Spirituality – Wikipedia

For the belief in being able to contact the dead, see Spiritualism.

Traditionally, spirituality refers to a religious process of re-formation which “aims to recover the original shape of man,” oriented at “the image of God” as exemplified by the founders and sacred texts of the religions of the world. In modern times the emphasis is on subjective experience of a sacred dimension and the “deepest values and meanings by which people live,” often in a context separate from organized religious institutions. Modern spirituality typically includes a belief in a supernatural (beyond the known and observable) realm,personal growth, a quest for an ultimate/sacred meaning,religious experience, or an encounter with one’s own “inner dimension.”

The meaning of spirituality has developed and expanded over time, and various connotations can be found alongside each other.[note 1] The term “spirituality” originally developed within early Christianity, referring to a life oriented toward the Holy Spirit. During late medieval times the meaning broadened to include mental aspects of life, while in modern times the term both spread to other religious traditions and broadened to refer to a wider range of experience, including a range of esoteric traditions.

The term spirit means “animating or vital principle in man and animals”.[web 1] It is derived from the Old French espirit[web 1] which comes from the Latin word spiritus (soul, courage, vigor, breath)[web 1] and is related to spirare (to breathe).[web 1] In the Vulgate the Latin word spiritus is used to translate the Greek pneuma and Hebrew ruah.[web 1]

The term “spiritual”, matters “concerning the spirit”,[web 2] is derived from Old French spirituel (12c.), which is derived from Latin spiritualis, which comes from spiritus or “spirit”.[web 2]

The term “spirituality” is derived from Middle French spiritualit,[web 3] from Late Latin “spiritualitatem” (nominative spiritualitas),[web 3] which is also derived from Latin spiritualis.[web 3]

There is no single, widely agreed definition of spirituality.[note 1] Surveys of the definition of the term, as used in scholarly research, show a broad range of definitions ranging from uni-dimensional definitions such as a personal belief in a supernatural realm to broader concepts such as a quest for an ultimate/sacred meaning, transcending the base/material aspects of life, and/or a sense of awe/wonderment and reverence toward the universe.[citation needed] A survey of reviews by McCarroll e.a. dealing with the topic of spirituality gave twenty-seven explicit definitions, among which “there was little agreement.” This causes some difficulty in trying to study spirituality systematically; i.e., it impedes both understanding and the capacity to communicate findings in a meaningful fashion. Indeed, many of spirituality’s core features are not unique to spirituality alone; for example German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (a famous atheist) regarded self-transcendence, asceticism and the recognition of one’s connection to all as a key to ethical living (see)

According to Kees Waaijman, the traditional meaning of spirituality is a process of re-formation which “aims to recover the original shape of man, the image of God. To accomplish this, the re-formation is oriented at a mold, which represents the original shape: in Judaism the Torah, in Christianity there is Christ, for Buddhism, Buddha, and in Islam, Muhammad.” In modern times the emphasis is on subjective experience and the “deepest values and meanings by which people live,” incorporating personal growth or transformation, usually in a context separate from organized religious institutions. Houtman and Aupers suggest that modern spirituality is a blend of humanistic psychology, mystical and esoteric traditions and eastern religions.

Spirituality is sometimes associated with philosophical, social, or political movements such as liberalism, feminist theology, and green politics. Some argue (though far from universally acceptedsee those who espouse secular humanism)spirituality is intimately linked to resolving mental health issues, managing substance abuse, marital functioning, parenting, and coping.

Words translatable as ‘spirituality’ first began to arise in the 5th century and only entered common use toward the end of the Middle Ages.[17] In a Biblical context the term means being animated by God, to be driven by the Holy Spirit, as opposed to a life which rejects this influence.

In the 11th century this meaning changed. Spirituality began to denote the mental aspect of life, as opposed to the material and sensual aspects of life, “the ecclesiastical sphere of light against the dark world of matter”.[note 2] In the 13th century “spirituality” acquired a social and psychological meaning. Socially it denoted the territory of the clergy: “The ecclesiastical against the temporary possessions, the ecclesiastical against the secular authority, the clerical class against the secular class”[note 3] Psychologically, it denoted the realm of the inner life: “The purity of motives, affections, intentions, inner dispositions, the psychology of the spiritual life, the analysis of the feelings”.[note 4]

In the 17th and 18th century a distinction was made between higher and lower forms of spirituality: “A spiritual man is one who is Christian ‘more abundantly and deeper than others’.”[note 5] The word was also associated with mysticism and quietism, and acquired a negative meaning.[citation needed]

Modern notions of spirituality developed throughout the 19th and 20th century, mixing Christian ideas with westen esoteric traditions and elements of Asian, especially Indian, religions. Spirituality became increasingly disconnected from traditional religious organisations and institutions.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882) was a pioneer of the idea of spirituality as a distinct field.[22] He was one of the major figures in Transcendentalism, an early 19th-century liberal Protestant movement, which was rooted in English and German Romanticism, the Biblical criticism of Johann Gottfried Herder and Friedrich Schleiermacher, the skepticism of Hume,[web 4] and Neo-Platonism. The Transcendentalists emphasised an intuitive, experiential approach of religion.[web 5] Following Schleiermacher, an individual’s intuition of truth was taken as the criterion for truth.[web 5] In the late 18th and early 19th century, the first translations of Hindu texts appeared, which were also read by the Transcendentalists, and influenced their thinking.[web 5] They also endorsed universalist and Unitarianist ideas, leading to Unitarian Universalism, the idea that there must be truth in other religions as well, since a loving God would redeem all living beings, not just Christians.[web 5][web 6]

A major influence on modern spirituality was the Theosophical Society, which searched for ‘secret teachings’ in Asian religions. It has been influential on modernist streams in several Asian religions, notably Neo-Vedanta, the revival of Theravada Buddhism, and Buddhist modernism, which have taken over modern western notions of personal experience and universalism and integrated them in their religious concepts. A second, related influence was Anthroposophy, whose founder, Rudolf Steiner, was particularly interested in developing a genuine Western spirituality, and in the ways that such a spirituality could transform practical institutions such as education, agriculture, and medicine.[27][28]

The influence of Asian traditions on western modern spirituality was also furthered by the Perennial Philosophy, whose main proponent Aldous Huxley was deeply influenced by Swami Vivekananda’s Neo-Vedanta and Universalism, and the spread of social welfare, education and mass travel after World War Two.

An important influence on western spirituality was Neo-Vedanta, also called neo-Hinduism and Hindu Universalism,[web 7] a modern interpretation of Hinduism which developed in response to western colonialism and orientalism. It aims to present Hinduism as a “homogenized ideal of Hinduism” with Advaita Vedanta as its central doctrine. Due to the colonisation of Asia by the western world, since the 19th century an exchange of ideas has been taking place between the western world and Asia, which also influenced western religiosity. Unitarianism, and the idea of Universalism, was brought to India by missionaries, and had a major influence on neo-Hinduism via Ram Mohan Roy’s Brahmo Samaj and Brahmoism. Roy attempted to modernise and reform Hinduism, from the idea of Universalism. This universalism was further popularised, and brought back to the west as neo-Vedanta, by Swami Vivekananda.

After the Second World War spirituality and religion became disconnected, and spirituality became more oriented on subjective experience, instead of “attempts to place the self within a broader ontological context.” A new discourse developed, in which (humanistic) psychology, mystical and esoteric traditions and eastern religions are being blended, to reach the true self by self-disclosure, free expression and meditation.

The distinction between the spiritual and the religious became more common in the popular mind during the late 20th century with the rise of secularism and the advent of the New Age movement. Authors such as Chris Griscom and Shirley MacLaine explored it in numerous ways in their books. Paul Heelas noted the development within New Age circles of what he called “seminar spirituality”:[35] structured offerings complementing consumer choice with spiritual options.

Among other factors, declining membership of organized religions and the growth of secularism in the western world have given rise to this broader view of spirituality.[36] Even the secular are finding use for spiritual beliefs.[37] In his books, Michael Mamas makes the case for integrating Eastern spiritual knowledge with Western rational thought.[38][39]

The term “spiritual” is now frequently used in contexts in which the term “religious” was formerly employed. Both theists and atheists have criticized this development.[40][41]

Rabbinic Judaism (or in some Christian traditions, Rabbinism) (Hebrew: “Yahadut Rabanit” – ) has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century CE, after the codification of the Talmud. It is characterised by the belief that the Written Torah (“Law” or “Instruction”) cannot be correctly interpreted without reference to the Oral Torah and by the voluminous literature specifying what behavior is sanctioned by the law (called halakha, “the way”).

Judaism knows a variety of religious observances: ethical rules, prayers, religious clothing, holidays, shabbat, pilgrimages, Torah reading, dietary laws.

Kabbalah (literally “receiving”), is an esoteric method, discipline and school of thought of Judaism. Its definition varies according to the tradition and aims of those following it,[42] from its religious origin as an integral part of Judaism, to its later Christian, New Age, or Occultist syncretic adaptations. Kabbalah is a set of esoteric teachings meant to explain the relationship between an unchanging, eternal and mysterious Ein Sof (no end) and the mortal and finite universe (his creation). While it is heavily used by some denominations, it is not a religious denomination in itself. Inside Judaism, it forms the foundations of mystical religious interpretation. Outside Judaism, its scriptures are read outside the traditional canons of organised religion. Kabbalah seeks to define the nature of the universe and the human being, the nature and purpose of existence, and various other ontological questions. It also presents methods to aid understanding of these concepts and to thereby attain spiritual realisation.

Hasidic Judaism, meaning “piety” (or “loving kindness”), is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality through the popularisation and internalisation of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspect of the faith. It was founded in 18th-century Eastern Europe by Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov as a reaction against overly legalistic Judaism. His example began the characteristic veneration of leadership in Hasidism as embodiments and intercessors of Divinity for the followers.[citation needed] Opposite to this, Hasidic teachings cherished the sincerity and concealed holiness of the unlettered common folk, and their equality with the scholarly elite. The emphasis on the Immanent Divine presence in everything gave new value to prayer and deeds of kindness, alongside Rabbinic supremacy of study, and replaced historical mystical (kabbalistic) and ethical (musar) asceticism and admonishment with optimism,[citation needed] encouragement, and daily fervour. This populist emotional revival accompanied the elite ideal of nullification to paradoxical Divine Panentheism, through intellectual articulation of inner dimensions of mystical thought.

Catholic spirituality is the spiritual practice of living out a personal act of faith (fides qua creditur) following the acceptance of faith (fides quae creditur). Although all Catholics are expected to pray together at Mass, there are many different forms of spirituality and private prayer which have developed over the centuries. Each of the major religious orders of the Catholic Church and other lay groupings have their own unique spirituality – its own way of approaching God in prayer and in living out the Gospel.

Christian mysticism refers to the development of mystical practices and theory within Christianity. It has often been connected to mystical theology, especially in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions. The attributes and means by which Christian mysticism is studied and practiced are varied and range from ecstatic visions of the soul’s mystical union with God to simple prayerful contemplation of Holy Scripture (i.e., Lectio Divina).

Progressive Christianity is a contemporary movement which seeks to remove the supernatural claims of the faith and replace them with a post-critical understanding of biblical spirituality based on historical and scientific research. It focuses on the lived experience of spirituality over historical dogmatic claims, and accepts that the faith is both true and a human construction, and that spiritual experiences are psychologically and neurally real and useful.

The Pillars of Islam (arkan al-Islam; also arkan ad-din, “pillars of religion”) are five basic acts in Islam, considered obligatory for all believers. The Quran presents them as a framework for worship and a sign of commitment to the faith. They are (1) the shahadah (creed), (2) daily prayers (salat), (3) almsgiving (zakah), (4) fasting during Ramadan and (5) the pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj) at least once in a lifetime. The Shia and Sunni sects both agree on the essential details for the performance of these acts.[43]

The best known form of Islamic mystic spirituality is the Sufi tradition (famous through Rumi and Hafiz) in which a spiritual master or pir transmits spiritual discipline to students.[44]

Sufism or taawwuf (Arabic: ) is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam.[45][46][47] A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a f (). Sufis believe they are practicing ihsan (perfection of worship) as revealed by Gabriel to Muhammad,

Worship and serve Allah as you are seeing Him and while you see Him not yet truly He sees you.

Sufis consider themselves as the original true proponents of this pure original form of Islam. They are strong adherents to the principal of tolerance, peace and against any form of violence. The Sufi have suffered severe persecution by more rigid and fundamentalist groups such as the Wahhabi and Salafi movement. In 1843 the Senussi Sufi were forced to flee Mecca and Medina and head to Sudan and Libya.[48]

Classical Sufi scholars have defined Sufism as “a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but God”.[49] Alternatively, in the words of the Darqawi Sufi teacher Ahmad ibn Ajiba, “a science through which one can know how to travel into the presence of the Divine, purify one’s inner self from filth, and beautify it with a variety of praiseworthy traits”.[50]

Jihad is a religious duty of Muslims. In Arabic, the word jihd translates as a noun meaning “struggle”. There are two commonly accepted meanings of jihad: an inner spiritual struggle and an outer physical struggle. The “greater jihad” is the inner struggle by a believer to fulfill his religious duties.[52] This non-violent meaning is stressed by both Muslim[53] and non-Muslim[54] authors.

Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, an 11th-century Islamic scholar, referenced a statement by the companion of Muhammad, Jabir ibn Abd-Allah:

The Prophet … returned from one of his battles, and thereupon told us, ‘You have arrived with an excellent arrival, you have come from the Lesser Jihad to the Greater Jihadthe striving of a servant (of Allah) against his desires (holy war).”[unreliable source?][55][56][note 6]

Buddhist practices are known as Bhavana, which literally means “development” or “cultivating”[57] or “producing”[58][59] in the sense of “calling into existence.”[60] It is an important concept in Buddhist praxis (Patipatti). The word bhavana normally appears in conjunction with another word forming a compound phrase such as citta-bhavana (the development or cultivation of the heart/mind) or metta-bhavana (the development/cultivation of lovingkindness). When used on its own bhavana signifies ‘spiritual cultivation’ generally.

Various Buddhist Paths to liberation developed throughout the ages. Best-known is the Noble Eightfold Path, but others include the Bodhisattva Path and Lamrim.

Three of four paths of spirituality in Hinduism

Hinduism has no traditional ecclesiastical order, no centralized religious authorities, no governing body, no prophet(s) nor any binding holy book; Hindus can choose to be polytheistic, pantheistic, monistic, or atheistic.[61] Within this diffuse and open structure, spirituality in Hindu philosophy is an individual experience, and referred to as ksaitraja (Sanskrit: [62]). It defines spiritual practice as one’s journey towards moksha, awareness of self, the discovery of higher truths, true nature of reality, and a consciousness that is liberated and content.[63][64]

Traditionally, Hinduism identifies three mrga (ways)[65][note 7] of spiritual practice,[66] namely Jna, the way of knowledge; Bhakti, the way of devotion; and Karma yoga, the way of selfless action. In the 19th century Vivekananda, in his neo-Vedanta synthesis of Hinduism, added Rja yoga, the way of contemplation and meditation, as a fourth way, calling all of them “yoga.”[note 8]

Jna marga is a path often assisted by a guru (teacher) in one’s spiritual practice.[69] Bhakti marga is a path of faith and devotion to deity or deities; the spiritual practice often includes chanting, singing and music – such as in kirtans – in front of idols, or images of one or more deity, or a devotional symbol of the holy.[70] Karma marga is the path of one’s work, where diligent practical work or vartta (Sanskrit: , profession) becomes in itself a spiritual practice, and work in daily life is perfected as a form of spiritual liberation and not for its material rewards.[71][72] Rja marga is the path of cultivating necessary virtues, self-discipline, tapas (meditation), contemplation and self-reflection sometimes with isolation and renunciation of the world, to a pinnacle state called samdhi.[73][74] This state of samdhi has been compared to peak experience.[75]

There is a rigorous debate in Indian literature on relative merits of these theoretical spiritual practices. For example, Chandogyopanishad suggests that those who engage in ritualistic offerings to gods and priests will fail in their spiritual practice, while those who engage in tapas will succeed; Svetasvataropanishad suggests that a successful spiritual practice requires a longing for truth, but warns of becoming ‘false ascetic’ who go through the mechanics of spiritual practice without meditating on the nature of Self and universal Truths.[76] In the practice of Hinduism, suggest modern era scholars such as Vivekananda, the choice between the paths is up to the individual and a person’s proclivities.[64][77] Other scholars[78] suggest that these Hindu spiritual practices are not mutually exclusive, but overlapping. These four paths of spirituality are also known in Hinduism outside India, such as in Balinese Hinduism, where it is called Catur Marga (literally: four paths).[79]

Different schools of Hinduism encourage different spiritual practices. In Tantric school for example, the spiritual practice has been referred to as sdhan. It involves initiation into the school, undergoing rituals, and achieving moksha liberation by experiencing union of cosmic polarities.[80] The Hare Krishna school emphasizes bhakti yoga as spiritual practice.[81] In Advaita Vedanta school, the spiritual practice emphasizes jna yoga in stages: samnyasa (cultivate virtues), sravana (hear, study), manana (reflect) and dhyana (nididhyasana, contemplate).[82]

Sikhism considers spiritual life and secular life to be intertwined:[83] “In the Sikh Weltanschauung…the temporal world is part of the Infinite Reality and partakes of its characteristics.”[84] Guru Nanak described living an “active, creative, and practical life” of “truthfulness, fidelity, self-control and purity” as being higher than a purely contemplative life.[85]

The 6th Sikh Guru Guru Hargobind re-affirmed that the political/temporal (Miri) and spiritual (Piri) realms are mutually coexistent.[86] According to the 9th Sikh Guru, Tegh Bahadhur, the ideal Sikh should have both Shakti (power that resides in the temporal), and Bhakti (spiritual meditative qualities). This was developed into the concept of the Saint Soldier by the 10th Sikh Guru, Gobind Singh.[87]

According to Guru Nanak, the goal is to attain the “attendant balance of separation-fusion, self-other, action-inaction, attachment-detachment, in the course of daily life”,[88] the polar opposite to a self-centered existence.[88] Nanak talks further about the one God or Akal (timelessness) that permeates all life[89]).[90][91][92] and which must be seen with ‘the inward eye’, or the ‘heart’, of a human being.[93]

In Sikhism there is no dogma,[94]priests, monastics or yogis.

