What exactly is New Age? It’s somewhat impossible to narrow down and sits in a class of its own with respect to religion, since it is actually a mixture of many beliefs and practices. It’s a free-flowing, spiritual movement with a network of believers who share similar beliefs and practices, with many “adding on” to whatever religion they already follow. Unlike most formal religions, it has no sacred text, central organization, ordained clergy, formal membership, dogma or creed. If you’re a New Ager, you choose to believe in whatever you want, whatever resonates with you. It's a DIY religion of sorts – thus making it very appealing in today’s world.
Even though New Age has become the “new thing” during the last 20 years or so, thanks to celebrities (thanks Oprah) and self-proclaimed gurus, New Age ideas can be traced back to Eastern religious traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and other ancient religious traditions. Continued through the years via various groups and esoteric thinkers (Freemasons, Carl Jung), the New Age movement rose in popularity in the 1970’s as a reaction to the perceived failures of Christianity. People sought other forms of spiritual guidance through astrology, meditation, and even the occult practices of channeling and psychic readings. Though criticized by many as false and groundless, the New Age movement has found its way into people’s lives and has become a stable, major religious force throughout the world.
Although New Agers are encouraged to seek their own, customized belief system, there are basic beliefs that the typical New Age follower holds true:
1. Monism - All that exists is derived from a single source of divine energy.
2. Pantheism – God is all that exists, making us all Gods. Seek God within the self and throughout the entire universe.
3. Panentheism - God is the entire universe and transcends the universe.
4. Reincarnation –After death, we are reborn and live another life as a human, and this cycle repeats itself many times.
5. Karma-The good and bad deeds that we do creates an accumulated record, and at the end of our life, we are rewarded or punished according to our karma by being reincarnated into either a painful or good new life.
6. Aura-An energy field radiated by the body that can “show” an individual's state of mind, and their spiritual and physical health.
7. Personal Transformation-A profoundly intense mystical experience will lead to the acceptance and use of New Age beliefs and practices.
8. Ecological Responsibility- A belief in the importance of preserving the health of the earth, called Gaia; as it is a living entity.
9. Universal Religion-Since all is God, then only one reality exists, and all religions are simply different paths to that ultimate reality.
10. New World Order-As the Age of Aquarius unfolds, a New Age will increase in membership and influence.
Another crucial belief for New Agers, and one that truly differentiates itself, is that evil does not exist, so the concept of man’s separation from God by sin doesn’t exist (as it states in Christianity). They instead believe we have forgotten our own divinity and that our mission is to seek out “higher consciousness” - we do this through meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, channeling, spirit guides, crystals, etc. Each of these diverse practices has the same end goal: to awaken the god in man.
1. A New Ager believes?
A. That God might not be real
B. The earth is constantly evolving and we revolve around it
C. In whatever they want, whatever resonates with them
D. Spirituality is more important than anything or anyone
E. Being Zen means being happy all the time
2. New Age can be traced back to?
A. The 1870’s
B. Gloria Steinem
C. The collective conscious thinking movement
D. To Eastern religious traditions such as Hinduism and Buddhism
E. The hippie movement
3. Why did New Age rise in popularity?
A. The influence of the Internet
B. It sounded cool
C. The perceived failure of Christianity
D. Because of Oprah Winfrey
E. None of the above
4. A crucial belief of New Agers is:
A. Sacred texts are essential
B. Many realities exist
C. Evil does not exist
D. Jesus Christ was a great prophet
E. There is great evil in the world
5. What is the definition ofPantheism?
A. You cannot define God – God defines you
B. God is all that exists, making us all Gods
C. God is all knowing – that knows all
D. After death, we are reborn
E. The belief in the importance of preserving the earth