By conservative estimates, there are currently enough wrongfully convicted people in prison in the United States to fill a football stadium.
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This is not for those of you to whom even the most far-out ideas in this issue make sense.
Or those of you intimate with the vocabularies of parapsychology, metaphysics, and mind-expansion.
This is, rather, for those of you to whom much of the conversation here, about altered perception and the evolution of consciousness, out-of-the-body experience and other dimensions of reality, seems foreign and maybe idiotic.
We used to hear about the generation gap. Differences over politics and personal appearance and sexual behavior. It was never as simple as that. A different way of seeing is what divides the world today. A different way of understanding what we call reality. A different way of dealing with the mysteries of existence. A different way of coming to God.
There is an article about LSD in this issue. Drugs have had a lot to do with this change, more than is generally understood. “Turning on, tuning in, and dropping out” is precisely what happened to millions of young people, and a few that weren’t so young. If the terrors of the psychedelic night drove some to an early suicide or a schizophrenia severe enough to condemn, to a long roast in hell, all the spiritually-pubescent acid gurus who read us only the best parts, for many others the excursion into drugs was just another step on a climb that continues. The turning to yoga or meditation, the new awareness about food and health and body chemistry, the looking to the ancient spiritual heritage of the East — the source too, let’s not forget, of Christianity and Judaism, if it’s our conceit to divide the world into halves — all these phenomena are familiar enough. But to see this transformation of consciousness merely as a cultural phenomena — a new fashion, just another style — is to miss the point. To focus on the mindless posturing is to miss the point again; we’re a society of imitators; it’s not surprising we imitate yogis along with movie stars. Ram Dass, the spiritual teacher who used to be a Harvard professor, observes, “We’re so used to taking on things from outside in that we even take on an attempt to be in Spirit from outside in and we forget that the only validity is what comes from inside out.” Some have learned this; some are learning it slowly; others — including some of the most public among us — have yet to catch on. But if the only response to this kind of gracelessness is ridicule, an equal contempt is returned, and so we have the straights and the hippies rising from the ashes of our common humanity. But this is no Phoenix of hope. Just a house divided against itself, father unable to listen to son and vice versa on a small planet circling a medium sized sun in the infinite regions of space; a backdrop like this is meant to evoke humility, not pride. Or have you never slept under the stars?
No, this isn’t just style, the activity of a restless middle class enamored of encounters and nakedness. This isn’t just a different street scene — which, when you look closer, is usually just a different commercial hype. This is something necessarily more private. This is people who have moved beyond placing their faith in the power structure or in the social utopias, people who have moved beyond needing to look different or needing to look the same, people who are not looking out — for themselves, or at the world — but looking in. If this sounds frightening, it shouldn’t. The unknown holds terrors only for those who fear it. When you begin to understand that whoever you thought you were is not who you really are, when you begin to see that you who really are doesn’t die, when you begin to transcend some of the cramped perceptions we all grew up with, perceptions about suffering and success and happiness, and perceptions about perception itself — when that begins to happen, instead of being frightened of the unknown, you are eager for it; instead of filling up “leisure” time with distractions, you use it to delve deeper into yourself, instead of doubting everything that seems “weird”, you address yourself to what is really “weird” — your own inability to see more, love more, and feel at peace.
One reason “peace” and “brotherhood” are such devalued concepts is that as long as we’re trapped in the illusion that we’re separate beings, it’s impossible to feel a genuine oneness. That’s why there’s no real difference between meditation and social involvement; that’s why turning inward is not so much denying the physical universe as it is comprehending it more profoundly, by coming to recognize its source.
Of course, it’s easy to go to extremes. There are many among us who fatuously believe it is more evolved to accept the existence of other realms even when they have no direct experience of them. We hear glib talk about reincarnation from people who don’t understand this life. We see the lust for power express itself as a desire for psychic abilities. When we come to a truer understanding of who we really are, we realize all power, all realms, are within us from the start. Understanding this is not easy. It’s the work of a lifetime; perhaps, many lifetimes. But it is the only work that seems to make sense.
That is the spirit in which THE SUN is conceived. We have many more questions than answers, and what makes sense to us one day is often confounding the next. But we try. Which is all we ask of you.