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Hi Michael

Good topic for a post!

I tend to get annoyed by new agery too.

The two great obstacles to acceptance of the truth of paranormal phenomena are the uncritical believers who believe anything without regard evidence and the arch skeptics who disbelived everything without regard to evidence. Many New Agers are certainly in the former category.

But I also think there are people at all stages of development and at all levels of education, who have differnt types of interest etc etc. What attracts the attention of one might not be meaningful to others. Just like the best religion is the one that brings you closer to God, new agery despite much of its uncritical credulity, I think, does move many people in the right direction in a way that Charles Richet or William Crookes would never be able to do.

When I was getting started in learning about the paranormal, I listened to some of the more outre paranormal internet radio shows. I could tell there was a lot of nonsense to them but they were useful to me to point me in different directions for more rigorous research.

Karmically, if Oprah knew she was propagating falsehoods I think she will suffer the consequences otherwise if she was doing her honest best but lacked the critical capacity to really recognize what was reasonable and what was not then I wouldn't condemn her. There is certainly a wide range of honest belifs in the comments of this blog.

I've been following your blog for a while, and this is a good post.

Many times I've suffered through friends and family (always female, is this significant?) who try to foist upon me the latest New Agey self-help concept from Oprah. The most recent -- Eckhart Tolle -- seemed like warmed over Buddhist mindfulness, and that my friend could've read the same concepts for free online rather than for $25 hardcover.

“the encouragement to feel good about yourself just because you're you”

Feelings can be very misleading. Just saw a documentary on the Second World War and it quoted Hitler as stating how much better he felt about himself since Germany invaded Russia. This is an extreme case but it makes the point about feelings. Feelings can be very misleading.

Oprah is about entertainment and pure psi research with statistics is not what most people are interested in for their entertainment. Entertainment appeals to the senses and feelings are about using the senses to determine our view of reality. Feelings can be a very invalid form of gauging reality.

I for one appreciate what Oprah has done in the area of metaphysical information. The link you provided is a very conservative link and the comments reveal much about the feelings and political beliefs of those that commented.

As far as self-esteem, Oprah and from what I know about Oprah’s personal story she has had much to overcome in her life. She would naturally lean in the direction of working towards enhancing her own self-esteem. Think for a moment what the Christian religion teaches our children. We are sinful Beings, often evil, we have fallen from the grace of god, and we could spend eternity in a fire.

My wife and I have worked with abused young children and if that does not give one pause for thought into possible future self-esteem issues these children may have to endure nothing will in life.

Our schools put us into competition with one another and our intellectual abilities resemble a normal curve but all children are graded as if they are equal in intellectual ability. I.e. a, b, c, d, etc. this has to have a profound impact on children’s self esteem.

I suspect our self-esteem must come from our spiritual awareness not self-confirmatory ideas about ourselves. How to move in the direction of that spiritual awareness is an important topic that needs to transcend religion and politics. It may be awhile before our species is ready to move past our cherished beliefs in religious and political ideologies.

Oprah opened the door for further teachings on a national level into the life after death issues, the meaning of life, and the purpose of our lives. It remains to be seen who will walk through that door and teach how a nation or an individual moves in the direction of increasing their spiritual awareness.

“The most recent -- Eckhart Tolle -- seemed like warmed over Buddhist mindfulness,”

Years ago someone loaned me Tolle’s book on CD’s and he stated that we have fallen from the grace of god. Wow I thought to myself it appears that even Tolle has allowed his Sunday school teachings to influence his beliefs. I was unable to find that statement in his book however. I have found that to sell a lot of metaphysical books it is more about creative writing ability than in depth analysis of paranormal phenomena.

Very funny about Oprah and Shirley, MP. I imagine that because McCain lost, you have become painfully aware that you don't create your own reality.

"The most recent -- Eckhart Tolle -- seemed like warmed over Buddhist mindfulness" ...KK

Eckhart Tolle is essentially an updated Alan Watts. Did you feel the same way about him?

I agree with MP. The New Age is a spiritual buffet that the ego picks and chooses from to create his or her own religion as it suits their taste.

