The Aquarian Conspiracy, by Marilyn Ferguson

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

The Aquarian Conspiracy, by Marilyn Ferguson

Postby admin » Sat Apr 27, 2019 12:54 am

The Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformation in the 1980s
by Marilyn Ferguson
Foreword by Max Lerner
© 1980 by Marilyn Ferguson

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Image

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For Eric, Kris, and Lynn

Time, events, or the unaided individual action of the mind will sometimes undermine or destroy an opinion without any outward sign of change. . . .No conspiracy has been formed to make war on it, but its followers one by one noiselessly secede. As its opponents remain mute or only interchange their thoughts by stealth, they are themselves unaware for a long period that a great revolution has actually been effected.

-- ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE


And I strive to discover how to signal my companions ... to say in time a simple word, a password, like conspirators: Let us unite, let us hold each other tightly, let us merge our hearts, let us create for Earth a brain and a heart, let us give a human meaning to the superhuman struggle.

-- NIKOS KAZANTZAKIS


This soul can only be a conspiracy of individuals.

- -PIERRE TEILHARD DE CHARDIN


Table of Contents

• Foreword by Max Lerner
• Acknowledgments
• Introduction
• CHAPTER 1: The Conspiracy
• CHAPTER 2: Premonitions of Transformation and Conspiracy
• CHAPTER 3: Transformation: Brains Changing, Minds Changing
• CHAPTER 4: Crossover: People Changing
• CHAPTER 5: The American Matrix for Transformation
• CHAPTER 6: Liberating Knowledge: News from the Frontiers of Science
• CHAPTER 7: Right Power
• CHAPTER 8: Healing Ourselves
• CHAPTER 9: Flying and Seeing: New Ways to Learn
• CHAPTER 10: The Transformation of Values and Vocation
• CHAPTER 11: Spiritual Adventure: Connection to the Source
• CHAPTER 12: Human Connections: Relationships Changing
• CHAPTER 13: The Whole-Earth Conspiracy
• APPENDIX A: Summary of Questionnaire Responses
• APPENDIX B: Resources for Change
• References and Readings
• Index
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Re: The Aquarian Conspiracy, by Marilyn Ferguson

Postby admin » Sat Apr 27, 2019 12:57 am

Foreword
by MAX LERNER

I first encountered Marilyn Ferguson in her book. The Brain Revolution, and later in her remarkable bi-weekly research report, the Brain/Mind Bulletin. Both gave me a foretaste of what was to come.

Now, with The Aquarian Conspiracy, she has written a book on the transformation of our consciousness that will itself leave a mark on the consciousness of our time.

Marilyn Ferguson is the best reporter today on the farther reaches of investigation into the life and human sciences. She represents a new kind of investigative journalist — not a sleuth after the corruptions of a politician but one tracking the spoor of a new research idea in all its windings; following it to its sources and its affinities in allied fields, its conclusions, its implications for the whole spectrum of human thought and consciousness.

She has had the courage to undertake this book as a participant-observer of the transformative process. Setting out to shed some light on the riddle of intelligence, she got ensnared by the mysteries and revelations of brain research, reached out to every discipline radiating from it — and was never the same again.

She has proven to be a whirlwind of information, thought, and activity, a whole exploratory "network" in herself.

Conferences on the mind's dimensions and the brain's functioning have called her everywhere. One day she would be in Los Angeles, the next two days in Denver, the weekend in Houston or Princeton, then back to San Francisco or San Diego. She lives on conferences, programs, and discussions as the rest of us live on protein and carbohydrates. Her observation post is in every auditorium, her garrison on every university campus, her spies in every little consciousness group and every laboratory.

Nietzsche talked of philosophy as the gaya science, the joyful science, and to Marilyn Ferguson the area of knowledge she has staked out for her reporting and synthesizing is a joyful science. She describes with excitement the world of those who have strained to see past the blinders on the human spirit and have thrown them off, and she matches her own mood to their sense of optimism. "I bring you good news" is her message.

It is news that we are in the midst of a knowledge revolution that shows signs of breakthrough:
that researchers in the human sciences are moving independently in converging lines toward common targets; that they are discarding traditional models of the cosmos and ourselves — of the nature of nature and the nature of human nature — and reaching for new ones; that they have been spurred on by recent work on the brain hemispheres, on molecular biology, and biochemistry, on the genetic code, on primatology and ethnology, on biofeedback and altered states of consciousness, on medicine and psycho- therapies, on archaelogy and astronomy, on the evolutionary process, on the structure of language and the nature of meaning, on leadership and power, and on the governance of peoples and nations.

Thus, the startling fact is that for the first time an American renaissance is taking place in all the disciplines, breaking the boundaries between them, transforming them at their farthest reaches — where they all converge.

The reader will meet a number of key concepts on these pages — paradigms and paradigm shifts, entropy and syntropy, holism, holographs, the uncertainty principle, dissipative structures, punctuated evolution. This is not a "popularization" that reduces the essence of these concepts in any way. It is, rather, the humanizing of the research and discoveries that have heretofore been beyond the reach of all but the initiates.

We must all be grateful to the author for her impressive skills of exposition and synthesis that make the book a forerunner of others to come, once the path has been blazed. It is bound to become an important element in the "open conspiracy" of search, research, and intelligence it describes.

A final word about the book's mood. I have for some time been impatient with the prevailing sense of pessimism and despair, especially among the intellectual and professional groups of the "New Class." I am not blind to the tragic and absurd, which seem to have been built into our time and perhaps into the human constitution. But I also feel that the sense of hope and possibility is also built in over the millennia of human coping. It is no small part of the new transformative insights that they have released this sense of hope and possibility.

Amidst the prevailing gloom the news the author brings us is of an open human nature in an open universe. Like the work of the people it describes, this is a book drenched in sunlight.
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Re: The Aquarian Conspiracy, by Marilyn Ferguson

Postby admin » Sat Apr 27, 2019 12:59 am

Acknowledgments

There can be no full accounting of my debt to the hundreds of persons who contributed to this project in various ways since its inception in 1976, but they know who they are and will recognize their input here and there. To them, and to the busy people who took the time to respond to the Aquarian Conspiracy survey, my thanks.

A special thank-you to Anita Storey, longtime friend and co-worker, for her unflagging support, insights, and humor . . . and to Sandra Harper, an extraordinary research assistant, agent of serendipity . . . and to my children, Eric, Kris, and Lynn Ferguson for demonstrating understanding beyond their years during an often trying period.

Many who helped are quoted in the book in the context of their specific expertise. For dialogue, feedback, and encouragement, I'm grateful to Marthe Bowling, David Bresler, Harris Brotman, Nancie Brown, Meg Bundick, Jo Capehart, Dorothy Fadiman, James Fadiman, Elaine Flint, Jerry Harper, Marjorie King, Jytte Lokvig, Jack McAllister, M. S. McDonald, Brendan O'Regan, Karen Rose, Bob Samples, Judith Skutch, Robert A. Smith, III, Dick Traynham, and Brian van der Horst.

Thanks to Janice Gallagher and Victoria Pasternack for their dedicated editorial efforts; to Mary Lou Brady, publisher's assistant, for her friendship and liaison.

Most of all, my profound thanks to Jeremy Tarcher, whose sustained editorial creativity and commitment to this project made him the kind of publisher writers dream about but never expect to find.

Lines from the poem "Olbers' Paradox" from Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Who Are We Now? , copyright © 1976 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, reprinted by permission of New Directions. Lines from the poem "A Ritual to Read to Each Other," copyright © 1961 by William Stafford, from his volume Stories That Could Be True, reprinted by permission of Harper & Row Publishers, Inc. Lines from the poem "God Is a Verb," from Buckminster Fuller, No More Second-Hand God, reprinted by permission of the author. Lines from the poem "The Thought of Something Else," copyright © 1965 by Wendell Berry, from his volume Openings, reprinted by permission of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., New York. The passage from Gandhi the Man by Eknath Easwaran reprinted by permission of Nilgiri Press, Box 477, Petaluma, California 94952.
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Re: The Aquarian Conspiracy, by Marilyn Ferguson

Postby admin » Sat Apr 27, 2019 1:06 am

Introduction

In the early 1970s, while researching a book about the brain and consciousness, I was deeply impressed by scientific findings demonstrating human capacities well beyond our idea of “the norm." At that time the social implications of this research were essentially unexamined in science and unknown to the public. The research was specialized, scattered through many disciplines, technically written, and published two or three years after the fact in journals that circulate primarily to specialty libraries.

While science, in its objective fashion, was generating surprising data about human nature and the nature of reality, I saw that hundreds of thousands of individuals were coming upon subjective surprises of their own. Through systematic explorations of conscious experience, using a variety of methods, they were discovering such phenomena of mind as accelerated learning, expanded awareness, the power of internal imagery for healing and problem solving, and the capacity to recover buried memories; insights from these explorations changed their values and relationships. They were reaching out now for any information that would help them make sense of their experiences.

Perhaps because it was one of the first attempts at synthesis, my book, The Brain Revolution: The Frontiers of Mind Research, made me an unofficial clearinghouse for researchers who saw the implications of their findings, individuals wanting to compare notes, and media people looking for background on the burgeoning interest in consciousness. To meet this apparent need for connection and communication, in late 1975 I began publishing a twice-monthly newsletter, Brain/Mind Bulletin, encompassing research, theory, and innovation relating to learning, health, psychiatry, psychology, states of consciousness, dreams, meditation, and related subjects.

The newsletter was a lightning rod for energy I had greatly underestimated. The immediate response — an avalanche of articles, correspondence, and calls — confirmed that rapidly growing numbers of people were exploring new territory, both in radical science and radical experience. As I traveled around the country, lecturing and covering conferences, I found these pioneers everywhere. And the new perspectives were being put to work. The social activism of the 1960s and the "consciousness revolution" of the early 1970s seemed to be moving toward a historic synthesis: social transformation resulting from personal transformation — change from the inside out.

In January, 1976, I published an editorial, "The Movement That Has No Name." It said, in part:

Something remarkable is underway. It is moving with almost dizzying speed, but it has no name and eludes description.

As Brain/Mind Bulletin reports on new organizations — groups focusing on new approaches to health, humanistic education, new politics, and management — we have been struck by the indefinable quality of the Zeitgeist.

The spirit of our age is fraught with paradox. It is at the same time pragmatic and transcendental. It values both enlightenment and mystery . . . power and humility ... interdependence and individuality. It is simultaneously political and apolitical. Its movers and shakers include individuals who are impeccably Establishment allied with one-time sign-carrying radicals.

Within recent history "it" has infected
medicine, education, social science, hard science, even government with its implications. It is characterized by fluid organizations reluctant to create hierarchical structures, averse to dogma. It operates on the principle that change can only be facilitated, not decreed. It is short on manifestos. It seems to speak to something very old. And perhaps, by integrating magic and science, art and technology, it will succeed where all the king's horses and all the king's men failed.


31. {Kappa-Epsilon-Phi-Alpha-Lambda-Eta Lambda-Alpha} THE GAROTTE

IT moves from motion into rest, and rests from rest into motion. These IT does always, for time is not.
So that IT does neither of these things. IT does THAT one thing which we must express by two things neither of which possesses any rational meaning.
Yet ITS doing, which is no-doing, is simple and yet complex, is neither free nor necessary.
For all these ideas express Relation; and IT, comprehending all Relation in ITS simplicity, is out of all Relation even with ITSELF.
All this is true and false; and it is true and false to say that it is true and false.
Strain forth thine Intelligence, O man, O worthy one, O chosen of IT, to apprehend the discourse of THE MASTER; for thus thy reason shall at last break down, as the fetter is struck from a slave's throat.

-- "The Book of Lies," by Aleister Crowley


Perhaps, I wrote, the indefinable force is an idea whose time has come, and it is robust enough now to be named. Yet how could one characterize this groundswell?

The reader response to the editorial and the requests from other journals for permission to reprint it confirmed that many were sensing and seeing the same forces.

Months later, while outlining a not-yet-titled book about the emerging social alternatives, I thought again about the peculiar form of this movement: its atypical leadership, the patient intensity of its adherents, their unlikely successes. It suddenly struck me that in their sharing of strategies, their linkage, and their recognition of each other by subtle signals, the participants were not merely cooperating with one another. They were in collusion. "It" — this movement — was a conspiracy!

"They were in collusion. It -- this movement -- is a conspiracy!"


Ferguson used a half-truth to tell a lie. The counterculture is a conspiracy -- but not in the half-conscious way Ferguson claim -- as she well knows. Ferguson wrote her manifesto under the direction of Willis Harman, social policy director of the Stanford Research Institute, as a popular version of a May 1974 policy study on how to transform the United States into Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. The counterculture is a conspiracy at the top, created as a method of social control, used to drain the United States of its commitment to scientific and technological progress.

That conspiracy goes back to the 1930s, when the British sent Aldous Huxley to the United States as the case officer for an operation to prepare the United States for the mass dissemination of drugs. We will take this conspiracy apart step-by-step from its small beginnings with Huxley in California to the victimization of 15 million Americans today. With 'The Aquarian Conspiracy', the British Opium War against the United States has come out into the open.

-- The Aquarian Conspiracy, by Executive Intelligence Review


At first I was reluctant to use the term. I didn't want to sensationalize what was happening, and the word conspiracy usually has negative associations. Then I came across a book of spiritual exercises in which the Greek novelist, Nikos Kazantzakis, said he wished to signal his comrades, "like conspirators," that they might unite for the sake of the earth. The next day the Los Angeles Times carried an account of Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's speech to the United Nations Habitat Conference in Vancouver; Trudeau quoted from a passage in which the French scientist-priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin urged a "conspiracy of love."

Conspire, in its literal sense, means "to breathe together." It is an intimate joining.
To make clear the benevolent nature of this joining, I chose the word Aquarian. Although I am unacquainted with astrological lore, I was drawn to the symbolic power of the pervasive dream in our popular culture: that after a dark, violent age, the Piscean, we are entering a millennium of love and light — in the words of the popular song, "The Age of Aquarius," the time of "the mind's true liberation."

Whether or not it was written in the stars, a different age seems to be upon us; and Aquarius, the waterbearer in the ancient zodiac, symbolizing flow and the quenching of an ancient thirst, is an appropriate symbol.

Over the next three years, a period of endless research, rethinking, and revision of this book, the title got around. It invariably provoked a startled, amused reaction as the conspirators recognized themselves and their collusion to change social institutions, modes of problem solving, and distribution of power. Some signed their letters as "co-conspirators" or addressed correspondence to me "c/o The Aquarian Conspiracy." The label seemed fitting for the solidarity and intrigue of the movement.

As its networks grew, the conspiracy became truer with every passing week. Groups seemed to be organizing spontaneously all over the country and abroad. In their announcements and internal communications, they expressed the same conviction: "We are in the midst of a great transformation. ..." "In this period of cultural awakening . . ." Conspirators connected me with other conspirators: politicians, stewards of corporate or private wealth, celebrities, professionals trying to change their professions, and "ordinary" people accomplishing miracles of social change. These, in turn, put me in touch with still others and their networks.

Help came in many forms: research assistance, leads, privately circulated papers, books and articles, expertise, critiques of the manuscript in its various drafts, encouragement, assistance in uncovering the rich history of the transformative vision.
Those who helped wanted nothing in the way of recognition; they only wanted others to feel what they have felt, to glimpse our collective potential.

In late 1977, to check out my own assessment of the conspiracy and the views of its adherents, I sent questionnaires to two hundred and ten persons engaged in social transformation in many different areas. [1] One hundred and eighty-five responded. They represented many different fields and walks of life. Although many are well known and a few even famous, most are people whose names are not widely recognizable. Only three asked for anonymity; this is indeed an "open conspiracy."

It is difficult — perhaps even inappropriate — to assess the direct impact that the research report Changing Images of Man may have had on society. One reason is that the study was not published promptly, hence it did not enter the standard bibliographic reference systems that can be used for such assessments. (Interestingly, until Ervin Laszlo and Pergamon Press initiated their Explorations of World Order Series, the study was judged unsuitable for commercial publication because it did not fall into any of the marketing categories that publishers conventionally use.) A second, and more significant, obstacle to assessing the impact of the book stems from an increasing recognition since it was first released — that the emerging transformation of society seems to be proceeding by way of a diffuse network of interrelated influences, no one of which seeks to be a "central project" (see, for example, the article "The Basic Paradigm of a Future Socio-cultural System" by Virginia Hine included here as Appendix F). Certainly many of the ideas contained in Changing Images of Man are being debated and extended in a variety of settings throughout the society. Two recent books, New Age Politics (Satin, 1978) and the Aquarian Conspiracy (Ferguson, 1980), describe much of this activity from a proponent's point of view.

-- Changing Images of Man: Prepared by the Center for the Study of Social Policy/SRI International, edited by O. W. Markley, Project Director and Willis W. Harman, Project Supervisor


Participants are not identified in connection with their questionnaire statements, although the names of many appear in the text because they have also expressed their views publicly. The conspiracy should not become associated with personalities. Once identified, individuals who have worked quietly for change might find it hard to function under scrutiny. More important, artificial distinctions might be drawn as to who is or is not a conspirator. Names would focus attention on the wrong thing; a conspirator can be anyone.

Much as I was hesitant at first to use the word conspiracy, when I began writing the first draft of this book I shied away from the word transformation. It connoted great, perhaps impossible, change. Yet we seem to know now that our society must be remade, not just mended, and the concept has come into common usage. People speak freely of transforming this or that institution or procedure, and individuals are less self-conscious about discussing their own transformation — an ongoing process that has changed the tenor of their lives.

There are risks, of course, in drawing attention to the once-anonymous movement that has operated so effectively without publicity. There is always the possibility that this great cultural realignment will be co-opted, trivialized, exploited; indeed, that has already happened to some extent. And there is a danger that the trappings and symbols of transformation will be mistaken for the difficult path.

But whatever the risks of disclosure, this conspiracy, whose roots are old and deep in human history, belongs to all of us. This book charts its dimensions — for those who belong to it in spirit but have not known how many others share their sense of possibility, and for those who despair but are willing to consider the evidence for hope.

Like the charting of a new star, naming and mapping the conspiracy only makes visible a light that has been present all along but unseen because we didn't know where to look.

Marilyn Ferguson
Los Angeles, California
January 1980

_______________

Notes:

1 The questionnaire is summarized in Appendix A.
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Re: The Aquarian Conspiracy, by Marilyn Ferguson

Postby admin » Sat Apr 27, 2019 1:24 am

CHAPTER 1: The Conspiracy

After the final no there comes a yes
And on that yes the future of the world depends.

— WALLACE STEVENS


A leaderless but powerful network is working to bring about radical change in the United States. Its members have broken with certain key elements of Western thought, and they may even have broken continuity with history.

This network is the Aquarian Conspiracy. It is a conspiracy without a political doctrine. Without a manifesto. With conspirators who seek power only to disperse it, and whose strategies are pragmatic, even scientific, but whose perspective sounds so mystical that they hesitate to discuss it. Activists asking different kinds of questions, challenging the establishment from within.

Broader than reform, deeper than revolution, this benign conspiracy for a new human agenda has triggered the most rapid cultural realignment in history. The great shuddering, irrevocable shift overtaking us is not a new political, religious, or philosophical system. It is a new mind — the ascendance of a startling worldview that gathers into its framework breakthrough science and insights from earliest recorded thought.

The Aquarian Conspirators range across all levels of income and education, from the humblest to the highest. There are schoolteachers and office workers, famous scientists, government officials and lawmakers, artists and millionaires, taxi drivers and celebrities, leaders in medicine, education, law, psychology. Some are open in their advocacy, and their names may be familiar. Others are quiet about their involvement, believing they can be more effective if they are not identified with ideas that have all too often been misunderstood.

There are legions of conspirators. They are in corporations, universities and hospitals, on the faculties of public schools, in factories and doctors' offices, in state and federal agencies, on city councils and the White House staff, in state legislatures, in volunteer organizations, in virtually all arenas of policy-making in the country.

Whatever their station or sophistication, the conspirators are linked, made kindred by their inner discoveries and earthquakes. You can break through old limits, past inertia and fear, to levels of fulfillment that once seemed impossible ... to richness of choice, freedom, human closeness. You can be more productive, confident, comfortable with insecurity. Problems can be experienced as challenges, a chance for renewal, rather than stress. Habitual defensiveness and worry can fall away. It can all be otherwise.

In the beginning, certainly, most did not set out to change society. In that sense, it is an unlikely kind of conspiracy. But they found that their lives had become revolutions. Once a personal change began in earnest, they found themselves rethinking everything, examining old assumptions, looking anew at their work and relationships, health, political power and “experts," goals and values.

They have coalesced into small groups in every town and institution. They have formed what one called "national non-organizations." Some conspirators are keenly aware of the national, even international, scope of the movement and are active in linking others. They are at once antennae and transmitters, both listening and communicating. They amplify the activities of the conspiracy by networking and pamphleteering, articulating the new options through books, lectures, school curricula, even Congressional hearings and the national media.

Others have centered their activity within their specialty, forming groups within existing organizations and institutions, exposing their co-workers to new ideas, often calling on the larger network for support, feedback, back-up information.

And there are millions of others who have never thought of themselves as part of a conspiracy but sense that their experiences and their struggle are part of something bigger, a larger social transformation that is increasingly visible if you know where to look. They are typically unaware of the national networks and their influence in high places; they may have found only one or two kindred spirits in their workplace, neighborhood, or circle of friends. Yet even in small groups — twos and threes, eights and tens — they are having their impact.

You will look in vain for affiliations in traditional forms: political parties, ideological groups, clubs, or fraternal organizations. You find instead little clusters and loose networks. There are tens of thousands of entry points to this conspiracy. Wherever people share experiences, they connect sooner or later with each other and eventually with larger circles. Each day their number grows.

However bold and romantic this movement may seem, we shall see that it has evolved from a sequence of historical events that could hardly have led elsewhere . . . and it expresses deep principles of nature that are only now being described and confirmed by science. In its assessment of what is possible, it is rigorously rational.

"We are at a very exciting moment in history, perhaps a turning point," said Ilya Prigogine, who won the 1977 Nobel prize for a theory that describes transformations, not only in the physical sciences but also in society — the role of stress and "perturbations" that can thrust us into a new, higher order.

Science, he said, is proving the reality of a "deep cultural vision." The poets and philosophers were right in their intimations of an open, creative universe. Transformation, innovation, evolution — these are the natural responses to crisis.

The crises of our time, it becomes increasingly clear, are the necessary impetus for the revolution now under way. And once we understand nature's transformative powers, we see that it is our powerful ally, not a force to be feared or subdued. Our pathology is our opportunity.


In every age, said scientist-philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, man has proclaimed himself at a turning point in history. "And to a certain extent, as he is advancing on a rising spiral, he has not been wrong. But there are moments when this impression of transformation becomes accentuated and is thus particularly justified."

Teilhard prophesied the phenomenon central to this book: a conspiracy of men and women whose new perspective would trigger a critical contagion of change.

Throughout history virtually all efforts to remake society began by altering its outward form and organization. It was assumed that a rational social structure could produce harmony by a system of rewards, punishments, manipulations of power. But the periodic attempts to achieve a just society by political experiments seem to have been thwarted by human contrariness . . . and now what?

The Aquarian Conspiracy represents the Now What. We have to move into the unknown: The known has failed us too completely.

Taking a broader view of history and a deeper measure of nature, the Aquarian Conspiracy is a different kind of revolution, with different revolutionaries. It looks to the turnabout in consciousness of a critical number of individuals, enough to bring about a renewal of society.

"We cannot wait for the world to turn," said philosopher Beatrice Bruteau, "for times to change that we might change with them, for the revolution to come and carry us around in its new course. We ourselves are the future. We are the revolution."

THE PARADIGM SHIFT

New perspectives give birth to new historic ages. Humankind has had many dramatic revolutions of understanding — great leaps, sudden liberation from old limits. We discovered the uses of fire and the wheel, language and writing. We found that the earth only seems flat, the sun only seems to circle the earth, matter only seems solid. We learned to communicate, fly, explore.

Each of these discoveries is properly described as a "paradigm shift," a term introduced by Thomas Kuhn, a science historian and philosopher, in his landmark 1962 book. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn's ideas are enormously helpful, not only because they help us understand how a new perspective emerges but also how and why such new views are invariably resisted for a time.

A paradigm is a framework of thought (from the Greek paradigma, "pattern"). A paradigm is a scheme for understanding and explaining certain aspects of reality. Although Kuhn was writing about science, the term has been widely adopted. People speak of educational paradigms, paradigms for city planning, the paradigm shift in medicine, and so on.

A paradigm shift is a distinctly new way of thinking about old problems. For example, for more than two centuries, leading thinkers assumed that Isaac Newton's paradigm, his description of predictable mechanical forces, would finally explain everything in terms of trajectories, gravity, force. It would close in on the final secrets of a "clockwork universe."

But as scientists worked toward the elusive ultimate answers, bits of data here and there refused to fit into Newton's scheme. This is typical of any paradigm. Eventually, too many puzzling observations pile up outside the old framework of explanation and strain it. Usually at the point of crisis, someone has a great heretical idea. A powerful new insight explains the apparent contradictions. It introduces a new principle ... a new perspective. By forcing a more comprehensive theory, the crisis is not destructive but instructive.

Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity formed the new paradigm that superseded Newton's physics. It resolved much unfinished business, anomalies and riddles that would not fit into the old physics. And it was a stunning alternative: The old mechanical rules were not universal; they did not hold at the level of galaxies and electrons. Our understanding of nature shifted from a clockwork paradigm to an uncertainty paradigm, from the absolute to the relative.

A new paradigm involves a principle that was present all along but unknown to us. It includes the old as a partial truth, one aspect of How Things Work, while allowing for things to work in other ways as well. By its larger perspective, it transforms traditional knowledge and the stubborn new observations, reconciling their apparent contradictions.

The new framework does more than the old. It predicts more accurately. And it throws open doors and windows for new exploration.

Given the superior power and scope of the new idea, we might expect it to prevail rather quickly, but that almost never happens. The problem is that you can't embrace the new paradigm unless you let go of the old. You can't be half-hearted, making the change bit by bit. "Like the gestalt switch," Kuhn said, "it must occur all at once." The new paradigm is not "figured out" but suddenly seen.

New paradigms are nearly always received with coolness, even mockery and hostility. Their discoveries are attacked for their heresy. (For historic examples, consider Copernicus, Galileo, Pasteur, Mesmer.) The idea may appear bizarre, even fuzzy, at first because the discoverer made an intuitive leap and does not have all the data in place yet.

The new perspective demands such a switch that established scientists are rarely converted. As Kuhn pointed out, those who worked fruitfully in the old view are emotionally and habitually attached to it. They usually go to their graves with their faith unshaken. Even when confronted with overwhelming evidence, they stubbornly stick with the wrong but familiar.

But the new paradigm gains ascendance. A new generation recognizes its power. When a critical number of thinkers has accepted the new idea, a collective paradigm shift has occurred. Enough people have caught onto the new perspective, or have grown up with it, to form a consensus. After a time that paradigm, too, is troubled by contradictions; another breakthrough occurs, and the process repeats itself. Thus science is continually breaking and enlarging its ideas.

Real progress in understanding nature is rarely incremental. All important advances are sudden intuitions, new principles, new ways of seeing. We have not fully recognized this process of leaping ahead, however, in part because textbooks tend to tame revolutions, whether cultural or scientific. They describe the advances as if they had been logical in their day, not at all shocking.

In retrospect, because the bridge of explanation was laid out painstakingly in the years after the intuitive leap, the big ideas seem reasonable, even inevitable. We take them for granted — but at first they sounded crazy.

By naming a sharply recognizable phenomenon, Kuhn made us conscious of the ways of revolution and resistance. Now that we are beginning to understand the dynamics of revolutionary insights, we can learn to foster our own healthy change and we can cooperate to ease the collective change of mind without waiting for the fever of a crisis. We can do this by asking questions in a new way — by challenging our old assumptions. These assumptions are the air we breathe, our familiar furniture. They are part of the culture. We are all but blind to them, yet they must give way to more fundamental perspectives if we are to discover what doesn't work — and why. Like the koans Zen masters give their novices, most problems cannot be solved at the level at which they are asked. They must be reframed, put into a larger context. And unwarranted assumptions must be dropped.

