How to Respond: New Age Movement
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The margin of approximation would always remain very wide. In Search of a Beginning. It is worth noting that Paul Le Couer can himself be considered the heir of preceding esoteric traditions, though to treat them here would be going back to eras too distant from the historical-cultural environment of the phenomenon about which we are inquiring. We could then symbolically take the year as a reference point since in that year two important foundations were established; namely, the Community of Findhorn in Scotland by Peter and Eileen Caddy and Dorothy Maclean, and the Institute of Esalen in California by Michael Murphy and Richard Price.
In this respect, an important role was played by David Spangler who, at the end of the s, began a significant popularizing effort through conferences and pamphlets. In , part of the material he developed was collected in an important volume, The New Age Vision, published in Scotland by the Community of Findhorn. In any case, we can historically ground the rise of New Agein the wide and complex cultural and generational crisis that passed and, indeed, is still passing through advanced Western societies following World War II.
These upheavals were fostered by numerous groups. Other groups were centered around both old and new versions of millenarian and apocalyptic sects. The Aquarian Conspiracy is the title of a famous book by Marilyn Ferguson, published in , which alleges as evident by the title , that the New Age movement is intent on triumphing over the dominant culture and over traditional religions and in subverting their order and structures. The first of this type of community was Findhorn, founded in Scotland in Analogous experiments have arisen all over the world, such as the community of Christiania, founded in on the outskirts of Copenhagen, which began as an unlawful occupation of an abandoned military area and today numbers about a thousand inhabitants.
The city of Damanhur is a group of neo-pagan buildings that expanded noticeably in the s, generating a number of parallel centers in other areas of Canavese. The community has a significant economic and commercial structure, including a publishing house, a travel agency, a sumptuous conference center, and sophisticated propaganda of its image and ideas.
They present it as a movement with its own evolutionary trajectory, which seems to be already entering its decreasing phase. The commercialization of many New Agesymbols seems to indicate it is being absorbed into consumer society rather than it transforming society according to New Age ideas. For this reason certain groups have taken the name Next Age, thus intending to separate themselves from a New Age polluted by its relationships with consumerist society. An Anti-Dogmatic Relativism. Actually, this affirmation is often voiced without even mentioning its inherent contradiction, thus making us suspicious that—like every relativistic theory that pretends to be assertively radical—it is bound to self-destruct.
It is worth observing that single elements of the New Agementality, taken individually, do not manifest any particular novelty.
What is characteristic of New Ageis the way in which all these elements are arranged into a whole and into a structure which has substantially convergent elements. All is One. All that exists is nothing but a fragment of the one and same substance or reality. In other words, the world is constituted neither of inert matter nor of unconscious energy, but of a single reality, divine and aware, though impersonal.
The terms used to designate this single reality, in fact, underline its impersonality: Principle, Mind, Power, Unity, and, most especially, Energy. This latter term is particularly suited to a number of metaphors in order to explain the structure of different levels of reality. Various kinds of ecological mysticism can also easily be interpreted within such a framework. It is worth pointing out how such a conception of the divine, based on a radical, positively affirmed pantheism which appears to exalt the precious and sacred character of every existing reality ends by denying the divine itself, at least as our culture conceives of the divine.
If all is divine in the sense of an immanent reality, then nothing is divine in the sense of a transcendent reality.
New Age movement | religious movement | scolimxi.tk
One could even say that the point of departure of New Age theoriesshould not be sought at a theological or at a metaphysical or cosmological level, but rather at an anthropological level. This anthropological point of departure is closely united to various existential outlooks. Though these outlooks may differ from each other in some respects, they have a common denominator. The Human Being as Part of the Divine. The notion that the human being is part of the divine lies at the core of New Age theories. Gn The earth and every living being has not had any other choice but to submit to our technical superiority.
The idea of an intelligence, a spirit, or a divinity that acts in nature and gives order to all its happenings has been dismissed as a myth of the simple and primitive civilizations. To give an idea of the context in which such a community operates, it is worth briefly mentioning its history. It was born in northern Scotland through the initiative of Eileen Caddy and a group of people who gathered around her including her husband, her children, and her friend Dorothy. Among the peculiarities of such an experience, one highly indicative of the New Agementality , are the frequent communications between the organic farmers of Findhorn and the vital spirits deva of the different species of plants.
This little tree in the garden is my expression. You know naturally that interior beauty becomes more manifest in the moment of blooming, and also that fruit has a unique and particular form. However, you think that this tree can express me only in a limited way. Come closer and try to feel one with it, as the spirit of the tree feels it. Feel the love of the spirit for the tree; the spirit is the tree and we are all one.
In this moment you are one with us. In the eyes of New Agers, the claim of objectivity is a deception which leads away from the only possible criterion of truth, which is the immersion of the self into that unique divine Self. This awakening of awareness is possible only if one embraces a new way of thinking.
