Center for Theory & Research

Volume V: Corps of Discovery

Introduction: Corps of Discovery

Jay Ogilvy

September 2015

This issue of the CTR Journal is devoted to one of the longest running series of meetings ever sponsored by Esalen’s Center for Theory & Research. Originally known by the acronym, Sursem, standing for Seminars on the Survival of Bodily Death, and later re-envisioned as the Corps of Discovery, these meetings extended over 15 years, brought together over 50 researchers, and resulted in two popular volumes written and edited by Ed Kelly (and others) who is the author of most of this eZine. Esalen cofounder, Michael Murphy, and Vice Chairman of Esalen’s board of trustees, Jeff Kripal, provide two short introductions.

Jay Ogilvy

Introduction by Michael Murphy

Since its inception, Esalen has sponsored research in fields that mainstream scientific and religious institutions typically neglect (or avoid entirely). This eZine describes one such inquiry, into the ever-increasing evidence for life after death. I am hugely proud of this work, both for the light it brings to the subject and for the way it does this.

Exploration of the evidence for post-mortem survival and its scientific and metaphysical implications requires methods and discoveries from many fields, among them physics, philosophy, neuroscience, depth psychology, cultural anthropology, the history of science, sociology of knowledge, comparative religious studies, and the systematic collection of shamanic and contemplative lore provided by scholarly research as well as by living spiritual teachers.

The fellowship described in Ed Kelly’s essay has embraced these various fields during its inquiries, examining an immense range of empirical disclosures from various points of view and theoretical perspectives. As much as anything our Institute has ever sponsored, their work, I believe, will contribute significantly to our understanding of human nature’s destiny and further reaches.

Introduction by Jeff Kripal

Materialism is killing us. And I do not mean shopping. I mean the largely unquestioned, largely unconscious, but all influencing worldview of western civilization that fetishizes measurement at the expense of meaning, objects at the expense of subjects, and more and more data at the expense of wisdom and soul.

Consciousness has become nothing more than the ephemeral output from some assumed, but never established, biological computer, and a very recent, very fragile materialist interpretation of science has been confused with science itself.

Not everyone has been lured into such a spiritual sleep and confusion, however. Ed Kelly and his colleagues in the Sursem collective are among those still trying to awaken us. They have labored for a decade and a half exploring the histories, philosophical nuances, and potentials of a new science of “irreducible mind.”

Their work shines as some of the brightest jewels in the work of the Center for Theory & Research, which continues on many fronts — from religious tolerance in the Middle East to economic inequality and political polarization in the U.S. — to address some of the most pressing issues of today’s world.

Read on and see for yourself!