The King in a New Yorker cartoon announces that he can so repair Humpty Dumpty — but he needs more horses and more men. In just that irrational mode we try to solve problems with our existing tools, in their old context, instead of seeing that the escalating crisis is a symptom of our essential wrongheadedness.

For example, we ask how we are going to provide adequate national health insurance, given the increasingly high cost of medical treatment. The question automatically equates health with hospitals, doctors, prescription drugs, technology. Instead we should be asking how people get sick in the first place. What is the nature of wellness? Or we argue about the best methods for teaching the curriculum of public schools, yet rarely question whether the curriculum itself is appropriate. Even more rarely have we asked, What is the nature of learning?

Our crises show us the ways in which our institutions have betrayed nature. We have equated the good life with material consumption, we have dehumanized work and made it needlessly competitive, we are uneasy about our capacities for learning and teaching. Wildly expensive medical care has made little advance against chronic and catastrophic illness while becoming steadily more impersonal, more intrusive. Our government is complex and unresponsive, our social support system is breaking at every stress point.

The potential for rescue at this time of crisis is neither luck, coincidence, nor wishful thinking. Armed with a more sophisticated understanding of how change occurs, we know that the very forces that have brought us to planetary brinksmanship carry in them the seeds of renewal. The current disequilibrium — personal and social — foreshadows a new kind of society. Roles, relationships, institutions, and old ideas are being reexamined, reformulated, redesigned.

For the first time in history, humankind has come upon the control panel of change — an understanding of how transformation occurs. We are living in the change of change, the time in which we can intentionally align ourselves with nature for rapid remaking of ourselves and our collapsing institutions.

The paradigm of the Aquarian Conspiracy sees humankind embedded in nature. It promotes the autonomous individual in a decentralized society. It sees us as stewards of all our resources, inner and outer. It says that we are not victims, not pawns, not limited by conditions or conditioning. Heirs to evolutionary riches, we are capable of imagination, invention, and experiences we have only glimpsed.

Human nature is neither good nor bad but open to continuous transformation and transcendence. It has only to discover itself. The new perspective respects the ecology of everything: birth, death, learning, health, family, work, science, spirituality, the arts, the community, relationships, politics.

The Aquarian Conspirators are drawn together by their parallel discoveries, by paradigm shifts that convinced them they had been leading needlessly circumscribed lives.

PERSONAL PARADIGM SHIFTS: SEEING THE HIDDEN PICTURES

As experienced by an individual, the paradigm shift might be compared to the discovery of the "hidden pictures" in children's magazines. You look at a sketch that appears to be a tree and a pond. Then someone asks you to look more closely — to look for something you had no reason to believe was there. Suddenly you see camouflaged objects in the scene: The branches become a fish or a pitchfork, the lines around the pond hide a toothbrush.

Nobody can talk you into seeing the hidden pictures. You are not persuaded that the objects are there. Either you see them or you don't. But once you have seen them, they are plainly there whenever you look at the drawing. You wonder how you missed them before.

Growing up, we experienced minor paradigm shifts — insights into the principles of geometry, for instance, or a game, or a sudden broadening of our political or religious beliefs. Each insight enlarged the context, brought a fresh way of perceiving connections.

The opening up of a new paradigm is humbling and exhilarating; we were not so much wrong as partial, as if we had been seeing with a single eye. It is not more knowledge, but a new knowing.

Edward Carpenter, a remarkably visionary social scientist and poet of the late nineteenth century, described such a shift:

If you inhibit thought (and persevere) you come at length to a region of consciousness below or behind thought . . . and a realization of an altogether vaster self than that to which we are accustomed. And since the ordinary consciousness, with which we are concerned in ordinary life, is before all things founded on the little local self ... it follows that to pass out of that is to die to the ordinary self and the ordinary world.

It is to die in the ordinary sense, but in another, it is to wake up and find that the "I," one's real, most intimate self, pervades the universe and all other beings.

So great, so splendid, is this experience, that it may be said that all minor questions and doubts fall away in the face of it; and certain it is that in thousands and thousands of cases, the fact of its having come even once to an individual has completely revolutionized his subsequent life and outlook on the world.


Carpenter captured the essense of the transformative experience: enlargement, connection, the power to permanently transform a life. And, as he said, this "region of consciousness" opens to us when we are quietly vigilant rather than busily thinking and planning.

Both accidentally and deliberately, people have had such experiences throughout history. Deep inner shifts may occur in response to disciplined contemplation, grave illness, wilderness treks, peak emotions, creative effort, spiritual exercises, controlled breathing, techniques for "inhibiting thought," psychedelics, movement, isolation, music, hypnosis, meditation, reverie, and in the wake of intense intellectual struggle.

Over the centuries, in various parts of the world, technologies for inducing such experiences were shared among a few initiates in each generation. Scattered brotherhoods, religious orders, and small groups explored what seemed to be extraordinary reaches of conscious experience. In their esoteric doctrines, they sometimes wrote of the liberating quality of their insights. But they were too few, they had no way to disseminate their discoveries widely, and most of earth's inhabitants were preoccupied with survival, not transcendence.


Quite suddenly, in this decade, these deceptively simple systems and their literature, the riches of many cultures, are available to whole populations, both in their original form and in contemporary adaptations. Drugstore racks and airport newsstands offer the wisdom of the ages in paperback. University extension classes and weekend seminars, adult education courses, and commercial centers are offering techniques that help people connect to new sources of personal energy, integration, harmony.

These systems aim to fine-tune the mind and body, to expand the brain's sensing, to bring the participants to a new awareness of vast untapped potential. When they work, it's like adding sonar, radar, and powerful lenses to the mind.

The widespread adaptation of such techniques and the spread of their use throughout society were predicted in the 1950s by P. W. Martin, when "consciousness" research was first under way. “For the first time in history, the scientific spirit of inquiry is being turned upon the other side of consciousness. There is a good prospect that the discoveries can be held this time and so become no longer the lost secret but the living heritage of man."

As we will see in Chapter 2, the idea of a rapid transformation of the human species, beginning with a vanguard, has been articulated by many of history's most gifted thinkers, artists, and visionaries.

All of the systems for widening and deepening consciousness employ similar strategies and lead to strikingly similar personal discoveries. And now, for the first time, we know that these subjective experiences have their objective counterparts. Laboratory investigation, as we shall see, shows that these methods integrate the brain's activity, making it less random, provoking it into higher organization. Brains undergo a quite literal accelerated transformation.

Category 1: Mental Health Considerations...

Because the practice of MM [Mindfulness Meditation] is contrary to the avoidance that is characteristic of PTSD,40 when individuals initially engage in MM they may, thus, encounter avoided affect and experiences in a form that is extremely distressing (eg, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts and memories) and may put them at risk for potential retraumatization....

Another primary adverse effect within this mental health category is psychosis, which represents a loss of contact with reality and is characterized by the presence of symptoms including delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, and/or disorganized behavior.38 The sensory deprivation and lack of sleep that are sometimes associated with intensive meditation practice may serve as triggers for psychotic episodes among those who are predisposed to such a condition....

Category 2: Physical Health Considerations...

Based on the extant literature, the neurological concern surrounding meditation is increased epileptogenesis (ie, risk of seizures). Seizures are sudden disruptions in the brain’s electrical activity that give rise to altered consciousness and/or behaviors. Epilepsy is the clinical diagnosis for a condition characterized by recurrent seizures....

An emergent body of literature evinces electroencephalographic (EEG) alterations from meditation including MM. According to Jaseja, meditation-induced neuronal hypersynchrony and neurochemical increases in glutamate and serotonin may decrease the seizure threshold.51 Given that increased cortical gamma wave synchrony has recently been observed during MM in both experienced practitioners52 and meditation novices,5 screening for seizure history in potential MM research participants is warranted to maximize participant safety. Furthermore, the work of Jha et al53 reveals that subsystems of attention including focusing components are implicated in MM....

Category 3: Spiritual Health Considerations...

Spiritual well-being has been operationally defined as one’s overall sense of life purpose and satisfaction and one’s sense of well-being in relationship to God or other deity.64 This interconnection between religious and existential well-being encompassing one’s spiritual health may serve as a point of concern in MM research given the references to religious delusions we include in Table 1....

It may also be necessary on occasion to address unrealistically positive associations or expectations associated with meditation, such as the attainment of blissful states or an escape from one’s day-to-day experience. Although MM practices may lead to states of peacefulness and deep relaxation, these expectations are secondary to the goals of the MM, which are to encourage nonjudgmental openness and awareness of all phenomena, including those that are challenging or unpleasant. Thus, an understanding of these goals is extremely helpful in clarifying misconceptions.

-- Mindfulness Meditation Research: Issues of Participant Screening, Safety Procedures, and Researcher Training, by M. Kathleen B. Lustyk, PhD; Neharika Chawla, MS; Roger S. Nolan, MA; G. Alan Marlatt, PhD


The transformative technologies offer us passage to creativity, healing, choices. The gift of insight — of making imaginative new connections — once the specialty of a lucky few, is there for anyone willing to persist, experiment, explore.

In most lives insight has been accidental. We wait for it as primitive man awaited lightning for a fire. But making mental connections is our most crucial learning tool, the essence of human intelligence: to forge links; to go beyond the given; to see patterns, relationships, context.

The natural consequence of these subtle sciences of the mind is insight. The process can be so accelerated that we are dizzied, even a little frightened, by the unfolding of new possibilities. Each empowers us to understand better and predict more precisely what will work in our lives.

Little wonder that these shifts in awareness are experienced as awakening, liberating, unifying — transforming. Given the reward, it makes sense that millions have taken up such practices within a scant few years. They discover that they don't have to wait for the world "out there" to change. Their lives and environments begin to transform as their minds are transformed. They find that they have a sane, healthy center, the wherewithal to deal with stress and to innovate, and that there are friends out there.

They struggle to convey what has happened to them. They have no tidy rationale, and they may feel somewhat foolish or pretentious in talking about their experiences. They try to describe a sense of awakening after years of being asleep, the coming together of broken parts of themselves, a healing and homecoming.

For many, the reaction of friends and relatives is painfully patronizing, not unlike that of the elders who warn an adolescent against being too naive and idealistic. Explaining oneself is difficult indeed.

TRUST, FEAR, AND TRANSFORMATION

Having found a core of strength and sanity within, those who have learned that they can trust themselves are more comfortable about trusting others. Those who are cynical about change are usually cynical about themselves and their own ability to change for the better. Transformation, as we shall see, requires a certain minimum of trust.

We may fear loss of control. We may suspect that we will find in ourselves the dark unconscious forces portrayed by religious teachings and Freud. We may worry that we will stray too far from family and friends and find ourselves alone.

And we are sensibly afraid of getting our hopes up. We walk around this possibility as if it were a magician's trick. We check its pockets, we look for mirrors and trick panels. The more sophisticated we are, the more suspicious we are. After all, we are familiar with many brands of deception and self-deception — game playing, political propaganda, “putting up a good front," the fancy footwork of advertising.

We have been disappointed before, swindled by promises that seemed — and were — too good to be true. And it is plain that the gold of transformation has inspired a whole generation of counterfeiters.

The new array of choices seems too rich and varied; the promise too open-ended. Our worries are our safe boundaries; over time we have learned to identify with our limits. Now, leery of trusting the promise of an oasis, we defend the merits of the desert.

“The truth is," said New York Times columnist Russell Baker, “I don't feel good most of the time and don't want to. Moreover, I do not comprehend why anyone else should want to." It's perfectly normal not to feel good, he said. In our drawerful of cultural biases is the conviction that unhappiness is the mark of sensitivity and intelligence.

"We can learn to savor the scars of our remorse," said Theodore Roszak, "until finally we take our whole identity from them. That is what seems rock-solid and ultimately 'serious' to many of us — that harshly jaundiced candor and grim resignation. We finish by believing that sin is the reality of the self. . . . Even more efficiently than a police force, it is distrust of self that makes people vulnerable and obedient.”

Those who worry that the new ideas will shake the culture to its roots are right, he said. Our conformity has been due in part to our fear of ourselves, our doubts about the rightness of our own decisions.

The transformative process, however alien it may seem at first, soon feels irrevocably right. Whatever the initial misgivings, there is no question of commitment once we have touched something we thought forever lost — our way home. Once this journey has begun in earnest, there is nothing that can dissuade. No political movement, no organized religion commands a greater loyalty. This is an engagement with life itself, a second chance at meaning.

COMMUNICATING AND LINKING

If these discoveries of transformation are to become our common heritage for the first time in history, they must be widely communicated. They must become our new consensus, what "everybody knows.”

In the early nineteenth century, Alexis de Tocqueville observed that cultural behavior and unspoken beliefs typically change long before people openly concede to each other that times have changed. Lip service is given for years — generations — to ideas long since privately abandoned. No one conspires against these old shells of belief, Tocqueville said, so they continue to have power and discourage innovators.

Long after an old paradigm has lost its value, it commands a kind of hypocritical allegiance. But if we have the courage to communicate our doubts and defection, to expose the incompleteness, the rickety structure, and the failures of the old paradigm, we can dismantle it. We don't have to wait for it to collapse on us.

The Aquarian Conspiracy is using its widespread outposts of influence to focus on the dangerous myths and mystiques of the old paradigm, to attack obsolete ideas and practices. The conspirators urge us to reclaim the power we long ago surrendered to custom and authority, to discover, under the clutter of all our conditioning, the core of integrity that transcends conventions and codes.

We are benefiting from the phenomenon predicted in 1964 by Marshall McLuhan: the implosion of information. The planet is indeed a global village. No one anticipated how quickly technology would be put to work in the service of the individual, how quickly we would be able to communicate and agree. The conformity that grieved Tocqueville is giving way to a rising authenticity, an epidemic unparalleled in history.

Now we can indeed find each other. We can tell each other what we have abandoned, what we now believe. We can conspire against the old, deadly assumptions. We can live against them.

Global communications have encircled our world beyond any possibility of retreat. Now the whole planet is alive with instantaneous links, networks of people poised for communication and cooperation.

Those of like mind can join forces as quickly as you can photocopy a letter, quick-print a flyer, dial a telephone, design a bumper sticker, drive across town, form a coalition, paint a poster, fly to a meeting ... or simply live openly in accordance with your change of heart.

"Perhaps for the first time in the history of the world," said psychologist Carl Rogers in 1978, "people are being really open, expressing their feelings without fear of being judged. Communication is qualitatively different from our historical past — richer, more complex."

Human catalysts like the Aquarian Conspirators describe the new options — in classrooms, on TV, in print, in film, in art, in song, in scientific journals, on the lecture circuit, during coffee breaks, in government documents, at parties, and in new organizational policies and legislation. Those who themselves might have been timid about questioning the prevailing opinion take heart.

Transformative ideas also appear in the guise of health books and sports manuals, in advice on diet, business management, self-assertion, stress, relationships, and self-improvement. Unlike "how-to" books of the past, these emphasize attitude, not behavior. Exercises and experiments are designed for direct experience from a new perspective.

For only that which is deeply felt can change us. Rational arguments alone cannot penetrate the layers of fear and conditioning that comprise our crippling belief systems. The Aquarian Conspiracy creates opportunities wherever possible for people to experience shifts of consciousness. Hearts as well as minds must change. Communication must be not only wide but deep.

Agreement can be communicated in many ways, sometimes even in silence, as Roszak pointed out to a large gathering in Vancouver in 1977 at the World Symposium on Humanity:

In our time a secret manifesto is being written. Its language is a longing we read in one another's eyes. It is the longing to know our authentic vocation in the world, to find the work and the way of being that belong to each of us ... I speak of the Manifesto of the Person, the declaration of our sovereign right to self-discovery. I cannot say if those who have answered its summons are indeed millions, but I know that its influence moves significantly among us, a subterranean current of our history, that awakens in all those it touches an intoxicating sense of how deep the roots of the self reach, and what strange sources of energy they embrace ....


Penetrating to the roots of fears and doubts, we can change radically. Individuals are beginning to sustain social concern and action in ways never accomplished by outer influences: persuasion, propaganda, patriotism, religious injunctions, threats, preachments of brotherhood. A new world, as the mystics have always said, is a new mind.

FROM DESPAIR TO HOPE

Contemporary social critics too often speak from their own despair or a kind of cynical chic that belies their own sense of impotence. "Optimism is considered to be in poor taste," as philosopher Robert Solomon noted in Newsweek. "What seems to be concern betrays itself as self-indulgent, a self-righteous bitterness that declares society 'depraved' in order that one may pity oneself for being 'caught' in it. One blames the world for one's own unhappiness — or political failures."

If we are to find our way across troubled waters, we are better served by the company of those who have built bridges, who have moved beyond despair and inertia. The Aquarian Conspirators do not hope because they know less than the cynics but because they know more: from personal experience, from leading-edge science, and from grapevine news of successful social experiments occurring all over the world.

They have seen change in themselves, their friends, their work. They are patient and pragmatic, treasuring small victories that add up to a large cultural awakening; they know that opportunity appears in many guises, that dissolution and pain are necessary stages in renewal, and that “failures” can be powerfully instructive. Aware that deep change in a person or an institution can only come from within, they are gentle in their confrontation.

They are doers and workers who face the bad news every day and keep working. They have chosen life, whatever the cost. And most of all, they now know the power they have together.

SEEING THE EMERGENT CULTURE

Western society is at a pivotal point. Many key thinkers have had the paradigm shift about how paradigm shifts happen, a revolution in understanding how revolutions begin: in the ferment of questions, in the quiet recognition that the old won't do.

As a serious student of the conditions necessary for revolution, Tocqueville tried in the late 1840s to warn the governing powers in France about the possibility of overthrow. He was convinced that the government and the Court had so offended the people that democratic passions would soon overturn the government. On January 27, 1848, Tocqueville, a deputy, rose in the Chamber of Deputies. “They tell me that there is no danger because there are no disturbances," he said. “They say that as there is no visible perturbation on the surface of society, there are no revolutions beneath it. Gentlemen, allow me to say that I think you are wrong. Disturbance is not abroad but it has laid hold of men's minds."

Within four weeks the people revolted, the king fled, and the Second Republic was proclaimed.

Cultural transformation announces itself in sputtering fits and starts, sparked here and there by minor incidents, warmed by new ideas that may smoulder for decades. In many different places, at different times, the kindling is laid for the real conflagration — the one that will consume the old landmarks and alter the landscape forever.

In Democracy in America Tocqueville wrote that the hallmark of impending revolution is a critical period of agitation, in which there is enough communication for a few key reformers to stimulate each other, for “new opinions to suddenly change the face of the world.”

A revolution, as we shall see, is first visible in tendencies — altered behavior and trends that are easily misunderstood, explained within the context of the old paradigm as something they aren't. And to confuse matters further, these new behaviors may be mimicked and exaggerated by those who do not understand their basis in inner turnabout. All revolutions attract mercenaries, thrill seekers, and the unstable, as well as the truly committed.

A revolution that is just getting under way, like a scientific revolution, is initially dismissed as crazy or unlikely. While it is clearly in progress, it seems alarming and threatening: In retrospect, when power has changed hands, it appears to have been foreordained.

Unaware of how values and frameworks have shifted historically, unaware of the continuous yet radical nature of change, we tend to drift into and out of cultural revolutions without knowing who fired the first shot and why. We are untrained in expectancy, in feeling the tremors of coming cultural upheaval, in seeing subtle darkening or brightening on the horizon.

Social, scientific, and political revolutions all take their contemporaries by surprise — except for the “visionaries" who seem to have detected the coming change from early, sketchy information. Logic alone, as we shall see, is a poor prophet. Intuition is necessary to complete the picture.

By definition, revolutions are not linear, one step at a time, event A leading to event B, and so on. Many causes operate on each other at once. Revolutions shift into place suddenly, like the pattern in a kaleidoscope. They do not so much proceed as crystallize.

"To the blind," warns an old saying, "all things are sudden." The revolution described in The Aquarian Conspiracy is not in the distant future. It is our imminent future and, in many ways, our dynamic present. For those who see it, the new society within the old is not a counterculture, not a reaction, but an emergent culture — the coalescence of a new social order. It has been characterized as a collection of "Parallel Cultures" by a group in England:

We are people who agree on the need to overcome alienation and mutual hostility in society through the strategy of building new values-based cultures amid the existing ones. These new cultures will co-exist with the old and perhaps eventually replace them.

We believe that organized confrontation, knocking the system or piecemeal reform serve only to preserve the basic alienation of society. . . . Most of our energies are going into the positive strategy of culture-building.

We find the single dimension of Left-Centre-Right power struggles to be almost entirely within the old, alienated way of life. Far from being radical, the extremes are as much a part of the old culture as the status quo they oppose.

The Third Way is not a group or a strategy, just a context. Make no mistake, it is radical. The struggle for social values is a new dimension in radical social action, a way which is neither Right nor Left.


The Whole Earth Papers, a series of monographs, described the new movement as "provolutionary ... an ascent of consciousness and paradigm shifts. . . . Our crises do not represent breakdown but break through in advancing the human community."

Michael Lerner, co-founder of a California health network, Commonweal, reporting on efforts to call attention to environmental stress, said, "We could not sustain this dark excavation if we did not sense that our work is another tiny part of a global movement. Perhaps others will recognize the two polarities in the collective experience of our time: the stress caused by what we have created and called down on life, and the true grace of our spirit and courage as we seek a new way."

Stress and transformation . . . these paired ideas are a theme, a litany, in the literature of the Aquarian Conspiracy.

Announcing its 1978 convention in Toronto, the Association for Humanistic Psychology referred to "this period of extraordinary evolutionary significance. The very chaos of contemporary existence provides the material for transformation. We will search new myths and world visions."

The energy of this movement represents a kind of "field of force," said Arianna Stassinopoulos, a British social critic. It is gathering those who, "stirred by aspirations born of the new ideas, begin to manifest a new force, a new consciousness, a new power." The ideas that begin with the few radiate to the many.

The Times of London columnist Bernard Levin, remarking on the nearly ninety thousand who attended a 1978 “Festival for Mind and Body” just outside London, foresaw a rapid spread of popular interest in transformation:

What the world lives by at the moment just will not do. Nor will it; nor do very many people suppose any longer that it will. Countries like ours are full of people who have all the material comforts they desire, yet lead lives of quiet (and at times noisy) desperation, understanding nothing but the fact that there is a hole inside them and that however much food and drink they pour into it, however many motorcars and television sets they stuff it with, however many well-balanced children and loyal friends they parade around the edges of it ... it aches.

Those who attended the festival were seeking something — not certainty, but understanding: understanding of themselves. Almost every path on view began in the same place, inside the seeker.

The question is being asked more insistently today than ever before in all history. The crowds pouring through the turnstiles at Olympia are only the first drop in the wave that must soon crash over the politicians and ideologues and drown their empty claims fathoms deep in a self-confidence born of a true understanding of their own nature.


A 1979 symposium on the future of humanity said in its announcement: “Our first great challenge is to create a consensus that fundamental change is possible — to create a climate, a framework, which can integrally organize and coordinate the forces which are today striving for growth along seemingly separate paths. We will create an irresistibly vibrant vision, a new paradigm for constructive humanistic action. . . . Until we have created that master context, all talk of strategy is meaningless."

This book is about that master context. It is a book of evidence (circumstantial in some cases, overwhelming in others), pointing unmistakably to deep personal and cultural change. It is a guide to seeing paradigms, asking new questions, understanding the shifts, great and small, behind this immense transformation.

It is about the technologies, conspirators, networks — the perils, ambitions, promises — of change. It is also an attempt to show that what has been considered an elitist movement by some is profoundly inclusive, open to anyone who wants to be part of it.

We will explore the historic roots of the idea that a conspiracy can generate a new society, the premonitions of transformation over the years. We will review the evidence that the human brain has awesome capacities to transform and innovate, the variety of methods used to foster such transformation, and individual accounts of experiences that have changed people's lives.

We will see how cultural and historic circumstances led to the current readiness of this society for change and how America had long prefigured in visions of the turning point. We will see the pattern of the new world through our new models of nature, stunning new insights evident in the convergence of many branches of science, breakthroughs that promise a new age of discovery.

We will look at the undercurrents of change in politics and the emergence of networks as a new social form — the institution of our age, an unprecedented source of power for individuals. We will explore the profound paradigm shifts under way in health, learning, the workplace, and values. In each of these areas we will see evidence of the withdrawal of popular support from established institutions.

We will take up the “spiritual adventure" behind the Aquarian Conspiracy, the search for meaning that becomes an end in itself. We will trace the powerful, often disruptive, effect of the transformative process on personal relationships. And, finally, we will consider the evidence for potential worldwide change.

Throughout, specific projects and people will serve as illustrations, although none is cited as proof or authority. Rather, these are bits of a great mosaic, an overwhelming new direction of human effort and the human spirit at this point in history. For many, they will serve as creative inspiration, models of change, options to be adapted by the individual.

These new paradigms will raise some questions many may have preferred to leave unasked. Readers may confront certain crucial issues in their own lives. New perspectives have a way of altering old beliefs and values; they may penetrate denials and defenses of long standing. The ramifications of even a small personal revolution can seem more alarming to us than great impending cultural change.

In the course of this journey we will come to understand certain powerful key ideas that can enrich and expand our lives, ideas that until now were mostly the province of specialists and policymakers.

We will construct bridges between the old and new worlds. When you understand the basic change taking place in any one major area, it is easier to make sense of the others. This discovery of a new pattern transcends explanation. The shift is qualitative, sudden, the result of neurological processes too rapid and complex to be tracked by the conscious mind. Although logical explanations can be laid out up to a point, the seeing of a pattern is not sequential but all-at-once. If a new concept does not click into place for you on first encounter, read on. As you move through the book you will come upon many related ideas, connections, examples, metaphors, analogies, and illustrative stories. In time, patterns will emerge, the shifts will occur. From the new perspective, old questions may seem suddenly irrelevant.

Once you have grasped the essence of this transformation, many otherwise inexplicable events and trends in the immediate environment or in the news may fall into place. It is easier to understand changes in one's family, one's community, the society. In the end we will see many of the darkest events in the context of a brightening historic picture, much as one stands back from a pointillist painting to get its meaning.

In literature there is a trusted device known as the Black Moment, the point where all seems lost just before the final rescue. Its counterpart in tragedy is the White Moment — a sudden rush of hope, a saving chance, just before the inevitable disaster.

Some might speculate that the Aquarian Conspiracy, with its promise of last-minute turnabout, is only a White Moment in Earth's story; a brave, desperate try that will be eclipsed by tragedy — ecological, totalitarian, nuclear. Exeunt humankind. Curtain.

And yet ... is there another future worth trying for?

We stand on the brink of a new age, Lewis Mumford said, the age of an open world, a time of renewal when a fresh release of spiritual energy in the world culture may unleash new possibilities. “The sum of all our days is just our beginning."

Seen with new eyes, our lives can be transformed from accidents into adventures. We can transcend the old conditioning, the dirt-poor expectations. We have new ways to be born, humane and symbolic ways to die, different ways to be rich, communities to support us in our myriad journeys, new ways to be human and to discover what we are to each other. After our tragic wars, alienation, and the bruising of the planet, perhaps this is the answer Wallace Stevens meant — after the final No, the Yes on which the future of the world depends.

The future, Teilhard said, is in the hands of those who can give tomorrow's generations valid reasons to live and hope. The message of the Aquarian Conspiracy is that there is ripeness for a Yes.
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Re: The Aquarian Conspiracy, by Marilyn Ferguson

Postby admin » Sat Apr 27, 2019 1:51 am

CHAPTER 2: Premonitions of Transformation and Conspiracy

It started in the morning as I woke. In a dream before waking I heard a beat, a drum, a march from the first Neanderthal shamans through the Vedic seers and all the patriarchs. There was a sense that no one could stop it.

—MICHAEL MURPHY, Jacob Atabet


The emergence of the Aquarian Conspiracy in the late twentieth century is rooted in the myths and metaphors, the prophecy and poetry, of the past. Throughout history there were lone individuals here and there, or small bands at the fringes of science or religion, who, based on their own experiences, believed that people might someday transcend narrow “normal" consciousness and reverse the brutality and alienation of the human condition.

