Notice to Educators and Concerned Citizens

Thank you for your interest in the International Institute for Holistic Arts and Sciences (IIHAS).

Holistic Arts and Sciences is a new field to most. IIHAS is a pioneer in Metaphysical, Spiritual, New Age, Holistic and Neo-Pagan education. Our field of education is unique among academia. It is non-secular, so we cannot be accredited by secular agencies. We are quite different from traditional Christian and Jewish schools, and that precludes us from accreditation through their agencies. It may be that secular, Christian and Jewish establishments disagree with the Metaphysical, Spiritual, New Age, Holistic and Neo-Pagan belief structures. This puts us in a difficult situation, but in good company. The early founders of religious faith and religious schools in this nation came here for the freedom to establish their institutions according to their own conscience. On this freedom we also stand.

With few resources IIHAS is endeavoring to comply with every academic necessity. We will continue to be accountable without compromising our beliefs. In our present condition we cannot know every law of every state or every country concerning their educational standard. Therefore, we do not claim to offer any certification or accreditation beyond a Metaphysical, Spiritual, New Age, Holistic and Neo-Pagan education.

As the leading academic institution in the Metaphysical, Spiritual, New Age, Holistic and Neo-Pagan fields, IIHAS does not know who else can set the standard for our curriculum. Yet, we will continue to attempt to update the quality of our education.

Work is under way to set forth an Accrediting Commission for Metaphysical, Spiritual, New Age, Holistic and Neo-Pagan education. This is will be made up of the member institutions, which will establish standards for curriculum and knowledge transmission.

We welcome you to watch us carefully in the germination of this process. Our goal is to be the best conveyors of Metaphysical, Spiritual, New Age, Holistic and Neo-Pagan education we can be.

Accrediting Committee
The International Institute for Holistic Arts and Sciences  

What is Accreditation?

The U.S. Department of Education does not accredit educational institutions and/or programs. The United States has no Federal Ministry of Education or other centralized authority exercising single national control over post secondary educational institutions in the country. In general, institutions of higher education are permitted to operate with considerable independence and autonomy. American educational institutions can vary widely in the character and quality of their programs. The reputation of a university truly depends on the content of curriculum material, reputation and the quality of its graduates.

Accreditation is optional for all colleges and universities. The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher learning meets acceptable levels of quality. Accrediting agencies, which are private educational associations of regional or national scope, develop evaluation criteria, conduct peer evaluations, and assess whether or not those criteria are met. Institutions and programs that request an agency's evaluation and meet that agency's criteria are "accredited" by that association.

In order to insure a basic level of quality, the practice of accreditation arose in the United States as a means of conducting non-governmental peer evaluation of educational institutions and programs. Private educational associations have adopted criteria and procedures for evaluating institutions or programs to determine whether or not they are operating at basic levels of quality. This has created a level of stability and similarity between all schools. For the most part, this only includes secular colleges and religious schools centered around Christian and Biblical teachings. Because Metaphysical Sciences is considered a "new emerging field of study" by federal and educational agencies, it does not qualify for traditional accreditation that universities like private and state universities, community colleges, and other secular institutions qualify for.  

IIHAS Mission Statement

The International Institute for Holistic Arts and Sciences is an international accreditation association whose purposes are: the continual improvement of education and cooperation among educational institutions and agencies, the certification of accreditation or candidacy status, and the promotion of effective working relationships with other educational organizations and accrediting agencies. IIHAS evaluates and accredits Metaphysical, Spiritual, New Age, Holistic and Neo-Pagan schools, colleges, and religious-spiritual-metaphysical organizations.

The IIHAS has the responsibility for evaluating and accrediting public and private institutions of higher education that offer one or more higher educational programs leading to associate, bachelor, master and doctoral degrees as well as certification and nondegree programs. The IIHAS provides counsel and assistance to established and developing institutions. It strives to protect against encroachments which might jeopardize educational effectiveness or academic and religious/spiritual freedom. The IIHAS sets standards for accreditation. It provides guidance to institutions preparing self-study reports, appoints teams and schedules visits, considers and evaluates the reports and recommendations of visiting teams, and makes accreditation decisions. The normal interval for comprehensive visits for IIHAS member institutions is six years.

The primary purpose of all IIHAS activities is to strengthen institutions through self study, peer evaluation, and appropriate follow-up. The IIHAS seeks to sustain the quality and integrity of institutions. In each instance, a college is judged by how effectively it meets its stated mission and the IIHAS Criteria for Accreditation. The work of the IIHAS is accomplished by the IIHAS staff and the IIHAS member organizations.  

