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 04 WiH Chapter 4: The Sixties

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1PostSubject: 04 WiH Chapter 4: The Sixties   Sun Nov 08, 2015 12:25 pm

1 As the Fifties ended, the media were saying that the Beat Movement was dying, but I found out when I moved to New York at the end of 1959 that these rumors were completely misleading. The general public was losing interest in reading about the Beats, but the bohemian counterculture itself was still alive and growing. By 1962, the counterculture in New York had outgrown Greenwich Village and so many young bohemian-types were living in the Lower East Side that it was being called the East Village. The same thing happened in San Francisco: as the population of the counterculture outgrew the space available in the old bohemian area of North Beach, it spread to a residential neighborhood called the Haight-Ashbury.

2 This happened without attracting much media publicity, and well before the beginning of the events commonly described as the causes of the Sixties movement. For example, it predated widespread campus radicalism by several years. I'm certain of this because I was among the "outside agitators" who tried to interest college students in the anti-draft, anti-war, free speech, and civil rights issues before many of them were willing to listen to these messages.

3 I also know that people like Timothy Leary didn't start the psychedelic drug movement, because college students were already starting to "Turn on, Tune in, and Drop out" years before Leary coined the phrase. They were turning on to the "weed and wine" popularized in the Beat literature, because LSD had not yet become widely available; they were tuning in to the Zen-influenced philosophy of Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder, and others; and they were dropping out and trying to join a movement they really didn't fit into very well.

4 The original Beatniks had been typical American bohemians, little different from those who had lived in Greenwich Village and similar bohemian colonies for over a hundred years. Most of them were well above average in both intelligence and education, and had a serious interest in at least one creative activity: art, literature, music, drama, social or political reform, etc. As an occultist and political radical, I felt comfortable in the Beat movement; but many of the recent dropouts didn't.

5 The majority of people entering the counterculture from the early Sixties on didn't have the customary personality profile for bohemians. They didn't have a consuming passion for specific intellectual, artistic, or political endeavors, but had interests that were more personal and low-key. This is not to say they were less intelligent or creative than the traditional bohemians; they just had different goals. By the mid-Sixties, they had started their own segment of the underground press and were putting these goals into words, talking about "alternative life-styles" and "doing your own thing."

6 My experiences with overhearing psychic messages regarding the Kennedy assassination made me start looking for evidence that someone was telepathically influencing large numbers of ordinary young people to take drugs, drop out, and join the counterculture. And yes, when I started asking people, they said they had first started using marijuana or LSD because they'd had dreams, visions, or simply "hunches" that they ought to, and that these "feelings" predated any intellectual knowledge about psychedelics.

7 Many of the people I talked to had first learned about LSD and the other powerful psychedelics through reading accounts of the scientific experiments with them in popular magazines. These accounts described only the psychedelics experiments conducted by professional researchers working within the medical establishment; there was not one word in them to encourage widespread use of the drugs by the public. However, when these young people read the accounts, they felt very strong desires to use psychedelics. In many cases, the principal reason they'd joined the counterculture was to meet people who could get them peyote, mescaline, or LSD.

8 I also started doing formal rituals to listen for telepathic messages urging people to use psychedelics, and found them quite common. However, I was never able to tell exactly who was sending them. Sometimes it seemed to be spirits, sometimes groups of living people; but my psychic powers were not yet developed enough for me to isolate the source.

9 Even more significant, I found that someone was sending out powerful telepathic messages supporting not just personal experimentation with psychedelics, but all the other major ideological elements of the counterculture movement of the mid and late Sixties as well. There were messages about peace, sexual freedom, equality for women and minorities, occultism and experimentation with non-Christian religious systems, general hostility toward the Establishment, etc.

10 The emotional tone of many of these telepathic messages was extremely militant, often bordering on what most people would call paranoia and delusions of grandeur, as if someone were trying to turn people into fanatics. My impression of this was that someone was literally trying to start a social revolution on a very deep level, one that would completely transform Western civilization if it succeeded. Some of these telepathic messages even suggested that we call ourselves "Spiritual Revolutionaries."

