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02.17.10

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In with the old

By Dani Burlison


Balancing the roles of innovative educator, transcultural mediator, author, business consultant and spiritual practitioner is a near impossible task in modern-day society, yet Marin County"s Angeles Arrien, appears to integrate the many factions of visionary leadership with confidence and ease. A native of Spain, Dr. Arrien is the founding director of the Angeles Arrien Foundation for Cross-Cultural Education and Research in Sausalito, busily traveling the world building bridges of understanding across cultural and spiritual differences.

As a cultural anthropologist, Arrien's work on spirituality, which reflects Joanna Macy's philosophy in The Great Turning and Joseph Campbell's writing on personal mythology, fills in the gaps that many New Age philosophies leave wide open. Drawing from a variety of indigenous belief systems in order to create cross-cultural practices in contemporary settings, Arrien's understanding of the world contributes to culturally inclusive lectures and workshops that bring forth subjects that resonate with people of all walks of life. She appears in Sonoma on Feb. 25.

Arrien's writing focuses on the disconnection between humans and nature and the lack of elder respect in Western culture. These issues, she says, contribute greatly to the high suicide rates in the United States, and may even have a link to the growing incidents of Alzheimer's disease in the Western world. With 90 percent of the world's cultures engaging with community elders and therefore creating quality of life for these societies in whole, America comes up painstakingly short.

The solution? As outlined in her Four Fold Way book and workshop, it can be as easy as showing up, paying attention, telling the truth and being open to the outcome. She also suggests that to go forward with the healing that Western culture so desperately needs, we need to not only get in touch with our own gifts and talents, but we reintegrate our elders into everyday life in a sincere and gracious manner. Elders can then step into the second half of life, bringing forth resolution and fulfillment, making everything OK for everyone.

Dr. Angeles Arrien speaks on "The Braided Way: Universal Practices of Wisdom," focusing on integrating the new with the old at 7:30pm on Thursday, Feb. 25, at Burlingame Hall, First Congregational Church, 252 W. Spain St., Sonoma. Sponsored by The Praxis Peace Institute. $15–$20. 707.939.2973.


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