Pied Piper and Lute Player Michael Bowen painting
Despite all the social and civil advancement put forward by the expanding counter-culture, and the reinforcing of the Bill of Rights, the excesses and frustrations that developed in the Haight-Ashbury that summer and autumn were also legendary, as 100,000 unemployed teenagers from all over America heeded the call to go to San Francisco “with flowers in their hair.” The dream-like, rapturous high of the Human Be-In stayed for about six months, but then turned into a seeming nightmare, as hordes of disenfranchised youth flocked to San Francisco, to experience and participate in the consciousness expansion labeled as the Summer of Love. News and photos of the Human Be-In reached millions of suburban homes across the world, like beckoning holiday postcards. Happy, smiling people groovin’ on a sunny afternoon. ‘A new Eden awaits you. Wish you were here.’ And the wide-eyed kids, hungry for excitement, wished it too.
Adolescent energy soon crowded the Haight Ashbury neighborhood, looking for free-love-sex, drugs, and rock music-light shows to enjoy. After all, the Bill of Rights gave all Americans the inalienable right of the pursuit of happiness, and that was exactly the intention of the youthful flow into Haight Ashbury. Did this massive youth migration, called as if by the pied-piper of ancient European lore to leave their homes, find difficulty when they arrived at their destination? Of course they did, just as all migrations throughout human history that have a vision of establishing a better society, they experienced many struggles. Regardless of the difficulties many would experience upon arriving, many young people started packing, walking away from the breakfast tables of their traditionalist families, who were still caught up in a moralistic culture of good, evil, and hatred that allowed for the rationalization of the murderous history of the United States. These astute young minds saw a light at the end of this tunnel of horror, which snapped, crackled, and popped in their brains as they crunched their breakfast cereals each morning – breakfast cereals containing then unknown contents. In 1967, this was an unfortunate, inexcusable fact, one that would be changed by their own actions as they matured, and demanded to know at the very least what it was they were eating. After the Summer of Love, the era of truth in labelling, which is now another normal fact of life, was just one of the thousands of progressive changes that manifested. Much remains to be accomplished in order to achieve an ongoing evolution of civilization. The most important work, still waiting to manifest, is the creation of a One World government based on genuine realization of equality – a fusion of the best of the world’s philosophies into a unifying structure.
Blue Angel painted by Michael Bowen 1962
The high point of consciousness expansion occurred at the Human Be-In, the apex of the opening for consciousness change. The media attention from the Human Be-In attracted a crowd larger than the city itself could cope with. However, many of those people who stayed did try and build an ongoing evolutionary community in San Francisco, or they left the city for other places, where they took the inspiration they had found from their experiences in San Francisco, and successfully transplanted that knowledge into communities placed all over the United States. Much of this was accomplished despite adversity on many fronts, and being vastly outnumbered. They ran into opposition from the pre-existing power structure, both governmental and private, which sought to discredit them in a variety of ways, up to, and including criminalization in some cases. Many times they dealt with derision, either in face-to-face encounters, or as targets for contempt from the prevailing mindset. Attacks by negative-based, mainstream media were pretty much a constant occurrence, another fact of life in the struggle for self-freedom. Yet they persisted, and fight on to this day, for the battle still rages.
‘Who will engage the armed One? The battle lines of the Self are always drawn.
Shall your armor glisten in the sun till dusk? Victory comes only when the Self is met.
The battle is not new; it lies in the Heart, and the nature of it is most terrible.
Tho lashings may sting the outer Self, slings and arrows shall pierce it not.
The core remains untouched by such, and grows as it must.
We will prevail by design, with our sight set. Needed strength to do, is given.
The flesh may quiver, the pulse may race, emotions may falter; still you will do and win.
Naught stands against your weapon. It is not a thing apart, but is as a part of Yourself.
The still voice will not be stilled.’
Mandala Center etching by Michael Bowen
An overwhelming swarm of spiritual-seekers came to experience the Mandala center of change, the Haight Ashbury neighborhood. However, the Haight Ashbury district, because of its size, was fragile. In 1967, the magnet of consciousness change attracted college and high school students, as well as adolescent runaways. A wide variety of seekers all began pouring into the Haight Ashbury neighborhood. City and government leaders, intent on stopping the flow, only added more media fuel to the fire. Haight community
Council for the Summer of Love press release
leaders including Bowen formed the Council of the Summer of Love, and held an unprecedented press conference branding the movement, and giving it an official sounding name. Tour busses loaded with tourists ogled the strange hippies on Haight Street. San Francisco simply could not be prepared for the masses of humanity, mostly young and penniless, that swept into the Haight Ashbury like a tidal wave that summer. The Human Be-In opened the floodgates of a consciousness revolution, and feeling naturally caught in that wave of energy, the pent up masses of oppressed people acted immediately, each in their own way, inspiring and creating the Summer of Love. The effects of the Human Be-In were felt not only in the following spring and summer months in the Haight Ashbury neighborhood, but throughout the entire United States, Canada, and Europe. Imitation
Bowen in center at Council for a Summer of Love
Love-Ins and Be-Ins spontaneously sprung up in many major cities around the world, as the perennial message of Love spread over the entire earth “…as seeds erupting from a red and opening lotus.” Those seeds came to earth and sprouted where they fell, spawning thousands upon thousands of new plants. Each of these new plants became nourished by the tidal wave of esoteric knowledge, able to grow and mature, capable of producing flowers of an awakening new consciousness. There was no need for a leader then, nor is there need for a leader now. The real work of a leader is to be aware, to influence, and to quietly direct the changes as their new directions emerge. Like those lotus seeds, each one of us already senses the directions that are needed as they appear. If there is a leader, then in this way, we ourselves are the leader.