SRCM – Shri Ram Chandra Mission | Raja Yoga Meditation

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SRCM – Shri Ram Chandra Mission | Raja Yoga Meditation

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 approach to 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 or less unified ‘movement’.” Other scholars have suggested that the New Age is too diverse to be a singular movement. The scholar of religion George D. Chryssides called it “a counter-cultural Zeitgeist”, while the sociologist of religion Steven Bruce suggested that New Age was a milieu; Heelas and scholar of religion Linda Woodhead called it the “holistic milieu”.

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 quotation marks. 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.[50] Another early influence was the late 18th and early 19th century German physician and hypnotist Franz Mesmer, who claimed the existence of a force known as “animal magnetism” running through the human body.[51] 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.[54] 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.[56] 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.[69] 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.[70]

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 c. 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 c. 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”,[85] 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,[94] 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.[97][98] 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”.

Australian scholar Paul J. Farrelly, in his 2017 doctoral dissertation at Australian National University, argued that, while the New Age may become less popular in the West, it is actually booming in Taiwan, where it is regarded as something comparatively new, and is being exported from Taiwan to Mainland China, while it is more or less tolerated by the authorities.

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.[203] 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.[203]

“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 the total number of practitioners. 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 New Age. He nevertheless suggested that over 10 million people in the U.S. had had some contact with New Age practices or ideas. Between 2000 and 2002, Heelas and Woodhead conducted research into the New Age in the English town of Kendal, Cumbria; they found 600 people actively attended New Age activities on a weekly basis, representing 1.6% of the town’s population. From this, they extrapolated that around 900,000 Britons regularly took part in New Age activities. 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. In the United States, the first people to embrace the New Age belonged to the baby boomer generation, those born between 1946 and 1964.

Sutcliffe noted that although most influential New Age figureheads were male, approximately two-thirds of its participants were female. Heelas and Woodhead’s Kendal Project found that of those regularly attending New Age activities in the town, 80% were female, while 78% of those running such activities were female. They attributed this female dominance to “deeply entrenched cultural values and divisions of labour” in Western society, according to which women were accorded greater responsibility for the well-being of others, thus making New Age practices more attractive to them. They suggested that men were less attracted to New Age activities because they were hampered by a “masculinist ideal of autonomy and self-sufficiency” which discouraged them from seeking the assistance of others for their inner development.

The majority of New Agers are from the middle and upper-middle classes of Western society. Heelas and Woodhead found that of the active Kendal New Agers, 57% had a university or college degree. Their Kendal Project also determined that 73% of active New Agers were aged over 45, and 55% were aged between 40 and 59; it also determined that many got involved while middle-aged. Comparatively few were either young or elderly. Heelas and Woodhead suggested that the dominance of middle-aged people, particularly women, was because at this stage of life they had greater time to devote to their own inner development, with their time previously having been dominated by raising children. They also suggested that middle-aged people were experiencing more age-related ailments than the young, and thus more keen to pursue New Age activities to improve their health.

Heelas added that within the baby boomers, 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. 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”.

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.[283] 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.[284] 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, sometimes 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.[307]

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,[308][309] and the psychoacoustic environments recordings of Irv Teibel.[310] 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.[308][309]

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.[311] 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.[321]

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[326] and Satin,[327] was described at length by sociology of religion scholar Steven Tipton.[328] 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.[329] 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.[333] 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.[334] Another academic publication says Spretnak and Satin largely co-drafted the U.S. Greens’ founding document, the “Ten Key Values” statement.[335]

While the term “New Age” may have fallen out of favor,[336] 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.[337][338] 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”.[340]

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.[341] “America has swerved from its ethical center”, she said.[341] Running as an independent in west Los Angeles, she finished fourth in her district’s open primary election with 13% of the vote.[342]

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.[336] 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”.[343] 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”.[344] 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”.[345]

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.[336] 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.

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New Age – Wikipedia

What is Personality? – Personality & Spirituality

In some ways we are all the same. We all have the same human nature. We share a common humanity. We all have human bodies and human minds, we all have human thoughts and human feelings. Yet in other ways we are all completely different and unique. No two people are truly alike. No two people can ever have the same experience of life, the same perspective, the same mind.

Even identical twins are unique in this respect: twin number 1 will always be twin number 1 and will never know what it is actually like to be twin number 2, to experience life and see the world through number 2s eyes. (See No Two Alike[1].)

Somewhere between these two our common humanity and our unique individuality lies personality.

Personality is about our different ways of being human. How we are all variations on the same themes. How the human nature we all share manifests in different styles of thinking, feeling and acting.

Personality can be defined in different ways, depending on whether we focus on the individual or on people in general.

If we focus on people in general, then we can define personality in terms of individual differences that is, the range of different styles of thinking, feeling and acting. Just as human beings can differ a great deal in terms of their physical traits (height, weight, hair, and so on), they also differ in terms of mental and behavioural traits. For example, some people are noticeably talkative and outgoing while others are noticeably quiet and reserved. Such differences and variations are seen everywhere throughout the human population.

If we focus on the personality of a specific individual, we can define it as that persons particular set of enduring dispositions or long-term tendencies to think, feel and act in particular ways. Were not talking about specific actions being repeated again and again, like compulsive hand-washing, but about overall patterns, tendencies, inclinations. Someone who has tended to be quiet and reserved up to now will probably still tend to be quiet and reserved tomorrow. That doesnt necessarily mean that they are compelled to be quiet and reserved at all times, in every possible situation. Rather, they are disposedto be be quiet and reserved more often than not.

Your personality style is your organizing principle. It propels you on your life path. It represents the orderly arrangement of all your attributes, thoughts, feelings, attitudes, behaviors, and coping mechanisms. It is the distinctive pattern of your psychological functioningthe way you think, feel, and behavethat makes you definitely you. The New Personality Self-Portrait by Oldham and Morris. [2]

We can also sometimes see changes in an individuals personality over time. There may be subtle developmental changes during adolescence, for example, or there can be quite dramatic alterations following a massive brain injury.

Before we move on, here is a little puzzle to think about: Is personality simply an umbrella term for all our dispositions (how we think and feel and act), or is it a thing in its own right, something that causes us to think and feel and act they way we do? For example, someone who is obviously outgoing, talkative, energetic and assertive is described as having an extrovert personality. Does that mean that they are outgoing, talkative, and so on because they are an extrovert? Or is extrovert personality simplya shorthand way of describing someone with those patterns?

Despite the simple appeal of this approach, trying to fit all the worlds people with their amazing range of differences into so few boxes is not easy. For example, sanguine people are supposedly extroverted, creative, sensitive, compassionate, thoughtful, tardy, forgetful and sarcastic. But in fact there is no evidence that these characteristics go together at all. You can certainly be creative without being extroverted. You can certainly be compassionate without being sarcastic. So what does being the sanguine type really mean, if anything? Dividing people up into a few types may be a nice and simple way of looking at the world, but in reality it doesnt get us very far.

An alternative approach used by modern psychologists is to simply focus on the words we use to describe each others personalities. The idea that such words can tell us about personality, or at least how we conceive personality, is known as the lexical hypothesis.

For instance, we might describe some people as tall and some as short, though there is no word in the dictionary to describe people of average height. Likewise, the words we use to describe personality focus on how individuals stand out as above or below average in their mental and behavioural characteristics. So, just as we might describe someone as quite tall and completely bald based on their most obvious physical attributes, we will also describe personality using phrases like very nice but ratherquiet. The words most often used refer to the extremes rather than the averages.

And these extremes can be organised into pairs of opposites reservedas opposed tooutgoing, impulsiveas opposed tocautious, dominantas opposed tosubmissive, and so on.

Now, if we take all the personality-describing words in a dictionary thousands of them! and then analyse how much people think they differ or overlap in terms of meaning, we find that they can be organised into a certain number of sets or clusters. For example:

So if we cluster together all words that have a similar meaning, how many clusters do we get?

There is actually no single answer as it depends on where wedraw the line, statistically, to define similar. We getmore clustersofwords withhighly similar meanings, andwe getfewer clusters of words with only b-r-o-a-d-l-y similar meanings.

The main question psychologists have beeninterested in is: How fewclusters can we reduce all these words to? (Scientists are always looking for ways to reduce complex things to the most simple account possible.) And by doing exactly this kind of analysis, what psychologists have found again and again is that personality words can be reduced to just five clusters. In other words, there are five big sets of words (including their opposites) which contain pretty much all of the words we might use to describe personality. This is one of the most robust findings to come out of decades of research into human personality.

These five sets are commonly known as the Big Five. We could simply call them Factor 1, Factor 2 and so on, but they have been labelled as follows:

Its as if every word we may use to describe one anothers personality falls under one of these five headings.

Each of these five factors is actually a sort of mega pair of opposites: Extroversion v. Introversion, Openness v. Closedness, Neuroticism v. Emotional stability, Agreeableness v. Hostility, Conscientiousness v. Spontaneity. For example, we find that there is one whole set of words which describe either aspects of Extroversion (outgoing, energetic) or its opposite, Introversion (quiet, withdrawn).

So in contrast to the types approach, many psychologists now understand personality as how we all vary withinthese five dimensions or five factors. Its not that the world is divided into (say) sanguines and cholerics and so on. Rather, we are all variations on the same themes, and these variations define our personality traits. We each have our own scores on the same five scales, scoring somewhere between the two extremes of each one. An introvert, for example, is simply someone who scores relatively low on the extroversion scale.

The five factors are not etched in stone. Many studies suggest that we can (and should) include a sixth factor, called Honesty/Humility (or the H factor). This is essentially a dimension of character maturity, ranging from high selfishness to high integrity. Adding this H factor to the other five gives us a six-factor view of personalitythat is more popularly known as the HEXACO model. (See The H Factor of Personality [5].)

A problem with the five or six factors is that they dont really account for personality. They just organise the words that people use to talk about personality into the fewest number of sets, and treat those sets as dimensions of personality.

In addition, the number of clusters or factors we find depends entirely on how strict or how loose we are with our statistics. To get down to five factors we have to accept fairly loose connections between words. This means that, for example, we get lots of surprisingly different traits lumped together under extroversion (such as dominant, outgoing and passionate), which is kind of reminiscent of having lots of different things attributed to the sanguine type. We could, however, be much stricter with our factor analysis and look for smaller clusters of words which are strongly connected. When researchers do this, they can identify around 20-30 factors.

In fact, many now see each of the Big Five factors as a sort of general super-trait, each one covering a number of specific sub-traits or facets that are narrower in scope:

Different researchers have identified different facets, but generally they describe 3 to 5 facets associated with each of the five big factors. These 20 or 30 facets seems to give a much richer description.

So if the question is How many personality traits are there? The answer is How many do you want? Its all about whatever is convenient for any given discussion. If you want to divide people into two types (say, extravert versus introvert), then you can. If you want to describe people in broad brush-strokes, then you can use the Big 5 (or 6) factors. If you want a high resolution picture of individual differences, then you can use 20-30 facets or more.

