When you think of New Age what comes to your mind? Massages? Rolling brook soundtracks? Crystals? Psychic readings? Smoothies? Sushi? And perhaps little stretching and meditation?
I’ve been involved with yoga, spiritual growth and self-realization all of my adult life. I began translating Rumi in the late 80’s, that’s how far back I track in this lifetime. Even as a child I never really saw any difference between major religions, I thought of them as repackaged doctrine geared to the need of various groups.
I grew up in a Jewish family in an Islamic country until my early teens (before I was sent to a boarding school in NY) and personally didn’t care what religion anyone had. My friends in Iran were Moslem, Christian, Jewish and Bahai and quite frankly we had a ball being young boys and having fun, although looking back at it now some of the other parents objected to us mingling outside of our designated religions. So it was OK for the kids to mingle but certainly not for the parents.
As a teacher of spirituality I see a serious downgrade of true intentions and motivations of what I call “Soul Evolution.” In another word, just like the domification of movies and music, the great spiritual movement that blossomed in the 1960’s has been turned into just a market for selling yoga, incense and crystals.
To clarify I have nothing against what I call Spa Spirituality or Feel-Good Spirituality. But that’s not spirituality. Anyone wants to feel good (atheists included) and they look for various ways to bring it about, but it doesn’t make you “spiritual.” Your diet, choice of beverage and the type of hat or clothing you wear has nothing whatsoever to do with spirituality. In fact if you wear a so-called spiritual uniform of any type, you’re just a high conformist and removed from true principals of spirituality. Spirituality is about shifting the personal and collective mindset from that of a slaved-mind to an empowered-mind. It is to shift from a conformist to an individualist.
New Age spirituality in fact promotes and instills a slave mindset as it tries to turn young and vibrant people into deity-worshiping, narrow-thinking fanatics. There is no reason for you to ever bow down to anything or anyone. That’s what a slave does. You are fortunate to be born at a very special time and special place that allow you to be totally self-reliant and truly free. Don’t regress back to slave mindset.
Moses knew the slave mindset well and he was also aware that it’s impossible to change the habitual behavior in older people so he famously took his time by years (whether it was 40 years or not is anyone’s guess) in delivering the Jewish people into the new land for the dawn of a new era. He wanted Israelites who had never experienced slavery and who were never subordinate to others to usher in the new era. This is true spirituality.
By our today’s unfortunate hyper-PC culture, his intentions may seem as harsh but spirituality is not about passivity. This notion that to be spiritual you must become a limp noodle bowing to wooden statues is simply preposterous. And this is where New Age not only fails but can also be seen as a dark force, or in fact anti-spiritual.
None of the great mystics I respect were pacifists. They were all what I call Fire-Breathers. Moses, Jesus & Rumi all came here not to tell you to smell the roses but to transform, to shift your mind, to upgrade, to elevate your soul and to do it now.
Part of the damage that New Age is doing to spirituality is caused by the shady gurus who came to the West after the 1960’s with the sole intention of increasing their wealth and number of followers and almost all fell from grace. These gurus were very tactical; they injected mind-control methods and vocabulary into their practices to keep their followers constantly submissive and subordinate. They injected phrases such as ignore the mind, ego is bad, bow to the master and the biggest scammer phrase of all time “surrender to the master.” Surrender to the master is akin to a scam artist telling you “trust me.”
Decades later these negative, growth-inhibiting phrases still permeate all of the New Age movement. It’s time to change all that.
A positive note is that not all the younger people getting into spirituality are so gullible anymore but I’d like to see a movement away from New Age completely and into Soul Evolution. I envision a radical change in vocabulary used at yoga studies where they still preach about surrender, being small and bowing to statues. A friend who attended a yoga studio in LA said the instructor told the group that ego is not your amigo. My friend laughed out loud after hearing that old misleading phrase and after the class she confronted the instructor about it. The instructor said it’s just something that he’s been told to say.
I want to see a movement that relies on real teachings of spirituality which are self-reliance, self-awareness, self-discovery, self-worth, self-guided destiny and ultimately self-realization. I want to hear us chant Yoga Without Dogma! Hare Me! Not phrases worshiping mythical blue-skinned moody beings that fooled the early humans as being gods.
New Age has run its course, long live Soul Evolution.