Faith Seeking Understanding: Scholar-Practitioner approaches to Theology, Religious Studies, and Symbols in Integral Transformation


In this episode we speak to Patrick Beldio, academic professor, sculptor, devotee of Mehar Baba and Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, about the intersection of theology and religious studies in his work. We discuss the nuances of the scholar-practitioner model of scholarship and how one can approach an integral pedagogy from this perspective. Stephen and I read a chapter from Patrick’s upcoming book Mirra Alfassa: Divine Mother and Child of Tomorrow, titled Spiritual Dualite: Mirras Intellectual and Spiritual Influence on Sri Aurobindo, and we discuss with Patrick how he approached building a methodology for this work. The conversation explores the deep rooted Western influences in the formation of Integral Yoga and cross-cultural approaches to symbology in the Mother’s life. We end by briefly discussing Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s vision of the supramental manifestation and the transformation of the human into a radially new androgynous sexless being.

Patrick Beldio is a scholar of comparative religion and theology with a focus on Hindu-Christian studies, the Integral Yoga of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Meher Baba and the Chishti Sufi lineage in the West, and Franciscan Spirituality, with sub-interests in art, gender, and sustainability studies. His current book project is Mirra Alfassa: Mother & Child of the Divine of Tomorrow (working title), which critically analyzes the role and influence of Mirra (aka the Mother, 1878-1973) on the Integral Yoga that she and Aurobindo Ghose (aka Sri Aurobindo, 1872-1950) co-created. The book evaluates Mirra’s influence on Aurobindo’s spiritual practice and teaching and critically describes the nature of their relationship, intellectually and spiritually. It also focuses on how Aurobindo influenced Mirra’s teaching in Pondicherry, India and how she developed their yoga tradition after his passing and then explores her relevance today. Beldio is also a professional sacred artist with a studio at the Franciscan Monastery in Washington, DC. His sculptures are in private and public collections across the USA.

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Hosted by Stephen Julich (EWP adjunct faculty, program manager) and Jonathan Kay (PhD student, EWP assistant)

Produced by: Stephen Julich and Jonathan Kay

Edited and Mixed by: Jonathan Kay

Introduction music: Mosaic, by Monsoon on the album Mandala

Music at the end of the episode: Sound - Space Entanglement (4x + 1), from becoming - song: contemplative transnomadic sono - fictioning by Jonathan Kay

Introduction Voiceover: Roche Wadehra

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Stephen Julich and Jonathan Kay

Stephen Julich has worked as an adjunct instructor in History and Anthropology at the City College of New York, as a lecturer in Jungian Studies at the University of Philosophical Research in Los Angeles, and as an adjunct instructor at the California Institute of Integral Studies where he has taught classes on ensouled writing and Western Esotericism.

Jonathan Kay is a professional musician, and is currently a PhD student in the department of East-West Psychology at California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco under the mentorship of Dr. Debashish Banerji.

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