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Events and Holiday Calendar 2018 … – 123Greetings.com

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Spring has sprung! As the buds bloom, the birds fly back to their home and the bumblebees buzz in with seasonal cheer… It’s also time to send your loved ones our Spring ecards. Wish them a season that’s bright with smiles and warm with the love and care.

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Rated: 4.35 | Views: 188,854 | Sent: 32,325

Palm Sunday is celebrated on the Sunday before Easter. Spread the love of Jesus to all you know. Send warm and heartfelt messages to friends/ family/ loved ones to wish them a blessed day.

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Rated: 4.13 | Views: 184,994 | Sent: 37,489

It’s Ram Navami! So celebrate the birth of Lord Ram, who slew Ravana, the Asur King. Get into the festive spirit and enjoy with your friends and loved ones. Send them warm and beautiful ecards from our site to wish them a blessed festival.

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Rated: 4.22 | Views: 6,869 | Sent: 1,386

Hey, it’s Pecan Day! So munch on the crispy nuts and have a great time sharing them with your near and dear ones. Send them cute and nutty ecards from our site to wish their day cracks up with fun and laughter.

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American Chocolate Week is observed especially to give chocolate lovers a chance to indulge in their favorite chocolate delicacies. Celebrate this special week with your near and dear ones and send your warm wishes to your chocolate loving loved ones with these beautiful ecards.

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Rated: 4.07 | Views: 84,096 | Sent: 16,501

Hey, it’s Hot Tub Day! Time to soak yourself in a steaming hot tub and bust the stress. So indulge in your senses. Send cute and cool ecards from our site to wish your friends/ family/ loved ones a great day.

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Rated: 4.33 | Views: 2,168 | Sent: 131

It’s Mahavir Jayanti, the birth anniversary of the founder of Jainism, Lord Mahavir. Celebrate the occasion with family/ friends/ loved ones and send them these religious ecards.

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Rated: 3.90 | Views: 2,119K | Sent: 691,258

It’s Passover! Time to read haggadah, enjoy a warm seder and have a joyous time with your friends, family and loved ones. Make this occasion even more special for everyone with our warm and wonderful Passover ecards and share with them the true spirit of Passover.

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Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Reach out to all your friends, family and loved ones with warm and holy wishes and have a blessed time.

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Rated: 3.98 | Views: 391,978 | Sent: 36,400

It’s Doctor’s Day. Time for us to thank and appreciate the doctors for keeping us healthy and happy and also those loved ones who care for us. Bring a smile to their face by sending warm greetings through our collection of lovely ecards. Start clicking!

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Rated: 3.94 | Views: 2,890 | Sent: 291

Hanuman Jayanti, observed in honor of Lord Hanuman, is celebrated by his devotees by reading prayers dedicated to the God. Celebrate the auspicious day with your family and friends and send your warm wishes to your loved ones with these beautiful ecards.

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Hey, it’s Full Moon Day! Time to be romantic with your sweetheart with the moon glowing at its brightest in the sky. Don’t forget to send a romantic ecard to your love.

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Rated: 4.20 | Views: 26,009 | Sent: 9,734

Think positive… That’s the mantra of happiness. It’s Optimism Month. So just spread the positive vibes around. You can always begin by sending your warm wishes to your dear ones and we have all the wonderful ecards.

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Rated: 4.34 | Views: 225,785 | Sent: 44,991

Lent is the holy season of penance and reflection. Fasting during Lent prepares us for Christ’s resurrection, for the redemption of mankind. Reach out to your friends, family and loved ones with a warm message of peace and love. Our free ecards are just apt for this occasion.

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Rated: 4.42 | Views: 2,726 | Sent: 170

It’s American Red Cross Month! Send your thanks and messages to the Red cross, who works for the betterment of the society. It is also a great time to reach out to all those wonderful people who make your world more beautiful. Express yourself with our wonderful ecards.

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Rated: 4.07 | Views: 22,019K | Sent: 6,599K

It’s Easter! Time again to send your loved ones our warm and cute Easter ecards. Watch the little chicks crack out of their shells, the furry bunnies hop and skip and wish your friends, family and loved ones with our Easter ecards. Sweeten their Easter with chocolates, brighten their day with colored eggs and make the occasion a special one with these ecards.

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Rated: 3.55 | Views: 2,766K | Sent: 484,133

It’s April Fools’ Day! It’s time to be the best trickster and the first to fool others before they do the same to you. Take the full advantage of this day and pull the legs of everyone. Don’t forget to give them a hearty laugh by sending them our humorous April Fools’ Day ecards.

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Rated: 3.73 | Views: 225,074 | Sent: 59,288

Hey, it’s Laugh Week! So share a joke with your near and dear ones and laugh heartily. Laughter is the best medicine, so send our cute and funny ecards to your friends/ family/ loved ones and wish their days roll with laughter.

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Rated: 4.32 | Views: 285,044 | Sent: 59,922

It’s Great Lovers Day! So celebrate love with your sweetheart and make him/ her feel special with our collection of sweet and romantic ecards.

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Rated: 4.28 | Views: 15,345 | Sent: 2,325

In 1933, thanks to President Roosevelt, the people of the United States were legally allowed to sell, buy and drink beer! So grab a drink and raise a glass because it’s a day to celebrate for beer drinkers and while you get that drink, send our ecards to fellow beer lovers to mark the day!

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Rated: 4.30 | Views: 256,638 | Sent: 101,396

It’s Orthodox Easter. Rejoice in the glory of our Lord and celebrate His holy resurrection. Reach out to your friends/ family/ loved ones and wish them a blessed time with our beautiful collection of ecards.

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Rated: 3.85 | Views: 16,444 | Sent: 2,911

Today is the day to shower all your love on those faithful companions who stick by you through thick and thin! Show them some love, treat them, take them for a walk or even adopt a new one. Share your love for your pets by sending our ecards to fellow pet lovers.

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Rated: 3.87 | Views: 5,991 | Sent: 946

Invented by an architect in 1938, scrabble is estimated to be in one third of American homes today. Celebrate this game of words, invite family and friends for a game and let your love for scrabble be known by sending out our ecards.

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Rated: 4.16 | Views: 313,283 | Sent: 77,252

Call it baseless fear, an illogical apprehension or an urban legend, Friday the 13th is here… And it’s here with all its string of phobias or may be superstitions. Whatever be it, it’s just the right time to send across a little note of luck for all your pals and loved ones through our ecards.

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Rated: 4.26 | Views: 175,184 | Sent: 26,237

It’s Baisakhi! So get into the festive mood, beat the drums, dance the bhangra and celebrate the New Year with friends, family and loved ones. Send warm ecards from our collection to all you love and wish them a harvest of smiles in the New Year ahead.

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Events and Holiday Calendar 2018 … – 123Greetings.com

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 systems of spirituality may include a belief in a supernatural (beyond the known and observable) realm, personal growth, a quest for an ultimate or 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 theistic religion became increasingly 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] In 1930 Russell, a renowned atheist, wrote “… one’s ego is no very large part of the world. The man [sic.] who can center his thoughts and hopes upon something transcending self can find a certain peace in the ordinary troubles of life which is impossible to the pure egoist.” [101] 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 appears to be nothing more than obscurantism in 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)[102]

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 the practitioner cultivate her/his inner life and character.[103][unreliable source?] [104] Ellison and Fan (2008) assert that spirituality causes a wide array of positive health outcomes, including “morale, happiness, and life satisfaction.”.[105] However, Schuurmans-Stekhoven (2013) actively attempted to replicate this research and found more “mixed” results.[106] Nevertheless, spirituality has played a central role in some 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[107]

Yet such spiritually-informed treatment approaches have been challenged as pseudoscience, are far from uniformly curative and may for non-believers cause harm (see iatrogenesis).

“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.[115]

Waaijman discerns four forms of spiritual practices:

Spiritual practices may include meditation, mindfulness, prayer, the contemplation of sacred texts, ethical development,[99] and spiritual retreats in a convent. 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.”[118]

Since the scientific revolution of the 18th-century Enlightenment, the relationship of science to religion[119][120][pageneeded] and to spirituality[citation needed] has developed in complex ways. 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.”[121]

Brooke has proposed that the currently held popular notion of antagonisms between science and religion[122][123] has historically originated with “thinkers with a social or political axe to grind” rather than with the natural philosophers themselves.[124] Though physical and biological scientists today see no need for supernatural explanations to describe reality[125][126][pageneeded][127][note 9], some[quantify] scientists continue to regard science and spirituality as complementary, not contradictory,[128][129] and are willing to debate,[130] rather than simply classifying spirituality and science as non-overlapping magisteria.

A few[quantify] religious leaders have 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.[131]

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.[120]:322 These holistic conceptions were championed by New Age spiritualists in a type of quantum mysticism that they claim justifies their spiritual beliefs,[132][133] though quantum physicists themselves on the whole reject such attempts as being pseudoscientific.[134][135]

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.[136][137][138][139] Although spiritual individuals tend to be optimistic, report greater social support,[140] and experience higher intrinsic meaning in life,[141] strength, and inner peace.,[142] 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.[143] 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][144][145][146][147][148][149] 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.[150][151][152][153][154]

Masters and Spielmans[155] 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.

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] Puchalski et al. argue for “compassionate systems of care” in a spiritual context.

