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KFA Explorations Conference 2016

KFA Explorations Conference 2016

An inquiry into how we approach crises in the world
and our underlying assumptions

Monday, May 2 - Thursday, May 5

Facing a World in Crisis

How do we respond to global challenges and crises?

Our proposed solutions contain assumptions regarding the underlying causes of these crises. Many of these assumptions are unexamined, but nevertheless they frame our perspective. The goal of this conference is to critically examine these assumptions and frameworks, in order to unearth a more coherent view of ourselves and the current state of our world. We have invited a panel of academia/scholars to delve into these questions and explore with the participants.

Some of the contemporary global challenges and crises that we face include, but are not limited to, the on-going issues of economic and health inequalities, war and terrorism, climate change, and the place of new technologies such as artificial intelligence and genome editing. Our considerations of these issues tend to veer towards various prescriptive actions. That is, we need to do A, B and C with respect to problems X, Y and Z.  Less commonly considered in our approach (to arriving at possible solutions) is the critical question of the validity of our assumptions regarding the underlying origins or causal structure of these problems.

Broadly, there appear to be two kinds of frameworks about the underlying causal structure of such challenges and crises. The first of these frameworks postulate that ‘external’ conditions and events play the predominant, causal role in the creation of these problems. The second of these frameworks emphasize the role of our ‘inner’ human condition as the main source of these problems. Although the reciprocal nature of the relationship between such ‘external’ and ‘internal’ conditions and states is readily apparent (that is, each of these, at any given time, influences and also is influenced by the other), it is less clear whether, in terms of their underlying temporal causal structure, one set of conditions is more fundamental or basic than the other. This question may have important implications for our efforts to arrive not only at possible solutions to these challenges, but also at a clearer understanding of the determinant(s) of our own ‘inner’ nature.

This conference will bring together an inter-disciplinary panel of individuals with a shared interest in addressing these problems, but whose approaches represent primarily one or the other of these perspectives, in order to inquire and critically examine the basis and assumptions that underlie our divergent approaches to understanding the cause(s) of these global crises. The event will feature a formal series of presentations and discussion sessions, with ample opportunities for additional informal exchanges between the panelists and conference attendees.



$250 for full event (without lunch)

$295 for full event (with lunch)
*note: lunch must be reserved by Friday April 29 at 12:00 PM Pacific Time.

$100 for separate days (no lunch)

$115 for separate days (with lunch)
*note: lunch must be reserved by Friday April 29 at 12:00 PM Pacific Time.

Live Streaming

Event available online via live streaming.

$20 for entire event stream


Program Schedule

    Mon. May 2 Tues. May 3 Wed. May 4 Thurs. May 5
Session 1 9:30 - 10:30 AM   Talk by Pathik Wadhwa

War and
Terrorism: Fear,
Group Identity
and Conflict

with Mark Habeeb

Do The World’s Crises Reflect How We Perceive Them?
with Daniel Kilpatrick
  10:30 - 11:00 AM   Break Break Break
  11:00 AM - 1:00 PM   Exploration Exploration Exploration
Lunch 1:00 - 2:30 PM   Lunch Lunch Lunch
Session 2 2:30 - 3:30 PM   The Crisis of
Identity Politics

with Connie Jones
The Paradox of Changing the World: Notice... who is it that wants it to change and why?
with Kathryn Jeffires

Closing Session
(2:30 - 4:30 PM)

  3:30 - 4:00 PM   Break Break
  4:00 - 6:00 PM   Exploration Exploration
Evening 6:00 - 8:00 PM Opening Session      



Mark Habeeb Mark Habeeb
Foreign Services

Mark Habeeb, PhD, has taught for over 15 years in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and has worked for over 25 years as an international consultant specializing in government relations, foreign policy and negotiation strategy.

