Course Description

For millennia, individuals have explored ordinary consciousness to interrogate and deepen not only the “normal,” waking experience of the world, but also to tap into the vast knowledges outside of human experience, thoughts, and concepts. Across cultures, “transcendence” has been a means of confronting established modes of reality in order to celebrate, heal, and transform the body and the mind.

2020 holds both an invitation to slow, rest, and attend to health, as well as an urgent call to address immediate social and environmental crises brought about by hundreds of years of unfettered capitalism, white supremacy, and settler colonialism. Our imaginations are at stake. But, if this moment is a
portal, an opening, a gateway, then there is an opportunity to dream new futures that embrace difference and collaborative frameworks, and move beyond the fragility of domination, extraction, and mindless consumption. What is the role of the Self during “these uncertain times,” and what do we really mean by “connecting” and “community”? How can we learn to be generous and vulnerable with ourselves and with others?

Through individual and collective exercises, embodied workshops, films, audio, readings and other resources, participants will learn how individuals and cultures have studied consciousness in order to transform it, and to investigate the implications on the Self, the environment, and society. Contemporary practitioners, and the work of adrienne maree brown, Bayo Akomolafe, brontë velez, Françoise Bourzat, Lama Rod Owens, María Sabina, Kat Harrison, Terence McKenna, Kilindi Iyi, Stanislov Grof, Joanna Macy, Carlos Casteñeda, The Chacruna Institute, and many others will serve as resources towards the co-creation of a cartographic practice of the mind and body.

Becoming Otherwise will expand the notion of a map to support the evolving nature of an intersubjective self. Here, the map of the Self is not fixed, but is an inward/outward confluence of various forces, times, places, sensations, memories, needs, and dreams. A living process that is mutable and constantly remade, the mapping is a practice that engages what Terence McKenna called the “invisible landscape.” We can perceive this rich dimension of ourselves and our world, explore, communicate, and even co-create it. In these Other states, the world is often experienced beyond written words or without preconceived opinions or biases. Divisions between inner and outer dissolve, and “reality” is perceived beyond the normal constructs of time and space. Expanded states of consciousness encourage a more engaged experience of reality, effectively allowing us, in the words of Françoise Bourzat, “to become more aware of ourselves, each other, and the world we belong to.”

2020 José A. Rivera