New Age

This is going to be a bit of a long rant, I’m sorry, but it all must be said. I’m going to be talking pretty broadly about “the West” and “the East,” and I apologize for this sweeping conception of human culture, but that’s pretty much the conception of human culture that most people I talk to have in mind. I also want to apologize in advance for my somewhat callous attack at people’s personal beliefs. I think very much that spiritual practices all have truth to offer, and you will find that my main problem with certain beliefs is not that I think they don’t make sense, but that they are harmful to society and other individuals. If you hold some of these beliefs near and dear to you, I hope you will not take too much offense and realize that the personal value of what you believe and practice is solely determined by you. I realize I may be alienating many readers who hold interesting notions of spirituality which conflict with my own, and I just hope you’re tough enough by now to take it (or you’ll be convinced).

The “New Age” movement is spiritual movement in the West. It draws heavily on Eastern spiritual notions, as well as some Western spiritual traditions, science, and holistic medicine. “New age” refers to the coming of the Age of Aquarius, an age which perhaps can best be described by the song of the same name:

“Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind’s true liberation
Aquarius! Aquarius!”

There is much talk of the Age of Aquarius being a time when we take our destiny and consciousness to a next level with unprecedented control and unity. All in all, the Age of Aquarius is pretty much the singularity, except while the singularity is pretty well predicted, the Age of Aquarius is estimated to arrive somewhere between 1500 CE and 3500 CE.

I think that the singularity is the dawn of the Age of Aquarius, but I also think that pretty much all of the New Age movement is bullshit, and I’ll go on to elaborate.

Astrology

Astrology is no good. I know that followers of astrology have all heard it many times before, but I’ll say it again: the idea that the movement of distant dust and gas relative to us in the universe has implications or effects on our lives is absurd. Nevertheless, people continue to believe in it. One of the reasons that people believe in

the zodiac is because its descriptions of people can be strikingly accurate. I searched for some zodiac descriptions and came to this site which gives some personality traits to each of the signs. I’m a Pisces, so let’s take a gander:

“Pisceans are characterised by their emotional depth. They have such a vast reservoir of positive creative energy that they don’t even come close to realizing their true potential.”

So true… I often feel like I could be doing so much more with my energy, and that a lot of it is wasted.

” Pisceans give their friends unconditional support when needed. They believe in the notion that a friend in need is a friend indeed. But this works both ways. They also need to be understood and helped when in need.”

I have a strong urge to help my friends when in need, and I do expect that from them as well. so far this describes me pretty well.

“Pisceans are also susceptible to developing habits and then acting as if they will show themselves out. Eventually, it becomes so late that things go out of control, and the habits take a heavy toll on their personal and professional lives.”

I’m definitely a procrastinator, through and through. I also continue to claim that I my pot-smoking habit is under control and I can stop if I want to. I sure hope it doesn’t take a toll on my professional or personal life…

“Pisceans tend to be a little deceptive, thinking that it is for everyone’s good.”

I can be manipulative, but not in a way that gives me advantage over others necessarily.

“In love, Pisceans fall very easily and quickly, but tend to make mistakes. And sometimes, the result is the worst. Thus, they can be summed up in one word – passionate – in life, in work, in love and everything else. Their kind and gentle side sprouts from this very passion.”

I’ve fallen into awful situations because of my commitment to love. I would definitely describe myself as passionate about life and love.

I could go through the rest of the zodiac personality traits and explain how each of them fit me, some much better than Pisces (I think I’m more of a Leo or Aquarius). The point is that these personality traits are vague and universal, and have no real meaning. Horoscopes work the same way: any set of daily happenings can be traced back to fulfill any given horoscope. When I read the horoscopes I read all of them, find the three that most apply to me, and consider those to be my horoscope for the day.

Astrology is harmful to human thinking, it is a pseudoscience. Astrology can only bar us from discovering actual truth, and as such does violence to humanity. Honestly, when people ask me what my sign is, I want to slap them across the face.

Eastern Spiritual Practices

I love Eastern conceptions of spirituality just as much as the next young liberal white guy, but let’s not get carried away now.

