Since the early 2000s, Yoga, Eastern Contemplative Prayer, and Mindfulness practices have made their way through evangelical churches, aided by well-regarded and popular pastors, elders, and individual Christians who were believed to be trustworthy.
The 1960s and ’70s was a time of great transition for Western culture—and in our opinion, not in a good way. Sadly in our view, America led the way down that slippery slope. Social mores and long-held religious tenets were challenged and often discarded by young people, which raised the eyebrows of former generations and truly frightened many parents. The news coverage gave the appearance that all the nation’s youth were engaged in “tearing down the system.” We were there, though. Not all the nation’s young people bought into this rebellion, but of course, the radicals—and there were many—got all the press. Overall, it was a very rebellious era, and many explosive changes to society were wrought at that time.
Seemingly out of nowhere, the young were introduced to drugs and radical ideas that had been largely unknown and unsampled in earlier generations. “Flower power” was a phrase attributed to Alan Ginsberg in 1965 and popularized among the “hippie movement,” who were protesting the Vietnam War and calling for “peace and love.” Behind the “love” part of the slogan was a push for unrestrained sexual freedom, which was nothing less than casting off deeply rooted moral standards and religious beliefs. “Let it all hang out”—and it did. It hung out and fell off—many of the young left God and His word in the dust. Of course, there has always been immorality and rebellion in every generation. Still, it was brought into the open and put on a pedestal, fashionable new ideals and immorality not so openly and freely accepted since perhaps pagan Roman times of old. It is essential to realize that “the young” did not develop these ideas independently. Young adults in college are idealistic and impressionable, open to new ideas, and looking for a cause. They long to “fix” the world and believe they are just the ones to do it.
Many kids “caught” this radicalism at their universities, and it was taught to them by their professors who had themselves been brainwashed by others. It just caught hold and came to fruition when our largest generation of young people happened on the scene, looking for pleasure and a cause—and a new worldview to adopt. Timothy Leary, the pied piper of LSD—scientist, psychologist, and Harvard University professor– led the way for the impressionable group of experimenters to, as he put it, “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out.” Becoming “one with the universe”—and deadening one’s conscience—was much more accessible through the use of hallucinogenic drugs like LSD and Psilocybin mushroom, which Leary and his friend, Richard Alpert (Ram Dass) were experimenting with on Harvard’s dime in their Harvard Psilocybin Project experiments. It took a while for American culture at large to shift, but once a large part of mainstream media and popular culture identified with the new zeitgeist, the significant cultural shift was off and running. Bye-bye, Miss American Pie…
If you lived through the great change in society, as we have, you watched major alterations surge in over a relatively short time, both in secular and religious views.
Alongside the political and immorality awakening, religious experimentation was a growth industry. Eastern mysticism had first made its way to the United States in 1893 when Swami Vivekananda arrived and spoke at the 1893 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago. Still, Hinduism mostly played a very minor role in American life until the 1960s. This is partly attributable to America’s banning of immigration from India in 1924.1
Also, in the 1960s, the “British Invasion” brought the Beatles to the United States. They were enormously talented and popular musicians who also challenged Western culture as they too went on a spiritual search. They crossed paths with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and together they spread Yoga and Eastern meditation, wildly popularizing Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Transcendental Meditation. After all, who would know better than celebrities what is true and helpful?
As Yoga and Eastern meditation were becoming more mainstream, George Lucas produced a blockbuster film in 1977 that captured the attention of millions, titled Star Wars! The film was a sort of “space western” permeated with Eastern mysticism. Yoga was taught by Yoda the Yogi, drawing upon his “ancient wisdom.” The culture, including many in the church, actually began accepting the Eastern worldviews of “the Force.” Yogi Yoda explained it to Luke Skywalker in “The Empire Strikes Back”:
“For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship.”
Essentially Yoda was teaching “Oneism.” Oneism teaches that everything in the universe is one. There is no distinction between creator and creation2:
If One Thing / Tao is all that exists, then there can be no logical concepts, (as logic requires two things), nor indeed any understanding of how this One thing could cause the Many changing things which we experience in the world. The error has been in not correctly realising the properties of the One.3