R.C. Zaehner kicks some azz in this book. Zaehner during the 2nd World War served in British Intelligence in Iran, using his wits and his multi-language skills to survive many spy missions. A man of action, then -- and a brilliant thinker, as this book demonstrates. This is Zaehner doing "applied philosophy": taking a person of interest, Charles Manson, and showing what cultural and philosophical influences helped create him.
In a nutshell, you could say that the era was immersed in gurus of the East, as well as the West's own deconstructionists -- especially Friedrich Nietzsche (although Zaehner doesn't have to name him because his influence is so pervasive) -- an era "beyond good and evil." In the Bhagavad-gita Krishna instructs Arjuna in the midst of a battle about to occur: "A man engaged in devotional service rids himself of both good and bad actions even in this life." Nietzsche himself wrote: "God as the beyond and above of the wretched loafers' morality of 'good and evil'." Moreover, the Bhagavad-gita states: "Neither he who thinks the living entity the slayer nor he who thinks it slain is in knowledge, for the self slays not nor is slain."
A normal person reading such texts might make a good mental exercise out of them, but a criminal or insane mind might interpret them literally and apply them in a morally-ambivalent way. Zaehner postulates that is what Charles Manson did.
Zaehner suggests that the "Clockwork Orange" culture of no moral boundaries -- beyond good and evil -- can only be corrected by a concept such as provided by the Jews: "O ye that love Jehovah, hate evil: He preserveth the souls of his saints; He delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked." -- Psalms 97:10
Zaehner works through many lines of argument. A real eye-opener. Clockwork Orange seems to be our era still.
Our Savage God: The Perverse Use of Eastern Thought, by R.C. Zaehner (NY: Sheed and Ward, 1974).