A Course in The Dramatic Universe of John Bennett

A Course in The Dramatic Universe of John Bennett

This is a hypothetical outline and not a planned event, to give the sense of what such a course might be.


In his master-work 'The Dramatic Universe the late John Bennett took all human knowledge as his province and attempted to construct a coherent representation of 'life, the universe and everything'. The interesting thing about this enterprise was that it was based on an underlying concept of uncertainty in all our knowledge and experience. Bennett was adamant that the old idealised and authoritative systems were finished. The question was: how then to proceed?

His work can help us find our own answers to that question. It can do this by inspiring us to ask that question in the first place and all the other questions that follow after. We can find ways of exploring our experience and going into it ever more deeply. We are alive in this universe for only a short time and we need to look into what is really going on, while we can.

Behind the writing of the four volumes of 'The Dramatic Universe' was a great deal of inner work activity. What was presented as an act of cool reason in fact derived from inspired discovery in the practice of certain methods. We can follow in this path, using some of the methods that Bennett used in his time, but also taking advantage of what is emerging in the contemporary world.

On every front, things have changed radically since the 50's and 60's when the volumes appeared. There have been radical revelations in astronomy, physics and biology (of such things as black holes, quarks and DNA coding). The global situation has become even more complex and frightening and our inherited views of human society severely challenged. There have even been changes in the practice of 'inner work', the meaning of which now appears in a different light than before.

In this course, we will engage not only in the ideas but also in the inner 'energies' through which they operate. We will use exercises to change perception and the sense of self, including the 'movements' which Gurdjieff created. We will bring in new material which is challenging every schema, every construct. And we will exercise considerable concern with our mutual communication, or dialogue. All the methods created and developed through the DuVersity over the last decade will come into play. The DuVersity is an organisation devoted to furthering the principle: Integrate diversity without losing difference.

The Course will be in four parts, each of which will be centred on one of the four volumes of The Dramatic Universe. Each part will last for three full days. A fifth part will follow on the Course of four, as synthesis and transition to future studies. For every part there will be a guest speaker as proposed (but not committed) in the listings below. The 'additional material' gives suggestions of supplemental and broadening material from other sources.

1. Experience and the Universe

  • The universality of experience which is prior to existence.
  • The triad of all experience.
  • What it is to know.
  • Space, Time and Beyond
  • Levels of existence and the structure of the universe.

Guest speaker example: John Allen, creator of Biosphere 2

Additional material from the work of David Bohm and George Spencer Brown

2. Heaven and Earth

  • Duality of Fact and Value
  • Triad of Will
  • Tetrad of Being
  • Pentad of Essence
  • Higher Intelligence
  • Universality of Drama

Guest speaker example: Simon Weightman, Head of Religious Studies, SOAS, University of London

Additional material from the work of Varela and Charlotte Bach

3. Structures of Wholeness

  • Thought Forms in Understanding
  • The Human Question
  • The Social Order
  • Hexad of Becoming
  • The Enneagram
  • Biosphere and Noosphere

Guest speaker example: Henri Bortoft, author of 'The Wholeness of Nature'

Additional material from the work of A. N. Whitehead and William Pensinger

4. History as Realisation

  • The Present Moment
  • The War with Time
  • Heptad of Realisation
  • Cycles of Time
  • Progress
  • Communication with the Future

Guest speaker: to be announced.

Additional material to be announced.

Those who complete all four parts of the Course will be invited to a one day dialogue on the 'Fifth Volume' intimated in the final piece of writing - for the introduction to Volume IV - on the uniqueness of the present moment. "..there must be as many 'Systems of the World' as there are Individual Wills. By the principle that wills coalesce to form Greater Present Moments, systems of explanation can also coalesce; but they cannot be simplified, in the way that has been so often attempted, by reducing them all to a common denominator. This is why systems that start from universal principles alone, fail to give any satisfactory account of individual experiences, especially of individual wills.

5. The Fifth Element

  • Uniqueness and Complexity
  • Transfinite Qualities
  • Dialogue and Intelligence
  • Synergy and DuVersity

Note: since this programme is still in development, we welcome suggestions as to content, contributors and venues. Please contact the Registrar.