I realize that “Eastern” is a somewhat orientalist term to describe a large and diverse region and large and diverse spiritual practices, but I don’t care and you all know what I mean by “Eastern spiritual practices.” I’m talking about India, China, Japan, and everything in between. Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian: all interconnected spiritual beliefs and practices with focus on the cyclical nature of life, oneness of our being, our role in society, the evil of attachment and desire, the connection of suffering and existence, and reincarnation.

I feel that I should begin with reincarnation, a concept which has always been quite confusing to me. If you have a different body and a different mind, in what sense are you at all connected to a “previous life?” memories are the glue of consciousness. without continuity we become separate beings. Even if thoughts are carried from one life to the next I don’t see how that makes you any more related to a past self than another person who tells you something which makes you think the way they do. It will be said that the actions of a past life has some effect on this life, but once again, there is no proof of this, and I see no reason why this absurd notion should hold any value or possible truth.

I think that the focuses of Eastern spiritual practices are great to keep in mind as we approach the singularity, but I’m pretty annoyed with how many upper-middle class white Buddhists there are in the United States. I feel like it’s cool to be Buddhist and to therefore think differently from most westerners, and I think that these Buddhists are probably aware of how cool they look. My other problem with Buddhism is that I think that attachment and existence are the most beautiful things in the universe, even though I know that suffering is a necessary part of all of it. I think that Buddhism drives at the idea of the illusion of the self and existence much more than any other religion I’ve seen, however, which I appreciate.

To a greater degree than Buddhism, Yoga has been creeping into the West. In India, Yoga is the practice of spiritual enlightenment through physical action, and is a very complex set of beliefs about energy and the body. In the west, Yoga is exercise and deep breathing which middle age mothers pay top dollar to get in on, not realizing that you don’t need an instructor to breath and exercise. The spiritual practice of Yoga is completely divorced from the physical action in the west because we don’t understand what it would mean to achieve enlightenment through physical movement.

We have an impression in the West that if one is looking for spiritual enlightenment, one has to go to India. I say enlighten thyself. Faiths and practices are all paths toward Truth, toward God. Are your own beliefs so inadequate that you must travel half way around the world to understand who you are? Lame.

Healing

This includes Faith healing, “intuitive” healing, healing crystals, and holistic medicine.

I think healing is great when it works. There are, however, too many psychic healers in this world (one is too many). All healers who cannot prove that they heal are not healers at all, they’re liars. If you say that the proof is in the faith, first of all that’s not proof, and second of all, if all a person needs is faith, why do they need you?

The power of positive thinking is insane. Placebos can do so much good, but we must be honest when we have a placebo, or else once again we are doing violence to humanity. I know this contradicts the idea of a placebo, but tricking each other to this extent cannot be healing in the long run.

I think we are amazing beings capable of wielding energy in powerful ways, but this doesn’t mean we’re psychic. if there are “psychic” powers, then they are explainable as a form of communication and consciousness different from the other senses. There is, however, little evidence to indicate this.

Psychic healing ties in with healing crystals. healing crystals would be much more of a joke if they weren’t so expensive. Geometry is great, and is very important to the universe, and crystals are really cool. What’s not cool is claiming that crystals will heal people for the low low price of 5 easy installments of $499.99. They won’t work.

Holistic medicine is a big thing for new age. This approach to medicine contradicts the usual western surgical approach, targeting an illness with a molecule delivered to the inside of the body. Holistic medicine is herbal, includes many things we don’t yet understand, and is a general approach to healing rather than a specific one.

I think herbs are great, especially Cannabis, the greatest holistic medicine on earth. Herbs are great for sore throats, alleviating rashes and sunburns, and helping all sorts of ailments. What holistic medicine will not do is produce predictable results all the time, and work as effectively as western medicine in many cases. I think more attention should be paid to holistic medicine in the west, but there is a place for Tylenol as well. An important aspect of holistic medicine is looking at the cause of the problem, not just the symptoms. I personally feel that our practice of medicine creates ailments in our minds that we were never aware of before (restless leg syndrome, anyone?) and therefore I stay away from using drugs to improve my suffering, knowing that they will only increase it. However, if I get cancer I will use all of the powers of Western medicine to heal myself, knowing that that is my best bet.

