Dear New School Friends,
Since 38% of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime, doesn’t it make sense to know that integrating the best conventional and complementary therapies can improve quality of life, potentially slow or prevent recurrence, and possibly extend survival? We explore these issues at The New School in our Healing Circles series of conversations.
Since Commonweal’s beginning, I have focused much of my work on integrative cancer treatment. From my book, Choices in Healing, published in 1996 from MIT Press, through more than 33 years of Commonweal Cancer Help Programs, and many conversations with integrative oncologists and other healers, it has remained at the forefront of my interest and research.
On October 1, Commonweal launched a new website — Beyond Conventional Cancer Therapies (BCCT) — that brings together our efforts to help you integrate the best of conventional and complementary cancer therapies. Here’s the story of my 38-year journey to creating BCCT. Continue reading
Dear New School Friends,
I am honored and delighted that my friend and colleague Beatrice Chestnut will be presenting three day-long workshops of Enneagram panels at Commonweal.
Enneagram is an archetypal depth psychology. It has enormous power to deepen our insight into ourselves and others.
There are nine Enneagream character types. The best way to understand them is to witness “panels” with several people of each type on the panel. To have panels conducted by one of the great Enneagram authorities is a rare opportunity.
Beatrice is among the most gifted Enneagram teachers working today. Her book, The Complete Enneagram: 27 Paths to Self Knowledge, is among the best guides to this great tradition. If you are not already deeply familiar with Enneagram, I encourage you to read her book in advance if you plan to come. You should also watch my TNS conversation with Beatrice. Even if you are deeply familiar with Enneagram, Beatrice’s book will add to what you already know, especially with respect to the 27 subtypes of the 9 principal types. Continue reading
A Brief for the Defense
Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay. Continue reading
May 30, 2018
Dear Commonweal Friends:
I hope this Spring Letter finds you well.
We live in unimaginable times. The forces working against freedom and the earth are global: climate change, war, terrorism, authoritarianism, and more. I return to the global challenge later—first an overview of our work at Commonweal. Continue reading
Dear New School Friends:
My last posting to you March 12 was a working paper called Courage in Dark Times: Choosing Resilience in the Face of Global Systems Collapse. It was reprinted by the Health and Environmental Funders Network as a newsletter and on its website.
One of the best books on the subject is Thomas Homer-Dixon’s The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilization. It has been praised by tough-minded critics like Stanford professor Paul R. Ehrlich and investigative journalist Robert Kaplan. Ehrlich says, “Anyone who doubts the seriousness of the human predicament should read Thomas Homer-Dixon’s brilliant The Upside of Down.” Kaplan says, “Homer Dixon has provided that rare thing: a bridge between leading edge research and the lay leader…Addressing the greatest problems of our time, he points us toward a path forward.” Continue reading
Choosing Resilience in the Face of Global Systems Collapse
This is a working paper. It is in a period of rapid evolution as of 3/12/18. Comments are welcome, though I cannot respond personally to all.
What does the future look like? We cannot know.
To the best of our knowledge, humanity faces an unprecedented global crisis. The prospects for social, environmental and economic collapse, degradation, and transformation are unmistakable.
I do not preclude some miraculous way out of this dilemma—a non-polluting safe energy source, a transformation of human consciousness, a global commitment to sharing resources, an ethic of providing food and shelter for all, an end to tribalisms, a deep acceptance of diversity, a commitment to ending population growth, green chemistry, control of technologies, and more. But the probability of whatever combined miracles we would need is rather low. Continue reading
I’m reading a slender volume by Claudio Narano—Ennea-Type Structures: Self Analysis for the Seeker. Naranjo is a Chilean psychiatrist, now in his 80s, who lives in Berkeley. He is a founding interpreter of the enneagram of personality. He was a close friend of Carlos Castaneda, a pioneer of entheogenic studies, and one of three named successors to Fritz Perls, the founder of Gestalt Therapy.
Naranjo learned the enneagram from Oscar Ichazo, the Bolivian-born founder of the Arica School.
The Enneagram Institute website is an excellent starting place to learn enneagram. Here is its historical section.
Enneagram was brought to the West by G.I. Gudjieff, the Armenian-Greek spiritual teacher and founder of Fourth Way studies. Continue reading
Dear New School Friends:
Thank you for being so generous in supporting The New School in 2017. We depend on you. You have been most generous.
What can I say about the new year? The political drama continues, but the culture is responding. The #MeToo movement is an extraordinary cultural phenomenon. It is perilous to read history in the making. But this does appear a lasting step forward for women — and for men as well.
I won’t let the political drama take over my life. This is an article of faith for me. So I devote my evenings especially to the concerns of The New School — nature, culture, and the inner life.
Over the holidays, I read Charles Dickens seriously for the first time. Hard Times, Oliver Twist, and David Copperfield.
I also read a biography of Dickens — not among the best, so I won’t name it, but it got me started reading the novels. Continue reading
Dear New School Friends,
We just completed our 197th Cancer Help Program. We will hold our 200th in April. Each time eight people show up from a cross the country — and often around the world.
Many have recurrent cancer. They come for many reasons. They come to find others who understand what they are going through. They come in hope of learning about integrative therapies that might enhance or extend life. They come to process what they have been going through in life-changing treatments. But above all, they come to find a way to hold this part of their lives with greater peace of mind.
I turned 74 on October 22nd. I entered my 75th year on this sacred earth. I live at the place where the land meets the ocean, where the earth meets the sky. Each day I give thanks for Commonweal — for our community, for our work, for this place.
I live in a place where light meets darkness, where love meets loss, where understanding meets mystery. I live in gratitude for it all. Continue reading