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Marilyn Ferguson

  • Although most of us are complacent in our assumption that science is gaining on the unknown, scientists are acknowledging that man's own brain is complex beyond any hope of complete understanding.

  • Never have so many been so high so often. When a Boston research group decided to compare the effects of marijuana on experienced and inexperienced users, it took them two months to line up nine student subjects who had never used marijuana.

  • Sometimes in astronomy, a heavenly body has been virtually invisible until a single observer detects its presence and points it out to his colleagues, who then see it with increasing clarity. Perhaps a myriad of unknown senses are only awaiting our consciousness.

  • Suddenly creativity is the popular goal. Ironically, a quality dissonant with our conventional education process is greatly in demand in adults — and those who survive the system without losing their creative integrity are richly rewarded. The magic word in a book's title almost ensures sales: Creative Stitchery, Creative Cookery, Creative Gardening. ... Perhaps we are trying to develop something that was innately ours.

  • The popular prophets have underestimated how strange the truth can be. The human brain, that 'perfect instrument,' that 'fabulous electronic dance,' can be our open sesame to an infinitely richer life than we have believed possible. The fluent, liberating, creative, healing attributes of the altered states can be incorporated into consciousness. We are just beginning to realize that we can truly open the doors of perception and creep out of the cavern.

  • No one can persuade another to change. Each of us guards a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside. We cannot open the gate of another, either by argument or by emotional appeal.

  • When one begins the transformative process, death and birth are imminent: the death of custom as authority, the birth of the self.

  • The spiritual quest begins, for most people, as a search for meaning.

  • Transformation is a journey without a final destination.

  • 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. Whoever teaches us this is the agent of our liberation. Eventually we know deeply that the other side of every fear is freedom.

  • ... making mental connections is our most crucial learning tool, the essence of human intelligence: to forge links; to go beyond the given; to see patterns, relationship, context.

  • Fear is a question: What are you afraid of, and why? Just as the seed of health is in illness, because illness contains information, our fears are a treasure house of self-knowledge if we explore them.

  • New perspectives give birth to new historic ages. Humankind has had many dramatic revolutions of understanding — great uses of fire and the wheel, language and writing. We found that the earth only seems flat, the sun only seems to circle the earth, matter only seems solid.

  • Power is a central issue in social and personal transformation. Our sources and uses of power set our boundaries, give form to our relationships, even determine how much we let ourselves liberate and express aspects of the self. More than party registration, more than our purported philosophy or ideology, personal power defines our politics.

  • The person and society are yoked, like mind and body. Arguing which is more important is like debating whether oxygen or hydrogen is the more essential property of water.

  • Government itself is an awesome strategy for avoiding pain and conflict. For a considerable price, it relieves us of responsibilities, performing acts that would be as unsavory for most of us as butchering our own beef. As our agent, the government can bomb and tax. As our agent, it can relieve us of the responsibilities once borne face to face by the community: caring for the young, the war-wounded, the aged, the handicapped. It extends our impersonal benevolence to the world's needy, relieving our collective conscience without uncomfortable first-hand involvement. It takes our power, our responsibility, our consciousness.

  • Over the years our bodies become walking autobiographies, telling friends and strangers alike of the minor and major stresses of our lives.

  • Of all the self-fulfilling prophecies in our culture, the assumption that aging means decline and poor health is probably the deadliest.

  • Mystical experiences nearly always lead one to a belief that some aspect of consciousness is imperishable. In a Buddhist metaphor the consciousness of the individual is like a flame that burns through the night. It is not the same flame over time, yet neither is it another flame.

  • Love is a context, not a behavior.

  • An atmosphere of trust, love, and humor can nourish extraordinary human capacity. One key is authenticity: parents acting as people, not as roles.

  • Real progress in understanding nature is rarely incremental. All important advances are sudden intuitions, new principles, new ways of seeing. We have not fully recognized this process of leaping ahead, however, in part because textbooks tend to tame revolutions, whether cultural or scientific. They describe the advances as if they had been logical in their day, not at all shocking.

  • ... only that which is deeply felt can change us. Rational arguments alone cannot penetrate the layers of fear and conditioning that comprise our crippling belief system.

  • Cultural transformation announces itself in sputtering fits and starts, sparked here and there by minor incidents, warmed by new ideas that may smoulder for decades. In many different places, at different times, the kindling is laid for the real conflagration — the one that will consume the old landmarks and alter the landscape forever.

  • By definition, revolutions are not linear, one step at a time, event A leading to event B, and so on. Many causes operate on each other at once. Revolutions shift into place suddenly, like the pattern in a kaleidoscope. They do not so much proceed as crystallize.

  • The difference between transformation by accident and transformation by a system is like the difference between lightning and a lamp. Both give illumination, but one is dangerous and unreliable, while the other is relatively safe, directed, available.

  • Many artists have said that when life itself becomes fully conscious, art as we know it will vanish. Art is only a stopgap, an imperfect effort to wrest meaning from an environment where nearly everyone is sleepwalking.

  • We live what we know. If we believe the universe and ourselves to be mechanical, we will live mechanically. On the other hand, if we know that we are part of an open universe, and that our minds are a matrix of reality, we will live more creatively and powerfully.

  • Once upon a time, everybody 'did' science. Long before science was a career, people tried to understand nature for their own amusement and excitement. They collected specimens, experimented, built microscopes and telescopes. Although some of these hobby scientists became famous, it hardly occurs to us that they were untrained in the formal sense; they wrote no dissertations for graduate schools. And we were all scientists, too — curious children, testing substances on our tongues, discovering gravity, peering underneath rocks, seeing patterns in the stars, wondering what makes the night scary and the sky blue. Partly because the educational system has taught science only in a reductionist, left-brain style and partly because of the society's demands for practical applications of technology, the romance of science fades quickly for most youngsters. ... Most of us end up feeling that science is something special, separate, outside our ken, like Greek or archeology. A minority pursue it narrowly, and we have C.P. Snow's Two Cultures, Science and Art, each a little superior, a little envious, and tragically incomplete.

  • Cynics know the answers without having penetrated deeply enough to know the questions. When challenged by mysterious truths, they marshall 'facts.'

  • The seed of health is in illness, because illness contains information.

Marilyn Ferguson, U.S. social philosopher, writer

(1938 - 2008)