In 1974, Stanford Research Institute (now SRI), with funds from the Charles F. Kettering Foundation, undertook a study to determine how Western man could be deliberately turned into an Eastern mystic/psychic. Directed by Willis W. Harman (who later became president of Edgar Mitchell’s Institute of Noetic Sciences), the project was called Changing Images of Man. The scientists involved sincerely believed that a turn to Eastern mysticism was the only hope for human survival.
The task of persuading the public to accept this new direction fell to one of Dr. Harman’s friends and admirers, Marilyn Ferguson. She fulfilled her assignment with the publication in 1980 of her groundbreaking bestseller, The Aquarian Conspiracy. In it she said:
“A great, shuddering irrevocable shift is overtaking us…a new mind, a turnabout in consciousness in critical numbers of individuals, a network powerful enough to bring about radical change in our culture. This network—the Aquarian Conspiracy—has already enlisted the minds, hearts and resources of some of our most advanced thinkers, including Nobel laureate scientists, philosophers, statesmen, celebrities…who are working to create a different kind of society…. The [Eastern mystical] technologies for expanding and transforming personal consciousness, once the secret of an elite, are now generating massive change in every cultural institution—medicine, politics, business, education, religion, and the family.”
Eastern mysticism has penetrated every area of Western society. Children’s comic books that once offered Charles Atlas courses in body building now advertise courses in mind power, which teach how to control the minds of others. Movies such as the Star Wars and Star Trek series, TV series such as “Kung Fu,” “Highway to Heaven,” and “Touched by an Angel,” and TV cartoons by the dozens (“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Power Rangers,” “Masters of the Universe,” etc.) have made Eastern mysticism the normal way of thinking. Across America, YMCAs offer classes in yoga, and churches of all denominations follow the trend. According to Palaniswami, the editor of Hinduism Today, yoga and other forms of Eastern meditation “were too sophisticated for public consumption 30 years ago, but today they’re the hottest item on the shelf.”
Universities now offer courses in Yoga Psychology, Metaphysics, Hatha Yoga, The Origins of Salem Witchcraft, Eckankar, Tarot Card Workshops, Psychic Development and Techniques, Astrology, Self-Awareness Through Self-Hypnosis, and similar subjects. A Washington Post article about a Maryland grammar school was titled “Meditation Comes to the Classroom,” while the Seattle Times reported that inmates at Walla Walla State Penitentiary were learning “stress management” through the regular practice of Hatha Yoga. A nationally syndicated columnist wrote:
“Instead of singing hymns, they’re sitting in the lotus position chanting ‘omm’ at America’s oldest school of theology [Harvard Divinity School]. The Nave’s [school paper] calendar reminds students that March 20 is…‘a special time to listen to the Buddha and meditate on the perfection of enlightenment….’ There’s no mention of Palm Sunday or Passover, reflecting their insignificance at an institution where all is venerated, save Western religion…. Harvard…is an elite institution, training the next generation of mainline church leadership. Its degrees are passports to power in the Protestant establishment…. Will the last graduating Christian please collect the Bibles and turn out the lights?”