Thus we see the importance of the symbolic use that is made of the scientific discovery regarding the distinction between the left hemisphere of the brain in which the functions relative to logical thinking are located and the right hemisphere responsible for the emotional, creative, and artistic dimension.
It is from this context that the New Age doctrine of reincarnation of the soul emerges. This notion evokes the idea of a journey of an indefinite length, so that if one life is not enough, one can have as many lives as needed, until the journey of maturity to global knowledge is complete. Each individual can build his own myth of creation and make his own genesis. At the New Age marketplace,the sons of Aquarius find, in an ensemble of techniques, tour guides to lead them through their previous lives: auto-hypnosis, deep meditation, astral journeys, etc.
Spiritual Techniques. The first type of technique, of which a classic example is found in one of the representative texts of the movement see MacLaine, , is mainly based on controlling breathing and sensations, not excluding recourse to hallucinogenic substances and exercises aimed at producing alterations in the state of consciousness. Somehow the rhythm of the two seemed in sync. Time slowly slipped away until I became unaware of it.
The candle continued to flicker, but now it began to be the center of my mind. My whole body seemed to float too, not only my arms, but all of me. Slowly, slowly, I became the water and each tingling bubble was a feeling. I felt the cool sides of the walls housing the warm water pool even though I was lost somewhere in its midst. I felt shadows and flickers and a slight breeze. But mostly, I felt the inside of myself. I seemed to be a moving entity oblivious of my control. Then I felt the interconnection of my breathing with the pulse of the energy around me. The air itself seemed to pulsate.
In fact, I was the air. The second group of techniques aims at controlling relational dynamics and corresponds largely to the methodologies adopted by different psychological schools such as that of Esalen, whose early role in the New Agescene I have already stressed.
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Porcarelli, These fragments of the Self are not tied together, like the beads of a rosary, but rather they resemble the layers of an onion, or the parts of an orange, interrelated through a single vital principle but developed into various realities that nonetheless originated in the same source. Nothing exists—rocks, minerals, plants, animals, or air—which is not penetrated by its own specific kind of consciousness.
Each one of us is in continuous, vital agitation.
If it is true that human beings are by nature part of the divine, how is it that not all people are aware of this fact? Perhaps this is the most important belief that we find in the complex New Age panorama. The most important of these strategic fields can be summarized. The Revolution of Common Scientific Paradigms. It is not difficult to understand how, in the New Ageenvironment, there is a tendency to believe a similar change of paradigm is occurring in the world of science. The ways in which we prove such a statement, however, must be carefully considered.
The New Age Movement and Where It Came From
According to some authors, their cultural roots are similar to those of the hippiephenomenon, especially as influenced by Eastern philosophical thought and pantheistic ideas, though their style and methods are different, adopting in this case the features of an intellectual aristocracy. To synthesize this current of thought, a text by R. The sobriety of the New Gnosis is also such that it could be reproached for being only slightly distinguishable from pure scientism, and for suffocating, just as scientism does, any kind of religious resonance.
It is the same thing yet it is not. Being a physicist, I knew that the sand, rocks, water and air around me were made of vibrating molecules and atoms, and that these consisted of particles which interacted with one another by creating and destroying other particles. All this was familiar to me from my research in high-energy physics, but until that moment I had only experienced it through graphs, diagrams and mathematical theories. I had gone through a long training in theoretical physics and had done several years of research. At the same time, I had become very interested in Eastern mysticism and had begun to see the parallels to modern physics.
I was particularly attracted to the puzzling aspects of Zen, which reminded me of the puzzle of the quantum theory. At first, however, relating the two was a purely intellectual exercise. It is interesting to note that although Capra subjectively reaches the certainty of what he affirms via his personal experience, the contents of his reflection are not presented as the fruit of a subjective perception of reality, but as the explanation of a sort of historical destiny of Western culture.
His arguments frequently quote texts from the great oriental religious traditions Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, etc. This division is, of course, useful and necessary to cope with our everyday environment but it is not a fundamental feature of reality. It is an abstraction devised by our discriminating and categorizing intellect. Along the same line of argument is a second book by Capra, The Turning Point , whose title is taken from an Eastern text.
Birth of the movement
The first introduces the fundamental themes of the text. The second and third parts contain a historical analysis and rigorous criticism of the Cartesian-reductionist mentality. The shift from the mechanistic to the ecological paradigm is not something that will happen sometime in the future.
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It is happening right now in our sciences, in our individual and collective attitudes and values, and in our patterns of social organization. The new paradigm is better understood by individuals and small communities than by large academic and social institutions, which often tend to be locked into Cartesian thinking. To facilitate the cultural transformation, it will therefore be necessary to restructure our system of information and education, so that the new knowledge can be presented and discussed appropriately.
New Age movement
The hypothesis has had some success especially at a didactic level—in elementary schools, for instance—because it facilitates the teaching of ecology to children. There are already attempts in some popular science works to spread this same paradigm on a global, even cosmic scale cf. Alternative Medicine and Holistic Therapies.