Just remember: these factor/trait models are all about the words we use to talk about personality which begs the question: How much do they tell us about personality itself? For example, what if there are some aspects of personality that do not manifest as dimensions with polar opposites (as in dominant-v.-submissive) but instead, like eye colour or hair type, do actually manifest in discrete categories? (Could the psychopathic type be one of them?)

Funnily enough, despite widespread confirmation of the Big Five (or six), there is still no agreed psychological understanding of personality. This is because psychologists have yet to agree on their understanding of human nature. Different psychologists hold fundamental beliefs that are diametrically opposed.

(As an aside, many students who study psychology are disappointed to find that this is the case. They begin hoping to learn what makes people tick based on good science. Instead, they just learn about competing theories and schools of thought.)

The many classical branches of psychology include psychodynamics (or Freudian psychology), behaviourism, neuropsychology, evolutionary psychology, cognitive psychology, and social psychology. Each takes a different approach to explaining human nature, human behaviour and human personality. For example:

Each of these schools of thought emphasises the importance of one source of influenceand they all appear to be valid! But not one of them can provide acomplete answer. The more wefocus on just oneapproach, the more we tend to lose sight of the bigger picture, the whole person.

One thing that all of the classical branches of psychology do tend to agree upon is that our every thought, feeling and action is determined by pre-existing forces beyond our control. That is, we are merelythe products of our genetic programming and social programming, our upbringing, our environment, the blind forces of nature and/or nurture, or whatever. We are nothing but biological machines, genetic puppets, trained monkeys.

This has been the core assumption of most theorists.

But since the middle of the 20th Century, some psychologists have questioned this assumption:

Free will is a profound issue. Some psychologists believe in it but many perhaps the majority do not. Why? Because it does not sit easily with the classical scientific assumption that all events are pre-determined by prior events. Free will, many believe, is an unscientific folk-myth.

This difference of opinion has a dramatic effect on how different psychologists study human behaviour and personality, how they interpret research findings, and what they believe it is possible for human beings to achieve.

Unfortunately, the classical view of the person as no more than a biological machine with no free will fits all too neatly with ideologies such as fascism and communism in which people are treated like mindless drones. As soon as we buy into the idea that people are nothing but machines, its a simple step to imagine that civilisation would run much more smoothly if only people could be forced to stop acting as if they had free will no more selfish capitalists, no more free-thinking intellectuals, no need for elections, no challenges to authority, etc. This idea really took off across the world in the 20th century.

So in reaction to the view of the person as a biological machine, there has been a new wave of psychologists who deliberately emphasise the role of consciousness and free will:

Humanistic psychologists such as Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow have emphasised that personality development is at least partly the result of our conscious choices in life. If people want to change their own personalities, their intention to do so is important. (It is this perspective that has given birth to the hugely popular self-help and personal growth movements.)

Suggesting that we have free will doesnt mean denying that we are constrained by the forces of nature and nurture. Both can be true. For this reason, some psychologists have come to see personality as both pre-determined andself-made. Or to put it another way:

Personality = Temperament + Character

where

It has been said that temperament is something we share with other animals, while character is, perhaps, uniquely human. Character is like the sum of our choices, for better or worse our virtues and vices. A person of good character, for example, has high integrity; a person of bad character does not. It helps to be a good judge of character. According to the Temperament and Character model, character consists of three elements

The Self-Transcendence aspect of character refers to the drive some people have to search for something beyond their individual existence the spiritual dimension. (See also Maslows Hierarchy of Human Motivation, where Self-Transcendence is viewed as the highest drive the top of the pyramid.) The temperament and character model is the only major model of personality to include this aspect, even though it appears to be central to our well-being. (See Feeling Good: The Science of Well-Being [6].)

Bottom line: It depends upon your perspective on human nature. If you believe that people are biological machines driven by their genes, their brains, and their environments, then personality is simply due to variations intemperamentorprogramming, i.e. differences in behaviour caused by nature and nurture (genetic and social factors). If you believe that people can consciously change and improve themselves to some extent, then personality includes character: a set of strengths and virtues (as well as weaknesses and vices) which we can consciously develop throughout life.

To cite this article:

McGuinness, B. (2009) What is personality? Personality & Spirituality website (personalityspirituality.net). URL:http://wp.me/P3IPja-oD

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What is Personality? – Personality & Spirituality

Greed – Personality & Spirituality

GREED is one ofseven basic character flaws or dark personality traits. We all have the potential for greedy tendencies, but in people with a strong fear of lack or deprivation, Greed can become a dominant pattern.

Greed is the tendency to selfish craving, grasping and hoarding. It is defined as:

A selfish or excessive desire for more than is needed or deserved, especially of money, wealth, food, or other possessions [1]

Other names for greed include avarice, covetousness and cupidity.

Selfish and excessive desireis widelyconsidered immoral, a violation of natural or divine law. For example, avariceis one of the seven deadly sinsin Catholicism (avarice:pleasing oneself withmaterial acquisitions and possessions instead of pleasingGod). And according to Buddhism, cravingis a fundamental hindrance to enlightenment (craving:compulsively seeking happiness through acquiring material things).

As with the opposite chief feature of self-destruction, greed stems from a basic fearof life. To be exact, greed is driven by a fundamental sense of deprivation, a need for something that islacking orunavailable.

When this feeling of lack is particularly strong, a personcan become utterly fixated on seeking what they need,always trying to get hold oftheone thing that will finally eliminate the deep-rooted feeling of not having enough.

That one thing could be money, power, sex, food, attention, knowledge just about anything. It could be something concrete or abstract, real or symbolic. But it will be something very specific on which the entire need-greed complex becomes fixated.

Once that happens, life becomes aquest to acquire as much of it as possible.

Like all chief features, greed involves the following components:

In the case of greed, the early negative experiences typically consist of insufficient or inadequate nurturing in early childhood, perhaps enough to threaten the childs survival.

All infants are born with a natural desire for love, nurture, care, attention and interaction. In some cases, however, thesourceof such thingsnotably the caregivermay be absent or unavailable. Perhaps not all of the time, but enough for the infant to experience the lack. Enough for the child to become terrified of never getting enough of what he or she needs.

The situation could be natural and unavoidable, likethe untimely death of a parent, or living through a time of famine. Alternatively, the situation could be deliberately imposed, such as willful neglect.

Another example would be a mother who is too off-her-head on drugs to look after her child.

Whatever the circumstances, the effect on the child is a sense of deprivation, unfulfilled need, of never having enough.

Another common factor in the formationof greed is the availability of substitutes. Imagine, for example, aparentwho fails to provide nurturing but out of guilt provides lots of gifts in the form of money, toys, chocolate, TV. In effect, the parent says You cannot have me, you cannot have what you really need, but hey you can have this instead.

Ultimately, the substitute is always inadequate. No amount of TV can make up for lack of human contact. No amount of chocolate can make up for lack of love. But the child learns to make do with whatever is available.

From such experiences of deprivation and lack, achild comes to perceive life as being unreliable and limited but also containing the missing ingredient for happiness:

My well-being depends on me getting all that I desire.

I cannot truly be myself, a whole person, until I get what has always been missing.

Life is limited. There isnt enough for everyone. I miss out because other people are taking my share, getting what is rightfully mine.

Once I have it all, I will never lack anything ever again.

Over time, the growing child might also become cynical about what life has to offer:

All I ever get are unsatisfactory substitutes.

I cannot trust anyone to give me what I need.

If I am given a gift, there must be something wrong with it.

Everything falls short of my requirements.

Based on the above misconceptions and early negative experiences, the child becomes gripped by a specific kind of fear. In this case, the fear is of lackof having to go without something essential as there may not be enough of it to go around.

What exactly it is depends upon the individuals own idea of what it is they really need, but it will be something specific like love, attention, power, fame, money, and so on.

Because of this constant fear, the individual will obsessively crave the needed thing. They will also tend to envy those who have that thing.

The basic strategy for coping with this fear of lack is to acquire, possess and hoard the needed thing. Typically this involves:

Finally, emerging into adulthood, the chief feature of greed puts on a socially-acceptable mask which says to the world, I am not selfish. I am not greedy. I am not doing this for me. See how generous I am. See how my possessions make other people happy. In fact, the greedy person is never happy so long as the possibility of lack remains.

The mask of greed can also manifest as criticism of others greed or selfishness. The chief feature thinks to itself: If it isnt socially acceptable to crave and grasp and hoard, I shall go around criticising others who crave and grasp and hoard more obviously than me. That way, people wont suspect how bad I really am.

All people are capable of this kind of behaviour. When it dominates the personality, however, one is said to have a chief feature of greed.

Because the compulsion of greed is usually driven by some early, traumatising sense of deprivation that may be lost to memory, it often manifests only later in childhood, adolescence and adulthood as one of our most essential survival instincts comes into play: competition.

Competition for resources is a universal instinct and one of the most important factors in biology. Different species can compete for the same watering hole, for example. Within the same species, males can compete for the same female, or for top dog position.

At an instinctive level we are still like hunter-gatherers who survive against the odds by making sure we have what we need. The cave-dweller within us is still primed to hunt, catch, gather and hoard.

We are also a tribal species who will instinctively take from other tribes as a desperate measure to feed our own. This is pretty much what all post-apocalyptic movies are showing us: take away civilisation, and we soon return to acting like animals. (Except that animals, of course, animals dont usually take more than they need. Its not a very efficient use of energy.)

Lets now unpack the elements of greed in action to illustrate how it works and what it feels like.

Compelling need

By definition, greed is a compelling need to constantly acquire, consume or possess more of something than is actually necessary or justifiable. You would experience this subjectively as an all-consuming lust, hunger or craving for something (money, sex, food, power, fame, etc). This might be triggered by suddenly seeing the object of your desire, or an opportunity to go after it. Underlying the desire, however, is a terrible insecurity, a primal fear of lack or deprivation, though this is likely to be more unconscious than conscious. On the surface there is just the compulsion to satisfy the need.

Risky commitment

When the need is being strongly felt, you become compelled to commit a great deal of time and energy to seeking and acquiring your thing, setting all else aside. The only clear course of action, it seems, is to try and satisfy this longing because, after all, it promises to give you that long-lost sense of security.

Others might question your peculiar commitment and determination, given that it seems you are willing to risk everything over this personal obsession. But you can always find a way to argue the case: This is important to me. It will make me happy. It will make you happy too. And if I do happen to end up with more than I need, Ill just give some away Everybody will thank me for it!

Brief gratification

Sometimes you might achieve success in getting what you seek. And in those moments when the elusive object of your desire is actually in your hands you experience truly intoxicating feelings of triumph and relief.

However, these gratifying moments are all too brief You feel that the win was just not enough. In fact, there is no such thing as enough.

Despite all your best efforts, and despite every success, an abiding sense of security or fulfilment is never reached. The overwhelming desire is literally insatiable so long as the underlying fear is never addressed.

Harsh realities

You may then experience frustration at the transience of such pleasure, especially given the investment of time and energy. (Was it really worth it?)

You may experience shame and guilt over the damaging effects of your actions upon your relationships, reputation, financial security, etc. (What was I thinking? Im hurting the very people I love. Im ruining my life when its all been going so well.)

