Jung saw the human psyche as “by nature spiritual”, and made spirituality the focus of his explorations. Jung is one of the best known contemporary contributors to dream analysis and symbolization. His work has been influential in psychiatry and in the study of spirituality, literature and related fields. His advice to a patient suffering from alcoholism led to the formation of Alcoholics Anonymous, which has helped millions of people suffering from alcohol dependence.
Born Karl Gustav II Jung in Switzerland, on 26 July 1875, Carl Jung was the son of a poor rural pastor in the Swiss Reformed Church, while his mother came from a wealthy and established Swiss family. An eccentric and depressed woman, Emilie Jung spent much of the time in her own separate bedroom, enthralled by the spirits that she said visited her at night.
A number of childhood memories had made a lifelong impression on him. As a boy, he carved a tiny mannequin into the end of the wooden ruler from his pencil case and placed it inside the case. Periodically he would come back to the mannequin, often bringing tiny sheets of paper with messages inscribed on them in his own secret language. This ceremonial act, Jung later reflected, brought him a feeling of inner peace and security. In later years he discovered that similarities existed in this memory and the totems of native peoples like the collection of soul-stones near Arlesheim, or the Tjurungas of Australia. This, he concluded, was an unconscious ritual that he did not question or understand at the time, but which was practiced in a strikingly similar way in faraway locations that he as a young boy had no way of consciously knowing about. His findings on psychological archetypes and the collective unconscious were inspired in part by these experiences.
At the age of 12, Jung was pushed to the ground so hard by another classmate that he lost consciousness. Jung started fainting anytime he was supposed to go to school or do homework. His parents and doctors became convinced that the boy might have epilepsy. After Jung overheard his father confessing his concerns that his son would never be able to work and support himself, Jung developed a renewed focus on academics.
Jung later described himself was an introverted and solitary child, saying that he was most happy when he was left alone to his thoughts.
As Jung grew older, his keen interest in a large variety of sciences, and the history of religion made the choice of a career quite difficult. Jung decided to study medicine, but also developed an interest in spiritual phenomena while in school. It was this fascination with medicine and spirituality that led him into the field of psychiatry, which he viewed as a combination of his two interests.
In 1902, he completed his doctoral dissertation, titled “On the Psychology and Pathology of So-Called Occult Phenomena” and graduated from University of Basel with a medical degree. In 1903, Jung married a woman who came from a wealthy family in Switzerland. They had five children and lived on the Lake of Zurich. The marriage lasted until her death in 1955, but he had somewhat open relationships with other women.
Jung & Sigmund Freud
Early in his career, Jung worked with psychiatric patients at the University of Zürich asylum. When Jung read Sigmund Freud’s (1856–1939) “Interpretation of Dreams”, he found his own ideas and observations to be basically confirmed and furthered. In 1906 (at 36), he wrote “Studies in Word Association” and sent a copy to Sigmund Freud in Vienna. The event served as the beginning of a friendship between the two men.
When the two finally met in person in 1907, they talked, he remembered, for thirteen hours, virtually without stopping. Six months later, the then 50-year-old Freud sent a collection of his latest published essays to Jung in Zurich, which marked the beginning of an intense correspondence and collaboration that lasted six years and ended in May 1913.
Divergence with Freud
Jung and Freud influenced each other during the intellectually formative years of Jung’s life. Freud called Jung “his adopted eldest son, his crown prince and successor”. Sigmund Freud had a major impact on Jung’s later theories and helped him develop a fascination for the unconscious mind. However, Jung wanted to further understanding of the human mind through dreams, myth, art and philosophy.
In 1912 Jung published ” Psychology of the Unconscious” resulting in a theoretical divergence between him and Freud. Jung de-emphasized the importance of sexual development and focused on the collective unconscious: the part of our unconscious that contain memories and ideas inherited from our ancestors. While he did think that libido was an important source for personal growth, he, unlike Freud, believed that libido alone was not responsible for the formation of the core personality.
Jung believed the human psyche exists in three parts: the ego (the conscious mind), the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious. For Jung the unconscious not only is a disturbing factor causing psychic illnesses but also is basically the source of man’s creativeness and the roots of a person’s consciousness. With such ideas Jung came increasingly into conflict with Freud, who regarded Jung’s ideas as unscientific. Jung accused Freud of narrow-mindedness; Freud and his followers disapproved of Jung for his emphasis of the spiritual aspects of the psyche.
Consequently a break in their friendship was to follow, each stating that the other was unable to admit he could possibly be wrong. After this falling-out, Jung went through a pivotal and difficult psychological transformation, which was exacerbated by news of the First World War.
Jung became more organized about his theoretical approach, broke from psychodynamic theories and formed his own theory called Analytical Psychology. Parting with Freud was certainly not easy. Freud closed ranks among his other followers. Jung’s colleagues in the psychoanalytic community turned against him, as did many of his former friends.
