the same mystical experience–isn’t it just possible that all roads lead to ultimate reality? And if that is true, can’t those of us who know the answer to that question make a real difference in our world?

 

 

“Mystical.” Merriam Webster Online. Merriam-Webster, Inc. 2013. m-w.com. Web.

Posted in AIHT Blog | 1 Comment

Can Spirituality Disconnect Us From What Really Matters?

According to Robert Augustus Masters, PhD, author of Spiritual Bypassing, the answer is “yes”—at least when we use spirituality as what he calls “avoidance in holy drag” (1). He informs us, through this no-holds-barred book of refreshing and uncompromising candor, that there are many things we use to avoid painful feelings, unresolved wounds, and underdeveloped need attainment capacities.

One of the common terms thrown about quite a bit today, and very often extremely misunderstood, is the term shadow. Another is the shadow’s counterpoint the ego. According to many, the shadow is the container for all of our “badness,” and the separate and distinct ego that other “bad”part of us that acts as an enemy to the drives of the higher or more spiritual self. But according to Masters, working with shadow material actually is “…the practice of acknowledging, facing, engaging, and integrating what we have turned away from, disowned, or otherwise rejected in ourselves.” And he goes on to tell us that shadow work “is not significantly taken into account in religion and most spiritual paths, especially those that marginalize or insufficiently address the psychological and emotional dimensions of experience” (43).

And of the ego, he tell us that:

Spiritual paths that overvalue and cling to the notion of transcendence tend to pathologize ego, seeing it as no more than something to be overcome or eradicated if we are to spirtually awaken–and so “I” is treated as no more than an incarnational tagalong of a decidedly lower vibration, at best adding a bit of color and flair to the proceedings. … Depersonlized spirituality is an anemic undertaking in which hollowness is confused with transparency, ungroundedness with altitude, flimsy boundaries with openness, and emotional flatness with equanimity (99-100).

Integration is the key here, so when we refer to the ego as a kind of inner enemy, and when we think of the shadow as the “bad” parts of ourselves, we are splitting off against these most valuable assets to our existence. But these parts only act as assets when they are not split off from the uniting center—the Self. Carl Jung spoke of a union of opposites that was necessary to the conscious awareness of this central force, the Self. And integration is the process that facilitates that union.

Many of our teachers speak of nonduality—the Oneness of all—and yet, Masters tells us that sometimes we are getting a kind of double message from our teachers about this Oneness:

It is easy to use nondual teachings to both distance ourselves from our humanity and to make a virtue of such disengagement, leaving us clinging to our detachment. … Such distortions are reinforced by teachers who reduce nonduality to a rationale for bypassing our individuality and the “stories” through which we reinforce our sense of self. The spooning out of nondual pablum—prechewed for us—assumes that we have no teeth, no bite, no need for uncooked truth, and should instead just keep our spiritual bibs on. … We may, in the throes of embracing nondual philosophy, get so attached to the notion that form is an illusion that we shy away from living a relational, fully embodied life, doing time in the sanctums of spiritual correctness (159).

That’s just one example he gives of how we can split ourselves off from going richly into the depths of ourselves to receive a truer more balanced and more potent spirituality–regardless of religion. He reminds us to look to paradox to find the kernels of true spirituality. In particular the paradox of union in differentness; of the union of opposites; of the light united with the darkness; of the flesh that is not illusion, but also is not alien to formlessness.

Spiritual Bypassing is just one of the many books found in the library of studies at the American Institute of Holistic Theology. We encourage a self-directed and self-paced, self-reflective model of study to obtain a degree because we believe that this approach allows the student to find his/her own truth, one that is genuine, comes from authenticity and original thought—and carries the student into the mystical truth behind all religions and in all things.

If this is the kind of study you’d like to participate in, contact AIHT today: 800-650-4325. And learn more about what is offered at our website.

Work Cited:

Masters, Robert A. Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books. 2010. Print.