You may feel overwhelming anxiety over the uncertain future (Im on a slippery slope to hell).

All of this has the effect of evoking fear and insecurity, and a compelling need to fill that hole, and so the cycle begins again.

You might experience all these at some level at once, or have different ones in your foreground at different times. Still, it is very comparable to a cycle of addiction, in that the desire becomes harder and harder to satisfy, so the target level of a win or a fix keeps going up, which in turn requires more and more investment of time, energy and money.

There is also a greater cost to self-esteem, as you become more and more enslaved to the need. And of course, a greater cost to ones other commitments, such as career and relationships, which compete for the same time and energy.

By way of illustration, I came across this NY Times article by a guy called Sam Polk [2], a former hedge-fund trader, who describes the greed pattern in his own experience:

In my last year on Wall Street my bonus was $3.6 million and I was angry because it wasnt big enough. I was 30 years old, had no children to raise, no debts to pay, no philanthropic goal in mind. I wanted more money for exactly the same reason an alcoholic needs another drink: I was addicted.

An obsessive pursuit of wealth not only taps into our competitive survival instinct very neatly seeking, hunting, catching, hoarding, winning, stealing if necessary It also MAGNIFIES the sensations involved (desperation, excitement, thrill, triumph, reward) and it ACCELERATES the whole cycle, from what may have been days, weeks and even months (to acquire enough food to get through winter, say) to hours, minutes or even seconds (to win a jackpot).

When I walked onto that trading floor for the first time and saw the glowing flat-screen TVs, high-tech computer monitors and phone turrets with enough dials, knobs and buttons to make it seem like the cockpit of a fighter plane, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. It looked as if the traders were playing a video game inside a spaceship; if you won this video game, you became what I most wanted to be rich.

The satisfaction, he says, wasnt just about the money. Soon, it was more about the power.

Because of how smart and successful I was, it was someone elses job to make me happy.

Note the sense of entitlement to being looked after, a common factor in many forms of greed.

In the case of greed, the positive pole is a state which may be referred to as DESIRE, EGOISM or APPETITE, while the negative pole is one of VORACITY or GLUTTONY.

Egoism (not to be confused with egotism) is state of self-centred acquisitiveness: I will have what I want and need. It is the opposite of altruism.

Why is this a positive pole? Because in moderation, satisfying ones own needs and desires is part of what life is about. We are not all here to be self-sacrificing saints. We are here to make choices, and most of our choices will be driven by our own needs and desires. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with having a healthy appetite. In fact, it is healthier to be driven by ones desires rather than ones fears.

Voracity or gluttony is a state of excessive egoism, unjustified acquisitiveness. Not only does it cause one to acquire more than is ever going to be necessary, it can also lead to others being deprived of the same thing.

Moreover, once the negative pole of greed takes control of the personality, it does not care who it hurts in the process of getting what it needs. All things are secondary to the fear of lack. This is why, of all the chief features, greed is the hardest on others in ones life.

Greed isnt simply naked selfishness. It is multi-faceted and multi-layered, with elements that may be buried far below the level of everyday awareness. So if one is to get on top of a pattern of greed then one ought to consider this complexity.

Here are some suggestions, in no particular order:

[1] http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/greed>

Further Reading

For an excellent book abut the chief features and hw to handle them, see Transforming Your Dragons by Jos Stevens.

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Greed – Personality & Spirituality

Animism – Wikipedia

Animism (from Latin anima, “breath, spirit, life”)[2] is the religious belief that objects, places and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence.[3][4][5][6] Potentially, animism perceives all thingsanimals, plants, rocks, rivers, weather systems, human handiwork and perhaps even wordsas animated and alive. Animism is used in the anthropology of religion as a term for the belief system of many indigenous peoples,[7] especially in contrast to the relatively more recent development of organised religions.[8]

Although each culture has its own different mythologies and rituals, “animism” is said to describe the most common, foundational thread of indigenous peoples’ “spiritual” or “supernatural” perspectives. The animistic perspective is so widely held and inherent to most indigenous peoples that they often do not even have a word in their languages that corresponds to “animism” (or even “religion”);[9] the term is an anthropological construct.

Largely due to such ethnolinguistic and cultural discrepancies, opinion has differed on whether animism refers to an ancestral mode of experience common to indigenous peoples around the world, or to a full-fledged religion in its own right. The currently accepted definition of animism was only developed in the late 19th century (1871) by Sir Edward Tylor, who created it as “one of anthropology’s earliest concepts, if not the first”.[10][11]

Animism encompasses the beliefs that all material phenomena have agency, that there exists no hard and fast distinction between the spiritual and physical (or material) world and that soul or spirit or sentience exists not only in humans, but also in other animals, plants, rocks, geographic features such as mountains or rivers or other entities of the natural environment, including thunder, wind and shadows. Animism thus rejects Cartesian dualism.[citation needed] Animism may further attribute souls to abstract concepts such as words, true names or metaphors in mythology. Some members of the non-tribal world also consider themselves animists (such as author Daniel Quinn, sculptor Lawson Oyekan and many contemporary Pagans).[12]

Earlier anthropological perspectives, which have since been termed the “old animism”, were concerned with knowledge on what is alive and what factors make something alive. The “old animism” assumed that animists were individuals who were unable to understand the difference between persons and things.Critics of the “old animism” have accused it of preserving “colonialist and dualist worldviews and rhetoric”.

The idea of animism was developed by the anthropologist Sir Edward Tylor in his 1871 book Primitive Culture, in which he defined it as “the general doctrine of souls and other spiritual beings in general”. According to Tylor, animism often includes “an idea of pervading life and will in nature”;[16] a belief that natural objects other than humans have souls. That formulation was little different from that proposed by Auguste Comte as “fetishism”,[17] but the terms now have distinct meanings.

For Tylor, animism represented the earliest form of religion, being situated within an evolutionary framework of religion which has developed in stages and which will ultimately lead to humanity rejecting religion altogether in favor of scientific rationality.Thus, for Tylor, animism was fundamentally seen as a mistake, a basic error from which all religion grew. He did not believe that animism was inherently illogical, but he suggested that it arose from early humans’ dreams and visions and thus was a rational system. However, it was based on erroneous, unscientific observations about the nature of reality. Stringer notes that his reading of Primitive Culture led him to believe that Tylor was far more sympathetic in regard to “primitive” populations than many of his contemporaries and that Tylor expressed no belief that there was any difference between the intellectual capabilities of “savage” people and Westerners.[4]

Tylor had initially wanted to describe the phenomenon as “spiritualism” but realised that would cause confusion with the modern religion of Spiritualism, that was then prevalent across Western nations. He adopted the term “animism” from the writings of the German scientist Georg Ernst Stahl, who, in 1708, had developed the term animismus as a biological theory that souls formed the vital principle and that the normal phenomena of life and the abnormal phenomena of disease could be traced to spiritual causes. The first known usage in English appeared in 1819.[23]

The idea that there had once been “one universal form of primitive religion” (whether labelled “animism”, “totemism”, or “shamanism”) has been dismissed as “unsophisticated” and “erroneous” by the archaeologist Timothy Insoll, who stated that “it removes complexity, a precondition of religion now, in all its variants”.

Tylor’s definition of animism was a part of a growing international debate on the nature of “primitive society” by lawyers, theologians and philologists. The debate defined the field of research of a new science: anthropology. By the end of the 19th century, an orthodoxy on “primitive society” had emerged, but few anthropologists still would accept that definition. The “19th-century armchair anthropologists” argued “primitive society” (an evolutionary category) was ordered by kinship and was divided into exogamous descent groups related by a series of marriage exchanges. Their religion was animism, the belief that natural species and objects had souls. With the development of private property, the descent groups were displaced by the emergence of the territorial state. These rituals and beliefs eventually evolved over time into the vast array of “developed” religions. According to Tylor, the more scientifically advanced a society became, the fewer members of that society believed in animism. However, any remnant ideologies of souls or spirits, to Tylor, represented “survivals” of the original animism of early humanity.[25]

The term [“animism”] clearly began as an expression of a nest of insulting approaches to indigenous peoples and the earliest putatively religious humans. It was, and sometimes remains, a colonialist slur.

Graham Harvey, 2005.

In 1869 (three years after Tylor proposed his definition of animism), the Edinburgh lawyer, John Ferguson McLennan, argued that the animistic thinking evident in fetishism gave rise to a religion he named Totemism. Primitive people believed, he argued, that they were descended of the same species as their totemic animal.[17] Subsequent debate by the ‘armchair anthropologists’ (including J. J. Bachofen, mile Durkheim and Sigmund Freud) remained focused on totemism rather than animism, with few directly challenging Tylor’s definition. Indeed, anthropologists “have commonly avoided the issue of Animism and even the term itself rather than revisit this prevalent notion in light of their new and rich ethnographies.”[27]

According to the anthropologist Tim Ingold, animism shares similarities to totemism but differs in its focus on individual spirit beings which help to perpetuate life, whereas totemism more typically holds that there is a primary source, such as the land itself or the ancestors, who provide the basis to life. Certain indigenous religious groups such as the Australian Aboriginals are more typically totemic, whereas others like the Inuit are more typically animistic in their worldview.[28]

From his studies into child development, Jean Piaget suggested that children were born with an innate animist worldview in which they anthropomorphized inanimate objects, and that it was only later that they grew out of this belief. Conversely, from her ethnographic research, Margaret Mead argued the opposite, believing that children were not born with an animist worldview but that they became acculturated to such beliefs as they were educated by their society.Stewart Guthrie saw animism or “attribution” as he preferred it as an evolutionary strategy to aid survival. He argued that both humans and other animal species view inanimate objects as potentially alive as a means of being constantly on guard against potential threats. His suggested explanation, however, did not deal with the question of why such a belief became central to religion.

In 2000, Guthrie suggested that the “most widespread” concept of animism was that it was the “attribution of spirits to natural phenomenasuch as stones and trees”.

Many anthropologists ceased using the term “animism”, deeming it to be too close to early anthropological theory and religious polemic. However, the term had also been claimed by religious groups namely indigenous communities and nature worshipers who felt that it aptly described their own beliefs, and who in some cases actively identified as “animists”. It was thus readopted by various scholars, however they began using the term in a different way, placing the focus on knowing how to behave toward other persons, some of whom aren’t human. As the religious studies scholar Graham Harvey stated, while the “old animist” definition had been problematic, the term “animism” was nevertheless “of considerable value as a critical, academic term for a style of religious and cultural relating to the world.”

The “new animism” emerged largely from the publications of the anthropologist Irving Hallowell which were produced on the basis of his ethnographic research among the Ojibwe communities of Canada in the mid-20th century. For the Ojibwe encountered by Hallowell, personhood did not require human-likeness, but rather humans were perceived as being like other persons, who for instance included rock persons and bear persons. For the Ojibwe, these persons were each wilful beings who gained meaning and power through their interactions with others; through respectfully interacting with other persons, they themselves learned to “act as a person”. Hallowell’s approach to the understanding of Ojibwe personhood differed strongly from prior anthropological concepts of animism. He emphasized the need to challenge the modernist, Western perspectives of what a person is by entering into a dialogue with different worldwide-views.