Neuroscientists have examined brain functioning during reported spiritual experiences[158][159] finding that certain neurotransmitters and specific areas of the brain are involved.[160][161][162][163] Moreover, experimenters have also successfully induced spiritual experiences in individuals by administering psychoactive agents known to elicit euphoria and perceptual distortions.[164][165] Conversely, religiosity and spirituality can also be dampened by electromagnetic stimulation of the brain.[166] These results have motivated some leading theorists to speculate that spirituality may be a benign subtype of psychosis (see).[145][167][168][169][170] 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.[168][169]

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Spirituality – Wikipedia

New Age – Wikipedia

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 or Mind, Body, Spirit 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. The exact origins of the phenomenon remain contested, but there is general agreement 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 that 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” that seeks to unite science and spirituality.

Centred primarily in Western countries, 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 agree 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.”

Scholar of religion Daren Kemp, 2004.

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” that 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” that have emerged since the late 1970s and 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” that 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”, and some self-identify as a member of a different religious group, such as Christianity, Judaism, or Buddhism. 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.”

Scholar of esotericism Wouter Hanegraaff, 1996.

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 that 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 that 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. Scholars call this new esoteric trend occultism, and this occultism was 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 that he prefigured the New Age.[49] 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.[50] 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.”

Historian of religion Wouter Hanegraaff, 1996.

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.[53] 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.[55] 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.[68] Esalen and similar personal growth centers had developed links to humanistic psychology, and from this, the human potential movement emerged, strongly influenced the New Age.[69]

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 created 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.”

Scholar of esotericism Olav Hammer, 2001.

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 were nevertheless widely recognised as 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”,[84] 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 that 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,[93] 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.[96][97] 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.

Other scholars disagreed with Melton’s idea; in 2004 Daren Kemp stated that “New Age is still very much alive”. 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. Its diffusion into the mainstream may have been influenced by the adoption of New Age concepts by high profile figures: U.S. First Lady Nancy Reagan consulted an astrologer, British Princess Diana visited spirit mediums, and Norwegian Princess Mrtha Louise established a school devoted to communicating with angels. 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 United States and can be expected to become more visible: “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”.

The New Age places strong emphasis on the idea that the individual and their own experiences are the primary source of authority on spiritual matters. It exhibits what Heelas termed “unmediated individualism”, and reflects a world-view that is “radically democratic”. It places an emphasis on the freedom and autonomy of the individual. This emphasis has led to ethical disagreements; some New Agers believe helping others is beneficial, although another view is that doing so encourages dependency and conflicts with a reliance on the self. Nevertheless, within the New Age, there are differences in the role accorded to voices of authority outside of the self. Hammer stated that “a belief in the existence of a core or true Self” is a “recurring theme” in New Age texts. The concept of “personal growth” is also greatly emphasised among New Agers, while Heelas noted that “for participants spirituality is life-itself”.

New Age religiosity is typified by its eclecticism. Generally believing that there is no one true way to pursue spirituality, New Agers develop their own worldview “by combining bits and pieces to form their own individual mix”, seeking what Drury called “a spirituality without borders or confining dogmas”. 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”. This approach that has generated a common jibe that New Age represents “supermarket spirituality”. York suggested that this eclecticism stemmed from the New Age’s origins within late modern capitalism, with New Agers subscribing to a belief in a free market of spiritual ideas as a parallel to a free market in economics.

As part of its eclecticism, 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 societies are more usually chosen over others; 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.

A belief in divinity is integral to New Age ideas, although understandings of this divinity vary. New Age theology exhibits an inclusive and universalistic approach that accepts all personal perspectives on the divine as 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. New Age literature nevertheless displays recurring traits in its depiction of the divine: the first 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 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 believe in 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 New Agers emphasise 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” that is a part of the human but 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.

“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 that, while not necessarily untrue or fraudulent, are difficult or impossible for the reader to verify. A number of other channeled documents 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.”

Academic Suzanne Riordan, 1992.

MacKian argued that a central, but often overlooked, element of the phenomenon was an emphasis on “spirit”, and in particular participants’ desire for a relationship with spirit. Many practitioners in her UK-focused study described themselves as “workers for spirit”, expressing the desire to help people learn about spirit. They understood various material signs as marking the presence of spirit, for instance the unexpected appearance of a feather. New Agers often call upon this spirit to assist them in everyday situations, for instance to ease the traffic flow on their way to work.

New Age literature often refers to benevolent non-human spirit-beings who are interested in humanity’s spiritual development; these are variously referred to 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.

Although not present in every New Age group, a core belief within the milieu 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 New Age channeling 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, noting 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, the New Age does not feature Spiritualism’s emphasis on proving the existence of life after death, nor psychical research’s focus of testing mediums for consistency.

New Age thought typically envisions the world as developing through cosmological cycles that can be identified astrologically. It adopts this concept from Theosophy, although often presents it in a looser and more eclectic way than is found in Theosophical teaching. 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 recurring element of New Age is an emphasis on healing and alternative medicine.[201] The general New Age ethos 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 that 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. Its focus of self-spirituality has led to the emphasis of self-healing, although also present are ideas on healing both others and 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 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 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.[201]

“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.”

New Ager Nevill Drury, 2004.

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 New Agers typically reject rationalism, the scientific method, and the academic establishment, they employ terminology and concepts borrowed from science and particularly from the New Physics. Moreover, a number of prominent influences on New Age, such as David Bohm and Ilya Prigogine, had 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 will 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 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. A belief in reincarnation is very common, where it often 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 believe in karma, treating it as a law of cause and effect that 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 on reincarnation, it is claimed 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. Prominent New Age writers like Shakti Gawain and Louise Hay therefore express the view that humans are responsible for the events that happen to them during their life, an idea that many New Agers regard as empowering. At times, past life regression are employed within the New Age in order to reveal a Higher Soul’s previous incarnations, usually with an explicit healing purpose. Some practitioners espouse the idea of a “soul group” or “soul family”, a group of connected souls who reincarnate together as family of friendship units. Rather than reincarnation, another afterlife belief found among New Agers holds that an individual’s soul returns to a “universal energy” on bodily death.

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.

Religious studies scholar Steven J. Sutcliffe.

In the mid-1990s, the New Age was found primarily in the United States and Canada, Western Europe, and Australia and New Zealand. The fact that most individuals engaging in New Age activity do not describe themselves as “New Agers” renders it difficult to determine how many practitioners there are. 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. In 2006, Heelas stated that New Age practices had grown to such an extent that they were “increasingly rivalling the sway of Christianity in western settings”.

Sociological investigation indicates that certain sectors of society are more likely to engage in New Age practices than others. The majority of participants are from the middle and upper-middle classes of Western society. Sutcliffe noted that although most 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.[253] 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”.

In the United States, the first people to embrace the New Age belonged to the baby boomer generation, those born between 1946 and 1964. 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.

The degree to which individuals are involved in the New Age varies. Heelas argued that those involved 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. MacKian instead suggested that involvement could be seen as being layered like an onion; at the core are “consultative” practitioners who devote their life to New Age practices, around that are “serious” practitioners who still invest considerable effort into New Age activities, and on the periphery are “non-practitioner consumers”, individuals affected by he general dissemination of New Age ideas but who do not devote themselves more fully to them. 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.

In 1995, Kyle stated that on the whole, New Agers in the United States preferred the values of the Democratic Party over those of the Republican Party. He added that most New Agers “soundly rejected” the agenda of former Republican President Ronald Reagan.

MacKian suggested that this phenomenon was “an inherently social mode of spirituality”, one which cultivated a sense of belonging among its participants and encouraged relations both with other humans and with non-human, otherworldly spirit entities. MacKian suggested that these communities “may look very different” from those of traditional religious groups.

Online connections were one of the ways that interested individuals met new contacts and established networks.

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.[272] 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.[273] 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. The links between New Age and commercial products have resulted in the accusation that New Age itself is little more than a manifestation of consumerism. This idea is generally rejected by New Age participants, who often reject any link between their practices and consumerist activities.

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 that 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.[296]

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,[297][298] and the psychoacoustic environments recordings of Irv Teibel.[299] 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.[297][298]

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.[300] 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, ranging from far-right and conservative through to liberal, socialist, and libertarian. Accordingly, Kyle stated that “New Age politics is difficult to describe and categorize. The standard political labelsleft or right, liberal or conservativemiss the mark.” MacKian suggested that the New Age operated as a form of “world-realigning infrapolitics” that undermines the disenchantment of modern Western society.

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 that 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.[310]

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. Satin for example argued for a move away from the nation-state and towards self-governing regions that, through improved global communication networks, would help engender world unity. Benjamin Creme conversely argued that “the Christ,” a great Avatar, Maitreya, the World Teacher, expected by all the major religions as their “Awaited One,” 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.

