Frequently asked questions

How did the Center start?

The Center was founded in 1987 in Eugene, Oregon. During the early years, a small group of one or two dozen practitioners met in a private home. Our community of practitioners has organically grown over the years. Our current membership includes a core group of about fifty committed spiritual practitioners, including several teachers.

What do you call your view?

We do not adhere to any one religious or spiritual tradition or lineage, but honor and draw from the classical teachings of the mystics and contemplatives of the major religious traditions. These teachings are sometimes called the "mystical traditions" or "nondual wisdom traditions." Our goal is to present these teachings in a generic form that is appropriate for our modern, scientific culture.

What is Gnosis?

Every mystical tradition has a word that points to the realization of the ultimate nondual truth or reality. We use the word Gnosis as a generic term to refer to this realization. Although it is ineffable, Gnosis can be described as the nonconceptual recognition of the truth of selflessness, i.e., that there is ultimately no self-existent subject or object.

How should I start learning about the Center?

A good place to start is to read about the Center teachings, teachers and practices, the two essays on traditional and modern worldviews, and various articles and newsletters. You can also listen to and watch several talks online. Many more materials, including Joel's latest book, The Way of Selflessness, are available through our library and store.

How can I get involved?

First, become familiar with some of the content of this website. If you live in the Eugene area, you are welcome to attend our Sunday public talks. Second, if you would like to deepen your practice and familiarity with the main spiritual traditions, you can take our distance study course. If you live in the Eugene area, you can take our foundation studies course that meets once a week for a year, starting each fall. Finally, after completing either course, you can join the practitioners group and attend Center retreats.

Does the Center charge for teachings?

There are no financial barriers to teachings at the Center, and the teachers at the Center do not receive any financial compensation from the Center. However, because the Center has on-going expenses, any donations are gratefully appreciated. Members of the practitioners group are asked to make a monthly pledge. Each member is free to pledge whatever amount they can afford, and the amount of each member's pledge is kept strictly confidential.

Can I be a member of the Center and still practice with another group?

Yes, absolutely. Every group and tradition will have its own unique style and approach, and seekers may find some approaches better suited for them than others. So we encourage our members to explore and participate in other religious practices or teachings. The Center is a welcoming and inclusive community.