The need for EIAL, and other projects like it, arises within the context of early 21st century education, which in most of its institutional forms has become increasingly utilitarian and oriented toward training for occupations in the industries of production and consumption. The "liberal arts" of the past are increasingly under threat, which means that students at all levels receive less support for learning that educates about the nature of the self. In this sense, opportunities for those who are not peformance orientated to use music, dance, literature and the arts to find themselves decrease and are increasingly labeled irrelevant to the post-modern educational enterprise. These trends toward production, performance and "end-gaining" have created a spiritual vacuum in Western culture.
In this light, EIAL offers education and sponsorship for learning opportunities in applied spirituality, that is, the application of spiritual practice and experience to everyday life: peace studies, ecology and psychology. We distinguish “spirituality,” which has to do with human experiences, from “religion,” which has to do with organizational belief and structure. We believe that spritualilty and holistic education are best conducted in a context that includes:
- Soma and Psyche: the human relationship to being embodied: breath, flesh, perception of movement, sensation, emotion, intuition, vision and dream.
- Ecos: the human relationship to its home communities, which include both nature and culture, as well as the influence that each can have on the other.
- Art and Creativity: the human relationship to creativity,which emulates that of the cosmos itself, and leads to a natural sense of ecological, social and moral responsibility, revealing the purpose in life of each human being.
- Devotion: the human relationship to relationship itself: the recognition that “I” am not alone, “you” are not alone; that “I” and “you” are, as the Sufi poet Shabistari wrote, only “delicate holes cut in a lampshade” revealing the light of intelligence itself. A religionist might call this “God” (or “Goddess”); an atheist might call it “the eternally evolving nature of matter.” These names are themselves only more holes in the lampshade.
- Action: Real reseach is action research: learning as one goes along and taking responsibility for the social and political impact of one's study and experience.
We also support research and publish articles and books on the nature of being fully human. This can include research that is not included in standard academic spheres due to its interdisciplinary nature, and which lies at the meeting-places between spirituality, religious and biblical studies, hermeneutics, psychology, ecology and somatics.
We collaborate with like-minded researchers of all and no faith traditions, who are willing to explore freely in these areas.
We are available to consult with organizations involved in therapy, counseling, chaplaincy, applied spirituality and patient support, and can provide referral to individual counselors from many different faith traditions, or who do not identify themselves with any particular religious organization.