Scholars have noted several New Age political groups. Self-Determination: A Personal/Political Network, lauded by Ferguson[315] and Satin,[316] was described at length by sociology of religion scholar Steven Tipton.[317] 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.[318] Hanegraaff noted another California-based group, the Institute of Noetic Sciences, headed by author Willis Harman. It advocated a change in consciousness 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.[322] 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.[323] Another academic publication says Spretnak and Satin largely co-drafted the U.S. Greens’ founding document, the “Ten Key Values” statement.[324]

While the term “New Age” may have fallen out of favor,[325] 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.[326][327] York (2005) identified “key New Age spokespeople” including William Bloom, Satish Kumar, and Starhawk who were emphasizing a link between spirituality and environmental consciousness. 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”.[329]

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.[330] “America has swerved from its ethical center”, she said.[330] Running as an independent in west Los Angeles, she finished fourth in her district’s open primary election with 13% of the vote.[331]

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.[325] 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”.[332] 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”.[333] 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”.[334]

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.[325] 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 regarded 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 steadily increased.

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; Hammer later described it as having “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 scholars can pursue. The New Age has proved a challenge for scholars of religion operating under more formative models of what “religion” is. By 2006, Heelas noted that the New Age was so vast and diverse that no scholar of the subject could hope to keep up with all of it.

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.

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New Age – Wikipedia

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 systems of spirituality may include a belief in a supernatural (beyond the known and observable) realm, personal growth, a quest for an ultimate or 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 theistic religion became increasingly 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] In 1930 Russell, a renowned atheist, wrote “… one’s ego is no very large part of the world. The man [sic.] who can center his thoughts and hopes upon something transcending self can find a certain peace in the ordinary troubles of life which is impossible to the pure egoist.” [101] 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 appears to be nothing more than obscurantism in 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)[102]

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 the practitioner cultivate her/his inner life and character.[103][unreliable source?] [104] Ellison and Fan (2008) assert that spirituality causes a wide array of positive health outcomes, including “morale, happiness, and life satisfaction.”.[105] However, Schuurmans-Stekhoven (2013) actively attempted to replicate this research and found more “mixed” results.[106] Nevertheless, spirituality has played a central role in some 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[107]

Yet such spiritually-informed treatment approaches have been challenged as pseudoscience, are far from uniformly curative and may for non-believers cause harm (see iatrogenesis).

“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.[115]

Waaijman discerns four forms of spiritual practices:

Spiritual practices may include meditation, mindfulness, prayer, the contemplation of sacred texts, ethical development,[99] and spiritual retreats in a convent. 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.”[118]

Since the scientific revolution of the 18th-century Enlightenment, the relationship of science to religion[119][120][pageneeded] and to spirituality[citation needed] has developed in complex ways. 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.”[121]

Brooke has proposed that the currently held popular notion of antagonisms between science and religion[122][123] has historically originated with “thinkers with a social or political axe to grind” rather than with the natural philosophers themselves.[124] Though physical and biological scientists today see no need for supernatural explanations to describe reality[125][126][pageneeded][127][note 9], some[quantify] scientists continue to regard science and spirituality as complementary, not contradictory,[128][129] and are willing to debate,[130] rather than simply classifying spirituality and science as non-overlapping magisteria.

A few[quantify] religious leaders have 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.[131]

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.[120]:322 These holistic conceptions were championed by New Age spiritualists in a type of quantum mysticism that they claim justifies their spiritual beliefs,[132][133] though quantum physicists themselves on the whole reject such attempts as being pseudoscientific.[134][135]

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.[136][137][138][139] Although spiritual individuals tend to be optimistic, report greater social support,[140] and experience higher intrinsic meaning in life,[141] strength, and inner peace.,[142] 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.[143] 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][144][145][146][147][148][149] 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.[150][151][152][153][154]

Masters and Spielmans[155] 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.

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] Puchalski et al. argue for “compassionate systems of care” in a spiritual context.

Neuroscientists have examined brain functioning during reported spiritual experiences[158][159] finding that certain neurotransmitters and specific areas of the brain are involved.[160][161][162][163] Moreover, experimenters have also successfully induced spiritual experiences in individuals by administering psychoactive agents known to elicit euphoria and perceptual distortions.[164][165] Conversely, religiosity and spirituality can also be dampened by electromagnetic stimulation of the brain.[166] These results have motivated some leading theorists to speculate that spirituality may be a benign subtype of psychosis (see).[145][167][168][169][170] 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.[168][169]

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Spirituality – Wikipedia

New Age – Wikipedia

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 or Mind, Body, Spirit 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. The exact origins of the phenomenon remain contested, but there is general agreement 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 that 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” that seeks to unite science and spirituality.

Centred primarily in Western countries, 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 agree 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” that 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” that have emerged since the late 1970s and 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” that 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”, and some self-identify as a member of a different religious group, such as Christianity, Judaism, or Buddhism. 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 that 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 that 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. Scholars call this new esoteric trend occultism, and this occultism was 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 that he prefigured the New Age.[49] 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.[50] 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.[53] 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.[55] 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.[68] Esalen and similar personal growth centers had developed links to humanistic psychology, and from this, the human potential movement emerged, strongly influenced the New Age.[69]

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 created 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 were nevertheless widely recognised as 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”,[84] 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 that 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,[93] 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.[96][97] 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.

Other scholars disagreed with Melton’s idea; in 2004 Daren Kemp stated that “New Age is still very much alive”. 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. Its diffusion into the mainstream may have been influenced by the adoption of New Age concepts by high profile figures: U.S. First Lady Nancy Reagan consulted an astrologer, British Princess Diana visited spirit mediums, and Norwegian Princess Mrtha Louise established a school devoted to communicating with angels. 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 United States and can be expected to become more visible: “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”.

The New Age places strong emphasis on the idea that the individual and their own experiences are the primary source of authority on spiritual matters. It exhibits what Heelas termed “unmediated individualism”, and reflects a world-view that is “radically democratic”. It places an emphasis on the freedom and autonomy of the individual. This emphasis has led to ethical disagreements; some New Agers believe helping others is beneficial, although another view is that doing so encourages dependency and conflicts with a reliance on the self. Nevertheless, within the New Age, there are differences in the role accorded to voices of authority outside of the self. Hammer stated that “a belief in the existence of a core or true Self” is a “recurring theme” in New Age texts. The concept of “personal growth” is also greatly emphasised among New Agers, while Heelas noted that “for participants spirituality is life-itself”.

New Age religiosity is typified by its eclecticism. Generally believing that there is no one true way to pursue spirituality, New Agers develop their own worldview “by combining bits and pieces to form their own individual mix”, seeking what Drury called “a spirituality without borders or confining dogmas”. 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”. This approach that has generated a common jibe that New Age represents “supermarket spirituality”. York suggested that this eclecticism stemmed from the New Age’s origins within late modern capitalism, with New Agers subscribing to a belief in a free market of spiritual ideas as a parallel to a free market in economics.

As part of its eclecticism, 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 societies are more usually chosen over others; 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.

A belief in divinity is integral to New Age ideas, although understandings of this divinity vary. New Age theology exhibits an inclusive and universalistic approach that accepts all personal perspectives on the divine as 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. New Age literature nevertheless displays recurring traits in its depiction of the divine: the first 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 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 believe in 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 New Agers emphasise 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” that is a part of the human but 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.

“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 that, while not necessarily untrue or fraudulent, are difficult or impossible for the reader to verify. A number of other channeled documents 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.”

MacKian argued that a central, but often overlooked, element of the phenomenon was an emphasis on “spirit”, and in particular participants’ desire for a relationship with spirit. Many practitioners in her UK-focused study described themselves as “workers for spirit”, expressing the desire to help people learn about spirit. They understood various material signs as marking the presence of spirit, for instance the unexpected appearance of a feather. New Agers often call upon this spirit to assist them in everyday situations, for instance to ease the traffic flow on their way to work.

New Age literature often refers to benevolent non-human spirit-beings who are interested in humanity’s spiritual development; these are variously referred to 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.

Although not present in every New Age group, a core belief within the milieu 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 New Age channeling 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, noting 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, the New Age does not feature Spiritualism’s emphasis on proving the existence of life after death, nor psychical research’s focus of testing mediums for consistency.

New Age thought typically envisions the world as developing through cosmological cycles that can be identified astrologically. It adopts this concept from Theosophy, although often presents it in a looser and more eclectic way than is found in Theosophical teaching. 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 recurring element of New Age is an emphasis on healing and alternative medicine.[201] The general New Age ethos 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 that 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. Its focus of self-spirituality has led to the emphasis of self-healing, although also present are ideas on healing both others and 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 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 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.[201]

“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 New Agers typically reject rationalism, the scientific method, and the academic establishment, they employ terminology and concepts borrowed from science and particularly from the New Physics. Moreover, a number of prominent influences on New Age, such as David Bohm and Ilya Prigogine, had 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 will 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 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. A belief in reincarnation is very common, where it often 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 believe in karma, treating it as a law of cause and effect that 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 on reincarnation, it is claimed 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. Prominent New Age writers like Shakti Gawain and Louise Hay therefore express the view that humans are responsible for the events that happen to them during their life, an idea that many New Agers regard as empowering. At times, past life regression are employed within the New Age in order to reveal a Higher Soul’s previous incarnations, usually with an explicit healing purpose. Some practitioners espouse the idea of a “soul group” or “soul family”, a group of connected souls who reincarnate together as family of friendship units. Rather than reincarnation, another afterlife belief found among New Agers holds that an individual’s soul returns to a “universal energy” on bodily death.

