3. Biography of Director of 

  The Institute for Evolutionary Creationism 


Kenneth Pollinger, Ph.D.:
Nyack's Catalyst for a New Age

ken1.jpg (33973 bytes)

reprinted from Holistic Community Magazine ©1994

Recently, 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.

"I 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."

For the 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 polarity therapy.  

Life for 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.

He decided 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."

It was 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."

Kenís 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 out."

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."

How does 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.

"Iím 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."

Update:  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 of Infinity.
    He also established, with the assistance of Janet Weber, a free, not-for-profit on-line university:, and founded The Institute for Evolutionary Creationism.

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