In some African contexts, spirituality is considered a belief system that guides the welfare of society and the people therein, and eradicates sources of unhappiness occasioned by evil.

The term “spiritual” is now frequently used in contexts in which the term “religious” was formerly employed. Contemporary spirituality is also called “post-traditional spirituality” and “New Age spirituality”. Hanegraaf makes a distinction between two “New Age” movements: New Age in a restricted sense, which originated primarily in mid-twentieth century England and had its roots in Theosophy and Anthroposophy, and “New Age” in a general sense, which emerged in the later 1970s

when increasing numbers of people … began to perceive a broad similarity between a wide variety of “alternative ideas” and pursuits, and started to think of them as part of one “movement””.

Those who speak of spirituality outside of religion often define themselves as spiritual but not religious and generally believe in the existence of different “spiritual paths,” emphasizing the importance of finding one’s own individual path to spirituality. According to one 2005 poll, about 24% of the United States population identifies itself as spiritual but not religious.[web 8]

Modern spirituality is centered on the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.”[97] It embraces the idea of an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality.[98] It envisions an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being.

Not all modern notions of spirituality embrace transcendental ideas. Secular spirituality emphasizes humanistic ideas on moral character (qualities such as love, compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, responsibility, harmony, and a concern for others).[99]:22 These are aspects of life and human experience which go beyond a purely materialist view of the world without necessarily accepting belief in a supernatural reality or divine being. Nevertheless, many humanists (e.g. Bertrand Russell, Jean-Paul Sartre) who clearly value the non-material, communal and virtuous aspects of life reject this usage of the term spirituality as being overly-broad (i.e. it effectively amounts to saying “everything and anything that is good and virtuous is necessarily spiritual”)[100] Similarly, Aristotleone of the first known Western thinkers to demonstrate that morality, virtue and goodness can be derived without appealing to supernatural forceseven argued that “men create Gods in their own image” (not the other way around). Moreover, theistic and atheistic critics alike dismiss the need for the “secular spirituality” label on the basis that i) the term “spirit” is commonly taken as denoting the existence of unseen / otherworldly / life-giving forces and ii) words such as morality, philanthropy and humanism already efficiently and succinctly describe the prosocial-orientation and civility that the phrase secular spirituality is meant to convey but without risk of potential confusion that one is referring to something supernatural.

Although personal well-being, both physical and psychological, is said to be an important aspect of modern spirituality, this does not imply spirituality is essential to achieving happiness (e.g. see). Free-thinkers who reject notions that the numinous/non-material is important to living well can be just as happy as more spiritually-oriented individuals (see)[101]

Contemporary spirituality theorists assert that spirituality develops inner peace and forms a foundation for happiness. For example, Meditation and similar practices are suggested to help practitioners cultivate his or her inner life and character.[102][unreliable source?][103] Ellison and Fan (2008) assert that spirituality causes a wide array of positive health outcomes, including “morale, happiness, and life satisfaction.”.[104] However, Schuurmans-Stekhoven (2013) actively attempted to replicate this research and found more “mixed” results.[105] Nevertheless, spirituality has played a central role in self-help movements such as Alcoholics Anonymous:

if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead[106]

“Spiritual experience” plays a central role in modern spirituality. This notion has been popularised by both western and Asian authors. Important early 20th century western writers who studied the phenomenon of spirituality, and their works, include William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902), and Rudolph Otto, especially The Idea of the Holy (1917). James’ notions of “spiritual experience” had a further influence on the modernist streams in Asian traditions, making them even further recognisable for a western audience.

William James popularized the use of the term “religious experience” in his The Varieties of Religious Experience. It has also influenced the understanding of mysticism as a distinctive experience which supplies knowledge.[web 9]

Wayne Proudfoot traces the roots of the notion of “religious experience” further back to the German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher (17681834), who argued that religion is based on a feeling of the infinite. The notion of “religious experience” was used by Schleiermacher to defend religion against the growing scientific and secular critique. It was adopted by many scholars of religion, of which William James was the most influential.

Major Asian influences were Vivekananda and D.T. Suzuki.Swami Vivekananda popularised a modern syncretitistic Hinduism, in which the authority of the scriptures was replaced by an emphasis on personal experience.D.T. Suzuki had a major influence on the popularisation of Zen in the west and popularized the idea of enlightenment as insight into a timeless, transcendent reality.[web 10][web 11] Another example can be seen in Paul Brunton’s A Search in Secret India, which introduced Ramana Maharshi and Meher Baba to a western audience.

Spiritual experiences can include being connected to a larger reality, yielding a more comprehensive self; joining with other individuals or the human community; with nature or the cosmos; or with the divine realm.[114]

Waaijman discerns four forms of spiritual practices:

Spiritual practices may include meditation, mindfulness, prayer, the contemplation of sacred texts, ethical development,[99] and the use of psychoactive substances (entheogens). Love and/or compassion are often[quantify] described as the mainstay of spiritual development.[99]

Within spirituality is also found “a common emphasis on the value of thoughtfulness, tolerance for breadth and practices and beliefs, and appreciation for the insights of other religious communities, as well as other sources of authority within the social sciences.”[117]

Since the scientific revolution, the relationship of science to religion and spirituality has developed in complex ways.[118][119] Historian John Hedley Brooke describes wide variations:

The natural sciences have been invested with religious meaning, with antireligious implications and, in many contexts, with no religious significance at all.”[119]

It has been proposed that the currently held popular notion of antagonisms between science and religion[120][121] has historically originated with “thinkers with a social or political axe to grind” rather than with the natural philosophers themselves.[119] Though physical and biological scientists today avoid supernatural explanations to describe reality[122][123][124][note 9], some scientists continue to consider science and spirituality to be complementary, not contradictory,[125][126] and are willing to debate.[127]

A few religious leaders have also shown openness to modern science and its methods. The 14th Dalai Lama has proposed that if a scientific analysis conclusively showed certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then the claims must be abandoned and the findings of science accepted.[128]

During the twentieth century the relationship between science and spirituality has been influenced both by Freudian psychology, which has accentuated the boundaries between the two areas by accentuating individualism and secularism, and by developments in particle physics, which reopened the debate about complementarity between scientific and religious discourse and rekindled for many an interest in holistic conceptions of reality.[119]:322 These holistic conceptions were championed by New Age spiritualists in a type of quantum mysticism that they claim justifies their spiritual beliefs,[129][130] though quantum physicists themselves on the whole reject such attempts as being pseudoscientific.[131][132]

Various studies (most originating from North America) have reported a positive correlation between spirituality and mental well-being in both healthy people and those encountering a range of physical illnesses or psychological disorders.[133][134][135][136] Although spiritual individuals tend to be optimistic, report greater social support,[137] and experience higher intrinsic meaning in life,[138] strength, and inner peace.,[139] whether the correlation represents a causal link remains contentious. Both supporters and opponents of this claim agree that past statistical findings are difficult to interpret, in large part because of the ongoing disagreement over how spirituality should be defined and measured.[140] There is also evidence that an agreeable / positive temperament and/or a tendency toward sociability (which all correlate with spirituality) might actually be the key psychological features that predispose people to subsequently adopt a spiritual orientation and that these characteristics, not spiritually per se, add to well-being. There is also some suggestion that the benefits associated with spirituality and religiosity might arise from being a member of a close-knit community. Social bonds available via secular sources (i.e., not unique to spirituality or faith-based groups) might just as effectively raise well-being. In sum, spirituality may not be the “active ingredient” (i.e. past association with psychological well-being measures might reflect a reverse causation or effects from other variables that correlate with spirituality),[100][141][142][143][144][145][146] and that the effects of agreeableness, conscientiousness, or virtuepersonality traits common in many non-spiritual people yet known to be slightly more common among the spiritualmay better account for spirituality’s apparent correlation with mental health and social support.[147][148][149][150][151]

Masters and Spielmans[152] conducted a meta-analysis of all the available and reputable research examining the effects of distant intercessory prayer. They found no discernible health effects from being prayed for by others.

Neuroscientists have examined brain functioning during reported spiritual experiences[153][154] finding that certain neurotransmitters and specific areas of the brain are involved.[155][156][157][158] Moreover, experimenters have also successfully induced spiritual experiences in individuals by administering psychoactive agents known to elicit euphoria and perceptual distortions.[159][160] Conversely, religiosity and spirituality can also be dampened by electromagnetic stimulation of the brain.[161] These results have motivated some leading theorists to speculate that spirituality may be a benign subtype of psychosis (see).[142][162][163][164][165] Benign in the sense that the same aberrant sensory perceptions that those suffering clinical psychoses evaluate as distressingly in-congruent and inexplicable are instead interpreted by spiritual individuals as positiveas personal and meaningful transcendent experiences.[163][164]

In the health-care professions there is growing[quantify] interest in “spiritual care”, to complement the medical-technical approaches and to improve the outcomes of medical treatments.[need quotation to verify][pageneeded] For example, Puchalski et al., who argue for “compassionate systems of care”, offer the following definition of spirituality in the operationalization of spiritual care:

Spirituality is a dynamic and intrinsic aspect of humanity through which persons seek ultimate meaning, purpose, and transcendence, and experience relationship to self, family, others, community, society, nature, and the significant or sacred. Spirituality is expressed through beliefs, values, traditions, and practices.

However, again the problem here is that numerous atheists such as Arthur Schopenhauer, Bertrand Russell, A.C. Grayling and Aristotle who would personally recoil at being labelled “spiritual” or believers in the supernatural would nevertheless still endorse the pursuit of meaning and purpose and personal efforts to transcend the self. Put frankly, those who term themselves spiritual do not have a monopoly on either compassion or civility.[168] Once the views of such humanist philosophers and the results from psychological surveys are accepted, spirituality seems to boil down to a label given to a particular sub-type from among the broader set of compassionate/civil people.

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Spirituality – Wikipedia

Spirituality – definition of spirituality by The Free …

This warmer light mingles itself with the cold spirituality of the moon-beams, and communicates, as it were, a heart and sensibilities of human tenderness to the forms which fancy summons tip. There was animalism in the soul, and the body had its moments of spirituality. It is, therefore, not among our aristocracy that we must look (if at all, in Appallachia), for the spirituality of a British boudoir. Eager was as full of spirituality and culture as she had been led to suppose. It was not exactly spirituality that was obvious, though the screen of the flesh seemed almost transparent, because there was in his face an outrageous sensuality; but, though it sounds nonsense, it seemed as though his sensuality were curiously spiritual. There is a spirituality about the face, however”–she gently turned it towards the light–“which the typewriter does not generate. And he involuntarily compared the two: the lack of spirituality in the one and the abundance of it in the other- a spirituality he himself lacked and therefore valued most highly. The small boys wore excellent corduroy, the girls went out as tidy servants, or did a little straw-plaiting at home: no looms here, no Dissent; and though the public disposition was rather towards laying by money than towards spirituality, there was not much vice. He vigorously attacked the Dissenting denominations, because he believed them to be a conspicuous embodiment of Philistine lack of Sweetness and Light, with an unlovely insistence on unimportant external details and a fatal blindness to the meaning of real beauty and real spirituality. In structure he was the blonde beast of Nietzsche, but all this animal beauty was heightened, brightened and softened by genuine intellect and spirituality. Our beloved Madame Flintwinch,’ said Rigaud, ‘developing all of a sudden a fine susceptibility and spirituality, is right to a marvel. Spirituality factors in the prediction of outcomes of PTSD treatment for U.

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Exploring the Meaning of Spirituality – dummies

By Sharon Janis

One of the great gifts of spiritual knowledge is that it realigns your sense of self to something you may not have even ever imagined was within you. Spirituality says that even if you think youre limited and small, it simply isnt so. Youre greater and more powerful than you have ever imagined. A great and divine light exists inside of you. This same light is also in everyone you know and in everyone you will ever know in the future. You may think youre limited to just your physical body and state of affairs including your gender, race, family, job, and status in life but spirituality comes in and says there is more than this.

Notice that spirit sounds similar to words like inspire and expire. This is especially appropriate because when youre filled with spiritual energy, you feel great inspiration, and when the spiritual life force leaves your body, your time on this earth expires. These are two of the main themes of the spiritual journey:

The study of spirituality goes deeply into the heart of every matter and extends far beyond the physical world of matter. Spirituality connects you with the profoundly powerful and divine force thats present in this universe. Whether youre looking for worldly success, inner peace, or supreme enlightenment, no knowledge can propel you to achieve your goals and provide as effective a plan for living as does spiritual knowledge.

Perhaps the best way to think about a spiritual approach to the world is to contrast it with a more common materialistic approach.

One of the main teachings of spirituality is to look within and find what you seek within yourself. The external world is ephemeral, temporary, and ever changing; in fact, your body will die one day, sweeping all those worldly accoutrements away like a mere pile of dust. Your inner realm, on the other hand, is timeless, eternal, and deeply profound.

Although religion and spirituality are sometimes used interchangeably, they really indicate two different aspects of the human experience. You might say that spirituality is the mystical face of religion.

Looking beyond outer appearances to the deeper significance and soul of everything

Love and respect for God

Love and respect for yourself

Love and respect for everybody

Different religions can look quite unlike one another. Some participants bow to colorful statues of deities, others listen to inspired sermons while dressed in their Sunday finery, and yet others set out their prayer rugs five times a day to bow their heads to the ground. Regardless of these different outer manifestations of worship, the kernel of religion is spirituality, and the essence of spirituality is God or the Supreme Being.

Spirituality is:

As one becomes more spiritual, animalistic aggressions of fighting and trying to control the beliefs of other people can be cast off like an old set of clothes that no longer fits. In fact, many seekers begin to feel that every image of divinity is just one more face of their own, eternally ever-present God.

Loving and respecting all religions and images of God doesnt mean that you have to agree with all their doctrines. In fact, you dont even have to believe and agree with every element and doctrine of your own religion! This goes for any teachings you may encounter along your path. Everybody thinks that what they are doing is right. Thats whats so fun about the world. Everybody is doing something different, and each one believes deep in his soul that what he believes is right some with more contemplation and conviction than others.

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Exploring the Meaning of Spirituality – dummies

Spirituality What is spirituality? – AllAboutSpirituality.org

Spirituality – Is it Religion? Spirituality extends beyond an expression of religion or practice of religion. There is a pursuit for a spiritual dimension that not only inspires, but creates harmony with the universe. That relationship between ourselves and something greater compels us to seek answers about the infinite. During times of intense emotional, mental, or physical stress, man searches for transcendent meaning, oftentimes through nature, music, the arts, or a set of philosophical beliefs. This often results in a broad set of principles that transcends all religions.

