Category Archives: BIOGRAPHY

What is the Heart of Reason? A Biography

William Pennell Rock, M.Litt (cantab.),  PhD  
        In 1959, I formally entered Yale with the matriculation ceremonies for the class of  ’63.  Among 1000 other classmates in attendance were David Gergen, future media pundit; L Paul Bremer, future Proconsul of Iraq; Lex Hixon, future Brahmin of all true faiths; and Dick Cheney, future fist of American imperialism.  In the matriculation address delivered by then President Griswold, I was astonished to hear that we were to be trained to become prophets…
Here we are, more than half a century later.

         Born in Chicago in 1940, I grew up in LaGrange, Illinois, Baltimore, Maryland, and, briefly, Little Rock, Arkansas: North, East and South.  Now, I live in California.
         On the East Coast, I became a professional child actor, but I lost interest in being the marionette of the real artists and gave into a growing passion to witness and understand this life we are in. 
         Exceptional good fortune blessed me with years in the world’s finest institutions of learning.  At Yale, in the early Sixties, I approached my passion for understanding in two directions.  The first was scientific: how to reduce human behavior and culture to systematic empirical inquiry.  While there was value in learning about the scientific method, it proved too slow, inelegant, and calculative for the intuitional focus on life that really attracted me.  The other direction was the history of European arts and letters, which informed a fervor for the story of ideas in the West.  My main focus however was the nature of transformation — psychological and spiritual evolution.
         During a year at Harvard Divinity School it became clear that my real interest was directing me towards philosophy and comparative religions.  In 1964 disenchanted with the boring Fifties reality of my youth, I left the country for seven years. I did not realize how many of my generation were similarly disenchanted, and, while I was gone, they drastically changed America.
         During these years, I enjoyed traveling and living in Europe, based as a graduate student at King’s College, Cambridge, studying philosophy, concentrating on the revolutionary thought of Martin Heidegger.  At the end of my stay there, I went to live in India for two years as Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in Philosophy at Banaras Hindu University.  There, under the tutelage of revered Indian scholars I embarked upon a project to retranslate the Upanishads.  On the ancient banks of the Ganges, I came to understand the basic concept of yoga: respect for our fundamentally embodied existence.  The body should be brought to its highest and purest condition in order to become a vehicle for comprehending the given verities of our being, the most worthy goal of life and the only truly satisfying one.
         Tiring of philosophy in an armchair, I resolved to find some appropriate application for it all.  I studied Jungian psychology for a year in Zurich before returning to America as a fellow at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions in Santa Barbara, where I developed a keen lifelong interest in how democracy actually works. 
         I have lived in California since 1971, though I have traveled and taught extensively in Europe and for long periods of time in India and Bali.  My work has been creating and teaching workshop programs of holistic instruction that focus on the real existential issues of life and promote maturity through the integral development of body, mind and heart.  Meanwhile, I have concentrated personally on yoga, adopting practices that develop optimal well-being as a means of coming to essential understanding.  In this, I have been assisted for 35 years primarily by the rigorous methodology of the Arica Institute under Oscar Ichazo, and, for ten years, with Osho Rajneesh.  For me, yoga and philosophy have merged, and the primary focus of my life has become systematic contemplation.
         Over a period of time my various interests have coalesced into one particular forum, called ORIGINS, which for 30 years has been my main occupational focus.  ORIGINS combines spirituality, healing and performing arts in an innovative method which rediscovers and explores the roots of performance as a means of generating spiritual and psychological health. 
         The basis of this work is the way the human psyche evolves and transforms, the patterns of which are to be found in systems of archetypes of transformation.  The first of these is the Hero’s Journey, originally put forth by Joseph Campbell, which I have come to understand as the archetype of all psychological change.  Over the years I recognized a second system that I call the Romance Archetype, which is at once the basic form of all stories of lovers separated and reunited and the formula for the evolution of all beings – the human psyche included — through the balance of its masculine and feminine (active and receptive) aspects.  Each of the ORIGINS Trainings is based on one of these two archetypal systems, implemented through Jungian and gestalt therapeutic techniques, psychodrama, ritual and ceremony.  ORIGINS performance art is based on ancient trance performing and may take the form of theater, opera or dance.  Productions and workshops have been presented throughout the world.
         Now, in my sixties, I find myself turning back to my most fundamental interest, which is the love of wisdom.  I was richly trained in philosophy in my twenties, but one has little life experience at that age.  I have come to see that human reason has become misguided in our spiritless world. Cultivated originally as a kind of devotional loyalty of mind, reason has become identified with mere calculation.  The great thinkers of true culture have always known that reason was first and foremost contemplati
on of the givens of existence, the logic emanating from the Light of illumination.

         My extensive intellectual and spiritual training, tempered and inspired by years of working therapeutically with individuals and groups — and of course life itself, has positioned me in the tradition of looking into the Light of illumination to contemplate life and its essential truths.
         This Light is the heart of reason.