The premonition was recorded, from time to time, that a minority of individuals would someday be yeast enough to leaven a whole society. Serving as a magnet culture, they would attract order around them, transforming the whole.

The central idea was always the same: Only through a new mind can humanity remake itself, and the potential for such a new mind is natural.

These courageous few have been history's radar, a Distant Early Warning System for the planet. As we will see, some of them expressed their insights in a romantic vein, others as intellectual concepts, but all were pointing to a larger view. "Open your eyes," they were saying, "there is more." More depth, height, dimension, perspectives, choices than we had imagined. They celebrated the freedom found in the larger context and warned of the dangerous blindness of the prevailing view. Long before global war, ecological stress, and nuclear crisis struck, they feared for the future of a people without a context.

Although they themselves moved beyond the dominant ideas of their day, they carried few of their contemporaries with them. Most often they were misunderstood, lonely, even ostracized. Until this century, with its rapid communication, there was little chance for linkage among these scattered individuals. Their ideas, however, served as fuel for future generations.

Those who had premonitions of transformation believed that future generations might detect the invisible laws and forces around us: the vital networks of relationship, the ties among all aspects of life and knowledge, the interweaving of people, the rhythms and harmonies of the universe, the connectedness that captures parts and makes them wholes, the patterns that draw meaning from the web of the world. Humankind, they said, might recognize the subtle veils imposed on seeing; might awaken to the screen of custom, the prison of language and culture, the bonds of circumstance.

The themes of transformation have emerged with increasing strength and clarity over time, gathering impetus as communication expanded. At first the traditions were transmitted intimately, by alchemists, Gnostics, cabalists, and hermetics. With the invention of moveable type in the mid-fifteenth century, they became a kind of open secret but were available only to the literate few and were often suppressed by church or state.

Among the bold and isolated voices were Meister Eckhart, the German churchman and mystic of the fourteenth century; Giovanni Pico della Mirandola in the fifteenth; Jacob Boehme, a German, in the sixteenth and seventeenth; Emanuel Swedenborg in the seventeenth and eighteenth.

We are spiritually free, they said, the stewards of our own evolution. Humankind has a choice. We can awaken to our true nature. Drawing fully from our inner resources we can achieve a new dimension of mind; we can see more.

"I see through the eye, not with it," said poet-engraver William Blake, who lived in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The enemy of whole vision, he said, was our reasoning power's divorce from imagination, "closing itself in, as steel." This half-mind was forever making laws and moral judgments and smothering spontaneity, feeling, art. To Blake, his age itself stood as the accuser, characterized by fear, conformity, jealousy, cynicism, the spirit of the machine. Yet this dark force was only a "Spectre," a ghost that could be exorcised from the minds it haunted.

"I will not cease from Mental Fight," he vowed, "Till we have built Jerusalem/In England's green and pleasant land." Blake, like later mystics, saw the American and French revolutions as only initial steps toward worldwide liberation, spiritual as well as political.

In 1836, nine years after Blake's death, a handful of American intellectuals fell into conversation at Harvard's bicentennial celebration, discovered their mutual interest in and excitement about new philosophical trends, and formed the nucleus of what is historically known as the American Transcendentalist movement.

The Transcendentalists — Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Thoreau, Bronson Alcott, and Margaret Fuller, along with several dozen others — rebelled against what seemed the dead, dry intellectualism of the day. Something was missing — an invisible dimension of reality they sometimes called the Oversoul. They sought understanding from many sources: experience, intuition, the Quaker idea of the Inner Light, the Bhagavad Gita, the German Romantic philosophers, historian Thomas Carlyle, poet Samuel Coleridge, Swedenborg, the English metaphysical writers of the seventeenth century.

Their term for intuition was "transcendental reason." They anticipated the consciousness research of our time in their belief that the brain's other mode of knowing is not an alternative to normal reasoning but a kind of transcendent logic — too fast and complex for us to follow with the step-by-step reasoning powers of our everyday consciousness.

Just as Boehme influenced Swedenborg who influenced Blake, so all three influenced the Transcendentalists; the Transcendentalists, in turn, affected literature, education, politics, and economics for generations, influencing Nathaniel Hawthorne, Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, John Dewey, the founders of the British Labor party, Gandhi, Martin Luther King.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, industrialism flourished. Widespread social transformation based on a change of heart still seemed a distant dream, but in England Edward Carpenter predicted that one day the tradition of the centuries would lose its form and outline, like melting ice in water. Networks of individuals would slowly form; widening circles would meet, overlap, and finally close around a new center for humankind. "Or, rather, the world-old center once more revealed."

This ultimate connection would be like the linked fibers and nerves of a body, lying within the outer body of society. The networks would move toward that elusive dream, "the finished, free society."

Carpenter also said that the insights of the Eastern religions might be the seed for this great change, enlarging the Western view of reality.

In Cosmic Consciousness, written in 1901, Richard Bucke, a Canadian physician, described the experience of an electrifying awareness of oneness with all life. Persons who experienced such states of consciousness were becoming more numerous, he said, walking the earth and breathing the air with us, but at the same time walking another earth and breathing another air of which we know little. "This new race is in the act of being born from us, and in the near future it will occupy and possess the earth."

In 1902 William James, the great American psychologist, redefined religion not as dogma but as experience — the discovery of a new context, an unseen order with which the individual might achieve harmony. Our ordinary consciousness filters out awareness of this mysterious, enlarged dimension, yet until we have come to terms with its existence we must beware lest we make a "premature foreclosure on reality."

Of all the creatures of earth, James said, only human beings can change their pattern. "Man alone is the architect of his destiny. The greatest revolution in our generation is that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives."

Gradually Western thinkers were beginning to attack the very foundations of Western thought. We were naive in our expectation that mechanistic science would explain the mysteries of life. These spokesmen for a larger worldview pointed out how our institutions were violating nature: Our education and philosophy failed to value art, feelings, intuition.

In the 1920s Jan Christian Smuts, the Boer general who was twice prime minister of South Africa, formulated a brilliant concept that anticipated many scientific breakthroughs of the late twentieth century. In Holism and Evolution, Smuts called attention to an invisible but powerful organizing principle inherent in nature. If we did not look at wholes, if we failed to see nature's drive toward ever higher organization, we would not be able to make sense of our accelerating scientific discoveries.

There is a whole-making principle in mind itself, Smuts said. Just as living matter evolves to higher and higher levels, so does mind. Mind, he said, is inherent in matter. Smuts was describing a universe becoming ever more conscious.

The idea of expanding powers of mind unfolded in literature, too. “New” human beings of deeper sensibility appeared often in the fiction of Hermann Hesse. In his enormously popular novel Demian (1925), Hesse depicted a fraternity of men and women who had discovered paranormal abilities and an invisible bond with one another. “We were not separated from the majority of men by a boundary," the narrator said, “but simply by another mode of vision.” They were a prototype of a different way of life.

In 1927 Nikos Kazantzakis, the great Greek novelist, envisioned a union of such individuals — those who might create for earth a brain and a heart, might “give a human meaning to the superhuman struggle," comrades he might signal "with a password, like conspirators." What we have called God is the evolutionary drive of consciousness in the universe, he believed. “The new earth exists only in the heart of man."

In The Open Conspiracy: Blueprints for a World Revolution (1928), novelist-historian H. G. Wells proposed that the time was nearly ripe for the coalescence of small groups into a flexible network that could spawn global change. “All this world is heavy with the promise of greater things," Wells once said, "and a day will come, one day in the unending succession of days, when beings who are now latent in our loins shall stand upon this earth as one stands upon a footstool and shall touch the stars."

Carl Jung, the Swiss psychoanalyst, was drawing attention to a transcendent dimension of consciousness usually ignored in the West, the union of the intellect with the intuitive, pattern-seeing mind. Jung introduced an even larger context, the idea of the collective unconscious: a dimension of shared symbols, racial memory, pooled knowledge of the species. He wrote of the “daimon" that drives the seeker to search for wholeness.

In 1929 Alfred North Whitehead, a philosopher-mathematician, published Process and Reality, a book that described reality as a flux whose context is the mind, rather than something tangible "out there." He tried to articulate remarkable principles in nature which were formally discovered by research generations later.

After a visit to the United States in 1931, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin sailed back to China from the San Francisco Bay. 1 En route the Jesuit paleontologist framed an essay, "The Spirit of the Earth," inspired by his growing conviction that a conspiracy of individuals from every layer of American society was engaged in an effort "to raise to a new stage the edifice of life."

Back in Peking he set forth his major thesis: Mind has been undergoing successive reorganizations throughout the history of evolution until it has reached a crucial point — the discovery of its own evolution.

This new awareness — evolving mind recognizing the evolutionary process — "is the future natural history of the world." It will eventually become collective. It will envelop the planet and will crystallize as a species-wide enlightenment he called "Omega Point." Certain individuals, attracted to a transcendent vision of the future and to each other, seemed to be forming a spearhead in the "family task" of bringing humanity into this larger awareness. "The only way forward is in the direction of a common passion, a conspiracy."

And, as he told a friend, nothing in the universe could resist "the cumulative ardor of the collective soul," a large enough number of transformed persons working together.

Although many resist the idea that mind evolves, he said, it will gain eventual acceptance. "A truth once seen, even by a single mind, always ends by imposing itself on the totality of human consciousness." Evidence for this evolutionary thrust was issuing from all the sciences, he said, and those who refused to see it were blind. "Evolution is a condition to which all theories must bow, a curve all lines must follow."

No one can call himself modern who disregards this evolutionary thrust, he said. To our descendants it will be as familiar and instinctive an idea as the third dimension of space is to a baby.

The Phenomenon of Man was limited to private circulation during Teilhard's lifetime because the church forbade him to publish it. In it, he warned that a mind awakened to this evolutionary concept may experience fear and disorientation. It must create a new equilibrium for everything that had once been tidy in its inner world. “It is dazzled when it emerges from its dark prison."

There is now incontrovertible evidence that we have entered upon the greatest period of change the world has ever known, he said. "The ills from which we are suffering have had their seat in the very foundation of human thought. But today something is happening to the whole structure of human consciousness. A fresh kind of life is starting."

We are the children of transition, not yet fully conscious of the new powers that have been unleashed: "There is for us in the future not only survival but superlife.”

Historian Arnold Toynbee said in 1935 that a creative minority, "turning to the inner world of the psyche," could summon the vision of a new way of life for our troubled civilization. He also predicted that the most significant development of the age would be the influence of the Eastern spiritual perspective on the West.

In the late 1930s a Polish count, Alfred Korzybski, pointed out yet another aspect of consciousness — language. Language molds thought, he said, laying out the principles of General Semantics. We confuse it with reality; it creates false certainties. With words we try to isolate things that can only exist in continuity. We fail to see process, change, movement. If we are to experience reality, Korzybski and his followers said, we must acknowledge the limits of language.

In The Wisdom of the Heart, essays published on the eve of World War II, Henry Miller warned of the difficulty of expressing new realities within the limits of language:

There exist today all over the world a number of modern spirits who are anything but modern. They are thoroughly out of joint with the times, and yet they reflect the age more truly, more authentically than those who are swimming with the current. In the very heart of the modern spirit there is a schism. The egg is breaking, the chromosomes are splitting to go forward with a new pattern of life. Those of us who seem most alien . . . are the ones who are going forward to create the life as yet inchoate.

We who are affected cannot make ourselves clear. . . . This is the era when apocalyptic visions are to be fulfilled. We are on the brink of a new life, entering a new domain.

In what language can we describe things for which there are as yet no new names? And how describe relations? We can only divine the nature of those to whom we are attracted, the forces to which we willingly yield obedience. . . .


Even in the early days of the war, philosopher Martin Buber said he sensed a rising hunger for relatedness. "On the horizon I see moving up, with the slowness of all events of true human history, a great dissatisfaction unlike all previous dissatisfactions." Men would no longer rise in rebellion merely against one oppressor or another but against the distortion of a great yearning, "the effort toward community."

In a 1940 letter Aldous Huxley said that although he was profoundly pessimistic about collective humanity at the moment, he was "profoundly optimistic about individuals and groups of individuals existing on the margins of society." The British author, living in Los Angeles, was the hub of a kind of pre-Aquarian conspiracy, an international network of intellectuals, artists, and scientists interested in the notion of transcendence and transformation. They disseminated new ideas, supported each other's efforts, and wondered whether anything would ever come of it. Many of Huxley's interests were so advanced that they did not come into their own until the decade after his death. When such ideas were heresies, he was a proponent of consciousness research, decentralization in government and the economy, paranormal healing, the uses of altered awareness, visual retraining, and acupuncture.

He was also an early supporter of Ludwig von Bertalanffy, a German biologist who framed a science of context he first called perspectivism, later General Systems Theory. This theory, which has grown steadily in its influence in many different disciplines, sees all of nature — including human behavior — as interconnected. According to General Systems Theory, nothing can be understood in isolation but must be seen as part of a system.

In the business-as-usual postwar era, there were those who sensed approaching upheaval, an awakening to our cultural conditioning. Even as he was describing the alienation and conformity of The Lonely Crowd, sociologist David Riesman speculated that the trance might be broken. "Many currents of change in America escape the notice of the reporters of this best-reported nation on earth. . . . America is not only big and rich, it is mysterious, and its capacity for the humorous or ironical concealment of its interests matches that of the legendary inscrutable Chinese.”

Reisman's book and others fostered new awareness of the prison of conformity. They questioned hidden assumptions and called attention to contradictions — the first step in breaking an old paradigm.

In the mid-1950s psychoanalyst Robert Lindner touched off controversy by his prophetic warning that there was an impending "mutiny of the young":

Into them we have bred our fears and insecurities, upon them we have foisted our mistakes and misconceptions. In our stead they are expressing the unrelieved rage, the tension, and the terrible frustration of the world they were born into They are imprisoned by the blunders and delusions of their predecessors, and like all prisoners, they are mutineers in their hearts.


Must We Conform? asked the title of a book he wrote in 1956. "The answer is a resounding No! No — not only because in the end we are creatures who cannot . . . but no because there is an alternate way of life available to us here and now. It is the way of positive rebellion, the path of creative protest."

The key was enlarged awareness, Lindner said — recognition of how we are crippled by unconscious fears and motives. "I believe profoundly that the tide can be turned."

The eminent psychologist Gardner Murphy was predicting in the 1950s that the growing scientific curiosity about consciousness would lead to "new realms of experience." The more we played on "the other side of the mind," the more we exploited these gifts no culture had ever fully exploited, the less likely our old assumptions would hold — not even the ideas of Darwin and Freud. Radically different ideas would emerge, Murphy said, "and we shall fight frantically against them, of course."

New ideas . . . new people. C. S. Lewis, novelist and essayist, described what seemed to him a kind of secret society of new men and women, "dotted here and there all over the earth." One could learn to recognize them, he said, and clearly they recognized each other.

In a 1960 French best-seller, The Morning of the Magicians, Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier described an "open conspiracy" of intelligent individuals transformed by their inner discoveries. The members of this network might be con temporary stewards of a long line of esoteric wisdom, Pauwels and Bergier said. Had they surfaced only now from the secret traditions of the alchemists and Rosicrucians?

Perhaps a few were finding what many had yearned for. Concluding his monumental Literature and Western Man (I960), J. B. Priestley assessed the widespread hunger for completion. Schizophrenic Western culture was desperately searching for its center, for some balance between inner and outer life. "The inner world of the whole age ... is trying to compensate for some failure in consciousness, to restore a balance destroyed by one-sidedness, to reconcile the glaring opposites."

Only religion can carry the load of the future, he said, not the religion of churches, but the spiritual dimension that transcends custom and politics.

Even if we believe that the time of our civilization is running out fast, like sugar spilled from a tom bag, we must wait. But while we are waiting, we can try to feel and think and behave as if our society were already beginning to be contained by religion ... as if we were finding our way home again in the universe. We can stop disinheriting ourselves. . . . We can challenge the whole de-humanizing, depersonalizing process that is taking the symbolic richness, the dimension of depth out of men's lives, inducing the anesthesia that demands violence, crudely horrible effects, to feel anything at all.

Instead of wanting to look at the back of the moon, remote from our lives, we can try to look at the back of our own minds.


Just behaving "as if" might show us the way home — might prove the step toward healing, justice, order, real community. "And if we only declare what is wrong with us, what is our deepest need, then perhaps the despair and death will, by degrees, disappear...."

In his final novel. Island (1963), Huxley portrayed such a society, in which healing relied on powers of mind, extended "families" provided comfort and counsel, learning was rooted in doing and imagining, commerce bowed to ecology. To emphasize the urgent need for awareness, trained mynah birds flew about crying "Attention! Attention!"

Most critics reviewed Island as a spoof, less successful than Huxley's darker vision. Brave New World. But Huxley had not only described a world he believed possible but had created it as a composite of practices known to exist in contemporary cultures. In the words of Dr. MacPhail in Island:

To make the best of both worlds. Oriental and European, the ancient and modern — what am I saying? To make the best of all the worlds — the worlds already realized within the various cultures and, beyond them, the worlds of still unrealized potentialities.


Indeed, diverse cultures were impinging on each other more by the day. In his enormously influential Understanding Media (1964), Marshall McLuhan described the coming world as a “global village," unified by communications technology and rapid dissemination of information. This electrified world, with its instant linkage, would bear no resemblance to the preceding thousands of years of history.

In this age we have become conscious of the unconscious, McLuhan pointed out. Although most of us still continue to think in the old fragmented patterns of the slow days, our electronic linkage brings us together "mythically and integrally." McLuhan saw coming change: Increasing numbers were aspiring to wholeness, empathy, deeper awareness, revolting against imposed patterns, wanting people to be open.

And we would be remade, he said, by the flood of new knowledge.

The immediate prospect for fragmented Western man encountering the electric implosion within his own culture is his steady and rapid transformation into a complex person . . . emotionally aware of his total interdependence with the rest of human society. . . .

Might not the current translation of our entire lives into the spiritual form of information make of the entire globe, and of the human family, a single consciousness?


Introducing "World Perspectives," a series of books published by Harper & Row beginning in the 1960s, Ruth Ananda Ashen wrote of a "new consciousness" that might lift humankind beyond fear and isolation. [2] We are now contending with fundamental change since we now understand evolution itself. There is now abroad "a counterforce to the sterility of mass culture ... a new, if sometimes imperceptible, spiritual sense of convergence toward human and world unity."

The new series of books was planned to encourage "a renaissance of hope," to help the mind grasp what had eluded it in the past. Having discovered his own nature, man now has new choices "for he is the only creature who is able to say not only 'no' to life but 'yes.'"

Steadily, as increasing numbers of influential thinkers speculated on the possibilities, the transformative vision became more credible.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow described an innate human drive beyond basic survival and emotional needs — a hunger for meaning and transcendence. This concept of "self-actualization" rapidly gained adherents.

"It is increasingly clear," Maslow wrote, "that a philosophical revolution is under way. A comprehensive system is swiftly developing, like a tree beginning to bear fruit on every branch at the same time." He described a group he thought of as Transcenders, "advance scouts for the race," individuals who far exceeded the traditional criteria for psychological health. He compiled a list of around three hundred creative, intelligent individuals and groups of individuals whose lives were marked by frequent "peak experiences" (a term he coined). This was his Eupsychean Network — literally, "of good soul." Transcenders were irresistibly drawn to each other, he said; two or three such people would find each other in a roomful of a hundred, and they were as likely to be businessmen, engineers, and politicians as poets and priests.

In England Colin Wilson, in a 1967 postscript to his famous study of alienation. The Outsider, called attention to a critical issue being addressed quietly in the United States by Maslow and others: the possibility of human metamorphosis — the vision of a world hospitable to creativity and mystical experience.

No analogy, even that of metamorphosis, could quite capture the suddenness or radicalness of the transformation ahead, according to John Platt, a physicist at the University of Michigan. Only dreamers like Wells and Teilhard had seen "the enormous sweep and restructuring and unity and future of it. It is a quantam jump, a new state of matter."

And this transformation would come within a generation or two, Platt said. "We may now be in the time of the most rapid change in the whole evolution of the human race ... a kind of cultural shock front."

In 1967 Barbara Marx Hubbard, a futurist moved by Teilhard's vision of evolving human consciousness, invited a thousand people around the world, including Maslow's network, to form a "human front" of those who shared a belief in the possibility of transcendent consciousness. Hundreds responded, including Lewis Mumford and Thomas Merton. Out of this grew a newsletter and later a loose-knit organization, the Committee for the Future.

Erich Fromm, in Revolution of Hope (1968), foresaw a "new front," a movement that would combine the wish for profound social change with a new spiritual perspective; its aim would be the humanization of a technological world.

Such a movement, which could happen within twenty years, would be nonviolent. Its constituency would be Americans already eager for new direction, including old and young, conservatives and radicals, all social classes. "The middle class has begun to listen and to be moved," Fromm said. Neither state nor political parties nor organized religion could provide either an intellectual or spiritual home for this thrust. Institutions were too bureaucratic, too impersonal.

The key to the success of the movement would be its embodiment in the lives of its most committed members, who would work in small groups toward personal transformation, nourishing each other, "showing the world the strength and joy of people who have deep convictions without being fanatical, who are loving without being sentimental . . . imaginative without being unrealistic . . . disciplined without submission."

They would build their own world amid the alienation of the contemporary social milieu. They would probably engage in meditation and other reflective states of consciousness to become more open, less egocentric, more responsible. And they would replace narrow loyalties with a wide, loving, critical concern. Their style of consumption would "serve the needs of life, not the needs of producers."

The flags were going up.

Carl Rogers described the Emerging Man; Lewis Mumford, the New Person, the age that would "make the Renaissance look like a still-birth." Jonas Salk said that humankind was moving into a new epoch. Evolution, he said, favors "the survival of the wisest. . . . Who are they? What must they do? How can they discover themselves and others with whom to work?"

Educator John Holt called for "a radically new kind of human being." Philosopher Lancelot Law Whyte stressed the urgency of a network: "We who already share intimations of this emergent attitude must become aware of one another . . . collect allies by timely signals."

The only possibility for our time, said Joseph Campbell, the mythologist, in 1968, is "the free association of men and women of like spirit . . . not a handful but a thousand heroes, ten thousand heroes, who will create a future image of what humankind can be."

In 1969 the noted French political writer Jean-Francois Revel predicted that the United States was about to experience "the second great world revolution" — an upheaval that would complete the first revolution, the rise of democracy in the West. In Without Marx or Jesus he predicted the emergence of homo novus, a new human being. Revel believed that the undercurrent of spiritual concern in the United States, evident in the burgeoning interest in Eastern religions, presaged profound change in the only country on the planet free enough for bloodless revolution.

Revel saw the coming second revolution as an emergent pattern amid the chaos of the 1960s; the social movements, the new mores and fashions, protests and violence. Indeed, many of the activists were turning inward, a direction that seemed heretical to their comrades in the conventional Left. They were saying that they could not change society until they changed themselves. Irving Thomas, a social activist of the 1960s, recalled later:


A funny thing happened on the way to Revolution. There we were, beating our breasts for social change, when it slowly began to dawn on us that our big-deal social-political struggle was only one parochial engagement of a revolution in consciousness so large that it has been hard to bring it into focus within our reality.


And Michael Rossmari, one of the leaders of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, and other leaders of the supposedly alienated campus rebels spoke in low tones of a curious development. In their thrust for change they had begun to experience "the scariness of real choice and possibility. ... There was a sense that the surface of reality had somehow fallen away altogether. Nothing was any longer what it seemed."

Was this what it meant to make the world strange and new again? Creating and naming the movement had "alleviated the responsibility for facing an unsought and terrifyingly wild field of choice in a universe in which somehow anything had become possible." Like the sorcerers in the popular books of Carlos Castaneda, Rossman and his friends had succeeded, however briefly, in "stopping the world." Confrontation was a less and less attractive strategy as it became more and more evident that, as Walt Kelly's cartoon character Pogo once observed, "We have met the enemy and they are us."

When the revolution went inside, television cameras and newspaper reporters could not cover it. It had become, in many ways, invisible.


To many of the activists idealism seemed the only pragmatic alternative. Cynicism had proved a self-fulfilling prophecy. Economist-educator Robert Theobald urged the creation of a new coalition, a linkage of all those committed to social change in an age of rapid communication.

We live at a peculiar moment in history. If we look at the reality of the world from the viewpoint of the industrial era, it is clear that there is no hope But there is another way to look at our situation. We can discover the large number of people who have decided to change. ... If we do this, it seems equally impossible that we shall fail to solve our problems.


We had not fallen into crisis after crisis because our ideals had failed but because we had never applied them, Theobald said. A return to the highest hopes and dreams of the Founding Fathers might rescue us. We determine which future we create by the views we hold.

In The Transformation (1972), George Leonard described the current period as "unique in history," the beginning of the most thoroughgoing change in the quality of human existence since the birth of civilized states. "It does not entail throwing over our civilized values and practices but subsuming them under a higher order."

And also in 1972 anthropologist Gregory Bateson predicted that the next five to ten years would be comparable to the Federalist period in United States history. Public, press, and politicians would soon be debating the new ideas, much as the creators of the American democracy searched for consensus in the eighteenth century. The efforts of the young and their interest in Oriental philosophy represented more sanity than the conventions of the establishment, Bateson said. In his 1970 best-seller. The Greening of America, Charles Reich had focused on the outward symbols of change, especially the change in dress and lifestyle among the young; but Bateson pointed out that it was "not only long-haired professors and long-haired youth" who were thinking differently. Thousands of businessmen and even legislators had begun wishing for such change.

In her book. The Crossing Point (1973), M. C. Richards, artisan and poet, said:

One of the truths of our time is this hunger deep in people all over the planet for coming into relationship with each other.

Human consciousness is crossing a threshold as mighty as the one from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. People are hungering and thirsting after experience that feels true to them on the inside, after so much hard work mapping the outer spaces of the physical world. They are gaining courage to ask for what they need: living interconnections, a sense of individual worth, shared opportunities ....

Our relationship to past symbols of authority is changing because we are awakening to ourselves as individual beings with an inner rulership. Property and credentials and status are not as intimidating any more New symbols are rising: pictures of wholeness. Freedom sings within us as well as outside us Sages and seers have foretold this second coming. People don't want to feel stuck, they want to be able to change.


Change came most easily in geographical regions with a well-known tolerance for experiment. California had generated the first waves of campus unrest in the 1960s. In the 1970s the state began acquiring an international reputation as centerstage for the new, unnamed drama. Increasing numbers of re- searchers and innovators, interested in the expansion of awareness and its implications for society, relocated on the West Coast.

Jacob Needleman, professor of philosophy at San Francisco State University and a transplanted Easterner, warned in The New Religions (1973) that the nation must come to terms with the new spiritual- intellectual alliances in California. "Sooner or later we are going to have to understand California — and not simply from the motive of predicting the future for the rest of the country Something is struggling to be born here.” The West Coast, he said, was not paralyzed by the European bias that dominated the cynical East Coast intellectual establishment: the divorce of the human mind from the rest of the cosmos. "Without wishing to sound darkly mysterious, I would have to say that there broods over this state a strong sense of greater universal forces.”

Distinguished thinkers from many disciplines were describing an imminent transformation. The director of policy research at Stanford Research Institute, Willis Harman, said that if materialism had been the philosophical base for the Old Left, spirituality seemed likely to play that role for the New Left, a matrix of linked beliefs — that we are invisibly joined to one another, that there are dimensions transcending time and space, that individual lives are meaningful, that grace and illumination are real, that it is possible to evolve to ever higher levels of understanding.

Should these new coalitions prevail, Harman said, and some sort of transcendental premise dominate the culture, the result would be a social and historical phenomenon as great and pervasive as the Protestant Reformation.

Harman was one of the group of scholars and policy analysts who helped write The Changing Image of Man, a landmark study prepared for the Charles Kettering Foundation by the Stanford Research Institute in 1974. This remarkable document laid the groundwork for a paradigm shift in understanding how individual and social transformation might be accomplished. "The emergence of a new image and/or a new paradigm can be hastened or slowed by deliberate choice,” the study noted, adding that crisis can be stimulated.