11 Even though I often received the messages themselves quite clearly, I still didn't know who was sending them. The commonest rumor within the counterculture said the collective unconscious of the human race was responsible. Other rumors attributed the messages to the Bavarian Illuminati, space people, or a wide variety of deities. When I tried sending telepathic questions asking the identity of whoever was sending the messages, I found out the source of all these apparently conflicting rumors was that mysterious "Invisible College" I'd been speculating about for a long time.

12 Sometimes I'd ask, "Are you the Illuminati?" and be told, "Yes, we are the Invisible College." But when I'd ask "Are you living people?" I'd get the reply, "No, we are dead people." Then I'd ask them, "Are you the Ascended Masters the occultists talk about?," and the spirits would answer, "No, we are the enemies of the Masters." I'd ask "Are you from outer space?" and be told, "Yes. But so are you. So are many people on this planet."

13 If I asked "Are you gods?" I'd get one of two replies: either "No, we are people, just like you," or "No, we are the enemies of the gods." I sent these questions many different times and always received versions of the same answers. The replies were always short and cryptic, and they really left me no wiser than before. Now that I've made the breakthrough, they make perfect sense; but they meant little to me in the Sixties and early Seventies.

14 Sometime in 1966, I started calling myself a Spiritual Revolutionary and dropped out of regular political activism, concentrating instead on assuming a minor leadership role in the psychedelic-drug movement and the new occult movement that was growing out of it. I felt my psychic powers were far from fully developed, but as long as I knew more than the people I was teaching, I could be of help. The next eight years are full of chaotic memories of guiding LSD trips, leading various rituals, teaching sex magic and mediumship, and writing all sorts of things for the underground press. I still wasn't sure what was going on, but it was obvious what needed doing from one day to the next.

15 One of the things that mystified me the most about the Sixties Movement was the way it seemed to make rapid progress without leadership in the usual sense. Oh, there were plenty of people who said they were leading the movement. The press made media heroes of them as if they were movie stars or sports champions, and the government frequently threw them in jail even if it had to bend the law and the Constitution to do so. However, very few of these people were actually providing leadership as it is usually defined. They issued very few direct orders, and when they did, not many members of the counterculture obeyed them.

16 The psychedelic drug movement is an excellent example of this. Timothy Leary was acknowledged as the leader of this movement by both the general public and the acidheads themselves, but he was just a figurehead. Leary lectured and held quasi-religious rituals as the "High Priest of LSD," but the people in the psychedelics movement treated him more like a statue of a god in a temple than like an actual priest. A priest preaches, and members of his religious congregation are expected to put his teachings into practice; but this simply didn't happen in the Sixties psychedelic movement.

17 Very few of the hundreds of thousands of people experimenting with LSD and other psychedelics were taking advice or instruction from anyone. Books on psychedelics by Leary and many other people sold very well, but my own experiences as a low-level leader of the drug movement showed me that not many acidheads took the books seriously or tried to learn from them. Nor did they practice the much simpler instructions of the "How To Be Your Own Trip Guide type that people like me wrote for the underground press. They were simply buying acid on the black market and stuffing it down their throats, with very little regard for the consequences. Once they'd survived a few acid trips, they figured their personal experience qualified them as trip guides, and they started giving LSD to all their friends.

18 People just worked out their own methods of controlling their own LSD trips by personal experimentation. Often, they said they were using Leary's instructions as a guideline, but I could see little resemblance most of the time. The general attitude was: "Who wants to fast and meditate to prepare for a trip? And why bother to recite a bunch of mumbo-jumbo when I can just groove on the Stones?"

19 At first, I was quite hostile to this attitude. I'd learned the use of psychedelics by studying Western occultism and Amerindian shamanism, which teach that the drugs should be taken under very structured conditions involving elaborate ritual. However, when I was persuaded to try the less controlled approach that everyone around me was using, I found it both safe and effective. By this time, I had enough conscious control over my psychic powers to perceive directly that an outside agency was telepathically communicating with people who took LSD and was reprogramming their minds.