The concept of synchronicity was first described in this terminology by Jung in the 1920s. He gave a full statement of it only in 1951 in an lecture and in 1952, published a paper “Synchronicity — An Acausal Connecting Principle”, in a volume with a related study by the physicist (and Nobel laureate) Wolfgang Pauli.
Jung stated that Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events that are apparently causally unrelated or unlikely to occur together by chance, yet are experienced as occurring together in a meaningful manner.
It was a principle that Jung felt gave conclusive evidence for his concepts of archetypes and the collective unconscious in that it was descriptive of a governing dynamic that underlies the whole of human experience and history — social, emotional, psychological, and spiritual. Concurrent events that first appear to be coincidental but later turn out to be causally related are termed incoincident.
Following discussions with both Albert Einstein and Wolfgan Pauli, Jung was transfixed by the idea that life was not a series of random events but rather an expression of a deeper order, which he and Pauli referred to as Unus Mundus, “One world,” the concept of an underlying unified reality from which everything emerges and returns to.
This deeper order led to the insights that this expansion of awareness was more than just an intellectual exercise, but also having elements of a spiritual awakening. From the religious perspective, synchronicity shares similar characteristics of an “intervention of grace”. Jung also believed that in a person’s life, synchronicity served a role similar to that of dreams, with the purpose of shifting a person’s egocentric conscious thinking to greater wholeness and abundance.
In order to study archetypal patterns and processes, Jung visited so-called primitive tribes. He lived among the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico and Arizona in 1924 and 1925 and among the inhabitants of Mt. Elgon in Kenya during 1925 and 1926. He later visited Egypt and India. To Jung, the religious symbols and phenomenology (a system of beliefs developed by studying peoples understanding and awareness of themselves) of Buddhism and Hinduism and the teachings of Zen Buddhism and Confucianism all expressed differentiated experiences on the way to man’s inner world, a world which was badly neglected by Western civilization.
Jung also searched for traditions in Western culture, which made up for its one-sided outgoing development toward reason and technology. He found these traditions in Gnosticism (belief that personal freedom comes through spiritual knowledge and understanding), Christian mysticism (the belief that instinct and spiritual feeling are the ways to find God), and, above all, occultism (knowledge or use of supernatural powers).
Some of his major works are deep and clear psychological interpretations of alchemical (the ability and power to make common things special) writings, showing their living significance for understanding dreams and the hidden theme of neurotic and mental disorders.
The Red Book
Jung devoted himself to exploring his own subconscious. In 1913, at the age of thirty-eight, Jung experienced a horrible “confrontation with the unconscious”. He saw visions and heard voices. He worried at times that he was “menaced by a psychosis” or was “doing a schizophrenia.” He decided that it was valuable experience, and in private, he induced hallucinations, or, in his words, “active imaginations”. He recorded everything he felt in small journals. Jung began to transcribe his notes into a large, red leather-bound book (what he called the “Red Book”) on which he worked intermittently for sixteen years.
During the period in which he worked on this book Jung developed his principal theories of archetypes, collective unconscious, and the process of individuation. Two-thirds of the pages bear Jung’s illuminations of the text. In 2009, the Red Book was finally published, allowing readers an unparalleled look into the mind of one of psychology’s most fascinating figures. “To the superficial observer,” Jung wrote in the epilogue he penned in 1959, “it will appear like madness.”
Jung lived for his explorations, his writings, and his psychological practice, which he had to give up in 1944 due to a severe heart attack.
He was beset by heart and circulatory troubles and died on 6 June 1961 in Switzerland after a short illness.
The Vietnam War confronted the monasteries with the question of whether to adhere to the contemplative life and remain meditating in the monasteries, or to help the villagers suffering under bombings and other devastation of the war. Nhat Hanh was one of those who chose to do both, helping to found the “engaged Buddhism” movement. He has published more than 100 books, including more than 40 in English.
Nhất Hạnh was born in the Central Vietnnam on October 11, 1926. At the age of 16 he entered the monastery where his primary teacher was a meditation Zen Master. A graduate of Bao Quoc Buddhist Academy in Central Vietnam, Thich Nhat Hanh received training in Zen and the Mahayna school of Buddhism and was ordained as a monk in 1949.
In Saigon in the early 60s, Thich Nhat Hanh founded the School of Youth Social Service (SYSS), a grass-roots relief organization that rebuilt bombed villages, set up schools and medical centers, resettled homeless families, and organized agricultural cooperatives. Rallying some 10,000 student volunteers, the SYSS based its work on the Buddhist principles of non-violence and compassionate action. Despite government denunciation of his activity, Nhat Hanh also founded a Buddhist University, a publishing house, and an influential peace activist magazine in Vietnam.