Despite growing scientific evidence for vast human potential, the study said, communicating the new image is difficult. Reality is richer and more multidimensional than any metaphor. But perhaps it is possible to lead people toward "the direct experiencing of what language can only incompletely and inadequately express There does indeed appear to be a path, through a profound transformation of society ... to a situation where our dilemmas are resolvable."


The next leap in Britain's Aquarian Conspiracy against the United States was the May 1974 report that provided the basis for Ferguson's work. The report is entitled "Changing Images of Man," Contract Number URH (489-2150, Policy Research Report No. 414.74, prepared by the Stanford Research Institute Center for the Study of Social Policy, Willis Harman, director. The 319-page mimeographed report was prepared by a team of fourteen researchers and supervised by a panel of twenty-three controllers, including anthropologist Margaret Mead, psychologist B.F. Skinner, Ervin Laszlo of the United Nations, Sir Geoffrey Vickers of British intelligence.

The aim of the study, the authors state, is to change the image of mankind from that of industrial progress to one of "spiritualism." The study asserts that in our present society, the "image of industrial and technological man" is obsolete and must be "discarded": "Many of our present images appear to have become dangerously obsolete, however . . . Science, technology, and economics have made possible really significant strides toward achieving such basic human goals as physical safety and security, material comfort and better health. But many of these successes have brought with them problems of being too successful -- problems that themselves seem insoluble within the set of societal value-premises that led to their emergence . . . Our highly developed system of technology leads to higher vulnerability and breakdowns. Indeed the range and interconnected impact of societal problems that are now emerging pose a serious threat to our civilization . . . If our predictions of the future prove correct, we can expect the association problems of the trend to become more serious, more universal and to occur more rapidly."

Therefore, SRI concludes, we must change the industrial-technological image of man fast: "Analysis of the nature of contemporary societal problems leads to the conclusion that . . . the images of man that dominated the last two centuries will be inadequate for the post-industrial era."

Since the writing of the Harman report, one President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, reported sighting UFOs, his National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski made speeches proclaiming the advent of the New Age, the Joint Chiefs of Staff every morning read so-called intelligence reports on the biorhythms and horoscopes of the members of the Soviet Politburo. The House of Representatives established a new congressional committee, called the Congressional Clearinghouse on the Future, where the likes of Ferguson have come to lecture up to a hundred congressmen. [25]

-- The Aquarian Conspiracy, by Executive Intelligence Review


George Cabot Lodge, statesman and Harvard business professor, said, "The United States is in the midst of a great transformation, comparable to the one that ended medievalism and shook its institutions to the ground. . . . The old ideas and assumptions that once made our institutions legitimate are being eroded. They are slipping away in the face of a changing reality, being replaced by different ideas as yet ill-formed, contradictory, unsettling.”

A Stanford physicist, William Tiller, said that the nameless movement had achieved a state of "critical mass” and could not be stopped. The metaphor of a critical mass was also used by Lewis Thomas, president of the Sloan-Kettering Institute, in The Lives of a Cell (1974). Only in this century were we close enough and numerous enough to begin the fusion around the earth, a process that might now move very rapidly. Human thought might be at an evolutionary threshold.

Art historian Jose Arguelles described "a strange disquietude that permeates the psychic atmosphere, an unstable Pax Americana." The revolution of the 1960s had planted the seeds of apocalypse; the psychedelic drugs, however abused, had given a visionary experience of self-transcendence to a sufficient number of individuals, so that they might well determine the future of human development — "not a Utopia, but a collectively altered state of consciousness."

"We are living at a time when history is holding its breath," said Arthur Clarke, author of Childhood's End and 2001 , "and the present is detaching itself from the past like an iceberg that has broken away from its moorings to sail across the boundless ocean."

Carl Rogers, who in privately circulated papers predicted the emergence of a new kind of autonomous human being, acclaimed the 1976 launching by California citizens and legislators of a network called Self Determination. Even if it didn't spread to other states, he said, "it's a strong indication that the emerging individuals do, in fact, exist and are becoming aware of like-minded others."

But it wasn't just California. Human Systems Management, an international coalition of management scientists, launched a network from Columbia University in New York City: "A search is on for special people, and they are not on any list which can be bought. We must seek each other out, find each other, link up with each other. It's not known how many we are, where we are. . .

And by 1976 Theodore Roszak was saying that soon no politics could survive unless it did justice to the spiritual subversives, "the new society within the shell of the old." The grassroots, do-it-yourself revolution of Erich Fromm's prediction was happening ten years early.

Networking was now a verb, and it was done by conferences, phone calls, air travel, books, phantom organizations, papers, pamphleteering, photocopying, lectures, workshops, parties, grapevines, mutual friends, summit meetings, coalitions, tapes, newsletters. Funds came from grants, petty cash, and wealthy supporters, all with a peculiarly American pragmatism. Experiences and insights were shared, argued, tested, adapted, and shaken down into their usable elements very quickly.

There were now networks of academics, including college presidents and regents, lending their clout to the idea of evolving consciousness, and loose-knit groups of bureaucrats looking for ways to put government muscle behind the new ideas. A humanistic law network talked about ways to transform the bitter, adversarial nature of the justice system, and a low-profile international network of physicists engaged in studying consciousness.

The transformative vision was shared by individuals in many social movements — networks about madness, death and dying, alternative birth, ecology, nutrition. A web of “holistic'' doctors, another of medical students and faculty on various campuses, formulated radical ways of thinking about health and disease. Maverick theologians and members of the clergy pondered “the new spirituality" that rose as churches declined. There were networks of innovative, “transpersonal" educators, caucuses of legislators, and a melding of economists- futurists-managers-engineers-systems theorists, all seeking creative, humanistic alternatives. A few captains of industry and finance. Foundation officials and university programmers, artists and musicians, publishers and television producers. A surprising clutch of celebrities. Scions of Old American Wealth. Ex-political radicals, minus their rhetoric, now in positions of influence.

In the late 1970s the circles began closing rapidly. The networks overlapped, linked. There was an alarming, exhilarating conviction that something significant was coming together.

Who dream the dream which all men always declare futile, Edward Carpenter had said. Who dream the hour which is not yet on earth — and lo! it strikes.

A series of resounding clicks, and the networks became the long-prophesied conspiracy.

_______________

Notes:

1 Teilhard was the individual most often named as a profound influence by the  Aquarian Conspirators who responded to a survey (see Introduction and  Appendix). His books, once repressed, have now sold many millions and have  been translated into virtually every language. The next most frequently mentioned influences are Aldous Huxley, Carl Jung, and Abraham Maslow.
 
2 The "World Perspectives" series included many authors whose thinking was  influential in the Aquarian Conspiracy, among them Lancelot Law Whyte,  Lewis Mumford, Erich Fromm, Werner Heisenberg, Rene Dubos, Gardner  Murphy, Mircea Eliade, Kenneth Boulding, Marshall McLuhan, Milton  Mayerhoff, Ivan lllich and Jonas Salk.
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Re: The Aquarian Conspiracy, by Marilyn Ferguson

Postby admin » Sat Apr 27, 2019 2:07 am

CHAPTER 3: Brains Changing, Minds Changing

It is necessary; therefore, it is possible.

— G.A. BORGHESE


In the durable Victorian fantasy, Flatland, the characters are assorted geometric shapes living in an exclusively two-dimensional world. As the story opens, the narrator, a middle-aged Square, has a disturbing dream in which he visits a one-dimensional realm, Lineland, whose inhabitants can move only from point to point. With mounting frustration he attempts to explain himself — that he is a Line of Lines, from a domain where you can move not only from point to point but also from side to side. The angry Linelanders are about to attack him when he awakens.

Later that same day he attempts to help his grandson, a Little Hexagon, with his studies. The grandson suggests the possibility of a Third Dimension — a realm with up and down as well as side to side. The Square proclaims this notion foolish and unimaginable.

That very night the Square has an extraordinary, life- changing encounter: a visit from an inhabitant of Spaceland, the realm of Three Dimensions.

At first the Square is merely puzzled by his visitor, a peculiar circle who seems to change in size, even disappear. The visitor explains that he is a Sphere. He only seemed to change size and disappear because he was moving toward the Square in Space and descending at the same time.

Realizing that argument alone will not convince the Square of the Third Dimension, the exasperated Sphere creates for him an experience of depth. The Square is badly shaken:

There was a dizzy, sickening sensation of sight that was not like seeing; I saw a Line that was no Line; Space that was not Space. I was myself and not myself. When I could find voice, I shrieked aloud in agony, "Either this is madness or it is Hell."

"It is neither," calmly replied the voice of the Sphere. "It is Knowledge; it is Three Dimensions. Open your eyes once again and try to look steadily."


Having had an insight into another dimension, the Square becomes an evangelist, attempting to convince his fellow Flatlanders that Space is more than just a wild notion of mathematicians. Because of his insistence he is finally imprisoned, for the public good. Every year thereafter the high priest of Flatland, the Chief Circle, checks with him to see if he has regained his senses, but the stubborn Square continues to insist that there is a third dimension. He cannot forget it, he cannot explain it.

The common wisdom about transcendent moments is that they can never be properly communicated, only experienced. "The Tao that can be described is not the Tao " Communication, after all, builds upon common ground. You might describe purple to someone who knows red and blue, but you cannot describe red to someone who has never seen it. Red is elemental and irreducible. Neither could you describe saltiness, sandiness, light.

There is an irreducible sensory aspect to those experiences sometimes vaguely described as transcendent, transpersonal, spiritual, altered, nonordinary, or peak. These sensations — light, connection, love, timelessness, loss of boundaries — are further complicated by paradoxes that confound logical description. As the hapless Square said, in trying to describe the Third Dimension, "I saw a Line that was no Line."

However futile their efforts, those who have been moved by such extradimensional experiences are forced to try to describe them in the language of space and time. They say they felt something that was high or deep, an edge or an abyss, a far country, a frontier. No Man's Land. Time seemed fast or slow; the discoveries were old and new, prophetic and remembered, strange yet familiar. Perspective shifted sharply, if just for a moment, transcending the old contradictions and confusion.

As we saw in Chapter 2, some eminently sane and distinguished people believe that the human mind may have reached a new state in its evolution, an unlocking of potential comparable to the emergence of language. Is this awesome possibility a utopian dream ... or a fragile reality?

Until a few years ago, claims that consciousness can be expanded and transformed rested on subjective evidence. Suddenly, first in the handful of laboratories of a few pioneer scientists, then in thousands of experiments around the world, the undeniable evidence began coming forth.

Awakening, flow, freedom, unity, and synthesis are not "all in the mind," after all. They are in the brain as well. Something in conscious functioning is capable of profound change. The subjective accounts have been correlated with concrete evidence of physical change: higher levels of integration in the brain itself, more efficient processing, different "harmonics" of the brain's electrical rhythms, shifts in perceptual ability.

Many researchers say they have been shaken by their own findings about changes in conscious functioning because of the implications for widespread social change. There are hard facts to face, not just soft speculation.

It would take an additional book — a library, rather — to fully survey the subject of this chapter and the next: the evidence of change; the triggers, tools, and discoveries of personal transformation; and the experiences of people undergoing the process here and now. In any event, transformations of consciousness are more to be experienced than studied.

Bear in mind that these two chapters are panoramic, a synopsis of a vast, deep realm. They will serve their purpose if they convey a sense of the feelings and insights involved in the transformative process, if here and there they connect with something in the reader's life. We will look at changes of mind, of brain and body, of life direction.

We need, first of all, a working definition of transformation if we are to grasp its power over the lives of individuals and the way it generates deep social change. The Aquarian Conspiracy is both cause and effect of such transformation.

TRANSFORMATION: A DEFINITION

The term transformation has interestingly parallel meanings in mathematics, in the physical sciences, and in human change. A transformation is, literally, a forming over, a restructuring. Mathematical transforms, for example, convert a problem into new terms so that it can be solved. As we shall see later, the brain itself functions by complex mathematical transforms. In the physical sciences, a transformed substance has taken on a different nature or character, as when water becomes ice or steam.

And of course, we speak of the transformation of people — specifically the transformation of consciousness. In this context consciousness does not mean simple waking awareness. Here it refers to the state of being conscious of one's consciousness. You are keenly aware that you have awareness. In effect, this is a new perspective that sees other perspectives — a paradigm shift. The poet e.e. cummings once rejoiced that he had found "the eye of my eye . . . the ear of my ear." Seeing Yourself See, one book title put it. This awareness of awareness is another dimension.

Significantly, ancient traditions describe transformation as new seeing. Their metaphors are of light and clarity. They speak of insight, vision. Teilhard said that the aim of evolution is "ever more perfect eyes in a world in which there is always more to see."

Most of us go through our waking hours taking little notice of our thought processes: how the mind moves, what it fears, what it heeds, how it talks to itself, what it brushes aside; the nature of our hunches; the feel of our highs and lows; our misperceptions. For the most part we eat, work, converse, worry, hope, plan, make love, shop — all with minimal thought about how we think.

The beginning of personal transformation is absurdly easy. We only have to pay attention to the flow of attention itself. Immediately we have added a new perspective. Mind can then observe its many moods, its body tensions, the flux of attention, its choices and impasses, hurting and wishing, tasting and touching.

In mystical tradition, the mind-behind-the-scenes, the part that watches the watcher is called the Witness. Identifying with a wider dimension than our usual fragmented consciousness, this center is freer and better informed. As we'll see, this wider perspective has access to universes of information processed by the brain at an unconscious level, realms we usually can't penetrate because of static or control from the surface mind — what Edward Carpenter called "the little, local self."

A mind not aware of itself — ordinary consciousness — is like a passenger strapped into an airplane seat, wearing blinders, ignorant of the nature of transportation, the dimension of the craft, its range, the flight plan, and the proximity of other passengers.

The mind aware of itself is a pilot. True, it is sensitive to flight rules, affected by weather, and dependent on navigation aids, but still vastly freer than the "passenger" mind.

Anything that draws us into a mindful, watchful state has the power to transform, and anyone of normal intelligence can undertake such a process. Mind, in fact, is its own transformative vehicle, inherently prepared to shift into new dimensions if only we let it. Conflict, contradiction, mixed feelings, all the elusive material that usually swirls around the edges of awareness, can be reordered at higher and higher levels. Each new integration makes the next easier.

This consciousness of consciousness, this witness level, is sometimes referred to as a "higher dimension," an expression that has often been misunderstood. Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl pointed out that no moral judgment is implied:

A higher dimension is simply a more inclusive dimension . If, for example, you take a two-dimensional square and extend it vertically so that it becomes a three-dimensional cube, then you may say that the square is included in the cube. . . . Between the various levels of truth there can be no mutual exclusiveness, no real contradiction, for the higher includes the lower.


The Square in Flatland tried to explain himself to the Linelanders as a "Line of Lines." Later the Sphere described him- self as a "Circle of Circles." As we'll see, the human transformative process, once it begins, is geometric. In a sense, the fourth dimension is just this: to see the other three with new eyes.

CONSCIOUS EVOLUTION

The idea that we have wide options of consciousness is hardly new. At the dawn of the Renaissance, Pico della Mirandola wrote:

With freedom of choice and with honor, as though the maker and molder of thyself, thou mayest fashion thyself in whatever shape thou shalt prefer. Thou shalt have the power to generate into the lower forms of life which are brutish. Thou shalt have the power, out of thy soul's judgment, to be reborn into the higher forms


Then, as now, philosophers argued whether human nature is good or evil. Today science, of all disciplines, offers us another option: The human brain and behavior are almost unbelievably plastic. True, we are conditioned to be afraid, defensive, and hostile, yet we also have the capacity for extraordinary transcendence.

Those who believe in the possibility of impending social transformation are not optimistic about human nature; rather, they trust the transformative process itself. Having experienced positive change in their own lives — more freedom, feelings of kinship and unity, more creativity, more ability to handle stress, a sense of meaning — they concede that others may change, too. And they believe that if enough individuals discover new capacities in themselves they will naturally conspire to create a world hospitable to human imagination, growth, and cooperation.

The proven plasticity of the human brain and human awareness offers the possibility that individual evolution may lead to collective evolution. When one person has unlocked a new capacity its existence is suddenly evident to others, who may then develop the same capacity. Certain skills, arts, and sports, for example, are developed consummately in particular cultures. Even our “natural" abilities must be encouraged. Human beings do not even walk or talk spontaneously. If babies are kept in cribs in institutions with nothing to do but stare at the ceiling, they will walk and talk very late, if ever. These capacities must be released; they evolve in interaction with other human beings and the environment.

We only know what the brain can do by calling on it. The genetic repertoire of any species includes an almost infinite number of potentialities, more than can be tapped by any one environment or during a single lifetime. As one geneticist put it, it's as if we all have grand pianos inside us, but only a few learn to play them. Just as human beings learn to defy gravity in gymnastic feats or discriminate between hundreds of varieties of coffee, so we can perform gymnastics of attention and subtleties of interior sensing.

Millennia ago humankind discovered that the brain can be teased into profound shifts of awareness. The mind can learn to view itself and its own realities in ways that seldom occur spontaneously. These systems, tools for serious inner exploration, made possible the conscious evolution of consciousness. The growing worldwide recognition of this capacity and how it can be accomplished is the major technological achievement of our time.

In a famous passage, William James urged his contemporaries to heed such shifts:

Our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, while all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different.

We may go through life without suspecting their existence, but apply the requisite stimulus, and at a touch they are there in all their completeness. . . .

No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded.


THE WAYS WE CHANGE

There are four basic ways in which we change our minds when we get new and conflicting information. The easiest and most limited of these we might call change by exception. Our old belief system remains intact but allows for a handful of anomalies, the way an old paradigm tolerates a certain number of odd phenomena that hang around its edges before the breakthrough to a larger, more satisfying paradigm. An individual who engages in change by exception may dislike all members of a particular group, except one or two. He may consider psychic phenomena nonsense yet still believe that his great-aunt's dreams came true. These are dismissed as "the exceptions that prove the rule" instead of the exceptions that disprove the rule.

Incremental change occurs bit by bit, and the individual is not aware of having changed.

Then there is pendulum change, the abandonment of one closed and certain system for another. The hawk becomes a dove, the disenchanted religious zealot becomes an atheist, the promiscuous person turns into a prude — and vice versa, all the way around.

Pendulum change fails to integrate what was right with the old and fails to discriminate the value of the new from its over-statements. Pendulum change rejects its own prior experience, going from one kind of half-knowing to another.

Change by exception, incremental change, and pendulum change stop short of transformation. The brain cannot deal with conflicting information unless it can integrate it. One simple example: If the brain is unable to fuse double vision into a single image, it will eventually repress the signals from one eye. The visual cells in the brain for that eye then atrophy, causing blindness. In the same way, the brain chooses between conflicting views. It represses information that does not fit with its dominant beliefs.

Unless, of course, it can harmonize the ideas into a powerful synthesis. That is paradigm change — transformation. It is the fourth dimension of change: the new perspective, the insight that allows the information to come together in a new form or structure. Paradigm change refines and integrates. Paradigm change attempts to heal the delusion of either-or, of this-or-that.

In many ways, it is the most challenging kind of change because it relinquishes certainty. It allows for different interpretations from different perspectives at different times.

Change by exception says, "I'm right, except for _______ " Incremental change says, "I was almost right, but now I'm right." Pendulum change says, "I was wrong before, but now I'm right." Paradigm change says, "I was partially right before, and now I'm a bit more partially right." In paradigm change we realize that our previous views were only part of the picture — and that what we know now is only part of what we'll know later. Change is no longer threatening. It absorbs, enlarges, enriches. The unknown is friendly, interesting territory. Each insight widens the road, making the next stage of travel, the next opening, easier.

Change itself changes, just as in nature, evolution evolves from a simple to a complex process. Every new occurrence alters the nature of those to follow, like compound interest. Paradigm change is not a simple linear effect, like the ten little Indians in the nursery rhyme who vanish one by one. It is a sudden shift of pattern, a spiral, and sometimes a cataclysm.

When we wake up to the flux and alteration of our own awareness we augment change. Synthesis builds on synthesis.

STRESS AND TRANSFORMATION

Given the proper circumstances, the human brain has boundless capabilities for paradigm shifts. It can order and reorder itself, integrate, transcend old conflicts. Anything that disrupts the old order of our lives has the potential for triggering a transformation, a movement toward greater maturity, openness, strength.

Sometimes the perturbing element is obvious stress: a job loss, a divorce, serious illness, financial troubles, a death in the family, imprisonment, even sudden success or a promotion. Or it may be subtle intellectual stress: a close relationship with someone whose views differ markedly from those we have always held; a book that shakes our beliefs; or a new environment, a foreign country.

Personal stress as well as the collective stress of our age, the much-discussed future shock, can be agents of transformation, once we know how to integrate them. Ironically, for all our nostalgia for simpler times, the turbulent twentieth century may be driving us into the change and creativity dreamt of through the ages.

The entire culture is undergoing trauma and tensions that beg for new order. Psychiatrist Frederic Flach, remarking on this historic development, quoted the English novelist Samuel Butler, who said in The Way of All Flesh: “In quiet uneventful lives, the changes internal and external are so small that there is little or no strain in the process of fusion and accommodation. In other lives there is great strain, but there is also great fusion and accommodating power." Flach adds:

This power to fuse and accommodate which Butler described is indeed creativity. That was in 1885. Today fewer and fewer people find their lives quiet and uneventful. Changes take place at an accelerated pace and touch everyone in some way. In a world of increasingly complex stresses, personal and cultural, we can no longer afford to use our creative abilities only to solve specific problems here and there. Our health and our sanity require that we learn how to live lives that are genuinely creative.


We are troubled by many things we can't fit together, the paradoxes of everyday life. Work should be primarily meaningful, work should pay well. Children should have freedom, children should be controlled. We are torn between what others want of us and what we want for ourselves. We want to be compassionate, we want to be honest. We want security, we want spontaneity.

Warring priorities, stress, pain, paradoxes, conflicts — these prescribe their own remedies if we attend to them fully. When we deal indirectly with our tensions, when we stifle them or vacillate, we live indirectly. We cheat ourselves of transformation.

THE WAY OF AVOIDANCE

At the level of ordinary consciousness, we deny pain and paradox. We doctor them with Valium, dull them with alcohol, or distract them with television.

Denial is a way of life. More accurately, it is a way of diminishing life, of making it seem more manageable. Denial is the alternative to transformation.

Personal denial, mutual denial, collective denial. Denial of facts and feelings. Denial of experience, a deliberate forgetting what we see and hear. Denial of our capacities. Politicians deny problems, parents deny their vulnerability, teachers deny their biases, children deny their intentions. Most of all, we deny what we know in our bones.

We are caught between two different evolutionary mechanisms: denial and transformation. We evolved with the ability to repress pain and to filter out peripheral information. These are useful short-term strategies that allowed our ancestors to shunt aside stimuli that would be too much to bear in an emergency, just as the fight-or-flight syndrome aroused them to cope with physical danger.

The capacity for denial is an example of the body's sometimes short-sighted vision. Some of the body's automatic responses hurt over the long run more than they help. The formation of scar tissue, for example, prevents the nerves in the spine from reconnecting after an accident. In many injuries, swelling causes more damage than the original trauma. And it is the body's hysterical overreaction to a virus, rather than the virus itself, that makes us ill.

Our ability to block our experience is an evolutionary dead end. Rather than experiencing and transforming pain, conflict, and fear, we often divert or dampen them with a kind of unwitting hypnosis.

Over a lifetime, more and more stress accumulates. There is no release, and our consciousness narrows. The floodlight shrinks into the slender beam of a flashlight. We lose the vividness of colors, sensitivity to sounds, peripheral vision, sensitivity to others, emotional intensity. The spectrum of awareness becomes ever narrower.

The real alienation in our time is not from society but from self.

Who knows where it starts? Perhaps in our earliest years, when we skin a knee and some kindly adult distracts us with a joke or a cookie. Certainly the culture does not foster the habit of really experiencing our experiences. But denial would probably happen anyway because of our knack for masking whatever hurts, even at the cost of consciousness.

Avoidance is a short-term answer, like aspirin. Avoidance settles for chronic dull pain rather than brief acute confrontation. The cost is flexibility; just as an arm or leg contracts in chronic pain, so the full range of movement of consciousness goes into spasm.

Denial, however human and natural a response, exacts a terrible price. It is as if we settled for living in the anterooms of our lives. And, ultimately, it doesn't work. A part of the self keenly feels all the denied pain.

For most of a century, psychologists used a bureaucratic model of the mind: Conscious mind on top, commanding officer; Subconscious, like an unreliable first-lieutenant; and the Unconscious, far below, an unruly platoon of erotic energies, archetypes, curiosities. It comes as a shock, then, to learn that a Co-conscious has been operating alongside us — a dimension of awareness that Stanford psychologist Ernest Hilgard has called the Hidden Observer.

Laboratory experiments at Stanford have shown that another part of the self can acknowledge pain and other stimuli to which hypnotized subjects are oblivious. This aspect of consciousness is always present, always fully experiencing. And it can be quite readily called upon, as Hilgard's experiments demonstrated.

For example, with her hand immersed in ice water, one hypnotized woman steadily reported that she felt zero pain on a scale of zero to ten. But her other hand, with access to pencil and paper, reported an increase in pain: "0 ... 2 ... 4 ... 7 ... " Other subjects gave contradictory verbal reports, depending on which “self" the hypnotist summoned.

Like stuck records, all our denied experiences and emotions reverberate endlessly in the other half of the self. Awesome energy goes into keeping this information cycling out of the range of ordinary awareness. Little wonder if we are fatigued, dis-eased, alienated.

We have two essential strategies for coping: the way of avoidance or the way of attention.

In his 1918 diary, Hermann Hesse recalled a dream in which he heard two distinct voices. The first told him to seek out forces to overcome suffering, to calm himself. It sounded like parents, school, Kant, the church fathers. But the second voice — which sounded farther off, like "primal cause" — said that suffering only hurts because you fear it, complain about it, flee it.

You know quite well, deep within you, that there is only a single magic, a single power, a single salvation . . . and that is called loving. Well, then, love your suffering. Do not resist it, do not flee from it. Give yourself to it. It is only your aversion that hurts, nothing else.


The pain is the aversion; the healing magic is attention.

Properly attended to, pain can answer our most crucial questions, even those we did not consciously frame. The only way out of our suffering is through it. From an ancient Sanskrit writing: "Do not try to drive pain away by pretending that it is not real. If you seek serenity in oneness, pain will vanish of its own accord."

Conflict, pain, tension, fear, paradox . . . these are transformations trying to happen. Once we confront them, the transformative process begins. Those who discover this phenomenon, whether by search or accident, gradually realize that the reward is worth the scariness of unanesthetized life. The release of pain, the sense of liberation, and the resolution of conflict make the next crisis or stubborn paradox easier to confront.

THE WAY OF ATTENTION

We have the biological capacity to deny our stress — or transform it by paying attention to it. Recent discoveries about the brain help us understand both the psychological and physiological aspects of these two choices, and why the way of attention is a deliberate choice.

The brain's right and left hemispheres interact all the time, but each also has certain functions of its own. These specialized functions of the hemispheres were first observed in the effects of injuries confined to one side of the brain or the other. Later, there were more sophisticated techniques to detect differences. Different pictures would be flashed simultaneously to the left and right visual fields, for example, or the left and right ears would hear different tones at the same time. Postmortem examination of brains showed subtle structural differences between the sides. Eventually research found that brain cells producing certain chemicals were more concentrated on one side than the other.

The hemispheres can operate independently, as two separate centers of consciousness. This was dramatically demonstrated in the 1960s and 1970s when twenty-five patients around the world underwent "split-brain" surgery for the treatment of severe epilepsy. The connections between hemispheres were severed in the hope of confining seizures to one side.

After their recovery from the operation, the split-brain subjects, who appeared normal enough, were tested to determine whether there was a duality of conscious experience and to observe the separate functions of the two hemispheres. What tasks would each half-self be able to perform? What would it be able to describe?

The split-brain patient indeed proved to have two minds, capable of independent functioning. Sometimes the left hand literally did not know what the right hand was doing.

