Biography of Director
The Institute for Evolutionary
Kenneth Pollinger, Ph.D.:
Nyack's Catalyst for a New Age
reprinted from Holistic Community
when one hundred people showed up at the New
Age Center in Nyack to discuss James Redfield's The Celestine
Prophecy, Ken Pollinger's hunch was confirmed beyond his own expectations.
As founder and director of the center, gauging the community's interest in the
spiritual realm has been at the heart of his work for some time.
Redfield's book, about one man's search for an ancient manuscript that will
instruct humanity on the steps toward spiritual enlightenment, had already been
on the New York Times bestseller list for three months, a fact that
reflected the groundswell of interest across the country. But what
astonished Ken about the turnout in Nyack was the intensity of the interest:
the response was based on word-of-mouth publicity. There hadn't been
enough time to advertise the event in the New Age Center brochure.
knew there was a need to continue this sort of thing," he told me on a
recent visit. The Celestine Prophecy, as he saw it, was condensed
into an enticing format. Now he would like to follow through with more
book gatherings on spiritual topics. "There's a hunger for
intellectual activity, for meeting like-minded people to talk about things that
matter to them instead of the usual b.s. What the center is moving toward
is an informal Spiritual Support Group, a spiritual halfway house that has
wonderful intellectual dimensions."
past twelve years, Ken has been navigating the course of activity at the New Age
Center, or, as he says, "stepping aside to let things happen that want to
happen." In 1982, when he acquired the three-story building at the
intersection of Broadway and Main, there was one yoga teacher on the premises
and no programs to speak of. Now the Center offers on-going classes in
yoga (with nine teachers), T'ai Chi, dance, aerobics, meditation and other
holistic topics. On weekends, Ken co-leads "Philosopher's
Feasts," a video/discussion series featuring "the great teachers and
thinkers of our time." There's also meditation night, universal
worship services, and numerous one-day workshops on a wide range of subjects
including massage, NLP, A Course in Miracles, herbs, chakra balancing, and
Pollinger may not always have been this entertaining, but it has had its twists
and turns. He studied four years of engineering and one year of pre-dentistry,
then spent fourteen years as a Jesuit seminary studying philosophy and theology.
He ended up in Peru, where he taught high school sociology in Spanish.
Afterwards he engaged in a research project for his Ph.D. in sociology at
Fordham University which ultimately was published in a book, Community
Action & The Poor: Influence vs. Social Control in a NYC Community.
Here he exposed how the "liberal" Community Action Program of the U.S.
Government really ended up creating another bureaucratic layer of control
of the poor.
against the priesthood, and got married and had two children. He and his wife
helped each other get doctorates in sociology, and Ken went on to get a
three-year post-doctorate degree in Gestalt psychotherapy. He then taught
sociology and psychology at Rockland Community College, in addition to studying
yoga and becoming, in his own words, "a center junkie, looking for
immediate enlightenment, so I wouldnít have to work for it."
Gestalt, says Ken, that changed his life. "It helped me realize that I had
to be in the present. I had to have experience, to probe every experience with a
beginnerís mind, ŗ lŠ Zen, to see things fresh, without cultural
conditioning. I finally found my master: my direct personal experience."
faith in direct experience is reflected in his personal style, his candor and
penetrating curiosity, alert to whatever or whomever turns up in the moment. He
likes to talk about the rich spiritual content of apparently ordinary events.
For him thereís no such thing as a chance meeting. "Every single thing
happens for a reason," he says. "Every moment is infused with grace.
Youíve got to open your ears and eyes. Youíll get messages, day in, day
At 61, Ken
is lean and energetic, youthful in his t-shirt and Birkenstocks, despite the
balding head and trim white beard. The tour he gives me of the center is
complete, from Nirvana Books in the cellar "catacombs" to the rooftop
overlooking the Hudson, where he hopes to hold Tíai Chi classes or a salon
some day. As he shows me around, distilling the mystical lessons of life, he is
also the attentive entrepreneur, shifting focus rapidly to the mundane demands
as the centerís landlord, as well as owner of the bookstore and (with two
partners) the new restaurant The Harvest Moon Cafť, which opened last
year to high marks. Still claiming his time is the ongoing renovation of the
building. Heís done carpentry, exterior painting on a scaffold, and pure scut
work, literally digging out the cellar and hauling off hundreds of cartons of
earth. "I got a lot done through sweat equity," he says.
Up in his
office, he concedes that his financial burdens are considerable. School taxes
alone are $12,000 per year. So heís proud of the fact that six meditation or
yoga classes cost only $60, and that the center continues to offer many other
free or low-priced events. "I see a lot of greed and control in our
movement," he says. "One has to learn to discriminate."
he discriminate in his selection of activities for the center? "I trust my
guts." Every day for half an hour he lies down on the floor, relaxes, lets
go, and :all of a sudden a thought will come." He also thinks about it
intellectually and reads the New York Times daily "to get a picture
of the holistic scene.
open to where Iím led more than having a vision," he says. "If I die
today, Iíll be happy. A lot of wonderful things have happened here. I donít
need more. Iím blessed." He shakes his head and smiles. "But itís
fun to see whatís going to happen."
Ken finished renovating the Main Lodge at the Point of
Infinity--an earth-centered spiritual retreat center near Ellenville in the
Catskill Mountains. See info on the Point
He also established, with the assistance of Janet Weber, a
free, not-for-profit on-line university: www.newageuniversity.org,
and founded The Institute for
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