During the Vietnam War
In 1960, Nhat Hanh went to the U.S. to study comparative religion at Princeton University, subsequently being appointed lecturer in Buddhism at Columbia University. By then he had gained fluency in French, Chinese, Sanskrit, Pali, Japanese and English, in addition to his native Vietnamese. In 1963, he returned to Vietnam to aid his fellow monks in their non-violent peace efforts.
Nhat Hanh returned to the US in 1966 to lead a symposium in Vietnamese Buddhism at Cornell University and to continue his work for peace. He had written a letter to Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965 entitled: “In Search of the Enemy of Man”. It was during his 1966 stay in the U.S. that Thich Nhat Hanh met with Martin Luther King, Jr. and urged him to publicly denounce the Vietnam War.
In 1967, Dr. King gave a famous speech at the Riverside Church in New York City, his first to publicly question the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Later that year Dr. King nominated Thich Nhat Hanh for the 1967 Nobel Peace Prize. In his nomination Dr. King said, “I do not personally know of anyone more worthy of [this prize] than this gentle monk from Vietnam. His ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity”.
In 1969, Nhat Hanh was the delegate for the Buddhist Peace Delegation at the Paris Peace talks. When the Paris Peace Accords were signed in 1973 (intended to establish peace in Vietnam and end the Vietnam War), Thich Nhat Hanh was denied permission to return to Vietnam and he went into exile in France.
The Order of Inter-Being
Nhat Hanh created the Order of Inter-Being. He heads this monastic and lay group, teaching Five Mindfulness Trainings and Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings. The order has established centers in the United States (California, New York and Mississippi). These monasteries are open to the public during much of the year and provide on-going retreats for lay people such as families, teenagers, veterans, the entertainment industry, government officials, law enforcement officers and people of ethnic and religious backgrounds.
He also formed the Sweet Potatoes Meditation Center which grew considerably, so he and his colleague Sister Chân Không founded Plum Village Buddhist Center in 1982, a monastery and Practice Center in the south of France.
Return to Vietnam
In 2005, following lengthy negotiations, Nhat Hanh was given permission from the Vietnamese government to return for a visit. He was also allowed to teach there, publish four of his books in Vietnamese, and travel the country with monastic and lay members of his Order, including a return to his root temple.
Despite the controversy, Nhat Hanh again returned to Vietnam in 2007 to support new monastics in his Order, to organize and conduct “Great Chanting Ceremonies” intended to help heal remaining wounds from the Vietnam War and to lead retreats for monastics and lay people.
The chanting ceremonies were originally called “Grand Requiem for Praying Equally for All to Untie the Knots of Unjust Suffering”, but Vietnamese officials objected, saying it was unacceptable for the government to “equally” pray for soldiers in the South Vietnamese army or U.S. soldiers. Nhat Hanh agreed to change the name to “Grand Requiem For Praying”. He has returned to Vietnam regularly since.
When not traveling the world to teach “The Art of Mindful Living”, Nhat Hanh teaches, writes, and gardens in Plum Village.
Nhat Hanh’s approach has been to combine a variety of traditional Zen teachings with insights from other Buddhist traditions and ideas from Western psychology to offer a modern light on meditation practice. Nhat Hanh has also been a leader in the Engaged Buddhism movement (he coined the term), promoting the individual’s active role in creating change.
Thich Nhat Hanh’s key teaching is that, through mindfulness, we can learn to live in the present moment instead of in the past and in the future. Dwelling in the present moment is, according to Nhat Hanh, the only way to truly develop peace, both in one’s self and in the world.
Dr. Chopra began his career as an endocrinologist and later shifted his focus to holistic medicine by integrating the ancient wisdom traditions of the East with traditional Western medicine and recent discoveries in the field of quantum physics. He has forged a holistic approach to healing that has had enormous popular appeal as well as widespread professional acceptance. Dr. Chopra is board-certified in internal medicine and specialised in endocrinology and is also a member of the American Medical Association (AMA), a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. Dr. Chopra is transforming the way the world views physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social wellness.
Chopra was born in New Delhi, British India. His father was a prominent Indian cardiologist, head of the department of medicine and cardiology in New Delhi for over 25 years and a lieutenant in the British army. Chopra was raised in a family infused with both Western medicine and spiritual beliefs and practices. His paternal grandfather was a sergeant in the British Army who looked to Ayurveda for treatment for a heart condition when the condition did not improve with Western medicine.
Chopra remembers “My father was a very prominent physician and cardiologist. Once a week he would see patients free of charge for charity. And patients would come from all over the country, actually, to see him, on trains and buses. My mother would cook food for them and pay their bus fare and train fare. And my little brother and I would escort the patients in to see my father, who would not only write the prescriptions, but pay for the medicines for them as well. And at the end of the day, my parents would sit with me and explain what had happened during the day. And the moral of the lesson always was, that if you want to be happy, then you have to make somebody else happy.”