Posted in AIHT Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Sexual Orientation and Interfaith Studies

Image

Many of the Western LGBT (either Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgendered) population today are looking for a spiritual place. In order to understand the depths of this search for spiritual place, let’s look at the word’s Greek origins:  plateia (hodos), which means broad way, and is the feminine of platys or broad.  A spiritual place is a broad place, where one is free to spread one’s arms and be completely and essentially “me.” Much of Western Religion has led it’s allegiants to the narrow way, based on Jesus’ statement in Matthew 7:13:

Enter by the narrow gate, for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.

This verse is literally interpreted by most to mean that there are many who are not going to find the way and that is because they are not looking for that narrow little pathway. But if we look at the root language of that statement we find something quite different.  The word narrow, from the Greek language is, stenos, which means narrow and strait. But it is rooted in hestemi, which means something very different.  That word means, to cause to make stand, to bid, to stand by—as in the presence of others, in the midst, before judges; and to place, to make firm, to fix, to establish, to uphold, to sustain the authority or force of anything, to be of steadfast mind (Crosswalk.com).  Jesus is using the word stenos to bring us to a greater metaphor.  Enter, he says, by the way that causes you to stand established, upheld and sustained by our own authority and force, for to do so is to have real life. How else, we might ask here, will a person stand  so sustained if s/he is not allowed to be true to his/her truest essential nature?

But that’s not all, for the word broad is platus and originates in the root word plasso, which means to mold or form, and is used as of a potter. The word destruction is apoleia, which means to destroy as one destroys vessels—i.e. those made by a potter?—and to perish—as money perishes. Apoleia is rooted in apollumi, also meaning to destroy or perish. But apollumi is rooted in apo, which means, of separation, the state of separation, the state of separation, or of origin (Crosswalk.com).  Now, of course, the Bible, like any other spiritual instrument, is and should be interpreted by the reader, so that one person’s interpretation or one singular interpretation does not take the meaning out of it for another.  But from my perspective, this translation changes the traditional and widely accepted version of Jesus’ statement entirely.  For it tells us that this broad way has to do with breaking the mold that originated in the notion of separation—of a great divide between humanity and Divinity.

In other words, whichever path we take, whether it is the path that allows us to be our truest Self, or the path in which our ideas about ourselves must be destroyed in order that we might begin to see that we are not nor have we ever been separate from the Divine—we are going to yet see that the Self and the Divine are one. And the truth is that all of us, in one way or another, have had our identities destroyed so that we either have to re-establish it in an inauthentic way, or we learn a deeper truer way. For the LGBT population, the deeper, truer way is to allow their sexual orientation, as one aspect of their authenticity, to be what it is.  Their journey to that allowance has often been fraught with internal and external battles of monumental proportions. Yet those who come to acceptance of their own authentic sexual orientation can and often do become deeply spiritual beings. 

Interfaith studies allow the student to take his or her own path to the Divine.  There is no “hate the sin, love the sinner,” as is the classic response to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered persons in the Western religious motif.  There is no notion that sexual orientation is anything but yet another way to be an individual thread in the fabric of Oneness in which we all participate.

An interfaith education then studies the variety of paths, ways of being and varieties of wisdom along the way to peaceful relationship to Self, Other and the Divine. All three of those words are capitalized here because each of them is held sacred, holy in its own right.

The lesbian way of being, the gay way of being, the bisexual way of being, the transgendered of being way are each a constituent part of the holy Oneness we all are. 

As interfaith studies increase around the globe, The American Institute of Holistic Theology, studies and uses words like interspiritual, integral, and holistic to describe the wholeness and Oneness that allows all paths to lead to deeper more essential, authentic studies of the Divine.

The word interspirituality was coined by Wayne Teasdale, author of the book, The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions, one of the books used in the coursework at American Institute of Holistic Theology (AIHT).  He defined it as, “the sharing of ultimate experiences across traditions” (26).

