Bernardo Kastrup has a Ph.D. in computer engineering with specializations in artificial intelligence and reconfigurable computing. He has worked as a scientist in some of the world’s foremost research laboratories, including the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and the Philips Research Laboratories (where the “Casimir Effect” of Quantum Field Theory was discovered). Bernardo has authored many scientific papers and philosophy books. His three most recent books are: More Than Allegory, Brief Peeks Beyond and Why Materialism Is Baloney. He has also been an entrepreneur and founder of a successful high-tech start-up. Next to a managerial position in the high-tech industry, Bernardo maintains a philosophy blog, a video interview series, and continues to develop his ideas about the nature of reality. He has lived and worked in four different countries across continents, currently residing in the Netherlands. For a rigorous, analytical summary of his philosophical ideas, see this short, freely available pre-print paper.
Why are we here? Is there a God? Can there be authentic mystical experience? Are Hindus and Buddhists correct that we can attain a state of enlightenment? Can psychedelic drugs give us a glimpse of it? Does religion have a viable place in the modern world? Is there a common core of values and insights among the world’s religions?
Huston Smith spent his career in a search for answers to these and other questions. Born in China in 1919, the son of Methodist missionaries, Smith followed a life-long spiritual quest that led him around the world many times. He studied the world’s religions and mystical traditions directly with Aldous Huxley, D.T. Suzuki, J. Krishnamurti, Alan Watts, Paul Tillich, Reinhold Niebuhr, the Dalai Lama, Joseph Campbell, Ram Dass, and a host of others. Huston, as a renowned philosopher of religion, helped shape the contemporary face of comparative religion, interfaith dialogue, and religious tolerance. As a seeker, he became a citizen of the world, plunging into its various spiritual traditions.
Robert A.F. Thurman is the Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies in the Department of Religion at Columbia University, President of the Tibet House U.S., a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Tibetan civilization, and President of the American Institute of Buddhist Studies, a non-profit affiliated with the Center for Buddhist Studies at Columbia University and dedicated to the publication of translations of important artistic and scientific treatises from the Tibetan Tengyur.
Time chose Professor Thurman as one of its 25 most influential Americans in 1997, describing him as a “larger than life scholar-activist destined to convey the Dharma, the precious teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, from Asia to America.” The New York Times recently said Thurman “is considered the leading American expert on Tibetan Buddhism.”
Thurman is known as a talented popularizer of the Buddha’s teachings. He is a riveting speaker and an author of many books on Tibet, Buddhism, art, politics and culture, including:
Since the Center for Sacred Sciences was founded in 1987, Joel Morwood has served as the spiritual director and primary teacher for its community of practitioners. Joel’s first book, Naked Through the Gate: A Spiritual Autobiography , tells the story of his own spiritual path, culminating in Gnosis, or Awakening, in 1983. Here is some of what Joel has to say about himself and his role:
Some people who have come to me have been disappointed to discover that I have no supernatural powers to transmit, no magic wand to wave, no extraordinary knowledge to dispense which can make them instantly wise, loving, and happy. “Who, then, are you?” they ask. “What’s your secret?” My secret can be summed up in one word: Selflessness. Selflessness is the Truth. Selflessness is the Way. Selflessness is the Fruit. In reality, there is no ‘you’ nor ‘I’ nor any ‘self’ whatsoever. There is only Consciousness Itself—the One True God—which is what we are. All that is necessary is to Realize This, because to Realize This is Wisdom, to Live This is Love, to Be This is Happiness. So, if you really want to know my secret, look to your ‘self’. In finding the source of your ‘self’, you will find Consciousness Itself, and nothing else. Then, you, too, will be free of your self and all its sufferings.
