The following was written for the 209th issue of The Culture of Awareness Weekly Newsletter, a weekly newsletter I write for $11.11 a month.
This was originally written for the website Wisdom Pills, and I reproduce it here for a special newsletter segment on New Age myths our community would benefit from being aware of.
Credit for the idea goes to Wisdom Pills.
My intention in writing this was not to condemn or discriminate, but to write from the perspective of someone who’s been involved in the New Age movement and has learned some things from it.
I have nothing but love for my friends in the New Age, but in the same vein I believe discernment and awareness with any kind of spiritual thinking is important.
The New Age movement is an interesting mix of advanced scientific/spiritual concepts, open-minded spiritual thinkers, superstitions, and myths.
For many, leaving behind religion due to its inherent flaws leads to a new school of thought where they can be as free and open with their spirituality as they want.
The beliefs accompanying this new thought are often borrowed from eastern and western religions, such as the concept of chakras or angels who guide us from higher planes. However, for the most part one is free to fill in the blanks with their own wisdom.
This independent thought provides a good foundation for one’s spirituality and everything that comes with it.
However, if one becomes too open-minded, they run the risk of advocating concepts that are erroneous and, since society is already skeptical toward spirituality, irresponsible.
Love for the New Age
Some ideas in the New Age community sound great at the surface but lack substance, meaning or truth when explored on a deeper level.
However, the community as a whole is given a bad rap and condemned too hastily by society (and by other spiritual movements).
I was once the biggest ‘New Ager’ you’d ever meet, and because of this, I don’t care for most of the anti-New Age articles on the internet.
I still have love for the New Age and the concepts it taught me that have brought me to this point on my path, even if some of them are a little wild.
Most of the articles I read that are critical of the movement seem as if their authors have some kind of grudge against it.
You’d think they despise it with the way they ridicule it, and in my eyes, hate or disrespect in any form is a sign that one still has work to do on their own path.
It’s understandable to be upset with a false or vanilla-coated school of spiritual thought that discredits genuine spirituality by making it seem like a big joke, but nine out of ten New Agers who spread these ideas wouldn’t do so if they weren’t completely sure of them.
A Necessary Stage
I won’t argue the lack of critical thinking you sometimes see in the New Age and other spiritual movements, but its devotees are on a stage in their evolution that’s necessary for them and some of these concepts genuinely help them, even if they seem crazy to others.
When myths and false beliefs stop serving them, they’ll move to the level of those who often criticize them.
When they do, they probably won’t have a grudge to bear against a belief system that ultimately helped them.
However, they’ll be aware of the flaws inherent in their previous beliefs and they may raise awareness of such flaws without being overly critical of those with whom the beliefs still resonate.
No More Pressure
After embracing the New Age and coming out on the other side more discerning, introspective and aware, I’d like to shed light on a few common myths associated with the movement that could hold you back.
When I became aware that the myths below are just that, moving forward on my path became easier because I no longer felt the pressure of having to live a certain way.
Spiritual teachers throughout history have repeatedly emphasized that the spiritual path is less about changing your life and more about simply being so your natural spirituality can reveal itself.
When you remove the pressure the myths below can inflict, you free yourself to connect with your soul while maintaining a clear and rational mind.
I’d imagine our first myth causes a lot of confusion:
- You’re responsible for everything that happens to you.
This myth is an extension of the idea that we create our reality. The latter is true, but the myth extended from it fails to account for the fact that our attitude and behavior are only two small factors in the things we experience.
We can’t control how other people act toward us, nor can we control any of the adversity life hands us.
We can only control our response to it, and while responding in the best way possible is one way to ensure we manifest better circumstances in the future, countless other factors are involved.
The world is still the world even if you’re enlightened, and it can be a dark, difficult place to live. Struggle is inherent regardless of the attitude you approach it with, so relax; you aren’t creating all of that negativity you struggle with.
You can steer your life in a positive direction at any time, but when doing so, you’ll still experience adversity.
This doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong or you aren’t spiritual enough. It just means you’re a human and spiritual being going through the same worldly struggles as the rest of us.
You’re not alone, and you’re not solely responsible for what happens in your personal life or in the world. However, you are responsible for making a change in both areas. This brings us to our next myth:
- You don’t have to change the world. Just work on yourself and the world’s problems will be handled by someone or something else.
This myth is birthed from the idea that some omnipotent force will save the world from the destruction humanity is causing.
Its primary flaw is that it encourages the abandonment of social awareness and action under the assumption that someone else will take care of it, which can be likened to a toddler assuming their parents will clean their room for them despite that they know on some level it’s their responsibility.
In the same way I wouldn’t expect you to come clean my house or mow my lawn for free, we can’t expect angels, extraterrestrials or some other enlightened force to clean up our planet for us. We have to do it, and we have to do it together.
To be fair, many believe we can work actively with these forces rather than sitting, waiting and doing nothing. They’re working just as hard as the revolutionary who rejects the New Age movement.
I’m not arguing against the existence of an enlightened force that can help you with certain aspects of your life if you’re open to it, but we shouldn’t shift responsibility for healing our world onto it. We created this world, and we can improve it if we try.
The myth below extends from the one above:
- Engaging in politics or social issues will halt spiritual growth.
It’s widely believed that interacting with the external world is a distraction from spirituality.
Many spiritual teachings are centered on complete disconnection from the outer world in favor of constant meditation and introspection, and as I mentioned, some aspects of these teachings are common in the New Age movement.
Personally, I don’t enjoy politics for obvious reasons so I empathize with the lack of enthusiasm for it among spiritual thinkers.
I don’t always enjoy confronting unsettling social issues such as fracking, GMOs or government and corporate corruption, because to me, it doesn’t feel as good as learning about meditation or other things that nourish the soul.
I understand why spiritual thinkers feel it’s necessary to disconnect from politics and social issues altogether, but as much as I hate to say it, personal spiritual change by itself will not change a world riddled with unfathomable greed, corruption and hatred.
Personal change is important, and trying to change the world would be fruitless without it.
However, if personal change is all you achieve, then you’ll enjoy enlightenment while the world burns.
If that sounds a little dark, it’s because our civilization is headed toward undeniable chaos if we don’t come together and start working on a global level to create the future we know we can have.
If we willingly turn a blind eye to crucial social and environmental issues, they’ll only get worse.
If we can devote time and energy to solving these problems just as we devote it to solving our personal problems, we can make sure the world reflects the enlightened state of being for which we strive.
The next myth continues to carry the theme of the ones we’ve covered so far:
- We can heal the world through thought alone (as opposed to thought put into action).
I’m not opposed to the idea that thought, a powerful creative force, is essential to how we manifest our reality. However, even the best thoughts or ideas won’t lead to a new world if they don’t inspire action.
Thought becomes an undeniable force for change when it inspires action, and its power when utilized for this purpose would surprise you.
The pen is stronger than the sword, and thinking a new world into existence is more effective than fighting for it – as long as it includes non-violent resistance.
This form of rebellion will always be necessary when dealing with corruption in the highest echelons of society, so feel free to use it, along with thought and visualization, to contribute to the revolution.
Nothing will happen if you visualize for hours and hours with no other effort, but plenty will happen if you visualize before attending a protest or calling out a politician on his or her lies. I promise it won’t make you any less spiritual.
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By Wes Annac, Culture of Awareness, August 10, 2016 – http://tinyurl.com/hark2p6