Hallowell’s approach influenced the work of anthropologist Nurit Bird-David, who produced a scholarly article reassessing the idea of animism in 1999. Seven comments from other academics were provided in the journal, debating Bird-David’s ideas.

More recently post-modern anthropologists are increasingly engaging with the concept of animism. Modernism is characterized by a Cartesian subject-object dualism that divides the subjective from the objective, and culture from nature; in this view, Animism is the inverse of scientism, and hence inherently invalid. Drawing on the work of Bruno Latour, these anthropologists question these modernist assumptions, and theorize that all societies continue to “animate” the world around them, and not just as a Tylorian survival of primitive thought. Rather, the instrumental reason characteristic of modernity is limited to our “professional subcultures,” which allows us to treat the world as a detached mechanical object in a delimited sphere of activity. We, like animists, also continue to create personal relationships with elements of the so-called objective world, whether pets, cars or teddy-bears, who we recognize as subjects. As such, these entities are “approached as communicative subjects rather than the inert objects perceived by modernists.”[40] These approaches are careful to avoid the modernist assumptions that the environment consists dichotomously of a physical world distinct from humans, and from modernist conceptions of the person as composed dualistically as body and soul.[27]

Nurit Bird-David argues that “Positivistic ideas about the meaning of ‘nature’, ‘life’ and ‘personhood’ misdirected these previous attempts to understand the local concepts. Classical theoreticians (it is argued) attributed their own modernist ideas of self to ‘primitive peoples’ while asserting that the ‘primitive peoples’ read their idea of self into others!”[27] She argues that animism is a “relational epistemology”, and not a Tylorian failure of primitive reasoning. That is, self-identity among animists is based on their relationships with others, rather than some distinctive feature of the self. Instead of focusing on the essentialized, modernist self (the “individual”), persons are viewed as bundles of social relationships (“dividuals”), some of which are with “superpersons” (i.e. non-humans).

Guthrie expressed criticism of Bird-David’s attitude toward animism, believing that it promulgated the view that “the world is in large measure whatever our local imagination makes it”. This, he felt, would result in anthropology abandoning “the scientific project”.

Tim Ingold, like Bird-David, argues that animists do not see themselves as separate from their environment: “Hunter-gatherers do not, as a rule, approach their environment as an external world of nature that has to be ‘grasped’ intellectually … indeed the separation of mind and nature has no place in their thought and practice.”[42] Willerslev extends the argument by noting that animists reject this Cartesian dualism, and that the animist self identifies with the world, “feeling at once within and apart from it so that the two glide ceaselessly in and out of each other in a sealed circuit.”[43] The animist hunter is thus aware of himself as a human hunter, but, through mimicry is able to assume the viewpoint, senses, and sensibilities of his prey, to be one with it.[44] Shamanism, in this view, is an everyday attempt to influence spirits of ancestors and animals by mirroring their behaviours as the hunter does his prey.

Cultural ecologist and philosopher David Abram articulates and elaborates an intensely ethical and ecological form of animism grounded in the phenomenology of sensory experience. In his books Becoming Animal and The Spell of the Sensuous, Abram suggests that material things are never entirely passive in our direct experience, holding rather that perceived things actively “solicit our attention” or “call our focus,” coaxing the perceiving body into an ongoing participation with those things. In the absence of intervening technologies, sensory experience is inherently animistic, disclosing a material field that is animate and self-organizing from the get-go. Drawing upon contemporary cognitive and natural science, as well as upon the perspectival worldviews of diverse indigenous, oral cultures, Abram proposes a richly pluralist and story-based cosmology, in which matter is alive through and through. Such an ontology is in close accord, he suggests, with our spontaneous perceptual experience; it would draw us back to our senses and to the primacy of the sensuous terrain, enjoining a more respectful and ethical relation to the more-than-human community of animals, plants, soils, mountains, waters and weather-patterns that materially sustains us.[45] In contrast to a long-standing tendency in the Western social sciences, which commonly provide rational explanations of animistic experience, Abram develops an animistic account of reason itself. He holds that civilized reason is sustained only by an intensely animistic participation between human beings and their own written signs. Indeed, as soon as we turn our gaze toward the alphabetic letters written on a page or a screen, these letters speak to uswe ‘see what they say’much as ancient trees and gushing streams and lichen-encrusted boulders once spoke to our oral ancestors. Hence reading is an intensely concentrated form of animism, one that effectively eclipses all of the other, older, more spontaneous forms of participation in which we once engaged. “To tell the story in this mannerto provide an animistic account of reason, rather than the other way aroundis to imply that animism is the wider and more inclusive term, and that oral, mimetic modes of experience still underlie, and support, all our literate and technological modes of reflection. When reflection’s rootedness in such bodily, participatory modes of experience is entirely unacknowledged or unconscious, reflective reason becomes dysfunctional, unintentionally destroying the corporeal, sensuous world that sustains it.”[46]

The religious studies scholar Graham Harvey defined animism as the belief “that the world is full of persons, only some of whom are human, and that life is always lived in relationship with others”. He added that it is therefore “concerned with learning how to be a good person in respectful relationships with other persons”.Graham Harvey, in his 2013 Handbook of Contemporary Animism, identifies the animist perspective in line with Martin Buber’s “I-thou” as opposed to “I-it”. In such, Harvey says, the Animist takes an I-thou approach to relating to his world, where objects and animals are treated as a “thou” rather than as an “it”.[47]

There is ongoing disagreement (and no general consensus) as to whether animism is merely a singular, broadly encompassing religious belief[48] or a worldview in and of itself, comprising many diverse mythologies found worldwide in many diverse cultures.[49][50] This also raises a controversy regarding the ethical claims animism may or may not make: whether animism ignores questions of ethics altogether[51] or, by endowing various non-human elements of nature with spirituality or personhood,[52] in fact promotes a complex ecological ethics.[53]

In many animistic world views, the human being is often regarded as on a roughly equal footing with other animals, plants, and natural forces.[54]

A shaman is a person regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of benevolent and malevolent spirits, who typically enters into a trance state during a ritual, and practices divination and healing.[55] According to Mircea Eliade, shamanism encompasses the premise that shamans are intermediaries or messengers between the human world and the spirit worlds. Shamans are said to treat ailments/illness by mending the soul. Alleviating traumas affecting the soul/spirit restores the physical body of the individual to balance and wholeness. The shaman also enters supernatural realms or dimensions to obtain solutions to problems afflicting the community. Shamans may visit other worlds/dimensions to bring guidance to misguided souls and to ameliorate illnesses of the human soul caused by foreign elements. The shaman operates primarily within the spiritual world, which in turn affects the human world. The restoration of balance results in the elimination of the ailment.[56] Abram, however, articulates a less supernatural and much more ecological understanding of the shaman’s role than that propounded by Eliade. Drawing upon his own field research in Indonesia, Nepal, and the Americas, Abram suggests that in animistic cultures, the shaman functions primarily as an intermediary between the human community and the more-than-human community of active agencies the local animals, plants, and landforms (mountains, rivers, forests, winds and weather patterns, all of whom are felt to have their own specific sentience). Hence the shaman’s ability to heal individual instances of dis-ease (or imbalance) within the human community is a by-product of her/his more continual practice of balancing the reciprocity between the human community and the wider collective of animate beings in which that community is embedded.[57]

Animism is not the same as pantheism, although the two are sometimes confused. Some religions are both pantheistic and animistic. One of the main differences is that while animists believe everything to be spiritual in nature, they do not necessarily see the spiritual nature of everything in existence as being united (monism), the way pantheists do. As a result, animism puts more emphasis on the uniqueness of each individual soul. In pantheism, everything shares the same spiritual essence, rather than having distinct spirits and/or souls.[58][59]

Animism entails the belief that “all living things have a soul”, and thus a central concern of animist thought surrounds how animals can be eaten or otherwise used for humans’ subsistence needs. The actions of non-human animals are viewed as “intentional, planned and purposive”, and they are understood to be persons because they are both alive and communicate with others. In animist world-views, non-human animals are understood to participate in kinship systems and ceremonies with humans, as well as having their own kinship systems and ceremonies. Harvey cited an example of an animist understanding of animal behaviour that occurred at a powwow held by the Conne River Mi’kmaq in 1996; an eagle flew over the proceedings, circling over the central drum group. The assembled participants called out kitpu (“eagle”), conveying welcome to the bird and expressing pleasure at its beauty, and they later articulated the view that the eagle’s actions reflected its approval of the event and the Mi’kmaq’s return to traditional spiritual practices.

Some animists also view plant and fungi life as persons and interact with them accordingly. The most common encounter between humans and these plant and fungi persons is with the former’s collection of the latter for food, and for animists this interaction typically has to be carried out respectfully. Harvey cited the example of Maori communities in New Zealand, who often offer karakia invocations to sweet potatoes as they dig the latter up; while doing so there is an awareness of a kinship relationship between the Maori and the sweet potatoes, with both understood as having arrived in Aotearoa together in the same canoes. In other instances, animists believe that interaction with plant and fungi persons can result in the communication of things unknown or even otherwise unknowable. Among some modern Pagans, for instance, relationships are cultivated with specific trees, who are understood to bestow knowledge or physical gifts, such as flowers, sap, or wood that can be used as firewood or to fashion into a wand; in return, these Pagans give offerings to the tree itself, which can come in the form of libations of mead or ale, a drop of blood from a finger, or a strand of wool.

Various animistic cultures also comprehend as stones as persons. Discussing ethnographic work conducted among the Ojibwe, Harvey noted that their society generally conceived of stones as being inanimate, but with two notable exceptions: the stones of the Bell Rocks and those stones which are situated beneath trees struck by lightning, which were understood to have become Thunderers themselves. The Ojibwe conceived of weather as being capable of having personhood, with storms being conceived of as persons known as ‘Thunderers’ whose sounds conveyed communications and who engaged in seasonal conflict over the lakes and forests, throwing lightning at lake monsters. Wind, similarly, can be conceived as a person in animistic thought.

The importance of place is also a recurring element of animism, with some places being understood to be persons in their own right.

Animism can also entail relationships being established with non-corporeal spirit entities.

In the early 20th century, William McDougall defended a form of Animism in his book Body and Mind: A History and Defence of Animism (1911).

The physicist Nick Herbert has argued for “quantum animism” in which mind permeates the world at every level.