Spirituality

I used to hate it when people described themselves as “spiritual,” because as an atheist I thought it was just another way of talking about things that don’t exist. I have come back somewhat from that view, but I still feel that to describe yourself as “spiritual” is to say that others are less so, that you are especially spiritual. There is a strong conceited nature to psychics and spiritual healers, an arrogant notion of superiority, in knowledge of the divine which others cannot share because they aren’t as enlightened. An “intuitive healer” implies more intuition than others.

I experienced this with the few Wiccan friends I’ve had. Their use of Tarot and other spiritual nonsense seemed to elevate their personal esteem, and they revel in the thought that they somehow know more than the ignorant masses. This is not spirituality, this is the opposite: self-centeredness, self-elevation, and exclusivity.

So I’m here to say what spirituality should mean for us westerners, members of a culture wrapped up in materialism, commodities, science, and technology. Spirituality doesn’t mean the renunciation of your possessions like your TV, game systems, and iPhone. Each of these things, despite being material objects, make us more spiritual because they bring us together. “Nay!” you say, “Technology drives us apart!” Well, who is the “us” you are talking about? Am I not closer to Jon Stewart when I watch The Daily Show? Am I not closer to myself when I play video games, and am I not closer to my family when we talk on the phone? Sure, we spend less time with our families when we’re chatting online, but that’s because we are spending more time with our more distant family members of the human race, and this is not a bad thing.

Our commodities will become the vehicles of our spirituality, our oneness. They will share our thoughts so fast it will blur the lines between us. I will end with a quote I have already posted from Buckminster Fuller:

The telephone rings and you say to me Hello Buckling this is Christopher; or Daddy it’s Allegra; or Mr. Fuller this is the Telephone Company Business Office; and I say you are inaccurate. Because I knew you were going to call and furthermore I recognize that it is God who is “speaking”…

At least a quarter of a billion people sit quietly each day for hours in darkened halls. And they say they are “at the movies” not looking at anyone or anything real. They certainly don’t see the screen. I say they are looking at God.

-Buckminster Fuller, 1940

Wait, I forgot one thing. Somewhere along the line the “Mayan apocalypse” in 2012 has entered into some new age circles. At this point if you’re still reading I feel like you probably understand why 2012 doesn’t really mean anything, but I just wanted to point out another absurdity.

-Prometheus

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About Prometheus

I write about the coming technological singularity and its implications for our sense of identity, individuality, meaning, and existence. I argue that the most significant aspect of the singularity is the convergence of our consciousnesses into one superconsciousness, and that we should be very happy about this.

Posted on May 11, 2011, in Consciousness, Technological Singularity, Values and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. Just on astrology and particularly ‘the idea that the movement of distant dust and gas relative to us in the universe has implications or effects on our lives is absurd’

    wasn’t this precisely what Asimov’s AC did?

    ‘For another timeless interval, AC thought how best to do this. Carefully, AC organized the program.
    The consciousness of AC encompassed all of what had once been a Universe and brooded over what was now Chaos. Step by step, it must be done.
    And AC said, “LET THERE BE LIGHT!”’

    ..anywho the thought of astrology was abhorrent to me aswell some time back…looking at daily horoscopes and sneering…how rediculous they were, but really i was judging it like someone condemning psychadelics based on ‘man does psychadelic and jumps out of window’ as their only refernce point… so thats what i did..and after years of studying my own natal chart and the intricacies of the artform my opinion has now changed:)

    PS. maybe you have a leo moon and an aquarius ascendant? 😉

    • It has occurred to me in the past that it’s unfair of me to judge astrology for what I think people take from it when I know little of the personal value that it brings to people. I have also pondered the idea of a universal consciousness encompassing all of the interactions of matter and energy in this universe like AC, but I’m pretty convinced that the universe beyond earth is uncaring and unaffected by us (except maybe for the aliens).

      I didn’t even know about the moon and rising sun signs, thanks for telling me. apparently I’m a libra ascendent and an aquarius moon. They both describe me pretty well, and I could definitely see myself getting into it all (though libra ascendent is described as sentimental and insensitive simultaneously).