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, the New Age was found primarily in the United States and Canada, Western Europe, and Australia and New Zealand. The fact that most individuals engaging in New Age activity do not describe themselves as “New Agers” renders it difficult to determine how many practitioners there are. 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. In 2006, Heelas stated that New Age practices had grown to such an extent that they were “increasingly rivalling the sway of Christianity in western settings”.

Sociological investigation indicates that certain sectors of society are more likely to engage in New Age practices than others. The majority of participants are from the middle and upper-middle classes of Western society. Sutcliffe noted that although most 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.[253] 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”.

In the United States, the first people to embrace the New Age belonged to the baby boomer generation, those born between 1946 and 1964. 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.

The degree to which individuals are involved in the New Age varies. Heelas argued that those involved 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. MacKian instead suggested that involvement could be seen as being layered like an onion; at the core are “consultative” practitioners who devote their life to New Age practices, around that are “serious” practitioners who still invest considerable effort into New Age activities, and on the periphery are “non-practitioner consumers”, individuals affected by he general dissemination of New Age ideas but who do not devote themselves more fully to them. 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.

In 1995, Kyle stated that on the whole, New Agers in the United States preferred the values of the Democratic Party over those of the Republican Party. He added that most New Agers “soundly rejected” the agenda of former Republican President Ronald Reagan.

MacKian suggested that this phenomenon was “an inherently social mode of spirituality”, one which cultivated a sense of belonging among its participants and encouraged relations both with other humans and with non-human, otherworldly spirit entities. MacKian suggested that these communities “may look very different” from those of traditional religious groups.

Online connections were one of the ways that interested individuals met new contacts and established networks.

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.[272] 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.[273] 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. The links between New Age and commercial products have resulted in the accusation that New Age itself is little more than a manifestation of consumerism. This idea is generally rejected by New Age participants, who often reject any link between their practices and consumerist activities.

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 that 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.[296]

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,[297][298] and the psychoacoustic environments recordings of Irv Teibel.[299] 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.[297][298]

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.[300] 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, ranging from far-right and conservative through to liberal, socialist, and libertarian. Accordingly, Kyle stated that “New Age politics is difficult to describe and categorize. The standard political labelsleft or right, liberal or conservativemiss the mark.” MacKian suggested that the New Age operated as a form of “world-realigning infrapolitics” that undermines the disenchantment of modern Western society.

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 that 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.[310]

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. Satin for example argued for a move away from the nation-state and towards self-governing regions that, through improved global communication networks, would help engender world unity. Benjamin Creme conversely argued that “the Christ,” a great Avatar, Maitreya, the World Teacher, expected by all the major religions as their “Awaited One,” 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.

Scholars have noted several New Age political groups. Self-Determination: A Personal/Political Network, lauded by Ferguson[315] and Satin,[316] was described at length by sociology of religion scholar Steven Tipton.[317] 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.[318] Hanegraaff noted another California-based group, the Institute of Noetic Sciences, headed by author Willis Harman. It advocated a change in consciousness 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.[322] 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.[323] Another academic publication says Spretnak and Satin largely co-drafted the U.S. Greens’ founding document, the “Ten Key Values” statement.[324]

While the term “New Age” may have fallen out of favor,[325] 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.[326][327] York (2005) identified “key New Age spokespeople” including William Bloom, Satish Kumar, and Starhawk who were emphasizing a link between spirituality and environmental consciousness. 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”.[329]

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.[330] “America has swerved from its ethical center”, she said.[330] Running as an independent in west Los Angeles, she finished fourth in her district’s open primary election with 13% of the vote.[331]

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.[325] 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”.[332] 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”.[333] 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”.[334]

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.[325] 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 regarded 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 steadily increased.

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; Hammer later described it as having “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 scholars can pursue. The New Age has proved a challenge for scholars of religion operating under more formative models of what “religion” is. By 2006, Heelas noted that the New Age was so vast and diverse that no scholar of the subject could hope to keep up with all of it.

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.[353][354] 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.[355] 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”.[353] 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”.[356] 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 that share overlap and commonalities. Hanegraaff suggested that whereas various forms of contemporary Paganism were not part of the New Age movement particularly those that 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 (occult culture) 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 that 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, particularly non-Western cultures. Its belief that all traditions are free for anyone to use, rather than 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 Aboriginal 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 has been accused of cultural imperialism, misappropriating the sacred ceremonies, and abuse of the intellectual and cultural property of indigenous peoples.[372][373][374] 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[376] and other intellectual property,[377] 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”.[376] Traditional leaders of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota peoples have reached consensus[372][378] 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,[379] and have declared war on all such “plastic medicine people” who are appropriating their spiritual ways.[372][378]

Originally posted here:

New Age – Wikipedia

Fr. Pietraszko’s Corner | Discovering Truth and Love

There has been a great deal of buzz in Canada since Canadas liberal Prime Minister recently barred those who are pro-life from working in summer jobs, as well as cutting off funding from supporting groups that have this disposition. Things are beginning to add up, and Canada is looking more and more out-of-touch with its religious citizens. Rights have been known to rub up against each other. We wonder where does hate speech begin and freedom of speech end? We have discussed womens reproductive rights but debate how they impact the life of the unborn. Values compete with values, and if we do not use logic, reasoning, and have a sense of a hierarchy of principles, the end result is that ethical laws are not developed, rather popular anthropologies are indoctrinated, that support the values of the majority.

Value-systems are largely defined by a subjective consensus of people in a social-group. Values can pertain to a religious community, a secular community, a cultural community, and varied alternatives. What values lack is their defensibility when we enact them into law. Laws are not meant to respect values, but rather are meant to be ordinances of reason, that are promulgated by the state for the sake of the common-good. This has been the basic thrust behind most law since the dawn of civilization, and under the influence of totalitarian regimes, it has often been the values of an individual leader that have guided the process of arbitrary laws. Those arbitrary laws have even been known to be backed by scientific communities who promoted eugenics and advocated for the dehumanization of particular groups during war-times. Presuming such bigotry to be scientific many were gagged from offering criticism as they would be considered sentimental and out-dated in their own basic way of rejecting such laws. Jews were removed as professors, teachers, doctors, enabling German society to perpetuate and control the false and unjust narrative about the Jews. Once this particular religious group was removed from the public sphere, science was no longer open to any other interpretation than the racist one that funded their research, tortured and experimented upon such individualsin concentration camps. This slow process of weeding out from society those who society latently resented and wanted to persecute began by a prohibition to work in various fields because of their race and/or beliefs.

In Canada, a similar thing is beginning to happen. Even if it is not the direct intention of the leaders, it would be nave that it will end in any other way. Doctors who are pro-life, are forced to offer effective referrals for abortion and euthanasia. Yet so many people see absolutely nothing wrong with this. They will create the narrative that such procedures are the rights of private citizens, and they should not be denied what is entitled to them. Therefore, doctors and pharmacists can be weeded out from the medical and scientific community as a result of their views, effectively gagging an alternative view on ethics in order to enforce a false-narrative about the morality around this subject. This alternative view is gagged, regardless of whether it is proposed from a logical standpoint, apart from an appeal to faith. The so-called rights of these individuals, in this narrative, are matters of reproductive rights for women. A clever term that couches this matter in a way that is completely oblivious to the actual reality at hand: a human has already been reproduced and is now developing. Therefore it isnt about reproduction, it is about having the right to euphemize/dehumanize a person into somethingof less dignity so that it can be killed.

Not only have workers for the government in the Party of the Liberals and NDP been disallowed to vote according to their conscience on matters of the unborn, they have been entirely excluded from their own respective parties. Furthermore, even private citizens who do not work in these professions can be arrested for protesting and expressing disagreement with abortion in areas where a bubble zone is erected. In other words, the law now views public-disagreement as synonymous with harassment, because it simply cannot cope with the idea that people disagree with the pro-choice view. It therefore is slowly working its way through Canada, fostering the narrative that a pro-life view is a thing of the past, and Canada has to let it go, and gag its opponents by a threat of 6 months in jail or more during a second offense for breaking this so-called bubble-zone.

As I said: its adding up and going in one particular direction. So how can it be overcome? First of all, moments like these need to wake people up who are ambiguous on this matter. Second, the issues need to be framed properly when it comes to changing the law on abortion. Third, one should resist the government and do so by being involved with it as much as we can be, and voting according to what will properly prevent moral tyranny from prevailing in our country.

Responding to ambiguous responses to this subject:

There are many people who personally disagree with abortion, but are silent on the matter. This could be for a few reasons. Perhaps discussing it with others could cause division, especially family members who have had abortions. Perhaps wanting to avoid conflict is a main contributor. Perhaps we have some strange ways of looking at morality, and do not believe that the killing of the unborn is substantially the same thing as killing a new-born.

Let me put these matters to rest. If you do not want to be criticized, do nothing, say nothing and be nothing. The best way to avoid a life where we make a positive impact on the world is to go-along with it, and convince ourselves that our private disagreement absolves us from our responsibility to speak up. But be assured, it does not, and our voice is something justice demands. Justice is something we should want our family to ascribe to, and if they do not, then that ought to divide us. If you love your family more than what is morally right, your family will naturally be corrupted by all sorts of vice, and never have the peace it really should have it will be a false peace, built on fake-peace. That is to say that not wishing a family to be just and at peace with reason and a good morality is to actually fail to love your family.