For example, the split-brain patient cannot tell the experimenter the name of an object known only to the mute right hemisphere. [1] The subject claims not to know what the object is, although the left hand (controlled by the right brain) can retrieve it from a pile of objects out of visual range. If the split-brain patient tries to copy simple shapes with the right hand (whose controlling left brain cannot comprehend spatial relationships), the left hand may attempt to finish the task.

We tend to identify the "I" with the verbal left brain and its operations, the part of us that can talk about and analyze experiences. The left hemisphere essentially controls speech. It adds, subtracts, hyphenates, measures, compartmentalizes, organizes, names, pigeonholes, and watches clocks.

Although the right hemisphere has little control over the speech mechanism, it understands language in some way and gives our speech its emotional inflection. If a certain region of the right brain is damaged, speech becomes monotonous and colorless. The right hemisphere is more musical and sexual than the left. It thinks in images, sees in wholes, detects patterns. It seems to mediate pain more intensely than the left.

In Marshall McLuhan's expression, the right brain “tunes" information, the left brain “fits" it. The left deals with the past, matching the experience of this moment to earlier experience, trying to categorize it; the right hemisphere responds to novelty, the unknown. The left takes snapshots, the right watches movies.

The right brain makes visual closure — that is, it can identify a shape suggested by only a few lines. It mentally connects the points into a pattern. As psychologists would put it, the right brain completes the gestalt. It is whole-making — holistic.

Detecting tendencies and patterns is a crucial skill. The more accurately we can get the picture from minimal information, the better equipped we are to survive.

We use pattern-seeing in mundane ways, as when we read a handwritten message with partially closed letters. The ability to close a pattern with limited information enables the successful retailer or politician to detect early trends, the diagnostician to name an illness, the therapist to see an unhealthy pattern in a person or family.

The right hemisphere is richly connected to the ancient limbic brain, the so-called emotional brain. The mysterious limbic structures are involved in memory processing and, when electronically stimulated, produce many of the phenomena of altered states of consciousness.

In the classic sense of "heart and mind," we can think of this right hemisphere-limbic circuit as the heart- brain. If we say, for example, "The heart has its reasons," we are referring to the deeply felt response processed by the "other side of the brain."

For both cultural and biological reasons, the left brain seems to dominate awareness in most of us. In some instances, researchers have reported, the left brain even takes over those tasks at which the right brain is superior.

We confine much of our conscious awareness to the very aspect of brain function that reduces things to their parts. And we sabotage our only strategy for finding meaning because the left brain, in habitually cutting off conflict from the right, also cuts off its ability to see patterns and to see the whole.

Without the benefit of a scalpel, we perform split-brain surgery on ourselves. We isolate heart and mind. Cut off from the fantasy, dreams, intuitions, and holistic processes of the right brain, the left is sterile. And the right brain, cut off from integration with its organizing partner, keeps recycling its emotional charge. Feelings are dammed, perhaps to work private mischief in fatigue, illness, neurosis, a pervasive sense of something wrong, something missing — a kind of cosmic homesickness. This fragmentation costs us our health and our capacity for intimacy. As we'll see in Chapter 9, it also costs us our ability to learn, create, innovate.

KNOWING AND NAMING

The raw stuff of human transformation is around and within us, omnipresent and invisible as oxygen. We are swimming in knowledge we have not claimed, all mediated by the realm of the brain that cannot name what it knows.

There are techniques that can help us name our dreams and dragons. They are designed to reopen the bridge between right and left to through traffic, to increase the left brain's awareness of its counterpart.

Meditation, chanting, and similar techniques increase the coherence and harmony in the brainwave patterns; they bring about greater synchrony between the hemispheres, which suggests that higher order is achieved. On occasion it appears that increasing populations of nerve cells are recruited into the rhythm, until all regions of the brain seem to be throbbing, as if choreographed and orchestrated. The usually dissynchronous patterns in the two sides seem to become entrained to each other. Brainwave activity in older, deeper brain structures may also show an unexpected synchrony with the neocortex.

One example of such a technique is focusing, a method developed by psychologist Eugene Gendlin of the University of Chicago. People using this technique learn to sit quietly and allow the feeling, or "aura," of a particular concern to well up. In effect, they ask it to identify itself. Typically, after half a minute or so, a word or phrase pops into mind. If it is appropriate, the body responds unmistakably. As Gendlin described it:

As these rare words come, one senses a sharpened feeling, or a felt relief, a felt shift, usually before one can say what this shift is. Sometimes such words are not in themselves very impressive or novel, but just these words have an experiential effect, and no others do. [2]


Research shows that these “felt shifts" are accompanied by a pronounced change in brainwave harmonics. A distinct, complex pattern seems to correlate with this experience of insight. The brain's activity is integrated at a higher level. And when a person reports feeling “stuck" there is a detectable collapse of those same EEG harmonics.

Whatever lowers the barrier and lets the unclaimed material emerge is transformative. Recognition— literally, “knowing again" — occurs when the analytical brain, with its power to name and classify, admits the wisdom of its other half into full awareness.

The organizing part of the brain can only understand that which it can fit into prior knowledge. Language draws the strange, the unknown, into full consciousness, and we say, “Of course ..."

In Greek philosophy, logos (“word") was the divine ordering principle, fitting the new or strange into the scheme of things. Whenever we name things, we structure consciousness. As we look at the great social transformation under way, we will see again and again that naming awakens new perspectives: birth without violence, voluntary simplicity, appropriate technology, paradigm shift.

Language releases the unknown from limbo, expressing it in a way that the whole brain can know it. Incantations, mantras, poetry, and secret sacred words are all bridges that join the two brains. The artist faces a form, Martin Buber once said. “If he speaks the primary word out of his being to the form which appears, then the effective power streams out and the work arises."

Given the complexity of the brain, it may be generations before science understands the processes that enable us to know without knowing that we know. But no matter; what counts is that something in us is wiser and better informed than our ordinary consciousness. With such an ally within our selves, why should we go it alone?

FINDING THE CENTER

The joining of the two minds creates something new. Whole-brain knowing is far more than the sum of its parts, and different from either.

John Middleton Murry, the British literary critic, said that the reconciling of mind and heart is "the central mystery of all high religion." In the 1940s Murry wrote that a growing number of men and women were becoming "a new kind of human being," fusing emotion and intellect. Most people, he said, turn away from inner conflict. They find comfort in faith, busyness, denial.

But there were always a few on whom these opiates failed to work. . . . Heart and mind in them each insisted upon its rights, and the claims could not be reconciled. There was a deadlock in the center of their being, and they passed steadily into a condition of isolation, abandonment and despair. Their inward division was complete.

Then came, out of that extreme and absolute division, a sudden unity. A new kind of consciousness was created in them. Mind and Heart, which had been irreconcilable enemies, became united in the Soul, which loved what it knew. The inward division was healed.


Murry called this new knowing the soul. [3] Over the centuries, accounts of transcendental experience often described it as a mysterious "center," the penetration of some unknown but central realm. [4] This transcendent center is in the lore of all cultures, represented in mandalas, in alchemy, in the king's chamber in pyramids (“fire in the middle”), the sanctum sanctorum, the holy of holies. ”We sit around in a ring and suppose,” wrote Robert Frost, ”But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.”

The escape from the prison of the two minds — the task of transformation — is the great theme pervading Hesse's novels: Steppenwolf, Narcissus and Goldmund, The Glass Bead Game, Demian, and Siddhartha . In 1921 he said that he hoped the spiritual wave from India would offer his culture “a corrective, refreshment from the opposite pole.” Europeans unhappy with their overspecialized intellectual climate were not turning so much toward Buddha or Lao-tse, he said, as toward meditation, "a technique whose highest result is pure harmony, a simultaneous and equal cooperation of logical and intuitive thinking.” The East contemplated the forest; the West counted the trees. Yet the need for completion emerges as a theme in the myths of all cultures. They wanted it all — and many transcended the split. The mind that knows the trees and the forest is a new mind.

The power of true center must be the most frequently mislaid artifact of human wisdom. It is as if the same message keeps washing ashore, and no one breaks the bottles, much less the code. True, Hesse said, many German professors were nervous that the intellectual West would drown in a Buddhist deluge. "The West, however,” he observed dryly, "will not drown." Indeed, for all practical purposes, the West has only recently noticed the bottles that keep washing ashore and felt the tide that carries them.

Enumerating the variety of spiritual paths, Aldous Huxley urged "the central door" rather than purely intellectual or purely practical ways. "The best of both worlds . . . the best of all worlds." There is more to balance, as one Eastern thinker recently remarked, than not falling over.

The thrill of the new perspective cannot be sustained for an indefinite period. Inevitably and often, the individual lapses into old positions, old polarities, old ways. In Mount Analog, Rene Daumal described the slipping back:

You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above.

One climbs, one sees, one descends; one sees no longer, but one has seen.


There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up: “When one can no longer see, one can at least still know."

We live — as we shall see in the next chapter — by what we have seen.

_______________

Notes:

1 These functions are reversed in some people, particularly in many left-handers. That is, language is in the right hemisphere rather than the left,  spatial competence in the left rather than the right, etc.

2 His example of felt shift: You take off on a journey with that familiar, uneasy  feeling that you have forgotten something. As you sit on the airplane you  rummage through the possibilities. You may recall an item you aid indeed  forget, but there is no sense of relief; you know that isn't it. When the “real"  item comes to mind, there is a sharp recognition, a tangible shift, certainty that  this was what was troubling you.
 
3 Nikos Kazantzakis talked about harmonizing and modulating "both opposing  forces" in the brain. From a transcendent peak you can see the brain's battle, he  said; we must besiege every cell of the brain because that is where God is jailed,  "seeking, trying, hammering to open a gate in the fortress of matter."
 
4 Charles Lindbergh, describing an extraordinary mystical experience on his  famous flight, said he felt "caught in the gravitational field between two  planets."
 
 
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Re: The Aquarian Conspiracy, by Marilyn Ferguson

Postby admin » Sat Apr 27, 2019 2:45 am

Part 1 of 2

CHAPTER 4: Crossover: People Changing

There is only one history of importance and it is the history of what you once believed in and the history of what you came to believe in.

—KAY BOYLE


Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.

—DOROTHY


The difference between transformation by accident and transformation by a system is like the difference between lightning and a lamp. Both give illumination, but one is dangerous and unreliable, while the other is relatively safe, directed, available.

The intentional triggers of transformative experiences are numberless, yet they have a common quality. They focus awareness on awareness — a critical shift. For all their surface variation, most focus on something too strange, complex, diffuse, or monotonous to be handled by the brain's analytical, intellectual half: on breathing, repetitious physical movement, music, water, a flame, a meaningless sound, a blank wall, a koan, a paradox. The intellectual brain can only dominate awareness by affixing itself to something definite and bounded. If it is captured by a diffuse, monotonous focus, the signals from the other side of the mind can be heard.

Among the triggers of such experiences reported by the individuals who responded to the Aquarian Conspiracy questionnaire:

• Sensory isolation and sensory overload, because sharply altered input causes a shift in consciousness.

• Biofeedback — the use of machines that feed back tones or visual readouts of body processes like brainwave activity, muscle activity, skin temperature — because learning to control these processes requires an unusually relaxed and alert state.

• Autogenic training, an approach that originated in Europe more than fifty years ago — self-suggestions that the body is becoming relaxed, "breathing itself."

• Music (sometimes in combination with imagery or meditation), because of the brain's sensitivity to tone and tempo and because music engages the right hemisphere. Chanting. Painting, sculpting, pottery, and similar activities that give a creator a chance to become lost in the creation.

• Improvisational theatre, with its requirement of both total attention and spontaneity. Psychodrama, because it forces an awareness of roles and role playing. Contemplation of nature and other aesthetically overwhelming experiences.

• The "consciousness-raising" strategies of various social movements that call attention to old assumptions.

• Self-help and mutual-help networks — for example. Alcoholics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, and their counterparts, whose twelve rules include paying attention to one's conscious processes and to change, acknowledging that one can choose behavior, and cooperating with "higher forces" by looking inward.

• Hypnosis and self-hypnosis.

• Meditation of every description: Zen, Tibetan Buddhist, chaotic, Transcendental, Christian, Kabbalist, kundalini, raja yoga, tantric yoga, etc. Psychosynthesis, a system that combines imagery and a meditative state.

• Sufi stories, koans, and dervish dancing. Various shamanic and magical techniques, which focus attention.

• Seminars like est, Silva Mind Control, Actualizations, and Lifespring, which attempt to break the cultural trance and open the individual to new choices.

• Dream journals, because dreams are the most available medium for information from beyond the range of ordinary consciousness.

• Arica, Theosophy, and Gurdjieffian systems, which synthesize many different mystical traditions and teach techniques for altering awareness.

• Contemporary psychotherapies, like Viktor Frankl's Logotherapy, which involves a search for meaning and the use of “paradoxical intention/' the direct confrontation of the source of fear. Primal Therapy and its spin-offs, which summon up experiences of early childhood pain. The Fischer-Horfman process, a similar reentry into childhood anxieties, followed by an intense use of imagery for reconciliation with and forgiveness of one's parents for any negative early experiences. Gestalt therapy, the gentle forcing through of patterns of recognition, or paradigm shifts.

• Science of Mind, an approach to healing and self-healing.

• A Course in Miracles, an unorthodox contemporary approach to Christianity based on a profound shift in perception.

• Countless body disciplines and therapies: hatha yoga, Reichian, the Bates system for vision improvement, T'ai Chi Ch'uan, aikido, karate, running, dance, Rolfing, bio-energetics, Feldenkrais, Alexander, Applied Kinesiology.

• Intense experiences of personal and collective change at Esalen in Big Sur, sensitivity groups at Washington's National Training Laboratories, encounter groups, informal groups of supportive friends.

• Sport, mountain-climbing, river-running, and similar physically exhilarating activities, which cause a qualitative shift in the sense of being alive. Wilderness retreats or solitary flying or sailing, which foster self-discovery and a sense of timelessness.

All of these approaches might be called psychotechnologies — systems for a deliberate change in consciousness. Individuals may independently discover a new way of paying attention and may learn to induce such states by methods of their own devising. Anything can work. [1]

As William James noted three-quarters of a century ago, the key to expanded awareness is surrender. As the struggle is abandoned, it is won. "To go faster, you must slow down," said the hero of Shockwave Rider, John Brunner's novel of the future. A biofeedback researcher, chief of psychiatry at a famous medical center, told his colleagues, "You can only win these races by taking your foot off the accelerator."

The complexity of a method should not be confused with its effectiveness. Highly structured disciplines and intricate symbolism may benefit some, while others go through rapid change with simple technology. An approach that works for a while may suddenly seem inappropriate, or a method may seem to be making no significant difference, but in retrospect, one realizes that something important has happened.

Our nervous systems are organized in different ways, we are in varying states of health, and we have different histories of introspection, dreaminess, rigidity, anxiety. Just as there are natural athletes, so there are individuals to whom shifts of consciousness come easily. A diffuse, relaxed state of attention, the key to all these approaches, need not be coerced, only permitted. Effort interferes with the process, and some people have difficulty just letting go.

Many people seem to be neurologically resistant to the psychotechnologies, perhaps because they were more sensitive to pain as children or experienced more noxious input. They are likelier to have cut off the more emotionally responsive, pain-sensitive right hemisphere. Others are more resilient — perhaps because they were born innovators and explorers, have more flexible temperaments, or learned to cope with fear and pain early in life.

Because of the initial advantage or disadvantage in differing nervous systems, it seems at first that the rich get richer and the poor get discouraged. But improvement comes for everyone, just as practice makes us more adept skiers or swimmers, whatever our inherent talent.

Like physical exercise, the technologies are progressive in their effect, but you don't lose brain changes the way you lose muscle development if you don't persist. "No mirror becomes iron again," said Sufi poet Rumi, "no ripe grape becomes sour again."

STAGES OF TRANSFORMATION

No system promises a shift from ordinary human fragmentation to twenty-four-hour-a-day clarity. Transformation is a journey without a final destination. But there are stages in the journey, and they are surprisingly mappable, based on thousands of historical accounts and the proliferating reports of contemporary seekers. Some traps, caves, quicksand, and dangerous crossings are unique to the individual journey, but there are deserts, peaks, and certain strange buttes observed by nearly everyone who persists. Recognizing, then, that the map is not the transformational territory, we will describe the process in terms of four major stages.

The first stage is preliminary, almost happenstance: an entry point. In most cases, the entry point can only be identified in retrospect. Entry can be triggered by anything that shakes up the old understanding of the world, the old priorities. Sometimes it is a token investment, made out of boredom, curiosity, or desperation — a ten-dollar book, a hundred- dollar mantra, a university extension course.

For a great many, the trigger has been a spontaneous mystical or psychic experience, as hard to explain as it is to deny. Or the intense alternative reality generated by a psychedelic drug.

It is impossible to overestimate the historic role of psychedelics as an entry point drawing people into other transformative technologies. For tens of thousands of "left-brained" engineers, chemists, psychologists, and medical students who never before understood their more spontaneous, imaginative right-brained brethren, the drugs were a pass to Xanadu, especially in the 1960s.

The changes in brain chemistry triggered by psychedelics cause the familiar world to metamorphose. It gives way to rapid imagery, unaccustomed depths of visual perception and hearing, a flood of "new" knowledge that seems at once very old, a poignant primal memory. Unlike the mental states produced by dreaming or drinking, psychedelic awareness is not fuzzy but many times more intense than normal waking consciousness. Only through this intensely altered state did some become fully aware of the role of consciousness in creating their everyday reality.

Those who ingested psychedelics soon found that the historic accounts closest to their own experiences derived either from mystical literature or from the wonderland of theoretical physics — complementary views of "the all and the void," the very real dimension that cannot be measured in miles or minutes.

As one chronicler of the sixties remarked, "LSD gave a whole generation a religious experience." But chemical satori is perishable, its effects too overwhelming to integrate into everyday life. Non-drug psychotechnologies offer a controlled, sustained movement toward that spacious reality. The annals of the Aquarian Conspiracy are full of accounts of passages: LSD to Zen, LSD to India, psilocybin to Psychosynthesis.

For whatever glories the mushrooms and saturated sugar cubes contained, they were only a glimpse — coming attractions, but not the main feature.

The entry-point experience hints that there is a brighter, richer, more meaningful dimension to life. Some are haunted by that glimpse and drawn to see more. Others, less serious, stay near the entry point, playing with the occult, drugs, consciousness-altering games. Some are afraid to go on at all. Confronting the nonrational is unnerving. Here the unfettered mind suffers a kind of agoraphobia, a fear of its own awesome spaces. Those with a strong need to control may be frightened by touching a realm of multiple realities, multiple ways of seeing. They would rather keep to their right/wrong, black/white version of the world. They repress insights that contradict the old belief system.

Some hesitate because they don't know where to turn next. Fear of criticism stops others. They might look foolish, pretentious, even crazy, to family, friends, co-workers. They worry that the journey inward will seem narcissistic or escapist. Indeed those who persist past the entry point have to overcome a pervasive culture bias against introspection. The search for self-knowledge is often equated with self-importance, with a concern for one's own psyche at the expense of social responsibility. The popular criticism of psychotechnologies is typified by the term "the new narcissism," from a Harper's article by Peter Marin, and the "Me Decade," a pejorative introduced by Tom Wolfe in New York magazine. [2]

The isolation of those new to the transformative process is deepened by their inability to explain how they feel and why they are going on. If they try to describe the discovery of a kind of inner “all-rightness" — a potentially whole and healthy self waiting to be liberated — they are afraid of sounding egotistical.

There is a fear of being jilted. The knowledge from these experiences is often elusive, hard to reconstruct. What if these insights were only phantoms . . . illusions? In the past we have believed promises that were broken. We have seen mirages of fresh hope dissolve as we reach for them. The memory of these betrayals, large and small, says, “Don't trust. . .

Even more common, as Abraham Maslow noted, is the fear of our own higher potentialities. “We enjoy and even thrill to the godlike possibilities we see in ourselves in peak moments. And yet we simultaneously shiver with weakness, awe, and fear before these same possibilities." An apparent lack of curiosity is often a defense. “Fear of knowing is very deeply a fear of doing," Maslow said. Knowledge carries responsibility.

There is a fear of the self, an unwillingness to trust our deeper needs. We worry that an impulsive aspect might take over. Suppose we find that what we really want of life is dangerously different from what we have. And there is a related fear that we will be sucked into a maelstrom of unusual experiences and, worse yet, that we might like them. Or we might become committed to some demanding discipline; if we were to take up meditation, we might start getting up at five in the morning or become vegetarian.

Man is afraid of things that cannot harm him, says a Hasidic scripture, and craves things that cannot help him. "But actually it is something within him that he is afraid of, and it is something within him that he craves." We fear and crave becoming truly ourselves.

Somewhere at the entry point we know that if we pursue this Holy Grail, nothing will ever be quite the same. We can always turn back from the entry point. The opportunity for retreat is at hand, like the emergency door atop the Space Mountain ride in Disneyland, an exit for those with second thoughts.

The second stage, for those who go on, is exploration — the Yes after the final No. Warily or enthusiastically, having sensed that there is something worth finding, the individual sets out to look for it. The first serious step, however small, is empowering and significant. The quest, as one spiritual teacher put it, is the transformation.

This exploration is the "deliberate letting" psychologist Eugene Gendlin describes. This letting permits the inner knowledge to come forward. It is an intentional release, as when we deliberately relax our grip on something. The grip is the contraction of our consciousness, our psychic spasm, which must be loosened before anything can change.

The psychotechnologies are designed to free that tight hold so that we might become buoyant, the way a lifeguard detaches the panicky grip of a drowning person so that he might be rescued.

Ironically, we go after transformative experiences in the only way we know how: as consumers, competitors, still operating from the values of the old paradigm. We may compare our experiences to others, wonder if we're "doing it right," getting there fast enough, making progress. We may be trying to replicate one particularly rewarding or moving experience. During this phase some individuals try many techniques and teachers, like comparison shoppers. In an age of supersonic travel and satellite communication, we tend to expect instant gratification, instant feedback, instant news. The process of transformation may be simmering underground like a geyser, but we cannot see it and are impatient for action.

Some fall at first into pendulum change. The initial method, e.g.. Transcendental Meditation, running, est, Rolfing, is seen as the panacea for the world's ills. All other systems are dismissed.

In this false dawn of certainty, there is often eager proselytizing. The would-be evangelists quickly learn that no single system works for everyone. And the methods themselves — by repeated focusing of awareness — eventually lead to the realization that there will be no ultimate answers.  

As science fiction writer Ray Bradbury said, "We all go on the same Search, looking to solve the old Mystery. We will not, of course, ever solve it. We will climb all over it. We will, finally, inhabit the Mystery. ..."

In the third stage, integration, the mystery is inhabited. Although there may be favorite methods or teachers, the individual trusts an inner "guru."

During the earlier stages there was probably some dissonance, sharp conflict between new beliefs and old patterns. Like the troubled society struggling to remake itself with old tools and structures, the individual tries at first to improve the situation rather than change it, to reform rather than transform.

Now there may be oscillation between exhilaration and loneliness because fear centers on the disruptive effect the transformative process may be having on the old itinerary: career direction, relationships, goals, and values. . . . There is a new self in an old culture. But there are new friends, new rewards, new possibilities.

A different kind of work is undertaken in this period — more reflective than the busy seeking of the exploration stage. Just as a paradigm shift in science is followed by a mopping-up operation, a pulling together of loose strands into the new framework, so those who undergo personal transformation have a left-brain need to know. Intuition has leaped ahead of understanding. What really happened? The individual experiments, refines, tests ideas, shakes them down, sharpens, expands.

Many explore subjects they had no former interest in or aptitude for in an attempt to learn something about shifts in conscious experience. They may look into philosophy, quantum physics, music, semantics, brain research, psychology. From time to time, the neophyte ''scientist” draws back for a period of assimilation. The opening has been immense. Everything matters.

Ironically, while there is less need now for external validation or justification, self-questioning may reach the level of inquisition. Usually the individual emerges from such reevaluation with a new strength and sureness, grounded in purpose.

At entry point the individual discovered that there are other ways of knowing. In exploration he found that there are systems to bring about that other knowing. In integration, having seen that many of his old habits, ambitions, and strategies are not appropriate to his new beliefs, he learned that there are other ways of being.

Now in the fourth stage, conspiracy, he discovers other sources of power, and ways to use it for fulfillment and in service to others. Not only does the new paradigm work in his own life, but it seems to work for others. If the mind can heal and transform, why can't minds join to heal and transform society?

Earlier, when he was attempting to communicate the ideas of transformation, it was mostly to explain himself or to draw friends and family into the process. Now the great social implications become apparent.

This is a conspiracy to enable transformation — not to impose it on those who are neither ripe nor interested, but to make it possible for those who are hungry for it. Michael Murphy, co-founder of Esalen, suggested that the disciplines themselves conspire for renewal. “Let's make that conspiracy apparent! We can turn our daily common life into the dance the world is meant for."

Paradoxically, there may be a hiatus in social activism during this period while the individual assesses responsibilities, roles, direction. After all, if he has the power to change society, even in some small way, he had better pay attention. The whole idea of leadership, power, and hierarchy is rethought. There is the fear of destroying the great chance for social transformation by falling into old behavior — defensiveness, egotism, or timidity.

No narrative of a transformative process can be fairly described as typical, since each is as unique as a fingerprint. But the movement from stage to stage is a story frequently recounted.

A young clinical psychologist at a state hospital appended to his Aquarian Conspiracy questionnaire a four-page letter that classically described the process we have been discussing. First, the entry point:

In the spring of 1974 I was just finishing my master's thesis from a behavioral perspective in psychology One evening another graduate student and I decided to experiment with LSD. During the evening 1 had an experience that I was hard-pressed to explain or describe — the sudden feeling of a vortex opening in my head and ending somewhere above me. I began to follow this with my awareness. As I got further up I began losing control and felt much pressure and noise as well as bodily feelings of floating, zooming, etc. All of a sudden I popped out of the vortex. Whereas before I had been looking around at a not-very attractive married-housing campus complex, there now stood before me the same buildings, incredibly beautiful in ways I still can't describe. There was an order, complexity, and simplicity, as if everything made sense in and of itself with the other elements of the environment. In the core of this experience I had the strong sensation that it was not just the result of taking the drug.
 

During the days that followed, he asked fellow students and professors about the experience and was “immediately labeled a freak." As he continued questioning, one graduate student urged him several times to read the Don Juan books by Carlos Castaneda. At first he was skeptical. “I considered myself to be very scientific, and this stuff about an Indian sorcerer was too way-out for me." But he was desperate for an answer. He gave up his intellectual protests and entered the next stage, exploration:

I picked up the first book and within pages found that someone knew of the same experiences. I began to read all the books and decided to specialize in this area for my doctoral exams and dissertation. At this point I was not sure what I was going to specialize in as I did not know the name of what I was searching for.

After a summer of reading and furthering my experiential research, I had settled on my task: to utilize meditation as a standardized procedure for exploring human consciousness.


That summer he began to keep a journal of his thoughts and experiments and studied his own perceptual changes under the effects of LSD (ten sessions); he also used various strategies to achieve dramatic alterations of consciousness. Negative and sometimes frightening episodes led him to drop the drugs and curb the psychic games. "Meditation was a safer, surer way toward deep and stable exploration and change." A period of integration began in late 1974:

During the fall and spring I continued my personal search using meditation as the vehicle. I was writing a position paper for my doctoral exams on meditation and consciousness. I tried some of the things I was reading about, like out-of-body experiences, and decided there was a reality there — one I wasn't ready for. Besides, I knew from my reading that meditation was supposed to be practiced in a more productive manner.


Notice, he is more serious. He is no longer intrigued by paranormal abilities and tricks, wondering what he can learn to do, but now asks what he can be.

One night he had an extraordinary experience. He meditated before going to sleep and awoke to see a three-dimensional circular pattern pulsing in his visual field. The next day he drew pictures of the design, which he later identified as a yantra, a pattern used for contemplation in Eastern spiritual disciplines. When he learned that Carl Jung had written about the emergence of such patterns from the collective unconscious, he felt even more strongly that he could argue the psychological importance of meditation phenomena, even with the most skeptical professors in his graduate school.

