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New Age?


New Age is a term that is applied erroneously to various spiritual practices that have existed long before the establishment of modern religions. The use of crystals in meditation and otherwise has existed since the times of the ancient Egyptians. The use of herbs as magickal tools has been tradition since ancient Greek times. Herbs are the foundation of modern medicine, yet someone who uses herbs and plants to better their life and environment might be labeled as a new ager by those who are unfamiliar with the history of herbology or are just ignorant and too cool.

As meditation is more accepted in everyday society, meditating to cleanse your chakras has now been labeled as . There is such a thing as practice would be binaural meditations. As Dean Alban states over at bebrainfit.com, “The phenomena of binaural beats and brainwave entertainment can induce the same mental state associated with traditional meditation practice, but quickly.”[1] So, basically, it’s a short cut. Much of what is considered New Age are ancient principles watered down and modernized.

Here is a list of some New Age beliefs with my analysis:

A number of fundamental beliefs are held by many -- but certainly not all -- New Age followers. Individuals are encouraged to "shop" for the beliefs and practices that they feel most comfortable with: [2]

Monism: All that exists is derived from a single source of divine energy.

Pantheism: All that exists is God; God is all that exists. This leads naturally to the concept of the divinity of the individual, that we are all Gods. They do not seek God as revealed in a sacred text or as exists in a remote heaven; they seek God within the self and throughout the entire universe.

This is something that is very present in Hinduism.

Panentheism: God is all that exists. God is at once the entire universe, and transcends the universe as well.

I am not going to go into detail with the previous three points because we all have different beliefs. To each his own. It becomes an issue when one practice or religion takes a philosophy from another and claims it to be its own.

Reincarnation: After death, we are literally reborn and live another life as a human. This cycle repeats itself many times. This belief is similar to the concept of transmigration of the soul in Hinduism.

This is such a simplified version of what reincarnation in the Hindu tradition is that it is utterly lacking in spiritual wisdom.

Karma: The good and bad deeds that we do adds and subtracts from our accumulated record, our karma. At the end of our life, we are rewarded or punished according to our karma by being reincarnated into either a painful or good new life. This belief is linked to that of reincarnation and is also derived from Hinduism.

The modern understanding, rather, the Western understanding of karma is severely lacking and misconstrued. Karma refers to the negative actions only. New Age makes no mention of dharma and instead lumps the concept into one, causing confusion and misinformation.

An Aura is believed to be an energy field radiated by the body. Invisible to most people, it can be detected by some as a shimmering, multi-colored field surrounding the body. Those skilled in detecting and interpreting auras believe that they can diagnose an individual's state of mind, and their spiritual and physical health.

The last three points come directly from Hinduism. Reading auras, or being interested in auras, is labeled as new age when it is actually an ancient tradition. The idea that auras are multi-colored fields is not entirely wrong, but what one missing detail is that different people perceive auras differently.

Personal Transformation: A profoundly intense mystical experience will lead to the acceptance and use of New Age beliefs and practices. Guided imagery, hypnosis, meditation, and (sometimes) the use of hallucinogenic drugs are useful to bring about and enhance this transformation. Believers hope to develop new potentials within themselves: the ability to heal oneself and others, psychic powers, a new understanding of the workings of the universe, etc. Later, when sufficient numbers of people have achieved these powers, they expect that a major spiritual, physical, psychological and cultural planet-wide transformation will happen.

Well, isn’t this at the core of every spiritual practice? Whether religion or some form of spiritual practice, people turn to these things to transform themselves and find themselves. Guided imagery, hypnosis, meditation, and hallucinogenic drugs have all been part of ancient traditions. The Oracle of Apollo at Delphi, Pythia, famously used the hallucinogenic fumes of the cave beneath her temple to prophesize. Healing others, psychic powers, deeper spiritual wisdom, has been the norm and pinnacle of all the ancient traditions.

Ecological Responsibility: A belief in the importance of uniting to preserve the health of the earth, which is often looked upon as Gaia, (Mother Earth) a living entity.

This belief isn’t as revolutionary as new agers make it seem, like much of what is on this list. It was the norm in the times of the ancient religions, the ones even before temples were built, to have a profound respect for the Earth. This changed mostly with the introduction of Judaic traditions that preached man’s right to the Earth and everything on it.

Universal Religion: Since all is God, then only one reality exists, and all religions are simply different paths to that ultimate reality. The universal religion can be visualized as a mountain, with many sadhanas (spiritual paths) to the summit. Some are hard; others easy. There is no one correct path. All paths eventually reach the top. They anticipate that a new universal religion which contains elements of all current faiths will evolve and become generally accepted worldwide.

As you can see in the last two points, New Age pulls from other traditions; Gaia being from the Greco-Roman traditions, and sadhanas being from Hinduism. Uniting Hinduism and Hellenism (Greek Polytheism) is great in a broad sense, but it is when delving into each’s philosophy and history that you run into some conflicts. So, how do new agers resolve those conflicts of not only ideology but facts, because Hinduism and the Greek Polytheists exist/ed?

New World Order As the Age of Aquarius unfolds, a New Age will increase in membership and influence. This will be a utopia in which there is world government, and end to wars, disease, hunger, pollution, and poverty. Gender, racial, religious and other forms of discrimination will cease. People's allegiance to their tribe or nation will be replaced by a concern for the entire world and its people.

Alright, this last point sounds a bit too secret society for me. It truly is a fantasy, a dream, something to aspire to, but holding onto this belief while witnessing the carnage humanity inflicts upon itself and this planet may be delusional. It would be nice, it would be wonderful, it may even be heaven if this were true, but “world government” sounds like Alexander the Great, or the aspirations of Hitler. Now, I am not saying that new agers are aligned with the Nazis or anything of the sort, I am saying that the idea of one single, world government can be dangerous in the wrong hands. And there is a bit of hypocrisy in the belief that membership in New Age will increase and so its influence, especially for a practice that states openness and acceptance as key tenets of its philosophy. So, does this mean that Hindus are in the wrong? What about the Buddhists? See, New Age sounds nice, but you have to listen carefully and be aware of what is behind the words.

The New Age philosophy has its flaws. The spiritual practices of Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, even the more obscure ones like Hellenism and Egyptian traditions, have their flaws. There is no perfect way. We are complex beings and the soul is vast. To understand the soul and the universe takes time, practice, study, and since we are each different, our practices vary. New Age aims to consolidate everything, almost like taking a colorful painting and scrubbing out the details. If you can’t see the details as well as the whole, then your knowledge will be incomplete.

Namaste.

Sources:

[1] https://bebrainfit.com/binaural-beats-meditation/

[2] http://www.religioustolerance.org/newage.htm

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