Joel has no special religious attire. In fact, he often wears old blue jeans, sweatshirts, and a Mexican poncho. He is married, enjoys movies, drinks wine, and interacts with others much like any other guy. Joel speaks from his own Realization, or Gnosis. Although he makes use of stories, texts, and practices taken from many different traditions, his interpretations are always spontaneous, direct, and personal. He continually points beyond mere intellectual understanding to a Truth that is beyond both thought and experience. Moreover, he constantly links the teachings of the mystics with concrete examples drawn from daily life so that one can see how they actually relate to one’s own experiences. In all this Joel displays an intuition, sensitivity and humor which could never have come from book-learning alone. Moreover, because Joel has no pretensions about being someone special, he is approachable not only as a teacher, but also as a friend. He is a wonderful listener who knows how to pierce right to the heart of a problem. Often he can point out ways of viewing a situation from an entirely new perspective, yet he always insists one take responsibility for making one’s own decisions. Moreover, when he has no advice to offer, he doesn’t hesitate to say, “I don’t know.”
Joel is a teacher who always challenges his students to investigate the mystics and their teachings for themselves. Far from demanding blind obedience, or even verbal agreement, he encourages them to explore various teachers, to compare what he says with the teachings found in the great mystical traditions, to test all these teachings against our one’s experience, and to test one’s own experience against the hard realities of life. In his view, a true spiritual path never leads one away from reality but, on the contrary, forces one to face it squarely, no matter how ugly or painful it may appear. It is only by getting to the bottom of suffering that we can be free of suffering. Beyond that suffering, Joel assures us, there is the Boundless Joy of Consciousness Itself—and, indeed, with his guidance we sometimes catch a glimpse of this as well!
Finally, Joel receives no financial remuneration from the Center. His teachings are given as a labor of love freely to all—although occasionally he has asked for personal donations to cover special needs, like the time he needed a suit for his marriage.
Rev. Michael Dowd is a bestselling evolutionary theologian and pro-future evangelist whose work has been featured in The New York Times, LA Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Newsweek, Discover, and on television nationally. His bridge-building book, Thank God for Evolution, was endorsed by 6 Nobel Prize-winning scientists, noted skeptics, and by religious leaders across the spectrum. Michael and his science-writer wife, Connie Barlow, have spoken to more than two thousand groups across North America since 2002.
Michael has delivered two TEDx talks and a program at the United Nations. In 2010 he interviewed 38 Christian leaders across the theological spectrum, all of whom embrace an ecological, evolutionary worldview and are committed to a healthy future, as part of a series, titled, “The Advent of Evolutionary Christianity.” Most recently, he interviewed 55 experts on climate change, peak oil, and sustainability, as part of an online conversation series, titled, The Future Is Calling Us to Greatness.
Dowd’s passion for proclaiming a pro-science message of inspiration — what he calls “the Gospel of Right Relationship to Reality” — has earned him the moniker ‘Reverend Reality’ as he speaks prophetically in secular and religious settings alike about the generational evil of anti-future / anti-Christian policies and the necessity of co-creating a just, healthy, and sustainably life-giving future for humanity and the larger body of life.
Key quote: “God is reality with a personality, not a person outside reality. If you don’t get personification, you can’t possibly understand the world’s myths and religions — and you’ll surely miss what God is telling us today through scientific evidence. Few things matter more than this in a world of ecological degradation and climate chaos. Anyone who doubts this need only watch one or two of the Hollywood star-studded ”Nature Is Speaking” videos that have gone viral in recent months.” ~ Rev. Michael Dowd
Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.
Michael’s wife Connie Barlow split this video into two segments, edited it a bit, and added text and graphical annotations. In this first segment, Michael Dowd speaks of his “pro-future” distinctions in the context of broad concerns as well as the metaphysical/Buddhist worldview set forth in questions posed by Rick Archer, host of the “Buddha at the Gas Pump” conversation series (extracts of which have been re-shaped into this video).
In this second segment, Michael Dowd speaks of his “pro-future” distinctions derived from ecological sciences. Rick Archer, host of the “Buddha at the Gas Pump” conversation series, poses questions of broad interest as well as topics central to Buddhist and metaphysical worldviews.