The quantum consciousness assumption, which amounts to a kind of “quantum animism” likewise asserts that consciousness is an integral part of the physical world, not an emergent property of special biological or computational systems. Since everything in the world is on some level a quantum system, this assumption requires that everything be conscious on that level. If the world is truly quantum animated, then there is an immense amount of invisible inner experience going on all around us that is presently inaccessible to humans, because our own inner lives are imprisoned inside a small quantum system, isolated deep in the meat of an animal brain.[78]

Werner Krieglstein wrote regarding his quantum Animism:

Herbert’s quantum Animism differs from traditional Animism in that it avoids assuming a dualistic model of mind and matter. Traditional dualism assumes that some kind of spirit inhabits a body and makes it move, a ghost in the machine. Herbert’s quantum Animism presents the idea that every natural system has an inner life, a conscious center, from which it directs and observes its action.[79]

Ashley Curtis has argued in Error and Loss: A Licence to Enchantment[80] that the Cartesian idea of an experiencing subject facing off with an inert physical world is incoherent at its very foundation, and that this incoherence is predicted rather than belied by Darwinism. Human reason (and its rigorous extension in the natural sciences) fits an evolutionary niche just as echolocation does for bats and infrared vision does for pit vipers, and isaccording to western science’s own dictatesepistemologically on a par with rather than superior to such capabilities. The meaning or aliveness of the “objects” we encounterrocks, trees, rivers, other animalsthus depends for its validity not on a detached cognitive judgment but purely on the quality of our experience. The animist experience, and, indeed, the wolf’s or raven’s experience, thus become licenced as equally valid world-views to the modern western scientific oneindeed, they are more valid, since they are not plagued with the incoherence that inevitably crops up when “objective existence” is separated from “subjective experience.”

Harvey opined that animism’s views on personhood represented a radical challenge to the dominant perspectives of modernity, because it accords “intelligence, rationality, consciousness, volition, agency, intentionality, language and desire” to non-humans. Similarly, it challenges the view of human uniqueness that is prevalent in both Abrahamic religions and Western rationalism.

Animist beliefs can also be expressed through artwork. For instance, among the Maori communities of New Zealand, there is an acknowledgment that creating art through carving wood or stone entails violence against the wood or stone person, and that the persons who are damaged therefore have to be placated and respected during the process; any excess or waste from the creation of the artwork is returned to the land, while the artwork itself is treated with particular respect. Harvey therefore argued that the creation of art among the Maori was not about creating an inanimate object for display, but rather a transformation of different persons within a relationship.

Harvey expressed the view that animist worldviews were present in various works of literature, citing such examples as the writings of Alan Garner, Leslie Silko, Barbara Kingsolver, Alice Walker, Daniel Quinn, Linda Hogan, David Abram, Patricia Grace, Chinua Achebe, Ursula Le Guin, Louise Erdrich, and Marge Piercy. Animist worldviews have also been identified in the animated films of Hayao Miyazaki.[87][88][89][90]

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Animism – Wikipedia

Spirituality – Wikipedia

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

The meaning of spirituality has developed and expanded over time, and various connotations can be found alongside each other.[note 1]

Traditionally, spirituality referred to a religious process of re-formation which “aims to recover the original shape of man”,[note 2] oriented at “the image of God” as exemplified by the founders and sacred texts of the religions of the world. The term was used within early Christianity to refer to a life oriented toward the Holy Spirit and broadened during late medieval times to include mental aspects of life.

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 and religious traditions. Modern usages tend to refer to a 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, such as 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 term spirit means “animating or vital principle in man and animals”.[web 1] It is derived from the Old French espirit, which comes from the Latin word spiritus (soul, courage, vigor, breath) and is related to spirare (to breathe). 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”, 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, from Late Latin “spiritualitatem” (nominative spiritualitas), which is also derived from Latin spiritualis.[web 3]

There is no single, widely agreed upon definition of spirituality.[note 1] Surveys of the definition of the term, as used in scholarly research, show a broad range of definitions with limited overlap. A survey of reviews by McCarroll each dealing with the topic of spirituality gave twenty-seven explicit definitions, among which “there was little agreement.” This impedes the systematic study of spirituality and the capacity to communicate findings meaningfully. Furthermore, many of spirituality’s core features are not unique to spirituality; for example self-transcendence, asceticism and the recognition of one’s connection to all were regarded by the atheist Arthur Schopenhauer as key to ethical life.[17][bettersourceneeded]

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.”[note 2] Houtman and Aupers suggest that modern spirituality is a blend of humanistic psychology, mystical and esoteric traditions and Eastern religions.

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.

Words translatable as ‘spirituality’ first began to arise in the 5th century and only entered common use toward the end of the Middle Ages.[18] 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 3] 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 4] 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 5]

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 6] 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 Western esoteric traditions and elements of Asian, especially Indian, religions. Spirituality became increasingly disconnected from traditional religious organisations and institutions. It is sometimes associated today with philosophical, social, or political movements such as liberalism, feminist theology, and green politics.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882) was a pioneer of the idea of spirituality as a distinct field.[24] 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.[29][30]

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”:[37] 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.[38] 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.[39][40]

Rabbinic Judaism (or in some Christian traditions,[which?] 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, etc.

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,[41] 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,[which?] 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 creed (shahadah), (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.[42]

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.[43]

Sufism or taawwuf (Arabic: ) is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam.[44][45][46] 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.[47]

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”.[48] 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”.[49]

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.[51] This non-violent meaning is stressed by both Muslim[52] and non-Muslim[53] 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 Jihad the striving of a servant (of Allah) against his desires (holy war).”[unreliable source?][54][55][note 7]

Buddhist practices are known as Bhavana, which literally means “development” or “cultivating”[56] or “producing”[57][58] in the sense of “calling into existence.”[59] 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 loving kindness). 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.[60] Within this diffuse and open structure, spirituality in Hindu philosophy is an individual experience, and referred to as ksaitraja (Sanskrit: [61]). 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.[62][63]

Traditionally, Hinduism identifies three mrga (ways)[64][note 8] of spiritual practice,[65] 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 9]

Jna marga is a path often assisted by a guru (teacher) in one’s spiritual practice.[68] 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.[69] 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.[70][71] 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.[72][73] This state of samdhi has been compared to peak experience.[74]

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.[75] 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.[63][76] Other scholars[77] 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).[78]

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.[79] The Hare Krishna school emphasizes bhakti yoga as spiritual practice.[80] In Advaita Vedanta school, the spiritual practice emphasizes jna yoga in stages: samnyasa (cultivate virtues), sravana (hear, study), manana (reflect) and dhyana (nididhyasana, contemplate).[81]

Sikhism considers spiritual life and secular life to be intertwined:[82] “In the Sikh Weltanschauung…the temporal world is part of the Infinite Reality and partakes of its characteristics.”[83] 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.[84]

The 6th Sikh Guru Guru Hargobind re-affirmed that the political/temporal (Miri) and spiritual (Piri) realms are mutually coexistent.[85] 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.[86]

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”,[87] the polar opposite to a self-centered existence.[87] Nanak talks further about the one God or Akal (timelessness) that permeates all life[88]).[89][90][91] and which must be seen with ‘the inward eye’, or the ‘heart’, of a human being.[92]

In Sikhism there is no dogma,[93] priests, monastics or yogis.

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

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.”[96] It embraces the idea of an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality.[97] 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).[98]: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”).[99] 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.” [100] Similarly, Aristotle one of the first known Western thinkers to demonstrate that morality, virtue and goodness can be derived without appealing to supernatural forces even 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)[101]

Contemporary spirituality theorists assert that spirituality develops inner peace and forms a foundation for happiness. For example, meditation and similar practices are suggested to help the practitioner cultivate her/his inner life and character.[102][unreliable source?] [103] Ellison and Fan (2008) assert that spirituality causes a wide array of positive health outcomes, including “morale, happiness, and life satisfaction.”.[104] However, Schuurmans-Stekhoven (2013) actively attempted to replicate this research and found more “mixed” results.[105] Nevertheless, spirituality has played a central role in 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[106]

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.[114]

Waaijman discerns four forms of spiritual practices:

Spiritual practices may include meditation, mindfulness, prayer, the contemplation of sacred texts, ethical development,[98] and spiritual retreats in a convent. Love and/or compassion are often[quantify] described as the mainstay of spiritual development.[98]

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

Since the scientific revolution of the 18th-century Enlightenment, the relationship of science to religion[118][119][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.”[120]

Brooke has 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.[123] Though physical and biological scientists today see no need for supernatural explanations to describe reality[124][125][pageneeded][126][note 10], some[quantify] scientists continue to regard science and spirituality as complementary, not contradictory,[127][128] and are willing to debate,[129]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, for example, 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.[130]

During the twentieth century the relationship between science and spirituality has been influenced both by Freudian psychology, which has accentuated the boundaries between the two areas by accentuating individualism and secularism, and by developments in particle physics, which reopened the debate about complementarity between scientific and religious discourse and rekindled for many an interest in holistic conceptions of reality.[119]:322 These holistic conceptions were championed by New Age spiritualists in a type of quantum mysticism that they claim justifies their spiritual beliefs,[131][132] though quantum physicists themselves on the whole reject such attempts as being pseudoscientific.[133][134]

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.[135][136][137][138] Although spiritual individuals tend to be optimistic, report greater social support,[139] and experience higher intrinsic meaning in life,[140] strength, and inner peace,[141] 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.[142] 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),[99][143][144][145][146][147][148] and that the effects of agreeableness, conscientiousness, or virtue personality traits common in many non-spiritual people yet known to be slightly more common among the spiritual may better account for spirituality’s apparent correlation with mental health and social support.[149][150][151][152][153]

Masters and Spielmans[154] 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 fact, one large and scientifically rigorous study by Herbert Benson and colleagues[155] revealed that intercessory prayer had no effect on recovery from cardiac arrest, but patients told people were praying for them actually had an increased risk of medical complications. Knowing others are praying for you could actually be medically detrimental.

