Eurotas Conference 2019
Les Lancaster is a Founding Director and Academic Dean of the Alef Trust, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes postgraduate studies in transpersonal psychology and community programmes for health and wellbeing. He is also Professor Emeritus of Transpersonal Psychology at Liverpool John Moores University, UK, Associated Distinguished Professor of Integral and Transpersonal Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies, and an Honorary Research Fellow in the Centre for Jewish Studies at Manchester University, UK. He is currently a Board member of the Association for Transpersonal Psychology, and has previously been Chair of the Transpersonal Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society and President of the International Transpersonal Association. Les’ research interests focus on the cognitive neuroscience of consciousness and connections with mysticism, specifically focusing on Kabbalistic Psychology. His initial research training was in neuroscience and psychology, and subsequently he explored the hermeneutic methods employed in the rabbinic and mystical traditions in Judaism, seeking ways to integrate these approaches in a contemporary psychological context. Les is Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Sacred Science Circle, in addition to many journal articles, Les’ published works include Mind Brain and Human Potential, winner of a Science and Medical Network Best Book Award, Approaches to Consciousness: the Marriage of Science and Mysticism, and The Essence of Kabbalah.
God-images in times of transition
Major periods of cultural change are associated with shifts in the God image that becomes dominant in the given culture. This is illustrated through two major transitional epochs influencing primarily Western civilisation—those of the inception of the Christian era two thousand years ago, and of the Renaissance five hundred years ago. The focus of this paper is on the shifts in the God-image as promulgated through Christianity and Judaism though and beyond these two epochal transitions. In particular, the intra-divine connotations of male and female changed in the period leading up to the Renaissance. It is argued here that our current age of transition may be understood in the context of these two preceding shifts in the culturally-adopted God image, and, more specifically, that features of the shift that occurred during the Renaissance along the male-female divine axis are being fulfilled in our day through the ascendency of the feminine. In Jewish mystical thought, for example, the Shekhinah—the indwelling divine presence—was the primary focus of the transitions seeding the Renaissance, but was, at that time, conceived only within a patriarchal frame. Today, the Shekhinah is becoming released from that patriarchal frame, enabling her to become the initiatory pole in the divine mystery. Psychological ramifications of this shift are examined.
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