Sanjiv Chopra, Deepak Chopra’s younger brother, is now a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and has several publications and five books to his credit that have been translated in several languages.
As a senior student in Delhi’s St Columbus School, Deepak was a good writer and an eloquent speaker. As a young man, Chopra’s desire was to become an actor or journalist, but he reports that he was inspired by a character in “Arrowsmith” by Sinclair Lewis and became a doctor. Chopra completed his primary education in New Delhi and received his medical degree from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). While still at AIIMS, he saw the flaws in mainstream medicine. Once, he said: “I thought that they would talk about health, but they talk only about disease.” It was probably the beginning of his disenchantment with the traditional mould of modern medicine and a rediscovery of India.
Dr. Chopra envisioned a career in Western medicine, and in 1970 moved to the United States, leaving his home country with just $25 in his pocket and the promise of a residency at a hospital in New Jersey. Following the residency, Chopra landed in Boston, where he quickly rose to chief of medicine at New England Memorial Hospital. He was also Chief at Boston Regional Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, before establishing a private practice. In addition, Dr. Chopra taught at the Tufts University and Boston University Schools of Medicine
Despite his rising career, Chopra became disenchanted with Western medicine and its reliance on prescription drugs. The work began to wear on the promising doctor, who would later claim that he smoked up to a pack of cigarettes a day and drank consistently to relax. He was counselling his patients to change their self-destructive habits, but began to recognise that he could not make such changes in his own life.
Eventually overcoming his previous biases against the mysticism of his native India which might hold the key to alleviating his stress, in 1981 Chopra became receptive to the message of Meditation, Yoga and Ayurveda. He was particularly impressed by the sizeable amount of research that proves that the daily practice of meditation reduces stress. Within two weeks he stopped smoking and drinking and eventually changed his career path. “At first I did meditation mainly to relax, but it changed my whole life—my diet, my work, my relationships with patients and other people,” he says. “I became 10 times more efficient in my work.” He soon lost his taste for alcohol, and other self-impairing habits spontaneously fell away.
As his interest in alternative medicine deepened, so did his view on the limits of Western medicine. Dr. Chopra and his wife went on to learn the advanced meditation techniques. In 1985, Dr. Chopra met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who invited him to study Ayurveda. In that same year, Dr. Chopra left his position at the New England Memorial Hospital and became the founding president of the American Association of Ayurvedic Medicine, and was later named medical director of the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center for Stress Management and Behavioral Medicine. Dr. Chopra was a top assistant to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi before following his own path in the early 1990s by publishing self-help books on mind-body medicine, wellbeing, health, spirituality and alternative medicine.
By 1992, Dr. Chopra was serving on The National Institutes of Health Ad Hoc Panel on Alternative Medicine. In 1993, Chopra became executive director of the Sharp Institute for Human Potential and Mind–Body Medicine with a grant from the Office of Alternative Medicine in the National Institutes to study Ayurvedic medicine. Dr. Chopra moved with his family to Southern California where he now has a home with his wife near his two adult children, Gotham and Mallika.
The Chopra Center
That same year, Dr. Chopra and Dr. David Simon founded the Chopra Center for Well Being, to offer educational programmes to nurture body, mind and soul. Most of the Chopra Center’s workshops, seminars and events aim at providing tools and resources to foster physical healing, emotional wellbeing and spiritual awakening. Almost all of these programmes incorporate Meditation, Yoga and the ancient wellbeing system of Ayurveda. The University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine and American Medical Association have granted continuing medical education credits for some programs offered to physicians at the Chopra Center.
Since meditation is at the core of all the educational offerings at the Chopra Center, Dr. Chopra and Dr. Simon revived an ancient mantra-based meditation practice, traveling to India to study the origins of this technique, known as Primordial Sound Meditation. This form of meditation is now taught at the Chopra Center and by certified instructors worldwide who receive their training through Chopra Center University (CCU).
The Chopra Center University was created to educate and train people to gain mastery and provide formal instruction in disciplines such as Meditation, Yoga and Ayurveda. Since its inception, the Chopra Center University has created a widespread community of international certified teachers of mind-body balance who support the physical, emotional and spiritual transformation of thousands around the globe.
In 2005 Dr. Chopra was made a Senior Scientist at The Gallup Organization and Adjunct Professor at Kellogg School of Management. Dr. Chopra regularly lectures at Harvard University’s Divinity School, Medical School and Business School and is also a Distinguished Executive Scholar at Columbia Business School, Columbia University in New York.
