Great Books – 2023

Dates: Noted below on each individual session. All calls are held from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM Pacific Time
Format: Live webinars on Zoom. All sessions will be recorded and will be posted on this page for access for registered students as well as on our YouTube channel.
Zoom Information: Once you have registered for this program, please ensure you are signed in to your account and return to this page to access the “Get Your Zoom Link” lesson. You must register separately on Zoom to get your participation codes and reminder emails.
Faculty: Various
Academic Credit: Bachelors- 3 credits, Masters – 3 credits; Doctoral – 3 credits

At the heart of the world wisdom traditions are books that distill the essence of the teachings of the masters down through the ages. Many have no authors, some are compilations over long periods of time, others reflect teachings of masters who themselves never wrote a word. Socrates and Jesus never wrote any books, for instance, but Plato wrote his Dialogues recalling his memory of what Socrates said and the Gospels recount the life of Jesus many decades after Jesus had gone. Other books have legendary authors but appear to be compilations heavily redacted over many centuries. Some books are considered “God’s word” such as the Bible or the Koran and have endured for millennia inspiring countless millions of believers. Others remain obscure and speak deeply symbolic truths hidden within the layers of the language in the text itself. Still others express the essence of a tribal tradition on the brink of extinction and are valued for what is on the verge of being lost. Great books continue to be written by individuals alive today.

New Recordings can be accessed on the UbiVerse.  Please also join our discussion group on the UbiVerse.

Faculty: Each year, Dr. Jim Garrison and Dr. Gyorgyi Szabo choose six books they consider “great” and examine each one. Guest lecturers with specific expertise were invited to participate either in dialogue with Dr. Garrison and Dr. Szabo, or as lead lecturers. This course is available for Internal Online Independent Study.

Learning Objectives

  • To understand the qualities that distinguish a literary work as a “Great Book.”
  • To reflect upon the challenges framed by authors in ancient times in light of current global crises.
  • To grapple with deep issues common to all humanity through active discussion, web forum postings, and/or paper assignments.
  • To compare the major themes of the books studied.

Academic Credit: Students taking the course for credit should submit a post paper at the end of each trimester which includes two books. Bachelors level post-papers are 6-9 pages in length, Masters level post-papers are 10-15 pages in length, and Doctoral level are 20-25 pages. Papers should be written in APA style, with footnotes and bibliography. Papers should demonstrate the student’s knowledge of the books for the course and discuss how the content has contributed to the student’s understanding of themselves and to their spiritual growth. Artistic expression is welcomed.

The rules guiding our assignment collection and grading process can be found here: Ubiquity University Grading Policy

The following books will be examined in 2023:


January 10 and February 14

Jim Garrison, PhD, on Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall

Prisoners of Geography is an important background book when seeking to understand a conflict like Ukraine. The book is built around ten maps of various regions around the world to show how geography shapes politics, geostrategic relations, culture, even religion, in fundamental ways. In a world of internet, mass media and global communications, it is easy to think we are more free and more empowered than we actually are. Context shapes content and geography is the most fundamental context we have. The mountains, rivers, deserts and oceans don’t move. Humans must adapt and this is the power of geography.

Jim Garrison, PhD is the President and Founder of Ubiquity University. He has been studying great books since childhood as the son of missionaries to China and Taiwan where he was able to delve into eastern spirituality, particularly Buddhism and Taoism. His double Masters degree in the History of Religion and Christology at Harvard University and his doctorate on a Jungian analysis of ancient Judeo-Christian apocalyptic literature at Cambridge University enabled him to study texts across the spectrum of Axial religions and wisdom traditions. He has spent a lifetime studying great books from east and west, both ancient and modern, sacred and secular.


March 14 and April 11

Maryam Sayyad, PhD, on The Golden Ass by Apuleius (translated by E.J. Kenney)

This amusing and seemingly unassuming novel contains several significant treasures for scholars of mythology, mystery cults, analytical psychology, and Egyptology.  These treasures include its embedded tale of “Eros and Psyche,” and its detailed account of initiation into the cult of Isis.