Abortion is the killing of a dependant young human-being, and is not substantially different than killing a new-born. Therefore, to see if we are truly being consistent with logical thinking, if there is no ontological or substantial difference between a fetus and a new-born, then why would it be a crime to kill a new-born but not the unborn? Is there some sort of magical science that happens when the baby leaves the womb? Is the womb a superstitious-magical place, where up to the day before the child is birthed, it can be chopped into pieces or killed as in a partial birth-abortion? While this rarely would ever happen at such a stage, did you know there was no law preventing it? To be indifferent to this, would be like saying, rarely do children get fed to bears as a form of entertainment, so I dont see why would make a law preventing this? In fact, there are laws preventing it, yet someone could nonetheless get away with a partial-birth abortion and be entirely legally protected, and seemingly no one cares to make that a concern. That is to finally say a child prematurely born, and less developed has more rights than a child who is further developed but still united to its mothers womb. Does this make sense logical sense, and how does biology factor into this assessment?

One cannot be personally against the killing of a race of individuals, but that it would be up to each statesman to decide according to his own preference. It is either killing a human being or not. In a democratic society, we become morally culpable for not allowing our voice and vote to be expressed in this regard. Indifference permits evil.

Why do people rarely change their mind?

In discussing this with people who disagree,they mightdeflect comments in order to gag the conversation. In my experience, as a priest, I will often hear people bring up the sexual abuse crisis, as if that is what I should worry about, but not abortion. The frank response to this is that people should not exploit a very real and evil action in order to silence a conversation that pricks their conscience. It usesthe pain of the victims to morally posture in order to distract the conversation from an effective dialogue over the subject at hand. Logicians call that a red-herring. The two issues are not competitive either killing children and sexually abusing them are things that should never happen. Why would one frame an argument as if we have to tolerate one evil over another, such as these?

One of the real reasons why very few people change their minds on this subject during a debate is not due to the science or the philosophy which support the pro-life stance. Rather, it is due to the very challenging consequences of admitting that we might have to come to terms with what we have been supporting or in some cases, what we have chosen.

I know some Germans who lived in Germany during world-war II. They, to this day, are still in denial that the holocaust took place. This I can understand, because it might be difficult to think of oneself being morally responsible (via silence or advocacy) for something that is shameful, tragic, socially condemned,and has marked the history of mankind. Think now of the women that might think that on the other side of the argument there is nothing but despair in knowing that what I really did was kill my own child.

For those who are involved in pro-life work, we have to understand the grave difficulty that is associated, psychologically, with coming to a place where we might have to accept something so horrible about our behaviour: the truth.

The thing is the pro-life movement is not interested in shaming women who have had an abortion. In fact, we generally tend to celebrate women who have publically admitted or quietly admitted that they regret their abortion. We celebrate that because it takes a great deal of interior strength, integrity of mindand hard work to be able to do this. It also beings a process of healing and healing can only take place when we are honest about our self-inflicted wounds. So for those women, who have that gnawing feeling that they did the wrong thing, but pretend behind a faade of jokes, bitterness, and raw-raw events, that gnawing feeling will never go away, no matter what false-narratives you create. The gnawing feeling only goes away when you come to terms with the decision you have supported in others or for yourself, and realize that you are still loved, wanted, and a remarkable part of society. For those who have faith, you would be forgiven, and the memory of the choice could be healed. For those who might be in need of such healing, I highly recommend looking into groups like PROJECT RACHEL which offer support to both men and women who mourn lost parenthood.

It would also be beneficial for pro-life people to consider the social pressure that is placed on women to have abortions in various circumstances. We currently live in a society where it is not only easy to believe that a fetus isnt a person as sociological result of the law enforced that permits their killing, but that there are also those who create circumstances that make women think this is their only option/choice. In these cases, what is required from pro-life people is for us to not stand in moral-competition, but rather recognize that had we been in the same circumstances, we might have done the same thing. None of this suggests that what they have done is acceptable, but rather that we can relate to its tempting nature as a supposed solution to an unwanted pregnancy. Understanding that we are all people capable of making bad decisions, helps us not make this a matter about being morally superior to others, but rather about saving children from death. It also helps us discover ways to discourage abortion by changing the social policy that shapes the social narrative/attitude around the subject.

Reframing the matter of faith and reason in regard to law:

Although most objections to the Prime Ministers new direction of ideological dictatorship frames this matter under religious liberty, I would argue that it is much worse than that. For Catholics, human law is defined as: An ordinance of reason, promulgated by the state for the sake of the common-good. That is to say, dogmatic matters of faith really do not have much to do with the logistics of making law. Furthermore, while one can abhor abortion from the lens of faith, one can also do so from the lens of reason. This is why various groups, such as Atheists for Life exist. It is also why the Church has an argument that doesnt even appeal to faith, but rather science and philosophy in order to object to abortion. Here lies the biggest problem, the Trudeau government has canonized a particular type of anthropology for human beings in general, and excluded all discussion on this matter, even when such arguments are made from a logically cohesive presentation. In other words, law now is an ordinance of popular belief, promulgated by the state for the sake of our subjective/existential preferences. In other words, reason itself has been excluded from the process of making law.

Wouldsuch pro-choice proponentscharacterize this as the case? No. The reason they would not is because they have compartmentalized this issue to merely a matter of faith, which in their minds is nothing more than a sentiment and superstition. So in their mind, saying that a person is pro-life naturally carries with it the false assumption that those who are pro-life only believe as such because they have a religious creed. For this reason, Catholics have a long-standing tradition of being able to defend our position without appealing to scripture or Divine Tradition. We would argue that much of the moral law can be known by human beings who can use reason to discern. Therefore, a universal moral system can be created whereby mankind can develop an understanding of right from wrong without an appeal to religion.

This for instance is why atheists are not necessarily running around shooting and killing everyone they are human, and know through natural reasoning the difference between right and wrong, good and disordered conduct. Yet our society doesnt question the murder of innocent full-grown adults, nor do those who protest such acts appeal to their faith as the sole rationale behind why they condemn such behaviour. Likewise, this is the case for abortion for many of those who are pro-life.

Therefore, objectively the very idea of a rational debate and dialogue in the chambers of law-makers on this matter has been silenced by a deceiving lie, that this is merely a matter of religions imposing their personal beliefs on others either by neglect or by protestation. Click Here to listen to a podcast that offers an explanation that is a logical, philosophically reasoned explanation as to why abortion is immoral, and not substantially different than killing a newborn. This link/podcast does not appeal to faith to make its case.

How do we end this false-narrative?

Fundamentalists who do not adhere to the view that science should never contradict faith are a problem to correcting this false-narrative. In the protestant reformation, we do note that by making a false-dichotomy between faith and reason (fideism and rationalism) the subsequent consequences were secularism/communism and fundamentalism. The view heralded the idea that God could break the law of non-contradiction, and that his laws and moral precepts could be self-contradictory. Philosophers would suggest that God could make something like a square-circle. In this line of thought, universities were encouraged to disconnect faith from reason, not by way of a distinction (which is healthy) but by way of antagonism. As if Gods created world somehow contradicted Gods own nature and will. Therefore, what I am suggesting is that the pro-life movement distance itself when attempting to make new law from such platitudeswhich portray the false-narrative that abortion is only wrong on the grounds of divine-revelation. Human law, cannot ever reasonably contradict Divine-law, yet with fideism, it is imagined as possible. In this case, the fruit of fideism and rationalism today has really fostered the false-dichotomy and false-narrative of this issue today, and we need to take responsibility for that.

Many Protestants may think that by me mentioning this that I am in some way suggesting that our faith has to be repressed, therefore, in order to change the law. On the contrary, rather what I am suggesting is that we meditate on scripture which has written the moral-law in our hearts. Scripture reveals to us that morality can be known, plainly by seeing the things God has created. Using our brain to discern right from wrong is complimenting God, by using one of the greatest gifts He has given us. In this way, we glorify God with our bodies, which help us discern the natural-moral truths, without contradicting those moral truths that are divinely revealed to us. I also do not discourage people from speaking the truth about abortion from the perspective of faith. All I ask is that in that presentation that it not be presented as antagonistic towards what philosophy and science also suggest. Faith can add a deeper context to the problem of abortion, but reason can also be a force that couches this matter in regard to laws changing.

Toward those who push the false-narrative from the pro-choice view, we need to unrelentingly continue to use true-words to describe what abortion is, never allowing soft language to soften the perception of what abortion truly is. Youd be surprised how impactful this can be, and therefore helpful. What Trudeau has unwittingly done is awoken a large giant within our country that is now ready to react to all such laws. In this sense, by the faithful organizing and moving forward towards such positive change, the pro-life movement has become even more alive, as Christians and Muslims fight for their conscience-rights, both from reason and faith.

It is also important that we realize thatthere are people who pretend to be pro-life who create social-media accounts to purposefully make our view seem ridiculous. They peddle the false narrative. So accusing such people of having a false-account, or purposefully mischaracterizing the position will help to avoid the manipulation that others might ascribe to in such a dialogue. I pray hope that pro-life people themselves do not engage in such dishonest forms of manipulation. A good argument doesnt need to subject itself to a straw man both actions associate arguments with a lack of credibility. Satire is only useful when it is known to be Satire.

What can I do?