The Chopra Foundation
In 2009 Chopra established the Chopra Foundation with a mission to participate with individuals and organisations in creating a critical mass for a peaceful, just, sustainable, and healthy world through scientifically and experientially exploring non-dual consciousness as the ground of existence and applying this understanding in the enhancement of health, business, leadership and conflict resolution.
The Chopra Foundation is dedicated to improving health and well being, cultivating spiritual knowledge, expanding consciousness, and promoting world peace to all members of the human family. In 2010 the Chopra Foundation sponsored the first Sages and Scientists Symposium with prominent scientists philosophers and artists from around the world.
Dr. Chopra is also a weekly columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, a regular contributor to the Washington Post and a prolific contributor to the Huffington Post.
Dr. Chopra now resides in New York city.
In 1995, Dr. Chopra was the recipient of the Toastmasters “International Top Five Outstanding Speakers” award.
In 1997, Dr. Chopra was given the Golden Gavel Award by Toastmasters.
Dr. Chopra was presented with the Medal of the Presidency of the Italian Republic awarded by the Pio Manzu International Scientific Committee. In the citation, committee chairman and former Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev referred to Chopra as “one of the most lucid and inspired philosophers of our time”.
Esquire magazine designated him as one of the “top ten motivational speakers in the country”.
In 2010, Dr. Chopra received the Cinequest Life of a Maverick Award for his collaborations with filmmakers Shekhar Kapur and his son, Gotham Chopra. The award goes to “inspirational individuals who touch the world of film while their greater lives exemplify the Maverick spirit.”
He received the 2010 Humanitarian Starlite Award “for his global force of human empowerment, well-being and for bringing light to the world.”
Dr. Chopra was the recipient of the 2010 GOI Peace Award. The Foundation presents the Goi Peace Award annually “to honour individuals and organisations in various fields that have contributed to the advancement of world peace and humanity.”
In 2012, Dr. Chopra received the CIF Chanchlani Global Award for “his outstanding work on expanding humanity’s understanding of the crucial connection between body, mind, spirit, and healing.”
Wayne Dyer, was born to Melvin and Hazel Dyer on May 10, 1940, in Detroit, Michigan. Wayne is the youngest of three brothers, who along with their mother were abandoned by their father. Melvin was an abusive alcoholic who had done prison time, and was not much of a part of the family’s life. Wayne never formally met his father. Melvin ended up passing away in the early 1970s, just before Wayne had begun to express interest in meeting him.
As a young mother, Hazel could not support Wayne and his brothers and was forced to enter her children into foster care until she could get on her feet. She worked as a candy girl for $17 a week, and it took her quite a few years before she could reunite the family. Wayne was ten years old by the time she regained custody.
Dr. Dyer has repeatedly cited these difficult years as being hugely formative in terms of his spirit and resilience, and that it helped him become a better teacher of how to overcome adversity.
Wayne joined the United States Navy in his late teens, served 4 years and then enrolled at (coincidentally) Wayne State University. At age 25, he started his professional career as a high school guidance counselor. Six years later, Dr. Wayne Dyer received his D.Ed. degree in counseling from Wayne State University. After receiving his doctorate, he became a professor at St. John’s University in New York.
He was on his way to a traditional academic career publishing articles in trade journals and building a thriving counseling practice, but his life started to take a different direction. His lectures at St. John’s, which focused on positive thinking and motivation, attracted students beyond those enrolled. A literary agent persuaded Dr. Dyer to package his ideas in book form, resulting in “Your Erroneous Zones”.
Dr. Dyer got his big break in 1978 after struggling to promote his book. Johnny Carson got a copy of “Your Erroneous Zones” and invited Dr. Dyer onto The Tonight Show, so he traveled to New York at his own expense. Soon, his book was flying off the shelves, eventually selling 35 million copies and making the New York Times bestseller list.
That kind of exposure propelled him (and the book) to superstar status, and officially launched him into cultural consciousness. Dr. Dyer decided to leave St. John’s (even after being offered tenure), and devote himself full-time to being an author.
Becoming an Author & Speaker
Dr. Dyer proceeded to build on his success with lecture tours, a series of audios, and regular publication of new books. Dyer’s audience was not limited to business so his message resonated with many in the New Thought Movement and beyond. He often recounted anecdotes from his family life, and repeatedly used his own life experience as an example.
His self-made man success story was a part of his appeal. Dr. Dyer told readers to pursue self actualization, calling reliance on the Self as a guide to a meaningful life. He criticizes societal focus on guilt, which he sees as an unhealthy immobilization in the present due to actions taken in the past and advocates readers to see how parents, institutions, and even themselves, have imposed guilt trips upon themselves.
Dr. Dyer has been teaching people to live better lives for nearly 40 years. Dyer explains that when we are in harmony with the force of the universe, we can create just as the force does, however one wishes to name that “force.”