Mark's teaching, writing and research focuses on conflict resolution, international negotiation and the role of group identity in global conflicts. He has been an advisor to the Negotiations Support Unit of the Palestinian National Authority; the Foreign Ministries of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia; and the United Nations. From 1989 to 1991 he was Chairman of the Forum for U.S.-Soviet Dialogue, a group that promoted peaceful resolution of superpower conflict. He currently is a Fellow of the Middle East Studies Association. Mark began his Washington career as a foreign policy advisor to former Senator Gary Hart.

Presenting: War and Terrorism: Fear, Group Identity and Conflict

Kathryn JeffriesKathryn Jefferies

Kathryn Jefferies received her PhD from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. For the past three years she has taught in the Department of Education at Lakehead University in Canada. She has previously taught in Central America, South America, and North America, with students of all ages in various settings (small grassroots schools, wilderness expeditions, inner city schools, and elite secondary schools). She is the author of Awake: Education for Enlightenment, and Wide Awake: Anatomy of Awakening.

Kathryn's dissertation, Ontological Intelligence: Consciousness, Mind, and Inquiry in Education, centered on Krishnamurti's work. Her research interests include: Inquiry-based Learning; Holistic Education; Transformative Learning; Experiential Education, Nature of Mind and Consciousness; Non-conceptual Intelligence; Child Authority and Autonomy/Democratic Classrooms and Schools; Embodied Learning/Ways of Knowing; Contemplation Practices in Education; Right-brain Learning.

Presenting: Do the World’s Crises Reflect How We Perceive Them?

Dan Kilpatrick Daniel Kilpatrick
Neuroscience, Molecular Biology, Developmental Biology

Daniel L. Kilpatrick, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Microbiology and Physiological Systems and Neuroscience at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego, and his doctorate from Duke University. His research focuses on how self-organizing gene networks controlling development and its timing give rise to emergent properties of the nervous system, and their potential relevance to neurodevelopmental alterations underlying autism.

Dan has had a long-time interest in human nature and inquiry into how we perceive ourselves and the world around us. The insights of J. Krishnamurti and others have been a valuable part of this journey, helping to reveal that the opportunity for self-discovery is present in each and every moment and does not depend on circumstance.

Presenting: Do the World’s Crises Reflect How We Perceive Them?
Connie JonesConnie Jones
Sociology of Religion

Connie Jones, Ph.D, is a Professor of Sociology of Religion in the Transformative Inquiry Department at California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. She has published widely on the meeting of East and West in intellectual history. As a Fulbright Scholar in India, she taught at Banaras Hindu University and Vasanta College and conducted research on J. Krishnamurti at the Krishnamurti Study Centre at Rajghat, Varanasi. She authored Encyclopedia of Hinduism with James Ryan.

Presenting: The Crisis of Identity Politics

Pathik PadhwaPathik Wadhwa
Development and Health 

Pathik D. Wadhwa, MD, PhD, is a Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics, and Epidemiology at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine. He received his medical degree from the University of Pune in India, and his doctorate from the University of California, Irvine.

Pathik’s research examines the interface between biological, social, and behavioral processes in human pregnancy, with an emphasis on outcomes related to fetal development, birth, and subsequent newborn, infant, and child health. His work has been continuously supported by research grants from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and other agencies.  He has a long-standing interest in formulating and examining questions.


Panelist Presentations

The Crisis of Identity Politics
Tuesday May 3, 2:30 PM
with Connie Jones

Speaking to the global crisis on war and terrorism Connie Jones is looking at identity politics to explore how “identification” can be a barrier to self-inquiry and the development of a kind of intelligence that could possibly be an important factor to meet this global crisis. She will also explore the very assumption that the development of this intelligence has an effect on this global crisis. And the  assumption that the "approach" of self-inquiry necessarily leads to a resolution of inner and outer violence.

She will also address the approach or perspective that celebrates and values tribalism, as a means to bring about change and equality and to end suppression of particular groups.


War and Terrorism: Fear, Group Identity and Conflict
Wednesday May 4, 9:30 AM

with Mark Habeeb

We cannot begin to understand war and terrorism without understanding the assumptions we make and the narratives we have constructed around these phenomena. Otherwise, our “solutions” are only likely to cause deeper problems and crises – for example, if we choose to fight war with more war, terrorism with more terror.

