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ROBERT W. BROCKWAYTHE ROOTS OF NEW AGE

And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own,

And that all the men ever born are also my brothers and the women

My sisters and lovers

And that a kelson of the creation is love.

Modern literature is replete with such examples, an important facet of the ongoing search for spiritual fulfillment. James wrote The Varieties of Religious Experience at the very time that the esoteric and occult was undergoing its most significant upsurge in modern times. That he wrote it at all reveals the perplexities of people engaged in an inner search for that which they no longer found in Christianity, at least not in its traditional forms. C. G. Jung, whose vital formative years were precisely during the same time period, emphasized this point. He searched for alternatives in Spiritualism, alchemy, and astrology, and ultimately found what he was seeking in Gnosticism.

Outsiders are people who do not fit in, who do not conform. While sometimes they are only poseurs, or else are simply irresponsible and lazy, they produce, from among their number creative individuals who are sufficiently disciplined and industrious to produce great philosophies and works of art. Others among them are dedicated to moral causes, and, in rare instances, both. They often suffer persecution, and, in some dreadful periods of history, have been burned at the stake as witches.

The spiritually-minded have often been outside the established religious movements. Indeed, this has been true since the times of Gotama the Buddha, Zoroaster, and Jesus, all of whom were rejected by the respectable religious people of their day, branded as heretics and rebels, and scorned. In modern times, such persons have been the creative individuals who were called “bohemians” during the nineteenth century, and the “lost generation” in the Paris of the 1920s and 1930s. They have given us many of our greatest poets, novelists, and composers. Franz Schubert was just such a person, for instance, and so were Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig Beethoven. None were considered to be very respectable by the people of the establishment in their day.

There was a great upsurge of spiritual concern during the 1960s, when the generation known as the Hippies reached their late teens and early twenties. They were preceded by the slightly older Beatnicks, who following John Kerouac’s Moriarty in On the Road were knights-errant in search of a Holy Grail.

The Hippies were mainly university drop-outs who first appeared in the neighborhood of Berkeley, California. A popular song of the time celebrates their pacifism and their spirit of universal love: “When you go to San Francisco, Wear a flower in your hair, There’s going to be a love-in there.” These were the very few who made their way to Haight-Ashbury, let their hair grow long in imitation of John Lennon and the Beatles, and sang protest songs like “Blowing in the Wind.” I loved these kids, and had I been their age and on my own, probably would have joined them and been one of them. It all lasted but a very few years, between

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