New Age Spirituality is a term given to those who are generally in search of anything that might bring them deeper spiritual insight or understanding. They are not concerned so much with what it is called, they just seek to find it and relate to it.
The new age movement is interested in exploring non-Christian, pre-Christian, or post-Christian sources of spirituality including Gnosticism, alchemy, and eastern contemplative traditions such as meditation. The new age looks forward to the future with a degree of optimism, heralding a future goal or ideal that has yet to be realized and some would say that the new age is yet to come. It looks back to the past and forward to a future vision that, perhaps paradoxically, guides us on how to live our lives in the present.
Orthodox churches see the new age movement as a threat to their numbers and within religious circles many criticisms are leveled against new age spirituality. Religious critics argue that new age spirituality puts the individual before god, some argue that it improperly values experience over authority, or over ethics, it is immodest and self indulgent.
The new age movement is deeply rooted in radical precepts and therefore it is little wonder that in the void created by established religion the disenchanted would turn to a radical alternative. A precept that expounds the virtues of being spiritual but not religious is very attractive to many people as the last thing they want or need is a new religion. New age movement sees spirituality as a means of creating a greater understanding of society in relation to our human condition.
New age spirituality has its roots in three 19th-century new religious movements that can be group together as the “metaphysical traditions” which are new thought, theosophy, and spiritualism. As the new age movement developed, it not only drew theological concepts from these traditions and teachings but also new adherents and converts from within their organizations.
Many of the first new age meetings developed directly out of these groups, most notably the early study groups for the new age included a course in miracles, which met in the new thought centers operated by the unity school of Christianity. In addition to these three 19th-century traditions, the Asian religious traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism and the concurrently-developing trans-personal psychology movement also served as influences in the new age movement. This grew to include the 19th-century natural foods movement, with its emphasis on purity, internal cleansing, and unorthodox or alternative medical treatments.
New age spirituality is about rediscovering the existence of the spiritual element of the human person and the reality of the spiritual world. It is not yet ready to consider that there might be truth in the spiritual tradition that is Christianity, and they will go to the ends of the earth to find an alternative. However, there is now a rejection of the idea that only the use of reason can be justified in the finding of the truth about reality, and the rejection of authoritative religious statements certainly marks new age thought.
Although it is full of masters and gurus of all types, the ‘new ager’ is ready to take a pieces from here, and a bits from there, reserving the right to reject any element they don’t like. It matches our consumerist thinking well creating a new age supermarket where they shop for the things they think need for their spiritual well-being.
© Trevor Mayes owner of The New Age Blog
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