ID: Identity Dialogues with Debashish Banerji and Leslie Combs


Understanding theories and notions of identity, self-making, personhood, transpersonal relationality between self and other, self and cosmos, are questions of central importance to the East-West Psychology department. Throughout history, cultures have come to define themselves through unique approaches to cultivating subjective knowledge as well as constructing shared structures of collective experience. Yet, in the intensifying and accelerating conditions of global digital capitalism, corporate data-mining and dawn of AI, the question of identity is of more importance then ever and how we grapple with these questions will deeply influence the quality of life for generations to come. EWP approaches these questions through the 4 cardinal points of our discourse community; East, West, Earth and World, which brings together Western notions of individuation and the psyche from Jungian Depth Psychology, Eastern notions of the soul and the Eternal Self, Earth-based and animistic understandings of the all-pervading spirit, and contemporary critical understandings based on posthuman possibilities of new futures. Delving into this rich topic in her studies in the EWP MA program, Dana Lichtstrahl hosts a conversation between two CIIS professors, Debashish Banerji and Leslie Combs, for a special edition of the podcast.

Introduction to ID: Identity Dialogues by host Dana Lichtstrahl, EWP MA Student

Information is serious business. We buy it and sell it daily. Its what we start to accrue in this social reality when we come from the womb. Meaning is made from information, specifically, who we understand ourselves to be—in relation to all thats here. Our understanding of our identity” can drive our psychology, emotion and action. And, since information and knowledge is perpetually changing, our identity understanding may change too.

The Identity Dialogue Roundtable podcast is in hot pursuit of how information—new and ancient—might change who we believe we are. Identity Dialogue explores, gives voice to, and asks, How does the information todays guests offer, inform me of my identity, and does this effect my current identity understanding, and therefore, my life experience?

Dana Lichtstrahl, whose interest in identity set her in motion to apply to CIIS’ EWP MA program to learn more. You can find Dana's books on Amazon. They have one common theme; they explore our attributes of thinking and awareness, and seek to understand human identity— who we are in relation to all that’s here —for outstanding outcomes. Awarenessworx arose from her 30-year education and work in communication, facilitation, psychology, science, and wisdom traditions. Now in private practice, Dana works with individuals and groups facilitating awareness as therapy.


Allan Leslie Combs, PhD, is a consciousness researcher, neuropsychologist, author, and systems theorist at The California Institute of Integral Studies where he is the Director of the Center for Consciousness Studies. Dr. Combs is also President Emeritus of the Society for Consciousness Studies. He is interested in states and structures of consciousness and advanced post-conventional personality growth and development. He is the author of over 250 articles, chapters, and books on consciousness and the brain, including Conscious Explained Better: Towards an Integral Understanding of the Multifaceted Nature of Consciousness; and The Radiance of Being: Understanding the Grand Integral Vision; Living the Integral Life.

Debashish Banerji, PhD, is the Haridas Chaudhuri Professor of Indian Philosophies and Cultures and the Doshi Professor of Asian Art at the California Institute of Integral Studies. He is also the Program Chair for the East-West Psychology department. Prior to CIIS, he served as Professor of Indian Studies and Dean of Academics at the University of Philosophical Research, Los Angeles. He has taught as adjunct faculty at the Pasadena City College, University of California, Los Angeles and University of California, Irvine. His interests lie in postmodern, postcolonial and cross-cultural approaches to Indian philosophy, psychology and culture. Banerji has curated close to fifteen exhibitions of Indian and Japanese art. His most recent books are Integral Yoga Psychology: Metaphysics and Transformation as Taught by Sri Aurobindo (Lotus Press, 2020) and Meditations on the Isha Upanishad: Tracing the Philosophical Vision of Sri Aurobindo (Sri Aurobindo Samity and Maha Bodhi Publishers, 2019).

The EWP Podcast credits

East-West Psychology Podcast Website

Connect with EWP: WebsiteYoutubeFacebook

Hosted by Stephen Julich (EWP core faculty) 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:

Introduction Voiceover: Roche Wadehra

Your Host

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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