While spirituality and religion remain different, sometimes the terms are used interchangeably. This lack of clarity in their definitions frequently leads to debates. Suppose ones spirituality leads to the formation of a religion? Is it necessary for a spiritual person to be religious? Through certain actions, an individual may appear outwardly religious, and yet lack any underlying principles of spirituality. In its broadest sense, spirituality may include religion for some, but still stands alone without a connection to any specific faith.

Spirituality – What is it? The search for spirituality, mans connection to something beyond the temporal, sends him wandering down paths that offer unsatisfactory results. The Far East offers shrines that contain hundreds of statues. Worshippers choose a statue that most resembles an ancestor and pray to it. A piece of stone or rock represents ones personal and intimate relationship with the spiritual realm. During the 4th and 5th centuries B.C., Athens was a vital culture center with a world-famous university. The Athenians were firm and rigid in their spirituality as well as their reverencing of their deities (i.e. religion). Yet the meeting place of the Council of the Areopagus, the supreme body for judicial and legislative matters, contained an altar with the inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.

Whether spirituality is sought through pagan religious experiences, psychic experiments, or tapping the hidden capabilities of man the results are disastrous. In addition to the overtly religious cults, there is a pursuit into the cosmic spiritual realm where man attempts to establish contact with actual spiritual beings. Ironically, in an effort to acquire tranquility and inspiration, man surrenders his soul to astrology, mediators, meditation, mind control, and demonic spirits (Isaiah 47:1215).

Spirituality – What is True Spirituality True spirituality involves a daily trust in the One that created us. [Jesus Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or power or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Colossians 1:1517).

It is not a religion that holds us to a set of rules or traditions. It is not attained through any human worthiness. It is about a relationship that God offers us, an eternal life with Him.

What is your response?

Yes, today I am deciding to follow Jesus

Yes, I am already a follower of Jesus

I still have questions

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Spirituality What is spirituality? – AllAboutSpirituality.org

A Culture of Spirituality, by Sadhguru – Easterneye (press release) (subscription)

It is natural for human intelligence to seek what is life and beyond to look at life and to long to know. So how can you avoid spirituality? You have managed to avoid it for a long time because you are deeply attached and identified with things that you are not. When I say things that you are not, it includes your body and your mind. Once you are identified with something that you are not, your intelligence is twisted out. It cannot see anything straight because from then on, it works only from that identity. Suppose you say, I am a woman, the way you think, the way you feel, everything is like a woman. You got identified with a few body parts. Your intelligence cannot see anything straight.

This is the reason a spiritual program becomes necessary. If people were not twisted out, spirituality would be a natural thing. It would not be something that someone has to teach you and remind you of. It is very natural for you to look around and see that there seems to be something beyond the physicality of life it is so simple to know it. It is unbelievable how such a large segment of population goes without noticing it. If you just close your eyes for two minutes, you can see that you seem to be a little more than a body. So why does someone have to come and remind you?

Anyone can see it, but just a handful of people do, because right from childhood, everybody around you is a vested interest. Everybody is encouraging you to get identified with them. Your parents want you to get identified with them, your teachers want you to get identified with them and their kind of education, your leaders and others want you to get identified with their nation, caste, creed and whatever else, because everybody has their own agenda, their own desire to gather people and use them for their purposes.

I am not saying all the activity that is being done is of no worth. There is worth to it, but just because you are doing something, there is no need to be identified with it, even if it is extremely useful. The moment you get identified, you get twisted out, and twisted out human beings cannot truly bring wellbeing to people. The moment you are identified with something, you split the world into a million pieces. Once you split everything in your perception, everything that you do will only enhance that split and that is not for the ultimate wellbeing of humanity at all.

In a way, it is really a shame that we have to go about reminding people about their spirituality. We want the spiritual process to become a part of living culture. Like how a mother teaches a child to brush his teeth, we want the spiritual process to become like that without any effort, without the mother knowing about it, she teaches her child the spiritual process. It was so in this culture just a generation or two ago. Even today in India, the essence of the spiritual process is not controlled by any one organization. There is no one guiding and controlling it as it is done in other parts of the world. It is just a part of ones life. Everyone teaches it the way they know it. The spiritual process was made so much a part of life.

It has been left unregulated like this because it was never an organized process of religion. It was just various methods for ones evolution. This country is the only godless country on the planet because there is no concretized idea of God here. Anyone can worship whatever they feel like. People are worshipping all kinds of things. There is no such word as heretic in India because every human being has some sense of love or devotion towards something. Somebody loves their mother, somebody loves their god, somebody loves money, somebody loves their work, somebody loves their dog, somebody loves their cow. It does not matter what, he is on the spiritual path. The question is just whether his spiritual path is feeble or strong; but there is nobody who is not on the path. Everybody is on the path in his own erratic way.

Ranked amongst the fifty most influential people in India, Sadhguru is ayogi, mystic, visionary and bestselling author. The head of Isha Foundation, Sadhguru has been conferred the Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India in 2017, the highest civilian award of the year, accorded for exceptional and distinguished service.http://isha.sadhguru.org/

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A Culture of Spirituality, by Sadhguru – Easterneye (press release) (subscription)

On a hilltop in Makanda, an eclectic group finds spirituality in totality – The Southern

MAKANDA On a hilltop west of Illinois 51, a special gathering of eclipse enthusiasts came together to celebrate Mondays event.

Some came to banish negative aspects of their lives leaving them with the temporary darkness of the eclipse, while others came to be surrounded by like-minded friends, and perhaps find their own spiritual awakening in the shadow of the sun.

The party, hosted by Dancing Willow Farm and the Southern Illinois Pagan Alliance, had visitors from across the country. As the moon began crossing in front of the sun, children ran in the grass and were occasionally scolded by parents.

Get your glasses on, one parent exclaimed at his child, who was looking into the sun unprotected. Do you want me to keep you inside until it happens?

Dancing Willow Farm is the home of Curt Wilson and his family. Wilson said he wanted to have a place for people to come celebrate the major astronomical event in their own way.

We wanted to provide a space for all of our good-hearted friends and their friends, he said.

Persons of various faiths Pagans, Buddhists, Unitarians and spiritual people who don’t subscribe to a particular faith came for different reasons, but many used one word to describe the significance of the eclipse transformation.

Georgia De la Garza, a Cherokee from Carbondale, said that is exactly what it was for her. De la Garza said in her own life, she is transitioning into new roles as her children have recently moved out of the house.

Im transforming into a single person again, she said, adding that she was also a widow.

As the sun went dark and silver light touched everything in sight, people cheered, some kissed, some cried. Many in attendance wrote on black pieces of paper negative things they want banished from their lives and placed them into a black cauldron filled with water.

Tara Nelson, president of SIPA, said during totality, she tried to walk a fine line of experiencing and guiding.

Georgia de la Garza (middle) experiences the end of totality Monday, as Tara Nelson (left) finishes a Pagan banishment ritual in Makanda.

I was trying really hard to balance experiencing something myself and to lead people, Nelson said.

Nelson said she was also surprised at how many people wanted to participate in the Pagan banishing ritual.

People were realizing, Hey, I want to be part of this thing, Nelson said.

Nelson said in the build-up to totality she did not know what to expect.

I was almost ready to be completely disappointed, she said.

She wasnt, though.

Then all of the sudden, bam, Nelson said of totality. She said she was in awe. She said she made a special effort to not just look up, but to look around. She saw the corona of the sun, but also the 360-degree sunset effect from her spot on the hill. Blushes of pink and purple touched the horizon and clouds glowed in the dusky sky.

Ty Barker, of Summerville, Georgia, said the eclipse was exactly what he was hoping for.

It was incredible. Ive wanted to see one my whole life, he said.

The event also provided Barker a way to get off on the right foot with friend-turned-girlfriend Miriam Hughes of Chicago. The two only recently became official and said meeting in Makanda was almost exactly halfway between Summerville and Chicago, a perfect way to meet up, providing them with a proper start to their relationship.

Ty Barker (left) of Summerville, Georgia, embraces girlfriend Miriam Hughes, of Chicago, during totality Monday in Makanda. The two only recently became a couple though they have been friends for three years they only just made their relationship official. They met in Makanda to be with friends and realized it was exactly the halfway point between their two homes.

Barker said it was a truifying, optimistic experience.

Seeing his friends and their friends come together to celebrate was a powerful experience for Wilson. He said all of the faiths represented at the gathering provide something important to each practitioner.

These traditions can help bring personal, emotional and psychological balance, Wilson said.

More than anything, though, he was just in awe of the community that came together in and around his house. People singing together, sharing food, talking to strangers, making new friends.

I have a sense of gratitude in community, Wilson said.

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On a hilltop in Makanda, an eclectic group finds spirituality in totality – The Southern

Your Cancer Answers: How can I improve my spiritual health? | Your … – Santa Maria Times (subscription)

QUESTION: How can I improve my spiritual health?

Spirituality is the way you find meaning, hope, comfort and inner peace — I call it finding your Zen. Some people find spirituality through prayer or religion, but many others find it through music, yoga, art, nature, meditation or even exercise.

It is clear that the body, mind and spirit are connected and the health of any one of these elements seems to affect the others. Some research shows that things such as positive beliefs, comfort and strength gained from religion, meditation and prayer can contribute in healing. This can be so important for cancer patients because not only is the diagnosis stressful, but often the treatments can take a toll on ones body. Improving your spiritual health may not cure the disease, but will often make you feel better, help you cope with the cancer and lessen the stress of the cancer treatments.

Most doctors are still uncomfortable discussing spirituality with patients, but I feel it should be part of the routine initial history intake and is just as important as what medications the patient takes or the patients family history. It gives me great insight as to how a patient will handle stress, if I know the way they find their inner peace. If your doctor does not address this with you, you should be able to discuss your spirituality or beliefs openly with him or her and how it affects your health.

I personally find peace and strength in prayer and always offer this to my patients at their initial consultation. I find the word “pray” crosses all boundaries and all religions and therefore does not offend any particular religion and is a safe way to offer my comfort to patients. In my 25 years of practicing medicine, I have only had two patients who told me they didnt believe in prayer. Patients tell me all the time how much they appreciate that I pray for them and that they know a higher power is working through me.

If you want to try to improve your spiritual health, then identify things that give you a sense of inner peace and take the worry and stress out of your life. Then do those things on a regular basis, whether it be meditating before you receive your chemotherapy or listening to music while you undergo an X-ray procedure. Stress is immunosuppressive and very bad for cancer patients, so it is important to try to eliminate or decrease it as much as possible. Set aside time every day to do the things that help you, such as praying, meditating, singing, taking nature walks, reading, doing yoga or exercising.

Join us for the lecture Spirituality and Your Health on Wednesday at 5 p.m. at the Mission Hope Cancer Center Conference Room. To RSVP, call 219-4673.

* * *

Have a question for “Your Cancer Answers,” a weekly column produced by Marian Regional Medical Center, Cancer Program? Email it to mariancancercare@dignityhealth.org.

Dr. Monica Rocco is a board-certified general surgeon who has devoted her surgical practice to caring for patients with breast disease and providing diagnosis and care before, during and after surgery. She serves as a member of the Marian Regional Medical Centers specialized surgical staff and oversees the Mission Hope Breast Care Center. She is also the surgical director of Marian Cancer Care. Rocco can be reached at 346-3456.

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Your Cancer Answers: How can I improve my spiritual health? | Your … – Santa Maria Times (subscription)

Try This Healing Meditation During the Solar Eclipse – NBCNews.com

Aug.20.2017 / 4:58 PM ET

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The upcoming solar eclipse event reminds us of the spectacular and sacred nature of the planet we inhabit. It puts our human place in the cosmos in vivid perspective, reminding us that we are part of a much larger world that is not dependent upon our human activity. The eclipse may evoke spiritual responses of awe, wonder and humility, even when we understand the science behind it. Witnessing such a powerful event truly calls us to a relationship of reverence with life.

During the eclipse we may experience shifts in our energy and our consciousness that remind us of how fully our interior landscape mirrors the outer landscape when we are receptive to that connection. The metaphorical significance of a solar eclipse, the temporary darkening of light, can invite deep, meaningful reflection on powerful interplay of darkness and light in our ordinary lives.

Witnessing such a powerful event truly calls us to a relationship of reverence with life.

Witnessing such a powerful event truly calls us to a relationship of reverence with life.

To enrich your experience of the solar eclipse spirituality to allow nature to serve as a spiritual teacher for you take some intentional time at the start of the transition for the following guided meditation practice.

How to Prepare: Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit outdoors. (Bring protective eye wear if you’re planning to view the eclipse.) Have a journal and pen, sketchpad and pencils, watercolors and paper or some other materials for creative expression with you.

While the Eclipse Is Happening, Focus on These Steps:

Stephanie Ludwig, M.Div., M.A., Ph.D is the director of spiritual wellness at Canyon Ranch Wellness Resort in Tucson, Arizona.

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Try This Healing Meditation During the Solar Eclipse – NBCNews.com

Biblio File: Chico author taps into animal spirituality – Oroville Mercury Register

When I was a kid, Chicoan Cara Gubbins writes on her website (caragubbins.com), I dreamed of being Dr. Doolittle when I grew up. In 2010, my dream came true when I started doing Animal Intuitive and Pet Medium Readings bridging the communication gap between pets and people.

Her story is told in Divine Beings: The Spiritual Lives And Lessons Of Animals ($12.95 in paperback from CreateSpace; also for Amazon Kindle). In a conversational tone Gubbins describes her quest to reconcile her scientific training as a biologist (with a doctorate in ecology, evolution and conservation biology from the University of Nevada, Reno) with her growing awareness of the spirituality of non-human animals.

Comparing notes with her friend Ellery, a nurse who also happens to be a psychic that is able to talk to animals, they found when they each independently talked to dozens of birds, insects, mammals and reptiles asking our own questions of the animals or focusing in on our own intuitive information and awareness, there was almost complete agreement.

Ten chapters are devoted to spiritual messages shared by animals, from dogs and cats to a gray whale, snake, a bottlenose dolphin, and, perhaps most interestingly, a little brown bat. Gubbins asks the animals three questions: What is your spiritual lesson? What is your spiritual gift? What message do you have for humans? Each chapter presents biological information, how the animals have been portrayed in mythology, and, in some cases, a myth-busting message.

Babylonian mythology said bats represented the souls of the dead. For bats, though, the story is about selfless surrender to the group. My personal message from the bats (my interpretation of their message to my own life) is to stop isolating myself, to share myself openly with friends, family and community.

The final chapter is on Gubbins own message. We are love, she writes. We are all connected. We are one.

The author will have a booth at the Walk, Woof, Wag fundraiser for the Chico Animal Shelter Medical Fund, Saturday, Sept. 16 at One Mile in lower Bidwell Park. Shell offer intuitive pet readings for a $10 donation to the fund.

Dan Barnett teaches philosophy at Butte College. Send review requests to dbarnett99@me.com. Columns archived at http://dielbee.blogspot.com.


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Biblio File: Chico author taps into animal spirituality – Oroville Mercury Register

New Age – Wikipedia

The New Age is a term applied to a range of spiritual or religious beliefs and practices that developed in Western nations during the 1970s. Precise scholarly definitions of the New Age differ in their emphasis, largely as a result of its highly eclectic structure. Although analytically often considered to be religious, those involved in it typically prefer the designation of “spiritual” and rarely use the term “New Age” themselves. Many scholars of the subject refer to it as the New Age movement, although others contest this term and suggest that it is better seen as a milieu or zeitgeist.

As a form of Western esotericism, the New Age drew heavily upon a number of older esoteric traditions, in particular those that emerged from the occultist current that developed in the eighteenth century. Such prominent occult influences include the work of Emanuel Swedenborg and Franz Mesmer, as well as the ideas of Spiritualism, New Thought, and Theosophy. A number of mid-twentieth century influences, such as the UFO religions of the 1950s, the Counterculture of the 1960s, and the Human Potential Movement, also exerted a strong influence on the early development of the New Age. Although the exact origins of the phenomenon remain contested, it is agreed that it developed in the 1970s, at which time it was centred largely in the United Kingdom. It expanded and grew largely in the 1980s and 1990s, in particular within the United States. By the start of the 21st century, the term “New Age” was increasingly rejected within this milieu, with some scholars arguing that the New Age phenomenon had ended.