Teri said: Very funny about Oprah and Shirley, MP. I imagine that because McCain lost, you have become painfully aware that you don't create your own reality.
Ah yes. Intellectual honesty. "I disagree with your position but will defend to the death your right to say it". The messiah has come and the evil ones will be consigned to capitalist hell. Every day I understand Matthew 7:6 more.

Good points. As an aside, I remember watching a Larry King (the Oprah of the news industry) special on UFOs. The show was almost entirely devoted to James Fox's research on the subject. I don't know if any of you have heard of Fox, but the guy has painstakingly tried to weed out the wackos in this field and present the best evidence. I remember being impressed with the show until they decided to bring out Shirley MacLaine. It ended up discrediting Fox and his witnesses.

"Eckhart Tolle is essentially an updated Alan Watts. Did you feel the same way about him?"

Tolle is good if you want some vague, dumb downed Buddhism for the masses (hence his appeal to the housewives who want to get their "spirituality" fix once they've consumed every romance novel that has ever been written). The comparison with Watts is spot on.

MP wrote: "One reason I'm drawn mainly to psi research from the late 19th and early 20th centuries is that investigators of that era were less likely to be infected with New Agery, and accordingly more likely to retain their critical reasoning skills."

Hi Michael,

I think it's hard to justify this statement, although it depends how you qualify "investigators". When you scan the literature of the late 19th century on these topics, there really is a lot of what would qualify as 'New Age bunkum' of the time. Between the Spiritualists and the Theosophists, there are some god-awful books from that time. I think it's easier to pick the good stuff from the past with rose-tinted glasses than realise that not much has changed.

While I don't watch Oprah, I'd say she would be one of the last on my list to go 'against the wall' when it comes to daylight television. She at least seems to have taken on some responsibility with her influence, and has pushed social discussions and also put a lot of attention on getting people reading again with her 'book of the week' (or whatever it is called). Contra Jerry Springer and the rest of them.

And I think you meant Graham Hancock, not Graham Hitchcock. Being on friendly terms with Graham, and earning some income via the public interest in Dan Brown's bestsellers, I shall avoid commenting on those topics.
;)

Kind regards,
Greg

I think you meant Graham Hancock, not Graham Hitchcock

Right. I'll fix it next time I'm logged on to TypePad.

MP - I heartily disagree - I'm not a big fan of Oprah's show - but I do believe she has moved the needle a lot in the right direction - and you simply are NOT going to get, in my view, a large part of the populous to come on board a bit further up on the serious scientific totem pole.

You sort of have to meet people a bit where they live -and like it or not - MOST ( even most who comment here) are intellectually, spiritually or dogmatically at very different places than you are.

I believe the P.H. Atwaters of the world ( and Sylvia Brownes for entirely different reasons - she's a grifter in my view) are FAR worse for the advancement of the intelligent consideration of these concepts. I can't tell you how many times I've found myself dissapointed, and frankly completely dismayed at the "best evidence" when I hear respectable names endorse books or seminars that turn out to trumpet trash like you pointed out in your Amazon review.

Listening to P.H. Atwater and similar "scientists" on some of the popular paranormal programs is a complete turn off - and makes me re-think whether there is anything even here to look at....if this is the sort of stuff being believed by many.

It's interesting though - the very first comment on this thread greed with your assesment, bemoaned Oprah's gullibility and her "falsehoods", castigated the New Agers, and then spoke about her "Karmic" liability - which again, is sort of deliciously ironic in the sense that there are people a bit further up (or down..-) on the intellectual scale laughing at the lunacy of believing in Karma.

(ask Christopher Hitchens what he thinks about ANY of your posts (or the commenters) on this blog, and he'll give you a response something akin to your thoughts on damage, dubiousness and Shirley Mclaine...-)

I say Oprah's done a TON of good in the world - she may not be as bright as we would think - but on balance - as Greg said above - she weighs in heavy on the good side of the scale. (no pun intended..-)

"Tolle is good if you want some vague, dumb downed Buddhism for the masses (hence his appeal to the housewives who want to get their "spirituality" fix once they've consumed every romance novel that has ever been written). The comparison with Watts is spot on."