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).[144][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 positive as personal and meaningful transcendent experiences.[168][169]

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Spirituality – Wikipedia

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Vihangam Yoga – Unwinding Spirituality

12-Dec-2018 to 13-Dec-2018 (95th Varshikotsav (Annual Congregation) of Vihangam Yoga)

Venue: Swarved Mahamandir Dham, Umaraha, Varanasi Contact: 7617014515, 7617014517, 0542-2616565

Venue: Vill: Idamalla, Dist: Pauri Garhwal, Uttarakhand Contact: 8009364501, 7617014517

Venue: Motipur (4-lane), Mohammedpur, Malangsthan, Near Jiwach College, Muzaffarpur, Bihar Contact: 9939925406, 9431854898

Venue: Bhusunda Mela Ground, Gaya, Bihar Contact: 9771854388, 9771732834, 9801804348

Venue: Town Polytechnic, Tikhampur, Ballia, UP Contact: 9415658526, 9415248262

Venue: Community Center, Sector-6 Bahadurgarh (HR) Contact: 9466724065, 8168689697, 9015181580

Venue: PBS Collage Banka, Khel Maidan,Baanka Railway Janction Se South-East, Baanka(Bihar) Contact: 9931730700, 7549610466, 9934520462

Venue: Kritiya Nand Madhya Vidyalay Malaypur ke Bagal Me Jamui Railway Station Se 1km west Anjani nadi ke Kinare,Jamui(Bihar) Contact: 9939284737, 8969330373, 9006949567

Venue: Karagahar, Rohtas,Bihar Contact: 8210715901, 8809610882, 8987249381

Venue: Swarved Mahamandir Dham, Umaraha, Varanasi Contact: 7617014515, 7617014517, 0542-2616565

Venue: Ramlila Ground, Indira Colony, Near Balaji Temple, Rudrapur, Udham Singh Nagar, Uttarakhand Contact: 7065547533, 8009364501, 7905368752

Venue: Jaiprakash Udyan, Near Kharkai Bridge, Adityapur, Jharkhand Contact: 9431149225, 9334819604, 0651-2231200

Venue: Maharshi Sadafaldeo Dandakvan Ashram, Vasiya Talav, Vansda, Navsari, Gujarat Contact: 8154863091, 9712322730, 9428884475, 02630-222730

Venue: Rajyotsav Ground, Naya Raipur, Raipur, Chhattisgarh Contact: 8109366193, 8085273922, 8889431766, 1800 3070 2100 (toll-free)

Venue: Maharshi Sadafaldeo Ashram, Katar, Dehri-on-Sone, Rohtas (Bihar) Contact: 1800 3070 2100 (Toll-free), 98018 04948, 9431483263

Venue: Swarved Mahamandir Dham, Umaraha, Varanasi Contact: 1800 3070 2100

Venue: Siri Fort Auditorium Contact: 95607 16666, 93114 48880, 98910 60000

Venue: Mahesh Prasad Singh Science College, NH28, Gobarsahi, Muzaffarpur, Bihar Contact: 9430681522, 9122040818, 9934222111

Venue: Farhangpur, Koilwar, Ara (Bihar) Contact: 1800 3070 2100, 8651 121212, 88048 46023

Venue: Himalaya Shoonya Shikhar Ashram, Idamalla, Pauri Garhwal, Uttarakhand Contact: 1800 3070 2100

Venue: Swarved Mahamandir Dham, Umaraha, Varanasi Contact: 9235597790, 9235597784, 8651121212

Venue: , , Contact: 9413366846, 9911512102

Venue: Siri Fort Auditorium, Asian Games Village Complex, Near Green Park Metro, Delhi-110049 Contact: 9911512102, 9560716666

Venue: Agrasen Hall Trust,707 & 708, 7th Floor, Babu Khan Estate, Baseer Bagh, Hyderabad-500029 Contact: 9727750345

Venue: Rajkiya Polytechnic College, Begusarai, Bihar Contact: 9572000453, 9835210752

Venue: Swarved Mahamandir Dham, Umraha, Varsnasi Contact: 9936443180

Venue: Gogna Field, Maithon, Dhanbad, Jharkhand. Contact: 9470983852, 7782872652

Venue: Jangli Baba Temple Campus, Garwar, Ballia, U.P. Contact: 9415658526, 9506070320

Venue: Kamani Auditorium, Near Mandi House Metro, Delhi Contact: 9560716666,8860092457

Venue: Sadguru Sadafaldeo Ashram, Singhi, Doriganj, Chhapra, Bihar Contact: 9504209556, 9835803346

Venue: Lichigachhi, Shivmandir, Sachipatti, Hajipur,Vaishali, Bihar. Contact: 9608960149, 7250297484

Venue: Raj Inter School Ground, Tikari, Gaya, Bihar Contact: 9470354529, 7781074878

Venue: ITI College Ground, Betiya, West-Champaran, Bihar Contact: 9431093305, 9471264818

Venue: Rameshwar Laxmi Mahto, B.Ed College, Mirjapur, Rosra, Samastipur, Bihar Contact: 9570417650, 9801084770

Venue: Play Ground Mathurapur, Alauli Road, Khagaria, Bihar. Contact: 9801521199, 9430850296

Venue: Maa Janki Janmasthali, Punauradham, Sitamarhi, Bihar Contact: 9955222384, 9934606837

Venue: Sangrampur More, Munger, Bihar Contact: 8676864603, 8521904336

Venue: Hisua High School, Nawada, Bihar Contact: 9905211992, 7542832156

Venue: Maharshi Sadafaldeo Ashram, Near Sarswati Shishu Mandir, Tilauthu, Rohtas, Bihar. Contact: 9973563069, 8051570901

Venue: Gopal Gaushala, Sujangarh, Rajasthan Contact: 9911512102, 9414400353

Venue: Swarved Mahamandir Dham, Umraha, Varanasi Contact: 9936443180

Venue: Gagera School, Varachha, Surat, Gujrat Contact: 9824542222, 9825108276

Venue: Keshar Kunj Party Plot, Nandanvan Society Samey Jhangirpura Road, Surat Contact: 8000044477, 985128183, 9913750142, 8154863091

Venue: Banaras Chauk,Ambika Petrol Pump, Ambikapur, Sarguja- Chhatisgarh Contact: 9926729953, 9300344569

Venue: Vasya Talab,Bansada, District-Navsari, Gujrat Contact: 02630-222730/530, 9979407470

Venue: By-pass chaowk, Near Over Bridge, Aurangabad , Bihar Contact: 9431632624, 9934846184

Venue: Maharshi Sadafaldeo Ashram, Katar Vadiha, Dehri-On-Sone, Rohtas, Bihar Contact: 98018004348, 9431483263

Venue: Pura Besakih, Wayan Edi HP. Contact: 08123643426

Venue: SDN 1 , Gerokgak- Buleleng. BP. Lanang Dalem HP. Contact: 081236705026

Venue: Stage Barong Di Pura Puseh Batubula JI.- Gianyar/ Adi Subawa HP. Contact: 0816577833

Venue: Lapangan Kapten Japa JI. By Pass IB. Mantra Kesiman Denpasar/ I Wayan Edi. Contact: 08123643426

Venue: JI. Pantai Seseh Mengwi- Badung, BP. Windya HP. Contact: 081338002894

Venue: Kompas TV Dewata, Wayan Widana HP. Contact: 081388663548

Venue: Shri Lakhsminarayan Temple, No. 26, Jalan Kasipillay, Jalan Ipoh, Wilayah Persekutuan, 51200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Contact: +65 9687 2958, +60 1135 120253, +60 1463 69579, +60 1265 70695

Venue: Shri Lakshminarayan Temple, 5 Chader Road, Singapore 219528 Contact: +6597392900, +6591463384, +6591772183, +6592775007, +6593366964

Venue: Shri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple, 19 Ceylon Road, Singapore-429613 Contact: +6597392900, +6591463384, +6591772183, +6592775007, +6593366964

Venue: Sindhu Society, 795 Mountbatten Road, Singapore-437795 Contact: +6597392900, +6591463384, +6591772183, +6592775007, +6593366964

Venue: Goshamahal Police Ground,hyderabad Contact: 9391872323,9849916085

Venue: Swarved Mahamandir Dham Varanasi-Ghazipur Highway, Umaraha Sarnath, Varanasi, U.P. – 221007 Contact: 0542 2616565, 09336772687,09936443180

Venue: Dumka Road, Yaj Maidan, Jamtara, Jharkhand. Contact: 8809588497, 94312221178

Venue: Harmu Khel Maidan, Harmu Chaowk, Harmu Housing Colony, Ranchi, Jharkhand Contact: 9955721071, 9431100076

Venue: Mazdoor Maidan, City Centre, Sector-4, Bokaro Ispat Nagar, Jharkhand Contact: 06542269636, 9431735691

Venue: High School Sijhuwa,Ichak Hazaribagh, Jharkhand Contact: 9199433178, 9431504021

Venue: Dimapur, Nagaland Contact: 9436003673, 9436004493

Venue: Guwahati, Assam Contact: 9435106637, 9954058073

Venue: Block Ground, Jhumri telaiya, Kodarma, jharkhand Contact: 8409250056, 8797448328

Venue: Chirka Gaurinath Dham(Aam Bagan), Near Sindri Chaas More, Purulia, West Bengal Contact: 9006508975, 9932836831

Venue: Mayur Stadium River side, Bhurkunda Ramgarh, Jharkhand Contact: 9431502701, 9905752135

Venue: Maharshi Sadafaldeo Ashram, Agarsanda, Middha, ballia Contact: 9506070320, 9415658526

Venue: Rajkiya Polytechnic Begusarai, Near Petrol Pump, Bihar Contact: 9801804348, 9572000453.

Venue: Contact:

Venue: Dimanlok Maidan, Jamshedpur, Jharkhand Contact: 9279436306, 9431340670

Venue: Swarved Mahamandir Dham, Umaraha, Varanasi, UP – 221112 Contact: 7617014506, 9532107972, (0542)-2616565

Venue: Maharshi Sadafaldeo Ashram, Mahadev Ghat, Raipur, Chhattisgarh Contact: 9754860331, 8827414031,9826129300

Venue: Lalbagh Maidan, Jagdalpur, Chhattisgarh Contact: 9425592226, 9425596692

Venue: Saryu Prasad Agrawal Stadium, Ganjpara, Balod, Chhattisgarh Contact: 9691073281, 9406319761,9907154010

Venue: Vivekanand Sabhagrih, Jail Road, Durg, Chhattisgarh Contact: 9691073281, 8889431766, 9907585549

Venue: SUYOJIT Vridian Vallies, Near Bridge,Sawarkar Nagar Extension, Gangapur Road, Nashik Contact: 09823392068, 09822624942, 09421504646

Venue: Yogi SabhagrihaOpposite Railway Station, Dadar ( East), Mumbai 400014 Contact: 09987424037, 09833028409, 09920389299

Venue: Shersah mahavidyalya lalganj, Sasaram, Rohtas, Bihar Contact: 8651121212, 9470417149, 7352222333, 7654414444.

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)

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Vihangam Yoga – Unwinding Spirituality

SRCM – Shri Ram Chandra Mission | Raja Yoga Meditation

Shri Ram Chandra Mission was initially established in Shahjahanpur, in North India in 1945. It offers a simple and unique Heartfulness Meditation with roots in Sahaj Marg, catering to seekers of spirituality in over 100 countries, covering all continents.

These World Wide centers offer a place to gather to celebrate the birth anniversaries of the gurus, to host seminars, provides spiritual education, research and training for inner growth.

Among the din and hustle of the outside world, people are feeling this deep inner call of the heart to retreat to solace, and our ashrams world wide give this opportunity by providing an environment of purity and serenity to the seeker.

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SRCM – Shri Ram Chandra Mission | Raja Yoga Meditation

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 approach to 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 or less unified ‘movement’.” Other scholars have suggested that the New Age is too diverse to be a singular movement. The scholar of religion George D. Chryssides called it “a counter-cultural Zeitgeist”, while the sociologist of religion Steven Bruce suggested that New Age was a milieu; Heelas and scholar of religion Linda Woodhead called it the “holistic milieu”.

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 quotation marks. 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.[50] Another early influence was the late 18th and early 19th century German physician and hypnotist Franz Mesmer, who claimed the existence of a force known as “animal magnetism” running through the human body.[51] 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.[54] 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.[56] 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.[69] 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.[70]

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 c. 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 c. 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”,[85] 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,[94] 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.[97][98] 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”.

Australian scholar Paul J. Farrelly, in his 2017 doctoral dissertation at Australian National University, argued that, while the New Age may become less popular in the West, it is actually booming in Taiwan, where it is regarded as something comparatively new, and is being exported from Taiwan to Mainland China, while it is more or less tolerated by the authorities.