In 1975 he did his dissertation on an experimental study of persons using meditation, relaxation training, and biofeedback. He was able to translate his findings to his dissertation committee, which included "a very structured behavioral psychologist" and a professor deeply involved in consciousness studies.

In 1976 he went to work at a state hospital. By 1977 he found himself in the fourth stage, conspiracy:

I guess the rest of my account at this point is directed toward synthesis and entry into what you're calling the Aquarian Conspiracy. I want to continue my work in transpersonal-psychology, meditation, biofeedback, and music meditation, while staying in mainstream clinical psychology.

I have worked consistently toward raising the transpersonal banner at this hospital — slowly, because this state is not in the progressive swing the Bay Area and Los Angeles are in. However, the work with music meditation has progressed to the point where the hospital has given us a grant ... I heard yesterday from interested people at an Ohio institution and today from Washington.

I'm very pleased at the direction my meditation has taken me and try to remember to "hasten slowly" on this path. Little by little we are permeating the clinical fabric of treatment here. . . . We're using the experimental program in the Intensive Treatment Unit and find it works even with seriously ill schizophrenics.


Later he joined forces with a staff psychiatrist (an Oklahoman who had once spent time at a Zen center in California) and a psychology intern. The three had worked for more than a year on the need for reforming the overcrowded state hospital. Frustrated by the continuing resistance of the administration, they presented their ideas to a top state official in charge of institutions.

The official heard them out, then gave them a very straight look. "Maybe you can pull it off." And then he startled them by quoting from Carlos Castaneda, "Maybe this is your cubic centimeter of chance." [3]

The reorganization plan was adopted, virtually intact. The state mandated an application of the psychotechnologies in clinical care. An internal furor resulted, supervisors were shuffled around or removed, and the psychologist was asked to take a post as administrator of one of the units. He finally said no. "I realized that I didn't really want the money or status — that I really want to just work with patients."

He is now in private clinical practice and is a consultant to a state prison. He also serves on a state board charged with evaluating mental health facilities.

It has been interesting to watch myself through this recent change in my life as I have really stepped off the cliff. . . . It's weird to watch my own risk-taking, not knowing where it will end up. The old negative feeling of potential failure is always around the corner, but my stronger feeling of centeredness always outshines these pesky creatures of the dark. I will look for my next cubic centimeter.


Neither typical nor unusual, the passage from casual experimentation to serious interest to commitment to conspiracy.
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Re: The Aquarian Conspiracy, by Marilyn Ferguson

Postby admin » Sat Apr 27, 2019 2:45 am

Part 2 of 2

THE DISCOVERIES

The psychotechnologies — picks, pitons, compasses, binoculars — have aided in the rediscovery of inner landmarks variously named across cultures and across time. To understand more about the transformative process, we will look at these vistas. The discoveries, as we shall see, are mutually dependent and mutually reinforcing; they cannot be sharply isolated from each other. They are not sequential, either; some occur simultaneously. They deepen and change as well; none is finished once and for all.

Historically, transformation has been described as an awakening, a new quality of attention. And just as we marvel that we could have mistaken our dream world for reality once we have come out of sleep, so those who experience an enlarged awareness are surprised that they had thought themselves awake when they were only sleepwalking.

Each man, said Blake, is haunted until his humanity awakes. "If the doors of perception were cleansed, we would see the world as it is, infinite." And the Koran warns, "Men are asleep. Must they die before they awake?"

The enlarged state of awareness reminds many of experiences in childhood when all the senses were sharp and open, when the world seemed crystalline. Indeed, individuals who preserve an urgent wakefulness into adulthood are rare. Sleep researchers have discovered that most adults show physiological signs of sleepiness throughout their waking hours — and feel that this state is perfectly normal.

In his famous "Ode on the Intimations of Immortality" William Wordsworth described the gradual shutdown of our senses: The glory and the dream fade, the prison-house closes in after childhood, and custom lies on us "heavy as frost."

The prison is our fragmenting, controlling, fretting attention — planning, remembering, but not being. In our need to cope with everyday concerns, we forfeit our awareness of the miracle of awareness. As the apostle Paul put it, we see through a glass darkly, not face to face.

Again and again, the metaphor for new life is awakening. We have been dead in the womb, not born.

One of the Aquarian Conspirators, a wealthy real-estate entrepreneur, reported in his questionnaire:

It was at Esalen, my first trip there several years ago. I had just had a Rolfing session, and I walked outdoors.

Suddenly I was overwhelmed by the beauty of everything I saw. This vivid, transcendent experience tore apart my limited outlook. I had never realized the emotional heights possible. In this half-hour solitary experience I felt unity with all, universal love, connectedness. This smashing time destroyed my old reality permanently.


He asked, as many have asked, "If this happened to me once, why not again?"

A new understanding of self is discovered, one that has little resemblance to ego, self-ishness, self-lessness. There are multiple dimensions of self; a newly integrated sense of oneself as an individual ... a linkage with others as if they are oneself . . . and the merger with a Self yet more universal and primary. On an individual level, we discover a self that does not compete. It is as curious as a child, delighted with testing its changing powers. And it is fiercely autonomous. It seeks self- knowledge, not gain, knowing it will never probe its own furthest reaches. As one recovered alcoholic put it, "The only person I need to be is myself. I can be really good at that. In fact, I can never fail if I am simply me and let you be you."

Redefining the self defuses competition. "The joy of this quest is not in triumph over others," Theodore Roszak said, "but in the search for the qualities we share with them and for our uniqueness, which raises us above all competition."

Self-knowledge is science; each of us is a laboratory, our only laboratory, our nearest view of nature itself. "If things go wrong in the world," Jung said, "something is wrong with me. Therefore, if I am sensible, I shall put myself right first."

The self released by the transformative process gathers in aspects that had been disenfranchised. Sometimes this is experienced by a woman as the capacity to act (the masculine principle), by a man as the emergence of nurturant feelings (the feminine principle). The reunion is picturesquely described in Buddhist literature as sahaja, "born together." As the innate nature reasserts itself, emotional turbulence diminishes. Spontaneity, freedom, poise, and harmony seem to increase. "It's like becoming real," said one respondent to the questionnaire.

We have been split at every level, unable to make peace with contradictory thoughts and feelings. Shortly before his suicide, poet John Berryman expressed the universal wish: "Unite my various soul. . . ." When we respect and accept the fragmented identities, there is reunion and rebirth.

If there is rebirth, what dies? The actor, perhaps. And illusions — that one is a victim, or right, or independent, or capable of obtaining all the answers. Illusionectomy can be a painful operation, but there are profound rewards. "You shall know the truth," says a character in Brunner's Shockwave Rider, "and the truth shall make you you."

One Aquarian Conspirator spoke of experiencing "an internal momentum, a greater competence that seems to come from greater emotional openness, from being able to call on all aspects of oneself. When we say a person is powerful, we seem to be talking about an unapologetic self. It has nothing to do with position, either. Anyone can be powerful in this way."

An editor of a Boston-based magazine wrote that her most vivid transformative experience was learning to see without the glasses she had worn for eighteen years. Using a method of mental stress-reduction designed by William Bates, she had a "flash" of clear vision.

As I had that first flash, a strong force inside me seemed to be saying, "Now that you've let us see a little, we insist on seeing perfectly." I realized that we're all whole and perfect right now and we just don't experience that wholeness because we've covered it up. It takes less energy to be free and flowing than to be locked up in stress, and something inside us is dying to experience and express that flow. We learn by releasing and letting go, not by adding on.


This perfection, this wholeness, does not refer to superior achievement, moral rectitude, personality. It is not comparative and not even personal. Rather, it is an insight into nature — the integrity of form and function in life itself, connection with a perfect process. If only briefly, we recognize ourselves as children of nature, not as strangers in the world.

Beyond the personal reunification, the inner reconnection, the re-annexing of lost portions of oneself, there is the connection to an even larger Self — this invisible continent on which we all make our home. In his Aquarian Conspiracy questionnaire, a university professor told of being deeply affected by a long stay in remote areas of the Indonesian islands where he felt "a kind of magical circle, an unbroken unity with all life and cosmic processes, including my own life."

The separate self is an illusion. Several of the respondents to the questionnaire remarked on giving up the belief that they were encapsulated individuals. A psychologist said that she had to give up the idea of a striving self — "that 'I' existed in the way I had naively supposed, and that T would be crowned finally with enlightenment."

The self is a field within larger fields. When the self joins the Self, there is power. Brotherhood overtakes the individual like an army . . . not the obligatory ties of family, nation, church, but a living, throbbing connection, the unifying I-Thou of Martin Buber, a spiritual fusion. This discovery transforms strangers into kindred, and we know a new, friendly universe.

There are new meanings to old words like "fellowship" and "community." "Love" may enter the vocabulary with increasing frequency; for all its ambiguity, its connotations of sentimentality, no word in English better approximates the new sense of caring and connectedness.

There emerges a new and different social consciousness, expressed by one man in terms of hunger and starvation:

I can no longer protect myself from the reality of starvation by pretending that people who starve are nameless, faceless strangers. I know now who they are. They're just like me, only they're starving. I can no longer pretend that the collection of political agreements we call "countries" separates me from the child who cries out in hunger halfway around the world. We are one, and one of us is hungry.


The group is the self of the altruist, someone once said. Sharpened empathy, a sense of participation in all of life, more sorrow, more joy, and an unsettling awareness of the multiplicity and complexity of causes make it hard to be self-righteous and judgmental.

Even beyond the collective Self, the awareness of one's linkage with others, there is a transcendent, universal Self. The passage from what Edward Carpenter called the "little, local self" to the Self that pervades the universe was also described by Teilhard as his first journey into "the abyss":

I became aware that I was losing contact with myself. At each step of the descent a new person was disclosed within me of whose name I was no longer sure and who no longer obeyed me. And when I had to stop my exploration be- cause the path faded beneath my steps, I found a bottom- less abyss at my feet, and out of it comes — arising I know not from where — the current which I dare to call my life.


The fourth dimension is not another place; it is this place, and it is immanent in us, a process.

The importance of process is another discovery. Goals and endpoints matter less. Learning is more urgent than storing information. Caring is better than keeping. Means are ends. The journey is the destination.

We begin to see the ways in which we have postponed life, never paying attention to the moment.

When life becomes a process, the old distinctions between winning and losing, success and failure, fade away. Everything, even a negative outcome, has the potential to teach us and to further our quest. We are experimenting, exploring. In the wider paradigm there are no "enemies," only those useful, if irritating, people whose opposition calls attention to trouble spots, like a magnifying mirror.

Old sayings, once only poetry, now seem profoundly true. Like St. Catherine of Siena: "All the way to heaven is heaven." Cervantes: "The road is better than the inn." Garcia Lorca: "I will never arrive at Cordoba." C. P. Cavafy: "Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage" . . . and Kazantzakis: "Ithaca is the voyage itself."

When you enjoy the trip, life is more fluid, less segmented; time is more circular and subtle. As process assumes importance, former values begin to shift, like wavy lines in a sheetglass mirror. The focus changes: What was large may become small, distant, and what was trivial may loom like Gibraltar.

And we discover that everything is process. The solid world is a process, a dance of subatomic particles. A personality is a collection of processes. Fear is a process. A habit is a process. A tumor is a process. All of these apparently fixed phenomena are recreated every moment, and they can be changed, reordered, transformed in myriad ways.

The bodymind connection is a discovery that relates to process. Not only does the body reflect all the historical and present conflicts of the mind, but the reorganization of one helps reorganize the other. Psychotechnologies like Reichian therapy, bioenergetics, and Rolfing effect their transformations by restructuring and realigning the body. Intervention anywhere in the dynamic bodymind loop affects the whole.

A young trainee in a bodywork method called Neurokinesthetics described his own transformation:

I'm amazed at how my life has changed and is still changing. The physical changes are numerous and I'm learning to pick up bodily cues from different systems, even those that are supposed to be autonomic. At the same time, my interaction with people is improving. . . .

In the early 1970s my friends and I were dissatisfied with the world. Our "solutions" were radical, rhetorical intellectualizations, basically studies in frustration. We knew the world had to change, but our answers weren't satisfactory because we weren't dealing with human suffering at the proper level.

We cannot take charge of a situation if we can't control the environment — that is, our own bodies, physical, mental, and spiritual. That's true suffering.

We don't need to be uptight. We can be in harmony with the environment, seeing the world from a clear perspective. As our bodies learn to flow, the more freely we can relate to other selves, to other people, to situations.


More consciousness means more awareness of the body. As we become more sensitive to the moment-to-moment, day-to-day effects of stressful emotions on the body, the subtle ways in which illness expresses conflict, we learn to deal with stress more directly. We discover our ability to handle stress, even when it escalates, by a different way of responding.

The body can also be a medium of transformation. In testing our limits in sport, dance, exercise we discover that the physical self is a changing, fluid, plastic bioelectrical system, not a thing. Like the mind, it harbors astonishing potentials.

One of the sweetest discoveries is freedom — passage to the place described in the Upanishads as "beyond grief and danger."

In our own biology is the key to the prison, the fear of fear, the illusion of isolation. Whole-brain knowing shows us the tyranny of culture and habit. It restores our autonomy, integrates our pain and anxiety. We are free to create, change, communicate. We are free to ask "Why?" and "Why not?"

"Just the fact of being slightly more aware changes the way in which you act," said Joseph Goldstein, a meditation teacher. "Once you've glimpsed what's going on, it's very difficult to get caught up in quite the same old way. . . . It's like some little voice in the background saying, 'What are you doing?'"

The psychotechnologies help break the "cultural trance" — the naive assumption that the trappings and truisms of our own culture represent universal truths or some culmination of civilization. The robot rebels, Galatea turns from statue to living flesh, Pinocchio pinches his arm and finds it isn't wooden.

A fifty-five-year-old sociologist described the onset of his freedom:

One Saturday morning in late September 1972 I was walking onto a tennis court to play for the n-to-the-nth-power time. I suddenly asked myself, "What am I doing this for?" ... It was a sudden awareness that the world of conventional activities and socially accepted interpretations of reality was shallow and unrewarding.

I spent forty-eight years struggling unsuccessfully to find happiness and fulfillment in the social identities bestowed on me and in the pursuit of socially sanctioned goals.

I feel that I now have attained freedom just as fully and really as a runaway slave might have in the pre-Civil War period. At one point I became free of fears and guilt associated with my religious upbringing. At another there was a shift when I came to know myself not by my name, status, or role — but as a nameless free being.


Every society, by offering its automatic judgments, limits the vision of its members. From our earliest years we are seduced into a system of beliefs that becomes so inextricably braided into our experience that we cannot tell culture from nature.

Anthropologist Edward Hall has said that culture is a medium that touches every aspect of our lives: body language, personality, how we express ourselves, the way we design our communities. We are even captives of our idea of time. Our own culture, for example, is ''monochronic/' one thing at a time; whereas in many other world cultures time is "polychronic." In polychronic time, tasks and events begin and end according to their natural time for completion rather than rigid deadlines.

For M-time people reared in the northern European tradition, time is linear and segmented like a road or a ribbon extending forward into the future and backward into the past. It is also tangible. They speak of it as being saved, spent, wasted, lost, made up, accelerated, slowed down, crawling, and running out.


Although monochronic time (M-time) is imposed, learned, and arbitrary, we tend to treat it as if it were built into the universe. The transformative process makes us more sensitive to the rhythms and creative drives of nature and to the oscillations of our own nervous systems.

Another liberation — freedom from "attachment" — is perhaps for most Westerners the least understood idea in Eastern philosophy. To us "nonattachment" sounds coldblooded, and "desirelessness" sounds undesirable.

We might more accurately think of nonattachment as non-dependency. Much of our inner turbulence reflects the fear of loss: our dependence on people, circumstances, and things not really under our control. On some level we know that death, indifference, rejection, repossession, or high tide may leave us bereft in the morning. Still, we clutch desperately at things we cannot finally hold. Nonattachment is the most realistic of attitudes. It is freedom from wishful thinking, from always wanting things to be otherwise.

By making us aware of the futility of this wishful thinking, the psychotechnologies help free us from unhealthy dependencies. We increase our capacity to love without bargaining or expectations, to enjoy without emotional mortgages. At the same time, enhanced awareness adds luster to simple things and everyday events, so that what may seem a turn toward a more austere life is often the discovery of subtler, less perishable riches.

Another discovery: We are not liberated until we liberate others. So long as we need to control other people, however benign our motives, we are captive to that need. Giving them freedom, we free ourselves. And they are free to grow in their own way.

Andre Kostelanetz recalled how Leopold Stokowski radicalized orchestral form by freeing the musicians:

He dispensed with the uniform bowing of the strings, knowing that the strength of each player's wrist varies, and, to achieve the richest string tone, each player should have maximum elasticity. Leopold also encouraged the wind players to breathe as they wished. He didn't care, he said, how they made music as long as it was beautiful.


The bonds of culture are often invisible, and its walls are glass. We may think we are free. We cannot leave the trap until we know we are in it. None but ourselves, as Edward Carpenter observed long ago, are the "warders and jailers." Over and over, mystical literature depicts the human plight as needless imprisonment; it is as if the key were always within reach through the bars, but we never think to look for it.

Another discovery: uncertainty. Not just the uncertainty of the moment, which may pass, but oceanic uncertainty, mystery that washes across our beaches forever. Aldous Huxley said it in The Doors of Perception:

The man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out. He will be wiser but less cocksure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable Mystery which it tries, forever vainly, to comprehend.


Or, as Kazantzakis expressed it, the real meaning of enlightenment is "to gaze with undimmed eyes on all darknesses."

The psychotechnologies do not "cause" uncertainty, any more than they manufacture freedom. They only open our eyes to both. The only loss is illusion. We only gain what was ours — unclaimed — all along. James Thurber knew: "There is no safety in numbers or anything else." Indeed, we never had security, only a caricature of it.

Many people have lived comfortably with a sense of mystery all their lives. Others, who have sought certainty as a hunter seeks his quarry, may be shaken to find that reason itself is a boomerang. Not only does everyday life produce unaccountable events, not only do people behave in ways we might term unreasonable, but even the outposts of rational thought — formal logic, formal philosophy, theoretical mathematics, physics — are mined with paradox. A great many of the Aquarian Conspirators said they discovered from their scientific training the limits of rational thought. Typical responses to the question, What major ideas did you have to give up?:

"Scientific proof as the only way to understand."
"That rationalism was it."
"Belief in the purely rational."
"That logic was all there really was."
"A linear view."
"The mechanistic worldview of science in which I had been trained."
"Material reality."
"Causality."
"I realized that science had limited its way of knowing nature."
"After many years of intellectual, left-brain pursuit of reality, an LSD experience taught me that there were alternate realities."


In effect, they gave up certainty.

In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig described the risk of pressing reason to its furthest reaches, where it turns back on itself. "In the high country of the mind," he observed, "one has to become adjusted to the thinner air of uncertainty, and to the enormous magnitude of the questions asked ...."

The more significant the question, the less likely there will be an unequivocal answer.

Acknowledging our uncertainty encourages us to experiment, and we are transformed by our experiments. We are free not to know the answer, we are free to change our position, we are free not to have a position. And we learn to reframe our problems. Asking the same question again and again without success is like continuing to search for a lost object in the places we have already looked. The answer, like the lost object, lies somewhere else altogether. Once we discover the power of challenging the assumptions in our old questions, we can foster our own paradigm shifts.

Here, as in many other instances, the discoveries are linked. An appreciation of process makes uncertainty bearable. A sense of freedom requires uncertainty, because we must be free to change, modify, assimilate new information as we go along. Uncertainty is the necessary companion of all explorers.

Paradoxically, if we give up the need for certainty in terms of control and fixed answers, we are compensated by a different kind of certainty — a direction, not a fact. We begin to trust intuition, whole-brain knowing, what scientist-philosopher Michael Polanyi called "tacit knowing." As we become attuned to the inner signals, they seem stronger.

One who becomes involved in the psychotechnologies realizes that those inner urgings and "hunches" do not contradict reason but represent transcendent reasoning, the brain's capacity for simultaneous analysis we cannot consciously track and comprehend. In Mr. Sammler's Planet, Saul Bellow wrote about the way we usually frustrate that knowing:

Intellectual man had become an explaining creature. Fathers to children, wives to husbands, lecturers to listeners .. . the history, the structure, the reasons why. For the most part, in one ear and out the other. The soul wanted what it wanted. It had its own natural knowledge. It sat unhappily , on the superstructures of explanation, poor bird, not knowing which way to fly.


The psychotechnologies lead one to trust the "poor bird" more, to let it fly. Intuition, that "natural knowledge," becomes a trusted partner in everyday life, available to guide even minor decisions, generating an ever more pervasive sense of flow and rightness.

Closely tied to intuition is vocation — literally, a "calling." As Antoine de Saint-Exupery said of freedom, "There is no liberty except the liberty of someone making his way towards something."

Vocation is the process of making one's way toward something. It is a direction more than a goal. Following a peak experience, one of the conspirators, a housewife who later became a filmmaker, said, "I felt as if I'd been called to serve on somebody's plan for mankind." The conspirators typically say they feel as if they are cooperating with events rather than controlling them or suffering them, much as an aikido master augments his strength by aligning himself with existing forces, even those in opposition.

The individual discovers a new kind of flexible will that helps in the vocation. This will has sometimes been called "intention." It is the opposite of accident, it represents a certain deliberateness, but it doesn't have the iron quality we usually associate with the will.

To Buckminster Fuller, the commitment is "kind of mystical. The minute you begin to do what you want to do, it's really a different kind of life." Remarking on the same phenomenon, W. H. Murray said that commitment seems to enlist Providence. "All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamt would have come his way."

Vocation is a curious blend of the voluntary and the involuntary — choice and surrender. People remark that they feel strongly drawn in a particular direction or to certain tasks, and simultaneously convinced that they were somehow "supposed" to take just those steps. A poet and artist, M. C. Richards, said, "Life lies always at some frontier, making sorties into the unknown. Its path leads always further into truth. We cannot call it trackless waste, because as the path appears it seems to have lain there awaiting the steps . . . thus the surprises, thus the continuity."

Former astronaut Edgar Mitchell became deeply interested in promoting the study of states of consciousness after his moon flight, and he launched an organization to raise funds for this purpose. At one point he remarked to a friend, "I feel almost as if I'm operating under orders. . . . Just when I think all is lost, I put my foot down over an abyss — and something comes up to hit it, just in time.”

For some there is a conscious moment of choice. For others the commitment is recognized only in retrospect. Dag Hammarskjold described the shift of his own life from the ordinary to the meaningful:

I don't know who — or what — put the question, I don't know when it was put. I don't even remember answering. But at some moment I did answer to someone or some- thing. And from that hour I was certain that existence is meaningful and that, therefore, my life in self-surrender had a goal.


Jonas Salk, discoverer of the first polio vaccine, also commit- ted to an evolutionary model of social transformation, once said, "I have frequently felt that I have not so much chosen but that I have been chosen. And sometimes I wished to hell I could have disengaged!” He added that even so, those things he felt compelled to do despite his rationalizations proved immensely rewarding.

Speaking of his own experience, Jung said, "Vocation acts like a law of God from which there is no escape.” The creative person is overpowered, captive of and driven by a demon. Unless one assents to the power of the inner voice, the personality cannot evolve. Although we often mistreat those who listen to that voice, he said, still "they become our legendary heroes.”

By increasing our awareness of the inner signals, the psychotechnologies promote a sense of vocation, an inner direction awaiting discovery and release. Frederich Flach noted that when an individual has resolved his problems, when he is ready to meet the world with imagination and energy, things fall into place — a collaboration between person and events that seems to enlist the cooperation of fate:

Carl Jung called this phenomenon "synchronicity.” He defined it as "the simultaneous occurrence of two meaningfully but not causally connected events.” ... At the very moment when we are struggling to sustain a sense of personal autonomy we are also caught up in vital forces that are much larger than ourselves so that while we may be the protagonists of our own lives, we are the extras or spear carriers in some larger drama. . . .

This phenomenon sounds mystical only because we do not understand it. But there are innumerable clues available given the right frame of mind — openness — the availability to synthesize the clues into a whole.


A number of conspirators describe a strong sense of mission. A typical account:

One day in spring 1977, while taking a walk after meditating, I had an electric feeling which lasted about five seconds in which I felt totally integrated with the creative force of the universe. I “saw” what spiritual transformation was trying to do, what my mission in life was, and several alternative ways I might accomplish it. I chose one and am making it happen. . . .


The dream of man's heart, Saul Bellow once said, is that life may complete itself in significant pattern. Vocation gives us such a pattern.

A sobering discovery — not guilt, not duty, but responsibility in the naked sense of its Latin roots — the act of giving back, responding. We can choose our mode of participation in the world, our response to life. We can be angry, gracious, humorous, empathetic, paranoid. Once we become aware of our habitual responses, we see the ways in which we have perpetuated many of our own tribulations.

By focusing on our thought processes, the psychotechnologies show us how much of our experience is generated by automatic responses and assumptions. A Los Angeles attorney recalled the blinding insight into responsibility that occurred in the 1960s when he was a first-year law student volunteering for a university experiment on the effects of LSD:

Suddenly I caught a glimpse, brief and shadowy at first, of my “real" self. I hadn't spoken to my parents in weeks; now I realized that, out of stupid pride. I'd needlessly hurt them by prolonging a feud that no longer held any emotional validity. Why hadn't I seen this before?

Moments later came another revelation, sharp and painful. I saw all the rich possibilities I'd recently squandered, breaking off with a young woman for what had seemed such good reasons at the time. Now I recognized all the jealousy I'd felt, my possessiveness, my suspicion My God, I was the one who had killed our romance, she hadn't.

Sitting there in the restaurant, I saw myself in a different, more "objective" light. ... I wasn't being tricked or manipulated. The troublemaker was me, only me, and always had been me. I began to sob without control. The weight of years of self-deception seemed to be lifting from me. . . .

The experience certainly didn't "cure" me of my destructive personality traits, and yet on that single day I'd gained invaluable insights that would allow me, for the first time, to sustain a romantic relationship through all its peaks and valleys. Surely it was no coincidence that a few weeks later I met the woman who became — and remains — my wife.


Never again would he take LSD, he said, but the experience liberated him from slavery to his emotional makeup. "From then on I was free to struggle consciously and continually with it — a struggle that goes on to this day."

We often speak contemptuously of "the system," referring to an established power structure. Actually, if we realize that we are part of a dynamic system, one in which any action affects the whole, we are empowered to change it.

One est graduate said he reacted to this realization with mixed feelings:

Many mornings I wake up with a cold gray stone of fear in my solar plexus — fear that I really do matter . . . fear that being afraid won't stop me any more. If the discovery has frightened me, it has also awakened me. It explains me to myself in a way that says I have integrity and dignity. It says not only that I can make a difference, but 1 am the difference in the world.


Michael Rossman recalls the collective discovery by the organizers of the Free Speech Movement that they did have the power to really change things.

Nothing was any longer what it had seemed. Objects, en- counters, events, all became mysterious. . . .There was no avoiding that sense, I know it gave many people the creeps. We hardly ever mentioned it, and no one understood it, but we felt like audience and actors in the old Greek drama, playing our free parts in an inexorable script we already knew by heart. [There are] no words for that mind-wrenching simultaneity of free will and destiny.

... It may indeed be that we verge on breakthrough into another plane of reality each time we act together to make the world strange and new, however modestly. Suppose the frameworks of individual perception can be broken so deeply by willfully and collectively changing social reality?


Each of us is — potentially — the difference in the world.

A belated discovery, one that causes considerable anguish, is that no one can persuade another to change. Each of us guards a gate of change that can only be unlocked from the inside. We cannot open the gate of another, either by argument or by emotional appeal.

To the individual whose gate of change is well defended, the transformative process, even in others, is threatening. The new beliefs and perceptions of others challenge the "right'' reality of the unchanging person; something in himself may have to die. This prospect is frightening, for our identities are constituted more truly by our beliefs than by our bodies. The ego, that collection of qualms and convictions, dreads its own demise. Indeed, each transformation is a kind of suicide, the killing of aspects of the ego to save a more fundamental self.

