The End of the New Age?
I think we are seeing a cultural winding down of the "New Age". I remember several years back, in the 90s, the New Age was at its peak and there were metaphysical stores on every corner here in California and everyone was either meditating, blurting affirmations, getting colonics, or talking to their guides. Not that it doesn't exist anymore, it certainly does, and it's become more mainstream, but heyday of New Age philosophy is behind us.
Concepts such as "Karma", "we are one", chakras and meditation are ancient concepts that were brought to the West by books such as the Bhagavad Gita and various gurus who attracted followers. I'm not implying here that they are not true, just that they are not New Age concepts at all, but thousands of years old. The "New Age Movement" bastardized many of these Eastern concepts and integrated them into a rather eclectic philosophy.
I think it started in the 60s when the "Hippies" were making the news. Peace, love and flowers was a new concept then to a country divided by a senseless war. It was definitely a counterculture, and many new ideas were born of it, including The New Age. Unfortunately, many of the former Hippies became the greedy 1% that have taken over our country and culture today.
One of the New Age thoughts that really has bothered me is that we totally create our reality and our thoughts create disease. Yes, I do believe that this is somewhat true, but really, have the millions of Holocaust victims simply created that reality due to some negative mental thought process? I think not. Nor does the child who develops cancer at an early age and dies. The woman who is walking home and gets raped. Why put that guilt on people? We are all subject to the free will of others, Hitler, the rapist, cancer cells.... that’s not to say that we don't have any power, but please don't dump all that guilt on those who suffer. And a similar concept is that how we respond to things creates the negativity in our lives. Again, that's partially true, but is the parent mourning a dead child wrong? Or the lover mourning a lost love?
I've heard many people tell me that they do this or that "because my guides told me to". Everything they think and do is because of their guides. They take no responsibility for their own thoughts. Yes, we do have guides and angels, but please think for yourself.
Which leads me to the New Age concept of "channeling". Yes, I do believe in some cases it's real. I'm not sure if a discarnate entity is being channeled, or another area of the channeler's own mind. And there are a whole lot of people getting rich on being the channel for this or that entity, creating a huge media and product base around those channelings. Some have a lot of good to say, others just repeat simple ideas in many ways, "You are so loved" for example. I have seen people flock to these channelers, pay exorbitant sums of money to listen to them, yet still have all the problems and issues they had before.
My favorite New Age platitude to make my head spin is, "We are all doing the best we can." No, sorry, we are not. Everyone can do better. Everyone should strive to do better. As a group, humanity can do MUCH BETTER. We are destroying our planet and all the species on it so we definitely can do much better. I always strive to do better. Effort should be rewarded, but a lack of effort cannot hide behind this concept.
The Secret and the "Law of Attraction" are too simplistic in my opinion. I had a friend who lost her job and needed a new job. She read The Secret and proceeded to do her affirmations daily and lo and behold! She got a new job (which she may have gotten anyway). Problem was, she got fired two months later. Manifestation is hard work and you must have skills, both actual and metaphysical to manifest your dreams.
Another one that makes my head spin around is the New Agers who ignore the negative. There is a belief that if you don't "affirm" the negative it won't happen. This is childish magical thinking. If we don't affirm the fact that some people rob others, it won't happen to me. If we don't deal with our negative thoughts and emotions, then they don't exist. It's seeing the world through rose colored glasses. I liken it to staying high throughout your life.
Then there are those who think by constantly meditating they will reach enlightenment. A very wise teacher once told me that enlightenment is the ability to walk in both worlds. We must pay the bills as well as reach Nirvana.
Another concept I find damaging is that in order to be loved, you must love yourself. Does the child who does not love himself not deserve the love of the parents? Does the woman who wants to find a mate but does not love herself not deserve love? Sometimes learning to love oneself comes from being loved by someone else.
"Spiritual bypassing" was a phrase coined by a psychologist in the 80s. It is meant to describe those who do not deal with life and hide behind their metaphysical philosophy. I think it's a good phrase. It's true not only of the New Age, but of all religion. Accepting the unacceptable because it is god's will is a good example.
I take to the ancient Greek concept of moderation. The Taoist concept of Yin/Yang. The good and the bad. The black and the white. The real and the unreal. Take everything in moderation. But learn to move past dualism and know that we are truly all one. Life isn't all that complicated, really, nor is it simplistic. A bit of both.