Naropa University Oakland Campus

Master of Liberal Arts in Creation Spirituality                                      



CSP 745                                           Number of credit units: 1

Instructor: Michael Mansfield       Instructor’s contact phone number: (510) 525-2347



Spring 2004; Thursdays – 6:00 - 8:30 PM


Course Description:

The sacred texts needed for our times are given a stage so that the body can process and make the word flesh in community. This is a way to experience the quest for knowledge and to do research in a far more accessible and engaging manner than the conventional reading of sacred sources.  “Mining” the treasures trapped in books can be tedious and isolating. Allowing words to take on flesh in community can make the quest for deeper understanding and richer spirituality a far more accessible, fun, engaging, and shared process. Together we will unearth and breathe life into the sacred texts needed for our times, drawing from our many wisdom traditions. By giving the page a stage, we enter the form and content of the text and meet the grace and revelation of the written word with unprecedented speed. We will seek to make the texts truly “mine,” yours, and ours – body and soul.


Course Learning Objectives:

·        Enter spiritual traditions and sacred texts through dance

·        Deepen your lifeskill of improvisation as spiritual practice

·        Learn dance/choreographic techniques

·        Develop personal and communal movement vocabularies to help create ease in ritual storytelling, ritual theater, and ritual dance

·        Begin to dance the sacred text of your own life


Course Requirements:

            1. Attendance – Attend to the dance                 70%

            2. Sacred Textlogue                                         

            3. Sacred Text Times:

                        Written Text                                         10%

                        Visual Text                                           10%

                        Dance Text                                           10%

Open to all human beings. No previous dance experience necessary.  Dress comfortably.


Course Additional References:

            The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron

            Sweat Your Prayers: Movement as Spiritual Practice – Gabrielle Roth

            One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths – Matthew Fox

            The Torah

            The New Testament

            The Koran

            The Four Noble Truths and The Eightfold Path

            I Ching and The Path of Man

            Tao Te Ching

            The Bhagavad-Gita


Course Outline:


February 12                 Pagan Texts and Dance Wisdom

February 19                 Jewish Texts and Women’s Wisdom

February 26                 Christian Texts and Youth Wisdom

March 4                       Islamic Texts and Indigenous Wisdom

March 11                     Buddhist Texts and Poetic Wisdom

March 18                     No Class – Optional Intensive

March 25                     No Class – Spring Study Week

April 1                          Confucian Texts and Fools’ Wisdom – April Fool’s Day

April 8                          Taoist Texts and Queer Wisdom – Holy Thursday

April 15                        Hindu Texts and Activist Wisdom

April 22                        Personal Texts and Creation Wisdom – Earth Day

April 29                        Dancing the Sacred Texts of Our Lives



Speaking to a Japanese Shinto priest,

a social philosopher from New York remarked:

“I’ve been now to a good many ceremonies

and have seen quite a few of your shrines.

But I don’t get your ideology.

I don’t get your theology.”

The priest paused as though in deep thought

and then slowly shook his head.

“I think we don’t have ideology.

We don’t have theology.

We dance.”

The Power of Myth

Joseph Campbell