During the the 1960’s Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. rose up as the spokesperson for justice and peace. This was a time when “Leave it to Beaver” (television’s prototypical white American family)portrayed the illusion of white American middle class comfort and democracy in America. Civil rights protests and the Vietnam war broke this illusion, and the hippie movement emerged. The hippies were the counter culture to Beaver and his brother Wally by following psychologist, Timothy Leary, in the psychedelic experimentation and attitude of “turn on, tune in, and drop out”. Even if Dr. Leary meant something different, it was interpreted as drop acid, tune out the world, and your worries would be over.
Meanwhile nightly news brought images of civil rights clashes of protesters and police in the United States, and families fleeing from bombed villages in Vietnam.
Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. remarked about the hippie movement, “Hippies will not last long as a mass group. There is no solution in escape.” He predicted that hippies as a group would not last and they did not. To respond to problems in the world by escaping is not going to bring about a lasting change, nor a big movement. Today it is hard to find an old hippie, let alone a new hippie. I have met former hippies who have cut their hair, and “re-entered” the establishment donning business suits over tie-dye tee shirts.
Today yoga is sometimes viewed as a type of hippie culture with a “tune in, turn on, and drop out” approach to life. The image held is often of a yogi with eyes closed sitting cross-legged on a mountain top away from the mainstream. The impression that yoga is a form of escape could not be more wrong. The description may be more accurate to say, “turn inward, realize your Self, and bring that Self outward.” The stillness in yoga is not to escape but to gain higher wisdom. This wisdom can be brought into the world to act for justice, and peace. Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was inspired by Mohandas K. Gandhi. Gandhi who followed the principles of yoga created a lasting change giving India its independence from British rule. Yoga is not going away.