Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Marilyn Ferguson

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

"Inexorably, direct experience of a larger reality demands that we change our lives. We can compromise for a time, but eventually we realize that ambivalence is like deciding to recognize the law of gravity only sometimes and in certain places. This transformation of transformation, with its acceleration of connections and insights, can be a frightening period. Eventually, in stages, there is action. We must make our lives congruent with our consciousness. 'A condition of utmost simplicity,' said T.S. Eliot, 'costing not less than everything.'"

"It is hard to visualize the far edges of our various fields of knowledge coming together. We might more easily think in terms of depth: the penetration of human inquiry, from whatever direction, seems to be taking us to certain central truths or principles."

"Initially the activists of the 1960s, like generations of political reformers before them, tried force and persuasion; they wrote, demonstrated, sermonized, scolded, lobbied, proselytized, argued. But they began to realize the truth of Thoreau's injunction: live your beliefs, and you can turn the world around."

"It's not so much that we're afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it's that place in between that we fear? It's like being between trapezes. It's Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There's nothing to hold on to."

"Many artists have said that when life itself becomes fully conscious, art as we know it will vanish."

"Making a life, not just a living, is essential to one seeking wholeness. Our hunger turns out to be for something different, not something more."

"Meaning emerges from context and connectedness. Without context, nothing makes sense? The right brain, with its gift for seeing patterns and wholes, is essential for understanding, context, for detection meaning. "Learning to learn" includes learning to see the relationships between things. 'Unfortunately our schools are no help,' anthropologist Edward Hall said, 'because they consistently teach us not to make connections? There should be a few people at least whose task is synthesis?pulling things together. And that is impossible without a deep sense of context.'"

"Just as the advocates of holistic medicine have resurrected relevant statements from Plato and other Greek philosophers, so educators are belatedly examining a holistic Greek concept, the paidea. The paidea referred to the educational matrix created by the whole of Athenian culture, in which the community and all its disciplines generated learning resources for the individual, whose ultmate goal was to reach the divine center in the self."

"Real progress in understanding nature is rarely incremental. All important advances are sudden intuitions, new principles, new ways of seeing."

"Not only are we learning to connect information, but we are connecting with each other as well. We are increasingly aware that no one culture and no period in history has had all the answers. We are gathering our collective wisdom, from the past and from the whole planet."

"Relationships are the crucible of the transformative process. They are bound to alter, given the individual's greater willingness to risk, trust in intuition, sense of wider connection with others, recognition of cultural conditioning? social relationships in general cannot be rethought by a committee or reformed by a program. These are not true institutions but millions upon millions of relationships?connections?that can only be understood at the level of the individual, and then only as a dynamic process. Social custom is perhaps the deepest of cultural trances."

"Recall the model of the paradigm shift introduced by Thomas Kuhn: Every important new idea in science sounds strange at first. As the physicist Niels Bohr put it, great innovations inevitably appear muddled, confusing, and incomplete."

"Risk always brings its own rewards: the exhilaration of breaking through, of getting to the other side; the relief of a conflict healed; the clarity when a paradox dissolves."

"Scattered brotherhoods, religious orders, and small groups explored what seemed to be extraordinary reaches of conscious experience ? they had no way to disseminate their discoveries widely ? quite suddenly, in this decade ? the riches of many cultures are available to whole populations."

"Schools are entrenched bureaucracies whose practitioners do not compete for business, do not need to get re-elected or to attract patients, customers, clients. Those educators who would like to innovate have relatively little authority to change their style."

"Spirituality is a kind of virgin wisdom, a knowing that comes prior to experience."

"Self-knowledge is science; each of us is a laboratory, our only laboratory, our nearest view of nature itself."

"Researchers demonstrated that our attention is exquisitely selective, biased by belief and emotion."

"The Aquarian Conspiracy is a different kind of revolution, with different revolutionaries. It looks to the turnabout in the consciousness of a critical number of individuals, enough to bring about a renewal of society."

"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....They are in corporations, universities and hospitals... in state and federal agencies, on city councils and the White House staff... in virtually all arenas of policy-making in the country."

"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."

"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."

"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."

"The creative process requires chaos before form emerges."

"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."

"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."

"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."

"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."

"The most disturbing and wasteful emotions in modern life, next to fright, are those which are associated with the idea of blame, directed against the self or against others."

"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."

"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."

"The most potent force for change, however, is the growing recognition of millions of adults that their own impoverished expectations and frustrations came, in large measure, from their schooling."

"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 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."

"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 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.'"

"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."

"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."

"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?"

"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."

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

"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."

"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."

"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."

"Whatever their station or sophistication, the conspirators are linked, made kindred by their inner discoveries and earthquakes."

"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."

"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."

"Wherever the Aquarian Conspiracy is at work, perpetration holistic health or creative science or transpersonal psychology, women are represented in far greater numbers than they are in the establishment. For example, one-third of the founding members of a new holistic medical organization were women, compared to the percentage of women physicians in the United States (8.3 percent). Men in such organizations are not only comfortable with women in leadership roles but openly emulate such in qualities as integration, empathy, reconciliation. They see in women a greater sensitivity to time and season, intuition about direction, an ability to wait. 'If satyagraha is to be the mode of the future,' Gandhi once said, 'then the future belongs to women.'"

"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."