THE STORY OF THE ALEF TRUST
"Transformational Online Learning"
The Alef Trust
Alef Trust is a not-for-profit community-interest organization offering online transformational Graduate Programmes and Open Learning Courses for academic, professional and personal development. We foster holistic educational, community and cultural activities that emphasize transpersonal perspectives and transformational learning opportunities.
The Alef originates as a glyph depicting an ox in the Proto-Sinaitic alphabet, and may have roots going back to the Egyptian hieroglyph of an ox’s head. The modern letter A derives from these origins, with the ox’s two horns having become inverted over its long evolution. The connection to the ox for this, the first letter of the alphabet, emphasises the raw, untamed energy of creation and the journey towards channelling this energy into constructive directions. The spiritual connotations of this journey are exemplified by the famous ox-herding images in the Zen tradition, based in turn on an older Taoist story. In Hebrew, the Alef becomes a silent letter mystically depicting the nothingness from which all derives. It is this profound dynamic between the silence of our innermost being and the potent energy underlying all creativity that the Alef Trust seekes to foster in all its work. The Alef depicts the infinite potential that facilitates individual and collective transformation.
Online. Never distant.
We educate through a unique online approach, providing 1-to-1 virtual tuition and guidance. We focus on the areas of transpersonal psychology, consciousness studies, spirituality and the application of transpersonal principles in professional development. We collaborate with the International Transpersonal Association and the Scientific and Medical Network to deliver the best possible learning experience.
Our online postgraduate programmes bring together people from around the world who work in diverse professional arenas. Our international learning community includes coaches, therapists and counsellors, as well as health and education professionals and people from many other professions.
We also provide Open Learning opportunities to people around the world who want to study purely for personal enrichment. Our Open Learners have access to the same high quality resources as our postgraduate students and they form an integral part of our community.
In all our educational programmes we cultivate dynamic, practice-oriented learning, honouring intellectual as well as experiential knowing, and we aim to enhance opportunities for those who otherwise would not be able to benefit from programmes for personal or professional development.
We endeavour to provide transformative education and community programmes which serve the emergence of new paradigm science, nurturing the development of human consciousness and culture.
We encourage personal and professional development through multiple ways of knowing, embracing creative, spiritual and somatic practices alongside intellectual study. We are dedicated to creating unique education experiences which are rooted in academic excellence and which advocate for cultural self-expression and inclusivity, ecological sustainability, and compassionate service to the world. We take a holistic and multifaceted approach which aligns itself with no single religious or scholarly viewpoint. Rather, we encourage a diversity of perspectives through which insights from spiritual traditions and transpersonal psychology might be effectively integrated into personal development as well as professional practices and development.
Our Guiding Principles
We believe in the irreducibility of consciousness.
We embrace the idea that human consciousness cannot be reduced to brain activity as currently conceived, that consciousness is continuously evolving at both individual and collective levels, and that spiritual traditions and practices can help us relate to the evolving nature of consciousness by expanding our capacity to experience the world beyond the ‘ego’.
We support the development of new methodologies for the rigorous study of spiritual practices and extraordinary experiences.
We embrace transpersonal research methods which acknowledge lived experience and altered states of consciousness (e.g. as engendered by meditative or ecstatic practices). Such methods not only provide valid sources of scientific data, but they also increasingly express the aspirations of our changing society.
We aspire to facilitate transformation.
We aim to foster a broader recognition in society of transformative practices (many of which derive in the first place from the world’s spiritual and mystical traditions) that enhance personal well-being and growth, and which promote reconciliation and collective evolution and harmony. We also aim to support the development and dissemination of new, safe and effective techniques of self-exploration and transformation, to supplement recognized and scientifically-validated medical, psychotherapeutic and coaching practices.
we strive to provide a range of creative and transpersonal processes
In our projects and courses we strive to provide a range of creative and transpersonal processes which offer opportunities for a deepening of self-awareness and spiritual connection. We strive to refine our own practices as vehicles for transformation, by continuously developing our understanding of how our work affects us and our clients. We recognise the value of mindfulness and reflective practice in growth-promoting work. We aim to join our clients on their journeys with openness, integrity and presence, being respectful and supportive of their needs whilst offering a challenging perspective when appropriate.
We endeavour to foster spiritual integrity.
We respect every individual’s right to pursue the spiritual path of his or her choice, and we embrace a diversity of practices which aid self-discovery, provided that they are pursued safely, without harm to others, and in appropriate contexts.
We maintain an open-minded approach to the exploration of the world.
We believe that the human mind should be unimpeded by rigid adherence to existing paradigms. This principle is based on the recognition that reality is infinitely more complex than any one scientific theory can describe, and that, whilst theoretical models can usefully integrate the data known at a particular time, they are at best only temporary approximations of the structures and processes to which they relate; they can never provide an accurate, exhaustive, and final description of ‘objective’ reality.
Transpersonal approaches to professional development
Any notion of a boundary between personal and professional development has long been dissolved. Without a grounded sense of self, healthy psychological perspective, compassion for others and an awareness of the emotional and psychological needs of your co-workers and colleagues, your professional life will suffer as a result.
Over recent years there has been increasing recognition not only of the personal, psychological and health benefits of transpersonal and contemplative practices like meditation and active imagination, but also of their value in business and other professional areas. These trends have been guided by extensive research, and reflect a major reorientation of our society. Companies including Google, Target and General Mills support their staff using meditative and other practices that promote mindful and other transpersonal states, and many business schools (e.g. Harvard University) are promoting the benefits of transpersonal methods in business and leadership professions. At the Alef Trust we provide learning programmes which support these, and other examples of transpersonal methods in business and professional development.
We are living at a time of seismic shifts taking place in our society, with the values traditionally associated with religion and spirituality impinging potently on all walks of academic and professional life. Through the Alef Trust we are helping to lead these shifts – our mission is to nurture the potential for transformation in all our programmes to make a better world. We engage in spheres that we believe genuinely make a difference: creativity for wellbeing and growth, transpersonally-oriented therapy, ecological psychology, transformational and mindful leadership, transpersonal coaching.
Transpersonal approaches to personal development
Personal development is in some sense a misnomer, for any work on the self will lead beyond the personal. As we pursue transformative practice and study, we are challenged to perceive the transient nature of our ordinary ‘I’, and we are drawn to engage with the collective and archetypal dynamics and patterns which shape our lives – an engagement which can lead to a profound expansion of our sense of self, who we are and why we exist. From this vantage point we recognize that the individual and the collective are two sides of the same coin. Spiritual practices which embed our individuality within larger transpersonal frameworks thus play a key role not only in the psychological growth and fulfillment of individuals, but in the evolution of groups, communities and our society as a whole.
At the Alef Trust we draw on the insights of wisdom traditions alongside cutting-edge research in such areas as cognitive neuroscience, medical humanities, anthropology and psychology to enhance individual and collective well-being, motivation and performance.