20 My explanation for the phenomenon at the time was that the collective telepathic emanations from hundreds or thousands of people taking LSD simultaneously sent messages to everyone else and guided their trips. I also found that I could receive these psychic messages even when I wasn't on drugs, just by assuming the right kind of trance state. The content of the telepathic messages was the usual ideology of the Sixties movement as reported in the underground press: "Peace now," "Love everybody, even the pigs," "Expand your consciousness," etc. There were also hundreds of phrases from popular song lyrics by Bob Dylan, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Donovan, Tim Buckley, Simon and Garfunkel, and many more. Often, I'd receive a phrase telepathically months before I heard it in a song, and speculate that the songwriter had gotten it by the same means and from the same source.

21 Many people in the counterculture believed that some of these people, especially Bob Dylan, were fully conscious of what was going on and had a complete understanding of what all these cryptic phrases meant, but my own telepathic experiences made me doubt this. I was reasonably certain they received the same tantalizing fragments of telepathic information I received, and had no more understanding of them than I did. Numerous passages in the song lyrics themselves could be interpreted as saying this.

22 If what I was overhearing was really just a consensus of the thoughts of the people on LSD at that time, the messages were exactly what I expected they would be, in a general sense; but there was also something rather odd about them. I naturally expected the random thoughts of "a bunch of stoned hippies" to be extremely diverse and incoherent and to contain a wide variety of different emotions and images. Instead, what I received seemed quite simple, clear, and well controlled.

23 I had no idea who was sending those telepathic messages, but whoever they were, they were extremely anarchistic. They urged people not to follow leaders at all, but to learn everything by personal experimentation and become masters of their own fate. Even though I've always lived my own life by this philosophy, I felt uneasy receiving these messages, because there were so many immature and irresponsible people in the Sixties movement. I was afraid that the policy of "Do your own thing" and "Don't follow leaders, become a leader yourself" would keep the movement from developing enough political organization to make significant reforms in society.

24 However, the unseen forces who were influencing minds by telepathy seemed to oppose completely the idea of injecting formal political structure into the movement. People kept saying "We've got to get it together," but this proved completely impossible. The telepathic manipulators countered by sending "We don't need to get it together. It already is together." No one could figure out exactly what this was supposed to mean, but it sounded reassuring. Besides, by the time this message was sent, the movement was dying out anyway, and few people were expecting immediate revolution, political or spiritual, any more.

25 After the Vietnam War ended and the counterculture stopped receiving major publicity, I stayed in the new wing of the occult community for a few years, then gradually drifted out of it and concentrated all my efforts on my personal psychic development. I felt I was no longer needed, because by this time the Neo Pagan, Human Potentials, and New Age movements were well under way, training their own leaders and designing their own operating techniques. And I was looking further into the future, believing that both the "alternative lifestyles" of the Sixties and the "spiritual alternatives" of the Seventies were just precursors of the real beginning of a "New Age," which was still to come. By the early Eighties, just before I made my personal breakthrough, I was able to look back on the Sixties Movement and realize just how successful it had been in preparing American society for the overt Spiritual Revolution of the Eighties and Nineties.

26 During the late Sixties and early Seventies, many people outside the movement kept saying, "This is just some sort of weird fad, and eventually it will pass and things will return to normal - unless, of course, those damn Hippies stir up so much trouble that the political center collapses and the country goes Communist or Fascist." At the same time, most of us within the movement itself who hadn't become complete fanatics expecting an instant Utopia kept saying, "This can't be happening. Most Americans are still quite conservative, anti-intellectual, graspingly materialistic, and somewhat bigoted. The Establishment is growing stronger, not weaker, and the totalitarian policies of the Communist countries are undermining the foundation of the peace and anti-imperialist movements. The drug movement is getting so corrupted with real drug abuse - heavy use of the opiates, the amphetamines, cocaine, barbiturates, etc. - that the legalization and controlled use of the psychedelics is beginning to appear impossible."

27 Because of this, I believed all through the Sixties that the Establishment would eventually suppress the counterculture by force. All the "superstar" leaders would go into jail or exile, most of the rank-and-file members of the movement would be scared away from it, and the rest of us - those deeply committed but not conspicuous enough to be identified and persecuted - would carry on our activities underground until the heat died down and we could surface again.

