99% of the New Age is just "old age" thinking dressed up with a new and expanded vocabulary. At its core, New Ageism is just as limiting to true spiritual growth, which can only be found by facing reality in the raw.
LIVING IN THE NEW AGE can be very stressful — after all, there is so much to do: from aura cleansing and creative visualisation, to Merkaba meditation and linking to the Pleiadian Brotherhood. It would seem that a New Ager's work is never done. Like going to the gym or learning to be super productive at work, spirituality has become a goal on the endless path of self-improvement — endorsed by celebrities and trendsetters — the icing on the cake that seems to sweeten our vacuous lives, and perhaps gives us a competitive edge on our business colleagues and in the mating game.
And so we have our high priests who peddle positive thinking and perfect health, usually at expensive weekend workshops. We are taught about the imminent arrival of an alien race, learn to journey to the core of our emotions and attend Tantric evenings for explosive orgasms. Anyone who has dabbled in the New Age movement will be aware of the countless different therapies, channelers, psychics, masters, gurus, cults, healers and snake oils wanting your attention (and your money). You just have to look at the back of a New Age newspaper or magazine to see thousands of angelic smiles enticing your business (the less attractive ones use strange symbols or pictures of mountains).
Channelling has exploded since the days of Jane Roberts back in the 70s. Everyone now seems to be channelling some master or alien entity. And gradually, a whole mythology of cosmic happenings and predictions is building up — the New Testament for the terminally gullible. From the photon belt theory to the imminent mass landings of the White brotherhood, they create and recycle every modern myth that is going around the "West Coast" circuit. I know individuals who won't make a life decision without asking a disincarnate entity what they should do. It is unfortunate that the channellers, many of whom are highly imaginative and creative, are unable or unwilling to personally stand behind their ideas. It diminishes the value of the human being, and escalates the need to invent more and more outrageous claims and authorships in order to get attention.
There are groups of immortalists in Arizona who genuinely believe that somehow death will not happen to them because their belief in immortality is strong enough to stop the ageing process. After all, a central dictum of the New Age movement is that we create our realities — we are all powerful — so why can't we decide not to die! And all the while, the leaders of these groups grow older and more jaded, their faces betraying their bravado. (One trio wrote a book Together Forever, but they were only together for a few years before they split.)
Have you found your soulmate yet? We just love the idea that there is someone out there who is perfect for us. I know a lady who is 80 years old who is still looking for her soulmate. A great deal of the soulmate fervour was inspired by Richard Bach's book "A Bridge Across Forever". Richard and his soulmate Leslie Parrish did "find your soulmate" workshops throughout the US, presenting themselves as living proof of the existence of soulmates. After reading this book, I was looking everywhere for my Leslie! But I never did find her, although I did have relationships with some amazing human beings from whom I learned a great deal. The only trouble with the soulmate theory is that it is fundamentally based upon a lie — the lie that someone else can meet our psychological projections permanently. If you entertain the concept of a soulmate, then you have very high standards and expectations for your match. Anyone with that level of expectation is setting themselves up for disappointment, which is why the only relationships that seem to last are those that have low levels of expectation. Hardly soulmate material! This is why "soulmates" invariably moved on, either physically or psychologically. (Even Richard Bach and Leslie Parrish went their separate ways and are now with other partners — so much for "Forever".)
Of course many are not after a soulmate but just casual relationships. There are cults which have extremely liberal and indulgent sex cults (the famous ones are the Osho organisation founded by the Bagwan Rashnish — the guru who had 100 Rolls Royces — and more recently the Raelian movement to welcome to the planet our UFO brethren).
New Age technologies abound! Machines with dials and knobs, brain enhancers, water remodulators, free energy machines, ionisers, crystal wands with copper wires, and electromagnetic blockers — the list is endless. Some appear to "work", some do not. The problem is that, in most cases, nobody has taken the time to do the proper scientific tests. It is all very well bucking the scientific establishment, labelling every orthodox scientist as closed minded, but if we then start to use scientific terminology for our new technology, we only mislead others into thinking that we have followed the scientific method. (Science itself is NOT closed-minded, only many scientists.) It would be more honest to admit ignorance instead of offering some pseudo scientific mechanism. Richard Feynman, the physics Nobel laureate, used to say how science had taught him how difficult it is to really know something. Few outside the scientific establishment appreciate the care that goes into scientific experimentation. And yet, nowadays, it is so easy for those working in non-orthodox science to spout forth theories and conjectures as if they were based on the same level of care and investigation.
For example, the New Age high priest, Drunvalo Melchezidek, has recently described new forms of water, structured and super-ionised, which can miraculously clear polluted lakes and rivers. Structure and super-ionised water does exist, and the claims for them may or may not be true, but what is incomprehensible is that a man as smart as Melchezidek would use scientific terminology to try to justify something that clearly hasn't been properly scientifically tested. Because, if it had, something so remarkable is going on that is likely to invalidate the very science he is using to justify it in the first place! My criticism is not with the new technologies themselves (which do hint that our current science is severely limited at best), but in the way that they are presented. By putting forward pseudo science, you only impress those who are scientifically illiterate and alienate those who are not.