Despite its highly eclectic nature, a number of beliefs commonly found within the New Age have been identified. Theologically, the New Age typically adopts a belief in a holistic form of divinity which imbues all of the universe, including human beings themselves. There is thus a strong emphasis on the spiritual authority of the self. This is accompanied by a common belief in a wide variety of semi-divine non-human entities, such as angels and masters, with whom humans can communicate, particularly through the form of channeling. Typically viewing human history as being divided into a series of distinct ages, a common New Age belief is that whereas once humanity lived in an age of great technological advancement and spiritual wisdom, it has entered a period of spiritual degeneracy, which will be remedied through the establishment of a coming Age of Aquarius, from which the milieu gets its name. There is also a strong focus on healing, particularly using forms of alternative medicine, and an emphasis on a “New Age science” which seeks to unite science and spirituality.

Those involved in the New Age have been primarily from middle and upper-middle-class backgrounds. The degree to which New Agers are involved in the milieu varied considerably, from those who adopted a number of New Age ideas and practices to those who fully embraced and dedicated their lives to it. The New Age has generated criticism from established Christian organisations as well as modern Pagan and indigenous communities. From the 1990s onward, the New Age became the subject of research by academic scholars of religious studies.

“One of the few things on which all scholars are agreed concerning New Age is that it is difficult to define. Often, the definition given actually reflects the background of the scholar giving the definition. Thus, the New Ager views New Age as a revolutionary period of history dictated by the stars; the Christian apologist has often defined new age as a cult; the historian of ideas understands it as a manifestation of the perennial tradition; the philosopher sees New Age as a monistic or holistic worldview; the sociologist describes New Age as a new religious movement (NRM); while the psychologist describes it as a form of narcissism.”

The New Age phenomenon has proved difficult to define, with much scholarly disagreement as to its scope. The scholars Steven J. Sutcliffe and Ingvild Slid Gilhus have even suggested that it remains “among the most disputed of categories in the study of religion”.

The scholar of religion Paul Heelas characterised the New Age as “an eclectic hotch-potch of beliefs, practices, and ways of life” which can be identified as a singular phenomenon through their use of “the same (or very similar) lingua franca to do with the human (and planetary) condition and how it can be transformed”. Similarly, the historian of religion Olav Hammer termed it “a common denominator for a variety of quite divergent contemporary popular practices and beliefs” which have emerged since the late 1970s and which are “largely united by historical links, a shared discourse and an air de famille”. According to Hammer, this New Age was a “fluid and fuzzy cultic milieu”. The sociologist of religion Michael York described the New Age as “an umbrella term that includes a great variety of groups and identities” but which are united by their “expectation of a major and universal change being primarily founded on the individual and collective development of human potential”.

The scholar of religion Wouter Hanegraaff adopted a different approach by asserting that “New Age” was “a label attached indiscriminately to whatever seems to fit it” and that as a result it “means very different things to different people”. He thus argued against the idea that the New Age could be considered “a unified ideology or Weltanschauung”, although he believed that it could be considered a “more of less unified “movement””. Conversely, various other scholars have suggested that the New Age is insufficiently homogenous to be regarded as a singular movement. As a replacement term, the sociologist of religion Steven Bruce suggested that New Age was better seen as a milieu, while scholar of religion George D. Chryssides suggested that it could be understood as “a counter-cultural Zeitgeist”.

There is no central authority within the New Age phenomenon that can determine what counts as New Age and what does not. Many of those groups and individuals who could analytically be categorised as part of the New Age reject the term “New Age” in reference to themselves. Some even express active hostility to the term. Rather than terming themselves “New Agers”, those involved in this milieu commonly describe themselves as spiritual “seekers”. In 2003 Sutcliffe observed that the use of the term “New Age” was “optional, episodic and declining overall”, adding that among the very few individuals who did use it, they usually did so with qualification, for instance by placing it in inverted commas. Other academics, such as Sara MacKian, have argued that the sheer diversity of the New Age renders the term too problematic for scholars to use. MacKian proposed “everyday spirituality” as an alternate term.

While acknowledging that “New Age” was a problematic term, the scholar of religion James R. Lewis stated that it remained a useful etic category for scholars to use because “there exists no comparable term which covers all aspects of the movement”. Similarly, Chryssides argued that the fact that “New Age” is a “theoretical concept” does not “undermine its usefulness or employability”; he drew comparisons with “Hinduism”, a similar “western etic piece of vocabulary” that scholars of religion used despite its problems.

In discussing the New Age, academics have varyingly referred to “New Age spirituality” and “New Age religion”. Those involved in the New Age rarely consider it to be “religion”negatively associating that term solely with organized religionand instead describe their practices as “spirituality”. Religious studies scholars, however, have repeatedly referred to the New Age milieu as a “religion”. York described the New Age as a new religious movement (NRM). Conversely, both Heelas and Sutcliffe rejected this categorisation; Heelas believed that while elements of the New Age represented NRMs, this did not apply to every New Age group. Similarly, Chryssides stated that the New Age could not be seen as “a religion” in itself.

“The New Age movement is the cultic milieu having become conscious of itself, in the later 1970s, as constituting a more or less unified “movement”. All manifestations of this movement are characterized by a popular western culture criticism expressed in terms of a secularized esotericism.”

The New Age is also a form of Western esotericism. Hanegraaff regarded the New Age as a form of “popular culture criticism”, in that it represented a reaction against the dominant Western values of Judeo-Christian religion and rationalism, adding that “New Age religion formulates such criticism not at random, but falls back on” the ideas of earlier Western esoteric groups.

The New Age has also been identified by various scholars of religion as part of the cultic milieu. This concept, developed by the sociologist Colin Campbell, refers to a social network of marginalised ideas. Through their shared marginalisation within a given society, these disparate ideas interact and create new syntheses.

Hammer identified much of the New Age as corresponding to the concept of “folk religions” in that it seeks to deal with existential questions regarding subjects like death and disease in “an unsystematic fashion, often through a process of bricolage from already available narratives and rituals”. York also heuristically divides the New Age into three broad trends. The first, the “social camp”, represents groups which primarily seek to bring about social change, while the second, the “occult camp”, instead focus on contact with spirit entities and channeling. York’s third group, the “spiritual camp”, represents a middle ground between these two camps, and which focuses largely on individual development.

The term “new age”, along with related terms like “new era” and “new world”, long predate the emergence of the New Age movement, and have widely been used to assert that a better way of life for humanity is dawning. It occurs commonly, for instance, in political contexts; the Great Seal of the United States, designed in 1782, proclaims a “new order of ages”, while in the 1980s the Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev proclaimed that “all mankind is entering a new age”. The term has also appeared within Western esoteric schools of thought, having a scattered use from the mid-nineteenth century onward. In 1864 the American Swedenborgian Warren Felt Evans published The New Age and its Message, while in 1907 Alfred Orage and Holbrook Jackson began editing a weekly journal of Christian liberalism and socialism titled The New Age. The concept of a coming “new age” that would be inaugurated by the return to Earth of Jesus Christ was a theme in the poetry of Wellesley Tudor Pole and Johanna Brandt, and then also appeared in the work of the American Theosophist Alice Bailey, who used the term prominently in such titles as Disciplineship in the New Age (1944) and Education in the New Age (1954).

Between the 1930s and 1960s a small number of groups and individuals became preoccupied with the concept of a coming “New Age” and prominently used the term accordingly. The term had thus become a recurring motif in the esoteric spirituality milieu. Sutcliffe therefore expressed the view that while the term “New Age” had originally been an “apocalyptic emblem”, it would only be later that it became “a tag or codeword for a ‘spiritual’ idiom”.

According to scholar Nevill Drury, the New Age has a “tangible history”, although Hanegraaff expressed the view that most New Agers were “surprisingly ignorant about the actual historical roots of their beliefs”. Similarly, Hammer thought that “source amnesia” was a “building block of a New Age worldview”, with New Agers typically adopting ideas with no awareness of where those ideas originated.

As a form of Western esotericism, the New Age has antecedents that stretch back to southern Europe in Late Antiquity. Following the Age of Enlightenment in 18th century Europe, new esoteric ideas developed in response to the development of scientific rationality. This new esoteric trend is termed occultism by scholars, and it was this occultism which would be a key factor in the development of the worldview from which the New Age emerged.

One of the earliest influences on the New Age was the Swedish 18th century Christian mystic Emanuel Swedenborg, who professed the ability to communicate with angels, demons, and spirits. Swedenborg’s attempt to unite science and religion and his prediction of a coming era in particular have been cited as ways in which he prefigured the New Age.[48] Another early influence was the late 17th and early 18th century German physician and hypnotist Franz Mesmer, who claimed the existence of a force known as “animal magnetism” running through the human body.[49] The establishment of Spiritualism, an occult religion influenced by both Swedenborgianism and Mesmerism, in the U.S. during the 1840s has also been identified as a precursor to the New Age, in particular through its rejection of established Christianity, its claims to representing a scientific approach to religion, and its emphasis on channeling spirit entities.

“Most of the beliefs which characterise the New Age were already present by the end of the 19th century, even to such an extent that one may legitimately wonder whether the New Age brings anything new at all.”

A further major influence on the New Age was the Theosophical Society, an occult group co-founded by the Russian Helena Blavatsky in the late 19th century. In her books Isis Unveiled (1877) and The Secret Doctrine (1888), Blavatsky claimed that her Society was conveying the essence of all world religions, and it thus emphasized a focus on comparative religion.[52] Serving as a partial bridge between Theosophical ideas and those of the New Age was the American esotericist Edgar Cayce, who founded the Association for Research and Enlightenment. Another influence was New Thought, which developed in late nineteenth century New England as a Christian-oriented healing movement before spreading throughout the United States.[54] Another prominent influence was the psychologist Carl Jung. Drury also identified as an important influence upon the New Age the Indian Swami Vivekananda, an adherent of the philosophy of Vedanta who first brought Hinduism to the West in the late 19th century.

Hanegraaff believed that the New Age’s direct antecedents could be found in the UFO religions of the 1950s, which he termed a “proto-New Age movement”. Many of these new religious movements had strong apocalyptic beliefs regarding a coming new age, which they typically asserted would be brought about by contact with extraterrestrials. Examples of such groups included the Aetherius Society, founded in the UK in 1955, and the Heralds of the New Age, established in New Zealand in 1956.

From a historical perspective, the New Age phenomenon is rooted in the counterculture of the 1960s. Although not common throughout the counterculture, usage of the terms “New Age” and “Age of Aquarius” used in reference to a coming era were found within it, for instance appearing on adverts for the Woodstock festival of 1969, and in the lyrics of “Aquarius”, the opening song of the 1967 musical Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical. This decade also witnessed the emergence of a variety of new religious movements and newly established religions in the United States, creating a spiritual milieu from which the New Age drew upon; these included the San Francisco Zen Center, Transcendental Meditation, Soka Gakkai, the Inner Peace Movement, the Church of All Worlds, and the Church of Satan. Although there had been an established interest in Asian religious ideas in the U.S. from at least the eighteenth-century, many of these new developments were variants of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sufism which had been imported to the West from Asia following the U.S. government’s decision to rescind the Asian Exclusion Act in 1965. In 1962 the Esalen Institute was established in Big Sur, California.[67] It was from Esalen and other similar personal growth centers which had developed links to humanistic psychology that the human potential movement emerged, which would also come to exert a strong influence on the New Age.[68]

In Britain, a number of small religious groups that came to be identified as the “light” movement had begun declaring the existence of a coming new age, influenced strongly by the Theosophical ideas of Blavatsky and Bailey. The most prominent of these groups was the Findhorn Foundation which founded the Findhorn Ecovillage in the Scottish area of Findhorn, Moray in 1962. Although its founders were from an older generation, Findhorn attracted increasing numbers of countercultural baby boomers during the 1960s, to the extent that its population had grown sixfold to circa 120 residents by 1972. In October 1965, the founder of Findhorn, Peter Caddy, attended a meeting of various prominent figures within Britain’s esoteric milieu; titled “The Significance of the Group in the New Age”, it was held at Attingham Park over the course of a weekend.

All of these groups would create the backdrop from which the New Age movement emerged; as James R. Lewis and J. Gordon Melton point out, the New Age phenomenon represents “a synthesis of many different preexisting movements and strands of thought”. Nevertheless, York asserted that while the New Age bore many similarities with both earlier forms of Western esotericism and Asian religion, it remained “distinct from its predecessors in its own self-consciousness as a new way of thinking”.

“The late 1950s saw the first stirrings within the cultic milieu of a belief in a coming new age. A variety of small movements arose, revolving around revealed messages from beings in space and presenting a synthesis of post-Theosophical and other esoteric doctrines. These movements might have remained marginal, had it not been for the explosion of the counterculture in the 1960s and early 1970s. Various historical threads… began to converge: nineteenth century doctrinal elements such as Theosophy and post-Theosophical esotericism as well as harmonious or positive thinking were now eclectically combined with… religious psychologies: transpersonal psychology, Jungianism and a variety of Eastern teachings. It became perfectly feasible for the same individuals to consult the I Ching, practice Jungian astrology, read Abraham Maslow’s writings on peak experiences, etc. The reason for the ready incorporation of such disparate sources was a similar goal of exploring an individualized and largely non-Christian religiosity.”

By the early 1970s, use of the term “New Age” was increasingly common within the cultic milieu. This was becauseaccording to Sutcliffethe “emblem” of the “New Age” had been passed from the “subcultural pioneers” in groups like Findhorn to the wider array of “countercultural baby boomers” between circa 1967 and 1974. He noted that as this happened, the meaning of the term “New Age” changed; whereas it had once referred specifically to a coming era, at this point it came to be used in a wider sense to refer to a variety of spiritual activities and practices. In the latter part of the 1970s, the New Age expanded to cover a wide variety of alternative spiritual and religious beliefs and practices, not all of which explicitly held to the belief in the Age of Aquarius, but which were nevertheless widely recognised as being broadly similar in their search for “alternatives” to mainstream society. In doing so, the “New Age” became a banner under which to bring together the wider “cultic milieu” of American society.

The counterculture of the 1960s had rapidly declined by the start of the 1970s, in large part due to the collapse of the commune movement, but it would be many former members of the counter-culture and hippie subculture who subsequently became early adherents of the New Age movement. The exact origins of the New Age movement remain an issue of debate; Melton asserted that it emerged in the early 1970s, whereas Hanegraaff instead traced its emergence to the latter 1970s, adding that it then entered its full development in the 1980s. This early form of the movement was based largely in Britain and exhibited a strong influence from Theosophy and Anthroposophy. Hanegraaff termed this early core of the movement the New Age sensu stricto, or “New Age in the strict sense”.

Hanegraaff terms the broader development the New Age sensu lato, or “New Age in the wider sense”. Stores that came to be known as “New Age shops” opened up, selling related books, magazines, jewellery, and crystals, and they were typified by the playing of New Age music and the smell of incense.This probably influenced several thousand small metaphysical book- and gift-stores that increasingly defined themselves as “New Age bookstores”,[83] while New Age titles came to be increasingly available from mainstream bookstores and then websites like Amazon.com.

Not everyone who came to be associated with the New Age phenomenon openly embraced the term “New Age”, although it was popularised in books like David Spangler’s 1977 work Revelation: The Birth of a New Age and Mark Satin’s 1979 book New Age Politics: Healing Self and Society.Marilyn Ferguson’s 1982 book The Aquarian Conspiracy has also been regarded as a landmark work in the development of the New Age, promoting the idea that a new era was emerging. Other terms that were employed synonymously with “New Age” in this milieu included “Green”, “Holistic”, “Alternative”, and “Spiritual”.

1971 witnessed the foundation of est by Werner H. Erhard, a transformational training course which became a prominent part of the early movement. Melton suggested that the 1970s witnessed the growth of a relationship between the New Age movement and the older New Thought movement, as evidenced by the widespread use of Helen Schucman’s A Course in Miracles (1975), New Age music, and crystal healing in New Thought churches. Some figures in the New Thought movement were sceptical, challenging the compatibility of New Age and New Thought perspectives. During these decades, Findhorn had become a site of pilgrimage for many New Agers, and greatly expanded in size as people joined the community, with workshops and conferences being held there that brought together New Age thinkers from across the world.

Several key events occurred, which raised public awareness of the New Age subculture: publication of Linda Goodman’s best-selling astrology books Sun Signs (1968) and Love Signs (1978); the release of Shirley MacLaine’s book Out on a Limb (1983), later adapted into a television mini-series with the same name (1987); and the “Harmonic Convergence” planetary alignment on August 16 and 17, 1987,[92] organized by Jos Argelles in Sedona, Arizona. The Convergence attracted more people to the movement than any other single event. Heelas suggested that the movement was influenced by the “enterprise culture” encouraged by the U.S. and U.K. governments during the 1980s onward, with its emphasis on initiative and self-reliance resonating with any New Age ideas.

