In the late 1970s fresh ideas were sprouting in American culture. Modern medicine was beginning to consider the value of prevention, nutrition, and the mind-body connection. Science, psychology, and religion were entering into creative conversations. Seeds from Eastern philosophies were being planted in the West, cross-fertilizing, and blossoming into a new, global spirituality. Music, dance, literature, and art from all over the globe were influencing each other in exciting ways, and social change movements like feminism, civil rights, and environmentalism were transforming our cultural identity and societal structures.
Omega Institute came to life in these rich and changing times. Founded in 1977 by Eastern scholar Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, holistic medical doctor Stephan Rechtschaffen, and educator Elizabeth Lesser, Omega was conceived as a university for lifelong learning. We took our name from the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a 20th century Jesuit priest and evolutionary biologist who spoke of the “Omega Point,” or the point of unity toward which all of life is evolving. This movement toward unity, balance, and wholeness—within an individual and in the culture at large—is also expressed by the word “holistic.” And so, Omega Institute for Holistic Studies was born.
Omega has served as a gathering place for great thinkers, creatives, spiritual teachers, and social visionaries. Four decades ago our holistic studies coursework was far from the mainstream, but today Omega has grown into an institute of influence way beyond our early imaginings. When our doors opened in 1977, a few hundred inquisitive participants walked through. Today we welcome close to 23,000 people annually, and reach nearly 2 million people around the globe on our website and social media platforms. We have become one of the largest and most trusted centers for lifelong learning in the world, offering an integrated approach to personal growth and social change, and continuing to connect our work with innovators around the globe.