The question is whether the underlying causal structures of these problems are “external” – historical events and trends, political and economic factors, etc. – or “internal” – the nature of the human mind and human condition. In fact, causal explanations involve both external and internal factors that relate to each other and feed on each other.

This is most apparent when one considers the issue of group identity. All of us identify with certain groups – family, ethnic, religious, racial, political and national. These group identities serve important roles in our lives: they provide a sense of community and security, of belonging, and – in the case of religion in particular – of meaning. These are powerful needs that group identities meet. If these needs were unmet, we would live in great fear. So group identities are a way that we deal with fear.


The Paradox of Changing the World:
Notice…who is it that wants it to change and why?
Wednesday May 4, 2:30 PM

with Kathryn Jeffries

Where do we notice this world that we are calling “in crisis”? In ourselves, of course. In its obviousness, we tend to miss it and therefore miss its significance. So it is here that we need to begin. Can we take responsibility for our own internal world? If we are witnessing war and terrorism in our external world, where are we at war within ourselves? If we are noticing a toxic environment, can I notice where it is that my internal environment is toxic? “You are the world,” said Krishnamurti. If we see the possibility of this being literal rather than metaphoric then we can be open to seeing the massive implications of what this means. And not until then. The first assumption, then, is to look at this apparent ‘world.’

When we look at assumptions we are making about the world, we can also look at the concept of crisis itself. I suspect that like me, most people would find this word to contain negative connotations like being in peril or danger (of what, we also need to ask); however, upon closer examination we can see that there are other interpretations of crisis, such as turning point, crossroads, watershed, moment of truth, zero hour, point of no return... So even if we accept that we are in a crisis then the possibilities for permanent change could be coming out of this very crisis. In other words, if indeed we are in a time of “intense difficulty, trouble, or danger” (one of the meanings of crisis), we cannot assume that this is not part of the equation — part of the path — of waking up to a greater reality that lies behind what we are readily perceiving. We use the word “crisis” to refer to “the turning point of a disease when an important change takes place, indicating either recovery or death.” Suffering seems to have its place in awakening to a fuller consciousness.

It is easy to externalize cause and therefore avoid taking responsibility for our own state of consciousness. And, of course, looking to oneself does not preclude taking action. Indeed, in my experience (and as K explained, in his own experience), clarity and therefore energetic response, can only come from this looking inward.


Do the World’s Crises Reflect How We Perceive Them?
Thursday May 5, 9:30 AM

with Dan Kilpatrick

We perceive and interact with the world around us through our senses and through movement, thinking, speech, etc. In this way the brain puts together our perception of the world and ourselves, our reality. It all functions so well that we generally take it for granted that what we are experiencing is actually how things are, even though we apparently sense only a fraction of what exists.

Yet, not all of our interactions with the world seem to work so well. We seem to have many problems with each other and within ourselves, and as a human population we find ourselves with many immediate or impending crises. What underlies all these difficulties and crises? Is there a common source, or are the sources as numerous as are the problems and challenges themselves? Must these crises be understood in terms of the specific causes and effects that underlie each one?

Is it possible that the “origins” of our conflicts and crises lie in the very way we tend to perceive all this in the first place; that is, in the very perspective through which we are looking at these problems, even now? Is the way we tend to perceive these problems revealing something significant about the nature of these crises themselves, and vice versa?

Is it possible that these are not separate aspects, our perspective/perceiving and the world’s crises? Does the sense that they are separate reflect certain unconscious assumptions underlying our viewpoint? Do these assumptions get in the way of understanding what is happening? Or, is it an assumption that such assumptions exist at all?

Krishnamurti spoke of the urgent necessity of first understanding ourselves in order to address the problems of humanity. Is it possible that our perspective also influences and determines how we understand what he meant, and its significance for the world’s problems?

The intention of this segment of the program is to explore the question of how each of us individually is looking at all of this, as it is happening, to see what it might reveal. We will be looking at this within the context of climate change as an ongoing world crisis.