It is an honor for c3 to support the work of the legendary philosopher Pierre Grimes.
1) Alan Watts has called you a “true Jnana Yogi.” Could you explain to us what that tradition is, and its significance to the modern spiritual seeker?
The furthermost reach of the mind brings Man to discover the meaning of existence and the source of that existence. There are different spiritual practices and forms of yoga designed to achieve that goal and Jnana Yoga is the way of wisdom. The classical philosophers of the Hellenics, from Xenophanes through Plato, Plotinus to Damascius, called this Jnana Yoga the elements of theology. Their counterpart in Tibetan Buddhism is the yoga or method of realizing Nirvana through knowing the mind, which can be found in the four-volume work on Tibetan Buddhism edited by Evan-Wentz, and other Tibetan Buddhist works.
Our Jnana Yoga looks into the wisdom traditions’ most profound teachings for insights into the way the mind can come to know the mind, along with identifying and removing the blocks to achieving that noblest of goals, knowing thy Self and discovering its source. Contemporary seekers are not aware of the richness of this way of wisdom and so resort to a variety of spiritual disciplines and secondary devices to achieve enlightenment.
2) How did you come to found the Opening Mind Academy?
Opening Mind Academy began after Chong-An S’nim of the Korean Chogye Ch’an Sect observed my practice of philosophical midwifery over a period of time, and challenged me to give talks at his temple on his translation of the Diamond Sutra in order to demonstrate to myself that I was a true teacher. From this exchange, I and Chong-An S’nim created the Opening Mind Academy as a higher unity implicit in each of our spiritual traditions.
Each of the profound traditions of Ch’an Buddhism and Platonism is aware of the significance of both understanding and experiencing the inner mind to perceive the nature of what has been called enlightenment. Thus, the goal of the OMA is to integrate the rational understanding with the contemplative tradition and to open the mind to the truth which from the beginning has been innately available to us.
3) You are an expert in classical Hellenic spiritual philosophical tradition. Do you agree with other scholars that much of the philosophy of Jesus in the New Testament is based in Hellenic and Platonic philosophy?
The task Plato sets for the reader of his Republic is to become the philosopher-king, not of a political realm, but of the realm of one’s own soul. Its achievement depends upon gaining experience and knowledge of the “most Brilliant Light of Being”, which is also called Beauty itself, the Idea of the Good, and Reality or Truth. However, such enlightenment does not bring with it a heightened sense of ethics, so Platonists urge the cultivation of a higher sense of human excellence that must be borne from that experience, otherwise folly is likely to continue. From this stage of enlightenment it is possible to be open to the Good itself, or the One.
The repeated themes throughout Plato and other Hellenic philosophers are: to Know Thyself, to encounter divine luminosity, to reach for the Good, or the One itself, while developing a natural integrity for all life.
A study of the Nag Hammadhi library’s 52 texts shows (1) a mystical philosophical movement of an early understanding of the ministry of Jesus, (2) a primary focus upon the quest for understanding of a higher spiritual knowledge, or gnosis, of that divine luminosity or light, (3) the encounter with the mind itself, and (4) in knowing the self to maintain an ethical ideal. Clearly, these are the same major themes found in the Platonic tradition.
Among the 52 texts there are 4 principle works where these themes are clearly in evidence – the Books of James, of Thomas, of John, and the Gospel of Thomas. Among these four the Book of John is most akin to the Platonic mode of communicating – dialogue and presenting Platonic ideals.
My dialogues include: Socrates and Jesus, Theology, and The Self and The Soul. These works are currently being edited for publication.
4) Your upcoming workshop, “Transformative Wisdom”, takes place in Costa Mesa on two weekends – one in June and one in July. Is it recommended to attend both weekends?
Yes, it is recommended that those attending plan to attend both weekends.
5) What are your perspectives on the Arts and Media as tools for evolving human consciousness?
The challenge of the arts and media is to leave aside its dedication to entertainment and to dramatize the most vital and pressing human problems that challenge human survival. Consider the nature of classical tragedy presenting the struggle to justify the claim that women have mind and can function through mindfulness to achieve their natural goals while preserving their dignity and self worth. (Note: Aeschylus’ Suppliant Maidens).
Again, consider Homer’s Iliad, where it is possible to understand how one can see into the nature of one’s problems and so move from being an utterly contemptible fool to an ideal hero. Here an artful presentation would show the struggles one must pass through from being an utter fool and ignorant of the self to one fully enlightened. In serving such a purpose the arts would become teachers of mankind. (Note: my paper given at the University of Athens: Philosophical Midwifery as Philosophical Practice and the Struggle for Excellence in Homer).
Pierre Grimes, Ph.D. has developed, to perhaps the highest level in human history, the use of the Socratic dialectic for understanding human problems and thereby attaining excellence. His works include:
Philosophical Midwifery: A New Paradigm for Understanding Human Problems
The Way of the Logos (2 volumes)
A Pocket Pierre Workbook: Unblocking – Removing Blocks to Understanding
Five Philosophical Dialogues
Dr. Grimes is leading a two-part workshop in Costa Mesa – click on the flyer below for the details:
Nijole Sparkis is a spiritual counselor, writing and speaking on expanding Inner Power through mindfulness and conscious awareness practices. Her website is http://nijolesparkis.com