The claims of channelers Jane Roberts (Seth Material), Helen Schucman (A Course in Miracles), J. Z. Knight (Ramtha), Neale Donald Walsch (Conversations with God) (note that Walsch denies being a “channeler” and his books make it obvious that he is not one, though the text emerged through a dialogue with a deeper part of himself in a process comparable to automatic writing) contributed to the movement’s growth.[95][96] The first significant exponent of the New Age movement in the U.S. has been cited as Ram Dass. Core works in the propagating New Age ideas included Jane Roberts’s Seth series, published from 1972 onward,Helen Schucman’s 1975 publication A Course in Miracles, and James Redfield’s 1993 work The Celestine Prophecy. A variety of these books were best sellers, with the Seth book series for instance selling over a million copies. Supplementing these books were videos, audiotapes, compact discs and websites. The development of the internet in particular further popularized New Age ideas and made them more widely accessible.

New Age ideas influenced the development of rave culture in the late 1980s and 1990s. In Britain during the 1980s, the term “New Age Travellers” came into use, although York characterised this term as “a misnomer created by the media”. These New Age Travellers had little to do with the New Age as the term was used more widely, with scholar of religion Daren Kemp observing that “New Age spirituality is not an essential part of New Age Traveller culture, although there are similarities between the two worldviews”. The term “New Age” came to be used increasingly widely by the popular media in the 1990s.

By the late 1980s, some publishers dropped the term “New Age” as a marketing device. In 1994, the scholar of religion Gordon J. Melton presented a conference paper in which he argued that, given that he knew of nobody describing their practices as “New Age” anymore, the New Age had died. In 2001, Hammer observed that the term “New Age” had increasingly been rejected as either pejorative or meaningless by individuals within the Western cultic milieu. He also noted that within this milieu it was not being replaced by any alternative, and that as such a sense of collective identity was being lost.

But the “decline” thesis was not shared by all scholars. Hammer himself stated that “the New Age movement may be on the wane, but the wider New Age religiosity… shows no sign of disappearing”. MacKian suggested that the New Age “movement” had been replaced by a wider “New Age sentiment” which had come to pervade “the socio-cultural landscape” of Western countries. Similarly, in 2004 the scholar Daren Kemp asserted that, contra Melton, “New Age is still very much alive”. In 2007, Chryssides noted that New Age shops continued to operate, although many have been remarketed as “Mind, Body, Spirit”. In 2015, the scholar of religion Hugh Urban argued that New Age spirituality is growing in the U.S. and can be expected to become more visible: “[M]any would call New Age a form of ‘spirituality’ rather than religion. According to many recent surveys of religious affiliation, the ‘spiritual but not religious’ category is one of the fastest-growing trends in American culture, so the New Age attitude of spiritual individualism and eclecticism may well be an increasingly visible one in the decades to come”.

Although there is great diversity among the beliefs and practices found within the New Age, York stated that it was united by a shared “vision of radical mystical transformation on both the personal and collective levels”. Elsewhere he added that “we find certain key features throughout the current field of alternative spirituality with which core New Age intersects and is generally identified”. The movement aims to create “a spirituality without borders or confining dogmas” that is inclusive and pluralistic.

New Age religiosity is typified by its eclecticism. New Agers develop their own worldview “by combining bits and pieces to form their own individual mix”. The eclecticism of the New Age has resulted in the common jibe that it represents “supermarket spirituality”. York suggested that this eclecticism was due to the movement’s origins within late modern capitalism, with New Agers thus subscribing to a belief in a free market of ideas and practices as a parallel to a free market in economics. As noted by the scholar of religion Olav Hammer, “a belief in the existence of a core or true Self” is a “recurring theme” in New Age texts. The anthropologist David J. Hess noted that in his experience, a common attitude among New Agers was that “any alternative spiritual path is good because it is spiritual and alternative”.

As part of its eclectic approach, the New Age draws ideas from many different cultural and spiritual traditions from across the world, often legitimising this approach by reference to “a very vague claim” about underlying global unity. Certain ancient societies have been selectively chosen over others; commonly used examples include the ancient Celts, ancient Egyptians, the Essenes, Atlanteans, and ancient extra-terrestrials. As noted by Hammer: “to put it bluntly, no significant spokespersons within the New Age community claim to represent ancient Albanian wisdom, simply because beliefs regarding ancient Albanians are not part of our cultural stereotypes”. According to Hess, these ancient or foreign societies represent an exotic “Other” for New Agers, who are predominantly white Westerners.

Hanegraaff noted that the existence of divinity was “mostly an integral and necessary part of New Age ideas”. However, he added that within the movement, such ideas regarding the nature of divinity “reflect a marked aversion to rigid, doctrinal definitions”, with New Age theology exhibiting an inclusivist and universalistic approach which accepts all personal perspectives on the divine as being equally valid. This intentional vagueness as to the nature of divinity also reflects the New Age idea that divinity cannot be comprehended by the human mind or language. There are nevertheless a number of traits that are repeatedly associated with divinity in New Age literature, the first of which is the idea that it is holistic, thus frequently being described with such terms as an “Ocean of Oneness”, “Infinite Spirit”, “Primal Stream”, “One Essence”, and “Universal Principle”. A second common trait is the characterisation of divinity as “Mind”, “Consciousness”, and “Intelligence”, while a third is the description of divinity as a form of “energy”. A fourth trait is the characterisation of divinity as a “life force”, the essence of which is creativity, while a fifth is the concept that divinity consists of love.

Most New Age groups subscribe to the view that there is an Ultimate Source from which all things originate, which is usually conflated with the divine. Various creation myths have been articulated in New Age publications outlining how this Ultimate Source created the universe and everything in it. In contrast, some other New Agers have emphasised the idea of a universal inter-relatedness that is not always emanating from a single source. The New Age worldview emphasises holism and the idea that everything in existence is intricately connected as part of a single whole, in doing so rejecting both the dualism of Judeo-Christian thought and the reductionism of Cartesian science. A number of New Agers have linked this holistic interpretation of the universe to the Gaia hypothesis of James Lovelock. The idea of holistic divinity results in a common New Age belief that humans themselves are divine in essence, a concept described using such terms as “droplet of divinity”, “inner Godhead”, and “divine self”. Influenced by Theosophical and Anthroposophical ideas regarding ‘subtle bodies’, a common New Age idea holds to the existence of a “Higher Self” which is a part of the human but which connects with the divine essence of the universe, and which can advise the human mind through intuition.

Cosmogonical creation stories are common in New Age sources, with these accounts reflecting the movement’s holistic framework by describing an original, primal oneness from which all things in the universe emanated. An additional common theme is that human souls once living in a spiritual world then descended into a world of matter. The New Age movement typically views the material universe as a meaningful illusion, which humans should try to use constructively rather than focus on escaping into other spiritual realms. This physical world is hence seen as “a domain for learning and growth” after which the human soul might pass on to higher levels of existence. There is thus a widespread belief that reality is engaged in an ongoing process of evolution; rather than Darwinian evolution, this is typically seen as either a teleological evolution which assumes a process headed to a specific goal, or an open-ended, creative evolution.

Within the New Age movement, it is often unclear how divine beings are divided from those entities which are believed to exist between divinity and humanity. In the literature, there is much talk of non-human beings who are benevolently interested in the spiritual development of humanity, and which are variously referred to under such names as angels, guardian angels, personal guides, masters, teachers, and contacts. New Age angelology is nevertheless unsystematic, reflecting the idiosyncrasies of individual authors. The figure of Jesus Christ is often mentioned within New Age literature as a mediating principle between divinity and humanity, as well as an exemplar of a spiritually advanced human being.

The New Age movement exhibits a strong emphasis on the idea that the individual and their own experiences are the primary source of authority on spiritual matters. Thus, it exhibits what Heelas termed “unmediated individualism”, and reflects a world-view which is “radically democratic”. As a result, there is a strong emphasis on the freedom of the individual in the movement. This emphasis has led to some ethical disagreements; while some New Age participants stress the need to help others because all are part of the unitary holistic universe, others have disagreed, refusing to aid others because it is believed that it will result in their dependency on others and thus conflicts with the self-as-authority ethic. Nevertheless, within the movement, there are differences in the role accorded to voices of authority outside of the self.

“In the flood of channeled material which has been published or delivered to “live” audiences in the last two decades, there is much indeed that is trivial, contradictory, and confusing. The authors of much of this material make claims which, while not necessarily untrue or fraudulent, are difficult or impossible for the reader to verify. There are, however, a number of other channeled documents which address issues more immediately relevant to the human condition. The best of these writings are not only coherent and plausible, but eloquently persuasive and sometimes disarmingly moving.”

Although not present in every New Age group, a core belief of the movement is in channeling. This is the idea that humans beings, sometimes (although not always) in a state of trance, can act “as a channel of information from sources other than their normal selves”. These sources are varyingly described as being God, gods and goddesses, ascended masters, spirit guides, extraterrestrials, angels, devas, historical figures, the collective unconscious, elementals, or nature spirits. Hanegraaff described channeling as a form of “articulated revelation”, and identified four forms: trance channeling, automatisms, clairaudient channeling, and open channeling.

Prominent examples of channeling in the New Age movement include Jane Roberts’ claims that she was contacted by an entity called Seth, and Helen Schucman’s claims to have channeled Jesus Christ. The academic Suzanne Riordan examined a variety of these New Age channeled messages, and noted that they typically “echoed each other in tone and content”, offering an analysis of the human condition and giving instructions or advice for how humanity can discover its true destiny.

For many New Agers, these channeled messages rival the scriptures of the main world religions as sources of spiritual authority, although often New Agers describe historical religious revelations as forms of “channeling” as well, thus attempting to legitimate and authenticate their own contemporary practices. Although the concept of channeling from discarnate spirit entities has links to Spiritualism and psychical research, in the New Age movement the Spiritualist emphasis on proving the existence of life after death is absent, as is the psychical research focus of testing mediums for consistency.

New Age thought typically envisions the world as developing through a series of large astronomical cycles which can be identified astrologically. Although the concept of distinct ages has older roots in Western esoteric thought, the New Age adopted it from Theosophy, despite the fact that such New Age conceptions of ages are often looser and more eclectic than those in Theosophical doctrine. New Age literature often claims that humanity once lived in an age of spiritual wisdom. In the writings of New Agers like Edgar Cayce, the ancient period of spiritual wisdom is associated with concepts of supremely-advanced societies living on lost continents such as Atlantis, Lemuria, and Mu, as well as the idea that ancient societies like those of Ancient Egypt were far more technologically advanced than modern scholarship accepts. New Age literature often posits that the ancient period of spiritual wisdom gave way to an age of spiritual decline, sometimes termed the Age of Pisces. Although characterised as being a negative period for humanity, New Age literature views the Age of Pisces as an important learning experience for the species. Hanegraaff stated that New Age perceptions of history were “extremely sketchy” in their use of description, reflecting little interest in historiography and conflating history with myth. He also noted that they were highly ethnocentric in placing Western civilization at the centre of historical development.

A common belief among the New Age is that humanity has entered, or is coming to enter, a new period known as the Age of Aquarius, which Melton has characterised as a “New Age of love, joy, peace, abundance, and harmony[…] the Golden Age heretofore only dreamed about”. In accepting this belief in a coming new age, the milieu has been described as “highly positive, celebratory, [and] utopian”, and has also been cited as an apocalyptic movement. Opinions about the nature of the coming Age of Aquarius differ among New Agers. There are for instance differences in belief about its commencement; New Age author David Spangler claimed that it began in 1967, others placed its beginning with the Harmonic Convergence of 1987, author Jos Argelles predicted its start in 2012, and some believe that it will not begin until several centuries into the third millennium.

There are also differences in how this new age is envisioned. Those adhering to what Hanegraaff termed the “moderate” perspective believed that it would be marked by an improvement to current society, which affected both New Age concernsthrough the convergence of science and mysticism and the global embrace of alternative medicineto more general concerns, including an end to violence, crime and war, a healthier environment, and international co-operation. Other New Agers adopt a fully utopian vision, believing that the world will be wholly transformed into an “Age of Light”, with humans evolving into totally spiritual beings and experiencing unlimited love, bliss, and happiness. Rather than conceiving of the Age of Aquarius as an indefinite period, many believe that it would last for around two thousand years before being replaced by a further age.

There are various beliefs within the milieu as to how this new age will come about, but most emphasise the idea that it will be established through human agency; others assert that it will be established with the aid of non-human forces such as spirits or extra-terrestrials. Ferguson for instance claimed that there was a vanguard of humans known as the “Aquarian conspiracy” who were helping to bring the Age of Aquarius forth through their actions. Participants in the New Age typically express the view that their own spiritual actions are helping to bring about the Age of Aquarius, with writers like Ferguson and Argelles presenting themselves as prophets ushering forth this future era.

Another core factor of the New Age movement is its emphasis on healing and the use of alternative medicine.[195] The general ethos within the movement is that health is the natural state for the human being and that illness is a disruption of that natural balance. Hence, New Age therapies seek to heal “illness” as a general concept which includes physical, mental, and spiritual aspects; in doing so it critiques mainstream Western medicine for simply attempting to cure disease, and thus has an affinity with most forms of traditional medicine found around the world. The concept of “personal growth” is also greatly emphasised within the healing aspects of the New Age movement. The movement’s focus of self-spirituality has led to the emphasis of self-healing, although also present in the movement are ideas that focus on both healing others and healing the Earth itself.

The healing elements of the movement are difficult to classify given that a variety of terms are used, with some New Age authors using different terms to refer to the same trends, while others use the same term to refer to different things. However, Hanegraaff developed a set of categories into which the forms of New Age healing could be roughly categorised. The first of these was the Human Potential Movement, which argues that contemporary Western society suppresses much human potential, and which accordingly professes to offer a path through which individuals can access those parts of themselves that they have alienated and suppressed, thus enabling them to reach their full potential and live a meaningful life. Hanegraaff described transpersonal psychology as the “theoretical wing” of this Human Potential Movement; in contrast to other schools of psychological thought, transpersonal psychology takes religious and mystical experiences seriously by exploring the uses of altered states of consciousness. Closely connected to this is the shamanic consciousness current, which argues that the shaman was a specialist in altered states of consciousness and which seeks to adopt and imitate traditional shamanic techniques as a form of personal healing and growth.

Hanegraaff identified the second main healing current in the New Age movement as being holistic health. This emerged in the 1970s out of the free clinic movement of the 1960s, and has various connections with the Human Potential Movement. It emphasises the idea that the human individual is a holistic, interdependent relationship between mind, body, and spirit, and that healing is a process in which an individual becomes whole by integrating with the powers of the universe. A very wide array of methods are utilised within the holistic health movement, with some of the most common including acupuncture, reiki, biofeedback, chiropractic, yoga, kinesiology, homeopathy, aromatherapy iridology, massage and other forms of bodywork, meditation and visualisation, nutritional therapy, psychic healing, herbal medicine, healing using crystals, metals, music, chromotherapy, and reincarnation therapy. The use of crystal healing has become a particularly prominent visual trope within the New Age; this practice was not common in esotericism prior to their adoption in the New Age milieu. The mainstreaming of the Holistic Health movement in the UK is discussed by Maria Tighe. The inter-relation of holistic health with the New Age movement is illustrated in Jenny Butler’s ethnographic description of “Angel therapy” in Ireland.[195]

“The New Age is essentially about the search for spiritual and philosophical perspectives that will help transform humanity and the world. New Agers are willing to absorb wisdom teachings wherever they can find them, whether from an Indian guru, a renegade Christian priest, an itinerant Buddhist monk, an experiential psychotherapist or a Native American shaman. They are eager to explore their own inner potential with a view to becoming part of a broader process of social transformation. Their journey is towards totality of being.”

According to Drury, the New Age attempts to create “a worldview that includes both science and spirituality”, while Hess noted how New Agers have “a penchant for bringing together the technical and the spiritual, the scientific and the religious”. Although it typically rejects rationalism, the scientific method, and the academic establishment, at times those active in the movement employ terminology and concepts borrowed from science and particularly from the New Physics. Moreover, a number of prominent influences on New Age movement, such as David Bohm and Ilya Prigogine, came from backgrounds as professional scientists. Hanegraaff identified “New Age science” as a form of Naturphilosophie. In this, the milieu is interested in developing unified world views to discover the nature of the divine and establish a scientific basis for religious belief. Figures in the New Age movementmost notably Fritjof Capra in his The Tao of Physics (1975)have drawn parallels between theories in the New Physics and traditional forms of mysticism, thus arguing that ancient religious ideas are now being proven by contemporary science. Many New Agers have adopted James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis that the Earth acts akin to a single living organism, although have expanded this idea to include the idea that the Earth has consciousness and intelligence.