His core message has become incredibly simple and equally profound: You are the same as your Source. You are a unique manifestation of the Source which is the universal field of infinite possibilities. Because you come from that Source, the power for transformation resides within you. All of Dr. Dyer’s current work boils down to helping people realise this fundamental truth and overcome obstacles to living lives that fully recognise it.
Much of his earlier work was focused solely on more traditional self-improvement, but switched in the 1990s to areas of self-actualization including more components of spirituality.
Dr. Dyer, has authored over 30 books, has created many audio programs and videos, and has appeared on thousands of television and radio shows around the globe. He is now in his 70s and lives in Maui.
Jean Houston is an American scholar, lecturer, author and philosopher active in the “human potentials movement”. She has been an advisor to political leaders and to UNICEF and, since 2003, has worked with The United Nations Development Group training leaders in the new field of Social Artistry. A powerful and dynamic speaker, she holds conferences and seminars with social leaders, educational institutions and business organizations worldwide. She is the author of 26 books and has also been the recipient of honorary doctorates.
Houston was born May 10, 1937, in New York City, to a woman of Sicilian American descent, and to Jack Houston, an American comedy writer who developed material for stage, television and the movies. His work required him to move frequently, and the young Houston experienced life in many places. After the breakup of her parents’ marriage, she spent her teen years in New York City.
When Jean was 13, she literally ran into an old man on Park Avenue in New York City on her way to school. After this mishap, they became friends, and she enjoyed listening to him on various occasions. At a much later time, she learned that she had been talking with Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, French philosopher and paleontologist known for his theory that man is evolving, mentally and socially, toward a final spiritual unity.
While earning her Bachelors of Arts in psychology from Barnard College, Houston became involved in acting and combined her efforts to earn an academic degree with a stage career, spending most of her spare time in theaters and enjoying a measure of success as an actor.
When the time came to make a decision for a life path, however, Houston found herself choosing to further her studies into the human mind. She subsequently earned a Ph.D. in psychology from Union Graduate and a Ph.D. in Religion from the Graduate Theological Foundation.
Houston lectured in Psychology and Philosophy at a number of universities in the United States. During this period, Houston began an association with the anthropologist Margaret Mead. Through Margaret Mead, Houston began to work in cultures around the world and expanded her knowledge of societies and cultural ethos. Another strong influence on Houston’s work came from her association with mythologist Joseph Campbell, working closely with Campbell on his television series. This work increased her understanding of and appreciation for the role of mythology and storytelling on societies. She had first become impressed by Campbell and his work as a young girl, when she read Campbell’s groundbreaking work on world mythologies, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.”
Houston’s early work in LSD research led her to a deeper awareness of the potentials of the human mind. She became a regular lecturer on college campuses, encouraging students to seek their potential without the use of drugs.
Houston became acquainted with Robert Masters, a writer and a researcher into the varieties of human behavior and potentials. The two married in 1965 and soon became known for their work in the Human Potential Movement. They are considered to be among the movement’s principal founders. Together they established The Foundation for Mind Research.
Further research into the human mind and capacities led to associations with many high achieving people as she and Masters sought a better understanding of characteristics that led to greatness. Among many others, she worked closely with Carl Jung, Buckminster Fuller, and Aldous Huxley.
During the years of NASA moon landings, she worked with returning astronauts to help them uncover details of what they saw in space.
Human Potential Movement
The Human Potential Movement (HPM) came to existence in the 1960s and formed around the concept of cultivating extraordinary potential which resides largely untapped in all people. Through the development of “human potential”, humans can experience an exceptional quality of life filled with happiness, creativity, and fulfillment.
Those who begin to unleash this potential often find themselves directing their actions within society towards assisting others to release their potential. The net effect of individuals cultivating their potential will bring about positive social change at large.
In 1984, Houston founded the Mystery School, a school of human development, a program of cross-cultural, mythic and spiritual studies, dedicated to teaching history, philosophy, the New Physics, psychology, anthropology, myth and the many dimensions of human potential. As chief teacher, she began teaching a seminar based on the concept of the ancient Mystery Schools, specialized trainings available to seekers of knowledge and the advancement of spirituality.
In Houston’s modern day version, seekers experience teachings on many levels and participate in experiential processes designed with the authority of the years of Houston’s research and expertise into human potentials. She has conducted the Mystery School on both the east and west coasts for more than two decades.
The White House
By the 1990s, Houston was well known for her work as a writer, lecturer, and human potentials researcher. During the Clinton presidential years, Houston was invited by Hillary Clinton to work with her in The White House as an advisor while Ms. Clinton was writing her own book, “It Takes a Village”.