I would be interested to know which spiritual books you recommend, James?

I basically agree, but perhaps we should see "New Age" ideas as rather like alchemy in the days before real chemistry. People realised that some materials would interact and change, but they did not know the rules. As a result, they floundered about in rather the same way! On the other hand, would we have got to a science of chemistry without that pre-scientific phase?

Even so, the vagueness and total disregard for Occam's Razor or logic exhibited in some of your quotes, is breathtaking!

It seems to me that the New Age stuff is basically entrepreneurial spirituality, it's the best religion money can buy. It centers around quirky individuals who hawk spiritual wares——books, sages, crystals, promises, etc. And that's why it has such a bad odor. It's "truth" for sale, with new people trying to put a spin on old ideas, and new mixtures of different ideas, and then packaging it just so for cash sale with themselves in the role of guru and primary beneficiary of all that incoming capital.

I've seen these people, mostly white people, come across the reservation, and they are clearly out for themselves. Like the whites who exploited the Native Americans a hundred years ago, this is a new breed intent on doing the same thing, this time mining for spiritual gold, but just as greedy.

When you speak of the White Buffalo Calf Woman, that is an experience and a vision that was given to a particular tribal branch of Native Americans, and it has particular relevance to them. What could it possibly mean to some white folk who grew up in New York City or Los Angeles?

Amusing post, MP. I think it all comes down to separating the wheat from the chaff. I think that Oprah has provided some real value in drawing attention to alternative ideas regarding spirituality. On the other hand, I can only agree that many of the ideas she has promoted are questionable at best, narcissistic at worst. The Secret may be the best (worst?) example of spirituality for the ego that she's actively promoted.

Atwater's anticipation of "Blue Children" is an excellent example of a grain of wheat buried amongst the chaff. There appears to be a tendency among those who have experienced powerful mystical experiences to anticipate that their realizations are about to become widespread. Richard Bucke, writing in Cosmic Consciousness in 1901, anticipated rapid, sweeping changes that would occur over the next century. At a glance, it would appear that his vision for the future has missed the mark rather substantially. On the other hand, there has been a decided increase in spontaneous mystical realizations over the past century. The NDE experience is one aspect, but there have been many, many others who've experienced profound insights via deep meditation or simply through a spontaneous event such as Bucke's. Tolle and Syd Banks are examples of the latter. I also think that there is evidence that the overall state of mind of the population has elevated significantly in the past few centuries. Let's not forget that slavery was a broadly accepted institution just a couple of centuries ago. Today, that's inconceivable to most of us. There are many other examples.

The wheat is there, in that I do think that humanity as a whole is undergoing a process of the elevation of consciousness. I also think that the process is much, much slower than most of the New Age writers choose or want to believe, while their readers make the mistake of accepting too many ideas that are flat-out squirrelly. The New Age movement, as a whole, is unfortunately populated by too many people that appear to be highly disconnected from the moment. If there's any sort of secret that needs to be shared, I'd say it's that the truth is buried in the moment, and always available to anyone who stops looking for it. I also doubt that anyone would arrive at a bestseller with that message, Tolle notwithstanding. If he really managed to get across what he's trying to, more people would realize that they already know everything he's trying to tell them.

*Gives Michael a standing ovation.*

The thing that pissed me off the most about some New Agers I've encountered, was their holier-than-thou insistence that if anyone has negative emotions and thoughts about anything, its their own fault.

"Everything is a lesson!"

"You create your own reality!"

Bullshit. Sometimes feeling depressed and angry is a necessary stage you have to go through. It gives you the push needed to solve problems that require more than lovey dovey nuttery.

"I imagine that because McCain lost, you have become painfully aware that you don't create your own reality."

I hope I've never said we create our own reality. Probably the closest I've come is to say that the boundary between objective and subjective may be less clear than classical thinkers believed.