Despite New Agers’ appeals to science, most of the academic and scientific establishments dismiss “New Age science” as pseudo-science, or at best existing in part on the fringes of genuine scientific research. This is an attitude also shared by many active in the field of parapsychology. In turn, New Agers often accuse the scientific establishment of pursuing a dogmatic and outmoded approach to scientific enquiry, believing that their own understandings of the universe replace those of the academic establishment in a paradigm shift.

There is no ethical cohesion within the New Age phenomenon, although Hanegraaff argued that the central ethical tenet of the New Age movement is to cultivate one’s own divine potential. Given that the movement’s holistic interpretation of the universe prohibits a belief in a dualistic good and evil, negative events that happen are interpreted not as the result of evil but as lessons designed to teach an individual and enable them to advance spiritually. It rejects the Christian emphasis on sin and guilt, believing that these generate fear and thus negativity, which then hinder spiritual evolution. It also typically criticises the blaming and judging of others for their actions, believing that if an individual adopts these negative attitudes it harms their own spiritual evolution. Instead the movement emphasizes positive thinking, although beliefs regarding the power behind such thoughts vary within New Age literature. Common New Age examples of how to generate such positive thinking include the repeated recitation of mantras and statements carrying positive messages, and the visualisation of a white light.

According to Hanegraaff, the question of death and afterlife is not a “pressing problem requiring an answer” in the New Age movement. A belief in reincarnation is very common, and is viewed as being part of an individual’s progressive spiritual evolution toward realisation of their own divinity. In New Age literature the reality of reincarnation is usually treated as self-evident, with no explanation as to why practitioners embrace this afterlife belief over others, although New Agers endorse it in the belief that it ensures cosmic justice. Many New Agers adopt a belief in karma, treating it as a law of cause and effect which assures cosmic balance, although in some cases they stress that it is not a system that enforces punishment for past actions. In much New Age literature discussing reincarnation, there is the claim that part of the human soul, that which carries the personality, perishes with the death of the body, while the Higher Self that which connects with divinity survives in order to be reborn into another body. It is believed that the Higher Self chooses the body and circumstances into which it will be born, in order to use it as a vessel through which to learn new lessons and thus advance its own spiritual evolution. Some prominent New Age writers such as Shakti Gawain and Louise Hay have thus expressed the view that humans are therefore totally responsible for the events that happen to them during their life, an idea that many New Agers characterise as empowering. At times, past life regression are employed within the New Age movement in order to reveal a Higher Soul’s previous incarnations, usually with an explicit healing purpose.

Sociological studies of New Age demographics have established that certain sectors of society are more likely to involve themselves in New Age practices than others. Sutcliffe noted that although most of the influential New Age figureheads were male, approximately two thirds of its participants were female. The movement is strongly gendered; sociologist Ciara O’Connor argues that it shows a tension between commodification and women’s empowerment.[241]

“By the early twenty-first century… [the New Age phenomenon] has an almost entirely white, middle-class demography largely made up of professional, managerial, arts, and entrepreneurial occupations.”

In the mid-1990s, it was asserted that the New Age was primarily found in the United States and Canada, Western Europe, and Australia and New Zealand. It is problematic ascertaining the number of New Agers because many individuals involved in the movement do not explicitly identify themselves as such. While some individuals self-identify as a New Ager, others who participate in New Age practices instead may identify as Jewish, Christian, Buddhist or atheist. Heelas highlighted the range of attempts to establish the number of New Age participants in the U.S. during this period, noting that estimates ranged from 20,000 to 6 million; he believed that the higher ranges of these estimates were greatly inflated by, for instance, an erroneous assumption that all Americans who believed in reincarnation were part of the movement. He nevertheless suggested that over 10 million people in the U.S. had had some contact with New Age practices or ideas.

Sutcliffe described the “typical” participant in the New Age milieu as being “a religious individualist, mixing and matching cultural resources in an animated spiritual quest”. Susan Lee Brown noted that in the U.S., the movement was first embraced by the baby boomer generation (those born between 1946 and 1964), “through which it was incubated and transmitted to other parts of American society”. Scholars of religion have observed that the majority of New Agers are from the middle and upper-middle classes of Western society. Heelas added that within that broad demographic, the movement had nevertheless attracted a diverse clientele. He typified the typical New Ager as someone who was well-educated yet disenchanted with mainstream society, thus arguing that the movement catered to those who believe that modernity is in crisis. He suggested that the movement appealed to many former practitioners of the 1960s counter-culture because while they came to feel that they were unable to change society, they were nonetheless interested in changing the self. He believed that many individuals had been “culturally primed for what the New Age has to offer”, with the New Age attracting “expressive” people who were already comfortable with the ideals and outlooks of the movement’s self-spirituality focus. It could be particularly appealing because the New Age suited the needs of the individual, whereas traditional religious options that are available primarily catered for the needs of a community. He believed that although the adoption of New Age beliefs and practices by some fitted the model of religious conversion, others who adopted some of its practices could not easily be considered to have converted to the religion.

He highlighted that those involved in the movement did so to varying degrees. Heelas argued that those involved in the movement could be divided into three broad groups; the first comprised those who were completely dedicated to it and its ideals, often working in professions that furthered those goals. The second consisted of “serious part-timers” who worked in unrelated fields but who nevertheless spent much of their free time involved in movement activities. The third was that of “casual part-timers” who occasionally involved themselves in New Age activities but for whom the movement was not a central aspect of their life. Many New Age practices have filtered into wider Western society, with a 2000 poll for instance revealing that 39% of the UK population had tried alternative therapies.

Examining New Agers in the United States, Kyle stated that on the whole, they preferred the values of the Democratic Party over those of the Republican Party. He added that most New Agers “soundly rejected” the agenda of Republican President Ronald Reagan.

Some New Agers advocate living in a simple and sustainable manner to reduce humanity’s impact on the natural resources of Earth; and they shun consumerism.[262] The New Age movement has been centered around rebuilding a sense of community to counter social disintegration; this has been attempted through the formation of intentional communities, where individuals come together to live and work in a communal lifestyle.[263] Bruce argued that in seeking to “denying the validity of externally imposed controls and privileging the divine within”, the New Age sought to dismantle pre-existing social order, but that it failed to present anything adequate in its place. Heelas however cautioned that Bruce had arrived at this conclusion based on “flimsy evidence”.

New Age centres have been set up in various parts of the world, representing an institutionalised form of the movement. Notable examples include the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado, Holly Hock Farm near to Vancouver, the Wrekin Trust in West Malvern, Worcestershire, and the Skyros Centre in Skyros.

Criticising mainstream Western education as counterproductive to the ethos of the movement, many New Age groups have established their own schools for the education of children, although in other cases such groups have sought to introduce New Age spiritual techniques into pre-existing establishments.

New Age spirituality has led to a wide array of literature on the subject and an active niche market, with books, music, crafts, and services in alternative medicine available at New Age stores, fairs, and festivals.[citation needed] New Age fairs sometimes known as “Mind, Body, Spirit fairs”, “psychic fairs”, or “alternative health fairs” are spaces in which a variety of goods and services are displayed by different vendors, including forms of alternative medicine and esoteric practices such as palmistry or tarot card reading. A prominent example is the Mind Body Spirit Festival, held annually in the United Kingdom, at which the religious studies scholar Christopher Partridge noted one could encounter “a wide range of beliefs and practices from crystal healing to … Kirlian photography to psychic art, from angels to past-life therapy, from Theosophy to UFO religion, and from New Age music to the vegetarianism of Suma Chign Hai.” Similar festivals are held across Europe and in Australia and the United States.

A number of New Age proponents have emphasised the use of spiritual techniques as a tool for attaining financial prosperity, thus moving the movement away from its counter-cultural origins. Commenting on this “New Age capitalism”, Hess observed that it was largely small-scale and entrepreneurial, focused around small companies run by members of the petty bourgeoisie, rather than being dominated by large scale multinational corporations.

Embracing this attitude, various books have been published espousing such an ethos, established New Age centres have held spiritual retreats and classes aimed specifically at business people, and New Age groups have developed specialised training for businesses. During the 1980s, many prominent U.S. corporationsamong them IBM, AT&T, and General Motorsembraced New Age seminars, hoping that they could increase productivity and efficiency among their work force, although in several cases this resulted in employees bringing legal action against their employers, claiming that such seminars had infringed on their religious beliefs or damaged their psychological health. However, the use of spiritual techniques as a method for attaining profit has been an issue of major dispute within the wider New Age movement, with prominent New Agers such as Spangler and Matthew Fox criticising what they see as trends within the community that are narcissistic and lack a social conscience. In particular, the movement’s commercial elements have caused problems given that they often conflict with its general economically-egalitarian ethos; as York highlighted, “a tension exists in New Age between socialistic egalitarianism and capitalistic private enterprise”.

Given that it encourages individuals to choose spiritual practices on the grounds of personal preference and thus encourages them to behave as a consumer, the New Age has been considered to be well suited to modern society.

The term “New Age music” is applied, often in a derogative manner, to forms of ambient music, a genre which developed in the 1960s and was popularised in the 1970s, particularly with the work of Brian Eno. The genre’s relaxing nature resulted in it becoming popular within New Age circles, with some forms of the genre having a specifically New Age orientation. Studies have determined that new-age music can be an effective component of stress management.[284]

The style began in the late 1960s and early 1970s with the works of free-form jazz groups recording on the ECM label; such as Oregon, the Paul Winter Consort, and other pre-ambient bands; as well as ambient music performer Brian Eno, classical avant-garde musician Daniel Kobialka,[285][286] and the psychoacoustic environments recordings of Irv Teibel.[287] In the early 1970s, it was mostly instrumental with both acoustic and electronic styles. New-age music evolved to include a wide range of styles from electronic space music using synthesizers and acoustic instrumentals using Native American flutes and drums, singing bowls, Australian didgeredoos and world music sounds to spiritual chanting from other cultures.[285][286]

While many commentators have focused on the spiritual and cultural aspects of the New Age movement, it also has a political component. The New Age political movement became visible in the 1970s, peaked in the 1980s, and continued into the 1990s.[288] The sociologist of religion Steven Bruce noted that the New Age provides ideas on how to deal with “our socio-psychological problems”. Scholar of religion James R. Lewis observed that, despite the common caricature of New Agers as narcissistic, “significant numbers” of them were “trying to make the planet a better place on which to live”, and scholar J. Gordon Melton’s New Age Encyclopedia (1990) included an entry called “New Age politics”. Some New Agers have entered the political system in an attempt to advocate for the societal transformation that the New Age promotes.

Although New Age activists have been motivated by New Age concepts like holism, interconnectedness, monism, and environmentalism, their political ideas are diverse. York has suggested that the New Age has been appropriated by “extreme right, conservative, liberal, libertarian [and] socialist factions.” Accordingly, Kyle stated that “New Age politics is difficult to describe and categorize. The standard political labelsleft or right, liberal or conservativemiss the mark.”

The extent to which New Age spokespeople mix religion and politics varies. New Agers are often critical of the established political order, regarding it as “fragmented, unjust, hierarchical, patriarchal, and obsolete”. The New Ager Mark Satin for instance spoke of “New Age politics” as a politically radical “third force” that was “neither left nor right”. He believed that in contrast to the conventional political focus on the “institutional and economic symptoms” of society’s problems, his “New Age politics” would focus on “psychocultural roots” of these issues. Ferguson regarded New Age politics as “a kind of Radical Centre”, one which was “not neutral, not middle-of-the-road, but a view of the whole road”.Fritjof Capra argued that Western societies have become sclerotic because of their adherence to an outdated and mechanistic view of reality, which he calls the “Newtonian/Cartesian paradigm”. In Capra’s view, the West needs to develop an organic and ecological “systems view” of reality in order to successfully address its social and political issues.Corinne McLaughlin argued that politics need not connote endless power struggles, that a new “spiritual politics” could attempt to synthesize opposing views on issues into higher levels of understanding.[297]

Many New Agers advocate globalisation and localisation, but reject nationalism and the role of the nation-state. Some New Age spokespeople have called for greater decentralisation and global unity, but are vague about how this might be achieved; others call for a global, centralised government. Mark Satin for example argued for a move away from the nation-state and towards self-governing regions which, through improved global communication networks, would help engender world unity.Benjamin Creme conversely argued that “the Christ” would return to the world and establish a strong, centralised global government in the form of the United Nations; this would be politically re-organised along a spiritual hierarchy. Kyle observed that New Agers often speak favourably of democracy and citizens’ involvement in policy making but are critical of representative democracy and majority rule, thus displaying elitist ideas to their thinking.

Several scholars have identified New Age books with political content. Scholar of religion James R. Lewis states that those who have “accepted uncritically the media stereotype of the New Age as apolitical should refer to Mark Satin’s New Age Politics”. Kyle cites12 books by New Age authors that define or touch upon New Age politics: Fritjof Capra’s The Turning Point (1982), Fritjof Capra and Charlene Spretnak’s Green Politics (1984), Benjamin Creme’s The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom (1980), Benjamin Ferencz and Ken Keyes, Jr.’s Planethood (1991), Marilyn Ferguson’s The Aquarian Conspiracy (1980), Donald Keys’s Earth at Omega (1982), Robert Muller’s New Genesis (1982), Leonard Orr and Sondra Ray’s Rebirthing in the New Age (1983), Mark Satin’s New Age Politics (1978), Satin’s New Options for America (1991), David Spangler’s Reflections on the Christ (1977), and Alvin Toffler’s The Third Wave (1980). Hanegraaff discusses four books that he terms “new paradigm”: Capra’s Turning Point, Ferguson’s Aquarian Conspiracy, Peter Russell’s The Awakening Earth: The Global Brain (1982), and Willis Harman’s Global Mind Change (1988). Historian Alan Mayne favors Corinne McLaughlin and Gordon Davidson’s Spiritual Politics (1994).[306]

Scholars have noted several New Age political groups. Self-Determination: A Personal/Political Network, lauded by Ferguson[307] and Satin,[308] was described at length by sociology of religion scholar Steven Tipton.[309] Founded in 1975 by California state legislator John Vasconcellos and others, it encouraged Californians to engage in personal growth work and political activities at the same time, especially at the grassroots level.[310] Hanegraaff noted another California-based group, the Institute of Noetic Sciences, headed by author Willis Harman. It advocated a change in consciuousness in “basic underlying assumptions” in order to come to grips with global crises. Kyle said that the New York City-based Planetary Citizens organization, headed by United Nations consultant and Earth at Omega author Donald Keys, sought to implement New Age political ideas.

Scholar J. Gordon Melton and colleagues focused on the New World Alliance, a Washington, DC-based organization founded in 1979 by Mark Satin and others. According to Melton et al., the Alliance tried to combine left- and right-wing ideas as well as personal growth work and political activities. Group decision-making was facilitated by short periods of silence. Sponsors of the Alliance’s national political newsletter included Willis Harman and John Vasconcellos.[314] Scholar James R. Lewis counted “Green politics” as one of the New Age’s more visible activities. One academic book claims that the U.S. Green Party movement began as an initiative of a handful of activists including Charlene Spretnak, co-author of a “‘new age’ interpretation” of the German Green movement (Capra and Spretnak’s Green Politics), and Mark Satin, author of New Age Politics.[315] Another academic publication says Spretnak and Satin largely co-drafted the U.S. Greens’ founding document, the “Ten Key Values” statement.[316]

While the term “New Age” may have fallen out of favor,[317] scholar George Chryssides notes that the New Age by whatever name is “still alive and active” in the 21st century. In the realm of politics, New Ager Mark Satin’s book Radical Middle (2004) reached out to mainstream liberals.[318][319] York (2005) identified “key New Age spokespeople” including William Bloom, Satish Kumar, and Starhawk who were emphasizing a link between spirituality and environmental consciousness. Mediator Mark Gerzon’s The Reunited States of America (2016), with its beyond-left-and-right concept of transpartisanship, generated controversy on the political left.[321] Former Esalen Institute staffer Stephen Dinan’s Sacred America, Sacred World (2016) prompted a long interview of Dinan in Psychology Today, which called the book a “manifesto for our country’s evolution that is both political and deeply spiritual”.[322]

In 2013 longtime New Age author Marianne Williamson launched a campaign for a seat in the United States House of Representatives, telling The New York Times that her type of spirituality was what American politics needed.[323] “America has swerved from its ethical center”, she said.[323] Running as an independent in west Los Angeles, she finished fourth in her district’s open primary election with 13% of the vote.[324]

Mainstream periodicals tended to be less than sympathetic; sociologist Paul Ray and psychologist Sherry Anderson discussed in their 2000 book The Cultural Creatives, what they called the media’s “zest for attacking” New Age ideas, and offered the example of a 1996 Lance Morrow essay in Time magazine.[317] Nearly a decade earlier, Time had run a long cover story critical of New Age culture; the cover featured a head shot of a famous actress beside the headline, “Om…. THE NEW AGE starring Shirley MacLaine, faith healers, channelers, space travelers, and crystals galore”.[325] The story itself, by former Saturday Evening Post editor Otto Friedrich, was sub-titled, “A Strange Mix of Spirituality and Superstition Is Sweeping Across the Country”.[326] In 1988, the magazine The New Republic ran a four-page critique of New Age culture and politics by journalist Richard Blow entitled simply, “Moronic Convergence”.[327]

Some New Agers and New Age sympathizers responded to such criticisms. For example, sympathizers Ray and Anderson said that much of it was an attempt to “stereotype” the movement for idealistic and spiritual change, and to cut back on its popularity.[317] New Age theoretician David Spangler tried to distance himself from what he called the “New Age glamour” of crystals, talk-show channelers, and other easily commercialized phenomena, and sought to underscore his commitment to the New Age as a vision of genuine social transformation.

