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The Sixties Cultural and Counter Cultural Movement - Essay Example

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Arthur Marwick was right, of course. There were counter-cultural movements in so many segments of western society in the sixties. It was as if many rivers found a confluence during those remarkable years. This essay draws from the areas of religion and music, but these must be seen in a wider context of political foment, and radical changes in the social values of American society during that period.
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The Sixties Cultural and Counter Cultural Movement
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"The Sixties Cultural and Counter Cultural Movement"

Download file to see previous pages The term was popularized by Theodore Roszak in his book The Making of a Counter Culture (published, in 1969), and remains with us today.
Roszak was himself much influenced by Alan Watts, the Anglican priest with a deep interest in Asian thought and culture. Watts was hugely influential in the religious face of the 60s counter-culture. He Watts taught at the School of Asian Studies in San Francisco and was fascinated with Hinduism and especially Buddhism; and his many books, such as The Way of Zen (1957) and Psychotherapy East and West (1961), were widely available and read. Hehad been drawn to the Beat movement, which defiantly rejected organized religion as practiced in America at that time, and their appropriation of Asian thought is clearly seen in Jack Kerouac's autobiography, The Dharma Bums, dharma being a Hindu and Buddhist term for 'the teaching of right living.' Gary Snyder and Alan Ginsberg were other beat poets who came to California in the late fifties and became involved in Zen Buddhism as a result of Watt's teaching. The San Francisco's Zen Center was established in 1959 largely as a result of the influence of Watts' and a Japanese Buddhist scholar, Daisetz Suzuki, whose son later became the spiritual inspiration behind the growth of the center and the Zen community in the States.
Watts used the term "cosmic consciousness" in his 1962 book, The Joyous Cosmology, to describe the high states of consciousness which a person can achieve with meditation and other spiritual practices. The term was eagerly taken up, but there is nothing new under the sun, and in this case, as Camille Paglia (2003) points out, Watts was simply recycling a term used by Richard Bucke in 1901, when he compared Asian and Western religious teachings by various leaders, including Buddha, Jesus, William Blake, and Walt Whitman, all of whom Bucke thought had attained spiritual enlightenment.
The overlay of Eastern religions, Hinduism, and Buddhism, was accompanied by a deep and new interest in the beliefs and practices of the Native American religions. It was as if at least some of youth of western civilization had suddenly awakened from the dream of White supremacy. The University of California became the first in the nation to offer serious studies into the traditions of those that had been so brutally repressed over the previous century. The huge antiwar protests of 1967-1974 were always accompanied by huge masks, music and painted demonstrators reflecting the curious mixture revolutionary politics, ecstatic spiritual practices and free sex made possible by the newly developed contraceptive pill.
The 60s counterculture was committed to political change, and to a truth about life outside religious and social institutions. The political movements of that era, of which the Vietnam War protests were only a part, had their roots in THE great liberation movement of the 60s, the civil rights movement, which was sparked by the Supreme Court's 1954 decision to declare segregation in public schools unconstitutional. The fact that ordained ministers like Martin Luther King, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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