UNDERSTANDING THE NEW AGE MOVEMENT
By Dr. Lawrence Wilson, MD
© January 2015, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
Many people today are involved, in varying degrees, with what some people call New Age thinking or New Age practices. This article seeks to explain what this means, why New Age is attractive to people, and its benefits and problems.
Summary. New Age ideas include some interesting scientific concepts that are definitely worthy of examination. For example, interest in natural healing, a clean environment, and self-help are all wonderful.
Serious problems with New Age thinking that I encounter include that it often becomes thinly veiled selfishness, and in some cases it is confused, scattered, ungrounded, and sometimes false. Also, unlike Christian thinking that includes ideas such as repentance and humility, New Age thinking generally does not move energy downward through the body very well. This is a very important problem.
History. Some people say that New Age thinking began in the 1970s with the Hippie movement, while other authors say it is much older, perhaps hundreds of years old. However, there is no doubt that it is attracting more people today than ever before.
WHAT IS NEW AGE?
While scholars differ on what constitutes New Age thinking and practices, here are some of its most important aspects, with my comments about them.
1. Belief that we have entered the “Age of Aquarius”. This belief is true. It has to do with the movement of our entire solar system through space. Our solar system, with all the planets, rotates around a central area of space every 25,500 years. This is well known in astronomy. If we divide this number by 12, then every 2000 or so years our solar system moves into a different area of space that corresponds to the 12 signs of the zodiac in modern astrology.
For example, at the time of Jesus, the solar system was in the age of Pisces, the fish. Many Christian people use the symbol of a fish to let others know they are Christians. You will see the symbol of a fish on many bumper stickers and other Christian literature. This is one meaning of this symbol.
Starting around 1950, earth and the rest of our solar system passed into a different region of space, signaling the beginning of the Age of Aquarius, and we will be in this area of space for the next 2000 years. According to many astrologers, this is a time of new ideas, and massive change.
2. Religion. New Age thinking often involves a much expanded view of God, or Source, or The One. God is not just a man who sits on a throne and judges us. New Age thought often mixes Western and Eastern religious ideas, mixed with modern scientific ideas about the origin of life, and sometimes mixed with other currents of thought such as witchcraft, Native American and Aboriginal religious thought. It is quite a hodge-podge!
Many students of New Age thinking, for example, believe in Oriental religious ideas such as reincarnation and karma. “New Age churches” often include Unity, Unitarian, Science of Mind, and even some of the Protestant Christian denominations. Some accept homosexual marriage, abortion on demand, and most no longer teach about sin, repentance, and the suffering of Christ. Some people also include as New Age churches Mormonism, Christian Science, Reform Judaism, and Jehovah Witnesses because they teach somewhat different doctrines than traditional Christian churches.
Some in the New Age movement love the Bible and all that is stands for. Others are quite violently against Biblical attitudes and teaching. They say the Bible is outdated, homophobic, prejudiced against women, violent, too rigid, and not suitable for today’s world. Still others endorse the mystical teachings of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and other organized religions. These include the Gnostic gospels of Christianity, the Kabbalah and Zohar of Judaism, Sufi traditions in Islam, and some of the more esoteric branches of yoga, martial arts and other Oriental arts. This can all be very confusing!
3. New sciences. New Age ideas offer an expanded view of science, and often try to merge modern science and spirituality, the observed world and the unseen world. For example, Albert Einstein, originator the theory of general relativity, is a great hero of the New Age people. So is Nikola Tesla, the inventor who gave us alternating current, radio, television, touch tone dialing, cell phones, and much more. Both these men were philosophers of a sort, and wrote about the nature of man and the nature of life.
Often New Age thinking is a mixture of Western science and medicine, and Eastern acupuncture, yin and yang, and other Eastern sciences such as meditation, yoga, vegetarianism, science of breath and more. Once again, this can be extremely confusing, and often leads to the ruin of people’s health today.
This website culls the best that I have found from all the traditions of healing, both East and West, and explains how they can be fit together in a unified and integrated way. I was confused for years reading and absorbing methods of healing from many traditions, attempting to extract the truth and let the rest go.
4. An emphasis on self, self-help, self-development, human potential and human evolution. This is a very important focus for many interested in the New Age. Some of this is motivated by feelings of depression, boredom, ill health and discouragement with the world as it is, or as it appears to be.
However, many who are interested in New Age ideas truly seek to understand themselves better, and want to improve themselves in profound ways. This includes wanting better health, more energy, more abilities, a longer lifespan, and maybe other things, as well, such as the ability to communicate telepathically with animals, plants and other people.
I believe this is a very positive aspect of New Age thinking, and it is one that has entered mainstream America and the marketplace more than the rest. It may represent a groundswell or a wave that is rippling through humanity today.
5. A recognition of new sources of information, available through channeling or telepathy. Many jokes are made about channeling, psychics, the use of pendulums, ouija boards, and so on. It is true that these are a hallmark of New Age thinking. Underneath it all is a desire to gain knowledge and maybe power from unusual sources. These may include ascended masters (including Jesus), extraterrestrials, discarnate souls, angels, gods and goddesses, guides, elementals (elves and fairies) and others.
