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4.  The Strange Case of Professor Z:
On the ideals of Murray Ross, Academic Freedom
& the Rights of Students

"We at York ... must give special emphasis to the humanizing of man 
freeing him from those pressures which mechanize the mind, 
which make for routine thinking, which divorce thinking and feeling, 
which permit custom to dominate intelligence, 
hich freeze awareness of the human spirit and its possibilities.” 
Murray Ross
        These words are engraved in stone at York University over the arches of the Murray Ross building, and they express an excellent ideal of what “higher education” might involve–including “unfreezing awareness of the human spirit.” This quotation was used extensively by myself and students in defence of my work at York during my struggles there for academic freedom.  Students knew that the mystical/spiritual perspectives which I was introducing did exactly what Murray Ross had posed as an ideal for higher education, and that apart from my teaching, they had no other options along this line–dealing with ‘unfreezing awareness’ and the ‘human spirit.’  Fortunately, Murray Ross had not been educated within the York University psychology department, and still had some spiritual inspiration.

        “The Strange Case of Professor Z” was the title of a long fifty page letter I wrote in 1988 protesting my dismissal and explaining the history of my struggle for academic freedom.  The phrase “professor Z”  was based on an article from the Canadian Association of University Teachers (C.A.U.T.) newsletter dealing with the issue of academic freedom.  This article had talked about a hypothetical “Professor Z” who had an orientation different from his colleagues, and how this might lead to situations where academic freedom could be violated, and professors would be denied tenure because of holding a different orientation from his colleges:

     “The term academic freedom as it is applied to the individual professor is defined ... as the freedom “to teach, investigate, and speculate, without deference to prescribed doctrine.”  I have chosen in this paper to focus on the danger to academic freedom, as understood, that can emerge from the peer evaluation system. ...
     ... Professor Z’s approach to his discipline differs from that of the majority of his colleges; his pedagogical theories and practice are not traditional; the orientation of his research is not at the moment widely accepted in his discipline.  Now, are we bound in this instance to accept the results of the peer evaluation? ...  is there a possibility that this denial of tenure constitutes a violation of the academic freedom of Professor Z? ... There are significant conflicts over orientation within every discipline.  Quite apart from the rights of the individual faculty member, it is gain, rather than loss for students to be exposed directly to these conflicting views.”

    After I was denied tenure in 1984, by the ministry of double-talk, I filed a grievance within the university over this issue of academic freedom.  The grievance procedure led to the establishment of a committee to review my case, and in 1985, the majority of faculty members on the committee decided in my favour suggesting that there had been a denial of my academic freedom, and they recommended to the University that my case be reassessed.  Unfortunately, for political reasons, and influence peddling and such, the University would not accept the Committee’s decision.  This simply forced a new level of arbitration, where CAUT took up my case, and more years of delay!  No-one thought these matters needed immediate attention, but ‘due process’ allowed the University to more simply dispel student protests, and wash their hands of the matter.  CAUT actually took up my case and was involved for years, but in a totally ineffectual manner, where their own agenda was more important of the truth of my situation.  Anyway, I subsequently used to the phrase “professor Z” to refer to myself, and my years of struggle for academic freedom at York University.
     When I was teaching mystical/spiritual psychologies and investigating paranormal phenomena while at York, there was an overwhelmingly positive student response to my work, and wide student protest over my dismissal.   A sample of student commentary gives a sense of the enthusiasm which students had for alternative perspectives:

    “I think that the issues examined in the class are important; in fact,  vital.  People have to start asking why they believe the things they do and why they don’t believe other things.  The world is a wonderful place.  We should start looking at it with a sense of mystery.  Only then could we do it justice.  This class exposes people to some of the world’s incredible mysteries and encourages people to ask questions.  I’ve been at this university for 4 years and this class has been an incredibly valuable experience.

    “Eastern psychology or alternatives to Western Psychology in general, are sadly lacking at York University or any other North American University I have heard of.  The dismissal of this course by high handed tunnel visioned executives should be a travesty of justice and the freedom to think in new and different ways.  The efforts of York University to rail road Dr. Holmes from this establishment of ‘higher learning.’ is an example of how close minded academics and society at large are still basically unwilling to stray from the beaten path and that conservatism is still prevalent in our world.