      All in all, fishing through astrology is reminiscent of the time in my high school psychology class when we all took a shortened version of the Myers-Briggs personality test and we all ended up with Jungian personality profiles which described each of us with chilling accuracy, better than any vague horoscope I’ve seen. If they made horoscopes based on Jungian personality types I think I’d be more attentive.

      • very cool:) after reading some of your articles i can see those influences…hah yeah they say libra is like an iron fist in a velvet glove…ascendant being equivalent to persona…does that describe the way you shake hands with the outside world? 😛

        did you know jung was a very keen astrologist and cast his clients natal charts before starting their analysis?

        there are a few chapters at the end of ‘memories, dreams, reflections’ where he details his thoughts on the new age that might be of interest if you haven’t read them!

  2. Mike McCausland

    Love reading your blog! Wish we had time to talk in depth. So much to talk about.

  3. Harshit Srivastava

    I appreciate your perception towards East, along with West. I like the psychic portraits from your blog, they are very useful.

    I also advice for seeking more in Eastern Spiritualism, because it has very depth to which all the other depths of spiritualism throughout the world seems to be small. I am telling you because I have experienced it. I am doing several researches on them, if you would just try to have this perception a bit, you may notice about what I mean to.

    I support this with a quotation in Shrimad BhagwatGita, (4:18)

    “A person to whom good (or fair) and bad (or unfair) are equal, that person is most intelligent, perfect and stable among all humans.”

    Please note, that all humans can experience same, and can attain perfection.

    I could make you clear about Eastern Spiritualism in one statement, for this try to see what it looks, not that which you want to see,
    “I am God” or “Aham-Brahmasmi” in Sanskrit.

    Thank you,

    May all attain perfection (Sarve Santu Niramayaha, in Sanskrit)

    Harshit Srivastava,
    harshit.srivastava@gmail.com

  4. You certainly bit off a big chunk when you went to work on this.

    Basically, I agree with you. I have also been the route and found it lacking. I now regard it as a pleasant diversion, but one likely to be useless, if not damaging.

    Down here, in the little town I live in Costa Rica, several gringos have opened spas. saying they promote rehab. When it is clear to me they need to do some serious work on themselves.

  5. Hello, I saved one of the images which you used above, with the hands of fire and water. I had saved it on my computer, but was hoping to get confirmation that it would be okay to use in some lectures that are being prepared. I will go forward, unless you have some objections; please if you do only let me know, and I will not use it. 🙂 Take care,
    Christian

    • Thanks for asking, but I don’t care what images you use. I stole that image from some other site and they were certainly not the original producers of it either, so have fun with that little piece of free information.

  6. I just feel we are

  7. There is far more to life that this time/space reality it goes far far beyond fact….try DMT dude:) And were are severly decived by our governments when you speak of medicine. Western medincine is a product of mass suppression of correct information. Its good yes if we get into an accident and are going to die….as for cancer no way……there is a cure for cancer along with every other disease that was in fact suppressed. Healthy ppl dont make money i guess 🙂

    But i love that you speak your thruth…we all should 🙂

  8. astrology just like math is a comparison to understand things. Just as psychologists label disorders, which is great, doesn’t everyone like being called a name based on a disorder. However, people looked within themselves and then in becoming the observer of themselves saw others as well and they painted their psychology in the sky. I Like astrology rather then disorder personally, but to each their own. Science is definitely awesome, but in the end we will choke on it.

  9. facilitatordanee

    As a long time sufferer from the New Age mentality I know where you are coming from. The path of experimentation I took to the final realization it was all crap is one of the single biggest regrets of my life. All that wasted time could have been much better spent. I wish I had reasoned through it long before I did. Science is a much better and more reliable path to finding solutions than any of the other path which we have.
    I wholeheartedly agree with ” I’m pretty convinced that the universe beyond earth is uncaring and unaffected by us (except maybe for the aliens)”. The great majority of the universe is extremely antithetical to our kind of life.

  10. I don’t agree with much of what you say, but still, glad you’re saying it. At least you’re discussing.

    Personally:

    Astrology – not sure, but I’ve read some very interesting analyses of my life and relationships which caused me to leave a little room for some belief. Studying astrology is good for understanding archetypes, but there are other ways (Jung)

    Mayan calendar – Bah!