The word, integral is based in integral theory, which is a basic all-inclusive framework for spirituality.  Ken Wilbur has authored several books, two of which are the texts for two different courses at AIHT, Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World, and Integral Psychology: Consciousness, Spirit, Psychology, Therapy.  He creates a map of an “Integral Operating System” which includes, among other things,  states of consciousness, stages or levels of development, egocentric, ethnocentric, and worldcentric viewpoints, gender and ideas regarding good and evil all based in four different quadrants: Interior-Individual, Interior-Collective, Exterior-Individual and Exterior-Collective (Integral Spirituality 1-21).  These studies of the complexities of human inter- and inner-action enable the student to find his/her own deep path to spirituality.

And as we’ve already defined in this blog, holistic theology is a holistic study of the divine that includes all religions and transcends religion to find the mystic core of them all.

Inter-religious dialogue has occurred off and on throughout history. In ancient times, particularly during the Hellenistic period (4th -1st century BC) and in the Indian subcontinent during the Magadha period (546-324 BCE) when Hinduism encounted Buddhism these dialogues took place (Secrest and Fageol).

“More recently, in the west, these dialogues and encounters were brought to public attention in 1893 with the first World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago.  Some interfaith exchange continued, including, in the 1960’s, Vatican II’s conciliar document, Nostra Aetate. This document committed the Catholic Church to the recognition of truth existing in the other religions and to a desire to explore a new relationship with them” (Segrest and Fageol).

As these dialogues increase over time more groups and initiatives are developing including influence on the United Nations regarding the language and ethic of intervention into cultures where religion holds sway. 

And as we dialogue more and more we become more invested in the authenticity of each person, whose contribution would be dulled or dumbed down completely if they were simultaneously told that they could not bring the entirety of their being to the table of discussion.  The LGBT population has a beautiful contribution to make as they seek and find their own paths to the Divine.  And we, at AIHT welcome your participation with open arms.  Contact AIHT today at 800-650-4325 and check out the website at www.aiht.edu.

__________________

Crosswalk.com. New Testament Greek Lexicon. Public Domain: Salem Web Network. 2103.  Web. http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/ (04/30/2013). 

Secrest, Freya, Fageol, Suzanne.  What to Expect in Interspiritual Spiritual Direction. Lorian Association. 2013.  Web. lorian.org/Documents/library/SuzanneFreyaArticle.doc  (04/30/2013) 

Teasdale, Wayne. The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions, Novato, CA: New World Library. 1999.

Wilbur, Ken.  Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World.  Boston, MA:  Integral Books. 2007. 

 

Posted in AIHT Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

PhD in Holistic Theology

In addition to the ThD in various programs, the American Institute of Holistic Theology now offers a PhD in Holistic Theology.

Here’s a description of that program and the courses offered:

The PhD in Holistic Theology offers an advanced training experience exploring the vast and rich knowledge on the “study of the Divine” from an interfaith/interspiritual perspective and allows the student to put that knowledge to work to meet the intellectual, societal, and ethical considerations challenging humanity in the 21st century.

The decision to pursue the AIHT PhD is a life-changing opportunity, not only potentiating the upward movement of your ministry or career to the next level, but granting you a unique opportunity to deeply explore your own spirituality and response to our world. The degree equips you to become an authentic leader in a world crying out for authentic leadership. Whatever form that leadership takes—be it in ministry, the healing arts, education, research, writing or other focuses of endeavor—the AIHT PhD offers specific and intense study to help you get there.

PHD 301 Interfaith Theology A study of the dialectic interfaith and secular dialogue that becomes the creation of an interfaith theology 6 credit hours.

PHD 302 A Study of Spiritual Transformation A study focusing on awakening the heart and mind and the process of transformation as it occurs through specific practices and the wisdom-making process. 6 credit hours.

PHD 303 Global Consciousness An in-depth study of the global phenomenon of emerging collective consciousness, the collective awakening process and its implications. 6 credit hours.

PHD 304 Transpersonal Psychology A comprehensive study of an integral approach to the experiences, beliefs and practices that suggest that the sense of self can extend beyond the personal identity; a study of reality encompassing the whole being. 6 credit hours.

PHD 305 Authentic Leadership An in-depth study of leadership at its core essence, including its ethical and interfaith components. 6 credit hours.