I believe this is a very scary aspect of New Age thinking. The problems with it are that one really does not know who the source is. Too many of them lie, saying they are angels or Jesus, or your dead mother, or someone else. Please be extremely careful!!!
This is especially the case today because nasty people can easily infiltrate your mind using electronic means. These include tiny radio transmitters placed inside the body, radionic beaming of information directly into your head, and a dozen other methods. I have written about these in the article entitled How People Are Influenced Mentally And Emotionally For Manipulation And Control on this website. Trust me that people who understand these so-called psi weapons can influence elections, talk women into having sex, ruin marriages, and easily do other horrible things.
6. A much expanded view of healing. This was how I learned about New Age thinking. I was interested in health, and found that the people who knew the most about holistic methods of healing were not the regular doctors, but rather a motley crew of nutritionists, “alternative” or “complementary” doctors, chiropractors, body workers, and others.
They offer a confusing mix of Western, Eastern, ancient and modern healing modalities, most of which are rejected by conventional allopathic medical care. Some also believe in healing the soul, retracing, and other interesting concepts I had never heard before.
This is another very scary area of New Age thinking. That is, it is easy to ruin your health by listening to many of the alternative practitioners, so please beware! It is one of the primary motivations for this website.
I, too, damaged my health a lot by following the advice of a number of well-respected holistic health authorities. You will find an entire section of articles explaining why I do not recommend many of the therapies they suggest, such as Hormone Replacement Therapy, chelation, homeopathy, most of herbal medicine, Chinese herbs, Ayurveda and more.
Interest in holistic healing has grown enormously in the past 50 years. The main reason is that conventional medical care is not adequate for today’s health problems. If you are not aware of this, you are not really in touch with how ill people really are. New conditions such as strange birth defects, chronic fatigue, autism, attention deficit disorder, toxic metal and toxic chemical poisoning, and brain fog are plagues upon the people of earth - and the medical profession has little to offer.
Also, chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease are at epidemic proportions, cost billions to treat, and with very poor success. Modern medicine has an amazing public relations department paid for largely by drug companies. As a result, the truth is not told on the media or even in the medical journals. However, any doctor who really listens to his patients knows that all is not well. So I hope this website can help to make sense of the many therapies and modalities that are available, or will be offered in the future.
In fact, a large part of the New Age is a response to the failure of conventional drug medicine. People know they must try something else, even if it means going outside the normal channels and taking a few risks.
7. Environmentalism. This interest on the part of many New Age people is also, in part, a response to the failure of governments and industry to care enough for the health of the planet, the animals, the plants, and of course the people who must breathe the air, drink the water and eat the food grown on planet earth.
I believe the environmental movement is a wonderful idea, provided one stays grounded and realistic. All you have to do is look at what is happening in nations such as Communist China and India, where the environment is largely ignored. Sadly, the cities are filthy, sickening places.
I must warn, however, of the problems with the environmental movement or you will likely fall into one of these traps:
a) Apocalyptic environmentalism. This is a state of deep depression and hopelessness born of the false belief that we are “killing the earth” and that we are all likely to die soon of overpopulation, radiation poisoning, toxic chemicals, cell phone radiation, or something else. I believe this is totally false, and is hyped by some of our leaders so people will go along with their schemes without examining them carefully.
b) Going overboard. This is common among those interested in the environment. They want to shut down the entire coal industry, for example, stop using all oil, reduce our “carbon footprint” even though there is only scant evidence that this would alter the climate, for example. Some readers probably know that the temperature on Mars and Venus is also increasing a little, even though no one drives cars there or burns coal. This leads us to the final and very important trap with the environmental movement.
c) Being used by the communists and socialists of the world. Many, if not most who are interested in the environment are dupes who are easily manipulated by those who would take away our economic and political freedom.
Environmentalists must realize that capitalism is the cleanest system of economics and government in the world – by far – if only it is allowed to operate properly, which is rare. Communist nations are much filthier, if you care to check, and there is good reason for this. Only capitalist economies have strong property rights and the right to sue for damages. Also, only capitalist nations reward personal innovations that clean up the environment. I am saddened to watch the manipulation of those interested in the environment by malicious leaders, all in the name of “saving the planet”.
8. Belief in the soul. This is actually a religious attitude, and one that is not currently accepted in mainstream secular society. My understanding is that this is a very important and true belief.
9. A socialistic egalitarianism, which sometimes conflicts with “New Age capitalism”.
Here I think there is a lot of confusion, and that many New Age people are dupes for world socialist and communist movements. Many people who are interested in New Age are liberal in their thinking and beliefs. These ideas are not true, but they feel good so people gravitate to them. In fact, modern liberalism, socialism or progressivism is an elitist political orientation that states that most political power should be vested in a large federal government that has the power to regulate most aspects of life. The basic idea is that the government knows better than most individuals how one should live, what the laws should be, and how to set up society.
This is in contrast to the belief of the founders of America who felt that individuals know better than government bureaucrats how to run their lives, and therefore the government should be strictly limited in its reach and power.