Drawing on methods she had developed to help people access wells of their own knowledge, Houston suggested an imaginary meeting between Clinton and former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, one of the historical figures Ms. Clinton admired. This visualization was aimed at tapping into Clinton’s own inner wisdom.
She has also worked with President and Mrs. Carter and counseled leaders in similar positions in many countries and cultures.
More recently, she has also founded the International Institute for Social Artistry. She is currently working with the United Nations Development Programme in the new field of social artistry, training U.N. staff and leaders in certain developing countries to implement some of their extensive educational and health programs.
Jean Houston has worked intensively in 40 cultures and 100 countries helping to enhance and deepen their own uniqueness while they become part of the global community. Her ability to inspire and invigorate people enables her to readily convey her vision – the finest possible achievement of the individual potential.
“In our time we have come to the stage where the real work of humanity begins. It is the time where we partner Creation in the creation of ourselves, in the restoration of the biosphere, the regenesis of society and in the assuming of a new type of culture; the culture of Kindness. Herein, we live daily life reconnected and recharged by the Source, so as to become liberated and engaged in the world and in our tasks.” – Dr. Jean Houston
Krishnamurti has come to be seen as an exemplar of those spiritual teachers who disavow formal rituals and dogma. He talked of the things that concern all of us in our everyday life, the problems of living in modern society with its violence and corruption; of the individual’s search for security and happiness; and the need for mankind to free itself from inner burdens of fear, anger, hurt, sorrow, and so on. Krishnamurti unravelled with great precision the subtle workings of the human mind and constantly stressed the need for a revolution in the psyche of every human being and emphasized that such revolution could only come about by expanding one’s own consciousness and not by any external entity, be it religious, political, or social.
Jiddu Krishnamurti was born on May 11, 1895 into a Brahmin family in what was then colonial India. His parents had a total of eleven children, of whom six survived childhood. Krishnamurti’s father was employed as an official of the then colonial British administration; his mother died when he was ten.
In 1903 (aged 8), Krishnamurti contracted malaria. He would suffer recurrent bouts of the disease over many years. A sensitive and sickly child, “vague and dreamy,” he was often taken to be mentally retarded, and was beaten regularly at school by his teachers and at home by his father. In memoirs written when he was eighteen years old, Krishnamurti described psychic experiences, such as seeing his sister, who had died in 1904, and his mother, who had died in 1905. During his childhood he developed a bond with nature that was to stay with him for the rest of his life.
In April 1909 (aged 14), Krishnamurti first met with Charles Leadbeater, who claimed clairvoyance abilities. Leadbeater had noticed Krishnamurti, who frequented the same beach on the Adyar river in India, and was amazed by the “most wonderful aura he had ever seen, without a particle of selfishness in it.” This impression contrasted with Krishnamurti’s outward appearance, which, according to eyewitnesses was common, unimpressive, and unkempt.
He was also considered “particularly dim-witted”; he often had “a vacant expression” that gave him an almost moronic look. Leadbeater was convinced that the boy would become a spiritual teacher and a great orator; a World Teacher to guide the evolution of humankind.
Following his discovery, Krishnamurti was nurtured by members of the Theosophical Society. Leadbeater and a small number of trusted associates undertook the task of educating, protecting, and generally preparing Krishnamurti as the “vehicle” of the expected World Teacher.
Krishnamurti and his younger brother Nityananda (Nitya) were privately tutored at the Theosophical compound in Madras, India and later exposed to a comparatively opulent life among a segment of European high society, as they continued their education abroad. Despite his history of problems with schoolwork and concerns about his capacities and physical condition, the fourteen-year-old Krishnamurti was able to speak and write competently in English within six months.
There was a time when Krishnamurti believed that he was to become the World Teacher after correct spiritual and secular guidance and education. The daily program imposed on him by Leadbeater and his associates, included rigorous exercise and sports, tutoring in a variety of school subjects, Theosophical and religious lessons, yoga and meditation, as well as instruction in proper hygiene and in the ways of British society and culture. At the same time, Leadbeater assumed the role of guide in a parallel, mystical instruction of Krishnamurti; the existence and progress of this instruction was at the time known only to a select few.
It was apparently clear early on that Krishnamurti possessed an innate personal magnetism, not of a warm physical variety, but nonetheless emotive in its austerity, and inclined to inspire veneration. However, as he was growing up, Krishnamurti showed signs of adolescent rebellion and emotional instability, chafing at the regimen imposed on him, visibly uncomfortable with the publicity surrounding him, and occasionally expressing doubts about the future prescribed for him.
In 1922 Krishnamurti and his brother Nitya stayed at a cottage in the Ojai Valley, California. They found the Valley to be very agreeable and therefore this became Krishnamurti’s official place of residence.
