The Rise Of Alternative Or New Age Spirituality
By: Nicodemus Hilaire
The concept of new age spirituality is absolutely different from the traditional one. The concepts of formal religions which may include central organization, holy text, creed, dogma, ordained clergy, formal membership, geographic center etc. are irrelevant in the context of new age spirituality. A few of the terms used in the context of new age spirituality utilize the mutually exclusive definitions. In other words, such a spirituality comprises of decentralized spiritual movement that is free flowing. The new age spirituality is like a vast network comprising of practitioners and believers who share a small fraction of beliefs and merge those believes with whatever formal religion they are following. The position of central organization is held by the book publishers. Sermons and religious services are replaced by the seminars, books, informal groups, and convention.
Quoting John Naisbitt author and expert on future studies
“In turbulent times, in times of great change, people head for the two extremes: fundamentalism and personal, spiritual experience…With no membership lists or even a coherent philosophy or dogma, it is difficult to define or measure the unorganized New Age movement. But in every major U.S. and European city, thousands who seek insight and personal growth cluster around a metaphysical bookstore, a spiritual teacher, or an education center.”
According to studies conducted by the Pew Research center 65% openly believe.;
In total, upwards of six-in-ten adults (65%) express belief in or report having experience with at least one of these diverse supernatural phenomena (belief in reincarnation, belief in spiritual energy located in physical things, belief in yoga as spiritual practice, belief in the “evil eye,” belief in astrology, having been in touch with the dead, consulting a psychic, or experiencing a ghostly encounter). This includes roughly one-quarter of the population (23%) who report having only one of these beliefs or experiences. More than four-in-ten people (43%) answer two or more of these items affirmatively, including 25% who answer two or three of these items affirmatively and nearly one-in-five (18%) who answer yes to four or more. Roughly one-third of the public (35%) answers no to all eight items.1
Now it is reported by another Pew Study that Christianity is the largest Religion in America and that it is in and has been in a massive decline. Christianity has declined 7.8% from 2007-2014.2
There is no question that America’s largest religion Christianity is also involved in this movement as the Pew study also indicates. There is a great overlap as Christians are mixing aspects of New Age beliefs into their own theology.
The three most important beliefs of the New Age I have outlined below.
Personal Transformation: A few of the concepts of personal transformation include hypnosis, guided imagery, meditation, hallucinogenic drugs, which help a great deal in enhancing the transformation. Personal transformation is what develops or reveals newer potentials within the believer. The belief that you CAN change. I consider it the highest form of magic or greatest ability of personal character.
Ecological Responsibility: This is a belief that urges the believers to come together and unite for the purpose of preserving the Earth in its pristine condition and taking good care of Gaia’s (mother Earth) health since it is considered as a living entity. Mankind is entering a completely new era especially in this regard. I will talk more in a later post.
Monism: A single source or a divine energy is what derives all else. I take this a step further. Science confirms this with Evolution. I can make the claim that I am related to all beings on earth since we all evolved on earth. I share an ancestor with every living being on earth not only people but also microbes, plants and animals. The scientific knowledge that we are all connected in this way gives me a great sense of spirituality. Every rose and every rhino is part of my extended family.
The concept of new age spirituality began in the 1970 which can primarily be considered as a response to what some would term as the failure of the rise of secular humanism or Christianity in providing the ethical guidance. The roots of new age spirituality are found embedded in several different sources which may include and are not confined to the Astrology, Hinduism, Channeling, Spiritualism, Gnostic traditions, Taoism, Wicca, Theosophy, Neo-pagan traditions etc. Since all of such elements were only established in the England by then, the rise of the new age spirituality did also begin from England. Ever since, the movement became international and is destined to gain more and more believers and practitioners with the passage of time.
For fun I have listed some other common New Age beliefs.
Pantheism: Everything that exists falls under the category of God and God is all that exists. The concept entails the idea of each individual having a form of divinity. Individuals who believe in this concept look for God within themselves. This one is especially important to me.
Reincarnation: The concept entails the rebirth of each individual after death. Everyone lives multiple times as a human being. The concept of reincarnation is fairly similar to the concept of transmigration of Hinduism. I love the idea but I am not betting on it.
Karma: The good and the bad deeds that we do during our lifetime are recorded as our Karma. Once a person dies, he will either be rewarded or punished in accordance to our karma. I believe they leave a mark on our soul and mind. I do not believe in any judgement.
Aura: The energy field that is radiated by every individual is termed as his Aura. The aura is not visible for majority of the people but can be considered as multi-colored field shimmering or surrounding the body. People who are sufficiently skilled in interpreting and detecting the auras are capable of understanding the individual’s state of mind from their auras. The aura does also inform about the physical and spiritual health.
I believe this one to varying degrees and know that it will also be proven scientifically. Unfortunately I will have to wait till another post to explain. Just think how the feel of the room changes when certain people enter it.
Universal Religion: The belief that emphasizes on a single reality and considers all religions to be different paths which ultimately lead to this single reality. Some may be easy while others hard but none of the paths can be considered as the ultimate correct path.
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