is hard to pin down into any definite set of beliefs or rules of the road. It is a montage of spiritual traditions form around the globe, plus some new interpretations made by meditative modernity. But judging from the brand most commonly found in Organic Food Magazines, there are some similarities that can be broadly grouped together under the airy-fairy title of “spiritual awareness”.
Basically, according to Buddhist tradition, the only way of finding true fulfillment in life is by tapping into an inner divine force that each person is supposed to possess. Once it is found, people are supposed to be “at one with the universe” and have the power to drive away negativity and will positivity into being. This divine force is said to connect all living things and bind us in commitment to one another. Being a “conscious” usually also means trying to achieve both spiritual and physical health and wholeness. Yoga, Reiki, and pressure-point therapy all forms of this. Also, there is an emphasis on mind-over-matter, as seen in the arts of self-defense utilized in Kung Fu and Karate.
There is also a deep consideration for the natural world and a desire to “get back to nature”, eating organic foods and taking herbal remedies, plus taking an active part of preserving wildlife and endangered species. As to their perspective on duties to their fellow human beings…it varies. Some place a rather ridiculous emphasis on their own ability to obliterate negativity from the world by merely not adding to it, and therefore doing nothing to stop it. Others, as demonstrated in the series Kung Fu, actually take the idea of trying to bring truth and justice to the world very seriously.
The New Age people realize that there is something more to reality than the mere physical, and they are willing to search out the truth about the mystery of our lives and our relationships with one another. That much I respect them for. I also respect their desire not to bring any unnecessary negativity to our planet, and as an organic eater and near-vegetarian who loves animals, I also sympathize with their dietary choices. Plus, I will confess to generally enjoying the Serius XM Channel Spa, which plays music broadly considered “spiritual”, ranging from Loreena McKennitt to LotR themes to meditative instrumentals to chants from every religion under the sun.
But I feel that while they may have the best of intentions, the New-Agers have made a serious miscalculation: namely, who’s running the show. They say that human beings have “divinity” within them; but I would counter that it is merely a reflection of our Creator, who is truly Divine. We are made in his image and likeness, with a great capacity for virtue and an inherent attraction to truth and beauty. Indeed, being spiritually “conscious” is abiding by this inner desire for goodness and ultimately perfection. It is understanding that we must love and respect all living things, and work to heal a broken world and cultivate that which is noble.
And yet, as wondrous as human beings are, we are still deeply flawed and perfection eludes us. We cannot just will that all suffering should cease and expect it to take place. That is not in our power. We must not turn inward and worship ourselves; we must not expect to find all the answers through mere meditation; that would be a betrayal of our own quest for perfection. Even done with the best of intentions, worshipping any part of ourselves is a dangerous perversion, settling for a reflection rather than the reality.
So I would propose that those engaged in the New Age Movement would try to look beyond themselves in their quest for the Divine. They are on the right track when they say that there is something connecting “all the universe”. Basically, everything is made by the Creator, the ultimate source of goodness, truth, and beauty. That human beings are special among all other living things is because we have intellects and free wills in His own image, and as such we have a great responsibility to live up that by choosing good over evil. Sadly, we don’t always do it, and all sorts of “negativity” is brought into the world through our own deviation from that which is right. There’s no way of just wishing away all the evil in world – God will not even do that, since it would be a violation of our own free will.
But that very “negativity” is still turned to good, because inevitably people will rise up to oppose evil and make sacrifices on behalf others. And as God is the Prime Mover of the Universe and Ultimate Cause of All Good, everything ultimately falls into His Providential Plan. As human beings, we are sub-creators in a fallen world, and it is our calling to become “spiritually awake” – but not to some divine force of our own, but by the Power of the Holy Spirit who enkindles in us the Fire of Love. Now, with this understood, there is certainly nothing wrong with choosing to respect all of God’s creation by “green-living”, and respecting our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit by eating organically and using herbal remedies. As far as I’m concerned, natural living is a form of growing close to God through the wonder of His creation.
And there is certainly nothing wrong with using spiritually-evocative music for meditation, or lighting candles and incense for that matter, as long as we are worshiping God and not our “inner divinity”. But again, all this must be viewed cautiously from the perspective of a Christian, especially when it comes to certain exercises such as Yoga which were designed specifically for Eastern religious meditation. Opening certain doors that can lead to subliminal self-worship can be spiritually perilous. Nevertheless there is certainly no reason for us to be intimidated when we encounter those who ascribe to the New Age Movement. Far from it. We should do our best to dialogue about our commonalities on the spiritual journey and clearly point out our differences, encouraging the development of personal relationships and minds open to the truth.
|Meditation, fine; self-worship, not so!|