I updated my "About page" the other night. I wanted to get out from my brain onto "paper" why I was starting this business and why I was offering a class called Alchemy Summer School. It's not anything poetic just yet, but hopefully will become that way with edits.
The impetus for Alchemy Summer School, and really, behind this entire business is a lecture given by an American teacher and historian named Russ Hudson in 2013. The lecture started off reminding us why we do our spiritual work in the first place. Loosely, he said that in the 1800's a wise man predicted,
"Unless the energy of the West combines successfully with the wisdom of the East, the development of human civilzation will falter and begin to reverse itself."
But Russ was worried that the West wasn't ready to meet the East; we didn't know our own traditions, so when we meet, how can we actually have a conversation?
"Our western tradition has become so... disconnected from its roots that we couldn't meet the East. We're not ready to go. We don't know our own mystical traditions very well, nor where they come from. The ignorance is breathtaking. So much so that we think we have to go to India for everything. Nothing wrong with India-- fabulous spiritual tradition-- but we're so bankrupt in our understanding of the treasures in our own western tradition that we all have to become Buddhists or Hindus to figure out anything mystical."
Rhode and Company exists for people to understand the breadth and depth of the great mystical lineage that the West has been disconnected from, and to use it to heal, grow, and become more self-aware.
That means in addition to the mindfulness practices that have been handed down to us from the Buddhists, we also look at what was going on in Egypt, out of which the three major monotheistic religions emerged- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. We look at the great myths like Homer's Odyssey and Dante's Inferno, and the meanings behind the various stops the characters made on their voyages. We look at the myths that emerged from the night sky- how the Greeks came to see stargazing as a meaningful act that had personal significance. We look at the mathematics of the ancient Grecians, and the meaning ascribed to numbers, shapes, and music. And guess what? All that stuff happened thousands of years ago, but the ramifications of Plato's emphasis on rational decision-making, and Pythagoras' fascination with planes and ratios, and Fibonnacci's work with prime numbers are still embedded in the Western psyche, and the effects show up in our scientific research, in the way we treat criminals, in the way we govern, tax, and spend, and relate to others- even how we understand global warming.
We take a look at the history of Alchemy, which isn't quite so fascinating until Carl Jung gets a hold of it in the nineteenth century and sees psychological implications. Much of Carl Jung's work is fascinating. He was interested in personality types-- his work inspired the Myers-Briggs test after all. In the 1970's, the hippie's experimentation with drugs introduced the idea that humans can be spritual without being religious, and that fusion of secular and spiritual brings us to the Enneagram, a personality typing system with a mystical foundation. Today's Enneagram borrows a lot of constructs and vocabulary from the field of Psychology, but also from Buddhism, which is how we come full circle.
Speaking of circles, [ie. unity], our work wouldn't be complete without turning our gaze towards the stars again. Neil deGrasse Tyson, an American astrophysicist and pop culture icon, is reminding us that- literally- we are stardust. We are made up of the atoms and molecules from the stars, which brings quite a deep meaning to our interconnection as a human species- something beyond race or religion.
I think awe is an important ingredient in life. I put together the idea for the Alchemy Summer School while ISIS was hitting the headlines, and I couldn't even bring myself to read them anymore- they were so horrific, and I wanted the ugliness to stop. I wondered- like de Grasse Tyson suggests- if there was something beyond religion that lights up the same part of the brain during a moment of awe, as when you're having a religious experience. This business, and Alchemy Summer School is my investigation of that thesis.