    “I feel that the materials presented in this course are more relevant than any other teachings, I have ever been exposed to, they are applicable in all aspects of study (including self study) and there is no question in my mind that it is of the utmost relevance to continue Professor Holmes’ work at York University. ... My interests have gone from singular and unrelated ideas and opinions to a multitude of perspectives leading to the same organized and comprehensive understanding.  I am very thankful for the honour of being exposed to Professor Holmes and his teaching, for such knowledge and teachers are rare in this ‘modern’ world.  I would feel genuinely distressed if the opportunity was not available to anyone who had the insight and courage to reach out and see the world, their world in a more deep and insightful manner.

    “This course gave me a higher understanding of myself & the world around me.  I feel its an excellent course & I would recommend it to everyone.

    “It would be tragic to remove this course from the curriculum.

    “I felt that this course is very beneficial to the study of psychology.  It is important to be exposed to all areas of thought dealing with the human mind and human being.  Psychology has become so far removed from the element of mysticism and it is frightening that the study of the mind has become too scientific and mechanic.  I have found out more about myself and understanding myself, while Dr. Holmes was always sure to relate his material to modern psychology today. ... Chris Holmes is a very original, well informed teacher who is interested in bringing knowledge to his students. ... The course is tough but worth it.

These are only a sample of hundreds of favourable student comments offered on my teaching and work at York University.  One anonymous student wrote this comment on my case, which was also frequently quoted in my own protest letters:

      “I don’t know who is reading this but whoever it is, know this.  To get rid of this professor through blind ignorance and tunnel vision, and hence this subject matter, is a crime to higher education.”

The proceedings at York did indeed perpetrate such a “crime” against the ideals of academic freedom, against Murray Ross’s dedication of the Ross Building, and most importantly, against the students who were so enthusiastic to be exposed to an alternative perspective on the issues of psychology, consciousness, the spirit and soul, and so on.  Part of my problem while at York was my popularity as a teacher, not because of myself so much, as because of the viewpoints, ideas and practical teachings, to which students were exposed.  A mystical and spiritual psychology is far more practical and useful to students, than the standard cognitive and behavioural dogmas now encrusted within academic psychology departments.
        Anyway, in 1989, the elected student federation at York, voted unanimously to protest my dismissal.  The President of the Student Federation, Tammy Hasselfeldt, penned a protest letter on behalf of the student council. This letter read in part:

         “A fundamental concern we have with regards to Prof. Holmes case is that of academic freedom.  It seems that in a university dedicated to the search for truth and to spiritual values in education, it is outrageous to dismiss the one professor who would bring such a perspective to York’s psychology department and into the larger university.  It would seem that at York of all places, a professor and a scientist should have the right, individually and professionally, to explore the areas of psychical, mystical and spiritual studies.  Instead, it appears that Dr. Holmes has faced varied forms of irresponsible academic assessments.  Not only is this suggested by student commentary, but also by other evidences.
        “To the vast majority of students, especially those who have studied with Dr. Holmes, the importance of researching and learning in these areas of psychic, mystical and spiritual ideas and teachings is highly obvious!  Many students further describe Dr. Holmes teaching as highly valuable in a personal way, and as providing an important perspective in education.
        “The dismissal of Dr. Holmes and his perspective from York is in complete disregard of student opinion, and of our right to be exposed to progressive education in an atmosphere of academic freedom and tolerance. ...    (January 17, 1989)
This letter was sent to the President of the University, Deans, the Senate, and even to the then Minister of Education, Lyn McLeod.  No-one even responded to this strong appeal and protest from the student government of the university!

        Ms. Hasselfeldt makes a number of important points in her letter–particularly that:  “To the vast majority of students, especially those who have studied with Dr. Holmes, the importance of researching and learning in these areas of psychic, mystical and spiritual ideas and teachings is highly obvious!”   Although one might think that this would be an obviously important areas of study, in fact, these are the areas completely ignored with modern so-called institutes of higher learning, despite the profound importance of the issues addressed!  As the survey results demonstrate, psychology departments in Ontario and Canada offer almost nothing in these areas. This really is quite outrageous, but it passes by unrealized because people do not know what such studies involve, and how important they are to the advancement of psychology as a discipline, and to the evolution of humankind.

