Lindisfarne Association

From SourceWatch
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Lindisfarne Association "was founded by the American writer William Irwin Thompson in New York City in December of 1972.


Inspired in 1967 by Michael Murphy's work in bringing Eastern philosophy and Western psychology together in the establishment of Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, Professor Thompson returned to his teaching position at M.I.T. and sought for new ways to broaden the humanities by exploring the mystical roots of Western science and by bringing meditation into the thinking of philosophy and the practice of science and art. During this period of the war in Viet Nam, M.I.T., however, was more interested in extending its approach in engineering into the behavioral sciences and the postindustrial management of natural resources and preindustrial cultures. Professor Thompson resigned from the Institute, moved to Canada, and began to work on new ways of teaching the humanities at the newly created York University in Toronto. At the Couchiching Conference in Ontario in 1969, Thompson met Ivan Illich and was deeply impressed by his vision of challenging the dominance of the university through the establishment of "the counterfoil institution." From 1970 to 1972, Thompson traveled around the world in search of models of counterfoil institutions that could provide alternatives to the bureaucratic postindustrial university: centers such as Paolo Soleri's Arcosanti in Arizona, Sri Aurobindo and Mira Richard's ("the Mother") Auroville in India, C.F. von Weizsaeker's Research Foundation for Eastern Wisdom and Western Science in Starnberg, Germany, and the Findhorn Community in Scotland.

"At the instigation of Gene Fairly, Lindisfarne was established in New York, rather than Toronto, and Emily Sellon, the editor of New York's Main Currents in Modern Thought, served with Thompson and Fairly as the founding Board of Directors of the Lindisfarne Association. Through the efforts of Nancy Wilson Ross, author of Three Ways of Asian Wisdom and a former student of the Bauhaus in Germany, Thompson's writings and lectures were brought to the attention of Laurance S. Rockefeller and Sydney and Jean Lanier, and they assisted in the establishment of a facility on Long Island in 1973. With the encouragement of Nancy Wilson Ross and Dean James P. Morton, Lindisfarne began its activities in a working relationship with the Zen Center in San Francisco and the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York and this helped Lindisfarne's work to be ecumenical and national from the start...

"The role of Lindisfarne was to initiate an impulse in culture but not to try to own or institutionalize it. For example, Lindisfarne established a contemplative retreat with meditation and classes in hatha yoga, Tai Chi Chuan, and philosophy in the Hamptons in 1973. (People thought we were quite weird at the time.) In Manhattan from 1976-1979, Lindisfarne set up a program on Buddhism and Cognitive Science with lectures by Nechung rinpoche, Robert Thurman, and Francisco Varela. When New Age retreats began to become commercially successful themed hotels and spas, Lindisfarne shifted away from serving as a retreat center to set up a School for Sacred Architecture in Crestone in 1980. When programs on sacred architecture became sponsored by the Prince of Wales, and when a program on Buddhism and cognitive science became sponsored by the Dalai Lama, there was no reason any longer to continue Lindisfarne's two programs in these areas, so it moved to less public horizons of culture in subjects such as a Gaia Politique, interdisciplinary approaches to complex dynamical systems, and artistic explorations of Wissenskunst. Now that the approaches to cultural transformation that Lindisfarne helped to initiate are fully implanted in American culture, Lindisfarne continues to encourage the emergence of a new planetary culture by bringing the Fellows together once a year and contributing to the encouragement of the founding of new efforts and institutions." [1]

Writing in 2002 for the Earth Light Library, Ralph Peters noted that: "The Lindisfarne of the ‘70s received its climactic recognition when Thompson was featured on the March 26, 1979 edition of Bill Moyers’ Journal and when Maurice Strong, the Canadian businessman who played a vital organizing role in both the 1972 and 1992 U.N. conferences on the environment, helped to arrange the geographical transfer of Lindisfarne central from what is now Limelight in Manhattan to Crestone, Colorado." [2]

According to William Irwin Thompson:

"Harrison Salisbury, the Editor of The New York Times; Harry Hollins of the World Law Fund, Amyas Ames, the Chairman of Lincoln Center, and his wife Evelyn Ames; James Morton, the newly appointed Dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Nancy Wilson Ross, Jean and Sydney Lanier, all became part of a new circle that gathered around the founding of the Lindisfarne Association in New York, and many of them agreed to serve on Lindisfarne's founding Board of Advisers." [3]

Roster of the Fellows for 2008

Accessed October 2008: [4]

