The Second Liberal Art: DIALECTICA

The Spiritual Art of Dialectic
Discerning Truth through Word

Course Description

The New Chartres Academy seeks to give modern form to the most comprehensive learning system known to Western civilization—the seven Liberal Arts. The Liberal Arts have their origin in ancient Egypt and were refined through the Greek and Roman philosophical schools.They were brought to their highest expression by the Chartrian masters during the eleventh and twelfth centuries in the original Chartres Academy. They were designed as initiatory rites to cultivate the mysteries of personal and social transformation.

The goal for both students and teachers was to participate in an alchemical process of transformation leading to the embodiment of the divine human. The New Chartres Academy aims toward this same goal.

The Chartrean path, which we embrace, was founded on the mysteries of the Divine Feminine and the miracle of birth, not only the soul's entry into physical existence by way of procreation, but also the birth of the higher self of the human being.

The New Chartres Academy inaugurated a new cycle of the Seven Liberal Arts in 2013. During the course of this seven-year cycle of the New Chartres Academy, three central questions will guide our inquiry:

  • How do we embody divine feminine principles, so powerfully present in Chartres and so essential for the transformation of our personal and collective soul?
  • How do we deepen our understanding of the Christian symbolic structures as well as the pre-Christian Druidic awareness of the Earth energies so potently present in Chartres?
  • How can we embody the mysteries of Chartres in a healing way in our challenged world?

Download the PDF to Learn More about the New Chartres Academy and the pilgrimages scheduled from 2013–2019.

In July, 2014, we will enter the sacred art of Dialectica, the second of the Liberal Arts, which in ancient times was studied under the aegis of Aristotle, informed by the planet Mercury.

Dialectic was central to the life and culture in ancient Greece. The term was popularized by Plato who used it to describe the Socratic Method of inquiry, in which seekers came together in a common search for truth.

The Greeks established principles for dialogue, cultivating it as an art. Dialogue literally means “through logos.” Heraclitus first used the term Logos around 600 B.C. to designate the divine reason or plan that harmonizes and gives meaning to a changing universe.

To pursue dialectic one’s thinking must be fluid, so that one can grasp not only earthly knowledge but also the reality of spiritual truth. The one who is master of dialectics stands between the heights and the depths. Aristotle, the Chartres representative of Dialectica, and the inaugurator of logical thinking, was regarded as one who knew both heights and depths, and was able through objective thought to attain to knowledge previously revealed only through the mysteries.

In the original Chartres Academy, students of Dialectica sought to come into right relationship with the planet Mercury and the god Hermes, known in ancient times as the winged messenger, who could swiftly move between the world of the gods and the world of human beings. In this year’s course, we will explore these themes, which will provide the container for the exploration into how we, in our time, can engage in dialectic leading to a truth honored by the whole community.

We are honored to have Anne Baring on the faculty this year. Her magnum opus, The Dream of the Cosmos: a Quest for the Soul, will provide the content of inquiry into the sacred art of Dialectica. Her lectures will address the need to heal the split between spirit and nature and the return of the Feminine, the causes of the archetypal imbalance that lies at the root of our culture, the further potential evolution of human consciousness, a wider concept of soul as a field underlying the phenomenal world, integrating the shadow aspect of the solar ego, the inter-connectedness of all aspects of life and the emerging paradigm of our participation as co-creators in a living, conscious universe.

Course Learning Outcomes

  1. Define dialectica from the perspective of Aristotle and the ancient Greeks, as well as from a current perspective.
  2. Explore the relationship between community immersion in sacred space and personal learning.
  3. Practice spiritual dialogue.
  4. Reflect on ritual experiences in terms of personal and collective transformation.
  5. Describe the ways in which Chartres Cathedral exhibits principles of the Divine Feminine.

Instructional Mode and Methods

This course includes a combination of multiple experiential and didactic learning approaches:

  1. Lecture
  2. Dreamwork
  3. Spiritual dialogue
  4. Participatory music and myth-making
  5. Ritual

Course Modules & Topics

Day 1
Our Evolutionary Journey. the First Phase: Original Participation

A perspective on our cosmic origins. What we call our conscious rational mind has evolved out of the matrix of nature and beyond that, out of the matrix of cosmic life. In the first or lunar phase of this journey, we felt contained within the life of the Great Mother who was the identified with the whole cosmos. Nature was experienced as a theophany. The sense of kinship with all creation is still recognized by shamanic cultures today. Lunar mythology and the lunar “way of knowing”: an instinctive, participatory, relational way of experiencing the world, mediated through feeling (the heart), the imagination and the right hemisphere of the brain. Origins of the idea of an ensouled harmonious cosmos. Myth of the Quest for the Treasure beginning with the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Day 2
The Second Phase: Separation and Dissociation from 2000 BC

The gradual separation of the developing conscious ego from a sense of relationship with the life of the planet and the cosmos. Rise of the patriarchal religions and worship of the Great Father. The Myth of the Fall: Expulsion from the Garden. Solar mythology and the solar way of knowing: objective, linear, goal-seeking; identified today with the rational mind and principally experienced through the left hemisphere of the brain. Myth of the battle between light and dark, good and evil. The dissociation of nature from spirit leading to misogyny and the subjugation of woman and the desouling of nature. Body is split off from mind and mind from soul. The desire for mastery and control of nature culminates in reductionist science and the concept of a dead universe without purpose or meaning and the belief that consciousness begins and ends with the physical brain. No foundation for ethical values. An unbalanced culture, way off course.