Any government is temporary. The idea that we will keep going in this direction unstopped is merely an illusion meant to discourage us from being pro-active. Rather, we should speak about this subject without sugarcoating our words. We ought to also be compassionate, while recognizing that when we speak the truth, it has an impact. I would also encourage people to get involved with groups like 40 Days for Life (faith-based-groups) or politically active groups such as Right Now (reason-based groups). Bring the subject down to earth in your minds, recognizing that despite what the culture desensitizes us based on artificial and empty arguments, our nation is still killing its own young. Out of love for Canada, lets make it our mission to no longer be a country that celebrates such death, but encourages life and justice for all people, regardless of age, development, having Down Syndrome, or sex (i.e. legalized selective-abortions). True inclusivity doesnt judge a persons value based on whether wed prefer they exist or not, but on who they objectively are: which is a human being.

Here is a homily on the matter!

See the article here:

Fr. Pietraszko’s Corner | Discovering Truth and Love

Spirituality

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 SpiritualityTrue 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

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 systems of spirituality may include a belief in a supernatural (beyond the known and observable) realm, personal growth, a quest for an ultimate or 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 theistic religion became increasingly 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] In 1930 Russell, a renowned atheist, wrote “… one’s ego is no very large part of the world. The man [sic.] who can center his thoughts and hopes upon something transcending self can find a certain peace in the ordinary troubles of life which is impossible to the pure egoist.” [101] 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 appears to be nothing more than obscurantism in 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)[102]

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 the practitioner cultivate her/his inner life and character.[103][unreliable source?] [104] Ellison and Fan (2008) assert that spirituality causes a wide array of positive health outcomes, including “morale, happiness, and life satisfaction.”.[105] However, Schuurmans-Stekhoven (2013) actively attempted to replicate this research and found more “mixed” results.[106] Nevertheless, spirituality has played a central role in some 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[107]

Yet such spiritually-informed treatment approaches have been challenged as pseudoscience, are far from uniformly curative and may for non-believers cause harm (see iatrogenesis).

“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.[115]

Waaijman discerns four forms of spiritual practices:

Spiritual practices may include meditation, mindfulness, prayer, the contemplation of sacred texts, ethical development,[99] and spiritual retreats in a convent. 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.”[118]

Since the scientific revolution of the 18th-century Enlightenment, the relationship of science to religion[119][120][pageneeded] and to spirituality[citation needed] has developed in complex ways. 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.”[121]

Brooke has proposed that the currently held popular notion of antagonisms between science and religion[122][123] has historically originated with “thinkers with a social or political axe to grind” rather than with the natural philosophers themselves.[124] Though physical and biological scientists today see no need for supernatural explanations to describe reality[125][126][pageneeded][127][note 9], some[quantify] scientists continue to regard science and spirituality as complementary, not contradictory,[128][129] and are willing to debate,[130] rather than simply classifying spirituality and science as non-overlapping magisteria.

A few[quantify] religious leaders have 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.[131]

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.[120]:322 These holistic conceptions were championed by New Age spiritualists in a type of quantum mysticism that they claim justifies their spiritual beliefs,[132][133] though quantum physicists themselves on the whole reject such attempts as being pseudoscientific.[134][135]

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.[136][137][138][139] Although spiritual individuals tend to be optimistic, report greater social support,[140] and experience higher intrinsic meaning in life,[141] strength, and inner peace.,[142] 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.[143] 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][144][145][146][147][148][149] 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.[150][151][152][153][154]

Masters and Spielmans[155] 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.

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] Puchalski et al. argue for “compassionate systems of care” in a spiritual context.

Neuroscientists have examined brain functioning during reported spiritual experiences[158][159] finding that certain neurotransmitters and specific areas of the brain are involved.[160][161][162][163] Moreover, experimenters have also successfully induced spiritual experiences in individuals by administering psychoactive agents known to elicit euphoria and perceptual distortions.[164][165] Conversely, religiosity and spirituality can also be dampened by electromagnetic stimulation of the brain.[166] These results have motivated some leading theorists to speculate that spirituality may be a benign subtype of psychosis (see).[145][167][168][169][170] 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.[168][169]

Link:

Spirituality – Wikipedia

Vihangam Yoga – Unwinding Spirituality

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Venue: Open theater ground, Ghanta ghar, Korba, Chhattisgarh Contact: 9425532162,9424141330, 9425534036

Venue: Rajkiya Primary Vidyalaya Sector-3, Faridabad, Hariyana Contact: 9911520257, 9873176075, 8882690221

Venue: Manendgargh, Koria, Chhatishgarh Contact: 9893914456, 8349992102, 9300344569

Venue: Dashara maidan, Ashoka garden, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Contact: 7566688655, 9826413157,9826309419

Venue: Gahora road,Ishagarh, Ashokanagar, M.P. Contact: 9926410822, 9926214684, 9165582835

Venue: Near Gohad bandha bridge,Gohad road, Bhind, M.P. Contact: 8878165808, 8435072004, 9977157261

Venue: Basra more, Basra Maidan, Raniganj, Burdwan, West Bengal Contact: 9434383241, 8670841509, 8967104686

Venue: Princess Shrine (Princess Academy) Palace Grounds, Opp Nikki Hero, Mekri Circle-Belly Road. Bangalore 80 Gage No. 9 Contact: 9901065075, 9845004085, 9341305297

Venue: Maharishi Sadafaldeo Ashram,Vasya Talab,District Balsad, Gujarat Contact: 2630222530,9825128183,8000044477

Venue: Maharshi Sadafaldeo Ashram-Meditation Centre-Gandhi Nagar, Barhan chandauli, UP Contact: 9616552051, 7860611903, 9005418118

Venue: Sadafaldeo Ashram, Rohidawadi, Sirsa, Hariyana Contact: 9355077321,9812777381

Venue: Sadsa- Pahra, Dumuhan rishiyap, Maharajganj Road, Aurangabad, Bihar Contact: 9801804348, 945079115, 9097420427, 9955975180

Venue: Katar Vdiha, Rohtas, Bihar Contact: 9801804348, 9955427937,7250970888

Venue: Punjabi Bag Stadium, Ring Road, Delhi Contact: 93114448880,9810939293, 9560716666, 9868078886

Venue: Punjabi Bag Stadium, Punjabi Bag, Ring Road, Delhi Contact: 9311448880,9810939293,9560716666, 9868078886

Venue: Sector-3, IB Mart, Behind Big Bazzar, Salt Lake, Kolkata Contact: 9830711683,9830033110,9836995111,9831015397

Venue: Swarved Mahamandir DhamTime- 10:00 A.M. to 01:00 P.M. Contact: 9454066666, 9235597780, 9235597781, 9235597790

Venue: Nayali International Beach Hotel, Mombasa Contact: +254789399685(Nairobi) +917307720066(India)

Venue: Nairobi – Kenya Contact: +254789399685(Nairobi) +917307720066(India)

Venue: Nairobi – Kenya Contact: +254789399685(Nairobi) +917307720066(India)

Venue: 153-30, 89th Ave, Jamaica, New York, 11432 Contact: Subhash Chandra (9178624201)Vijay Kumar (6147870693)

Venue: Swarved Mahamandir Dham Varanasi-Ghazipur Highway, Umaraha Sarnath, Varanasi, U.P. India – 221007 Contact: 0542 2616465,0542 2616565, 09532107972,09936443180,094540 66666

Venue: Nairobi, Kenya Contact: +254 789 399 685

Venue: Bharatiya Temple1612 County Line Rd,Chalfont, PA 18914 Contact: Anchal Verma (+14846863883)Vijay Kumar (+16147870693)

Venue: Rajdhani Temple4525 Pleasant Valley Rd,Chantilly, VA 20151 Contact: Vijay Davuluri (6104573106)Vijay Kumar (6147870693)

Venue: Afgan Hindu Temple Billstrasse 77,D-20359 Hamburg,Germany Contact: +49 1521 8335 159, +49 1763 4971 408

Venue: Satyam Goethe Str. 5, 10623, Berlin Contact: +49 1521 8335 159, +49 3322 203 218

Venue: WAMOS Zentrum, Hasenheide 910967, Berlin, Germany Contact: +49 1521 8335 159, +49 3322 203 218

Venue: Hindu Temple3350 N German Church Rd,Indianapolis, IN 46235 Contact: Nitin Patil (+1 3178 492 263)Vijay Kumar (+1 6147 870 693)

Venue: Hindu Temple and Cultural Center of the Rockies8375 S. Wadsworth Blvd,Littleton, CO 80128 – 6175 Contact: Niranjan Kumar (+17202389279)Vijay Kumar (+16147870693)

Venue: Shri Mandir9474 Black Mountain Rd, San Diego, CA 92126 Contact: Lalmani Prasad (+17602167534)Vijay Kumar (+16147870693)

Venue: Gayatri Pariwar – Yug Nirman22116 Pioneer Blvd.,Hawaiian Gardens, CA 90716 Contact: Lalmani Prasad (+17602167534)Dhirubhai Patel (+15629243921)Gayatri Mandir (5624253970)Vijay Kumar (6147870693)

Venue: Surya-mandal,Ground,Ramdevra,Nawalgarh Jhunjhunu,Rajsthan Contact: 9413366846,8769660070,9829100022

Continued here:

Vihangam Yoga – Unwinding Spirituality

New Age – Wikipedia

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 or Mind, Body, Spirit 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. The exact origins of the phenomenon remain contested, but there is general agreement 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 that 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” that seeks to unite science and spirituality.