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.[203] 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.[203]

“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 the total number of practitioners. 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 New Age. He nevertheless suggested that over 10 million people in the U.S. had had some contact with New Age practices or ideas. Between 2000 and 2002, Heelas and Woodhead conducted research into the New Age in the English town of Kendal, Cumbria; they found 600 people actively attended New Age activities on a weekly basis, representing 1.6% of the town’s population. From this, they extrapolated that around 900,000 Britons regularly took part in New Age activities. 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. In the United States, the first people to embrace the New Age belonged to the baby boomer generation, those born between 1946 and 1964.

Sutcliffe noted that although most influential New Age figureheads were male, approximately two-thirds of its participants were female. Heelas and Woodhead’s Kendal Project found that of those regularly attending New Age activities in the town, 80% were female, while 78% of those running such activities were female. They attributed this female dominance to “deeply entrenched cultural values and divisions of labour” in Western society, according to which women were accorded greater responsibility for the well-being of others, thus making New Age practices more attractive to them. They suggested that men were less attracted to New Age activities because they were hampered by a “masculinist ideal of autonomy and self-sufficiency” which discouraged them from seeking the assistance of others for their inner development.

The majority of New Agers are from the middle and upper-middle classes of Western society. Heelas and Woodhead found that of the active Kendal New Agers, 57% had a university or college degree. Their Kendal Project also determined that 73% of active New Agers were aged over 45, and 55% were aged between 40 and 59; it also determined that many got involved while middle-aged. Comparatively few were either young or elderly. Heelas and Woodhead suggested that the dominance of middle-aged people, particularly women, was because at this stage of life they had greater time to devote to their own inner development, with their time previously having been dominated by raising children. They also suggested that middle-aged people were experiencing more age-related ailments than the young, and thus more keen to pursue New Age activities to improve their health.

Heelas added that within the baby boomers, 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. 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”.

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.[283] 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.[284] 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, sometimes 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.[307]

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,[308][309] and the psychoacoustic environments recordings of Irv Teibel.[310] 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.[308][309]

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.[311] 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.[321]

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[326] and Satin,[327] was described at length by sociology of religion scholar Steven Tipton.[328] 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.[329] 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.[333] 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.[334] Another academic publication says Spretnak and Satin largely co-drafted the U.S. Greens’ founding document, the “Ten Key Values” statement.[335]

While the term “New Age” may have fallen out of favor,[336] 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.[337][338] 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”.[340]

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.[341] “America has swerved from its ethical center”, she said.[341] Running as an independent in west Los Angeles, she finished fourth in her district’s open primary election with 13% of the vote.[342]

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.[336] 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”.[343] 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”.[344] 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”.[345]

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.[336] 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.

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New Age – Wikipedia

Jesuits in Malta :: Centre for Ignatian Spirituality

Welcome

The Centre for Ignatian Spirituality of the Maltese Jesuit Province (CIS) promotes the spiritual legacy of St Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus. We offer an extensive programme of activities in both English and Maltese, as well as managing two Retreat Houses where local and foreign visitors are most welcome.

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Jesuits in Malta :: Centre for Ignatian Spirituality

New Age Spirituality – Religious Tolerance

a.k.a. Self-spirituality, New spirituality, Mind-body-spirit

The New Age Movement is in a class by itself. Unlike most formal religions, it has no holy text, central organization, formal membership, ordained clergy, geographic center, dogma, creed, etc. They often use mutually exclusive definitions for some of their terms. The New Age is in fact a free-flowing, decentralized, spiritual movement — a network of believers and practitioners who share somewhat similar beliefs and practices, which many add on to whichever formal religion that they follow. Their book publishers take the place of a central organization. Seminars, conventions, books and informal groups replace of sermons and religious services.

Quoting John Naisbitt:

“In turbulent times, in times of great change, people head for the two extremes: fundamentalism and personal, spiritual experience…With no membership lists or even a coherent philosophy or dogma, it is difficult to define or measure the unorganized New Age movement. But in every major U.S. and European city, thousands who seek insight and personal growth cluster around a metaphysical bookstore, a spiritual teacher, or an education center.” 1

The New Age is definitely a heterogeneous movement of individuals; most graft some new age beliefs onto their regular religious affiliation. Recent surveys of US adults indicate that many Americans hold at least some new age beliefs:

The group of surveys cited above classify religious beliefs into 7 faith groups.2 Starting with the largest, they are: Cultural (Christmas & Easter) Christianity, Conventional Christianity, New Age Practitioner, Biblical (Fundamentalist, Evangelical) Christianity, Atheist/Agnostic, Other, and Jewish, A longitudinal study from 1991 to 1995 shows that New Agers represent a steady 20% of the population, and are consistently the third largest religious group. 2

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New Age teachings became popular during the 1970’s as a reaction against what some perceived as the failure of Christianity and the failure of Secular Humanism to provide spiritual and ethical guidance for the future. Its roots are traceable to many sources: Astrology, Channeling, Hinduism, Gnostic traditions, Spiritualism, Taoism, Theosophy, Wiccaand other Neo-pagan traditions, etc. The movement started in England in the 1960’s where many of these elements were well established. Small groups, such as the Findhorn Community in Inverness and the Wrekin Trustformed. The movement quickly became international. Early New Age mileposts in North America were a “New Age Seminar” run by the Association for Research and Enlightenment, and the establishment of the East-West Journal in 1971. Actress Shirley MacLaine is perhaps their most famous current figure.

During the 1980’s and 90’s, the movement came under criticism from a variety of groups. Channeling was ridiculed; seminar and group leaders were criticized for the fortunes that they made from New Agers. Their uncritical belief in the “scientific” properties of crystals was exposed as groundless. But the movement has become established and become a stable, major force in North American religion during the past generation. The new age appears to be in good shape in the first decade of the 21st century with a very wide following.

Major confusion about the New Age has been generated by academics, counter-cult groups, fundamentalist and other evangelical Christians and traditional Muslim groups, etc. Some examples are:

Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, some conservative Christians do not differentiate among the Occult, Satanism, Wicca, other Neopagan religions. Many seemed to regard all as forms of Satanism who perform horrendous criminal acts on children. Others viewed The New Age, Neopagan religions, Tarot card reading, rune readings, channeling, work with crystal energy, etc. as merely recruiting programs for Satanism. In fact, the Occult, Satanism, Neo-pagan religions are very different phenomena, and essentially unrelated.

Dr. Carl Raschke, professor of Religious Studies at the University of Denver described New Age practices as:

“… the spiritual version of AIDS; it destroys the ability of people to cope and function. … [it is] essentially, the marketing end of the political packaging of occultism…a breeding ground for a new American form of fascism.”

A number of fundamental beliefs are held by many — but certainly not all — New Age followers. Individuals are encouraged to “shop” for the beliefs and practices that they feel most comfortable with:

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New Age Spirituality – Religious Tolerance

Spiritual Competency Resource Center

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Spirituality – Wikipedia

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

The meaning of spirituality has developed and expanded over time, and various connotations can be found alongside each other.[note 1]

Traditionally, spirituality referred to a religious process of re-formation which “aims to recover the original shape of man”,[note 2] oriented at “the image of God” as exemplified by the founders and sacred texts of the religions of the world. The term was used within early Christianity to refer to a life oriented toward the Holy Spirit and broadened during late medieval times to include mental aspects of life.

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 and religious traditions. Modern usages tend to refer to a 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, such as 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 term spirit means “animating or vital principle in man and animals”.[web 1] It is derived from the Old French espirit, which comes from the Latin word spiritus (soul, courage, vigor, breath) and is related to spirare (to breathe). 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”, 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, from Late Latin “spiritualitatem” (nominative spiritualitas), which is also derived from Latin spiritualis.[web 3]

There is no single, widely agreed upon definition of spirituality.[note 1] Surveys of the definition of the term, as used in scholarly research, show a broad range of definitions with limited overlap. A survey of reviews by McCarroll each dealing with the topic of spirituality gave twenty-seven explicit definitions, among which “there was little agreement.” This impedes the systematic study of spirituality and the capacity to communicate findings meaningfully. Furthermore, many of spirituality’s core features are not unique to spirituality; for example self-transcendence, asceticism and the recognition of one’s connection to all were regarded by the atheist Arthur Schopenhauer as key to ethical life.[17][bettersourceneeded]

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.”[note 2] Houtman and Aupers suggest that modern spirituality is a blend of humanistic psychology, mystical and esoteric traditions and Eastern religions.

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.

Words translatable as ‘spirituality’ first began to arise in the 5th century and only entered common use toward the end of the Middle Ages.[18] 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 3] 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 4] 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 5]

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 6] 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 Western esoteric traditions and elements of Asian, especially Indian, religions. Spirituality became increasingly disconnected from traditional religious organisations and institutions. It is sometimes associated today with philosophical, social, or political movements such as liberalism, feminist theology, and green politics.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882) was a pioneer of the idea of spirituality as a distinct field.[24] 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.[29][30]

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”:[37] 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.[38] 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.[39][40]

Rabbinic Judaism (or in some Christian traditions,[which?] 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, etc.

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,[41] 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,[which?] 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 creed (shahadah), (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.[42]

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.[43]

Sufism or taawwuf (Arabic: ) is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam.[44][45][46] 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.[47]

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”.[48] 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”.[49]

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.[51] This non-violent meaning is stressed by both Muslim[52] and non-Muslim[53] 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 Jihad the striving of a servant (of Allah) against his desires (holy war).”[unreliable source?][54][55][note 7]

Buddhist practices are known as Bhavana, which literally means “development” or “cultivating”[56] or “producing”[57][58] in the sense of “calling into existence.”[59] 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 loving kindness). 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.[60] Within this diffuse and open structure, spirituality in Hindu philosophy is an individual experience, and referred to as ksaitraja (Sanskrit: [61]). 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.[62][63]

Traditionally, Hinduism identifies three mrga (ways)[64][note 8] of spiritual practice,[65] 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 9]

Jna marga is a path often assisted by a guru (teacher) in one’s spiritual practice.[68] 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.[69] 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.[70][71] 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.[72][73] This state of samdhi has been compared to peak experience.[74]

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.[75] 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.[63][76] Other scholars[77] 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).[78]

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.[79] The Hare Krishna school emphasizes bhakti yoga as spiritual practice.[80] In Advaita Vedanta school, the spiritual practice emphasizes jna yoga in stages: samnyasa (cultivate virtues), sravana (hear, study), manana (reflect) and dhyana (nididhyasana, contemplate).[81]

Sikhism considers spiritual life and secular life to be intertwined:[82] “In the Sikh Weltanschauung…the temporal world is part of the Infinite Reality and partakes of its characteristics.”[83] 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.[84]

The 6th Sikh Guru Guru Hargobind re-affirmed that the political/temporal (Miri) and spiritual (Piri) realms are mutually coexistent.[85] 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.[86]

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”,[87] the polar opposite to a self-centered existence.[87] Nanak talks further about the one God or Akal (timelessness) that permeates all life[88]).[89][90][91] and which must be seen with ‘the inward eye’, or the ‘heart’, of a human being.[92]

In Sikhism there is no dogma,[93] priests, monastics or yogis.