Day 3
The Third Phase: Final Participation

The message of the great spiritual teachers about the oneness and indivisibility of life. View of our planet from the moon. The resurgence of the Feminine: the rise of the environmental movement; the emancipation of women; rebalancing the masculine and the feminine in ourselves and in our culture. The body as the vehicle of the soul. The new paradigm emerging in science of an interconnected living universe where all aspects are “entangled” and connected with each other. The underlying connecting invisible Field. The importance of Chartres and its vision of Man as both a prophecy and a path to awakening. Our consciousness as a transceiver and vehicle of cosmic consciousness (like a television set).

Day 4
Integrating the Shadow of our current One-eyed Consciousness

The modern myth of Progress and the Power of Science and Technology. The emphasis in a secular culture on the dominance, control and subjugation of nature to serve man. The loss of the image of God; the soul an irrelevance. From the late seventeenth century, material reality seen as the only reality. The abuse of the Earth and the Anima-Mundi or World Soul. The obscenity of nuclear weapons and all weapons that destroy life. War as a rape of the soul and the sacrifice of life an act of sacrilege. The insensate need for power and the exploitation of the Earth’s resources by the most powerful nations and corporations (viz. the exploitation of the Arctic). The rise of the surveillance society. Neglect of the suffering of the billions who have no voice and the soul needs of children everywhere.

Day 5
Stellar Consciousness: awakening to a new vision of reality

Growing towards a more evolved consciousness. Alchemy and the transmutation of our understanding of life, opening our eyes to a different vision of reality and our own innate divinity as inhabitants and servants of the cosmos. Moving from a transcendent image of God to a new image of God as all cosmic life and all levels of reality. Re-integrating mind and soul. The immortality of the soul and the existence of our subtle body. Moving beyond the reductionist concept of death as the end of life. The multiple unseen dimensions of cosmic soul. Creating a new kind of civilization grounded in different values; The Dream of the Cosmos and our unlived potential as co-creators with and servants of the Divine Ground. Redeeming the “unread vision in the higher dream.“

General Course Materials

Baring, A. (2013). The dream of the cosmos: A quest for the soul. Dorset, England: Archive Publishing. ISBN-10: 1906289247.
ISBN-13: 978-1906289249

Apatow, R. (1998). The spiritual art of dialogue: Mastering communication for personal growth, relationships, and the workplace. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions. ISBN-10: 0892816740.
ISBN-13: 978-0892816743

Querido, R. (2012). The golden age of Chartre: The teachings of a mystery school and the eternal feminine. Edinburgh: Floris Books. ISBN-10: 086315672X. ISBN-13: 978-0863156724

Assessment and Grading

Whenever there is a question about what assignments are due, please remember this syllabus is considered the ruling document.

Student work will be evaluated in the following areas:

  1. Achieving the primary objectives of the course;
  2. General knowledge of all required reading assignments and of all material presented by the instructor in lectures and from class discussions, films, and so on;
  3. Clear, concise, reflective, critical thinking;
  4. Regular, active, and meaningful participation in class discussions of assigned readings in class (students are expected to reflect on the concepts and issues in the readings and be prepared to articulate those thoughts in class); and
  5. Quality of post-papers. All papers should reflect a dialectical relationship between your personal growth and the subject being studied. At the Wisdom School we are interested in soul growth, so we encourage all papers to balance subjective experience with the objective understanding of the material. We are interested in how the learning experience affects you, and how you are being personally or professionally transformed. Post-paper evaluations are by letter grades.

Post-Paper Assignment

Write 12–15 pages focused on the ideal of sacred dialogue, co-creating the holy through the word, your true self-transcendence, consciousness transformation, weaving together content from the Dialectica reading materials, lectures, meditations, artistic work, and your experiences of inner transformation. Art work is welcome to supplement your paper.

Dates: July 6–12, 2014

Location: Chartres, France

Primary Faculty: Jim Garrison, Ph.D.

Guest Lecturers: Anne Baring, Jungian Analyst, Apela Colorado, Ph.D., Andrew Harvey, Peggy Rubin, Emily Burridge, Karen Rivers, Ph.D., Claudia Lainson

Contact Faculty:

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Faculty Bio

Jim Garrison

Jim Garrison received his BA, magna cum laude, in World History from the University of Santa Clara in 1973; his MTS from Harvard Divinity School in Christology and the History of World Religions in 1975; and his Ph.D. from Cambridge University in Philosophical Theology in 1982. His doctoral dissertation was on the theme “Hiroshima, Apocalyptic and the Antinomial Nature of God.”

Garrison has developed this theme in all his published writings beginning with his first book in 1980, called The Plutonium Culture (SCM). This was followed by The Darkness of God: Theology After Hiroshima (SCM/1982); The Russian Threat: Myths and Realities (Gateway Books/ 1983); The New Diplomats (Resurgence Press/1984); Civilization and the Transformation of Power (Paraview Press/2000); and America As Empire (Barrett Koehler/2004).

Garrison became president of Wisdom University in 2005. Before coming to the university, Garrison served as president of the State of the World Forum, which he founded in 1995 in partnership with President Mikhail Gorbachev and Senator Alan Cranston. He founded the Radiation and Health Information Service in 1978; co-founded the Christic Institute in 1980; was Executive Director of the Esalen Institute Soviet-American Exchange Program from 1985—1990; and founded the International Foreign Policy Institute in partnership with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze and Secretary George Shultz in 1991. Garrison founded the Gorbachev Foundation/USA in 1992 with Mr. Gorbachev as founding chairman.