Centred primarily in Western countries, 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 agree 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” that 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” that have emerged since the late 1970s and 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” that 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”, and some self-identify as a member of a different religious group, such as Christianity, Judaism, or Buddhism. 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 that 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 that 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. Scholars call this new esoteric trend occultism, and this occultism was 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 that he prefigured the New Age.[49] 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.[50] 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.[53] 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.[55] 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.[68] Esalen and similar personal growth centers had developed links to humanistic psychology, and from this, the human potential movement emerged, strongly influenced the New Age.[69]

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 created 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 were nevertheless widely recognised as 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”,[84] 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 that 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,[93] 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.[96][97] 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.

Other scholars disagreed with Melton’s idea; in 2004 Daren Kemp stated that “New Age is still very much alive”. 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. Its diffusion into the mainstream may have been influenced by the adoption of New Age concepts by high profile figures: U.S. First Lady Nancy Reagan consulted an astrologer, British Princess Diana visited spirit mediums, and Norwegian Princess Mrtha Louise established a school devoted to communicating with angels. 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 United States and can be expected to become more visible: “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”.

The New Age places strong emphasis on the idea that the individual and their own experiences are the primary source of authority on spiritual matters. It exhibits what Heelas termed “unmediated individualism”, and reflects a world-view that is “radically democratic”. It places an emphasis on the freedom and autonomy of the individual. This emphasis has led to ethical disagreements; some New Agers believe helping others is beneficial, although another view is that doing so encourages dependency and conflicts with a reliance on the self. Nevertheless, within the New Age, there are differences in the role accorded to voices of authority outside of the self. Hammer stated that “a belief in the existence of a core or true Self” is a “recurring theme” in New Age texts. The concept of “personal growth” is also greatly emphasised among New Agers, while Heelas noted that “for participants spirituality is life-itself”.

New Age religiosity is typified by its eclecticism. Generally believing that there is no one true way to pursue spirituality, New Agers develop their own worldview “by combining bits and pieces to form their own individual mix”, seeking what Drury called “a spirituality without borders or confining dogmas”. 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”. This approach that has generated a common jibe that New Age represents “supermarket spirituality”. York suggested that this eclecticism stemmed from the New Age’s origins within late modern capitalism, with New Agers subscribing to a belief in a free market of spiritual ideas as a parallel to a free market in economics.

As part of its eclecticism, 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 societies are more usually chosen over others; 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.

A belief in divinity is integral to New Age ideas, although understandings of this divinity vary. New Age theology exhibits an inclusive and universalistic approach that accepts all personal perspectives on the divine as 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. New Age literature nevertheless displays recurring traits in its depiction of the divine: the first 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 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 believe in 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 New Agers emphasise 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” that is a part of the human but 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.

“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 that, while not necessarily untrue or fraudulent, are difficult or impossible for the reader to verify. A number of other channeled documents 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.”

MacKian argued that a central, but often overlooked, element of the phenomenon was an emphasis on “spirit”, and in particular participants’ desire for a relationship with spirit. Many practitioners in her UK-focused study described themselves as “workers for spirit”, expressing the desire to help people learn about spirit. They understood various material signs as marking the presence of spirit, for instance the unexpected appearance of a feather. New Agers often call upon this spirit to assist them in everyday situations, for instance to ease the traffic flow on their way to work.

New Age literature often refers to benevolent non-human spirit-beings who are interested in humanity’s spiritual development; these are variously referred to 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.

Although not present in every New Age group, a core belief within the milieu 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 New Age channeling 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, noting 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, the New Age does not feature Spiritualism’s emphasis on proving the existence of life after death, nor psychical research’s focus of testing mediums for consistency.

New Age thought typically envisions the world as developing through cosmological cycles that can be identified astrologically. It adopts this concept from Theosophy, although often presents it in a looser and more eclectic way than is found in Theosophical teaching. 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 recurring element of New Age is an emphasis on healing and alternative medicine.[201] The general New Age ethos 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 that 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. Its focus of self-spirituality has led to the emphasis of self-healing, although also present are ideas on healing both others and 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 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 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.[201]

“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 New Agers typically reject rationalism, the scientific method, and the academic establishment, they employ terminology and concepts borrowed from science and particularly from the New Physics. Moreover, a number of prominent influences on New Age, such as David Bohm and Ilya Prigogine, had 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 will 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 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. A belief in reincarnation is very common, where it often 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 believe in karma, treating it as a law of cause and effect that 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 on reincarnation, it is claimed 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. Prominent New Age writers like Shakti Gawain and Louise Hay therefore express the view that humans are responsible for the events that happen to them during their life, an idea that many New Agers regard as empowering. At times, past life regression are employed within the New Age in order to reveal a Higher Soul’s previous incarnations, usually with an explicit healing purpose. Some practitioners espouse the idea of a “soul group” or “soul family”, a group of connected souls who reincarnate together as family of friendship units. Rather than reincarnation, another afterlife belief found among New Agers holds that an individual’s soul returns to a “universal energy” on bodily death.

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, the New Age was found primarily in the United States and Canada, Western Europe, and Australia and New Zealand. The fact that most individuals engaging in New Age activity do not describe themselves as “New Agers” renders it difficult to determine how many practitioners there are. 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. In 2006, Heelas stated that New Age practices had grown to such an extent that they were “increasingly rivalling the sway of Christianity in western settings”.

Sociological investigation indicates that certain sectors of society are more likely to engage in New Age practices than others. The majority of participants are from the middle and upper-middle classes of Western society. Sutcliffe noted that although most 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.[253] 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”.

In the United States, the first people to embrace the New Age belonged to the baby boomer generation, those born between 1946 and 1964. 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.

The degree to which individuals are involved in the New Age varies. Heelas argued that those involved 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. MacKian instead suggested that involvement could be seen as being layered like an onion; at the core are “consultative” practitioners who devote their life to New Age practices, around that are “serious” practitioners who still invest considerable effort into New Age activities, and on the periphery are “non-practitioner consumers”, individuals affected by he general dissemination of New Age ideas but who do not devote themselves more fully to them. 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.

In 1995, Kyle stated that on the whole, New Agers in the United States preferred the values of the Democratic Party over those of the Republican Party. He added that most New Agers “soundly rejected” the agenda of former Republican President Ronald Reagan.

MacKian suggested that this phenomenon was “an inherently social mode of spirituality”, one which cultivated a sense of belonging among its participants and encouraged relations both with other humans and with non-human, otherworldly spirit entities. MacKian suggested that these communities “may look very different” from those of traditional religious groups.

Online connections were one of the ways that interested individuals met new contacts and established networks.

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.[272] 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.[273] 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. The links between New Age and commercial products have resulted in the accusation that New Age itself is little more than a manifestation of consumerism. This idea is generally rejected by New Age participants, who often reject any link between their practices and consumerist activities.

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 that 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.[296]

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,[297][298] and the psychoacoustic environments recordings of Irv Teibel.[299] 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.[297][298]

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.[300] 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, ranging from far-right and conservative through to liberal, socialist, and libertarian. Accordingly, Kyle stated that “New Age politics is difficult to describe and categorize. The standard political labelsleft or right, liberal or conservativemiss the mark.” MacKian suggested that the New Age operated as a form of “world-realigning infrapolitics” that undermines the disenchantment of modern Western society.

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 that 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.[310]

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. Satin for example argued for a move away from the nation-state and towards self-governing regions that, through improved global communication networks, would help engender world unity. Benjamin Creme conversely argued that “the Christ,” a great Avatar, Maitreya, the World Teacher, expected by all the major religions as their “Awaited One,” 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.

Scholars have noted several New Age political groups. Self-Determination: A Personal/Political Network, lauded by Ferguson[315] and Satin,[316] was described at length by sociology of religion scholar Steven Tipton.[317] 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.[318] Hanegraaff noted another California-based group, the Institute of Noetic Sciences, headed by author Willis Harman. It advocated a change in consciousness 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.[322] 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.[323] Another academic publication says Spretnak and Satin largely co-drafted the U.S. Greens’ founding document, the “Ten Key Values” statement.[324]

While the term “New Age” may have fallen out of favor,[325] 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.[326][327] York (2005) identified “key New Age spokespeople” including William Bloom, Satish Kumar, and Starhawk who were emphasizing a link between spirituality and environmental consciousness. 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”.[329]

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.[330] “America has swerved from its ethical center”, she said.[330] Running as an independent in west Los Angeles, she finished fourth in her district’s open primary election with 13% of the vote.[331]

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.[325] 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”.[332] 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”.[333] 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”.[334]

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.[325] 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 regarded 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 steadily increased.

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; Hammer later described it as having “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 scholars can pursue. The New Age has proved a challenge for scholars of religion operating under more formative models of what “religion” is. By 2006, Heelas noted that the New Age was so vast and diverse that no scholar of the subject could hope to keep up with all of it.

