New belief systems and movements that suit the mentality and philosophy of the modern world emerge as time passes.
The most notable one is the rise of New Age Spirituality that spread during the 1970s and 80s. It emphasizes the new age of love and light and offers a glimpse of the coming era through healing and personal transformation.
New Age Spirituality believes in the ability of humans to transcend limitations by acquiring the wisdom of the ages. In this article, you’ll learn about New Age Spirituality and how it weaved itself into the cultural fabric of societies.
What is New Age Spirituality?
The New age spirituality is not religious in nature. It focuses more on the spiritual aspect of the mind, body, and spirit.
Followers of the new age movement do not insist that followers should adhere to religious practices but instead should experience spirituality.
The new age movement does not believe in a particular God or a religious doctrine. Instead, it recognizes a concept of a divine being that encompasses the entire universe. It also believes in spiritual beings like departed souls who communicate with humans.
How Does New Age Spirituality Differ from Traditional Religions?
Unlike traditional religions, New Age spirituality is not a religion and does not have a formal standard or doctrine.
Instead, it consists of many beliefs based on Taoism, Buddhism, psychology, clairvoyance, magic, tarot, paganism, and so on.
New Age practitioners also have the complete liberty to choose which spiritual practices and beliefs will help them attain their spiritual goals and connect to their higher selves.
New Agers do not accept the authority of traditional religions because they look into themselves.
They believe that instead of a single path, there are different ways to attain spiritual fulfillment, and it is through themselves that they must achieve it.
History of the New Age Movement
According to J. Gordon Melton, University of Virginia director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion, The New Age is perceived as a vision of an incoming era shaped by the transformation of our broken society into a community united by peace, love, and abundance.
It was during the 19th century when the cofounder of the Theosophical Society, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, announced the arrival of the New Age.
The theosophists believe that humans can attain the ultimate truth through the universe and fellow humans through holistic approaches.
Blavatsky believed that theosophists should guide the evolution of humanity and prepare to join hands with one of the coming Ascended Masters of the Great White Brotherhood.
Her ideas led to the expectation of a New Age among the believers of astrology and spiritual practitioners. They believed that the coming age of the Aquarius would bring brotherhood and enlightenment.
The 1970s and 80s were the time the New Spiritual Age spread. American theosophist David Spangler formed its fundamental ideas when he moved to the Findhorn Foundation.
According to him, the new waves of spiritual energy signaled astrological changes that would open the door for the New Age, and people should utilize this energy to manifest the coming of the new age.
His books on the new age spirituality movement helped to make this movement popular. Various other events that contributed to this movement were the publishing of Linda Goodman’s famous books on astrology and the Seth series written by Jane Roberts.
The belief in gender and racial equality, world peace, and sexual freedom helped drive this movement.
Fundamental Ideas of New Age Spirituality
Lily Dunn explained in her article that despite not being an organized religion, those who identify themselves with the New Age Movement hold similar (eclectic) beliefs.
New Agers reject the concept of traditional monotheism (a belief in an all-powerful God.) and instead embrace monism (everything is one) and pantheism (God is in everything).
They believe that there is God in all of us and that it is our responsibility to cultivate this Divine nature. We are encouraged to undergo a spiritual evolution, a profound self-transformation.
New Agers also believed in the existence of the spiritual realm, reincarnation, and the possibility of world harmony through the attainment of our higher self.
The New Age Beliefs
There are various concepts or beliefs associated with New Age Spirituality. These concepts are a blend of Western and ancient Eastern spiritual thoughts.
New-age spiritualists have adopted the principles of Hinduism, Buddhism, and other Eastern religious beliefs.
The basic concept is that there is a divine entity that governs the lives of humans. A human being is not merely a body composed of cells but has a soul created from universal forces.
Our spirits progress based on our life actions. Some spirits become angels who communicate with humans to help and guide them. At the same time, some became masters who are accomplished spirits that have progressed to the highest levels.
The New Agers have formed a collection of beliefs as time passed by, and some of them are the following:
- Individuals have the liberty to follow religious practices and beliefs of their choices. Many New Agers are atheists but believe in these concepts and follow them.
- New Agers consider themselves believers in science. They believe that science explains everything they consider part of their belief system.
- They believe in alternative theories of science that explain spiritualist concepts.
- New Agers consider God as a Universal entity that resides within each individual. They see God in every living being and nature.
