“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to
kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being.” – Carl Jung
The Founding Mothers of ESI began working together beginning in October 2013 when their alma mater, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (ITP), was going through major changes that eventually led to its renaming as Sofia University and subsequent sale to a private corporation. We understood the focus of ITP/Sofia would be substantially changed by the sale, and we took this as an opportunity guided by Spirit to carry the core principles and values of transpersonal studies out into the world in a way that fully honored our transpersonal roots. We decided to extend this teaching into broader multi-disciplinary approach and call our effort “transpersonal studies.” Just as transpersonal psychology was born from humanistic psychology, we wanted to bring something entirely new into the light, to step boldly into this new paradigm while keeping our feet firmly grounded in the transpersonal.
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.
In the end, we envisioned a wholly online educational institution, which we called Emergent Studies Institute (ESI). The term emergent was coined by philosopher G. H. Lewes and used by psychologist Stanislav Grof in his studies of spiritual emergence. The term emergence has also been used more broadly in the context of various art movements, scientific and philosophical exploration, and in all manner of organizational systems.
“Emergent self-organization appears frequently in cities where no planning or zoning entity predetermines the layout of the city.” (Krugman, 1996) In this example, the community creates the plan of the city. Roads and walk-ways, districts and services appear due to need and convenience. “Architects and Landscape Architects may not design all the pathways of a complex of buildings. Instead they might let usage patterns emerge and then place pavement where pathways have become worn in.” (Emergence, Wikipedia) (Check out this website on Emergence)
ESI would be able to cross oceans, to transcend the constraints of time and space, to reach around the globe, bringing like-minded individuals together through a variety of online platforms, as well as through its annual face-to-face gatherings (On-The-Ground Intensives).
Two of the Founding Mothers, Trace Whitley and Lisa Evert-Raeyne established a 501.c.3 religious coalition, Haven International (Haven Spiritual Sanctuary), incorporated within the state of Texas, which could be the first building block of the new institute. As a project of Haven, the new institute would have another level of guidance and protection, as well as being eligible for licensure in Texas as a spiritual organization under Haven International.
In the process of creating the overall vision we were inspired to be as co-creative and inclusive as possible. We wanted to avoid the pitfalls of the familiar top-down model of governance and administration, and decided to design Emergent Studies Institute after the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) system of concentric circles of governance, in which decisions are reached by consensus for the benefit of all parties concerned.
In Iroquois society, leaders are encouraged to remember seven generations in the past and consider seven generations in the future when making decisions that affect the people. –Wilma Mankiller