Tag Archives | New Age

Ten Obstacles to Sane Spirituality

EctoplasmicSnotJulian Walker wrote this excellent overview of New Age flakiness, and gives some corrective measures.

via Elephant Journal:

I am passionate about the relationships between three things:

> inquiry-based practices (yoga, meditation, bodywork and ecstatic dance happen to be my favorites)

> critical thinking (also called “viveka” in yogic parlance, or discriminating wisdom)

> and shadow work (after Jung – the psychological idea that we have a “shadow” that is where we hide the emotions, experiences, thoughts and aspects of self that we would rather not face. Shadow work then is the process of courageously turning inward to bring honest awareness and compassionate attention to this place.)

Having been a yoga teacher for the last 18 years, and having spent my adult life swimming in the waters of popular spirituality, my sense is that more often than not these three elements are missing both in theory and practice. My sense is that this comes down to one revelatory observation.

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Two Takes On ‘New Age’

New age dolphin rainbow

Introduction

In 1928 a brilliant philosopher/logician from Vienna, Rudolf Carnap, published Der logische Aufbau der Welt, The Logical Structure of the World. Ten years before, Ludwig Wittgenstein had conceived his highly cryptic Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, “the last philosophical book.” Carnap—and other exponents of the Vienna Circle—elaborated on Wittengstein’s message. Toward the conclusion of his mentioned work (183.Rationalism?) he inserted:

REFERENCES. Wittgenstein has clearly formulated the proud thesis of omnipotence of rational science as well as the humble insight relative to its importance for practical life: “For an answer that cannot be expressed, the question too cannot be expressed. The riddle does not exist. If a question can be put at all, then it can also be answered… (…)” Wittgenstein summarizes the import of his treatise in the following words: “What can be said at all, can be said clearly, and whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”

That famous aphorism, which concludes the treatise, ought to have been interpreted as a confession of Gnostic humility, not as a “proud thesis of omnipotence of rational science.” All it takes is heeding all the implications of the opus.… Read the rest

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How Occult Ideas Infiltrate Normal Culture

Via Reality Sandwich, discussing the state of the occult in 2013, author Mitch Horowitz on how esoteric ideas saturate contemporary society:

This notion of using your mind as a causative agency colors almost every aspect of our culture. It’s spoken about from evangelical pulpits by figures like Joel Osteen and T.D. Jakes. It’s heard in political speeches, such as when Ronald Reagan used to say, “nothing is impossible”; at the heart of our business motivation philosophies; it appears in the recovery movement; and it’s a form of popular religiosity that’s spread all across the culture.

You turn on the television and one sitcom character is telling another to think positively, and they’re having a laugh about either the potential, or the dismal irony, of trying to use your mind to change a situation. It surrounds us. Americans embrace ideas and discard terms, hence you don’t hear terms like occult or New Age within mainstream culture, yet the assumptions around them are everyplace.

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Is LSD A Gateway Drug To Buddhism?

Dr. Rick Strassman, a psychiatric researcher with a specialization in psychotropic drugs, on the “enlightenment experience” and hallucinogens as a pathway for Westerners into Buddhism and Hinduism:

I went to a Zen temple in my early 20s, and, ever the scientist, every chance I got to speak to a monk one on one, I asked every one of them if they had tripped on psychedelics and how important their trips were in their decision to become a monk. And I’d say 99% of these junior monks in their 20s all got their start on LSD.

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Spiritual Bypassing: Using Spirituality To Avoid Pain

Author and psychotherapist Robert Augustus Masters outlines a pervasive phenomenon in contemporary New Age spirituality, spiritual bypassing:

Via Reality Sandwich:

Spiritual bypassing, a term first coined by psychologist John Welwood in 1984, is the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with our painful feelings, unresolved wounds, and developmental needs. It is much more common than we might think and, in fact, is so pervasive as to go largely unnoticed, except in its more obvious extremes.

Part of the reason for this is that we tend not to have very much tolerance, either personally or collectively, for facing, entering, and working through our pain, strongly preferring pain-numbing “solutions,” regardless of how much suffering such “remedies” may catalyze. Because this preference has so deeply and thoroughly infiltrated our culture that it has become all but normalized, spiritual bypassing fits almost seamlessly into our collective habit of turning away from what is painful, as a kind of higher analgesic with seemingly minimal side effects.

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Poll Reveals Americans Blending New Age, Eastern, Traditional Religions

What happens when you combine Christian fervor with a steadfast belief in astrology and reincarnation? 21st century America seems to be generating hybrid faiths, ABC News reports:

A new poll finds Americans are doing a tremendous amount of personalizing – picking and choosing from a diverse variety of religious traditions. According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, nearly six in 10 Americans from all religions blend their faith with New Age and Eastern beliefs, like astrology, reincarnation, and the spiritual – not just physical – benefits of yoga.

The poll further found that nearly half of the public, 49 percent, report having a “Religious or mystical experience… a spiritual awakening.” That’s up from 22 percent in 1962. And 29 percent of Americans say they’ve felt in touch with someone who died — that’s up from 18 percent in 1996.

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Synesthesia May Explain Healers Claims of Seeing People’s ‘Aura’

Via ScienceDaily:

Researchers in Spain have found that at least some of the individuals claiming to see the so-called aura of people actually have the neuropsychological phenomenon known as “synesthesia” (specifically, “emotional synesthesia”). This might be a scientific explanation of their alleged ability.

In synesthetes, the brain regions responsible for the processing of each type of sensory stimuli are intensely interconnected. Synesthetes can see or taste a sound, feel a taste, or associate people or letters with a particular color.

The study was conducted by the University of Granada Department of Experimental Psychology Óscar Iborra, Luis Pastor and Emilio Gómez Milán, and has been published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition. This is the first time that a scientific explanation has been provided for the esoteric phenomenon of the aura, a supposed energy field of luminous radiation surrounding a person as a halo, which is imperceptible to most human beings…

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Grisly Death At A Mysterious Buddhist Desert Retreat

Southwestern chic and cults are both very hot right now. The New York Times on a strange Buddhist sect which blends years of silence, the pursuit of riches, and perhaps ritual stabbings:

Bowie, AZ— The rescuers had rappelled from a helicopter to a cave 7,000 feet up in a rugged desert mountain. Inside, they found a jug with about an inch of browned water. They found a woman, Christie McNally, thirsty and delirious. And they found her husband, Ian Thorson, dead, apparently from exposure and dehydration.

The puzzle only deepened when the authorities realized that the couple had been expelled from a nearby Buddhist retreat in which dozens of adherents, living in rustic conditions, had pledged to meditate silently for three years, three months and three days. Their spiritual leader was a charismatic Princeton-educated monk whom some have accused of running the retreat as a cult.

The monk who ran the retreat, Michael Roach, had previously run a diamond business worth tens of millions of dollars and was now promoting Buddhist principles as a path to financial prosperity, raising eyebrows from more traditional Buddhists.

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