Notes on the Prehistory of the Human Potential Movement

The Vedanta Society and Gerald Heard's Trabuco College

by Timothy Miller, Ph.D.

Trabuco campus has been a center for spiritual life and growth for over 60 years. It is the site of an ongoing monastery. Several books and other pieces of literature were written there. Many persons earnestly seeking meaning were exposed to the wisdom and erudition of Gerald Heard and Aldous Huxley at Trabuco.

From its beginning in 1962 the Esalen Institute has been known as, among other things, a meeting ground between East and West — “something of a center-point for the translation of Asian religions into American culture,” as Jeffrey Kripal has put it. Some of the foundations for that reputation are fairly well known to those with at least a cursory familiarity with Esalen’s history and programs. That Esalen co-founders Michael Murphy and Richard Price were influenced — one might say inspired — by Frederic Spiegelberg at Stanford University; that they became involved with the nascent American Academy of Asian Studies, where they came into contact with other Asianists, including Alan Watts....

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Introduction to Heard's "Memoir of Glyn Philpot"

by Professor J. G. P. Delaney, Ph.D.

Philpot’s intuitive love of metaphor made him prefer the rather objective, narrative and personal drama of Christianity, while Heard’s more transcendent and psychological approach eventually found its home in Indian mysticism.

This hitherto unknown and unpublished memoir of the English artist Glyn Philpot (1884-1937) by the philosopher and mystic Gerald Heard (1889-1971) gives a vivid and eloquent description of both the man and the artist. Philpot’s tact, his personal charm and his engaging conversation are depicted as well as his great gifts as an artist, his manual dexterity and his concern with both meaning and with surface quality in painting. However, it was Philpot’s personality, which according to Heard was greater than the artist, that made him one of the most remarkable people that Heard had ever known. His account gives us a sensitive and well-rounded view of Philpot’s character.

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Memoir of Glyn Philpot (c. 1945)

by Gerald Heard

He used to ask, "Why don’t you become a Catholic?" and we would then enter on those discussions which resemble, one always imagines, the kind of exchanges that would take place between a fish and a bird if they agreed to discuss the advantages and necessities of their respective positions in the world of life.

It is now just thirty years since I first met him and it is a decade since I last saw him. Since then one has met a number of people who are considered famous and certainly are remarkable, but I am not sure that any of them have given me quite the sense of uniqueness that Glyn did. I had just come to live in London and of course had heard about him, for he was what one might call the young hope of the old side - there had suddenly appeared a young man of brilliant powers who nevertheless was a traditionalist from the start and not a revolutionary. That made him a figure of controversy at once, and of course his great power as a striking portraitist gave him another public beside the intellectuals. 

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O'Keeffe's Arboreal Portraits of D. H. Lawrence and Gerald Heard

by Brenda Mitchell, Ph.D.

O'Keeffe found Heard's footprints around the tree where he had been dancing, as well as a cryptic inscription he had etched into the earth at the base of the tree.

Two largely ignored paintings from Georgia O'Keeffe's oeuvre, D. H. Lawrence Pine Tree and Gerald's Tree I, bring up several important issues concerning O'Keeffe's disguised portraits and her close relationships with literary figures. In both paintings O'Keeffe has portrayed male writers (men of culture) as trees, an apparent paradox from a woman linked to the world of nature by her contemporaries and even by the artist herself. O'Keeffe once wrote: "I feel like a little plant that he [husband Alfred Stieglitz] has watered and weeded and dug around — and he seems to have been able to grow himself — without anyone watering or weeding or digging around him." She later distanced herself from the world of culture, especially literature, declaring to painters Arthur Dove and Helen Torr, "I am quite illiterate." Yet she lived at the center of American avant-garde art production, and included in her library were major works of philosophy and literature, as well as art theory by, among others, Clive Bell and Wassily Kandinsly (in whose Concerning the Spiritual in Art O'Keeffe would have encountered Theosophy). The apparent paradox begins to disappear when we recognize that her subjects in these paintings, British novelist D. H. Lawrence and Irish writer Gerald Heard themselves experienced ambivalence toward the world of culture, and that O'Keeffe's symbolic portrayals placed her squarely in the mainstream of American Modernism.

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Gerald Heard's Legacy to Psychical Research

by Rhea A. White, Hon. Ph.D.

Heard wrote that parapsychology was at the 'growing edge of human thought... the most advanced outpost in the exploration of human nature and of the universe.

A biographical sketch of Heard is given, followed by a discussion of the following ideas espoused by Heard: (1) Human consciousness is evolving. (2) Both science and religion have important roles to play in forwarding the evolution of consciousness. (3) Science is as much a creation as is art. (4) Every insight into the outer world must be balanced by a corresponding increase in knowledge of the inner world. (5) Science is not static but is also evolving. (6) What we see, the data confronting us, depends upon our powers of conception and imagination. (7) The universe is set up to favor those who attempt to grow and evolve. (8) To evolve we must consciously cooperate with the process. In order to do so we must alter the aperture of consciousness. Contemplative prayer is the best way to accomplish this. The author emphasizes that only by taking these steps can parapsychology advance significantly.

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The Philosophy of Gerald Heard

Highlights of His Writings 1924-1958

by Rev. Edmund A. Opitz

Mr. Heard’s religious philosophy thus grows naturally out of his scientific and historical researches... Man’s unique history, and indeed his very structure, orient him Godward.

During the past 34 years, Gerald Heard has averaged a book a year. There are 34 books to his credit in the fields of history, anthropology, philosophy, religion, and literature; including six novels, an allegory, and two collections of short stories. His mind has ranged through all branches of ancient and modern knowledge, including the sciences. He is at home in the religions and philosophies of both West and East. In his books he has integrated this vast accumulation of knowledge and brought it to bear upon the persistent personal and social problems of man in the modern world.

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