At some point early in our lives, we decide just how conscious we wish to be. We establish a threshold of awareness. We choose how stark a truth we are willing to admit into consciousness, how readily we will examine contradictions in our lives and beliefs, how deeply we wish to penetrate. Our brains can censor what we see and hear, we can filter reality to suit our level of courage. At every crossroads we make the choice again for greater or lesser awareness.

Those who cannot communicate their own liberating discoveries may feel polarized at times from those closest to them. Eventually and reluctantly they accept the inviolate nature of individual choice. If, for whatever reasons, another person has chosen a life strategy of denial, which has its own heavy costs, we cannot reverse that decision; nor can we alleviate for another the chronic uneasiness that comes from a life of censored reality.

But there is a compensating discovery. Little by little, those who undertake the transformative process discern the existence of a vast support network.

"It's a lonely path," one of the conspirators said, "but you aren't alone on it." The network is more than a mere association of like-minded persons. It offers moral support, feedback, an opportunity for mutual discovery and reinforcement, ease, intimacy, celebration, a chance to share experiences and pieces of the puzzle.

Erich Fromm's blueprint for social transformation emphasized the need for mutual support, especially in small groups of friends: "Human solidarity is the necessary condition for the unfolding of any one individual." "No transformation, no Supermind, without such friends," said the narrator of Michael Murphy's novel, Jacob Atabet, based in part on the experiments and explorations of Murphy and his friends. "We are midwives to each other."

The immense fulfillment of the friendships between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality impossible to describe, Teilhard once said. Barbara Marx Hubbard called the intense affinity "supra-sex" — an almost sensual longing for communion with others who have the larger vision. Psychologist Jean Houston wryly called it "swarming," and one conspirator spoke of "the network as fraternity."

There is a conspiracy to make it less risky for people to experience transformation, said a 1978 letter from John Denver, Werner Erhard, and Robert Fuller, past president of Oberlin College:

Acknowledging to ourselves and to you that we are all members of this "conspiracy" to make the world a safer place for personal and social transformation brings us clarity of purpose and a sense of relatedness as we go about our business.

In fact, the original meaning of conspiracy is to "breathe together," which expresses exactly what we have in mind. We are together.


In the novel Shockwave Rider, twenty-first-century society is a computer-monitored nightmare. The only sanctuary of privacy, individuality, and human nurturance is Precipice, a village that evolved from a shantytown of survivors of the Great Bay Quake. Its citizens protect it as an oasis and a prototype for deliverance from dehumanization. Around the country, an underground of sympathizers know of it.

Freeman, a fugitive from the authoritarian system, is helped by the underground. He later remarks, "Precipice is an awfully big place when you learn to recognize it."

So is the conspiracy. As its numbers increase, supportive friendships become easier, even in stifling institutions and small towns.

The sense of community, the affirmation of mutual discoveries, gird the individual for an otherwise lonely enterprise. The network, as Roszak said, is a vehicle of self-discovery. "We turn to the company of those who share our most intimate and forbidden identity, and there we begin to find ourselves as persons."

Brief meetings are enough for recognition. Those who responded to the survey gave assorted accounts of how they found their allies:

• Through the grapevine, friends of friends: "When you're in such-and-such, look up so-and-so."

• Through synchronicity or "guidance": "They seemed to show up when I needed them."

• By making their interests known. Many are active in lecturing, writing, organizing, or running centers, but even those who are low-profile are usually not secretive.

• Most easily, at conferences, seminars, and other sites where those of similar interests are likely to congregate.

• "Everywhere!" In elevators and supermarkets, on airplanes, at parties, in offices. Some conspirators said they sometimes relate an anecdote among co-workers or strangers and watch for a reaction, for understanding. Like the primitive Christians, the Federalists, like a resistance movement, individuals band together, following the Buddhist dictum, "Seek out the brotherhood."

In her book. On Waking Up, Marian Coe Brezic described her new best friends as "a bunch of Practicing Grassroots Mystics":

They have mortgages to meet and bosses to please
and likely a mate who wonders what they're into . . .
Meanwhile and nevertheless
they're delving into the ancient wisdoms
rediscovered now and shared . . .
The kind of ideas you don't or can't explain
at the breakfast table
yet somehow putting a light on life.

Meet them at the produce bins
and these metaphysical friends

look like next-door neighbors who'll talk
about the price of one pear and what's happening to coffee
unless you share their search. . . .


There is a strong sense of family — a family whose bond, as novelist Richard Bach expressed it, is not blood but respect and joy in each other's lives: “Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof." Community lends joy and sustenance to the adventure.

As the Parallel Cultures group says in its handbook, “We need support as our values change, and for that we have each other."

The most subtle discovery is the transformation of fear.

Fear has been our prison: fear of self, fear of loss, fear of fear. “What bars our way?" asked writer Gabriel Saul Heilig. “We still tremble before the Self like children before the falling dark. Yet once we have dared to make our passage inside the heart, we will find that we have entered into a world in which depth leads on to light, and there is no end to entrance."

The fear of failure is transformed by the realization that we are engaged in continuous experiments and lessons. The fear of isolation is transformed by discovery of the support network. The fear of not being efficient gradually falls away as we see past the culture's M-time and our priorities change.

The fear of being fooled or even looking foolish is transformed by the sudden recognition that not changing, not exploring, is a far more real and frightening possibility. [4]

Pain and paradox no longer intimidate us as we begin to reap the rewards of their resolution and see them as recurrent symptoms of the need for the transformation of disharmonies. Each survival and transcendence gives courage for the next encounter. The survivor knows the truth of Viktor Frankl's statement, “What is to give light must endure burning."

Fear of giving up any part of our current life inventory vanishes as we realize that all change is by choice. We only drop what we no longer want. Fear of self- inquiry is overcome because the self turns nut to be not the dark, impulsive secret we had been warned about but a strong, sane center.

Sometimes a tiny child has mastered balance but is afraid to walk, and adults will try to tempt him by holding out a desirable toy. In a sense, transformative technologies are devices to get us to try our inner equilibrium. Eventually, trust in these systems becomes self-trust — or, more specifically, confidence in the process of change itself. We learn that fear, like pain, is just a symptom. Fear is a question: What are you afraid of, and why? Just as the seed of health is in illness, because illness contains information, our fears are a treasurehouse of self-knowledge if we explore them. Sometimes we call our fears by other names. We say we're sick and tired, angry, realistic; we say we "know our limits." Finding out what we are afraid of can break the code of many self-destructive behaviors and beliefs.

Once we experience the transformation of a fear we have trouble recapturing it, as if we have stepped far enough back from the fire to see that the burning buildings are only a part of a stage set or that the wizard is creating smoke from behind the curtain. Fear, it becomes evident, is a "special effect" of our consciousness. We will encounter fears and worries for the rest of our lives, but we now have a tool that makes all the difference.

THE TRANSFORMED LIFE

In the transformative process we become the artists and scientists of our own lives. Enhanced awareness promotes in all of us the traits that abound in the creative person: Whole-seeing. Fresh, childlike perceptions. Playfulness, a sense of flow. Risk-taking. The ability to focus attention in a relaxed way, to become lost in the object of contemplation. The ability to deal with many complex ideas at the same time. Willingness to diverge from the prevailing view. Access to preconscious material. Seeing what is there rather than what is expected or conditioned.

The transformed self has new tools, gifts, sensibilities. Like an artist, it spies pattern; it finds meaning and its own, inescapable originality. "Every life," said Hesse, "stands beneath its own star."

Like a good scientist, the transformed self experiments, speculates, invents, and relishes the unexpected.

Having done field work in the psychotechnologies, the self is a folk psychologist.

Awake now to the imprint of culture on itself, it attempts to understand diversity with the curiosity and interest of an anthropologist. The practices of other cultures suggest endless human possibilities.

The transformed self is a sociologist, too — a student of the bonds of community and conspiracy. Like the physicist, it accepts ultimate uncertainty as a fact of life, it senses a realm beyond linear time and blocked-out space. Like a molecular biologist, it is awed by nature's capacity for renewal, change, and ever-higher order.

The transformed self is an architect, designing its own environment. It is a visionary, imagining alternative futures.

Like a poet, it reaches for original metaphorical truths deep in language. It is a sculptor, liberating its own form from the rock of custom. With heightened attention and flexibility, it becomes a playwright and is its own repertory company: clown, monk, athlete, heroine, sage, child.

It is a diarist, an autobiographer. Sifting through the shards of its past, it is an archaeologist. It is composer, instrument . . . and music.

Many artists have said that when life itself becomes fully conscious, art as we know it will vanish. Art is only a stopgap, an imperfect effort to wrest meaning from an environment where nearly everyone is sleepwalking.

The artist's material is always close at hand. "We live at the edge of the miraculous," Henry Miller said, and T. S. Eliot wrote that the end of all our exploring will be to arrive at our starting point and know it for the first time. To Proust, discovery consisted not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. Whitman asked, "Will you seek afar off? You will come back at last to things best known to you, finding happiness, knowledge, not in another place but in this place . . . not in another hour, but this hour."

For too long we have played games we did not care about by rules we did not believe in. If there was art in our lives it was paint-by-number. Life lived as art finds its own way, makes its own friends and its own music, sees with its own eyes. "I go by touching where I have to go," wrote poet Eric Barker, "obedient to my own illumined hand."

To the transformed self, as to the artist, success is never a place to stay, only a momentary reward. Joy is in risking, in making new. Eugene O'Neill scorned "mere" success:

Those who succeed and do not push on to greater failure are the spiritual middle classers. Their stopping at success is the proof of their compromising insignificance. How pretty their dreams must have been! . . . Only through the unattainable does man achieve a hope worth living and dying for — and so attain himself.


A designer-engineer advised, "Do things in the spirit of design research. Be willing to accept a mistake and redesign. There is no failure."

If we take the artist-scientist's view toward life, there is no failure. An experiment has results: We learn from it. Since it adds to our understanding and expertise, however it comes out we have not lost. Finding out is an experiment.

As folk scientists we become sensitive to nature, relationships, hypotheses. For example, we can experimentally learn to tell our reckless impulses from genuine intuitions, getting a kind of long-range biofeedback for that inner sense of rightness.

The survey of Aquarian Conspirators asked for a choice of the four most important instruments for social change from a checklist of fifteen. More often than any other answer, "Personal Example" was checked.

More than a decade ago Erich Fromm was warning that no great radical idea can survive unless it is embodied in individuals whose lives are the message.

The transformed self is the medium. The transformed life is the message.

_______________

Notes:

1  Much of the criticism of the psychotechnologies is based on the apparent  contradictions between the behavior of individuals and their claims of personal  change. Many people discuss their purported new awareness as if it were the  latest film or diet; yet even this phase may precede real change. Some people  feel as if they are changing in ways not evident to others. Still others go  through apparent negative change, periods of withdrawal or emotionality,  before achieving a new equilibrium. We can only guess about the changes in another person; transformation is not a spectator sport. And we may even  misread what has happened in ourselves, realizing only in retrospect that an  important shift has occurred; or we may think we have changed forever in  some way only to find ourselves lapsing on occasion into old thought patterns  and behaviors.
 
2 Philosopher William Bartley remarked that it is odd that the charge of social and political irresponsibility should ever have been leveled at the consciousness movement, especially since so many of the social movements have borrowed its techniques. “There is nothing narcissistic," he said, “about attempting to transcend those things in life that lead people to narcissism."
 
The excesses of some of those involved in the psychotechnologies — the extravagant claims of hucksters and true believers, the tyranny of some purported teachers and gurus — antagonize public opinion. A wide and deep social phenomenon is misunderstood by the magnifying of the sensational, the trivial, the least representative. Similarly, the psychotechnologies are sometimes criticized because of individual casualties, people who have psychotic breaks. Too much sun is sunburn, but we don't blame the sun. These systems tap into a power source that can be abused.
 
Mutual criticism and self-criticism within the consciousness movement address these problems with more rigor and concern than do the outside critics.
 
3 From journey to Ixtlan: "All of us, whether or not we are warriors, have a cubic  centimeter of chance that pops out in front of our eyes from time to time. The  difference between an average man and a warrior is that the warrior is aware of  this, and one of his tasks is to be alert, deliberately waiting, so that when  his cubic centimeter pops out he has the necessary speed, the prowess, to pick  it up."
 
4 There is no counterconspiracy except fear and inertia. Forty -four percent of  the Aquarian Conspirators polled considered the greatest threat to widespread  social transformation to be "popular fear of change." Other suggested factors  were "conservative backlash’' (20 percent), "excessive claims by advocates of  change" (18 percent), and "divisiveness among advocates of change" (18  percent).
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Re: The Aquarian Conspiracy, by Marilyn Ferguson

Postby admin » Sat Apr 27, 2019 3:16 am

CHAPTER 5: The American Matrix for Transformation

We have it in our power to begin the world, again.

— THOMAS PAINE, Common Sense (1776)


Tho' obscured, 'tis the form of the angelic land.

— WILLIAM BLAKE, America (1817)


Linked by television, millions of Americans had a collective peak experience on July 4, 1976, as they watched an armada of serene and beautiful sailing ships glide through New York harbor. Many were stirred by an unaccountable sense of hope and harmony, infused for a few hours with the nation's early vision and promise, remnants of the dream of unity, opportunity, and what Jefferson once called "the holy cause of freedom."

During that summer the European press noted the importance of the "American experiment," as the London Sunday Telegraph called it. Had it not been successful, "the idea of individual freedom would never have survived the Twentieth Century." Neu Zurcher Zeitung in Zurich said, "The American Bicentennial celebrates the greatest success story in modern history. The 1776 beacon, rekindled and invigorated in various ways — not least by puritan self-criticism — has endured." Stockholm's Dagens Nyheter observed that Americans are not bound together by social and cultural ties, family, or even language, so much as by the American dream itself.

But then we must ask, whose American dream? The dream is a chameleon; it has changed again and again. For the first immigrants, America was a continent to explore and exploit, a haven for the unwanted and the dissenters — a new beginning. Gradually the dream became an ascetic and idealized image of democracy, bespeaking the age-old hope for justice and self-governance. All too quickly, that dream metamorphosed into an expansionist, materialist, nationalist, and even imperialist vision of wealth and domination — paternalism, Manifest Destiny. Yet even then, there was a competing Transcendentalist vision: excellence, spiritual riches, the unfolding of the latent gifts of the individual.

There have been populist dreams in which a benevolent American government achieves lasting parity among people by redistributing wealth and opportunity. There are dreams of rugged individualism — and ideals of brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.

Like that of the founding fathers and of the American Transcendentalists of the mid- 1800s, the dream of the Aquarian Conspiracy in America is a framework for nonmaterialist expansion: autonomy, awakening, creativity — and reconciliation.

As we shall see, there have always been two "bodies" of the American dream. One, the dream of tangibles, focuses on material well-being and practical, everyday freedoms. The other, like an etheric body extending from the material dream, seeks psychological liberation — a goal at once more essential and more elusive. The proponents of the latter dream have nearly always come from the comfortable social classes. Having achieved the first measure of freedom, they hunger for the second.

THE ORIGINAL DREAM

We have forgotten how radical that original dream was — how bold the founders of the democracy really were. They knew that they were framing a form of government that challenged all the aristocratic assumptions and top-heavy power structures of Western history.

The Revolutionaries exploited every available means of communication. They linked their networks by energetic letter writing. Jefferson designed an instrument with five yoked pens for writing multiple copies of his letters. The new ideas were spread through pamphlets, weekly newspapers, broadsides, almanacs, and sermons. As historian James MacGregor Bums noted, they also formulated their protests as official appeals to the king "shipped across the Atlantic after suitable hometown publicity."

Hardly anyone expected the American uprising to succeed. Thousands of colonists emigrated to Canada or hid in the woods, certain that the king's armies would tear the colonial regiments to shreds. Nor did a majority of the people support the struggle for independence /even in theory. Historians estimate that one-third favored independence, one-third favored retaining British ties, and one-third were indifferent.

"The American War is over," Benjamin Rush wrote in 1787, "but this is far from the case of the American Revolution. On the contrary, nothing but the first act of the great drama is over." Not only was the Revolution ongoing, as Rush said; it had preceded the military confrontation. "The war was no part of the revolution," John Adams reflected in 1815, "but only an effect and consequence of it." The revolution was in the minds of the people. This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people was the real American Revolution. Long before the first shot is fired, the revolution begins. Long after truce is declared, it continues to overturn lives.

Although it is rarely noted in histories of the American Revolution, many of the arch-Revolutionaries came from a tradition of mystical fraternity. Except for such traces as the symbols on the reverse side of the Great Seal and the dollar bill, little evidence remains of this esoteric influence (Rosicrucian, Masonic, and Hermetic). [1] That sense of fraternity and spiritual enfranchisement played an important role in the intensity of the Revolutionaries and their commitment to the realization of a democracy.

"A New Order of the Ages Begins," says the reverse side of the Great Seal, and the Revolutionaries meant it. The American experiment was consciously conceived as a momentous step in the evolution of the species. "The cause of America is in great measure the cause of all mankind," Thomas Paine said in his inflammatory pamphlet Common Sense.

THE TRANSCENDENTALISTS — EXTENDING THE DREAM

In the early and middle nineteenth century, the American Transcendentalists restated and reinvigorated that second dream. As we will see in Chapter 7, they rejected traditional authority in favor of inner authority. Their term for autonomy was "self-reliance." Transcendentalism seemed to them a logical extension of the American Revolution — spiritual liberation as a counterpart to the freedoms guaranteed by the United States Constitution.

The autonomy of the individual was more important to them than allegiance to any government. If conscience did not concur with the law, Thoreau said, civil disobedience was called for.

The Transcendentalists supposedly threatened the older order with their "new ideas"; but the ideas were not new, only the prospect of applying them in a society. The eclectic Transcendentalists had drawn not only from Quaker and Puritan traditions but also from German and Greek philosophers and Eastern religions. Although they were charged with having contempt for history, they replied that humankind could be liberated from history.

They challenged the assumptions of the day in every realm: religion, philosophy, science, economy, the arts, education, and politics. They anticipated many of the movements of the twentieth century. Like the human-potential movement of the 1960s, the Transcendentalists maintained that most people had not begun to tap their own inherent powers, had not discovered their uniqueness or their mother lode of creativity. "But do your thing," Emerson said, "and I shall know you."

Among themselves they tolerated dissent and diversity, for they were sure that unanimity was neither possible nor desirable. They knew that each of us sees the world through our own eyes, our own perspective. Long before Einstein, they believed all observations to be relative. They sought companions, not disciples. Emerson's charge: Be an opener of doors to those who come after.

They believed that mind and matter are continuous. In contrast to the mechanistic Newtonian ideas prevalent in their day, they saw the universe as organic, open, evolutionary. Form and meaning can be discovered in the universal flux, they believed, if one appealed to intuition — "Transcendental Reason." More than a century before neuroscience confirmed that the brain has a holistic mode of processing, the Transcendentalists described flashes, intuitions, and a kind of simultaneous knowing. Generations before Freud, they acknowledged the existence of the unconscious. "We lie in the lap of immense intelligence," Emerson said.

But they did not reject intellectual knowledge; they believed reason and intuition to be complementary, mutually enriching. Functioning with both faculties one could be awake and live in "the enveloping now." (Emerson once said, "Every day is Doomsday.")

Inner reform must precede social reform, the Transcendentalists maintained; yet they found themselves campaigning on behalf of suffrage and pacifism and opposing slavery. And they were social innovators, establishing a cooperative community and an artists' collective.

To support themselves and bring their ideas to a larger public, they helped launch the Lyceum movement, traveling around the country in an early version of the lecture circuit, trying out their ideas in a variety of settings. Their journal, The Dial, edited by Margaret Fuller and later by Emerson (aided by Thoreau), had an impact far beyond its small circulation of one thousand, just as the Transcendentalists themselves had influence out of all proportion to their number.

Before the Civil War intervened. Transcendentalism had almost reached the proportions of a national grass-roots movement. Apparently many Americans of the day were attracted to a philosophy that stressed an inner search for meaning. Although the Transcendentalist movement was overwhelmed by the materialism of the late-nineteenth century, in various guises it entered the mainstream of world philosophy, to inspire literary giants like Whitman and Melville and to invigorate generations of social reformers.

TRANSFORMATION— AN AMERICAN DREAM

Historian Daniel Boorstin said of America, “We began as a Land of the Otherwise. Nothing is more distinctive, nor has made us more un-European than our disbelief in the ancient, well documented impossibilities."

There is a kind of dynamic innocence in the American notion that anyone who really wants to can beat the odds or the elements. Americans have little sense of keeping in their place. The myth of transcendence is perpetuated by a pantheon of wilderness explorers and moon explorers, record breakers in every field of endeavor, heroic figures like Helen Keller and “Lucky" Lindbergh.

Because the dream of renewal is built in, the American character is fertile ground for the notion of transformation. When a Stanford psychologist, Alex Inkeles, compared American character traits to those of Europeans, as evidenced in a 1971 poll, and then compared the most pronounced American traits to those observed in the culture two hundred years ago, he found a surprising continuity in ten traits. [2]

Americans take unusual pride in their freedoms and in their constitution, a pride that both impressed and irritated Tocqueville on his visit to the new republic.

Americans express greater self-reliance than Europeans. They are likelier to blame themselves for whatever has gone wrong, Inkeles said. They believe strongly in voluntarism, and they are “joiners." They are trusting, they think they can change the world, they believe that striving brings success, they are innovative and open.

The survey showed Americans to be more anti-authoritarian than Europeans and to have a stronger sense of the “quality" of the self, the importance of the individual.

These traits are clearly compatible with the process and discoveries of personal transformation discussed in Chapters 3 and 4: freedom, the self as powerful and responsible, connection to others, support network, autonomy, openness. Personal transformation, in effect, is an enactment of the original American dream.

THE SECOND AMERICAN REVOLUTION

The Second American Revolution — the revolution to achieve freedom in a larger dimension — awaited critical numbers of agents of change and a means of easy communication among them. In 1969, in Without Marx or Jesus, Jean-Francois Revel described the United States as the most eligible prototype nation for world revolution. "Today in America — the child of European imperialism — a new revolution is rising. It is the revolution of our time . . . and offers the only possible escape for mankind today."

Real revolutionary activity, he noted, consists of transforming reality, that is, in making reality conform more closely to one's ideal. When we speak of "revolution" we must necessarily speak of something that cannot be conceived or understood within the context of old ideas. The stuff of revolution, and its first success, must be the ability to innovate. In that sense, there is more revolutionary spirit in the United States today, even on the Right, than elsewhere on the Left.

The relative freedom in the United States would make it possible for such a revolution to occur bloodlessly, Revel said. If that happened, and if one political civilization were exchanged for another, as seemed to be happening, the impact might be felt worldwide by osmosis. This radical transformation would need the simultaneous occurrence of smaller revolutions — in politics, society, international and interracial relations, cultural values, and technology and science. "The United States is the only country where these revolutions are simultaneously in progress and organically linked in such a way as to constitute a single revolution."

There also must be an internal critique of injustices, of the management of material and human resources, and of abuses of political power. Above all, there must be criticism of the culture itself: its morality, religion, customs, and arts. And there must be demand for respect of the individual's uniqueness, with the society regarded as the medium for individual development and for brotherhood.

Like Transcendentalism, Revel's revolution would encompass "the liberation of the creative personality and the awakening of personal initiative" as opposed to the closed horizons of more repressive societies. The perturbation would come from the privileged classes, he said, because that is the way of revolutions. They are launched by those disenchanted with the culture's ultimate reward system. If a new prototype of society is to emerge, rather than a coup d'etat, dialogue and debate must occur at the highest levels.

Certainly the sixties saw great social turbulence; members of the middle and upper classes, especially, began to criticize existing institutions and speculate on a new society. Strong social and historical forces were converging to create the disequilibrium that precedes revolution. Americans were increasingly aware of the impotence of existing institutions — government, schools, medicine, church, business — to deal collectively with mounting problems.

The disenchantment with mores and institutions was most visible in the counterculture, but it spread quickly. The society's discontent and ripeness for new direction was evident in the rapid assimilation of counterculture concerns, values, behavior, fashion, and music.

Wave after wave of social protest reflected growing skepticism about authority, [3] more sensitivity to contradictions in the society — the juxtaposition of poverty and affluence, scarcity and consumerism. There were marches, lie-ins, sit-ins, be-ins, press conferences, riots. The civil rights movement, the antiwar movement, the Free Speech Movement, the ecology movement. Women's rights and gay rights. The Gray Panthers, antinuclear prayer vigils, taxpayers' revolts, demonstrations for and against abortion. All the groups cribbed strategies from their predecessors, including tactics for making the six o'clock news.

Meanwhile the rising interest in psychedelics dovetailed with media coverage of new discoveries about altered consciousness via meditation research and biofeedback training. The body-mind discoveries — the extraordinary connection between state of mind and state of health — buttressed the interest in human potential. Imported phenomena like acupuncture further challenged Western models of how things work.

One observer described the tumultuous events of the 1960s as the Great Refusal, when millions seemed to be saying no to conventions and concessions that had been taken for granted for generations. It was as if they were acting out Edward Carpenter's prophecy that the time would surely come when great numbers would rise up against mindless conformity, bureaucracies, warmaking, dehumanizing work, needless sickness. In discovering those regions of mind in which they transcend “the little, local self," human beings would create an agenda for the renewal of society.

To historian William McLoughlin, the sixties marked the beginning of America's fourth “great awakening," a cultural dislocation and revitalization that will extend into the 1990s. [4] These periodic awakenings, which take place over a generation or more, "are not periods of social neurosis but of revitalization. They are therapeutic and cathartic, not pathological." They result from a crisis in meaning: The ways of the culture no longer match the beliefs and behavior of the people. Although an awakening begins first with disturbance among individuals, it results in the shift of the whole worldview of a culture. "Awakenings begin in periods of cultural distortion and grave personal stress, when we lose faith in the legitimacy of our norms, the viability of our institutions, and the authority of our leaders."

American history, according to McLoughlin, is best understood as a millenarian movement, driven by a changing spiritual vision. Although it keeps redefining itself to meet contingencies and new experiences, there is one constant: "the fundamental belief that freedom and responsibility will perfect not only the individual but the world." This sense of a sacred collective purpose, which sometimes led to aggression in the past, has metamorphosed in this fourth awakening to a sense of the mystical unity of humankind and the vital power of harmony between human beings and nature.

McLoughlin calls attention to the model of social change formulated by anthropologist Anthony C.W. Wallace in a 1956 essay. Periodically, according to Wallace, the people in a given culture find that they can no longer travel its "mazeways," the orienting patterns and paths that have guided their predecessors. The "old lights" or customary beliefs do not fit current experience. Nothing is working because the solutions lie outside the accepted patterns of thought.

A few individuals, then great numbers, lose their bearings and begin to generate political unrest. As controversy grows, the traditionalists or "nativists," those who have most at stake in the old culture or who are most rigid in their beliefs, try to summon the people back to the "old lights." Mistaking symptoms for causes, they sanction or punish the new behaviors. Eventually, however, as McLoughlin described it, "accumulated pressures for change produce such acute personal and social stress that the whole culture must break the crust of custom, crash through the blocks in the mazeways, and find new socially structured avenues."

Then the "new light" is the consensus; it is first expressed in the more flexible members of the society who are willing to experiment with new mazeways or new lifestyles. Legal interpretation, family structure, sex roles, and school curricula change in response to the new vision, and gradually traditionalists drift into it as well.

Our present cultural transformation alarms conservatives and liberals alike with its radical new premises. Whereas conservatives have historically called for a return to civil law and order during periods of social turbulence, now "nativists" at both ends of the political spectrum are calling for a return to a lawful and orderly universe.

The fashionable label for psychological dissent, tantamount to the blanket charge of un-Americanism in the 1950s — is narcissism. Critics lump those seeking answers through inward search with hedonists and cultists, much as McCarthyites categorized political dissidents with criminals, drug addicts, and sexual deviants.