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

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.”[96] It embraces the idea of an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality.[97] 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).[98]: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”).[99] 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.” [100] Similarly, Aristotle one of the first known Western thinkers to demonstrate that morality, virtue and goodness can be derived without appealing to supernatural forces even 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)[101]

Contemporary spirituality theorists assert that spirituality develops inner peace and forms a foundation for happiness. For example, meditation and similar practices are suggested to help the practitioner cultivate her/his inner life and character.[102][unreliable source?] [103] Ellison and Fan (2008) assert that spirituality causes a wide array of positive health outcomes, including “morale, happiness, and life satisfaction.”.[104] However, Schuurmans-Stekhoven (2013) actively attempted to replicate this research and found more “mixed” results.[105] Nevertheless, spirituality has played a central role in 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[106]

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.[114]

Waaijman discerns four forms of spiritual practices:

Spiritual practices may include meditation, mindfulness, prayer, the contemplation of sacred texts, ethical development,[98] and spiritual retreats in a convent. Love and/or compassion are often[quantify] described as the mainstay of spiritual development.[98]

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

Since the scientific revolution of the 18th-century Enlightenment, the relationship of science to religion[118][119][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.”[120]

Brooke has 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.[123] Though physical and biological scientists today see no need for supernatural explanations to describe reality[124][125][pageneeded][126][note 10], some[quantify] scientists continue to regard science and spirituality as complementary, not contradictory,[127][128] and are willing to debate,[129]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, for example, 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.[130]

During the twentieth century the relationship between science and spirituality has been influenced both by Freudian psychology, which has accentuated the boundaries between the two areas by accentuating individualism and secularism, and by developments in particle physics, which reopened the debate about complementarity between scientific and religious discourse and rekindled for many an interest in holistic conceptions of reality.[119]:322 These holistic conceptions were championed by New Age spiritualists in a type of quantum mysticism that they claim justifies their spiritual beliefs,[131][132] though quantum physicists themselves on the whole reject such attempts as being pseudoscientific.[133][134]

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.[135][136][137][138] Although spiritual individuals tend to be optimistic, report greater social support,[139] and experience higher intrinsic meaning in life,[140] strength, and inner peace,[141] 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.[142] 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),[99][143][144][145][146][147][148] and that the effects of agreeableness, conscientiousness, or virtue personality traits common in many non-spiritual people yet known to be slightly more common among the spiritual may better account for spirituality’s apparent correlation with mental health and social support.[149][150][151][152][153]

Masters and Spielmans[154] 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 fact, one large and scientifically rigorous study by Herbert Benson and colleagues[155] revealed that intercessory prayer had no effect on recovery from cardiac arrest, but patients told people were praying for them actually had an increased risk of medical complications. Knowing others are praying for you could actually be medically detrimental.

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).[144][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 positive as personal and meaningful transcendent experiences.[168][169]

Link:

Spirituality – Wikipedia

Spirituality – Wikipedia

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

The meaning of spirituality has developed and expanded over time, and various connotations can be found alongside each other.[note 1]

Traditionally, spirituality referred to a religious process of re-formation which “aims to recover the original shape of man”,[note 2] oriented at “the image of God” as exemplified by the founders and sacred texts of the religions of the world. The term was used within early Christianity to refer to a life oriented toward the Holy Spirit and broadened during late medieval times to include mental aspects of life.

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 and religious traditions. Modern usages tend to refer to a 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, such as 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 term spirit means “animating or vital principle in man and animals”.[web 1] It is derived from the Old French espirit, which comes from the Latin word spiritus (soul, courage, vigor, breath) and is related to spirare (to breathe). 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”, 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, from Late Latin “spiritualitatem” (nominative spiritualitas), which is also derived from Latin spiritualis.[web 3]

There is no single, widely agreed upon definition of spirituality.[note 1] Surveys of the definition of the term, as used in scholarly research, show a broad range of definitions with limited overlap. A survey of reviews by McCarroll each dealing with the topic of spirituality gave twenty-seven explicit definitions, among which “there was little agreement.” This impedes the systematic study of spirituality and the capacity to communicate findings meaningfully. Furthermore, many of spirituality’s core features are not unique to spirituality; for example self-transcendence, asceticism and the recognition of one’s connection to all were regarded by the atheist Arthur Schopenhauer as key to ethical life.[17][bettersourceneeded]

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.”[note 2] Houtman and Aupers suggest that modern spirituality is a blend of humanistic psychology, mystical and esoteric traditions and Eastern religions.

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.

Words translatable as ‘spirituality’ first began to arise in the 5th century and only entered common use toward the end of the Middle Ages.[18] 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 3] 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 4] 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 5]

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 6] 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 Western esoteric traditions and elements of Asian, especially Indian, religions. Spirituality became increasingly disconnected from traditional religious organisations and institutions. It is sometimes associated today with philosophical, social, or political movements such as liberalism, feminist theology, and green politics.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882) was a pioneer of the idea of spirituality as a distinct field.[24] 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.[29][30]

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”:[37] 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.[38] Even the secular are finding use for spiritual beliefs.[39] In his books, Michael Mamas makes the case for integrating Eastern spiritual knowledge with Western rational thought.[40][41]

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.[42][43]

Rabbinic Judaism (or in some Christian traditions,[which?] 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, etc.

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,[44] 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,[which?] 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 creed (shahadah), (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.[45]

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.[46]

Sufism or taawwuf (Arabic: ) is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam.[47][48][49] 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.[50]

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”.[51] 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”.[52]

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.[54] This non-violent meaning is stressed by both Muslim[55] and non-Muslim[56] 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 Jihad the striving of a servant (of Allah) against his desires (holy war).”[unreliable source?][57][58][note 7]

Buddhist practices are known as Bhavana, which literally means “development” or “cultivating”[59] or “producing”[60][61] in the sense of “calling into existence.”[62] 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 loving kindness). 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.[63] Within this diffuse and open structure, spirituality in Hindu philosophy is an individual experience, and referred to as ksaitraja (Sanskrit: [64]). 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.[65][66]

Traditionally, Hinduism identifies three mrga (ways)[67][note 8] of spiritual practice,[68] 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 9]

Jna marga is a path often assisted by a guru (teacher) in one’s spiritual practice.[71] 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.[72] 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.[73][74] 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.[75][76] This state of samdhi has been compared to peak experience.[77]

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.[78] 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.[66][79] Other scholars[80] 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).[81]

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.[82] The Hare Krishna school emphasizes bhakti yoga as spiritual practice.[83] In Advaita Vedanta school, the spiritual practice emphasizes jna yoga in stages: samnyasa (cultivate virtues), sravana (hear, study), manana (reflect) and dhyana (nididhyasana, contemplate).[84]

Sikhism considers spiritual life and secular life to be intertwined:[85] “In the Sikh Weltanschauung…the temporal world is part of the Infinite Reality and partakes of its characteristics.”[86] 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.[87]

The 6th Sikh Guru Guru Hargobind re-affirmed that the political/temporal (Miri) and spiritual (Piri) realms are mutually coexistent.[88] 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.[89]

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”,[90] the polar opposite to a self-centered existence.[90] Nanak talks further about the one God or Akal (timelessness) that permeates all life[91]).[92][93][94] and which must be seen with ‘the inward eye’, or the ‘heart’, of a human being.[95]

In Sikhism there is no dogma,[96] priests, monastics or yogis.

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

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.”[99] It embraces the idea of an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality.[100] 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).[101]: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”).[102] 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.” [103] Similarly, Aristotle one of the first known Western thinkers to demonstrate that morality, virtue and goodness can be derived without appealing to supernatural forces even 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)[104]

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.[105][unreliable source?] [106] Ellison and Fan (2008) assert that spirituality causes a wide array of positive health outcomes, including “morale, happiness, and life satisfaction.”.[107] However, Schuurmans-Stekhoven (2013) actively attempted to replicate this research and found more “mixed” results.[108] 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[109]

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.[117]

Waaijman discerns four forms of spiritual practices:

Spiritual practices may include meditation, mindfulness, prayer, the contemplation of sacred texts, ethical development,[101] and spiritual retreats in a convent. Love and/or compassion are often[quantify] described as the mainstay of spiritual development.[101]

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.”[120]

Since the scientific revolution of the 18th-century Enlightenment, the relationship of science to religion[121][122][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.”[123]

Brooke has proposed that the currently held popular notion of antagonisms between science and religion[124][125] has historically originated with “thinkers with a social or political axe to grind” rather than with the natural philosophers themselves.[126] Though physical and biological scientists today see no need for supernatural explanations to describe reality[127][128][pageneeded][129][note 10], some[quantify] scientists continue to regard science and spirituality as complementary, not contradictory,[130][131] and are willing to debate,[132]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, for example, 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.[133]

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.[122]:322 These holistic conceptions were championed by New Age spiritualists in a type of quantum mysticism that they claim justifies their spiritual beliefs,[134][135] though quantum physicists themselves on the whole reject such attempts as being pseudoscientific.[136][137]

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.[138][139][140][141] Although spiritual individuals tend to be optimistic, report greater social support,[142] and experience higher intrinsic meaning in life,[143] strength, and inner peace,[144] 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.[145] 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),[102][146][147][148][149][150][151] and that the effects of agreeableness, conscientiousness, or virtue personality traits common in many non-spiritual people yet known to be slightly more common among the spiritual may better account for spirituality’s apparent correlation with mental health and social support.[152][153][154][155][156]

Masters and Spielmans[157] 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 fact, one large and scientifically rigorous study by Herbert Benson and colleagues[158] revealed that intercessory prayer had no effect on recovery from cardiac arrest, but patients told people were praying for them actually had an increased risk of medical complications. Knowing others are praying for you could actually be medically detrimental.

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[161][162] finding that certain neurotransmitters and specific areas of the brain are involved.[163][164][165][166] Moreover, experimenters have also successfully induced spiritual experiences in individuals by administering psychoactive agents known to elicit euphoria and perceptual distortions.[167][168] Conversely, religiosity and spirituality can also be dampened by electromagnetic stimulation of the brain.[169] These results have motivated some leading theorists to speculate that spirituality may be a benign subtype of psychosis (see).[147][170][171][172][173] 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 positive as personal and meaningful transcendent experiences.[171][172]

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Spirituality – Wikipedia

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

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

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Stem cell

STEM CELL SUPPLEMENTS

Stem cells are cells with the ability to divide for indefinite periods in culture and to give rise to specialized cells.

Stem Cell Supplements are developed based on the merits of stem cells and they are applied for degenerative diseases treatments and to stimulate the formation of all the different tissues of the body: muscle, cartilage, tendon, ligament, bone, blood,nerve, organs, etc. Stem Cell Supplements bring essential health & antiaging benefits by providing necessary elements to the body to improve cellular rejuvenation, organ regeneration and tissue healing.

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