It was at Ojai that Krishnamurti went through an intense, “life-changing” experience. This has been variously characterized as a spiritual awakening, a psychological transformation, and a physical conditioning. The initial events happened in two distinct phases: first a three-day spiritual experience followed, two weeks later, by a longer-lasting condition that Krishnamurti and those around him would refer to as “the process”; this condition would recur, at frequent intervals and with varying intensity, until his death.
It started with Krishnamurti complaining of sharp pain at the nape of his neck. Over the next two days, the symptoms worsened, with increasing pain and sensitivity, a loss of appetite, and occasional delirious ramblings. He seemed to lapse into unconsciousness, but later recounted that he was very much aware of his surroundings, and that while in that state had an experience of mystical union.
The following day the symptoms and the experience intensified, climaxing with a sense of “immense peace.” Later, the process would resume intermittently with varying degrees of pain, physical discomfort and sensitivity, occasionally a lapse into a childlike state, and sometimes an apparent fading out of consciousness explained as either his body giving in to pain, or as him “going off.”
These experiences were accompanied, or followed, by what was described as “the otherness” or “the other.” It was a state distinct from the process and gave him “a sense of being protected.” Krishnamurti describes it in his notebook as typically following an acute experience of the process, for example, on awakening the next day:
“… woke up early with that strong feeling of ‘otherness’, of another world that is beyond all thought… there is a heightening of sensitivity. Sensitivity, not only to beauty but also to all other things. The blade of grass was astonishingly green; that one blade of grass contained the whole spectrum of colour; it was intense, dazzling and such a small thing, so easy to destroy…
It seemed to be in one’s eyes and breath. It comes into being, suddenly and most unexpectedly, with a force and intensity that is quite overpowering and at other times it’s there, quietly and serenely. But it’s there, whether one wants it or not. There is no possibility of getting used to it for it has never been nor will it ever be…”
This experience of the “otherness” would be present with him during daily events.
The process at Ojai, whatever its cause or validity, was a cataclysmic milestone for Krishna. Something new had now occurred for which Krishna’s training had not entirely prepared him. A burden was lifted from his conscience and he took his first step towards becoming an individual. In terms of his future role as a teacher, the process was his bedrock. It had come to him alone and had not been planted in him by his mentors and it provided Krishna with the soil in which his newfound spirit of confidence and independence could take root.
Break with the past
Over the next few years, Krishnamurti’s new vision and consciousness continued to develop. New concepts appeared in his talks, discussions, and correspondence, together with an evolving vocabulary that was progressively free of Theosophical terminology.
His new direction reached a climax in 1929, when Krishnamurti dissolved the Order of the Star. He stated that he had made his decision after “careful consideration” during the previous two years, and that:
“I maintain that truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. That is my point of view, and I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be formed to lead or coerce people along a particular path. …
This is no magnificent deed, because I do not want followers, and I mean this. The moment you follow someone you cease to follow Truth. I am not concerned whether you pay attention to what I say or not. I want to do a certain thing in the world and I am going to do it with unwavering concentration. I am concerning myself with only one essential thing: to set man free. I desire to free him from all cages, from all fears, and not to found religions, new sects, nor to establish new theories and new philosophies.”
Krishnamurti had denounced all organized belief, the notion of gurus, and the whole teacher-follower relationship, vowing instead to work in setting people “absolutely, unconditionally free”. He soon disassociated himself from the Theosophical Society and its teachings and practices, yet he remained on cordial terms with some of its members and ex-members throughout his life.
Krishnamurti would often refer to the totality of his work as the teachings and not as “my teachings”. His concern was always about “the teachings”; the teacher had no importance, and all authority, especially psychological authority, was denounced:
“All authority of any kind, especially in the field of thought and understanding, is the most destructive, evil thing. Leaders destroy the followers and followers destroy the leaders. You have to be your own teacher and your own disciple. You have to question everything that man has accepted as valuable, as necessary.”
Krishnamurti resigned from the various trusts and other organizations that were affiliated with the defunct Order of the Star, including the Theosophical Society. He returned the monies and properties donated to the Order, among them a castle in the Netherlands and 5,000 acres (20 km2) of land, to their donors.
He spent the rest of his life holding dialogues and giving public talks around the world on the nature of belief, truth, sorrow, freedom, death, and the quest for a spiritually fulfilled life. He accepted neither followers nor worshippers, regarding the relationship between disciple and guru as encouraging dependency and exploitation.
He accepted gifts and financial support freely offered to him by people inspired by his work, and continued with lecture tours and the publication of books and talk transcripts for more than half a century. He constantly urged people to think independently, and he invited them to explore and discuss specific topics together with him.
Krishnamurti died of pancreatic cancer on February 17, 1986, at the age of 90. His remains were cremated and scattered by friends and former associates in the three countries where he had spent most of his life: India, England, and the United States of America.