The New Age movement is also replete with conspiracy theories. Governments have sold out their citizens to alien races; reptile flesh-eating humanoids run the upper echelons of society; chemicals are being put into the water supply; EM waves are being beamed at us to program us; and small electronic devises are being placed in our brains to control us. Just because something is a conspiracy theory, of course, doesn't mean that it is necessarily false (or true, as the diehards seem to believe). But if there is nothing directly we can do about it, introducing more fear and paranoia into society only serves to bind us further in psychological chains, further disempowering the individual. The solution can only be to empower individuals and diminish the psychological hold of those who wish to control us. That was the lesson of Gandhi — the most important battles are for the control of our minds.
So why are so many hundreds of thousands worldwide being drawn into New Ageism? People are motivated by many things. Some want the power of another identity — so they might channel; some want to heal themselves of physical diseases — so they go to or become healers; some want to express their feelings of alienation to society — so they become ETs or follow alien cults; some want to compensate for their feelings of powerlessness — so they invent cosmic roles for themselves and make pacts with powerful entities; some are terrified of death and growing old — so they become immortalists or accept some other eternalist dogma; some want to justify their feelings of paranoia — so they peddle conspiracy theories; some what free love — so they do sex workshops or join sex cults; some just hate the establishment — so they join any cause that opposes it, sometimes seeding violent protest.
However, there is another reason why many of us are drawn to New Ageism, something much deeper and much more real: the desire for an authentic life. We feel, at the core of our being, the urge to make a real connection to life and the cosmos (but not through the traditional avenues of organised religion with its track record of control, abuse, hypocrisy and dogma). We are tired of the artificiality of society and the artificial selves that we have to create to function in that society. We want to feel a part of spirit, feel that we are anchored in something deeper than that the two-dimensionality of modern existence. And so we are enticed into the New Age movement, with its lure of depth.
But if we spend time in that movement, we soon feel the same restless dissatisfaction concomitant with our old lives. The problem with the New Age is that it not only presents itself as the very antidote to this sort of dissatisfaction, with its endless pantheon of teachers and therapies that we can always move on to, but mixed in with its own dogmas and spiritual materialism are elements of truth (a standard disinformation tactic). So we find fleeting satisfaction and glimpses of truth, often believing that it is our lack of commitment or experience that prevents us from having a deeper connection to that truth. And so we continue for years on the dead-end path of New Ageism, lured by the image of finding our true selves sitting on the grand throne of realisation.
Ironically, the place we are actually yearning for is not a grand throne, but a humble space on the ground of our being. And from that place, with the full acceptance of our mortality and our insignificance in cosmos, we find true empowerment — the sort that does not need to fight for change because it is the embodiment of that change. And in the knowing of stillness, we find that so much of our "seeking" is actually the false self or ego trying to establish itself in the very area of our lives which require us, if we wish to be whole, to let go and trust.
We have sought to build a safe refuge from the world, but we discover that it is in the true acknowledgement of our vulnerability that we find invincibility. We have sought to find the bliss of inner freedom, but discover that it is only through inner discipline that we can break the shackles that have bound us. We have sought to find the meaning of life, but discover that it is in letting go of meaning that we find true knowledge. And we have sought to find eternal life, but discover that it is only in the context of our mortality that we find within us that which is truly immortal.
It seems that paradox lies at the heart of existence, which is why so few through the ages, have been able to find true contentment and realization. For paradox is anathema to the mind — only the heart is able to embrace what appears as contradiction. Much of the New Age movement is actually an attempt by the mind to maintain an "old age" paradox-free belief system by merely replace a powerless, frightened, foolish, tormented, frustrated, inauthentic self with a free, immortal, all-powerful, all-knowing, loving, sensitive and equally inauthentic self. But self is self, mind is mind, and delusion is delusion. We have to ultimately let go of "self" and face these paradoxes of existence. And for most of us, that is a very uncomfortable position because we are forced to give up the reference point of our core identity.
Most of the evils and pathologies in this world spring from inappropriate reference points of self. From the cruelty of hate to the excesses of greed, from the possessiveness of romantic love to the amorality of the intellect, all of it springs from a pathological self-image. We act in accordance to those internal images constantly trying to validate them in the external world. After all, to have no internal image to express would mean that we would have to relate to each person and each situation with openness and emptiness, forcing ourselves into the present moment where we can have no expectations, and where our very identity is secondary to our perception. All that we would have worked for, our status (secular and non secular), our wealth, our expertise, our profession, our realisation, our experience, our education, our looks, our awards, our titles, and perhaps even our enlightenment. ALL of it would have to be thrown out, but not just from the vantage point of the bigger picture (which we all intuitively know), but more importantly in the fine detail of life, the detail of the present moment of our existence. We would have to give up these things forevermore! That for most people is, as yet, unacceptable.
And so we dillydally in New Age concepts that cut corners, which allow us to keep much of the baggage of our ego to which we are so attached. Whilst this might appear a good intermediate position — after all, enlightenment tends to be a process of gradual letting go — by mixing ego gratification with spiritual understanding, our path becomes perverted, entrapping us in the illusion of spiritual growth. Nothing in this world, not even old age materialism, is more insidious to the unfolding of our true nature. (At least old age materialism never pretends to be anything that it isn't — except to delude us into thinking that through it we can find contentment.)
For us to be whole, the reference point of our identity, of our existence, has to be grounded in emptiness; in non-form. This applies not only to the individual but to society as a whole. We need to face reality in the raw — which can at first appear quite painful and very boring! (The New Age is just so exciting by comparison — as mesmerizing as a television screen!) There are often more tears on the path of true enlightenment than smiles — a simple fact of life, for which of us would not suffer as we have to reluctantly give up everything that we love in order to find true love. We have to dice with non-existence to arrive at authentic existence.