An excellent recent example of progressive thinking are the statements by MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, who helped design the Affordable Care Act of 2010. He stated on several occasions that the American people are too stupid to understand how health care should be organized, and would not have voted for the new law if the truth about it were told to them. As a result, he and the president intentionally lied and deceived the stupid people in order to pass the law “for their own good”.
10. Interest in communal living and community to counter social disintegration. This is not really a new idea, and can be excellent. It may be extended to unusual parenting arrangements and unusual or open marriages and other things that do not seem to be wholesome, in my view, even if they sound good.
11. A rejection of materialism and consumerism. This may be part of the egalitarian aspect of many New Age thinkers. It gave rise to, or perhaps grew out of the Hippie movement of the 1960s and 1970s. It has positive aspects, but can be an excuse to stop all industrial progress in society.
12. New Age music. This is a soft, gentle, somewhat spacy style of music. It is related to a style of music called ‘space music’. It is a soothing and dreamy kind of music that has gained a lot of popularity in recent years.
13. Interest in metaphysics, magic and sometimes sciences such as voodoo and witchcraft. Most of this I do not view as positive, although all sciences may have something to offer.
14. Utopianism. This is the idea that people are essentially good, and that perfection is possible in human affairs and in society. Sin is discounted, and even truth is relative, in this belief system. That is, most new age people believe in “moral relativism”. This is the belief that “my truth may be different than your truth”.
This contrasts with traditional Christianity and Judaism, for example, which teach that men and women tend to disobey and tend to “sin”, and need correction, repentance and salvation from sin. Also, these religions teach a belief in absolute truth, as embodied in documents such as the Ten Commandments of Moses. This is sometimes called “moral absolutes”.
HOW MANY ARE INVOLVED IN NEW AGE IDEAS AND PRACTICES?
Numbers range from 600,000 to 6 million or more. Sociologists say one can divide these into 3 groups:
2. Serious part-time
3. Casual part-time.
HOW DO PEOPLE COME TO BE INTERESTED IN NEW AGE IDEAS AND PRACTICES?
Several common ways are:
1. Dissatisfaction with the status quo
NEW AGE THOUGHT IS OFTEN A STAGE OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
Many people today are moving away from traditional ways of thinking and doing things. This has to do with many factors including technological change on planet earth, and other factors such as the changing roles of men and women. As a result, people are having to open their minds to new knowledge that can be very threatening, especially for the ego part of the mind.
The ego aspect of the brain or mind has to do mainly with one’s sense of safety and security. It has to do with the structure of one’s identity. It is not a particularly creative part of the mind, but rather has to do with maintaining one’s identity in the midst of chaos and change in modern times.
Some of the new knowledge that people are needing to learn has to do with new healing methods, for example, new political structures, and new social and sociological realities such as new roles and new role models.
New Age thinking and practices are often, though not always, a way to cope with the pressures and tensions associated with learning new ways to survive and thrive in society. This philosophy
1) allows the ego to continue to exist.
2) at the same time offers knowledge about many unusual subjects and perspectives.
3) and it is all cloaked in a feel-good, don’t worry attitude that makes the exploration easier.
WHY NEW AGE THINKING AND PRACTICES?
1. New age appeals to the ego mind. This is most important. It helps people to have a sense of control when they do not feel it.
DANGERS OF THE NEW AGE MOVEMENT
1. Separating the truth from the lies. This is one of most difficult aspects of New Age thinking because often truth and lies are taught together and confused together. This can cause extreme confusion.
2. Caught up. Some people definitely become so caught up in the ideas of the New Age movement that they cannot function well in society. These people become very ungrounded and strung out – often on drugs such as marijuana and others. Their health and all other aspects of their lives fall apart or suffer.
3. A giant distraction. New Age ideas are so enticing and even amazing, in some instances, that they can distract a person for years, or even an entire lifetime. By this I mean that instead of living life fully, some people just roam from one teacher or subject matter to the next in a superficial way, and never really delve into anything deeply. New Age, for them, becomes a powerful distraction.
4. Used. This is sadly very common. Those interested in New Age ideas and practices are often victims, used by:
a) Eastern and Western gurus who are, in fact, fakes. They do not teach the truth, in spite of their claims to the contrary.
b) Sexual predators who cloak their predation in New Age rhetoric to attract the gullible.
c) Political operatives who are in fact communists and socialists, but who cloak their real objectives in New Age terminology and jargon to attract the politically naēve.
d) Those who wish to damage people’s health with vegetarian diets, and other unusual health practices that are, in fact, not healthful at all.
5. Missing some very important concepts. New Age is notoriously missing ideas such as repentance, grace, faith and other ideas that I believe are very important.
DOES THIS MEAN EVERYONE SHOULD STAY AWAY FROM ALL NEW AGE IDEAS AND PRACTICES?
No. I do not exactly agree with some Christians, for example, who believe we should just stay away from all New Age ideas. I understand their concern, however, because it is a minefield full of false paths that can ruin one’s life.
However, there is value to some so-called New Age ideas, and I hope I present a lot of it on this website. One must just be very careful of the traps that need to be avoided. This is why this website provides an entire section of articles entitled “Warnings” (Section 13 of the articles). In fact, all the sections of articles present warnings, since there is so much false information available today.