With CHARLES TART, Ph.D.
JEFFREY MISHLOVE, Ph.D.: Good evening. Tonight our topic is altered states of consciousness and transpersonal psychology, and my guest, Dr. Charles Tart, is the author of numerous books, including Altered States of Consciousness and Transpersonal Psychologies, both classics, as well as many other books, such as On Being Stoned, and Psi: Studies of the Scientific Realm. Dr. Tart's newest book is called Waking Up, and is an integration of the mystical writings of the early twentieth-century writer G.I. Gurdjieff with modern psychological principles. Welcome, Charlie.
CHARLES TART, Ph.D.: Good evening, Jeffrey. I'm happy to be here.
MISHLOVE: It's a pleasure to have you here. I think for the benefit of many of our listeners it would be a good idea to talk a little bit about who this person Gurdjieff was, and why you, an academic psychologist, would be interested in his writings.
TART: Why am I hanging out with a rogue like Gurdjieff?
TART: Many people think he was a rogue. He was not your picture of a traditional mystic. He liked to make people angry. He liked wine, women, and song. He did not teach the usual kind of holy, everyone sit and look serious kind of thing. He was a very alive sort of person. But I think he was one of the first people in our century to really bring back some of the profound psychological ideas of Eastern psychology and try to put them in a form that Westerners could make some sense of. So for example, we're very much schooled in scientific method and machinery as the epitome of science, so he talked about man being a machine, and compared the automated, mechanical aspects of our habits to the functioning of a machine, in order to try to get people to wake up.
MISHLOVE: Now, he died over thirty years ago.
TART: Oh yes, yes, in the late 1940s.
MISHLOVE: And yet he seems to have exerted a strong influence on many prominent people of his own day.
TART: I've personally found the psychology inherent in his teaching a great integrating set of ideas all through my own work on altered states of consciousness. He had a broad framework that made sense out of so many different manifestations of mind.
MISHLOVE: You know, the book of Gurdjieff's that sticks in my mind, and probably many of our viewers would have seen it, is Tales of Beelzebub, and it's almost unreadable.
TART: It was intended to
be. That is a fascinating book that has driven many people mad. Gurdjieff
wrote it testing the theory that people don't appreciate an idea unless
they work hard to get it.