Lectures, Notes & Outlines
Lecture Outlines (Click here to access these documents)
Wolff estimated that prior to August 7, 1936, he had delivered a thousand lectures “in various towns such as Chicago, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Louisville, Des Moines, Denver, Los Angeles, and in other places.” Many of these lectures were delivered during the late 1920s and through the end of 1930, which was a period that Wolff was associated with the Benares League of America. A pamphlet titled “Mantra Yoga Science” that was published at this time lists twenty-seven different “Free Public Lectures by Yogagñani” that were held every Sunday at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Wolff saved the outlines of most of these lectures, and indeed, of a good number more. Some of these outlines have an accompanying page or so of notes that are titled with the name of the lecture. All in all, there are outlines of ninety-five different lectures in the Wolff Archive, which are listed together in a table that can be accessed by using the link above. In addition, several lecture announcements (including the one previously mentioned) can be found here.
Transcribed Lectures & Coursework (Click here to access these documents)
After his two “Fundamental Realizations” in 1936, Wolff produced the journal that would be published as Pathways Through to Space as well as most of his book, The Philosophy of Consciousness Without an Object; and, he wrote a number of pieces that may be found in the Essays section of the Wolff Archive. Wolff also continued to lecture, and in the fall of 1937, he inaugurated a two-year series of lectures in Chicago for his Midwestern students. There are documents in the Wolff Archive that indicate that these lectures made up four different courses:
- “Toward Cosmic Consciousness” consisted of two series of lectures that ran from 13 September 1937 to 28 September 1937. This course dealt with “the problem of consciousness transformation” in religious and philosophical terms. The Wolff Archive contains a binder (tabbed by date) of a student’s notes taken during these lectures.
- “Super-Functional Consciousness” ran from 4 September 1938 to 18 September 1938, and dealt with consciousness transformation from the standpoint of modern analytic psychology. The Wolff Archive contains a class announcement, Wolff’s notes and outlines for several classes, and some diligently transcribed lecture notes. The lecture notes have been edited and reformatted to make them more readable; they are also available in their original form.
- “Subtle Unfoldment” dealt with the “possible incarnation on a subtle Sangsaric plane of consciousness either before the attainment of Liberation, or subsequent to that Attainment.” The dates of this course are not known and there is no material in the archive that corresponds to this course; it is, however, it is mentioned in the outline for the first lesson of the next course.
- A class that consisted of “a combination of the material of the three preceding courses” The only documentation of this class is an outline titled “Chicago Class, Second Series, Lesson I” (26 September 1938).
Given the lack of documentation for the last two courses, it may be the case that they were not held. The Wolff Archive also contains outlines for several 1938 classes (in March and August) that were held prior to the Chicago courses; these classes were most likely held in Los Angeles.
There are several other transcribed lectures in the Wolff Archive, including six pages of notes taken by a student during a 1940 lecture titled “On German National Socialism.” In addition, there is a series of four lectures that Wolff delivered in 1952. Wolff incorporates some of the work of Aurobindo Ghose into these lectures, which are titled “Toward a Conception of the Holistic.” In this series, Wolff introduces the term ‘Holistic’ in order to integrate “The Evolution” with “The Transcendental,” or the finite with the infinite; the series is accompanied by a number of notes that contain definitions, questions, and quotes that Wolff used to inform his “Holistic” project. The Wolff Archive also contains several essays on the Holistic (see the Essays tab), along with documents under the Organizations and Group Work tab that relate to the incorporation of the “Holistic Assembly,” a group project most likely spearheaded by Sherifa, Wolff’s (first) wife.
The lectures described above are listed in a table that can be accessed by using the preceding link; in addition, this table contains material related to courses taught by Wolff, including lessons on “Occult Mathematics” that he taught at the Temple of the People beginning in 1916.
From the late 1950s until his death in 1985, Wolff delivered occasional public lectures, several of which were recorded. Wolff’s primary activity, however, was recording lectures on audio tape in the privacy of his office; these recordings would then be played at public functions, such as the annual “Convention” that Wolff held every August at his Lone Pine ranch. Most of these recordings are discussions that run about an hour in length, although there are a number of series that run from two to sixteen recordings. These recordings (including any public lectures that were recorded) have all been transcribed, and both the audio material and the transcriptions are found under the Audio Recordings tab of the Wolff Archive.
Notes (Click here to access these documents)
In addition to lecture and classwork material, this general section of the Wolff Archive contains a number of “notes” that range from records of discussion points to notes Wolff took while working through a text. Most are undated, and they have been divided into five categories: (1) Personal Notes that document Wolff’s thoughts on a certain topic (generally, as points for discussion); (2) Lists drafted by Wolff—there are two: one, a list of mathematicians by country; the other, a “partial list” of occult powers; (3) Quotations recorded from the listed source; (4) Book Notes that were made as Wolff (or one of his associates) worked his or her way through a text; and lastly, (5) Topic Notes, which are lists of notes relevant to a specific topic that were garnered from one or more texts. It is unlikely that Wolff was the author of all the items in these last three categories; note, for example, that the entry “The Soul” under the Topics Notes category is signed “Sherifa.” In addition, there are a number of topic and book notes that are filed together with a lecture outline in the “Outlines” section above. These notes were catalogued in that section based on the fact that they were titled with the specific name of the lecture, rather than simply a book title or topic title as is the case with those catalogued here.
 Franklin Merrell-Wolff, “Autobiographical Material: The Feminine Side of My Experience, Part 2" (Lone Pine, Calif., May 21, 1982), audio recording.