Question: William James, the founder of American psychology, was one of the first who came to the conclusion that where the ordinary ends in human consciousness, a higher consciousness begins, which allows a person to develop. Why did people in the late 19th to early 20th century suddenly discover an interest in this and begin to devote much time to such issues?
Answer: According to the scale of the development of desires, spiritual development is the next step that comes after the desires for wealth, fame, power, and knowledge. A person cannot escape them; spiritual desires begin to manifest, and he must realize them.
A person is unable to fulfill his desires. He doesn’t feel the flow of life without this; it seems worse than death. Even death seems like salvation because you don’t feel a constant void inside.
Then a host of different movements emerged. Moreover, all the revolutions and even wars can be called an attempt to get out of this fruitless search.
From a “Talk on Integral Upbringing” 5/24/12