Initially, academic interest in the New Age was minimal. The earliest academic studies of the New Age phenomenon were performed by specialists in the study of new religious movements such as Robert Ellwood. This research was often scanty because many scholars of alternative spirituality thought of the New Age as an insignificant cultural fad. Having been influenced by the U.S. anti-cult movement, much of it was also largely negative and critical of New Age groups. The “first truly scholarly study” of the phenomenon was an edited volume put together by James R. Lewis and J. Gordon Melton in 1992. From that point on, the number of published academic studies increased steadily.

In 1994, Christoph Bochinger published his study of the New Age in Germany, “New Age” und moderne Religion. This was followed by Michael York’s sociological study in 1995 and Richard Kyle’s U.S.-focused work in 1995. In 1996, Paul Heelas published a sociological study of the movement in Britain, being the first to discuss its relationship with business. That same year, Wouter Hanegraaff published New Age Religion and Western Culture, a historical analysis of New Age texts; it would later be described by Hammer as having gained “a well-deserved reputation as the standard reference work on the New Age”. Most of these early studies were based on a textual analysis of New Age publications, rather than on an ethnographic analysis of its practitioners.

Sutcliffe and Gilhus argued that ‘New Age studies’ could be seen as having experienced two waves; in the first, scholars focused on “macro-level analyses of the content and boundaries” of the “movement”, while the second wave featured “more variegated and contextualized studies of particular beliefs and practices”. Sutcliffe and Gilhus have also expressed concern that, as of 2013, ‘New Age studies’ has yet to formulate a set of research questions which scholars can pursue. The New Age has proved a challenge for scholars of religion operating under more formative models of what “religion” is.

Mainstream Christianity has typically rejected the ideas of the New Age. Most published criticism of the New Age has been produced by Christians, particularly those on the religion’s fundamentalist wing. In the United States, the New Age became a major concern of evangelical Christian groups in the 1980s, an attitude that came to influence British evangelical groups. During that decade, evangelical writers such as Constance Cumbey, Dave Hunt, Gary North, and Douglas Groothuis published books criticising the New Age from their Christian perspective; a number of them have been characterised as propagating conspiracy theories regarding the origin and purpose of the movement. The most successful such publication however was Frank E. Peretti’s 1986 novel This Present Darkness, which sold over a million copies; it depicted the New Age as being in league with feminism and secular education as part of a conspiracy to overthrow Christianity.

Official responses to the New Age have been produced by major Christian organisations like the Roman Catholic Church, Church of England, and Methodist Church. The Roman Catholic Church published A Christian reflection on the New Age in 2003, following a six-year study; the 90-page document criticizes New Age practices such as yoga, meditation, feng shui, and crystal healing.[345][346] According to the Vatican, euphoric states attained through New Age practices should not be confused with prayer or viewed as signs of God’s presence.[347] Cardinal Paul Poupard, then-president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said the “New Age is a misleading answer to the oldest hopes of man”.[345] Monsignor Michael Fitzgerald, then-president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, stated at the Vatican conference on the document: the “Church avoids any concept that is close to those of the New Age”.[348] There are other Christian groups that have adopted a more positive view of the New Age, among them the New Age Catholics, Christaquarians, and Christians Awakening to a New Awareness, all of which believe that New Age ideas can enhance a person’s Christian faith.

“Neopagan practices highlight the centrality of the relationship between humans and nature and reinvent religions of the past, while New Agers are more interested in transforming individual consciousness and shaping the future.”

An issue of academic debate has been regarding the connection between the New Age movement and contemporary Paganism, or Neo-Paganism. The two phenomena have often being confused and conflated, particularly in Christian critiques. Religious studies scholar Sarah Pike asserted that there was a “significant overlap” between the two religious movements, while Aidan A. Kelly stated that Paganism “parallels the New Age movement in some ways, differs sharply from it in others, and overlaps it in some minor ways”. Other scholars have identified them as distinct phenomena which share overlap and commonalities. Hanegraaff suggested that whereas various forms of contemporary Paganism were not part of the New Age movement particularly those who pre-dated the movement other Pagan religions and practices could be identified as New Age. Partridge portrayed both Paganism and the New Age as different streams of occulture that merge at points.

Various differences between the two movements have been highlighted; the New Age movement focuses on an improved future, whereas the focus of Paganism is on the pre-Christian past. Similarly, the New Age movement typically propounds a universalist message which sees all religions as fundamentally the same, whereas Paganism stresses the difference between monotheistic religions and those embracing a polytheistic or animistic theology. While the New Age emphasises a light-centred image, Paganism acknowledges both light and dark, life and death, and recognises the savage side of the natural world. Many Pagans have sought to distance themselves from the New Age movement, even using “New Age” as an insult within their community, while conversely many involved in the New Age have expressed criticism of Paganism for emphasizing the material world over the spiritual. Many Pagans have expressed criticism of the high fees charged by New Age teachers, something not typically present in the Pagan movement, with some Pagans pronouncing the word “newage” to rhyme with “sewage”.

“In the case of New Age, its solipsism, coupled with its advocacy of free market principles, opens the world’s spiritual arena as an opportunity for spiritual exploitation and even capitalistic imperialism. Not only does it encourage a paradoxical homogenizing to the cultural standards of North Atlantic civilization, exemplified in its affirmation that ‘we are all one’, but it also carries an implicit judgement of inferior status for non-hegemonic cultures, inasmuch as they are not considered to be the ones who decide what is to be shared and what is not.”

One of the most contentious aspects of the New Age has been its adoption of spiritual ideas and practises from other traditions. Its belief that all traditions are free for anyone to use, and that they are not the private property of particular communities, has resulted in New Agers adopting and marketing the practices of Third World societies. These have included “Hawaiian Kahuna magic, Australian Aborigine dream-working, South American Amerindian ayahuasca and San Pedro ceremony, Hindu Ayurveda and yoga, and Chinese Feng Shui, Qi Gong, and Tai Chi”.

The New Age movement has been accused of cultural imperialism, misappropriating the sacred ceremonies, and abuse of the intellectual and cultural property of indigenous peoples.[364][365][366] Indigenous American spiritual leaders, such as Elders councils of the Lakota, Cheyenne, Navajo, Creek, Hopi, Chippewa, and Haudenosaunee have denounced New Age misappropriation of their sacred ceremonies[368] and other intellectual property,[369] stating that “[t]he value of these instructions and ceremonies [when led by unauthorized people] are questionable, maybe meaningless, and hurtful to the individual carrying false messages”.[368] Traditional leaders of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota peoples have reached consensus[364][370] to reject “the expropriation of [their] ceremonial ways by non-Indians”. They see the New Age movement as either not fully understanding, deliberately trivializing, or distorting their way of life,[371] and have declared war on all such “plastic medicine people” who are appropriating their spiritual ways.[364][370]

Indigenous leaders have spoken out against individuals from within their own communities who may go out into the world to become a “white man’s shaman,” and any “who are prostituting our spiritual ways for their own selfish gain, with no regard for the spiritual well-being of the people as a whole”.[371] The term “plastic shaman” or “plastic medicine people” has been applied to outsiders who identify themselves as shamans, holy people, or other traditional spiritual leaders, but who have no genuine connection to the traditions or cultures they claim to represent.[365][366][372]

Toward the end of the 20th century, some social and political analysts were arguing that the New Age political perspective had something to offer mainstream society.[373][374][375] In 1987, some political scientists launched the “Section on Ecological and Transformational Politics” of the American Political Science Association,[376] and an academic book prepared by three of them stated that the “transformational politics” concept was meant to subsume such terms as new age and new paradigm.[377] In 2005, British researcher Stuart Rose urged scholars of alternative religions to pay more attention to the New Age’s interest in such topics as “new socio-political thinking” and “New Economics”, topics Rose discussed in his book Transforming the World: Bringing the New Age Into Focus, issued by a European academic publisher.[379]

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New Age – Wikipedia

Gregg Braden – Bridging Science, Spirituality & the Real World

View all Events Summer 2017 Newsletter Gregg Braden DNA Comments Off on Does Evolution Answer This One BIG Question?

Dearest Global Family,

Hello and welcome to the Summer 2017 edition of Bridging Science, Spirituality, and the Real Word, my one and only official Gregg Braden newsletter!

Just as we were going to press with this newsletter, the winners of the 2016 Nautilus Book Awards were published. The winners learn that their books have been selected at the same time the rest of the world does, and Im happy, proud and totally thrilled to announce that our 2016 book, Resilience From The Heart: The Power To Thrive In Lifes Extremes has received the Gold Award in the category of Social Change! For 19 years the Nautilus book award program has worked to acknowledge exceptional literary contributions to spiritual growth, conscious living & green values, high-level wellness, responsible leadership and positive social change as well as to the worlds of art, creativity and inspirational reading for children, teens and young adults from authors representing over 40 different categories. This year I was blessed to be one of those authors. Thank you Nautilus Book Awards for honoring the work of so many people in such a beautiful way, and to my community for your continued and loving support of my message of possibility, potential and discovery!

As I thought about our second quarter newsletter, I felt that I wanted to offer you something a bit different in this editionsome of the science thats defining the new human story. Its also the science that youre writing to me about after taking my on-line Hay House course or seeing the new GAIA television series, Missing Links. With that science, were learning about new ways to empower our lives. I realize that for many of us, the science is simply catching up with what weve believed and known to be true since childhood. For others, however, the revelations that are coming from the best science of the modern world are like an earthquake that is shaking the foundation of what has been accepted and taught in mainstream classrooms and textbooks for over 150 years.

Its all about usthe story of our origin, what we believe about ourselves, our capacities, and our capabilities. And because Im offering facts and statements that are rarely seen in mainstream media, Ive also offered a brief section of references at the end of this article to make it easy for those who would like to know more. I hope you enjoy reading this newsletter as much as I have enjoyed writing it for you!

Sometimes the best way to understand a complex idea is through the eyes of someone who sees the world simply. The wisdom of Forrest Gump, the character played by Tom Hanks in the 1994 film of the same name, is a perfect example of this kind of vision. When Gump is asked about the role of destiny in our lives, his timeless words ring just as true today as when he spoke them on the big screen for the first time, over two decades ago. I dont know if we each have a destiny, he says, or if were all just floatin around accidental-like on a breeze. But I think maybe its both. 1

Gumps philosophy precisely describes what personal transformation is all about. As individuals we each have a destiny that awaits us as the fulfillment of our greatest potential. Our destiny is ours, however, only if we act. Through the choices we make in each and every moment in our lives we claim this personal destiny. The way we answer the question Who am I? is the compass that can guide us as we make our choices one day at a time. And if youve ever felt that theres more to the human story than weve been led to believe in the past, I want you to know youre not alone.

A 2014 Gallup poll revealed that in the United States alone, a whopping 42 percent of the people who were asked believe that theres something more to human origins than is typically acknowledged in the mainstreamthat something beyond Charles Darwins theory of evolution is responsible for our existence. The results of this poll reflect a growing sense that we humans are part of something great, powerful, and mysterious. Some of the greatest minds in science agree.

Francis Crick, the Nobel Prizewinning co-discoverer of the DNA double helix, believed that the eloquence of lifes building blocks has to be the result of something more than random mutations and a lucky quirk of nature. Through his pioneering research, he was one of the first humans to witness the complexity and the sheer beauty of the DNA molecule that makes life possible. Late in life, Crick risked his reputation as a scientist by publicly stating, An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle.2 In the scientific world, this statement is the equivalent of heresy, suggesting that something more than chance evolution led to our existence.

The feeling that theres something more to our story is not just a recent phenomenon. Archaeological discoveries show that, almost universally, from the ancient Mayan Popol Vuh3 and the indigenous traditions of the American desert Southwest to the roots of the worlds major religions, ancient humans felt connected to more than just their immediate surroundings. They sensed that we have our roots in other worlds, some that we cant even see, and that we are ultimately part of a cosmic family that lives in those worlds. Could there be a simple explanation as to why such a sense has remained with us so strongly, across such diverse traditions, and has lasted for so long? Is it possible that our feeling of having an intentional origin and a greater potential is based in something thats true? And if so, what does such a past mean for us today?

When we ask Who are we? The short answer is that were not what weve been told and were more than most of us have ever imagined.

For the last century and a half weve been steeped in a cosmic story that leaves us feeling like little more than trivial specks of dust in the universebiological sidebars in the overall scheme of life. Carl Sagan described this mind-set perfectly when he commented on the scientific perspective on our place in the cosmos: We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.4 This kind of limited thinking, promoted by the scientific community, has led us to believe that were unimportant when it comes to life in general and also separate from the world, from one another, and ultimately, even from ourselves.

The story of human insignificance, with its roots in the 19th-century theory of human evolution, is taught as undisputed fact in todays classrooms, leaving no room for consideration of any other possible explanation for the mystery of our existence. And because the mainstream story does not take into account recent discoveries made using the best science of the modern world, it leaves us unprepared to address the radical social issues and global challenges were experiencing today, including everything from terrorism, bullying, and hate crimes to the epidemic of drug and alcohol abuse among young people.

The conventional thinking of today leaves us with the sense that, when it comes to explaining our beginning, Darwins theory of evolution is a done deal. That its an open-and-shut case universally accepted by the scientific community, and there is little room for doubt when it comes to the explanation of human life as we see it today. Evolution is described as fact in textbooks and classrooms. In this environment of unconditional acceptance, scientific discoveries that fail to support evolution are often not reported, or worse yet, are ridiculed as superstition, religion, or pseudoscience. For this reason, people are often surprised when there is any mention of discoveries casting doubt on Darwins theory. Theyre surprised, as well, to learn that passionate objections to Darwins theory appeared almost as soon as his book was published in 1859, and they came from within the scientific community itself!

The first was raised by Louis Agassiz, who is regarded as one of the great scientists of the 19th century. His pioneering legacy is recognized in the field of natural history, specifically for his work in the areas of geology, biology, paleontology, and glaciology. While he and Darwin were contemporaries using the same methods and looking at the same information, their interpretations couldnt have been more different. Commenting on Darwins theory in an 1874 publication, Agassiz wrote, There are absolutely no facts either in the records of geology, or in the history of the past, or in the experience of the present, that can be referred to as proving evolution, or the development of one species from another by selection of any kind whatever.5

Agassiz was not alone in his objections. A community of respected scientists has objected to Darwins work from the time it was first published. That community continues to grow. Its roster now sounds like a whos who of leading minds in contemporary science. Following is a brief sampling of the types of criticisms that have been raised from the time Darwin introduced his theory in 1859 to the present to give you a sense of these objections.

The preceding statements offer insights seldom seen by the public, and certainly not shared in typical school classrooms, when it comes to accepting Darwins theory. Clearly, the jury is still out on the viability of Darwins theory of evolution when it comes to solving the mystery of human beginnings. Its obvious from objections such as the ones listed, and more, that criticism of evolution continues with passion and vigorous debate. And while Darwins ideas are a century and a half old, theyre still among the most emotionally-charged issues of our time.