Spirituality vs. Religion

Religious belief has intensified worldwide under the gravitational pull of the millennium, the New Age. In Judaism it is described first in the Old Testament Book of Daniel and then in Christianity in the New Testament Book of Revelation, the millennium is the 1,000-year period when Christ and his saints will reign supreme on Earth in peace and joy. It marks the beginning of a golden age in human history. But it can according to Christianity, come only after Christ's Second Coming and apocalyptic victory over his final enemy, the Antichrist. The symbolism of the millennium is not confined to the Judeo Christian context. Historians, anthropologists and theologians have discovered parallel concepts in Islam where millennial hope fueled a string of 19th century movements, including revolt in Sudan in 1881; in Buddhism, where the third Buddha is to appear at the height of catastrophes, 1,000 years after the nirvana of the second Buddha; in the Persian religion Zoroastrianism, as well as in the Third World cultures of Brazil and Africa.

In North America an array of new religions outside the Judeo Christian framework is taking root. While the center, mainline Christian and Jewish groups, has shrunk, hundreds of smaller, more decentralized "made in America" churches, both fundamentalist and alternative, have flourished. Scores of new religious bodies, from denominations to cults, are created each year. But recently their numbers multiplied into the hundreds and then doubled. When The Encyclopedia of American Religions Second Edition supplement was published in 1987, 206 new groups were listed. Greatest gains were outside the mainstream: 28 new Eastern religious groups, 19 Pentecostals, 11 Adventists, 11 Mormons and 11 "Spiritual, Psychic or New Age" groups. Between 1987 and 1989 alone 400 new groups were formed.

Fundamentalism offers a return to simple times, when values were clearer. New Age adherents take a different tack, rejecting outside authority, turning inward to seek guidance, perhaps through Eastern religion, meditation or the human potential movement. As one New Ager put it, "The way religion is presented traditionally has spoken to our inner selves less and less. .People want a living, feeling experience of spirituality. They learn to get in touch with the soul." Word for word, this very quote could just as easily have come from a fundamentalist Christian.

New Age/New Thought groups share no orthodox theology, but many adopt the East's belief in reincarnation. Unlike the Judeo Christian God pictured far above humankind, there is a strong sense that humanity partakes of the divine. This drives fundamentalists wild. "The notion that man is somehow God is blasphemous," most would say. Yet even the most orthodox catechism states that man is made in the image and likeness of God.

The Search for Meaning

The spiritual quest begins, for most, as a search for meaning. At first this may be only a restless desire for something more. There is coexistence in today's world of a strong religious spirit and material ambition. This is a precarious balance. While the faculties of the great majority of mankind were exclusively bent upon the pursuit of material objects, an amazing reaction has taken place in the souls of some. It would be surprising if mysticism did not soon make some advance among a people solely engaged in promoting its own worldly welfare.

Our vigorous appetite for the material has led us to satiation. There is an increasing yearning for something spiritual in advanced Western societies where materialism has proven unsatisfying. People are discovering that 5 percent per annum more goods is not the definition of happiness. Traditional religion does not seem to provide a substitute for these people. This is why there is a search for personal religion, for direct connection with the spiritual. Ultimately, every human being, once he reaches the stage of self consciousness, wants to feel that there is some inner and deeper meaning to his existence than just being and consuming, and once he begins to feel that way, he wants his social organization to correspond to that feeling. This is happening on a world scale.

But the spiritual shift is not readily uncovered by sociological methods. It is an individual phenomenon. If you try to gauge it by membership in groups, you will not see it. Because they are not much for joining, the people involved in this inner search are hard to pin down statistically. There is a whole new tolerance for the search for transcendence. People who are going in the same direction, who value the same kinds of explorations, surround us. A person is no longer an oddball because he is known to be on a spiritual quest. And he is even envied a little.

Although there is reason to believe that we all have an innate capacity for mystical experience, direct connection, and although about half the population reports having had at least one spontaneous experience, never before has this capacity been explored by people in great numbers. Historically, even in those parts of the world where the most sophisticated techniques were available, India, China, Tibet, Japan, only a tiny minority undertook the systematic search for spiritual understanding.

The sense of our real powers, powers we seem to derive from the universe itself, also comes and goes. We are reluctant to talk about this because there is nothing we can prove, because our language is inadequate, and because few people are willing to risk talking about it. They would have to say, there is a spirit, and that is taboo. The unnamed shores, the power, the spirit, these are the subject of this lesson. We will look at the spiritual experience in contemporary America, an experience that has little to do with religion, as our culture has known it. It also has little to do with exotic cults and practices. The grass roots movement is taking place quietly, manifesting itself in ways unique to this time and place. Most of its adherents are incognito to those looking for conventional symbols of religiousness.

From Religion to Spirituality

The emergent spiritual tradition is not new in American history. It is the revitalization of a stream going back as far as Transcendentalism. Adherents prefer direct experience, an "excursion" to an inner world whose vision then infuses all of life, to any form of organized religion. With its periodic Great Awakenings, the U.S. has always attracted mystics and evangelists. Long before the spiritual revolution we see now, Eastern and Western mystics influenced mainstream American thought. Their ideas were daily bread to the American Transcendentalists and the "beat generation." Yet, all these exports are filtered through the American psyche and experience. Zen, Swedenborgianism, Theosophy, or Vedanta in the U.S. are not what they were in Japan, 18th century England, or 19th century India. American adherents may sometimes use Eastern symbols, but their essential spiritual life is better understood through the American lineage of Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, the Shakers, and others.

