Marilyn Ferguson


American Transpersonal Psychologist, Author, Editor, Public Speaker, Founder and Editor Brain/Mind Bulletin

Author Quotes

The old paradigm saw evolution as a steady climb up a ladder, whereas Gould and others liken it to a branching out of various limbs of a tree. For instance, anthropologists have discovered in recent years that at one time there were at least three coexisting hominids?creatures that had evolved beyond the ape. Earlier it was believed that these different specimens formed a sequence. Now it is known that one "descendant" was living at the same time as its presumed ancestors. Several different lineages split from the parent stock, the lower primates. Some survived and continued to evolve, while others disappeared. The large-brained Homo appeared quite suddenly.

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 -- is a conspiracy! ? 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.

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.

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.

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 limit. We discovered the uses of fire and the wheel, language and writing... 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 remerges but also how and why such new views are invariably resisted for a time.

You can only have a new society, visionaries have said, if you change the education of the younger generation. Yet the new society itself is the necessary force for change in education. It's like the old dilemma: you can't get a job without experience, but you can't get experience because no one will give you a job.

The power of self-knowledge. Until technology freed us from the struggle to survive, few had the time or opportunity to look within, to explore the psyche. Self-knowledge leads to a profound change in the individual's definition of power. As the ego diminishes, so does the need to dominate, to win. Not engaging in power games becomes a kind of natural power. There is a liberation of the energy formerly channeled into anxious competition: the power of letting go

The power of women is the powder keg of our time. As women enlarge their influence in policymaking and government, their yin perspective will push out the boundaries of the old yang paradigm. Women are neurologically more flexible than men, and they have had cultural permission to be more intuitive, sensitive, feeling. Their natural milieu has been complexity, change, nurturance, affiliation, a more fluid sense of time. The shift from militant feminism is evident in recent statements like that of Patricia Mische in a monograph, Women and Power. Instead of asking for a piece of the pie men have had all along, she said, 'we should be trying to create quite another pie.' Human affairs will not be advanced by the assimilation of more and more women into a literally man-made world. Rather, women and men together can create a new future. Women have been torn between their fear of powerlessness on the one hand and a fear of the capacity for destruction on the other: 'We tend to block out both fears?the one because powerlessness is too painful to confront, the other because we associate power with evil drives.'

The radical center of spiritual experience seems to be knowing without doctrine ... the teacher does not impart knowledge but technique. This is the 'transmission of knowledge by direct experience.' Doctrine on the other hand, is second-hand knowledge, a danger.

The brain's neural interference patterns, its mathematical processes, may be identical to the primary state of the universe. That is to say, our mental processes are in effect, made of the same stuff as the organizing principle.

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.... They have coalesced into small groups in every town and institution.

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.

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

The creative process requires chaos before form emerges.

Throughout history there were (people who) believed that people might someday transcend narrow "normal" consciousness and reverse the brutality and alienation of the human condition.

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 feared our subdued. Our pathology is our opportunity.

Throughout history virtually all efforts to remake society began by altering it's 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 excesses of some of those involved in the psycho-technologies ?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.

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.

The inability of conventional education to teach basic skills and the failure to foster self-esteem are part of the same deep mismanagement and misperception? Only a new perspective can generate a new curriculum, new levels of adjustment. Just as political parties are peripheral to the change in the distribution of power, so the schools are not the first arena for change in learning.

Vocation is the process of making one's way toward something. It is a direction more than a goal? a housewife who later became a filmmaker, said, 'I felt as if I'd been called to serve on somebody's plan for mankind? cooperation 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 intense intellectual and spiritual sharing of the Aquarian conspiracy, the joint expeditions into new territory, the pooling of the wealth, create the kind of mutual inspiration John Gowan described. The almost sexual interplay of ideas, yin and yang, old and new, East and West, results in a kind of collective synthesis: a creative community, hospitable to risk and imagination.

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. In giving them freedom, we free ourselves.

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 ? 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? Intuition becomes a trusted partner in everyday life, available to guide even minor decisions, generating an ever more pervasive sense of flow and rightness.

We cannot make somebody else's contribution to the ongoing shaping of history. Nor can anyone else make ours. Each of us is here for a purpose; each life has significance and meaning. This meaning?whatever it is?cannot be realized if we abdicate our powers? The values that have been labeled feminine?compassion, cooperation, patience?are very badly needed in giving birth to and nurturing a new era in human history.

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American Transpersonal Psychologist, Author, Editor, Public Speaker, Founder and Editor Brain/Mind Bulletin