Someone is always trying to summon us back to a dead allegiance: Back to God, the simple-minded religion of an earlier day. "Back to the basics," simple-minded education. Back to simple-minded patriotism. And now we are being called back to a simple-minded "rationality" contradicted by personal experience and frontier science.

COMMUNICATIONS — OUR NERVOUS SYSTEM

In an unsettled period the questions and alternatives posed by a minority, the challenges to authority and established values, can spread rapidly throughout a culture. By amplifying both the unrest and the options, a society's communications network acts much like a collective nervous system. In this sense, the technology that seemed for a time to betray us into a dehumanized future is a powerful medium for human connection.

"At the present moment," Gertrude Stein said in 1945, "America is the oldest country in the world because she was the first country into the Twentieth Century." The United States, with its sophisticated communications technology and its history of exploiting news and promoting new images, was indeed the logical arena for the opening stages of the revolution Revel predicted.

Just as transformation builds on wider awareness and connection in the individual brain, so our social imagination has been painfully, exquisitely enlivened by a nerve network of electronic sensing. Our awareness is joined in high human drama: political scandals, war and peacemaking, riots, accidents, grief, humor. And just as modem physics and Eastern philosophies are introducing a more integrated worldview to the West, our fluent media nervous system is linking our social brain. "Electronic circuitry," Marshall McLuhan said not long ago, "is Orientalizing the West. The contained, the distinct, the separate, our Western legacy — are being replaced by the flowing, the unified, the fused."

These nerveways transmit our shocks and aches, our high moments and low, moon landings and murders, our collective frustrations, tragedies and trivia, institutional breakdowns in living color. They amplify the pain from alienated parts of our social body. They help break our cultural trance, crossing borders and time zones, giving us glimpses of universal human qualities that illuminate our narrow ways and show us our connectedness. They give us models of transcendence: virtuoso performers and athletes, brave survivors, floods and fires, everyday heroism.

Our collective nervous system mirrors our decadence. It arouses our right brains with music, archetypal dramas, startling visual sensations. It keeps our dream journal, taking notes on our fantasies and nightmares to tell us what we most want, what we most fear. If we let it, our technology can shock us out of the sleepwalking of the centuries.

Max Lerner compared the society to a great organism with its own nervous system. "In recent decades we have witnessed a neural overburdening of society, a strain not unlike that which an individual feels when he finds himself on the brink of fatigue or a breakdown." Yet technology might now be applied to move us further into the exploration of states of consciousness, he said. "The new awareness movements, the new search for self, may make for cohesion rather than disintegration."

The links in the expanding nervous system are not only the vast networks of commercial television and the daily newspapers and radio, but "other knowing" — innovative public television and small radio stations, small publishers, cooperatives of small magazines. There are newsletters, proliferating journals and magazines, self-published books. Every neighborhood has its quick-print shops, every supermarket and library its copying machines. Ordinary citizens have access to audio and video cassettes, computer time, home computers, cooperative use of national long-distance lines, inexpensive electronic typesetting equipment. Everybody can be a Gutenberg. We communicate by bumper stickers and T-shirts.

And our national penchant for self-questioning and search has turned increasingly inward, not only through the ever-present pop psychology and self-help books, but in original, radical sources: the literature of transformation. The books of Teilhard, forbidden publication in his lifetime, now sell in the millions. Abraham Maslow, Carl Jung, Aldous Huxley, Hermann Hesse, Carl Rogers, J. Krishnamurti, Theodore Roszak, and Carlos Castaneda are hot properties on drugstore paperback racks.

And there are "new-age" publications of all kinds: radio programs and newsletters, directories of organizations, lists of resources, Yellow Pages and handbooks, and new journals about consciousness, myth, transformation, the future. Thousands of spiritual titles roll off the presses in inexpensive editions.

The "statements of purpose" of some of the transformation-oriented publications are clear about their commitment. East/West Journal, based in the Boston area, expresses an intention to "explore the dynamic equilibrium that unifies apparently opposite values: Oriental and Occidental, traditional and modern.... We believe in people's freedom to chart the course of their lives as a boundless adventure We invite you to join us in this voyage of discovery, whose point of origin is everywhere and whose goal is endless."

New Dimensions Foundation in San Francisco, which produces a syndicated radio show featuring interviews with the leading spokespeople on the subject of transformation, launched an "audio journal" — tape cassettes edited from its tens of thousands of hours of interviews, dating back to 1973. New Dimension's purpose is "to communicate the vision and the infinite possibilities of human potential ... to use the media to present new ideas, new choices, new options, new solutions ... to promote more communication about the nature of personal and social change.”

If we are to dream a larger American dream, we must go beyond our own experience, much as the authors of the Constitution immersed themselves in the political and philosophical ideas of many cultures and as the Transcendentalists synthesized insights from world literature and philosophy to frame their vision of inner freedom.

Most of all, we must let go of an inappropriate cynicism and dualism. Trust in the possibility of change and a sense of the connectedness of all of life are essential to social transformation.

Civilizations decline, Toynbee said, not so much because of invasions or other external forces but because of an internal hardening of ideas. The “elite creative minority" that once gave life to the civilization has been gradually replaced by another minority — still dominant, but no longer creative.

Creativity requires constant transformation, experimentation, flexibility. Cynicism, a chronic state of distrust, is antithetical to the openness necessary for a creative society. To the cynic, experiments are futile ... all conclusions are foregone. Cynics know the answers without having penetrated deeply enough to know the questions. When challenged by mysterious truths, they marshal "facts.” Just as we must let go of dead philosophies, illusions, and old science to confront reality, so a country must keep challenging its traditions if it is to be transformed — if it wants renewal.

Through the heavy seas of crisis, through social movements and wars, depressions, scandals, betrayals, the United States has been consistently open to change. When a television interviewer asked Revel in 1978 for his current assessment of the potential for transformation in America, he said, "The United States is still the most revolutionary country in the world, the laboratory for society. All the experiments — social, scientific, racial, intergenerational — are taking place in the U.S."

The old hope of the Old World: a new world, a place for remaking oneself, a new start, a new life, freedom from tired identities and chafing limits. Historian C. Vann Woodward said, "The body of writings that make up Europe's America is enormous and still growing. Much of it has been speculative, uninformed, passionate, mythical, — about an America hoped for, dreamed of, despised, or instinctively feared."

Dreamed of. . .and feared. The very possibility that we can remake our destiny someplace is as threatening, in some ways, as the knowledge that there are systems for interior search.

“I say the sea is in," said poet Peter Levy. "... the new spirit is bluer than knowledge or history. In our lives, Europe is saying goodnight."

CALIFORNIA— LABORATORY FOR TRANSFORMATION

We protect ourselves from change, even from the hope of change, by our superstitious cynicism. Yet all exploration must be fueled by hope.

When the Wright brothers were attempting to fly the Kitty Hawk, an enterprising journalist interviewed people in their hometown, Dayton, Ohio. One elderly man said that if God had wanted man to fly. He would have given him wings, "and what's more, if anybody ever does fly, he won't be from Dayton!" Seventy years later the first human-powered machine, the Gossamer Condor, became airborne. It had been built and flown in California — and Californians were not surprised. "If anybody ever does fly, he'll be from California."

California, named for a mythical island, has been an island of myth in the United States, sanctuary of the endangered dream. "The flashing and golden pageant of California," Walt Whitman called it:

I see in you, certain to come, the promise of thousands of
years, till now deferred.
...
The new society at last . . .
clearing the ground for broad humanity, the true America.


If America is free, California is freer. If America is open to innovation, innovation is California's middle name. California is not so much different from the rest of the country as it is more so, a writer observed as early as 1883. California is a preview of our national paradigm shifts as well as our fads and fashions.

In 1963 social critic Remi Nadeau predicted that California would soon be not the outpost but the wellspring of American culture. If Californians are developing a new society, "the effect on the nation may be more than incidental." California seemed a kind of "forcing house" of national character. "Having left behind the social inhibitions of his old hometown, the Californian is a sort of American in the making. What the American is becoming, the Californian is already.”

California, Nadeau said, is a magically honest and sometimes frightening mirror in which every national evil — and national good — can best be studied. "California contains not only a great danger, but a great hope. . . .Nowhere does the conflict between individual freedom and social responsibility have a more open arena or show a more advanced stage of struggle."

The essence of the democratic experiment is tested in the laboratory of California. Having tended our national myth, California, purveyor of our electronic and celluloid myths, transmits it to those looking for hope. If it can work in California, maybe it can be adapted and put to work elsewhere.

The idea of America as the land of opportunity is more visible in California than anywhere, said James Houston, author of Continental Drift. "California is still the state where anything seems possible, where people bring dreams they aren't allowed to have anyplace else. So the rest of the country watches what goes on, because it's like a prophecy."

A political writer referred to California as "a high-pressure microcosm of America, a fertile testing ground for national prominence in any field, particularly politics." James Wilson, in Challenge of California, made the point that the lack of party organization makes it easy for new groups to gain ascendancy in California. "These forces endeavor not so much to wrest power from those who hold it as to create power where none has existed before."

David Broder, a national political columnist, said in 1978 that California's government is "more provocative in its program assumptions and more talented in its top-level administration than any other in America today, including the government in Washington. The competition in performance and reputation between Sacramento and Washington will continue in coming years California is big enough to provide a yardstick for measuring Washington's performance."

In 1949, Carey McWilliams said in California: The Great Exception that the main difference between California and the rest of the country was that "California has not grown or evolved so much as it has been hurtled forward, rocket- fashion. The lights went on all at once and have never dimmed."

Certainly California's wealth has been a major factor in the tilt of power and influence toward the West Coast. It is rich — the seventh richest "country" in the world — and it accounts for 12 percent of the Gross National Product of the United States. It is the most populous state in the country. Los Angeles County alone exceeds the population of forty-one states. A phenomenon that exists "only in California" may be very large indeed.

Californians had an early opportunity to become disenchanted with the mirage of a consumer heaven. Michael Davy, associate editor of The Observer in London, and that paper's former Washington correspondent, said in 1972:

Californians have the time, the money, and the assurance of future comfort that leaves them with no alternative but to confront their anxieties. Hitherto, only a tiny elite in any society has ever asked itself the question: What am I? The rest have either been too busy staying alive or have been ready to accept a system of belief handed down by the elite. In California, not only is there no general system of belief, but millions of people have the opportunity — and many of them the education — to worry about that dreadful void.


In an article titled "Anticipating America" in Saturday Review in late 1978, Roger Williams said that there is another California than the place America has come to imitate, mock, and envy. "One might call it California the future, the frontier — not frontier in the old Western sense but in the new national sense of innovativeness and openness."

California's continuing growth reinforces the openness, he said, forcing the state to face its larger problems head-on. "It is a sense of paradise possibly lost, as well as a pervasive feeling of community, that makes California the nation's most aggressive attacker of major social problems." Williams remarked on Californians' pervasive interest and involvement in public affairs, in commissions and agencies. California pioneered in major protective legislation for the environment, coastline conservation, energy research, and nuclear safeguards, he noted.

Boorstin once described the United States as a Nation of Nations, so shaped by the visions of its immigrants that it is international. Similarly, California is enriched by a diversity of cultures, influenced by an Asian and European influx, a junction of East and West, frontier for immigrants from the American East, South, and Midwest. More than half its inhabitants were born elsewhere.

California is also a synthesis of what C. P. Snow called the Two Cultures — Art and Science. Physicist Werner Heisenberg attributed the vitality and "human immediacy" of historic Munich to its historic blend of art and science. California is that blend in the United States. An estimated 80 percent of the country's pure science is pursued in California; its residents include more Nobel laureates than any other state, and a majority of the members of the National Academy of Sciences are Californians. The arts, both as business and avant-garde experimentation, are a major enterprise in California. One public official estimated that nearly half a million people in greater Los Angeles "strive to make their living through the arts." The nation's entertainment is produced largely in California. Actors, writers, musicians, painters, architects, and designers comprise a major industry. For better or for worse, they are in large measure creating the nation's culture.

Historian William Irwin Thompson said that California is not so much a state of the Union as it is a state of mind, "an imagination that seceded from our reality a long time ago." In leading the world in making a transition from industrial to postindustrial society, from hardware to software, from steel to plastic, from materialism to mysticism, "California became the first to discover that it is fantasy that leads reality, not the other way around." What we envision we can make real.

The California dream of sun and economic freedom, like the expansionist American dream, has always had a second body, a transcendental vision of another kind of light and another kind of freedom.

"The California Transcendentals" is the term given by critic Benjamin Mott to writers like Robinson Jeffers, John Muir, and Gary Snyder. "It's not just that, like Frost and Emerson, the California Transcendentals ask a certain height of us. They do. It's that at times they seem to be the only writers left in any region of this country with a clear idea of what elevation is. . . . Their true region is everywhere. In literary terms, they're indispensable."

If anything holds Californians together, Michael Davy suggested in 1972, it is "a search for a new religion," a vision that might emerge from "the mish-mash of Esalen-type thinking, revolutionary chatter, Huxleyan mysticism." Whatever the origin of these new stirrings, he said, they might well have import for the entire country.

"There is an orientalism in the most restless pioneer," Thoreau once said, "and the farthest west is but the farthest east." Gustave Flaubert also associated the farthest west with the farthest east: "I kept dreaming of Asiatic journeys, of going overland to China, of impossibilities, of the Indies or of California.” When Thoreau and Flaubert wrote those words in the nineteenth century, the West Coast was already dotted with centers and study groups revolving around Buddhism and "Hindoo” teachings. Today the influence of Eastern thought in California is pervasive.

California is "a different kind of consciousness and a different kind of culture,” historian Page Smith said, possibly because of the large geographical transition made by its immigrants in the last century. "People leapt across whole barriers from Nebraska and Kansas, fifteen hundred miles to the Pacific Coast, and for a time there was a degree of isolation.” The state was also influenced by the long Spanish period and proximity to Mexico, the mild climate, the sense of a fresh start common to immigrant populations, and the lack of tradition.

It makes sense that the Aquarian Conspiracy would be most evident in a pluralistic environment friendly to change and experimentation, among people whose relative wealth has given them the opportunity to become disenchanted with the materialist dream in its most hedonistic form, with few traditions to overturn, tolerance of dissent, an atmosphere of experimentation and innovation, and a long history of interest in Eastern philosophy and altered states of consciousness.

CALIFORNIA AND THE AQUARIAN CONSPIRACY

In 1962 Look magazine sent a team headed by Senior Editor George Leonard to prepare a special issue on California. The trends Look reported reveal the early roots of the Aquarian Conspiracy in California. They quote a San Francisco lay leader: "In California, the old social compartments are being broken down, and we are creating a new aristocracy — an aristocracy of those who care. Membership is restricted only by the capacity for concern.”

The magazine reported that California seemed to be developing "a new kind of society and perhaps even a new kind of person able to cope with it.” One of the phenomena the reporters mentioned was the apparent depth of relationships between friends, which they attributed to there being few relatives at hand.

Aldous Huxley, Look noted, was among the California residents calling for a new national constitutional convention. "Many Californians are holding, in a sense, constitutional conventions,” the magazine reported, "at centers such as the one in Santa Barbara [Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions], the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Palo Alto, and the Stanford Research Institute; at board meetings of great corporations or planning groups; in state and city governments, and sometimes even in the living rooms of tract houses whose inhabitants came not so long ago from Iowa, Maine, or Georgia."

Californians believe that anyone who cares to try can help shape the future, Look said, and quoted Alan Watts: "Traditional patterns of relating, based on locality, are askew. Old thought patterns are being broken down. What people in the East can't see is that new patterns are being developed."

In the 1950s and 1960s, Aldous Huxley, then living in Los Angeles, was among those who encouraged Michael Murphy and Richard Price in their 1961 decision to open Esalen, the residential center in California's Big Sur area that helped midwife much of what came to be known as the human-potential movement. Seminar leaders in Esalen's first three years included Gerald Heard, Alan Watts, Arnold Toynbee, Linus Pauling, Norman O. Brown, Carl Rogers, Paul Tillich, Rollo May, and a young graduate student named Carlos Castaneda.

It was perhaps typical of the serendipity of those days that one evening in 1962 heavy fog on the treacherous coastal highway through Big Sur forced a vacationing Abraham Maslow to seek shelter at the nearest residence. Maslow drove down the unmarked driveway through a tangle of shrubs to inquire about accommodation for the night. He had arrived in time for an Esalen study group that was unpacking a case of twenty copies of his latest book.

Maslow's alliance with Esalen was an important linkage of networks on the two coasts. And in 1965 George Leonard and Michael Murphy joined forces. Leonard's account of their first meeting and subsequent collaboration conveys the intellectual excitement and visionary quality of the movement's earliest days. It also reveals the genesis of popular misunderstandings about what it meant.

In 1964 and 1965 Leonard traveled around the country, working on what he believed would be the most important story of his career. It would run in two or three subsequent issues of Look, he anticipated, and he intended to call it "The Human Potential." [5]

Several people had mentioned a rather mysterious young man named Michael Murphy, who ran a seemingly unclassifiable institute on the wild Big Sur coast of central California. I was told that Murphy, like the hero of Maugham's The Razor's Edge, had gone to India seeking enlightenment, had lived for eighteen months at the Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry. ... The institute was supposedly a forum for new ideas, especially those that combined the wisdom of East and West. I heard that Esalen's first brochure flew under the title of a series of 1961 lectures by Aldous Huxley: "Human Potentialities."

As Leonard recalled their first meeting:

The dinner was magical. Murphy's knowledge of Eastern philosophy was encyclopedic, and he talked about it as if it were a delicious tale of suspense and adventure. He had a strong sense of history and a compelling vision of the future. Nor was Murphy the kind of guru-seeker you can sometimes spot by the vague look in their eyes This seeker was on a decidedly American sadhana. You could easily see him in a warm-up suit, never in a flowing white robe ....

After dinner we drove to my house and continued talking for hours. The meeting of minds, of visions, was extraordinary, with each of us bringing just what was needed in the way of background knowledge to dovetail with that of the other. While Murphy had been studying Eastern philosophy and humanistic psychology, I had been studying social and political movements in the United States.


They met at a vivid moment in the nation's history, Leonard recalls: Lyndon Johnson was pushing an idealist civil rights bill and his "war on poverty." There was a sense of changing consciousness in the country as social movements proliferated: sexual liberation, the Free Speech Movement, concern for the rights of Chicanos and American Indians, and, above all, the civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King.

In the spirit of those times, it was natural to think in terms of "movements." Just as the civil rights movement would break down the barriers between the races, and thus other barriers, a human potential movement would help break down the barriers between mind and body, between Eastern wisdom and Western action, between individual and society, and thus between the limited self and the potential self.


Soon Leonard, Murphy, and others were not only planning residential programs at Esalen but seeking ways the insights of this new human-potential movement could be applied to the larger society. They saw its relevance to education, politics, health care, race relations, and city planning. Such divergent notables as B. F. Skinner and S. I. Hayakawa led Esalen seminars in the fall of 1965, along with Watts, Carl Rogers, J. B. Rhine, and others. Leonard said:

It was a heady time. Will Schutz and Fritz Peris came to live at Esalen. New methods proliferated. The Esalen lodge became a carnival of innovation. ... In 1967 the institute opened a branch in San Francisco to take on urban problems. I joined forces with the distinguished black psychiatrist Price Cobbs to lead marathon interracial confrontations. Mike Murphy moved to the city. Best yet — oh, glorious, golden days of grace! — all this happened pretty much out of the public eye.

Then came the media — the television and radio reports, the magazine articles, the books — and we were faced with the contradictions, the paradoxes, and the heartaches that inevitably accompany any serious challenge to cultural homeostasis.


Time's education section included what Leonard called a fairly objective article about Esalen in the fall of 1967, and United Press International covered Esalen's move to San Francisco.

But it remained for a remarkable piece of writing in the December 31, 1967, issue of the New York Times Sunday Magazine to open the floodgates.

I had learned by then that much of the publishing world used a very simple method of certification and reality testing: Until something appeared in the New York Times, you couldn't be sure it was real. When something appeared in a favorable light in the Times, you could bet it was not only real but worthy of further coverage. . . .

So here we had "Joy is the Prize” by Leo Litwak, telling of the author's personal experience in a five-day Will Schutz encounter group and speculating on the Esalen vision. The article had the requisite air of initial skepticism and closing irony but was generally positive. . . . Within days of its publication, editors all over New York were being bombarded with queries about doing a story, a show, a book on this strange place on the California coast and the "movement” it portended.


Esalen did not welcome the publicity. Its policy had been to cooperate with reporters but to discourage coverage whenever possible.

Although only 15 percent of Esalen's programs were encounter groups, Litwak had written about an encounter group, which led other reporters and the public to associate Esalen with them forever. Some reporters, bewildered by the wealth of new ideas at Esalen, finding them hard to categorize, settled for cynicism. Others became true believers, Leonard said, and "helped create false expectations that led to eventual disillusionment."

Inevitably, human-potential centers were springing up around the country. At various times Murphy and Price were approached by individuals wanting to affiliate with Esalen, using the name for their own centers. They refused but actively encouraged all competition.

The new society forming had spiritual underpinnings that were hard to identify. Jacob Needleman, reflecting in 1973 on his first years in California, said:

The person I was then could never have undertaken to write this book [The New Religions ] Even apart from my intellectual convictions, there was this whole matter of California. As a transplanted Easterner, I felt duty-bound not to take anything in California very seriously. I certainly felt no need to understand California To me it was a place desperately lacking in the experience of limitation. . . .

I still do not claim to understand California, but I am certain that it cannot be taken lightly from any point of view Something is struggling to be born here.

... I wish I could state clearly what it is about California that makes so many of its people — and not just the young — so much more accessible to the cosmic dimension of human life — But the undeniable fact is that by and large the West Coast does not exhibit the sort of intellectualism found in our eastern cities, an intellectualism rooted in [the] European sense of the human mind as autonomous and outside nature.

In any case, it is not reality which Californians have left behind; it is Europe.... I began to see that my idea of intelligence was a modem European idea; the mind, unfettered by emotion, disembodied, aristocratically articulate I saw that I had judged California on its lack of the European element.


The Aquarian Conspiracy, needless to say, is nurtured in California. [6] Its “agents" from the Boston- Cambridge area, from New York and Washington, London, Denver, Minneapolis, Houston, Chicago, and hundreds of smaller cities rally in California from time to time for sustenance and courage.

The large “consciousness" conference, a California invention of the early 1970s, was a perfect device for this national crossfertilization. Beginning in 1975, California groups began organizing road shows — conferences and seminars all over the country. [7] In many cities strong local links were then established, and subsequent programs were staged by locals. Conference budgets tried to provide for continuous liaison. Small workshops proved even more flexible strategies for moving people about the country. Through such meetings the conspirators typically pooled the names of friends and contacts, quickly enlarging and linking the networks. Cassette tapes of conference lectures were disseminated by the thousand.

Ironically, while the eastern United States tends to patronize the West Coast as a bizarre relative. Radio Television Belgium sent a team to Los Angeles to film a documentary on how the 1960s counterculture had affected the 1970s, explaining that “what happens in California will eventually happen in Europe."

If California has once again anticipated the next step, the prospects for national change are strong indeed.

DESPERATION AND RENEWAL

James Alan McPherson, a young Black who won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, recently traced the advancement of freedoms from the Magna Carta to the Charter of the United Nations. “In the gradual elaboration of basic rights," he said, “an outline of something much more complex than 'black' and 'white' had begun." A new citizenship becomes possible in which “each United States citizen [could] attempt to approximate the ideals of the nation, be on at least conversant terms with all its diversity, and carry the mainstream of the culture inside himself."

Each American would be a synthesis of high and low, black and white, city and country, provincial and universal. “If he could live with these contradictions, he would be simply a representative American."

He quoted the Spanish philosopher, Miguel de Unamuno, who called attention to the adoption of the word desperado in English: “It is despair, and despair alone, that begets heroic hope, absurd hope, mad hope." McPherson added:

I believe that the United States is complex enough to induce that sort of despair that begets heroic hope. I believe that if one can experience its diversity, touch a variety of its people, laugh at its craziness, distill wisdom from its tragedies, and attempt to synthesize all this inside oneself without going crazy, one will have earned the right to call oneself “citizen of the United States." . . . One will have begun on that necessary movement.


This movement from a hopeless person to a desperado, he said, is “the only new direction I know."

American society has at hand most of the factors that could bring about collective transformation: relative freedom, relative tolerance, affluence enough to be disillusioned with affluence, achievements enough to know that something different is needed. We have been temperamentally innovative, bold, and confident. Our national myth says that we can have the alternative if we have the imagination and the will.

“To be an American," said social and literary critic Leslie Fiedler, “is precisely to imagine a destiny rather than inherit one. We have always been inhabitants of myth rather than history."

To imagine a destiny, to transcend a past . . . We have little to lose by the remaking of our family institutions. We have begun to know our complex selves: our roots, our collective mid-life crisis, our sexuality and death and renewal, our paradoxical yearning for both freedom and order, our costly addictions. We sense the limits of our old science, the dangers of our top-heavy hierarchies, and we see the context of our planet.

We begin to feel our tangible and spiritual connection with other cultures. We have awakened our power to learn and to change.

And we have ideas.

Afraid or not, we seem to have made it past the entry point into real transformation: past the cultural shake-up, the violence, the fascination and excesses, the fear of the new and uncharted. We have begun to imagine the possible society.

_______________

Notes:

1 The Adams family, which produced two American presidents, belonged to a Druidic sect that had been persecuted in England. In the American revolutionary period. Freemasonry was nearer its medieval beginnings and was more a mystical brotherhood than essentially the social lodge it became after widespread persecution of Masons in the nineteenth century.
 
Among the colonial Masons were George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Paul Revere. Fifty of the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence are supposed to have been Masons. Historian Charles Ferguson described Washington's army as a "Masonic convention," noting that the revolutionaries relied on the brotherhood for most of their communications. Franklin obtained French aid by way of his Masonic connections in France, and Washington himself initiated Lafayette into the order.
 
Because the brotherhood was supposed to transcend national or political loyalties, revolutionary soldiers are said to have carefully returned the lost papers of a British field lodge; and the apparent laxness of some British generals was attributed to their hope for a quick and bloodless settlement so that Mason would not be set against Mason.
 
2 Over the same period there have been three major changes in the American  character: an increasing tolerance of diversity, an erosion of the ethic of hard  work and frugality, and a concern about the loss of control over the political  system.
 
3 The growing use of marijuana dealt a blow to authority: medical, legal, and  parental. Hundreds of thousands of rural and small-town youths who might  never have encountered marijuana in peacetime were introduced to the drug  in Vietnam. Ironically, the introduction of major psychedelics, like LSD, in the  1960s was largely attributable to the Central Intelligence Agency's investigation into the substances for possible military use. Experiments on more than  eighty college campuses, under various CIA code names, unintentionally  popularized LSD. Thousands of graduate students served as guinea pigs.  Soon they were synthesizing their own "add." By 1973, according to the  National Commission on Drug and Marijuana Abuse, nearly 5 percent of all  American adults had tried LSD or a similar major psychedelic at least once.
 
4 The Puritan Awakening (1610-1640) preceded the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in England. The first great awakening in America (1730-1760)  led to the creation of the American republic; the second (1800-1830), to the  solidification of the Union and the rise of Jacksonian participatory democracy;  the third (1890-1920), to rejection of unregulated capitalistic exploitation and  the beginning of the welfare state. Our fourth appears headed toward a  rejection of unregulated exploitation of humankind and of nature and toward  conservation and optimal use of the world's resources.
 
5 Leonard's article, which eventually ran to twenty thousand words, was never  published. Look decided it was "too long and too theoretical."
 
6 Although nearly half of those responding to the Aquarian Conspiracy questionnaire now live in California, most were born in the East or Midwest. The role of California and its immigrants as catalysts for social transformation was proclaimed in the invitation to a 1979 conference in Sacramento, "California Renaissance," sponsored by the Association for Humanistic Psychology. Participants were to look at the "significance, promise, and dangers of the California experience" in terms of personal and planetary evolution.
 
7 Two of the earliest such conferences were sponsored, interestingly, by the Lockheed Corporation. They were held in the San Jose area in 1971 and featured scientists and physicians.  
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