118. Robert K. C. Forman, Ph.D.

Robert FormanDr. Robert K.C. Forman is uniquely qualified, both personally and professionally, to re-imagine the spiritual goal and the path to it. Personally, Dr. Forman hasn’t missed a day of meditation in 40 years. He broke through to the first major life shift he sought during a nine-month meditation retreat, just two years after beginning Transcendental Meditation. Further developments have continued through his gaining of a Ph.D. in mystical experience from Columbia U and his 20 years as a Professor of Comparative Religions, through his lifetime of yearly solo meditation retreats, self-reflection, 18 years of psychotherapy and psychotherapeutic training, his marital work, his teaching, writing and leading of workshops, and his research into and national leadership role in the “spiritual but not religious” community.

(Quotes below are from Robert’s book, Enlightenment Ain’t What It’s Cracked Up To Be.)

“Do not settle,” the vastness whispers. “Do not be content with partial love. Be open here too. Be so open with this other that there is nothing left to close.” (P. 160)

His curiosity and confusion about his early spiritual breakthroughs led him to a Ph.D in Comparative Religions (Columbia U), where he specialized in the nature of and philosophical issues around mystical experiences and the spiritual life. He has often been called “one of the leading voices in the academic debates on mysticism,” because of his work in the international scholarly debate about mystical experiences, which came to be known as “The Katz-Forman debates,” the work for which he has been awarded numerous grants and, just last year, an honorary doctorate. A tenured professor of religions at Hunter College of the City University of New York and a professor at Vassar College, Union Theological Seminary and the New School for Social Research, he often taught courses on mystical experiences and spiritual goals in every tradition, and his books are used in classes around the world.

Many of his insights about the spiritual path and goal came from his work as founder and Executive Director of the Forge Institute for Spirituality and Social Change and the Forge Guild of Spiritual Professionals, a non profit dedicated to helping people from any religion or spiritual path live “soul to soul.” He routinely gives lectures, trainings and workshops around the world. He was the co-founder and is executive editor of The Journal of Consciousness Studies , which has become the principle journal in the field. He is also the author of ten scholarly books on spirituality, mysticism, consciousness and world religions.

“God save us from some bloodless “joy, joy, joy!” If we are after anything, we are after full-bodied freedom. … I want to be awake, utterly non-resistant, to pain and joy and love and loss and boredom and knowing and not-knowing, wide open to the full catastrophe that is the paradox of a whole, confusing human life.” (P. 198)

Robert’s site: http://enlightenmentaint.com/

Robert’s book: Enlightenment Ain’t What It’s Cracked Up To Be: A Journey of Discovery, Snow and Jazz in the Soul

Interview recorded 4/8/2012

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.

89 thoughts on “118. Robert K. C. Forman, Ph.D.

  1. ‘The greater Form that thou hast seen is only for the rare highest souls. The gods themselves ever desire to look upon it. Nor can I be seen as thou hast seen Me by Veda, or austerities or gifts or sacrifices; it can be seen, known, entered into only by that bhakti which regards, adores and loves Me alone in all things.’
    Bhagavad Gita (XI, 52-54)

  2. “Our explanation of the evolution in Matter is that the universe is a self-creative process of a supreme Reality whose presence makes spirit the substance of things,–all things are there as the spirit’s powers and means and forms of manifestation. An infinite existence, an infinite consciousness, an infinite force and will, an infinite delight of being is the Reality secret behind the appearances of the universe; its divine Supermind or Gnosis has arranged the cosmic order, but arranged it indirectly through the three subordinate and limiting terms of which we are conscious here, Mind, Life and Matter. The material universe is the lowest stage of a downward plunge of the manifestation, an involution of the manifested being of this triune Reality into an apprent nescience of itself, that which we now call the Inconscient; but out of this nescience the evolution of that manifested being into a recovered self-awareness was from the very first inevitable. It was inevitable because that which is involved must evolve; for it is not only there as an existence, a force hidden in its apparent opposite, and every such force must in its inmost nature be moved to find itself, to realise itself, to release itself into play, but it is the reality of that which conceals it, it is the self which the Nescience has lost and which therefore it must be the whole secret meaning, the constant drift of its action to seek for and recover. It is through the conscious individual being that this recovery is possible; it is in him that the evolving consciousness becomes organised and capable of awaking to its own Reality. The immense importance of the individual being, which increases as he rises in the scale, is the most remarkable and significant fact of a universe which started without consciousness and without individuality in an undifferentiated Nescience. This importance can only be justified if the Self as individual is no less real than the Self as cosmic Being or Spirit and both are powers of the Eternal. It is only so that can be explained the necessity for the growth of the individual and his discovery of himself as a condition for the discovery of the cosmic Self and Consciousness and of the supreme Reality. If we adopt this solution, this is the first result, the reality of the persistent individual; but from that first consequence the other result follows, that rebirth of some kind is no longer a possible machinery which may or may not be accepted, it becomes a necessity, an inevitable outcome of the root nature of our existence.”

    Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 20, The Philosophy of Rebirth

  3. “The human species is an evolving collective entity. At present, civilisation as a whole is experiencing the pain of realising its limitations and insufficiencies and of knowing that as a race its actual constitution cannot permit a higher experience to come. To reach a wider and deeper collective experience, a new, more refined, more enhanced instrument is demanded. The turmoil of humanity at present is due largely to the fact that pressure is being applied on all quarters of Earth existence to compel the emergence of higher faculties so that a new way can manifest. Some details of this evolutionary process are given in Indian Scriptures. For example, in the Puranas we find mention of ‘the Nine Creations’. The final stages, the 7th, 8th and 9th, refer to the mental, the overmental and the supramental creations, respectively. Mental man is not the ultimate and highest but is merely a transitional creature. The evolutionary process, governed by the play of the tattwas and the gunas, is the mechanism to evolve a higher species. And one of the principal characteristics of this newly-emerging creation, superior to the present mental being, is a capacity to experience the indivisibility of God, – a consciousness, hence, of true unity. For this the being of the human experiencer must be fortified in such a way that it can withstand the impact of seeing the Time-Spirit working in the worlds, via the action of creation, preservation and destruction or dissolution, with an equanimity of being that arises from the knowledge of the Core-Purpose at the heart of material creation.

    The Golden Seed contains this central truth. Our direct link with the Transcendent lies in this Seed, in the heart of ourselves and in the heart of our material universe. Thus to know that Purpose – the only real road to survival and salvation for the human species – one must plunge into the heart of matter and not away from it and into the Beyond. Since Time is inextricably linked with matter and material reality and cannot be seperated from the spatial, cosmic dimension, it becomes evident that to discover this truth and to embark upon this entirely new direction in our quest, we must realise God as presented to Arjuna in the supreme Vision he was granted of the Time-Spirit…”
    Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet
    http://www.aeongroup.com/trans.html

  4. Hi Uli
    Interesting quotes. Patrizia’s golden seed is called hiranya garbha in the Vedas, the golden egg or seed. The first word relates to the heart.

    The “heart of matter” is within as much as without as there is no division. We can go to infinity within or infinity without – both will take us to the same place. Within is easier. But she’s right that going into the Beyond is not enough. We want to bring it into the world.

  5. HI David,
    my point is that there are many signs of a shift in spirituality: a “novum” is emerging…
    …truly, a “novum” is emerging… ..

    “May the whole Earth come to realise the one goal, and to understand that no matter how contradictory the appearances may be, each of us is here for the realisation of the One Goal: to help the Earth to realise herself, though her ways are many and appear each one to offer a resistance to the other.Yet this resistance is merely to create the conditions needed for the realisation, the all-embracing Realisation. …. …But let us truly move forward to the New: let us not call the Old the New. Let the New come forth in spite of ourselves….”

    http://www.aeongroup.com/prayer_for_a_newway.html

    http://www.aeongroup.com/emercos.htm

  6. …a shift towards what the neglected, repressed, dismissed indigenous spiritualities have been saying…

  7. “I want to be certain this is clear: you possess a unique living radio that links you to a universe-city of teachers older than our models of the physical universe. On our world, we’re taught to trade direct experiential access to this for dolls, cages, labels, slavery, ‘prices’, silencing, torture, war, rape, confusion, and general mean-making.

    As of now, we can learn something different together, for each other. It’s easy, and children learn better than experts.

    We won’t be doing this for the sake of dogmas, authors, tyrants, ‘security’, rulers, cash, props, books, ‘religions’ or dolls.

    For a change, we’ll be doing it for each other…”
    http://www.organelle.org/sadasah/sadasah.html

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