Dr. James Ulness of Fargo, N.D., will lead a four-hour workshop — “Understanding your Karma, Freedom and Destiny” — from 2-6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4, in a special presentation of the Theosophical Society at Spirit United Interfaith Church, 3204 Como Ave. SE, Minneapolis.
This interactive workshop is part of the Minneapolis Theosophical Society’s series on ancient mysteries and ancient wisdom. Harpist Bettie Seitzer will provide special music.
Dr. Ulness is professor emeritus in psychology at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn. He is a popular visiting lecturer in the Twin Cities. The concept for this special four-hour weekend workshop arose during a June lecture in Minneapolis where many of his former students urged him to organize a more in-depth discussion of karma as viewed by various mystery schools and esoteric studies. This workshop will go beyond the scope of his June lecture in exploring the various types of karma and the role of individual freedom and destiny with regard to karma.
“We have reached the point in the evolution of consciousness,” Ulness said, “where it becomes imperative that we understand karma and its role in our lives.
“To know the laws and conditions of human destiny will further our development from fatalism to freedom,” he said. “For many hundreds of years, the concepts of karma and reincarnation were suppressed by the powers that be; and this was so successfully done that these concepts were almost completely removed from Western humanity’s consciousness.
“Now is the time to recover these concepts and make them a living part of our thinking.”
Dr. Ulness has integrated the best of mainstream psychology with Eastern and Western spirituality, the humanistic psychology of Maslow and Rogers, the depth psychology of Carl Jung, the transpersonal psychology of Michael Washburn and Ken Wilber, Deci’s psychology of self-determination, and the methodology of Assogioli’s psychosynthesis, with the insight of Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual science.
Spirit United Interfaith Church is located just west of Highway 280 on Como Avenue, next to the Metro bus garage. Free parking is east of the church. Free refreshments will be available.
Registrations may be made in advance or at the door on the day of the workshop. The cost is $30 for adults. $45 for couples or families, and $25 for students, seniors or Theosophical members. Advance registrations can be mailed to: Minneapolis Theosophical Society, Attn: V. Braschler, 1034 Dayton Ave., St. Paul, MN 55104, to be received no later than Friday, Oct. 4.
Ancient Mysteries, Ancient Wisdom is the Minneapolis chapter of the international Theosophical Society, which studies philosophy, science and spirituality while allowing complete freedom of interpretation for all individuals. The Minneapolis chapter is one of the oldest branches in the world, personally chartered by Theosophical Society founders Helena Blavatsky and Henry Olcott in 1887.
The group sponsors an open public meeting with speakers at Spirit United Church on the second and fourth Monday nights each month, beginning at 7 p.m. For more information, call 651.235.6645 or go to www.theosophical.org.
Q & A WITH DR. ULNESS
How do Eastern and Western religions differ with regard to what they have taught people about karma — and what are the consequences of that in the world today?
Dr. James Ulness: The concept of karma in Eastern religions and philosophy have worked their way into Western culture over the past hundred years and more. However, Western religions have been very resistant to the idea. This should not have been so because the concept of karma was part of Christian teaching since the days of St. Paul. The New Testament states very clearly that “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” This is karma. The word “karma,” however, was never used in the churches and most Christians didn’t grasp the connection.
Many people today say they are “spiritual, but not religious.” These individuals use the concept of karma, and even use the word. They see no contradiction between karma and Christ consciousness. Among those calling themselves “spiritual,” they apply varying meanings to the word “karma,” and these meanings are usually found to be quite superficial and not thought through.
The consequence of lacking a clear understanding of karma is that Western humanity has been slow to develop self-determination.
What are the greatest misconceptions Westerners have with regard to karma?
JU: There are four prominent misconceptions:
- Westerners tend to equate karma with fate. Fatalism should have become obsolete several centuries ago, but it still finds its way into Western thought and language, especially among New Agers.
- Many Westerners tend to think of karma only in the negative sense. If something “bad” happens out of the blue, it is karma, but if something “good” happens people tend to attribute it to themselves.
- Many Westerners believe that notions of karma and reincarnation are incompatible with Christianity. Up until recently, Christians sent missionaries to those people and places where such concepts are used.
- Westerners who do use the concepts of reincarnation and karma believe that their present personality returns in their next lifetime.
What have mystery schools and esoteric studies revealed about karma in the past 100 years?
JU: Much knowledge regarding karma has been gained through the spiritual scientific research of Rudolf Steiner. Read more from Steiner: his Karmic Relationships, volumes 1- 8; The Karma of Materialism; and The Karma of Untruthfulness, volumes 1-2.
What do the top minds in current psychology say today about karma and how it works in our lives?
JU: If we mean by “top minds in current psychology” those considered to be the top psychologists at our best colleges and universities, then the answer is that they say little or nothing at all about karma. It is a concept that is not taken seriously. If you find it at all, it would be in counseling programs where they are more open.
Why is it imperative that we understand the role of karma in our lives now?
JU: We are evolving ever more towards freedom, which means that change in our lives is being shaped more and more by the choices we make. And this is influenced strongly by our attitude towards karma. Consequently, it is imperative that we have greater knowledge of how karma works — knowing that there is “good” karma, as well as “bad” karma (although all karma is potentially edifying), and that we can play a conscious role in creating good karma. By being nicer, kinder and wiser, we can make this world a better place, if we have the will to do so.
In our workshop on October 4, we will explore the concepts of karma and reincarnation from an esoteric point of view and how this relates to freedom and destiny.