- Existence: May 18, 1936
Ralph Metzner was born to Wolfgang and Jill (Laurie) Metzner in Berlin, Germany on May 18, 1936. Metzner moved to the United States in 1958 and became a naturalized citizen in 1968. He earned his baccalaureate degree at Oxford University in 1958, graduating with first class honors. Metzner then continued his studies at Harvard University, earning a doctorate in Clinical Psychology in 1962. While at Harvard, Metzner worked with Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (who later became Ram Dass) on the Harvard Psilocybin Projects. Metzner writes of this period, “Starting in 1961 I spent six years researching psychedelic drugs as tools for consciousness expansion and personal growth. Since that time I’ve pursued many other paths to greater awareness.” Upon leaving Harvard, Metzner began practicing psychology, first as an intern and then as a staff psychologist. He was employed by various institutions, including Concord State Prison (1961-1963), the Castalia Foundation (1963-1965), Mendocino State Hospital (1967-1968), the Kaiser Permanente Medical Group (1968-1969), and the Fairview State Hospital (1970-1972). In addition, Metzner also founded and directed the Star Mountain School, a high school for emotionally unwell adolescents, from 1972 until 1973. Throughout this period Metzner continued to collaborate with Leary and Alpert, co-authoring The Psychedelic Experience in 1964. He also edited the Psychedelic Review publication from 1965 until 1967, and a book (again working with Leary) entitled The Psychedelic Reader. In conjunction with his career training, Metzner pursued his search for higher levels of consciousness. One mode of thought he found particularly attractive was Actualism as developed by Russell Schofield. To pursue this further, Metzner enrolled in the School of Actualism in Los Angeles in 1968. By the 1970s, Metzner had deeply immersed himself in the study of Agni Yoga, a meditative system focused on life-energies. He practiced this intensively for a decade, during which time he also returned to the School of Actualism as a staff teacher and completed two books. Maps of Consciousness was published in 1971 as one of the first efforts to comparatively chart states of consciousness. Know Your Type was published in 1978 and provided an assessment of all personal typologies, both ancient and modern. During the late 1960s, Metzner branched out in a new direction, opening his own private practice as a psychotherapist and consultant in Palo Alto, California. By 1975, Metzner started teaching at California Institute of Integral Studies as an associate professor. In 1979 he became the academic dean, a position which he held until 1988. Currently Metzner is Professor Emeritus at the California Institute of Integral Studies and remains active with the Green Earth Foundation. The Green Earth Foundation, with Metzner as its cofounder and president, is an educational organization that seeks to improve the relationship between humanity and the Earth through research in consciousness studies, shamanism and earth mythology, and ecological studies and eco- or green-psychology.