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.[353][354] 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.[355] 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”.[353] 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”.[356] 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 that share overlap and commonalities. Hanegraaff suggested that whereas various forms of contemporary Paganism were not part of the New Age movement particularly those that 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 (occult culture) 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 that 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, particularly non-Western cultures. Its belief that all traditions are free for anyone to use, rather than 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 Aboriginal 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 has been accused of cultural imperialism, misappropriating the sacred ceremonies, and abuse of the intellectual and cultural property of indigenous peoples.[372][373][374] 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[376] and other intellectual property,[377] 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”.[376] Traditional leaders of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota peoples have reached consensus[372][378] 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,[379] and have declared war on all such “plastic medicine people” who are appropriating their spiritual ways.[372][378]

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New Age – Wikipedia

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.

Continue reading here:

Exploring the Meaning of Spirituality – dummies

Quotes About Spirituality (7179 quotes)

For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness. Hermann Hesse, Bume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte

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Quotes About Spirituality (7179 quotes)

Spirituality

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 SpiritualityTrue 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

Original post:

Spirituality

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.

Original post:

Exploring the Meaning of Spirituality – dummies

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What Is Spirituality? | Taking Charge of Your Health …

Spirituality is a broad concept with room for many perspectives. In general, it includes a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and it typically involves a search for meaning in life. As such, it is a universal human experiencesomething that touches us all. People may describe a spiritual experience as sacred or transcendent or simply a deep sense of aliveness and interconnectedness.

Some may find that their spiritual life is intricately linked to their association with a church, temple, mosque, or synagogue. Others may pray or find comfort in a personal relationship with God or a higher power. Still others seek meaning through their connections to nature or art. Like your sense of purpose, your personal definition of spirituality may change throughout your life, adapting to your own experiences and relationships.

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What Is Spirituality? | Taking Charge of Your Health …

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 systems of spirituality may include a belief in a supernatural (beyond the known and observable) realm, personal growth, a quest for an ultimate or 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 theistic religion became increasingly 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] In 1930 Russell, a renowned atheist, wrote “… one’s ego is no very large part of the world. The man [sic.] who can center his thoughts and hopes upon something transcending self can find a certain peace in the ordinary troubles of life which is impossible to the pure egoist.” [101] 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 appears to be nothing more than obscurantism in 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)[102]

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 the practitioner cultivate her/his inner life and character.[103][unreliable source?] [104] Ellison and Fan (2008) assert that spirituality causes a wide array of positive health outcomes, including “morale, happiness, and life satisfaction.”.[105] However, Schuurmans-Stekhoven (2013) actively attempted to replicate this research and found more “mixed” results.[106] Nevertheless, spirituality has played a central role in some 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[107]

Yet such spiritually-informed treatment approaches have been challenged as pseudoscience, are far from uniformly curative and may for non-believers cause harm (see iatrogenesis).

“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.[115]

Waaijman discerns four forms of spiritual practices:

Spiritual practices may include meditation, mindfulness, prayer, the contemplation of sacred texts, ethical development,[99] and spiritual retreats in a convent. 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.”[118]

Since the scientific revolution, the relationship of science to religion and spirituality has developed in complex ways.[119][120] 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.”[120]

It has been proposed that the currently held popular notion of antagonisms between science and religion[121][122] has historically originated with “thinkers with a social or political axe to grind” rather than with the natural philosophers themselves.[120] Though physical and biological scientists today avoid supernatural explanations to describe reality[123][124][125][note 9], some scientists continue to consider science and spirituality to be complementary, not contradictory,[126][127] and are willing to debate.[128]

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.[129]

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.[120]:322 These holistic conceptions were championed by New Age spiritualists in a type of quantum mysticism that they claim justifies their spiritual beliefs,[130][131] though quantum physicists themselves on the whole reject such attempts as being pseudoscientific.[132][133]

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.[134][135][136][137] Although spiritual individuals tend to be optimistic, report greater social support,[138] and experience higher intrinsic meaning in life,[139] strength, and inner peace.,[140] 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.[141] 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][142][143][144][145][146][147] 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.[148][149][150][151][152]

Masters and Spielmans[153] 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.

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] Puchalski et al. argue for “compassionate systems of care” in a spiritual context.

Neuroscientists have examined brain functioning during reported spiritual experiences[156][157] finding that certain neurotransmitters and specific areas of the brain are involved.[158][159][160][161] Moreover, experimenters have also successfully induced spiritual experiences in individuals by administering psychoactive agents known to elicit euphoria and perceptual distortions.[162][163] Conversely, religiosity and spirituality can also be dampened by electromagnetic stimulation of the brain.[164] These results have motivated some leading theorists to speculate that spirituality may be a benign subtype of psychosis (see).[143][165][166][167][168] 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.[166][167]

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Spirituality – Wikipedia

spirituality – Dictionary Definition : Vocabulary.com

Spirituality has to do with the spirit, not as in ghosts, but as in the essence of being human your soul or your inner life.

Spirituality often has to do with religion, but it doesn’t have to. You might say, “I’m not religious; but I have a strong sense of spirituality,” which might mean that you practice yoga or meditation, or you pray with a group, or you nurture your spirit by spending time in nature. Religions usually have defined beliefs, rituals, and guidelines; spirituality is more individual.

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spirituality – Dictionary Definition : Vocabulary.com

Spirituality and Addiction – MARR Addiction Treatment Center

By Jim Seckman, MAC, CACII, CCS

Spirituality is an aspect of our humanity that is innate. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are spiritual creatures. In the book Addiction and Grace,author Gerald G. May, MD discusses spirituality in terms of a longing that we have as humans. A longing for something more, something deeper, something greater than who we are. So spirituality could be viewed as the process of growth into a deeper connection with God, others, ourselves and the world around us. While the longing may not be comfortable at times, it is healthy and dynamic.

Addiction tries to make a spiritual experience static. When we are in an addictive process, we want to hold on to the moment, not feeling the discomfort of the longing but attempting to maintain what we feel in an instant. Our spirituality becomes stagnate and the addiction leads us into a deep bondage with a substance or process.

While we know that addiction is a disease that is primary, chronic, progressive and fatal, with a describable and predictable course and common symptoms, addiction affects all aspects of the person. When we think about the disease of addiction from the perspective of our spirituality, we can see that addiction is a disease that is born out of the human condition. There is deep hopelessness, meaninglessness and longing that the addict is trying to suppress with some substance or process, rather than finding healing through the grace of God. The addict is seeking a greater depth of peace and fulfillment but only finds greater emptiness and pain. The separation from God and from healthy spirituality is intensified by an increasing pattern of actions that could be considered evil or sinful.

While ancient writers didnt understand addiction in the same way we do, they certainly understood the nature of addiction. The Biblical writers saw the patterns of addiction and discussed it more as bondage, temptation and sin. Indeed, addiction is a disease that will drive/lead us into wrongful acts. However, if we look at sin from a perspective of separation from God and Gods grace, then we come closer to understanding the spiritual dilemma of addiction. In the book of Genesis, we see that humans are caught up in an addictive process from the beginning. The original temptation in the Garden of Eden posed as the following:

Addiction sets up a trap for us: while appearing to address a deep need, we are drawn to its attractiveness and the promise of feeling complete in some way an alternate god is introduced to rob us of true spirituality. We become spiritually malnourished, believing we have found peace, abundance and fulfillment in the very thing that will rob us of it. In addiction, we mistake:

But, fortunately, that is not the whole story. While we humans are experts at finding ways to place ourselves into spiritual bondage, it is this very spiritual woundedness that becomes the path to our healing and recovery. While addiction is slavery to a cruel god, it can also be the pathway to a deeper spirituality than is experienced without it. What religion labels sin, what therapy calls sickness, are precisely what bring us closer to God. Addiction reveals this bondage and brokenness so starkly to the addict. When we are wounded, we understand our weakness, our need for a savior (those who are well dont need a doctor, right?), and become willing to let God in. It is through our wounds that we can allow God and others to enter our lives and help make us whole.

In 12-Step programs, addiction treatment and recovery, the person confronts his or her own brokenness and bondage, shares in others brokenness and comes to accept it both in others and themselves. This honesty, once reached, forms the basis for the development of a healthy spirituality. As the person works through the 12 Steps, he or she discovers the process of growth in understanding God, others, themselves and the world around them.

One of the most beautiful aspects of the 12 Steps is that they very carefully walk us through exactly what we need and when we need it, and support a long-lasting recovery and a healthy and dynamic spiritual life. Finally, when we reach Step 12, we find that the spiritual awakening that is promised is supported by actively working with others. It is in the action of reaching out to each other and helping others that the spirituality of recovery is truly found. Dr. Bob S., one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), who attended the Oxford Group to quit drinking (and couldnt), stated, The spiritual approach was as useless as any other if you soaked it up like a sponge and kept it to yourself.

In essence, spirituality is not something we can capture. According to AA co-founder Bill W., We have to live it.

ReferencesAddiction and Grace (Gerald G. May, MD)The Spirituality of Imperfection (Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham)

Jim Seckman, MAC, CACII, CCS is the Clinical Director at MARR. He has over 20 years experience working in the field of addiction treatment in a variety of clinical settings, including inpatient, outpatient and residential. Jim is past president of GARR (Georgia Association of Recovery Residences), has served on the Ethics Committee for GACA (Georgia Addiction Counselors Association) and conducts regular training workshops on addiction treatment. For more information on social media and ethical standards, email him at [emailprotected].

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Spirituality and Addiction – MARR Addiction Treatment Center

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


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