Just recently I had a very busy two days at the Ananda College of Living Wisdom, with which I am a member of the Board of Directors. It's a small college, only now in its 7th year, having started from nothing more than an idea in early 2003 (a meeting I was in as well). Considering that, it's quite amazing to see how far it has come in a very short time for this kind of project. The faculty and student body are expanding, the finances are in the black, and the college will likely be granting its first bachelor's degree next year.
It's fitting, too that the young woman who is poised to be this pioneer, Chitra Sudhakaran, already has another great honor to her credit, the National Balashree Award of India, one of that country's highest arts awards given directly by the President. To me, it signals the caliber of student that the College has already been able to attract even in its formative years.
To me it also reflects on the college's primary specialty, which is itself rooted in the ancient wisdom of India and the West together and indicated by the "Living Wisdom" part of the name. That specialty is approaching every subject from the standpoint of higher consciousness, taking as an axiom that consciousness is the fundamental reality of the universe, not matter. This is really a new approach to higher education, on in which there is great potential to be explored. This potential, indeed, underlies my own interest in the college, and I'm engaged in developing an area of the curriculum that's related to my own professional expertise: technology and engineering. The question here, really, is not just how to go about teaching these subjects, but to ask how technology and engineering can be tools for transformation when picked up from the thread of consciousness. (My book, Mystic Microsoft, suggests some of those directions.) Developing this area will help the college expand beyond the core liberal arts subjects like the arts, psychology, world cultures, and so forth.
In this regard, the first expansion of the curriculum into the sciences has been the Physics and Consciousness course, led by David (Byasa) Steinmetz, a trained astronomer but also a deep spiritual seeker for many decades. What has been very special here a the end of the 2009-2010 school year is a new relationship that we've formed with the author of the most widely-used textbook on Quantum Mechanics, Dr. Amit Goswami.
Dr. Goswami's own primary interest today is in the same realm as Physics and Consciousness, especially the implications inherent in quantum mechanics to questions of consciousness and existence. Calling himself a Quantum Activist, it was fascinating to discuss with him how this approach can actually provide a scientific proof for God, which is to say, a "non-local" consciousness that is greater than what we experience individually (which is to say, "locally").
For details, I'll refer to Dr. Goswami's written works, information about which can be found on his own website as well as the documentary about his called The Quantum Activist (he also appeared in What the Bleep Do We Know?), a film we were honored to watch and discuss with him and the filmmakers when he recently visited the Ananda College of Living Wisdom.
Dr. Goswami was very generous with his time, giving several classes as well as giving the address at the college's closing ceremony on May 27th, 2010. in closing this post, then, I offer a selection of quotes from these talks that are relevant to the College and its mission (recorded by faculty member Carol Gray):
More [students / teachers/people] will come to this kind of place [the College] because it’s wonderful to work in a new paradigm. You can be creative in a new paradigm.
Highly intuitive students will come to schools like this – not Harvard or Princeton.
This is the right way [of education]...this wonderful university…liberal arts is to liberate you through the study of arts, humanities, social sciences…this school will attract highly intuitive students.
My young friends, you will figure out for yourself how to make a living. Education is to liberate you from tyrannical jobs so you can have meaning while making a living. The idea of separating jobs from meaning is a very poor idea. The workplace must be meaningful.
And since I am a member of the Board, I have no shame in saying that the college is constantly looking for students who are ready for this level of adventure: higher education for higher consciousness. See http://www.anandauniversity.org for more information, and make sure to check out the YouTube video! We are also looking for new members for both our Board of Directors and our Advisory Board. See this post for details.