      The dogmatists of modern psychology and materialist science philosophy perpetrate a terrible disservice to their students and the general public by the complete ignoring of these areas of study, and further, even persecuting those who do explore these areas.  My case at York University was one case wherein I was the heretic, and essentially persecuted, while the opinions of thousands of students were ignored.  During the same period, Howard Eisenberg, author of Inner Spaces: Parapsychological Explorations of the Mind (Mussen Book Co, 1977), went through a similar process of persecution at the University of Toronto, and opposition to his teaching.  Similarly, Ian Currie, author of You Cannot Die: The incredible findings of a century of research on Death (Methuen, Toronto, 1978), underwent harrasment and opposition at the University of Guelph. Both of these individuals shared something of their struggles with me during the 1980's when the inquisition was in full sway. Howard Eisenberg gave a public lecture attended by over a hundred fellows at the University of Toronto on his case, as I attended it.  There may well  be other similar cases over the past fifteen years, but I have yet to make an attempt to investigate this--although now I have heard of another case.  The internet survey results clearly indicates the almost complete absence of such explorations in modern psychology and the Canadian University system.
        The psychology departments of Ontario and Canada have effectively banished spirit, soul and human consciousness from their studies of the human psyche! If current students or the broader public really understood the terrible disservice to students and society which this neglect perpetuates, they might wake up enough to demand change.  Most likely, no one will step up to the plate and examine this issues seriously, but instead, will simply ignore such a disturbing portrait of their own favorite “higher education”–just as the student letters of protest on my behalf were simply ignored; as well as the petition run by Excalibur, the York Student newspaper, which collected over a thousand names.  No one in authority paid any heed to the protests, but simply washed their hands of the case, and postponed addressing the profound issues involved.  It was indeed a ‘crime’ to higher education, when I was dismissed from York, and I think of those thousands of students who were deprived of the opportunity to see the world through a mystical and spiritual perspective.
        And now, twenty years after I was driven out of York, dedicated to unfreezing awareness of the human spirit, what does York University offer in these profound of investigation, science and self-study?  As the undergraduate secretary states in her email to an inquiring student: “We do not offer any courses in these areas.”
        It was a crime then, and it is a crime today, that our educational system does not allow students the opportunity to study the esoteric mystical and spiritual psychologies, philosophies and science–which are, in important areas, are far ahead of modern so-called ‘exact psychology,’ when it comes to understanding the true nature of human beings.  Modern psychologists have no idea of how limited and superficial the modern discipline has become, and what fundamental mistakes have been made.  Further, they would gladly persecute anyone like Professor Z.

________________________

.Footnote: This article was section 4 of Christopher's brief on "Higher Education and Spiritual Science" submitted to the provincial commission chaired by Robert Rae in 2004-2005, inquiring into the future of post secondary education in the province of Ontario.  A copy of the brief was personally handed to Robert Rae, who likely never read the brief, but who said he would.  The brief was also sent to the Liberal Minister of Education Gerard Kennedy, whose office said that Mr. Kennedy would meet with Dr. Holmes to discuss the brief, but who subsequently never followed through.  Mr. Kennedy was or is too busy, or something.

On Higher Education & Spiritual Science
-- on the Failure of Post-Secondary Education,
and the New Inquisition. Christopher's full Brief
to the Ontario Government Commission. 2005

Internet Survey Results!

Email inquiry:   "I am interested in whether or not your department offers any courses on spiritual or mystical psychology, the study of paranormal or psychic phenomena, or studies of human consciousness.  I am interested in courses in these areas. Do you know of any professors with such interests who you might direct me to?  Thank you."

Dr. Holmes has conducted an internet survey of thirteen major Canadian University psychology programs, from coast to coast--in order to inquiry as to what is available to an inquiring student who would like to learn something of mystical and spiritual psychologies, or paranormal studies, within the Canadian University system and modern psychology.  The results are somewhat disheartning!  Only one of thirteen universities offers any course options in this area, and there is not a single professor having expertise or interest in the psychology of the soul, consciousness or spirit, nor the interface between psychology, mysticism and science.  This is despite the overwhelming public interest an belief in the significance of these areas, and the fact that the enigmas of consciousness are the most significant issue in science today.

A Topic Listing & A Book Listing: tables and chapters

 

Publications

Esoteric Writings

Event Schedule

The Author

Zero Point Dynamics

Zero Point Radio Show
 Crises of Humanity
Critiques of 'New Think'
New World DisOrder
Truth Media & Resources



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