PHD 306 The Philosophy of Quantum Healing Quantum physics invites us to consider the quantum leap in consciousness required to heal the body, mind and spirit. 6 credit hours.

PHD 307 Holistic Theology A study of the divine/human inter-dynamic that includes, embraces and yet moves beyond religion. 6 credit hours.

PHD 308 Global Ethics Bringing a universality to the diverse human ethic is one of our greatest challenges. This course will study that challenge from a humanistic and diverse perspective. 6 credit hours.

PHD 309 Spiritual Diversity This unique course offers a look at how to make practical the mental imagery of spiritual diversity providing practices in spiritual awakening, building spiritual bridges and spiritual assessment. 6 credit hours.

PHD 310 Research and Methodology This course is meant to prepare the student for the research and writing of the Dissertation. It not only facilitates an understanding of the methods of research but of the practical realities of writing the paper. 6 credit hours.

PHD 311 Dissertation 30 credit hours. (Students will defend Dissertations before a committee by selected media.)

This coursework offers student of the American Institute of Holistic Theology an opportunity to find and implement their own personal, professional and academic holistic theology.

Posted in AIHT Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Your Career and AIHT

Your Career and AIHT.

Posted in AIHT Blog | Leave a comment

Your Career and AIHT

forestlightLike most institutions of higher learning, the American Institute of Holistic Theology (AIHT) prepares its students to undertake a wide variety of careers in a variety of fields. But AIHT provides it from the perspective of what is termed holistic. We are an institute of spiritual higher learning, which utilizes an interfaith and holistic theological approach to all of its coursework, and thus all of the student’s preparations for a career.

Many of our students are coming to AIHT to start, enhance or facilitate the credentialing of a second career. They are already Nurses, Doctors, Attorneys, Judges, Dentists, Psychologists, Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Social Workers, Veterinarians, etc. And they wish to bring a transpersonal, interfaith, integral approach to what they are already doing. And they often report that this education has facilitated their own fulfillment, as well as enhanced their credibility and their service capacity in entirely new ways.

Others of our students wish to launch a career as a Chaplain, an interfaith Minister, a Pastor, a Holistic Healer–including nutritional healing, acupuncture, Reiki, therapeutic touch, energetic healing, psychic healing or clairvoyance, clairaudience or other psychic mediums. Still others want to launch a career as a paranormal investigator, utilizing our degrees in Alternate Spiritual Traditions. And still others want to write that book they’ve always had in them, but they need some viable credentials behind their name and an education that opens them to experiencing their craft from a seeker and researcher base.

This is what is possible with an education from AIHT. Our graduates relate stories of wonderful service to their worlds. And we delight in hearing these stories because they remind us that we are not only serving our students but the entire world.

Some will ask, “Are you credentialed?” To that question we answer that we are ahead of the credentialing curve. Once upon a time nothing was credentialed. But then some folks came along, formulated a credentialing body and decided upon standards for credentialing. There is, as yet, no credentialing body for the kind of education we offer. When there is, we will be credentialed. Until then, we are ahead of the pack.

We do not offer the typical general education package. You can pay a lot more for that somewhere else. With that you will take math, science and English and some other required curricula that you may or may not ever use in your career. Therefore, we are not credentialed by typical general education credentialing bodies.

At AIHT we offer an education. Not just a degree. An education. Here you will work for what you learn, and for that degree. And when you get finished and are ready for that degree, you will have gained an education that you can use in your career on a daily basis.

Some of the spiritual educational programs that you will see advertised online offer you a quick fix for your degree problem. You know stuff and they’ll give you a degree so that you can say you know stuff. But that’s not what AIHT does. We know that many of our students know stuff. But we want to offer them a real education that moves them beyond what they already know, both enhancing that knowledge and challenging them to learn and evolve in new and different ways, so that they can begin to both know and live out some really cool new stuff.

When you enroll at AIHT you get to pick your own curriculum toward the degree in which you are most interested. And you can expect then to begin a learning process that will change your life, so that you can change your world.

Posted in AIHT Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment