reverential ecology 2004

hidden  connections:
science, spirituality
and sustainable living

An Intergenerational Forum on

Science, Spirituality and Sustainable Living

May 7-9, 2004 -- Zaca Lake Retreat Center

Registration: (tel) 805.565-2321; (fax) 805.969.2312



Fritjof Capra  •  Tad Daley  •   Lauren DeBoer  •  Matthew Fox

Helena Norberg-Hodge  •  Nandini Iyer  •  Satish Kumar  •  James O'Dea

Rajesh Shah  •  Dennis Rivers  •  Vandana Shiva  •  Brian Swimme

Betsy Taylor  •  William E. Marks  •  Adam Wolpert

click here for more information about presenters



Although scientific inquiry originally arose as a reaction to religious dogma, recent redefinitions of both science and spirituality have created new opportunities for creative collaboration between scientists and spiritual investigators. This weekend retreat will search for new points of contact between these two archetypal ways of making sense of the universe and our own lives. The implications of a new synthesis between science and spirituality for the emergence of an ethic of sustainable living will also be explored.

Please join us for an intensive educational expedition into uncharted waters of human and cosmological understanding. Amidst the beautiful setting of Zaca Lake, enjoy healthful food, a relaxing atmosphere and joyful conversation with innovative thinkers and fellow seekers of a way of living  simply, spiritually and scientifically so that others may simply live.



Resurgence Magazine  ·   Institute of World Culture  ·   EarthLight Magazine
Pax 2100
  ·   University of California Education For Sustainable Living Program
University of California Santa Barbara Regent's Lectureship Program
Santa Barbara City College Adult Education
Turn Toward Life Community-Without-Walls



  • Access to the retreat site is tightly controlled due to the conditional use permit regulating the facility. All visitors must sign a liability waiver before they can enter the facility.
  • A map to the site can be found at
  • Zaca Lake Retreat telephone is 805,688.5699; the address is 8000 Foxen Canyon Road.  We will mark the route from Highways 101 and 154 with signs and green balloons.
  • You should come Friday morning before 12 if at all possible. After that the gate will be locked and you must open the combination lock by entering the combination on on the dials located on the bottom of the lock.  The combination will be posted on the gate.
  • Be sure you close the gate after you, re-secure the lock.
  • Bring all the stuff you need including water bottle, swimming suit, beach towel, flashlight, insect repellent and poison oak lotion in case you pick up something if you hike off the trails.
  • Linens and bath towels (not to be used outside) are provided for cabin/bunk/yurt residents; but campers must provide their own.
  • Remember: vegetarian/vegan meals and snacks are included in the price.

For more information contact Philip Grant, Executive Coordinator, IRE;
(tel) 805.565-2321; (fax) 805.969.2312.(e-mail)


h i d d e n   c o n n e c t i o n s
conference presenters

Fritjof Capra, Ph.D., physicist and systems theorist, is a founding director of the Center for Ecoliteracy in Berkeley, California, which promotes ecology and systems thinking in primary and secondary education. Dr. Capra is on the faculty of Schumacher College, an international center for ecological studies in England, and frequently gives management seminars for top executives.

He is the author of several international bestsellers, including The Tao of Physics, The Turning Point, and The Web of Life. His most recent book, The Hidden Connections, was published this year. He also co-wrote the screenplay for Mindwalk, a film based on his books.

Tad Daley, J.D., Ph.D.,  has served since the summer of 2003 as National Issues Director and Senior Policy Advisor to Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich, chair of the Progressive Caucus in Congress and 2004 presidential candidate.  He is a longtime policy wonk whose work has focused on abolishing nuclear weapons, ending genocide forever, reinventing the United Nations, reawakening the space program, and defining a progressive foreign policy vision for the post-9/11 world.  He has worked at both the RAND Corporation and for the late U.S. Senator Alan Cranston (D-California, 1969-1993), on his tireless crusade to rid the world of nuclear weapons. He ran for U.S. Congress himself in a 2001 special election in Los Angeles.  

Lauren DeBoer has been editor and executive director of EarthLight: The Magazine of Spiritual Ecology for the last seven years. He is a founding board member of the Epic in Evolution Society, a group of scientists, theologians, and artists whose purpose is to explore the meaning and implication of the sacred Universe Story for our time. He is founder of the Center for Sacred Ecology and New Story in Oakland and an advisory board member for the Center for Ecozoic Studies in North Carolina. In addition to editing, Lauren is a poet, essayist, pianist, and amateur naturalist who explores, through improvisation in writing and music, the presence of the evolving Earth community and Cosmos in our lives.   His most recent essays include   Beyond a Culture of Fear  and Fuller Being, Closer Union: Relationship and Imagination as the Key to Health.



Matthew Fox, a liberation theologian and progressive visionary, is the founder and president of the University Creation Spirituality (UCS) located in downtown Oakland, California. Much of the inspiration behind UCS stems from the strong responses to Fox's 24 books, including the best selling Original Blessing; A Spirituality Named Compassion; Breakthrough: Meister Eckhart's Creation Spirituality in New Translation; Natural Grace (with scientist Rupert Sheldrake), and One River, Many Wells. His most recent book is called Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet. A great deal of credit goes to Dr. Fox for the recent awakening interest in the works of medieval mystic Hildegard of Bingen. He was the first to translate her work into English in Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen, 1985, and Hildegard of Bingen's Book of Divine Works with Letters and Songs, 1987.


Helena Norberg-Hodge-- Swedish linguist, environmental activist, and author of Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh -- is the founder of The Ladakh Project in India, an international non-profit organization concerned with the search for more sustainable ways of living in both the developed and developing parts of the world.   She is also the director of its parent organization, the International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC) - and was awarded the 1986 Right Livelihood Award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize, for her work.   She has spent half of every year since 1974, in Ladakh, India (Little Tibet), working with the Ladakhi people.

Nandini Iyer is a life-long student of the world’s mystical traditions and of the teachings of MK Gandhi. She has taught philosophy and religious studies at the University of Oxford, UC Santa Barbara and at Santa Barbara City College. She is one of the founders of the Institute of World Culture in Santa Barbara and has been involved with several schools committed to combating religious intolerance.

“We need to explore whether and how not only ethics, but spiritual and broadly religious ideals, can be meaningfully taught and practiced, without being grounded in narrow, sectarian religious frameworks. Can we allow the state, as we have sometimes allowed religion, to take priority over individual conscience? Can we educate students into being ethical? These are problems, challenges and dilemmas upon which we need to reflect.”

Satish Kumar is the editor of Resurgence, an influential British magazine devoted to promoting a synthesis of ecological, artistic and spiritual values. Satish became a wandering Jain monk at the age of nine, later joined Vinoba Bhave’s Bhoodan movement and walked from India to Russia, and throughout Europe, and parts of the Americas, to urge the abolition of nuclear weapons. Satish is the Program Director of Schumacher College. His latest book You Are Therefore I Am: A Declaration of Dependence is published by Green Books in the U.K. His autobiography Path Without Destination is published by William Morrow.

“Sometimes I come across a tree which seems like Buddha or Jesus: loving, compassionate, still, unambitious, enlightened, in eternal meditation, giving pleasure to a pilgrim, shade to a cow, berries to a bird, beauty to its surroundings, health to its neighbors, branches for the fire, leaves for the soil, asking nothing in return, in total harmony with the wind and the rain. How much can I learn from a tree? The tree is my church, the tree is my temple, the tree is my mantra, the tree is my poem and my prayer.”


James O’Dea, President of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, served as Executive Director of  Amnesty International for ten years and then as Director of the Seva Foundation, an organization interested in the relationship between spirituality and service. He will direct our attention to healing of the collective “social body,” where we are discovering that the health of individuals and the health of society may be more intertwined than previously imagined. James expands upon the scientific recognition and verification that individuals have the capacity to participate not only in their own physical, emotional and psychological healing, but also to share compassionate intention and healing with others. 

Dennis Rivers is a writer, anti-nuclear activist, teacher and Director of the Institute for Cooperative Communication Skills in Santa Barbara.  He is interested in expanding the concept of ecology to include a vision of sustainable human interaction.  His free, online communication skills workbook, The Seven Challenges, is in use around the world and receives visitors each month from over 100 countries. He is a founding participant in Turn Toward Life, an interfaith community-without-walls dedicated to exploring reverence for life as a spiritual path.  His essays include An Ecology of Devotion and Why Remember Hiroshima?  Dennis received his BA in Religious Studies from UCSB and his MA in Interpersonal Communication and Human Development from the Vermont College Graduate Program.

Rajesh Shah is focused on making our society sustainable. He works with companies, organizations, and communities to move them towards sustainability.  Most recently he worked at The Natural Step. His corporate career includes 10 years at Bell Labs, four years as an international management consultant, and stints at Bechtel and Lawrence Berkeley National Labs. He has been writing on transforming our society, as well as lecturing at schools and universities for the past seven years. Born in India, he studied engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Lafayette College, and received his master's in Computer Science and an MBA from the University of California.


Vandana Shivais a world-renowned environmental thinker and activist, leader in the International Forum on Globalization, recipient of The Right Livelihood Award, and author of many books. The Progressive describes her as “a burst of creative energy, an intellectual power.”

"Sixteen years ago I founded the Research Foundation [for Science, Technology and Ecology] as a small independent initiative to do research in a participatory mode with people, not on them - and to do research with an interdisciplinary approach, - reflecting the interconnections in the web of life, not teaching them apart with reductionist violence. These 16 years of participatory action oriented ecological research have bought deep fulfillment - and triggered some changes in paradigms."

"Diversity is fast moving into the defining metaphor in place of monocultures of the mind. Ecofeminism has emerged as a serious challenge to Cartesian reductionism and the Baconian "rape of nature" as the "masculine mode" of knowing. Globalisation is however threatening to the ecological gains of the past few decades. It is therefore the defining context of our new engagements."  

Brian Swimme received his Ph.D. (1978) from the University of Oregon in gravitational dynamics. His research focuses on the evolutionary dynamics of the universe, the relationship between scientific cosmology and more traditional religious visions, the cultural implications of the new evolutionary epic, and the role of humanity in the unfolding story of Earth and cosmos. In 1998 he founded the international Epic of Evolution Society, a forum for artists, scientists, ecofeminists, ecologists, religious thinkers and educators interested in the new story. He is the author of The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos (Orbis, 1996), Manifesto for a Global Civilization (with Matthew Fox) (Bear and Company, 1983), The Universe is a Green Dragon (Bear and Company, 1984) and The Universe Story (Harper, 1992) which is a culmination of a ten-year collaboration with cultural historian Thomas Berry. Brian's media work includes the video series, Canticle to the Cosmos and The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos.  


Betsy Taylor is the founder and President of the Center for a New American Dream, a non-profit group that helps Americans resist excessive commercialism and consume wisely to protect the environment, improve quality of life, and enhance social justice. She has a masters degree in public administration from Harvard University and graduated summa cum laude with a BA from Duke University. Since the mid-70s, Ms. Taylor has directed several non-profit environmental and peace organizations and has worked in leadership roles at the local, federal and international level.  


William E. Marks experienced first hand the status of America’s waters, when he made a meandering 7,000-mile horseback journey from San Diego to Maine. William's book, The Holy Order of Water, has been called “profound . . . an inspiration to all of us in the quest for clean water and a healthy life.”   The book has been heralded by such people as Walter Cronkite and actor and founding president of the American Oceans Campaign Ted Danson, who said, “Readers won’t find a more intimate, spiritual and informative look at what is without question the world’s most vital and versatile resource.”  


Adam Wolpert is a painter, teacher, co-founder of The Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, and director of the OAEC Arts Program. He has taught classical painting techniques both in Los Angeles and San Diego. His work is currently represented by the Jan Baum Gallery in Los Angeles and can be viewed at

“Changing a vision into reality is the most profound and gratifying process we can engage in. It is the creative process, the process of self-realization, and an inspiration to others. As preconceptions are broken down, you awake as if from a dream to see the boundless potential of life. Suddenly the structures that imprison us can be seen for what they are: simply the manifestations of other peoples’ ideas, no more powerful or important than our own.”


h i d d e n   c o n n e c t i o n s
program schedule


12-1:00 PM Lunch

1:30-3:30 General Plenary: “Can Science Be Spiritual? Can Spirituality be Scientific?”

Welcome: Satish Kumar and Philip Grant.

    Panel Moderator: James O'Dea.
    Panelists: Matthew Fox, Vandana Shiva, Fritjof Capra,
                  William Waterway, Lauren DeBoer.

3:30-6:00 Free time/nature walks/workshop ( discussion with Matthew Fox)

6:00-7:00 Dinner

7:30-9:30 General Plenary: “Cosmology, Psychology and The Art of Living”

    Panel Moderator: Nandini Iyer.
    Panelists: Brian Swimme, Matthew Fox, James O'Dea, Satish Kumar, Betsy Taylor



8-9:00 AM Breakfast

9:30-11:30 Workshops: Participants must choose one of three:
                 Adam Wolpert, Helena Norberg-Hodge, Satish Kumar

12-1 PM Lunch.

1:30-3:30: Workshops Participants must choose one of four:
                 Vandana Shiva, Tad Daley, James O'Dea, Rajesh Shah

3:30-6:00 Free time/ nature walk/workshop (discussion with Marcela Olivera: “Lessons from Cochabamba.”)

6:00-7:00 Dinner.

7:30-9:30 Plenary: “Vedic Ecology and Contemporary Science.”

    Program Moderator: Satish Kumar.
    Panelists: Nandini Iyer, Vandana Shiva, Fritjof Capra,
                  Brian Swimme, Helena Norberg-Hodge.


7:30-8:30 Breakfast

9:00-10:30 Closing Plenary: “The Practice of Sustainable Living.”

    Moderator: Adam Wolpert.
    Panelists: Betsy Taylor, Vandana Shiva, Helena Norberg-Hodge, Dennis Rivers

11-12:30 Workshops: Participants must choose one of four:
              Brian Swimme, William Waterway, Betsy Taylor, Fritjof Capra,

12:45-1:30   Lunch and Good-byes