- They believe God is a force that spans the entire universe rather than a Divine being. They believe that all living entities arise from this force.
- They believe that humans possess a sliver of the Divine within them. And on death, the spirit leaves the body and moves to the spirit world, where it evolves before it returns to the Earth in another body (reincarnation).
- New Agers aim to transform themselves by focusing on their inner being. This helps them connect with the God within them. They follow various practices that they believe will help them evolve spiritually.
- New Agers also believe in alternative medicine. They follow practices that treat diseases and heal the mind, body, and spirit.
- Examples include traditional and alternative medical practices like Ayurveda, homeopathy, crystal healing, aura cleansing, acupuncture, Reiki, and past life regression.
- New age followers state that evil and sin occur due to human thinking and actions. They believe the human mind can cause and eliminate evil and suffering in the world.
- They believe in the Eastern concept of Maya and Karma. Maya is an illusion that humans can eliminate through meditation and other practices.
- On the other hand, Karma is the cause of all good things and sufferings experienced by people.
- Good Karma can help evolve the spirit, ultimately leading to oneness with the divine being.
- Some New Agers believe in the Buddhist concept of Nirvana, which is the dissolution of the soul where there is no birth, death, or rebirth. It is a state of nothingness where there is no suffering or feeling of desire.
- Until the spirit is transformed to reach the state of Mukti or Nirvana, the spirit has to keep evolving, and for this, the spirit is continuously reborn on Earth.
- The cycle of birth-death-rebirth gives a chance for spirits to evolve. However, it will continue suffering if it keeps indulging in physical pleasures and does not evolve.
- New Agers believe that places like Mt. Shasta, Sedona, Stonehenge, Machu Pichu, and Giza are sacred. They believe these places have higher energy levels that can help them progress.
- Rites and worship depend on individual preferences, as the New Age movement has no specified norms.
- Practitioners follow traditional practices like Yoga, meditation, Reiki, shamanic rites, and even tantric sex as rites.
- New agers prefer to follow natural practices like veganism and vegetarianism.
- New Agers also adopt symbols like Celtic Symbols, the Hindu Om, the Yin and Yang of Eastern culture, dream catchers, and other traditional symbols.
New Age Spirituality Today
Today, despite not being widely accepted like before, many New Age Spiritual practices are still relevant.
The Pew Research Center conducted a survey last 2017 to determine the level of acceptance of Americans to New Age beliefs. And they ascertained the following:
- One out of six Americans accepted at least one of the beliefs of the New Age movement
- One-third of Americans believe in reincarnation of the spirit.
- 29% of Americans believe in astrology and its effect on lives.
- Seven out of ten women accept New Age beliefs compared to five of ten men.
- People who reject religion and spirituality are more likely to accept New Age beliefs.
Controversies on New Age Spirituality
Behind the positive background and promise that New Age spirituality offers, people still find some issues with its beliefs and practices.
One of which is an emphasis on toxic positivity. According to Kalyani Nandagopal, New Age spirituality motivates people to force positivity and happiness, which becomes toxic.
Instead of providing solutions to problems, problems are seen as the result of a person’s high and low energy vibrations, as stated in the law of attraction.
We are encouraged to ignore the realities of life and live on a make-believe, flowery path.
Positivity is great. But if it forgets to consider reality, then it becomes toxic.
On the other hand, Taylor Godfrey explained that another negative aspect of the movement is how it pushes the ‘the world is your mirror’ mentality, which puts a large amount of burden and guilt on abuse victims.
This mentality makes them believe that their circumstances are made by their actions and decisions, not by the people who brought trauma to their lives.
Lastly, due to the free nature of New Age spirituality, many people use spirituality for their ill intentions.
Spirituality has become a lucrative business nowadays, and many people who claim to have the right spiritual knowledge make money out of people who need genuine spiritual help.
There’s nothing wrong with New Age spirituality; the blame should be put on people who taint the movement’s reputation for their selfish reasons.
New Age Spirituality emphasizes the transformation of humanity through spiritual cultivation. It encourages individual liberty when it comes to spiritual beliefs and practices.
While it appeals to the trends and philosophy of the modern world, the world’s perception of it is still divided.
As a spiritual pursuer, you have the freedom to choose which path you’ll walk on and ensure that it aligns with your spiritual goals and well-being. Follow what your mind, body, and soul tell you, and embark on your spiritual journey with purpose.
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