28 That's what my knowledge of history told me was most likely, but it didn't happen. The Sixties movement neither challenged the Establishment nor was challenged by it, but simply kept getting larger and more diffuse until it faded away into the background. By the late Seventies, I realized that this had been the plan of the unseen forces behind the movement all along, and that it had proven extremely successful.

29 What happened was that the essential philosophy of the Sixties counter-culture spread very widely within the general population while the organized parts of the movement died out. Many of the beliefs and opinions of the "Silent Majority" changed without the people involved being consciously aware of it. Most Americans continued to say they disliked hippies and the hippy philosophy, while at the same time their personal opinions on many important issues were moving closer and closer to those the counterculture had actually lived by.

30 The most important of these changed attitudes was simply an increased tolerance for people with opinions or behavior different from their own. This has happened so gradually and smoothly all over the country during the Seventies and into the Eighties that it has never received much attention, but there's no doubt the change is real and significant.

31 The course that American society has actually taken from the end of the Sixties movement to the late Eighties has been quite different from what either insiders or outsiders had been predicting. The overt phase of the movement withered away without making too many political changes. Psychedelics remained illegal. The nuclear arms race and American imperialism still existed even though we did finally pull out of Vietnam. Every President from Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan has been either conservative or moderate, and the very term "liberal" remained in bad repute. Above all, the extreme optimism about the future that was one of the hallmarks of the Sixties movement gave way to alternate waves of militant pessimism (such as predictions of imminent ecological catastrophe or economic collapse) and self-indulgent indifference (the philosophy of the "yuppies" and many New Age groups).

32 However, these surface appearances are misleading. Western society in the 1980's is significantly different from the way it was in 1960, and many of the changes have been those advocated by the Sixties movement. There is still racial bigotry and ghetto poverty, for example, but the present generation of black Americans lives in a much less racist social environment than did previous generations. Millions of blacks have now achieved effective equality with whites: in education, in housing, in small-business ownership, in professional and executive-level employment, and to an increasing extent in labor unions and well-paid blue-collar jobs. Although the civil rights movement is correct when it says there is still a need for even more reforms before our society achieves complete racial equality, there is absolutely no doubt that enormous strides have already been made. When I first started supporting the concept of equal rights for minorities, I never thought I'd live to see this much real progress.

33 Also, even the most speculative radical writings of the early Sixties didn't come close to predicting the achievements of the present feminist movement. During the last twenty years, women have achieved even more progress towards social and economic equality than blacks. Again, there's still a long way to go and an ongoing movement fighting for further progress, but there's no doubt a young girl today will live in a better world than her mother did when it comes to opportunities for women. And the progress is not just in having women in high political office or positions of business leadership; changes for the better in male-female relations within the family itself can be observed all around us.

34 There has also been a significant increase in sophistication in this country since the Sixties. Europeans used to consider Americans relatively uncultured compared to themselves. Before the last decade or two, the majority of artistic and social innovations and fads started in Europe and spread to the rest of the world. Now many of them start in the United States.

35 The most striking thing about all these changes is that they reverse the historical pattern for social evolution. Typically, a change in the society's political or economic structure occurs first, then a change in individual opinions and behavior. For example, it took more than a century after the adoption of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights for the majority of Americans to realize that it is impossible to have government by, for, and of the people without political equality for women and racial minorities.

36 The social changes of the last few decades have reversed this pattern: they first occur as changes in individual opinions and behavior - the popular term for it is "raised consciousness" - which then force changes in the political system and other organized social institutions. The American Revolution was the work of a small political elite who forced modern democracy on a population who really hadn't asked for it and weren't prepared to make full use of it, and many of the social changes since the Sixties have been caused by a series of spontaneous, grass-roots movements without strong leadership that forced reforms on the Establishment.

37 The next chapter continues describing the social and political changes that have been occurring as our civilization enters a New Age, but from a different perspective. It discusses the role that organized religion is playing in all these events.
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