Both are about the growth of the soul: one is about psychic transformation, the other about spiritual initiation. One claims that love tortures the psyche into growth, the other that the “Mother of the Universe” furthers psychic growth by recalling her devotees home to their divinity and immortality. Writing in the second century C.E. at a time when the Great Goddess and the pagan mysteries are beginning their descent under the crypts of th e Christian Empire, Apuleius leaves behind one of the most stunning portraits of the Great Goddess found  anywhere in the world mythological record. 

Maryam Sayyad, PhD is a mythologist and designer who emigrated from Tehran, Iran and lives in Los Angeles. She is a scholar, writer, lecturer, story consultant and serves as Director of Art and Education for Cross Cultural Expressions (CCE). She has taught courses and lectured in myth, psyche, philosophy, and writing at Ubiquity, Studio School, and CCE and has served as consultant and co-writer on several myth-based film and animation projects. Currently, she’s co-writing the second in a series of mytho-psychological films in partnership with the Department of Mental Health, and working on her first book, Death, a Love Story: a Comparative Study of Mythic Encounters Between Love and Death. She earned her PhD in Mythology and Depth Psychology in 2022 from Pacifica Graduate Institute. maryamsayyad@live.com 


May 9 and June 13

Raffaelo Manacorda on The Book of Secrets by Osho

The Book of Secrets is Osho’s unorthodox commentary on the Vijñan Bhairava Tantra (VBT), one of the fundamental Tantric texts of the Kashmiri Shaivism lineage (ca VII century AD). In it, with his characteristic depth, wit, and humor, Osho presents the 112 meditation techniques contained in the VBT as practical ways to approach the center of our being. What emerges is a presentation of Tantra as a practical spiritual framework based on radical self- acceptance, an inclusive and holistic path that encourages us to use anything we have at our disposal in order to access the ultimate nature of reality.

Raffaello Manacorda is an international facilitator, author, and practitioner in the field of embodied spirituality. He has trained in several styles of Tantra and Yoga for over twenty years. After completing his MA in Philosophy, he is now enrolled in the Ph.D. in Wisdom Studies at Ubiquity University. Raffaello serves as lead faculty in ISTA, the International School of Temple Arts, and teaches and lectures worldwide. He is the co-creator of the ISTA Practitioner Training (PT), a program for coaches and practitioners in the field of conscious sexuality, and the author of “Conscious Relationships, The Art of Bringing Awareness to Intimacy & Sexuality.”


July 11 and August 8

Sanna Lamb on Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity by David Whyte

“To have a firm persuasion, to set out boldly in our work, is to make a pilgrimage of our labors, to understand that the consummation of work lies not only in what we have done, but who we have become while accomplishing the task.” – David Whyte 

As a culture today, it’s easy to lose touch with one’s deeper calling and find oneself questioning, ‘What is this all about?’ David Whyte, widely acclaimed poet, author of ten books of poetry and three books of prose on the transformative nature of work, provides clues in his book “Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity”. He defines work as “an opportunity for discovering and shaping the place where self meets the world.” Reading Whyte’s poetic language, rich in symbolism and metaphor, is a somatic delight. He describes his own path to identity with precision and artistry as he shares his learning journey in ways that invite our own inner revelations. This book is a wonder and pleasure to read. It provides a relatable map for one of life’s great triumphs “to feel that our work is both right for ourselves and good for the world”. Join us for personal journaling and deep dive discussions to uncover more of “who we are at work” and how we can find greater meaning and direction for our lives.  

