Interview with Graduate Claudia Turnbull
Claudia: I had found myself at the point in life when it was time to take a deeper look at my belief systems and practices. I knew what I wanted to study but needed an academic setting and direction to plug into. It was time to put my questions and passions on the table and look at what was meaningful from new perspectives.
With the help of faculty I was able to explore the first person approach to the study of consciousness while creating a spiritual memoir. In doing so I found the relevance of my eastern meditative practice to the study of consciousness. I was able to evaluate the import of traditional practices from India in relation to personal life experiences and put them into a historical and cultural context. While drafting my memoir I began to recognize my life as the product of the historical downdraft of merging cultures, the merging of which has been central to the philosophies I live by.
In my first semester I quickly found that the faculty resources, particularly in regard to recommended reading, spoke precisely to what enriches my thoughts. I was connected to what other academicians could contribute to the Vedic approach to Consciousness Studies through the study of language, philology, physics and religion. In later semesters I was able to refine that study while learning to express these fields through my own story.
One of the highlights of my studies developed as I became increasingly fascinated with the spiritual journeys of others and worked with faculty on the art of interview. I conducted and published a lengthy interview with Rampuri on his life as perhaps the first Western man to be initiated into the ascetic Hindu order of Naga Babas.
Goddard is for those who desire to have their intellectual passion kindled and horizons broadened. It may involve work you find so challenging that your hair stands on end, but that somehow leads to more then one "ah-ha" moment. It can be transforming, demands openness and in the end can be an immensely rewarding investigation.
From Claudia's thesis, A Spiritual Memoir:
In writing down what I am and what I have lived, I look at myself in a somewhat more objective fashion. I am sometimes pleased with my portrait and sometimes concerned with the picture. At those times I wordsmith, looking for the right way to see what happened, what I have been, what I am. Here my memoir is not a cross-cultural study, or an inter-religious dialogue, but a getting my life right. If you don't ever stop to consider yourself carefully, then perhaps you get what you might expect from such carelessness.
When is it time to stop and ask how far we have come? Before it's too late and the forgetting begins, I find myself in need of a great pause where stillness is found. In the pause I take stock of the valid and the invalid that has been so all consuming through the duration of the decades. Author Annie Dillard has commented, "If you value your memory, don't write a memoir." I beg to differ. In the writing there is a validation of the past and how it has contributed to the present.
Will we ever know how the time is best spent and what contemplations contribute to a greater understanding of our significance? I suppose we won't know if we don't ever give credence to the questions. If we are just a little lucky perhaps some answers will come and a few of the great mysteries can ignite the fire of wisdom to carry us through old age. In the silence of reflection perhaps there can be an elucidation of our personal significance and the events of life in the order of the cosmos.
I find that in the stillness there may be discovery that stems from memory. I could have run right past what becomes unearthed in the constant frenetic energy that consumes the hours and days. Now is the time to stop, gather what is significant, and sort through the scenes that craft the mysteries of life.