"When you scan the literature of the late 19th century on these topics, there really is a lot of what would qualify as 'New Age bunkum' of the time. Between the Spiritualists and the Theosophists, there are some god-awful books from that time."

I was thinking mainly of serious researchers working for the Society for Psychical Research and its American counterpart. I don't think they were much influenced by Theosophy or Spiritualism. The SPR made a concerted effort to debunk Madame Blavatsky, the leading Theosophist, and they were always at odds with Spiritualists, which is one reason Arthur Conan Doyle became so cross with them.

Michael,

To some extent I agree with you relative to Oprah. However, when we consider the alternative, e.g., things more along the line of Jerry Springer, I'm not sure we will be better off if and when Oprah leaves.

In addition to Conan Doyle, W. Stainton Moses, one of the founders of the SPR, and Vice-Admiral W. Usborne Moore, another serious psychical researcher, parted ways with the SPR because they concluded, and I believe rightly so, that they were too quick too dismiss things they couldn't understand as fraud. Moore called the SPR the "Society for the Prevention of Research."

I should add a little explanation about Moses. Myers, Gurney, and Sidwick are usually credited with being the founders, but Myers gave the credit, at least for the idea, to Sir William Barrett and Stainton Moses.

MP wrote: "I was thinking mainly of serious researchers working for the Society for Psychical Research and its American counterpart."

I know what you meant, but that's still picking out one organisation amongst a mass of dumbery, to say that those times were better - hence my rose-tinted glasses comment. The times have not changed as much as you suggest. In modern times I could pick out at least a dozen excellent investigators, and some excellent organisations (SSE, PF to an extent), but it doesn't change the fact there's also a lot of crap out there.

Basically, my point was that things haven't changed as much as it might first look. :)

Kind regards,
Greg

“On the other hand, would we have got to a science of chemistry without that pre-scientific phase?”

Maybe intellectual knowledge precedes divine realization. We have knowledge before we have understanding. Maybe the world is entering a pre-spiritually phase?

“Richard Bucke, writing in Cosmic Consciousness in 1901, anticipated rapid, sweeping changes that would occur over the next century”

It appears to me that most writers of spiritual books anticipate more rapid, sweeping changes than actually occur. It also appears that even spirits that come through mediums anticipate a faster rate of change in spiritual progress for humanity.


"Everything is a lesson!"

Everything is a lesson but giving unsolicited advice is trespassing. But it is so tempering to give advice. And how often are we really asked for personal advice? It appears that the process of life is continually giving feedback.

"You create your own reality!"

Not exactly. At least not at this stage of our evolutionary journey. Someday when we are more evolved in our consciousness we will have the ability to create much more of our reality. What would the world be like if everyone was creating their own reality? Complete chaos or worst.

We create some of our reality depending on our level of consciousness. It is all a matter of degree. Now how we respond to the reality around us may develop our soul into greater degrees of love and divine intelligence.

“Sometimes feeling depressed and angry is a necessary stage you have to go through”

It appears that these feelings are part of the process of the law of progress. There is no turning back and what choice do we have. We can make choices that can hinder our progress but we can never stop it permanently.

"I hope I've never said we create our own reality."

Sorry, Michael. I was confusing you with Michael H. (He often says things like this, eg we only age because we expect to).

I'll add my name to the list of people who are bothered by the lumping together of all "New Age" beliefs. Yes, I do consider myself to be somewhat "new agey - Spiritualist" but I don't believe in reincarnation (per se) and I don't believe we create our own reality as per The Secret, and in fact I lean heavily towards fate and predestination and am very suspicious of "free will." And as far as UFO's, alien abductions, chupacabras, etc. are concerned, I pretty much put them in the same category as gnomes, leprechauns, and fairies! I'm thinking they might all be holographic projections from the collective unconscious.

" Yes, I do consider myself to be somewhat "new agey - Spiritualist" but I don't believe in reincarnation (per se)"

This is the crux of the problem. Once you suspect that orthodox science has a blind spot, it is hard to know which ideas are too wacky, and which not!

To me, if consciousness is not explained as an emergent phenomenon of brain complexity, then I think like others that perhaps it is an irreducible component of the universe - which might, in turn suggest that it was conserved....... you see where I am going!