Westerners are moving away from the form and trappings of Judaism and Christianity, not because they stopped searching for transcendental answers to the fundamental questions of human life but because that search has now intensified beyond measure. They are looking to Eastern traditions to see what they might offer "our threatened society and our tormented religions." We turn East for completion. The East does not represent a culture or a religion so much as the methodology for achieving a larger, liberating vision. In that sense, the "East" has existed in Western mystical traditions.

Formal religion in the West has been shaken to its roots by defections, dissent, rebellions, loss of influence, diminishing financial support. Unlike the schools, law does not mandate churches and their bureaucracies are not directly tax supported; they cannot pass bond issues or raise property taxes. If they cannot find new roles in a rapidly changing society they may go the way of the railroads. The religious response that has occurred in the Western world, a revolution that has made us more sensitive to the religions of the Orient, is an understanding that whatever answers there are must come from ourselves. The spirit demanding inferiority causes the great turmoil in the religions. Faith is not dying in the West. It is merely moving inside.

The Catholic Church, has suffered a trauma apparent in the new variety of doctrine and discipline among American Catholics, they have found that no one group has full authority nor the ability to impose it on other groups. The American Church is "shaken and uncertain in an anxious, uncertain time." Laypeople are urging reforms, evangelizing and participating in Pentecostal and charismatic movements; by 1979 one half million Catholics were estimated to have become charismatic, speaking in tongues and engaging in healing practices. The number of nuns and priests declined dramatically during the seventies, theologians were dissenting from papal authority, and parochial school populations were declining. Similar rebellions have been taking place in nearly every organized religious body in the country.

An increasing number of churches and synagogues have begun to enlarge their context to include support communities for personal growth, holistic health centers, healing services, meditation workshops, consciousness altering through music, even biofeedback training. Cultural awakenings are preceded by a spiritual crisis, a change in the way human beings see themselves in relationship to each other and to the divine. During "great awakenings" there is a shift from a religion mediated by authorities to one of direct spiritual experience. Not unexpectedly, some religious groups see the emergent spiritual tradition as a fearful threat to the Judeo Christian tradition.

The idea of a God within is particularly disturbing to mainstream religious organizations. "The religious point of view embodied in the holistic health movement," they say, "is an integral part of the mystical worldview that is making a coordinated thrust into every aspect of our cultural consciousness. It is not a fad, it will not go away and it is fundamentally hostile to Biblical Christianity." Ironically, every organized religion has been based on the claims of direct experience of one or more persons, whose revelations are then handed down as articles of faith. Those who want direct knowledge, the mystics, have always been treated more or less as heretics, whether they were the medieval mystics within Christianity, the Sufis within the borders of Islam, or the Cabbalists within Judaism. Now, it seems, the heretics are gaining ground, doctrine is losing its authority, and knowing is superseding belief.

God Within: The Oldest Heresy

In the emergent spiritual tradition God is not the personage of our Sunday school mentality. God is experienced as wholeness, flow, the infinite kaleidoscope of life and death, Ultimate Cause, the ground of being; the silence out of which all sound comes. We need not postulate a purpose for this Ultimate Cause nor wonder what caused the Big Bang that launched the visible universe. Mystical experiences usually leads one to a belief that some aspect of consciousness is imperishable. In a Buddhist metaphor the consciousness of the individual is like a flame that burns through the night. It is not the same flame over time, yet neither is it another flame.

The Vision: Light And The Coming of The Light

Contemporary mystical experiences from many individuals and many parts of the world have centered in recent years on a collective and intensifying vision, the sense of an impending transition in the human story: an evolution of consciousness as significant as any step in the long chain of our biological evolution. The consensual vision, whatever its variations sees this transformation of consciousness as the moment anticipated by older prophecies in all the traditions of direct knowing, the death of one world and the birth of a new, an apocalypse, the end of days period in the Kabala, the awakening of increasing numbers of human beings to their godlike potential.

The dream of light and liberation is poetically expressed in an apocryphal contemporary Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ. "For too long," it says, "our temples have been the tombs of the hidden things of time. Our temples, crypts, and caves are dark. We have been unable to see the patterns. "In light there are no secret things. There is no lonely pilgrim on the way to light. Men only gain the heights by helping others gain the heights. We know that the light is coming over the hills. God speed the light."

* The above is taken from the College of Metaphysical Studies course: TH-106 A Historical and Theological Perspective on the New Age.  

Contact IIHAS

P.O. BOX 1994, Largo FL 33779
Phone: (727) 538-9976