William Irwin Thompson could have been an Andrew Cohen or a Ken Wilber, but like Glenn Morris, chose to dedicate himself to a scientific and artistic view of SBNR, and to eschew guruhood and religion in favour of co-operative collegiality, the pure SBNR “fellower not follower” spirituality.
It’s not that SBNR doesn’t produce charisma, of a different kind to that of religion, but still charisma:
… after a few lectures, something peculiar happened. I began to feel a different presence inside myself; actually, I began to feel a whole new sense of self. A larger kind of mind took over the field of my consciousness, and I would begin to say things I didn’t know, or didn’t realize I knew. I can remember the first time it happened, when I said to myself as I was lecturing, “Oh, that’s interesting. I didn’t know that.”
Along with the shift in my sense of self, came a shift in the general feeling-tone of the audience. Restless students became listeners … Undoubtedly, the kriya yoga I was doing for three and a half hours each day aided this process of ego/Daimon restructuring…
That is the power of a preacher. But Thompson wanted to synergise with people, not fascinate them. He didn’t go on Dick Cavett and become a celebrity when his book hit big in the NY Times. The big vistas he limned in print (and vistas don’t come much bigger) were the visions of a Europhile poet-prophet-historian who paints the world around the reader, illuminating its patterns rather than laying down a concrete highway through it. The kind of visions that leave it up to the reader what to do and who to be, in other words.
The story he ended up telling, couched in terms of systems theory conversations in the collegial atmosphere of Lindisfarne, describes much of the situation we are actually living in now (although few realise it.) This kind of thing, breaking through to a truth that makes sense of the world, is more powerful than big promises and destinies that never actually come off — and certainly much more powerful than the piddling little promises of The Secret, so soon broken. “Your own villa in the Seychelles, by the powerful methods of the Buddha!”