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Fri08292014

Last updateWed, 27 Aug 2014 10am

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In January 2013, Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock spoke at a TEDx event in the London area.

Both of these speakers are familiar with controversy, thanks to their criticisms of modern science and their outside-of-the-mainstream ideas about consciousness. However, these talks would catapult them into a whole new level of controversy: Their lectures—Sheldrake’s was titled “The Science Delusion,” and Hancock’s was called “The War on Consciousness”—were later removed from the main TED website, due to the speakers’ “questionable suggestions and arguments.”

This angered a lot of the speakers’ fans, including Gary Bobroff.

“They’re challenging assumptions in the scientific world that have no merit,” said Bobroff, a Jungian psychotherapist, about Sheldrake and Hancock.

He was so angered by what he perceived as censorship that he organized Synchronicity: Matter and Psyche Symposium, a conference that will take place at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center from Friday, Sept. 12, through Sunday, Sept. 14. The keynote speakers will be none other than Sheldrake and Hancock.

“When people are starting to get banned like that, it shows that the time is right for us to be learning these kinds of things,” Bobroff said.

What are “these kinds of things”? A publicity item for the conference declares: “Ours is the era of the conscious realization of the unity of psyche and matter. Today we are embodying consciousness with ever-greater awareness, subtlety and joy. With the reunion of earth and spirit in ourselves comes the end of the illusion of our distance from the world around us. On the growing edge of our cultural awareness lies the discovery that the split between body and spirit is only ever resolved through the heart.”

I asked Bobroff to clarify. He explained that events and our “inner state” often intersect in a meaningful way.

“We’re coming to understand that the world is patterned with meaning in a way that is available to us,” he said, adding that these patterns can be objectively recognized.

A lot of what Bobroff was talking about went over my head, I’ll admit. After watching the censored TEDx talks, however, I understand things a bit better—and I am certainly skeptical about some of the things they’re saying. Still, Bobroff has a point when he mentions that so often in our lives, things seem to happen for a reason, and that things are often surprisingly interconnected.

I asked Bobroff if he picked Joshua Tree as the spot for the conference for any specific reason.

“It’s a place that has that kind of spiritual bent to it,” he said, adding that the Joshua Tree Retreat Center itself is a perfect venue for a conference of this nature.

Bobroff said that Sheldrake and Hancock aren’t the only speakers who will captivate attendees (although this is the first time since that now-infamous TEDx talk that they’ll appear at the same event, he added); for example, University of Virginia School of Medicine professor Jim Tucker will talk about his research on children who claim to remember past lives.

“I honestly think that most people who attend will come out on another level,” Bobroff said.

Synchronicity: Matter and Psyche Symposium takes place Friday, Sept. 12, through Sunday, Sept. 14, at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center, 59700 Twentynine Palms Highway, in Joshua Tree. Advance registration is $327. For more information, visit www.matterpsyche.net.

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