  • Ralph Abraham, Director, Visual Mathematics Institute, Santa Cruz, California.
  • David Abram, Eco-Philosopher and Author, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
  • Brian Arthur, Economist, Santa Fe Institute, New Mexico.
  • Christopher Bamford, Author and Publisher, Great Barrington, MA.
  • Lois Cammack Bateson, Psychotherapist, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  • Mary Catherine Bateson, Prof. of Anthropology George Mason Univ., Fairfax, Virginia.
  • Nora Bateson, Cinematographer, Nelson, British Columbia, Canada.
  • Wendell Berry, Poet and Farmer, Port Royal, Kentucky.
  • Stewart Brand, Author and Publisher, Sausalito, California.
  • Santiago Calatrava, Architect, New York and Zurich.
  • Richard Falk, Emeritus Prof. of International Law, Princeton Univ., New Jersey.
  • David Finkelstein, Physicist, Georgia Inst. of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Joan Halifax-roshi, Anthropologist and Abbess, Upaya Zen Center, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
  • Hazel Henderson, Author & Economist, St. Augustine, Florida.
  • Cornelia Hesse-Honegger, Artist, Zurich, Switzerland.
  • Jane Hirshfield, Poet/Author, Mill Valley, California.
  • Vivienne Hull, Co-founder, Whidbey Institute, Whidhey Island, Washington.
  • Piet Hut, Professor of Astrophysics, Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, NJ. *Dana Jackson, Editor & Ecologist, Stillwater, Minnesota
  • Wes Jackson, Botanist & Co-Director, The Land Institute, Salina, Kansas.
  • Pir Zia Inayat Khan, Director, the Sufi Abode of the Message, New Lebanon, New York.
  • Stuart Kauffman, Director of the Center for Biocomplexity and Informatics, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
  • Tim Kennedy, Molecular biologist, Professor of Neuroscience, McGill University, Montreal
  • James Lovelock, Chemist, Coombe Mills Laboratories, Devon, England.
  • Amory Lovins, Physicist, Rocky Mountain Institute, Snowmass, Colorado.
  • Luigi Luisi, Professor, Universita degli Studi di Roma Tre.
  • Julie Mankiewicz, Ph.D., Biology and Environmental Science Teacher, Bronx High School of Science, New York City.
  • Paul Mankiewicz, Ph.D. Biologist, Director of the Gaia Institute, New York City.
  • Lynn Margulis, Prof. of Biology, Univ. of Massachusetts at Amherst
  • Robert McDermott, Author, Professor, California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco California.
  • Saul Mendlovitz, Emeritus Prof. of International Law, Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick, New Jersey.
  • James Parks Morton, Interfaith Fellowship, New York City.
  • Dulce Murphy, Director, Esalen Institute-Russian Exchange Program, San Francisco, Calif.
  • Michael Murphy, Author & Founder of Esalen Institute, Big Sur, California
  • Mayumi Oda, Artist, Kealakekua, Hawaii.
  • David Orr, Prof. of Environmental Studies, Oberlin College, Ohio.
  • Susan Oyama, Prof. of Psychology, John Jay College, City Univ. of New York
  • Elaine Pagels, Prof. of Religion, Princeton Univ. New Jersey
  • Dorion Sagan, Author, Science Writers, Amherst, Massachusetts.
  • Russell Schweickart, Astronaut & Scientific Consultant, Sausalito, Calif. & Washington, D.C. *Gary Snyder, Poet, Nevada City, California.
  • Paolo Soleri, Architect, Founder of Arcosanti, Arizona.
  • David Spangler, Author, Issaquah, Washington.
  • Brother David Steindl-Rast, Author, & Benedictine Monk, Benedictine Grange, West Redding, Connecticut.
  • Evan Thompson, Professor of Philosophy, University of Toronto,
  • William Irwin Thompson, Author & Founder of Lindisfarne, Portland, Maine.
  • Robert Thurman, Prof. of Religion, Columbia Univ. New York.
  • John Todd, Institute for Natural Resources, University of Vermont, Co-Founder of New Alchemy & Ocean Arks, Falmouth Massachusetts
  • Nancy Jack Todd, Author & Editor, Co-Founder of New Alchemy and Ocean Arks, Falmouth, Massachusetts
  • Rebecca Todd, Dancer, Choreographer, Cognitive Scientist, the University of Toronto, Canada.
  • Sim Van der Ryn, Architect, Sausalito, California
  • Michaela Walsh, Founder of Women's World Banking International, New York,
  • Paul Winter, Musician, Director of the Paul Winter Consort, Litchfield, Connecticut, & Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York
  • Arthur Zajonc, Prof. of Physics, Amherst College, Massachusetts

Fellows in Memoriam


  • Earth's Answer: Explorations of Planetary Culture at the Lindisfarne Conferences. (New York, Harper & Row, 1977).
  • Gaia, A Way of Knowing: Political Implications of the New Biology, Ed. William Thompson (Lindisfarne Press, Great Barrington, Mass., 1987).
  • Imaginary Landscape: Making Worlds of Myth and Science, William Irwin Thompson (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1989).
  • Gaia Two, Emergence: The New Science of Becoming Ed. William Irwin Thompson, (Lindisfarne Press, Hudson, New York, 1991).
  • The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience, Francisco Varela, Evan Thompson, and Eleanor Rosch (M.I.T. Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1991).
  • The American Replacement of Nature, William Irwin Thompson (Doubleday/Currency Books, New York, 1991).
  • Colour Vision: A Study in Cognitive Science and the Philosophy of Perception, Evan Thompson, Routledge, London, 1995.
  • Coming into Being: Artifacts and Texts in the Evolution of Consciousness, William Irwin Thompson, (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1996 & 1998).
  • Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind, Evan Thompson (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2007).

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch articles

  • Arthur Zajonc - former president


  1. History of the Lindisfarne Association,, accessed October 4, 2008.
  2. The Gaian Politics of Lindisfarne’s William Irwin Thompson, Earth Light Library, accessed October 4, 2008.
  3. CULTURE - MEMOIR - The Founding of the Lindisfarne Association in New York, 1971-73 - Part 2: A Community in Fishcove, Long Island, wildriverreview, accessed November 17, 2011.
  4. Roster of the Fellows for 2008,, accessed October 4, 2008.

Lindesfarne Letter 14: Homage to Pythagoras -- Papers from the 1981 Lindisfarne Corresponding Members Conference, Crestone, Colorado. 1982. Lindisfarne Press, Stockbridge Mass.