Jean Houston: Looking at the Bright Side of Darkness
Interviewed by Chiwah Slater
Dr. Jean Houston is an international leader in the Human Potential movement, is a renowned scholar, philosopher, researcher, and cultural visionary.
She is an influencer with an uncanny ability to bring it all together—history, quantum science, spirituality, human development, and more. An inspirational and humorous keynote speaker, Jean is also a prolific author with over 30 books to her credit.
A few of her book titles: A Passion for the Possible; The Possible Human; Jump Time; Public Like a Frog. She has two new books that came out last year: The Wizard of Us: Transformational Lessons from Oz (don’t you love that title?) and a book she co-authored with Donna Eden and David Feinstein, The Energies of Love: Invisible Keys to a Fulfilling Partnership.
Jean will be holding two events in San Diego this month. See below for details.
TLC: Jean, would you care to bring our readers up to date as to what you’re most passionate about?
JH: What I am passionate about is finding ways in which we can—I’ll give you a strange word—speciate, ways in which we can begin to move to the next level of our human development. This is especially vital in the light of today’s many, many social challenges. As our dear old friend Einstein said, we cannot hope to solve any problem using the old mind that invented it. The reason I’ve worked in 109 countries through the United Nations and other international agencies is that a lot of my particular passion is to help people everywhere begin to acquire the capacity to become stewards of this incredible time in human history. Other times in history may have thought they were it, but they were wrong. This is it.
TLC: That is a huge undertaking! And since you’re coming to San Diego this month to do an introductory evening and then a weekend workshop, I wonder if you could give our readers a tiny taste of what they’re going to experience and what you want them to take away from it?
JH: Yes. If I were to give you a tiny taste of it, it would have to be: What is it that we have within us that we’re not really using? For example, on the simplest level, it would be the power of imagery and imagination. I once made a study of 55 of the most sustainably creative people in North America. These were brilliant people who worked with me—Margaret Mead, Joseph Campbell, Jonas Salk, Buckminster Fuller—you get the idea.
TLC: Oh yes. Major thought leaders all.
JH: What I found was that in each case they were essentially archaeologists of their own mind, spelunkers in the cave of their own creativity. They were able to dig down into their own minds and allow their internal imagery to drop in ideas. And what happened? The creative unconscious would respond by accumulating not only ideas, but inventions, breakthroughs.
I’ve found that I am able to teach people how to do that, how to use different domains and dimensions of their own body-mind system. You know, I am infinite. I don’t age. I just had my 80th birthday, but when they study me I’m 43 years old!
TLC: You look 43! I was struck by that thought.
JH: I know. I don’t age. People say, “How come?” And I say, “Well, I’m half Sicilian, you know, that’s 4,000 years of olive oil!” But actually, it is thanks to some of the principles I use. I may address that over the weekend—how to begin to move into lifelong rejuvenation.
TLC: That’s something we’ll all be looking forward to learning more about! And I know that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Right?
JH: Yes. Then of course there’s the whole question of the immense fields of creativity we each have within us. We need to learn to tap into this creativity. One way to do it is by realizing that we are not encapsulated bags of skin dragging around really little egos, but rather that we have many, many different personalities, many personas, within us. For example, I have written probably 35 books. [chuckle] The way I put myself to sleep is not by counting sheep, but by counting the books I’ve written and trying to recall their titles.
The truth is, I really do not like to write. Yet I have created this enormous output. How did I do it? By calling on my other personas. There are some things I do really well in this world. I can talk to any dog, and I’m a very good cook. The reason I’m such a good cook is that my mother, who was born in Syracusa, Sicily, married Jack Houston of Texas. And they could not abide each other’s food. My father loathed the look and scent of garlic. So, to try to keep them together, I became the world’s first fusion cook. I merged Texas and Sicily, making chicken-fried polenta.
When I cook, you see, I bring up another personality. The cook. My cook has absolutely no blocks at all! But my writer has every kind of block you can imagine. So when I write, I re-conceptualize myself as a cook. I stir in a mélange of new ideas, add the seasonings of different kinds of associations. And before you know it, I’m writing away.
We tend to get stuck in our ego-dominated culture. But the fact is, ego is just one image out of the multiple images of the human psyche. So one of the things we can do is to expand our personality accesses. Then we find we have so much more available to us—we suddenly have different skills, new skills. We have a power to do, an urge to create, that we didn’t have before.
TLC: What a creative answer to writer’s block! Any kind of limitation we’ve accepted. So it’s just a matter of tapping into the parts of ourselves where we do feel empowered, and creating from there? And all the limitations dissolve. Fascinating.
JH: Yes. And then of course, one of the major things I teach is that we don’t just live in the universe. It’s really the other way around. The universe truly lives in us, and we have access to this universal mind. As we begin to access it, it begins to come forward with all manner of potentials, alternatives, creative ways of doing and being, new ways of sensing.
From quantum mechanics, we’ve learned that the past, present and future are all actually simultaneous. People need to learn that they can take some incident of the past—not a major trauma, but a minor incident—and shift it in such a way that they relive it in an alternate universe, if you will. We can shift it in such a way that what may have been a negative experience is re-remembered as a positive experience.
This is such a powerful exercise.
Is it overriding your brain-mind-memory system? Yes, obviously, it is that. But it may be something more, because the universe is working with us in interdependent co-arising, as the Buddhists say. They seem to be inscribed in the mind of the universe, these alternate forms.
There are so many things we can do once we realize that the entire universe lives in us.
Those are just a few of the concepts we’ll be working with.
TLC: This is shaping up to be an incredibly empowering weekend.
JH: Very kind of you to say that.
TLC: We’ve been talking self-empowerment forever; it’s time to really begin living it, living from more of who we really are. In this difficult world we live in, where reality is increasingly stranger than fiction …
JH: [chuckle] Yes, you couldn’t write this stuff.
TLC: No. I see that you’re going to be giving us tools that will be tremendously useful for putting aside the chaos and finding within ourselves a direction and a scope that’s much wider than anything we could have come up with before.
JH: Well, and certainly much more effective, because of the times we live in. It is in times of chaos and breakdown throughout evolution that new evolution emerges. When you look at the fossil records you find things staying the same, same, same, for thousands of years, and then there comes a climate change, or some other radical change in the environment, and lo, this little fossil that went on unchanged for thousands of years suddenly makes a shift.
I think we are living in jump time, a time of deep shifting. And people need guidance in how to handle it in a way that is healthy, that is creative, and that adds to the enchantment of themselves and the world. That’s something we’re going to be looking at very seriously over the weekend.
TLC: Jean, thank you so much for cooking up this rich dish of food for thought for us.
Dr. Jean Houston will share a wealth of insights in an introductory presentation, “The Bright Side of Darkness,” on Friday evening, Oct. 13 at Seaside Center for Spiritual Living in Encinitas. Her weekend workshop, Oct. 14-15, carries the intriguing title “A Beginner’s Guide to Rearranging Reality” and promises to be life-changing. Tickets are available at www.seasidecenter.org.