In August, Ralph White, one of the founders of the Holistic Centers Gathering, returned to the Findhorn Foundation in the far north of Scotland to share about his personal quest for meaning. From Wales to Manhattan, with time at Findhorn in the 70s, Ralph drew on the inspiration he gained there to create learning centers that have touched the lives of scores of thousands of participants.
Ralph also offered his views of the subtle transformative changes at work even in environments as dense as New York City, and how the spiritual and holistic awakening is working its way into the world despite the influence of the counter forces of fundamentalism, materialism, and nationalism.
Shortly before the evening was due to unfold there was an unexpected power cut in the Findhorn Ecovillage, which turned out to be a popped transformer serving one of the wind turbines. This in itself should have tripped the circuit breaker that controlled just the wind park, however this didn’t happen. A mysterious force at play created the perfect candlelit ambience for Ralph’s adventurous often mystical tales and the audience was mesmorised for the entire two hour talk.
Ralph lived at Findhorn from 1976 to 1979 when he was part of the original band of ‘Cluny Loonies’ who launched Findhorn Foundation Cluny Hill. Many people in the community remember him and it was a full house keen to reconnect again. After life in the community, he moved to America and was instrumental in launching Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in Rhinebeck in 1982, now a kind of East Coast Esalen, where he was program director.
A few years later Ralph co-founded the New York Open Center, the major urban holistic learning center in the States. He has since been a seminal figure in the emerging global network of holistic centers which can be seen as part of an esoteric expression of Findhorn’s concept of the Network of Light. His memoir, The Jeweled Highway: On the Quest for a Life of Meaning was published recently and after the talk Ralph signed copies by candelight, the scene beautifully expressing a modern day alchemist.
As co-founder of the New York Open Center, Ralph served for many years as director, program director, and senior fellow. A writer, lecturer, radio host, organizer, creative director, editor, and world traveler, he is a pioneer in the global-consciousness movement, and has created and produced many hundreds of conferences, workshops, and performances across the spectrum of holistic learning.
His current activities include the Esoteric Quest series of conferences in Europe on the lost spiritual history of the West that have continued for twenty years, and the Art of Dying conferences that address the emergence of a more holistic understanding of death in contemporary America. From 1995 to 2001 he edited Lapis magazine, winner of the Alternative Press Award 2000 from Utne Reader. He has also taught at New York University and has been a seminal presence in the development of the global network of holistic centers.
“The Jeweled Highway is a rare beast, a compelling book of spiritual vision and inspiration that is also an exciting adventure story — a ‘ripping great yarn’ — and a testament to human courage and the willingness to push into the farthest frontiers in search of wisdom and spirit. In offering this memoir of a life very well lived, Ralph White also takes us on the most important quest of our time: the journey into the heart and soul — and magic — of a world in transformation. I enthusiastically recommend it!” — David Spangler