    Wiccans, Paganism, Witchcraft – Usually only works if you’re damned good, have an extreme will and the space to practice and meditate properly.

    Reincarnation is real. You’ll find out one day, LOL!

    Healing – Pretty simple mechanics. We have an electromagnetic field, yes? And this field transmits all kinds of data about our state of being – emotions especially. Thoughts serve emotions, a hard lesson for an Aquarian/Libra rising, ADHD, dissociated as a child person to believe (talking about me). If you think positively (sounds corny, but it’s true), the data you’re transmitting is helpful and healthy. If you’re irritated, tired, angry, etc., that transmits, too. We’re all transmitters and receivers; we just don’t think about it that way very often. Some people have a massive signal and can make people move mountains. Ghandi and Hitler… opposite sides of the “morality” spectrum, but good examples.

    And to faciiitatordanee (last post before me) – It’s true. The Universe is growth/evolution and entropy. Good and evil; helpful and harmful. There’s so much I still don’t understand. But I have this suggestion – Pray locally. You have spirit guides with you this lifetime. I don’t care if you can’t see/hear them “normally” – they are there. Also, relatives that have passed. These folks are on your side. Here to help… so ask for it. Praying to Jehovah or the Overlord of All is a bit ambitious; besides, that’s like praying to the life force directly. It does respond to will and command, but it’s harder to move it because the current is very strong and inertia makes it more difficult. The energy immediately around you is more conducive to your will and needs. And your guides will help; most people have more than one.

    Now…skepticism. Keep it. It’s very useful. Just remember – psychic energy and channels are not regularly studied by our culture, nor is such study recommended. As a receiver, such as a medium, it’s important to remember that we’re not in the digital age in that regard, yet. The channel is analog and “noise” permeates it. To focus on one signal/communication can be very difficult. And then, if you manage to do it, you think you’re going crazy. Mediums can be very accurate about some things and then very inaccurate. It’s about skill, training and focus – sometimes the channel isn’t that great. Like when you start a phone call and there’s too much static on the line to hear each other. Make sense?

    In any case, after that long-winded post, I’m gonna do something important – like take a nap. Work was ok, but the damned heat!! I hope this response was informative, or at the very least, intriguing.

    Cheers,
    Kheiron

  11. obviously you need to understand that spirituality is a matter of consciousness and openness to all things, and if you had no true oppression then you wouldn’t disregard. There are many dimensions to reality, it’s all a matter of perception and love.

  12. I think you need to do a bit more research. I do call myself a spiritual person and your healing segment is what got me to leave this comment. science was trying to disprove that light and energy cannot be manipulated by people also known as raykki. in the quest to disprove this they did the exact opposite. they built a machine and found that this energy could be measured and recognized and when a raykki master was doing a healing season they could measure the energy that was being manipulated. And also saw improvements in the patients everything from cancer to short term illnesses.

    • I’m not really sure what scientific study you are refering too. In any case the presence of “energy” is pretty vague, in addition to the effects, so I would be skeptical about the whole thing.

  13. What do the hand symbol mean

  14. I agree with you.To be a Child in the moment.
    Is spirituality.

  15. Interesting. You must seriously study astrology to make claims against it. Modern American science does not allow astrology to be taken seriously. Here is a case of culture barring progress. Remove the sense of absurdity and study the works of Stephen Forrest, or another real astrologer, not Linda Goodman or something kitschy and made up like that. “The inner sky” is an excellent book that introduces the true nature of astrology, though many others make absurd claims about the science of astrology without any real understanding.

    I am an astrologer and what you say is very interesting. However discrediting an entire science on the basis of your misunderstanding of it’s basic precepts is not appropriate. You must reinvestigate astrology. It will really make sense if you learn in depth about the specific properties of distant objects and their astronomical influences upon eachother.

    Make observations of the celestial positions and record them for thousands of years and you will discover something amazing!

    With all that being said, many are so blind and telling people they know something. It must be stopped and I thank you for your efforts and bringing things back to reality. That is the ultimate aim, to clarify and find the truth.

    Let the truth come out!

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