Many people are discovering a radical truth: When we release our fear of death, we open to an immensely richer life right here and now. But how do we incorporate this profound insight into our lives and profession?

In this course, we consider a wealth of teachings and practical guidance within the field of transpersonal psychology and trans disciplinary science on how to turn this taboo topic into a source of peace, hope, connection, and compassion.

Included in this course:

  • Link to view the Death Makes Life Possible DVD
  • Recorded audio lectures by course instructor Dr. Marilyn Schlitz
  • Recorded audio lectures by Deepak Chopra, MD
  • Recorded meditation and reflection practices
  • Academic readings
  • And much more!

Working with the documentary film and book (book is optional), Death Makes Life Possible, and other related multi-media materials, we will consider insights and reflections by eminent psychologists, scientists, scholars, spiritual leaders, devout skeptics, health practitioners, and people from all walks of life, to understand myriad ways that we grow and change by expanding our perspectives and ways of knowing about the ultimate mystery facing each one of us.

Students will be invited to consider their own and others’ worldviews on death and the afterlife, and engage in an epistemological examination of how we know what we know about these core existential issues. We will engage in a collaborative learning community, working with materials together and sharing the film with extended others in order to create rich and meaningful conversation— and to expand our capacity to explore what gives people meaning and purpose.

The course is designed to create a safe and supportive environment in which participants have the opportunity to explore their own and others worldviews and feelings about death in the context of diverse and often competing truth claims. The intentions are to:

  • Transform and calm the fear of death
  • Build community and authentic connection
  • Inspire more meaningful lives and choices
  • Open up conversations with family, friends, clients, and patients
  • Speak unspoken concerns, beliefs and questions and help others to do so
  • Learn ways to help lessen potential isolation during the final years of life
  • Offer comfort when dealing with the loss of loved ones
  • Deepen our understanding of cross-cultural and epistemological views and in turn, one’s own worldviews, beliefs and perspectives

Professors’ Philosophies of Teaching

  • Shared learning community
  • Multiple ways of knowing
  • Cultural appreciation and competence
  • An integral philosophy that includes inner and outer, private and public dimensions
  • Appreciation for rigor and discernment, combined with creativity and curiosity
  • A transpersonal perspective that embraces transformation and growth
  • Radical empiricism that accepts any aspect of human experience as a valid domain for serious inquiry
  • Social, emotional, and spiritual intelligence
  • Worldview literacy

Over our years of teaching at various levels, we encourage students to develop important meta-cognitive capacities. These include:

  • Personal reflection,
  • Cognitive flexibility,
  • Comfort with unfamiliarity,
  • Appreciation for diverse perspectives,
  • Agility in the face of rapidly changing circumstances,
  • Self-awareness in the context of responses to others,
  • Capacities for inter-cultural/worldview communication,
  • Ability to hold multiple points of view simultaneously,
  • Discernment that relies equally on intellect and intuition,
  • Shared learning projects,
  • Ability to resolve conflict,
  • Pluralism that values open-minded inquiry with a spirit of mutual collaboration and respect.

Course Learning Objectives

In this course, together we will explore:

  1. Examples of diverse worldviews and epistemologies around death and the afterlife;
  2. The way in which death is treated as a taboo topic in modern culture and how this taboo can lead to maladaptive behaviors;
  3. The ways in which death and the fear of death have been addressed in transpersonal psychology and science;
  4. The types of evidence for extended reaches of consciousness as they relate to near death, death, and post death experiences";
  5. The ways in which death awareness can help people to transform their fear of death and enhance their lives;
  6. The psychological, anthropological, and scientific methods that have been utilized to study experiences involving after death beliefs and their evidential nature;
  7. The significance of diverse worldviews on death and the afterlife for transpersonal psychology and other transpersonal studies.
  8. How, as health care professionals, we can engage in challenging conversations with our clients and patients.

Course Curriculum

  Course Materials
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  Lesson 1: Transpersonal Psychology and Death Awareness
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  Lesson 2: Life, Death and Transforming Worldviews
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  Lesson 3: Expanded Realms of Consciousness
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  Lesson 4: Diverse Epistemologies and Integral Science
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  Lesson 5: Cosmologies of the Afterlife
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  Lesson 6: Gifts of Life and Death
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  Lesson 7: Honoring Life
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  Lesson 8: Ways of Coping
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  Lesson 9: Key to the "Conquest" of Death
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  Lesson 10: Wrap up and Completion
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Your teacher, Dr. Marilyn Schlitz.

Dr. Marilyn Schlitz is an internationally recognized medical anthropologist and social scientist, award-winning writer and inspirational teacher, Marilyn has decades of hands-on experience working with healers from diverse world traditions, conducting leading edge research in clinical, laboratory and field-based settings, and translating this work into user-friendly formats. You may know Dr. Schlitz’s work through her more than 300 articles and seven books, including Consciousness and Healing: Integral Approaches to Mind Body Medicine; Living Deeply: The Art and Science of Transformation in Everyday Life; and Death Makes Life Possible — or from her award-winning film, Death Makes Life Possible (co-produced with Deepak Chopra), which appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

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