Immediately following Charles Darwins 1859 release of Origin of Species, scientists began a search for the physical evidence to support it: the missing links between species that were believed to exist in the fossil record. If scientists could find these clues, the logic goes, then they would be able to reconstruct our ancient family tree of development. Just the way we can document our individual family lineage in reverse, going from our parents to our grandparents, and then to our great-grandparents, and so on, they assumed one day it would be possible to create a family tree of all our collective ancestors.

The current thinking about our origins is often illustrated as a tree, with us at the top of the tree having emerged from less evolved forms of life shown on the lower branches. In this way of thinking, the lines that connect us to the life forms lower on the tree represent the various paths of developmentthe evolutionary pathsscientists believe have led from early primates to us today.

A close look at the conventional illustrations, however, reveals that the links between the fossils are shown as dashed lines rather than solid ones. This means that the lines represent speculative or inferred connections rather than proven ones. While the links are believed to exist, after 150 years of searching for the evidence to support them, they have yet to be proven.

In other words, the physical evidence to confirm the evolutionary links that influence aspects of our lives ranging from healthcare to the moral justification of hate crimes, suicide, assisted suicide, and the death penalty as well as the criteria for our self-image and intimate relationships, has yet to be discovered. Even so, the theory continues to be taught in public classrooms as if its an undisputed fact!

Its against the backdrop of these ideas and criticisms that an astounding discovery in the late 20th century gave scientists the opportunity to put some of the strongest-held arguments for evolution to the test. If human evolution has in fact occurred, as Darwins theory hypothesizes, then the best way to prove the theory would be to compare us to our ancestors at the deepest level of our cells. To do so, scientists would need to sample the DNA of our early ancestors and compare it to the DNA of our bodies today, which is a problem because modern humans have already been on earth for 200,000 years. Because DNA is fragile, it doesnt last that long.

Is it possible that DNA from ancient primate life could still exist today? And if it were to exist, could we test the recovered DNA the way we routinely test our DNA today? Although these questions sound as if they could have come from the plot of Jurassic Park, a movie depicting ancient dinosaurs being resurrected through DNA in the present day, the answer to these questions came to light in the form of a one-of-a-kind discovery in 1987. The revelations of the discovery have left more questions unanswered, created even deeper mysteries, and opened the door to a possibility that has been forbidden territory in traditional science.

In 1987, a paradigm-shattering discovery was made in the Caucasus region of Russia, near the border between Europe and Asia. Buried deep in the earth, in a place called Mezmaiskaya Cave, scientists discovered the remains of a Neanderthal infanta baby girl that lived about 30,000 years ago! For reference, the last ice age ended about 20,000 years ago, meaning that this baby was alive during the ice age. Her remains were in an extremely rare state of preservation, and scientists were able to determine her age as somewhere between that of an unborn seven-month fetus and a two-month-old infant.

Using forensic techniques, like the futuristic technology thats depicted in the TV series CSI, scientists were able to extract a form of DNA called mitochondrial DNA from one of the babys ribs for analysis. Mitochondrial DNA (abbreviated as mtDNA) is a special form of DNA thats located within the energy centers (mitochondria) inside each of our cells, rather than in the chromosomes, where most of our DNA is found.

The reason mtDNA is key when it comes to the question of human evolution is that we inherit it only from our mothers. Its passed from the egg of a mother to both her sons and her daughters, and this typically happens without any of the mutations that can lead to new features in children. This means that the mitochondrial DNA lines in our bodies today are the direct descendants, and exact matches, of the mitochondrial DNA of the woman who began our particular lineage long ago. Its the uniqueness of this form of DNA that set the stage for the bombshell revealed by the Neanderthal infant.

Using the most advanced techniques, with results that are accepted in the highest courts of law, Russian and Swedish scientists tested the Neanderthal infants DNA to see how similar hers was to that of modern-day humans. In other words, the scientists wanted to know if the Neanderthal girl was actually one of our ancestors, as the evolutionary family tree leads us to believe.

In the year 2000 researchers at the University of Glasgow Human Identification Centre published the results of their investigation comparing Neanderthal DNA to that of modern humans. The results of their study were shared in a way that made sense even to the most nonscientific reader. And the meaning of what they found could not be dismissed. The conclusion of their report was shared in the peer-reviewed journal Nature and directly stated that modern humans were not, in fact, descended from Neanderthals.13

Now there could be no turning back. While scientists had originally believed that the mtDNA of the Neanderthal infant would solve the mystery of our ancestry, it actually did just the opposite. If were not descendants of Neanderthals, then who are our ancestors? Where do we fit on the tree of evolutiondo we even belong in Darwins evolutionary family? The comparison of DNA from Neanderthals and other primate fossils has shed new light on this question. In doing so, however, its also forced scientists to ponder a new possibility when it comes to unraveling the mystery of our origins.

Scientists generally agree that Anatomically Modern Humans (AMHs) first appear in the fossil record approximately 200,000 years ago and mark the beginning of the subspecies Homo sapiensthe term used to describe the people living on earth today. Scientists now believe that the AMHs are us, and we are they. Any differences between contemporary bodies and those of the AMHs of the past are so slight that they dont justify a separate grouping. In other words, although ancient humans didnt necessarily behave like we do, they looked like us, functioned like us, and appear to have had all of the wiring in their nervous systems that we have today.

Stated another way, we still look and function as they did 2,000 centuries ago, despite our incredible technological achievements. A 2008 study of AMH remains performed by collaborating geneticists from the universities of Ferrara and Florence in Italy, tell us that these similarities are more than superficial. Researchers report, A Cro-Magnoid individual (Now named Anatomically Modern Human) who lived in Southern Italy 28,000 years ago was a modern European, genetically as well as anatomically.14

Its the fact that members of our species, Homo sapiens, havent changed since our earliest ancestors first appeared in the fossil record that poses a problem for the traditional story of evolution, which is based upon slow changes over long periods of time.

Following 150 years of the best human minds applying themselves under the auspices of the worlds most respected universities, being funded with tremendous sums of money, and using the most sophisticated technology available to solve the mystery of our origins, if we were on the right track, it would seem that wed be farther along than we are today. In light of the failure of Darwins theory to explain our existence, and in consideration of the new evidence that Ive presented, its reasonable to ask the question thats become the big pink elephant in the room: What if modern science is on the wrong track?

What if were trying to prove the wrong theory and writing the wrong human story? The answer to this question is the reason Im sharing these discovers, and what they mean for us today, in my 2017 books and presentations. If were on the wrong track, it may help to explain why so many of the solutions applied to the worlds problems arent working. This would mean that our thinking and the solutions our approaches have produced are based on something thats not true! It would also mean that the extraordinary abilities available to us today, such as the ability to self regulate vital functions that include our immune system and heart rate variability, to trigger self-healing, our access to deep intuition on-demand, to super learning and more, appear to be part of our original blueprint rather than abilities that developed slowly and gradually over a long period of time.

My question is simply this: Why not allow the evidence to lead us to the story of our past, rather than trying to force the evidence into a template that was formed over a century and a half ago? What if there is no evolutionary path leading to modern humans? What if the pieces of the genetic puzzle that makes us who we are appeared intact and fully functional all at once as the evidence suggests, rather than accumulating gradually over time? What would such a story look like? The DNA that make us unique, the lack of fossil evidence documenting the transition from one hominid species to another, and the lack of common DNA between humans and less advanced primates all suggest that we may not belong on the same tree with the early hominids commonly shown in the textbooks. In fact, they suggest that we may not belong to a tree at all!

In other words, we may find that were a species unique unto ourselves on an evolutionary shrub that begins and ends with us. This is not to say that evolution doesnt exist or hasnt occurred anywhere. It does and it has. As a degreed geologist, Ive seen firsthand the fossil record of the evolution thats occurred in a number of other species. Its just that when we attempt to apply what we know of the evolution of plants and animals to humans, the facts dont support the theory. They fail to explain what the evidence reveals.

If we were to place the essence of the new discoveries about us into a concise list, the statements that follow would offer a high-level summary. Additionally they would give us a good idea of where the new theories, and our new story, may be heading.

So now that we know what were not, what does the best science of our time tell us about who we are? What does the new human story look like?

To honestly acknowledge these facts opens us to a paradigm that shifts the way we feel about ourselves and view our place in the universe. With this shift, we free ourselves from a paradigm of lonely insignificance and move into one of possessing a rare heritage that we are only beginning to explore.

And this is where the books, videos, television specials and presentations that Im presenting throughout 2017 come in. The new human story begins with our beginnings. It begins with the fact that from the time of our origin weve been neurologically wired and biologically enabled for extraordinary abilities. This design affords us extraordinary ways of living and extraordinary lives.

Through the remainder of this year, I invite you to share this personal journey of discovery as I offer the scientific discoveries that are so new, they are not yet reflected in mainstream media, classrooms and textbooks, and help us to apply those discoveries in our everyday lives. I look forward to seeing you at the events that follow in this newsletter, and that are listed on my only official website: http://www.greggbraden.com

Until then, I want to thank you personally for your love and support, as together, we discover what it means to be human by design.


Gregg Braden Santa Fe, New Mexico

TRANSCRIPT [This is] something I rarely talk about in public. I [wrote]about this 20 years ago in one of my books, and I have not talked about this very much. I had two near-death experiences, both of them in the same year of my life, when I was five years old. One of them was []

Dearest Global Family, Following my most recent book, Resilience From The Heart: The Power To thrive In Lifes Extremes (Hay House 2015) much of the media focus has been on chapters of the book that address personal resilienceour emotional and spiritual ability to embrace big change in a healthy way in everyday life, and in []

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Gregg Braden – Bridging Science, Spirituality & the Real World

Try This Healing Meditation During the Solar Eclipse – NBCNews.com

Aug.20.2017 / 4:58 PM ET

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The upcoming solar eclipse event reminds us of the spectacular and sacred nature of the planet we inhabit. It puts our human place in the cosmos in vivid perspective, reminding us that we are part of a much larger world that is not dependent upon our human activity. The eclipse may evoke spiritual responses of awe, wonder and humility, even when we understand the science behind it. Witnessing such a powerful event truly calls us to a relationship of reverence with life.

During the eclipse we may experience shifts in our energy and our consciousness that remind us of how fully our interior landscape mirrors the outer landscape when we are receptive to that connection. The metaphorical significance of a solar eclipse, the temporary darkening of light, can invite deep, meaningful reflection on powerful interplay of darkness and light in our ordinary lives.

Witnessing such a powerful event truly calls us to a relationship of reverence with life.

Witnessing such a powerful event truly calls us to a relationship of reverence with life.

To enrich your experience of the solar eclipse spirituality to allow nature to serve as a spiritual teacher for you take some intentional time at the start of the transition for the following guided meditation practice.

How to Prepare: Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit outdoors. (Bring protective eye wear if you’re planning to view the eclipse.) Have a journal and pen, sketchpad and pencils, watercolors and paper or some other materials for creative expression with you.

While the Eclipse Is Happening, Focus on These Steps:

Stephanie Ludwig, M.Div., M.A., Ph.D is the director of spiritual wellness at Canyon Ranch Wellness Resort in Tucson, Arizona.

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Try This Healing Meditation During the Solar Eclipse – NBCNews.com

Spirituality Center to offer recovery retreat – La Crosse Tribune

Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results. Those who struggle with addiction undoubtedly know this pattern.

The Franciscan Spirituality Center, 920 Market St., will offer an opportunity to explore the spiritual treasure map that is the first three steps of Alcoholics Anonymous during Surrender and Live: A Serenity Retreat on Oct. 6 and 7. The retreat will begin at 7 p.m. Friday and conclude at 4 p.m. Saturday.

This serenity retreat will share a story of light and hope, presenter Tom DeZell said. It is a paradoxical story of surrender to those things that bind us in order that we might become free of them.

The format will include shared experiences, discussion, quiet reflection and prayer.

DeZell has sober for 10 years, having come to accept and understand the devastation caused by his alcoholism and drug addiction. He is a trained spiritual director, having recently graduated from the FSCs Spiritual Direction Preparation Program.

In order to protect anonymity, this retreat is closed to men and women who are members of a 12-step fellowship and active in their recovery from alcohol or drugs. Participation is limited to the first 20 people who register.

Cost is $145 for overnight stay and all meals or $95 for commuters, which includes lunch on Saturday. Confidential financial assistance is available for those who would like to attend but cannot pay the full price. For more information, call 608-791-5295 or visit http://www.fscenter.org.

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Spirituality Center to offer recovery retreat – La Crosse Tribune

Surfing My Religion – Silicon Valley’s Metro

THERE IS SOMETHING about immersing oneself in saltwater for extended periods of time and dodging walls of waves that lends to some deep thinking about life and our place in the world.

Surfing has recently produced some excellent works of nonfiction that have little to do with stoned-out surfer stereotypes. Last year’s Pulitzer Prize for autobiography went to William Finnegan for Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life. Steve Kotler’s West of Jesus: Surfing, Science and the Origins of Belief is a fine book on the intersection of surfing and spirituality. And I’ll add Jaimal Yogis’ new memoir, All Our Waves Are Water: Stumbling Toward Enlightenment and the Perfect Ride, to the mix.

Yogis, a San Francisco-based author, wrote the book as a follow-up to Saltwater Buddha, a coming-of-age story that blends surfing and spiritual seeking. All Our Waves picks up where he left off in his previous work and chronicles Yogis’ multidisciplinary spiritual quests and more earthbound struggles of career, friendship and starting a family. Yogis’ spiritual and physical journeys take him to the Himalayas, Jerusalem, a Washington Heights friary, Puerto Escondido, Mexico, and the cold water of San Francisco’s Ocean Beach.

Yogis sprinkles the book with quotes that connect with the here and now, such as, “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop” (Rumi). Buddhism is the guiding light, and the book and Yogis offers a practical tour of Buddhist philosophy.

The subtext of All Our Waves is not surfing, but the search for the universal and the divine in whatever form. “The word ‘spiritual’ can be a bit confusing,” Yogis says. “In Zen and other non-dual schools of spirituality like Vedanta yoga, everything is considered spiritual, even the most mundane tasks like washing dishes. So surfing is just one of the things I do because I love to do it.

“And because I practice meditation and am interested in what you might call spiritual or philosophical questionswhy are we here, how do we realize our potential, how do we reduce sufferingthe sea becomes another place to practice.”

Yogis does a great job making these heady themes accessible and entertaining through personal experiences. In the toxic fumes that characterize American political and cultural discourse of late, All Our Waves Are Water is a lungful of fresh air and a poignant reminder of the wider world beyond the glow of our handsets.

Jaimal Yogis

Aug 21, 7pm, Books Inc., Palo Alto

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Surfing My Religion – Silicon Valley’s Metro

Spirituality and Religion in my Teens – Southern Times Africa

As a teenager, searching for a sense of meaning and purpose in life is not easy. Exploration of your spirituality plays an important role in lifes most important virtues. Spirituality can be defined in a variety of ways.

Most definitions agree that spirituality is a connection to something that is greater than the self and inspires respect and

admiration. This can be a connection to a religious being such as a deity (God) or a spirit. It can also be a

connection to individuals, objects, or a set of beliefs that inspire both wonder and humility. In either case,

spirituality refers to the activity of fostering a connection to what is sacred and meaningful in life.

During the teen years questions such as Is there really a God? or Am I just doing what my parents have taught me becomes important. Teens struggle with finding a balance between doing what is right according to their religion, and satisfying their own personal wants and needs.

More often than not, it must have a positive contribution to your health. Harming yourself or others, or taking the risk of suicide in the name of religion is counteractive towards spiritual growth. The essence of spirituality in teen years is embedded in the countless advantages it nurtures. These advantages include:

The possibility of finding meaning and purpose. Discovering your identity as a teen is strongly related to your spiritual identity. In some religions, people are often encouraged to serve the underprivileged or encourage the youth.

It provides a sense of belonging. Teens become united with groups who share similar beliefs. Thus, one may feel as part of a whole.

It teaches values of discipline and perseverance. In most religions we trust in what we cannot see, yet we hope for positive outcomes based on what we believe.

Becoming mindful and aware of your emotions and choosing healthy ways to deal with them. This may involve meditation and prayer.

Provides the soul with a sense of peace, positivity, righteous living and love for yourself and others. It gives hope and breeds healthy emotions.

Oftentimes, we trust that our higher power will guide and protect us against lifes problems. It serves as an anchor to moral living and coping during difficult times.Spiritual identity during teen years guides an individual to live by safe, humane qualities and often according to protective societal norms. Align yourself with your spiritual being as it can lead to healing from within. Compiled by: Samantha Feris

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Spirituality and Religion in my Teens – Southern Times Africa