He was born in Tehran and raised in a Zoroastrian family from Kerman, Iran. Just before he turned 17 he left Iran to peruse his education in the United States – 1977. He finished high school in Indianapolis and eventually studied at Goddard College in Vermont.
But a couple of years after the Iranian revolution at the start of the war between Iran and Iraq/America/West he had to drop out of college. He worked as apprentice carpenter in San Francisco, California then he worked as waiter. He moved back to Vermont and continued working as waiter and at the same time went back to peruse his “higher education”. In February 1995 he completed his Masters in Social Ecology with the concentration in Sustainable Agriculture and Community Development.
As part of a working introduction to Ecology of Sainty Roz wrote, “In 1988 I went back to college and studied Transpersonal Psychology, Mythology, Archetypal Studies, took poetry and dream workshop and learned about different meditation techniques and practices. It was Burlington College in Burlington Vermont. A couple of years into taking these courses I went for a ten day meditation retreat in Massachusetts when an esoteric event threw me out of the ordinary and into different dimension or altered state of consciousness.
Getting back to my apartment in Burlington from that meditation was a challenge of it’s own. Then challenge was to figure out what, how and why I went into that state of consciousness. At first I got a reference to a paragraph in a book which helped me to normalize the energy system in my body so I could get a little grounded. Trying to explain what had happened to friends or even professionals didn’t feel helpful at the time.
A year later I moved to Boulder, Colorado in hopes to pursue a Masters Degree in Transpersonal Psychology so maybe I’d find out what had happened and at the same time be in a better position to find work in a field that I could relate to. I was rejected by the program. However I sought counseling from a woman who was a recent graduate of the same program and in less than an hour she heard me. She had an aha moment of recognition as in, “Oh, you went there and back! And the people who helped you get there thought you might have gone crazy!?!” She was amazed, furious and emphatic all at the same time. I remember her facial expression and her tone of voice vividly. My frustration, sadness, and loneliness was lifted, letting me relax into simple experience of no concern, or worries, and being held for a moment. I simply thanked her and she charged me the least amount of money I had ever been charged by a therapist. I used to think of her as a kinder soul hearing me out but now I also see her Shamanic tendencies and ability. The shaman is a kinder soul who is fearless and travels to where others won’t. One reason I’m telling this story is to prepare the reader for the story of the Shaman on a House Call in Ecology of Sanity.
That single meeting with her helped me move to the next step of my journey. She also reminded me of fantastic teachers, mentors and friends I had at Burlington College. I changed my mind from graduate studies in Transpersonal Psychology to Social Ecology so I could be practical and change the world! I wanted to use sustainable community agriculture to empower communities. Use liberating technology and education to empower people. I started to remember a class I took at Goddard College in 1981 where I first heard about the philosophy of Social Ecology. In the summer of 1992 I moved back to Vermont and began the Master’s program in Social Ecology at Goddard. The program began with an intensive residential month where we studied about dialectical naturalism. I met Murray Bookchin, a secular Jewish-American guy from Brooklyn who had moved to Vermont – similar background as Bernie Sanders and born 20 years than the U.S.Senator from Vermont. I believe in the core of his theory however from one perspective I was more aligned with Dan Chodorkoff, who co-founded the Institute for Social Ecology with Murray in 1974.
In one of his lectures Murray had said that believing in not having an ideology was an ideology in itself. For a couple of months, I struggled with that. I wanted to choose a better ideology than the one I apparently had chosen without knowing – the ideology of having no ideology. Still I kept gravitating towards openness and wrote to Dan about it, who had taken me on as an advisee. Around October of that year Dan wrote a memorable comment: ”…you have recognized that your ideology is openness. This is an important insight. I too, though I have a clearly (I hope) articulate set of beliefs, have rejected the concept of ideology. That is because an ideology is, by definition, a closed system of belief. Instead I have embraced the concept of philosophy of life. This is not, for me, simply a semantic distinction. Rather than be locked into a system of thought, a philosophical orientation allows one to develop a core set of principles around which one can orient ideology, in other words to stand for a set of values, yet retain the openness to continually re-evaluate those beliefs in relation to new experiences and ideas. I find this a much more valuable approach than on which is purely ideological“.
In Ecology of Sanity essay series in this website and other places I use the term “social ecology” in reference to Murray Bookchin’s philosophy of dialectic naturalism with a Chodorkoffian twist.”
You can find Roz on Twitter @rozomid