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What Matters?Ethnographies of Value in a Not So Secular Age$
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Courtney Bender and Ann Taves

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231156851

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231156851.001.0001

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Mind Matters

Mind Matters

Esalen’s Sursem Group and the Ethnography of Consciousness

(p.215) Mind Matters
What Matters?

Jeffrey J. Kripal

Columbia University Press

This chapter narrates a peculiar event that happened to a group of intellectuals—neuroscientists, psychologists and historians—who were meeting at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California for breakfast. One of the members of the group, Bruce Greyson, the founding editor of the Journal of Near-Death Studies, was eating cereal from a bowl, which he finished and pushed into the center of the table. After some time, Greyson noticed that his concave spoon became half-convex, hanging like a tongue in the bowl. Each member of the group had varying opinions regarding the event. Psychotherapist Adam Crabtree said that a certain kind of group inner dynamic might have triggered the bending of the spoon. Neuroscientist Edward Kelly pointed the peculiarity of event to the “uncertainties of ‘field’ observations.” Meanwhile, Psychologist Charles Tart stated that the event was “a wonderful mischievous or trickster quality” of the paranormal.

Keywords:   Esalen Institute, Bruce Greyson, Adam Crabtree, Edward Kelly, Charles Tart

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