The Primacy Of Awe: Gestures Towards A New Religious Knowing
Sunday, December 16, 2012, 5:00 P.M., City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco


a panel disscusion with Yannis Toussulis, Charles Ponce, and Tony Stigliano

Some claim that we have entered a post-modern period in which the grand narratives developed during the Age of Reason have largely failed us. Along with the failure of state communism, we may also be witnessing the gradual demise of unbridled capitalism. Attendant to these changes, a new dialectical tension has arisen between modernism and reactionary traditionalism that has helped to promote international conflicts and war. Surprisingly, this situation has sparked a new interest in religion among largely post-modern and Marxian philosophers  Could it be that we are entering a different phase of secularism, one in which religions – in new and unexpected forms -- will play an increasingly significant part?  Will mystical traditions play a increasingly significant part in re-envisioning what it means to be religious today?  This afternoon's short presentations, followed by a panel discussion, will focus on several themes:

Facing the Sublime (Yannis Toussulis,)
This talk will focus on the phenomenological nature of "awe," "faith," and encounters with the Ineffable. Are these experiences that are vital to human being as such?  If so, can these experiences be lived outside of any particular, institutionalized religion or dogma?

The Cosmology of Consciousness (Charles Ponce)
This talk will attempt to interrogate the idea of "consciousness" and the extent to which it is the satisfaction of every metaphysic such an investigation fails.

From New Gnosis to New Politics (Tony Stigliano)
Can the awe of and faith in the God that is beyond "God" be the basis for moral and political action? The question is opened with our concern for new insight and the realization of how we care and what we value.

Yannis Toussulis celebrates the release of

Sufism and The Way of Blame:
Hidden Sources of a Sacred Psychology

published by Quest Books

Sufism and the Way of Blame lays out the gradual development of both, western and eastern Sufism, as well as pinpointing the discrepancies between the two. If ever there were a definitive book on the cultural life of Sufism and its controversial relation to Islam this is it. The "Way of Blame" originally designated a group within larger Sufism that focused on the psychology of egoism and engaged in self-critique (Arabic malam, or "blame"). Later, the term most often referred to those Sufis who incurred blame by shunning Islamic literalism and formalism, thus becoming worthy of "blame." This interdisciplinary work critically examines popular and scholarly conceptions about Sufism as a whole; then proceeds to examine the role that the "Way of Blame" played in the development of Sufism. The book presents an up-to-date paradigm of psycho-spiritual development that is still being used today by classically oriented Sufis who practice a human-centered approach to spiritual transformation. Sufism and the Way of Blame is for anyone who seeks to become more culturally aware of Islam or its esoteric aspects.

about the speakers:

Yannis Toussulis, Ph.D. – is the former director of the Consciousness Studies Program in Graduate Psychology at Antioch University/West; former adjunct professor in political psychology at Monterey Institute of International studies. He is also a traditionally authorized representative of several Sufi orders based in the Middle East. He is the author of Sufism and the Path of Blame: Hidden Sources of a Sacred Psychology (Quest Books, 2011). This book was the Gold Medal Winner of the Independent Book Publisher's Award in 2012 and the Benjamin Franklin Award in religion.

Charles Ponce, Ph.D. – has taught at several psychological training institutes, and lectured extensively over a forty-year period on psychology, philosophy, and comparative religion in the United States and abroad. He is the author of The Archetype of the Unconscious and the Transfiguration of Therapy: Reflections on Jungian Psychology; Working the Soul: Reflections on Jungian Psychology; Kabbalah; The Game of Wizards: Roots of Consciousness and the Esoteric Arts; Papers Towards a Radical Metaphysics: Alchemy; The Nature of the I Ching: Its Usage and Interpretation. He is presently completing a work tentatively titled From Trance to Prayer: Early Jewish Mysticism and Kabbalah.                                 

Tony Stigliano -- has taught at the University of California at Berkeley's School of Education, Teachers College at Columbia University, and the California School for Professional Psychology. He has written extensively on the impact of religion in modern politics, human science, hermeneutical phenomenology and the moral foundations of modern mass political movements. His latest publication is an analysis of the Occupy Wall Street Movement as an exemplar and teacher of democratic virtue titled: "Teaching Virtue" which will appear in the on-line journal Cultural Formations.