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The Aquarian Conspiracy by Marilyn Ferguson

It was big news in 1980—the countercuiture liad grown up and Joined the worl< force.  Thousands of people across the nation with a common vision were quietly working for change in their respective fields.  It's still news now, although "New Age" is a tarnished term, co-opted by consciousness con-artists selling get-enlightened-quick schemes.  Marilyn Ferguson recounts what it did mean, should mean, could mean: not a perfect world, but a world with a healthier set of assumptions.  The universe as an organism, not a mechanism (handle with care); body/mind as an unbroken connection; the oneness of all people as crew of spaceship Earth—these concepts are part of the mental stew of a growing number of people.  That's the Aquarian Conspiracy.    —Corinne Cullen Hawkins

     With its periodic Great Awakenings, tlie United States has always attracted mystics and evangelists.  Long before the spiritual revolution we see now, Eastern and Western mystics influenced mainstream American thought. Their Ideas were daily bread to the American Transcendentalists and the "beat generation."  Yet, as Oriental religions scholar Robert Ellwood pointed out, all these exports are filtered through the American psyche and experience.  Zen, Swedenborgianism, Theosophy, or Vedanta in the United States are not what they were in Japan, eighteenth-century England, or nineteenth-century India. American adherents may sometimes use Eastern symbols, but their essential spiritual life is better understood through the American lineage of Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, the Shakers, and others.  "Down-home Zen" is the term Rick Fields used to describe the Zen center in the heart of the Wilshlre business district of Los Angeles.

      A Gallup poll released in February 1978 reported that ten million Americans were engaged in some aspect of Eastern religion, nine million in spiritual healing. Those involved in Eastern religions tended to be younger adults, college-educated, living on either of the two coasts, about equally men and women, Catholic and Protestant.  "Although [they] are not as likely to be church-goers . . . they are just as likely to say that their religious beliefs are 'very important' in their lives."

Spiritual experience moved beyond the borders of the establishment so quietly that only the poll takers have measured the change. Addressing fellow scholars and historians in the field of religion, Jacob Needleman remarked ironically in 1977 that these ideas and practices are now—"without our prior permission, so to speak—entering the real lives of real people, causing trouble, having real effects on marriages, careers, politics, goals, friendships."

      In one sense, Zukav [Gary Zukav, author of The Dancing Wu Li Masters] said, we may be approaching "the end of science."  Even as we continue to seek understanding, we are learning to accept the limits of our reductionist methods.  Only direct experience can give a sense of this nonlocal universe, this realm of connectedness.  Enlarged awareness—as in meditation—may carry us past limits of our logic to more complete knowledge. The end of conventional science may mean "the coming of Western civilization, in its own time and in Its own way, into the higher dimensions of human experience."

ISBN: 0874774586

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