 Sanna Lamb is a doctoral student at Ubiquity and dedicated to global community, diversity and inclusion. With a BA in Economics and Mass Communications, her “pilgrimage to identity” started in corporate marketing and sales. Questioning the meaning of work, she shifted to development work for a university hospital. A near-death experience launched her into world travel researching the Body-Mind Connection. Her education includes Body-Centered Psychotherapy, Pre- and Perinatal Birth Psychology, Trauma Healing, Conscious Transitions and Transformational Education. Arriving at Integrative and Transpersonal Psychology, she co-led an international seminar center for 14 years. Motivated by a vision of “Inspired Togetherness”, her work bridges and heals fragmentation. As a master coach, speaker, creator and facilitator of programs on subjects of self-worth, authentic leadership and professional identity, she works with forward-thinking leaders and organizations who are ready to enter into vulnerable conversations about purpose, meaning and identity with an edge that points to “Where do we go from here?”


September 12 and October 10

Jim Garrison, PhD, on The True Believer by Eric Hoffman

Erik Hoffman was a longshoreman and philosopher who examined deeply the social and political currents of the 1920s through the ending of the Second World War. He noted what Carl Jung and Hannah Arendt observed, that what was at play was what Jung called “mass hysteria” and Arendt called the “mass psychology of fascism.” Hoffman meticulously examines the processes both socially and psychologically that draws individuals into what Mattias Bendel in his book The Psychology of Totalitarianism calls “mass formation,” in which all the individuals remain essentially conventional and sane but collectively engage in what can only be called collective insanity. With what transpired with the recent COVID pandemic and now with Ukraine, we see collective hysteria and mass formation at work. Hoffman’s The True Believer is key to understanding the danger we are in. 


Jim Garrison, PhD is the President and Founder of Ubiquity University. He has been studying great books since childhood as the son of missionaries to China and Taiwan where he was able to delve into eastern spirituality, particularly Buddhism and Taoism. His double Masters degree in the History of Religion and Christology at Harvard University and his doctorate on a Jungian analysis of ancient Judeo-Christian apocalyptic literature at Cambridge University enabled him to study texts across the spectrum of Axial religions and wisdom traditions. He has spent a lifetime studying great books from east and west, both ancient and modern, sacred and secular.


November 14 and December 12

Gyorgyi Szabo, PhD, on The Fairy Tales of Hermann Hesse  .

To read Hermann Hesse’s fairy tales is to enter a fabulous world of dreams and visions, philosophy and passion. This landmark collection contains twenty-two of Hesse’s finest stories in this genre, most translated into English here for the first time. Full of visionaries and seekers, princesses and wandering poets, his fairy tales speak to the place in our psyche that inspires us with deep spiritual longing; that compels us to leave home, and inevitably to return; and that harbors the greatest joys and most devastating wounds of our heart. Containing all the themes common in Hesse’s great novels Siddhartha, Steppenwolf, and Demian—and mirroring events in his own life, these exquisite short pieces exhibit the same mystical and romantic impulses that contribute to the haunting brilliance of his major works. 


Gyorgyi Szabo, Ph.D is the Dean of Graduate Students at Ubiquity University. She was a Co-Founder and Academic Dean of the ‘Ervin Laszlo Center for Advanced Study’ (ELCAS). She served as the Director of Research and Development of the Center’s Exploratoria Program. She was co-creator of the WorldShift International Foundation, and the WorldShift 2012 organizations, and currently serves as the Executive Director at the Laszlo Institute of New Paradigm Research and a Member of the Advisory Board of the Memnosyne Foundation. She lectures worldwide and has published two books; papers in The Scientific and Medical Network’s Review, The Shift Network, and World Futures: The Journal of New Paradigm Research. Gyorgyi Szabo holds a PhD in Sociology – Summa Cum Laude awarded by the Sorbonne, University of Paris. She is also a trained Reiki and Reconnective Healing practitioner. Her holistic approach to metaphysics and interest in conscious evolution serves as foundation for her work in facilitating cooperative evolution toward a peaceful and regenerative world. other of nine extraordinary human beings, all of whom and out of necessity made her a philosopher early on.

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