Maybe the real test for New Ageism (what a phrase!) is that you get very specific answers delivered with great certaintity. "We are about to enter the fourth phase of existence, when seven angels will rule the world until....."

I think there is no doubt that Michael hit on a good issue with this posting.

1. I side with Greg, Michael H., and others on this.

The term "New Age" became an epithet not unlike "Liberal" has become, long ago.

Too often it's used as an excuse to dismiss anything that doesn't fit into a hardboiled officially accepted scientific scheme (even though that itself changes over time and even though it has definite limits, definite flaws, definite "holes").

The epithet covers a huge amount of material from endless and diverse sources. As Greg suggested, this is no different from the time of William James and company when all things related to spiritualism were anathema to so many oh so serious thinkers, secure in their imaginary rock solid and stable 19th Century view of reality.

There is definitely some kind of hazy boundary here, unique to each individual.

It's based not on Occam's Razor or the latest press release from the scientific community, but rather on personal experience.

Anyone who crosses this (they may have previously dismissed all things tainted with the New Age epithet) is forced to look again; there is wheat in all of the chaff, much as Michael H. suggests.

The hazy boundary associated with personal experience could be likened to the usual boundaries of ego.

There are endless ways to loosen ego, endless ways of explaining to self what is experienced during such a loosening experience, afterwards, endless beliefs to wrap this experience in.

The experience is key, not the post- experience rationalization, not the fitting into this or that school of thought.

2. "New Age" thought can be traced backwards to a number of antecedents (the term was actually used just before WWI in one instance, with astrological underpinnings).

Certainly the 70s and 80s versions were influenced by Findhorn and David Spangler, who based his book _Revelation: The Birth of the New Age_ partly on his experiences in that unusual experimental community.

There were many other strands, however; this was quite an overall movement in consciousness, quite an opening of belief, quite a time when many searched for some approach that was not just intellectually but also _intuitively_ satisfying, contrary to the officially accepted beliefs of, frequently, their parents' generation.

I was intrigued at first, but then gradually became as dismissive as many here, primarily owing to the commercialization of the term.

(This connects the "New Age" again with Spiritualism; _that_ movement also became encumbered with those who sought to make a buck, often acquiring this from the overly credulous.)

I'd long oscillated in my personal beliefs, reflecting my background, character, and experience. At the "hard-boiled" rationalist extreme I could dismiss my more unusual experience; during a more expansive moment I'd have to laugh at myself, and all those who cower in such ridiculous positions.

Slowly, over time, I managed to learn to retain sufficient hard-headedness as to earn a living while, at the same time, continuing to attempt to fathom the significance of the more outlandish of those experiences.

This took place over many years (is still taking place, actually) and proceeded in fits and starts, with the occasional intense experience accelerating the process.

3. From my present vantage point I'd call anyone who dismisses all things _they_ associate with "New Age" a coward or, at a minimum, mentally lazy and intellectually dishonest, unwilling to take a closer and impartial look simply owing to their defensive beliefs.

This gets into the area of the 5% of unexplainable "evidence" of James and Myers, but in some respects they allowed their scientific detachment to become a barrier to their own experience. Brilliant they were, but how many of them even attempted to loosen their own egos? How many of them (when not experimenting with nitrous oxide) sought out and taught themselves known techniques for doing so?

What the epithet points to is not some hard-boiled narrow perspective buttressed by rigorous intellectual machinations and supported by the status quo of officially accepted belief.

Rather, it connotes those much wider vistas only reachable by employing some technique or method that requires a temporary cessation of the intellectual machinery, a temporary putting aside of restrictive beliefs.

James & company would have had no subjects to carefully investigate, after eliminating instances of fraud, had Ms. Piper, for example, restricted herself in such a foolish way.

Like it or not, imagination is one key to all of this; using it implies easing the restrictions of the egoic hardboiled rational intellect.

Cowering in a safe, comfortable secure place far away from anything remotely "New Age" is fit for those who lack or repress their own imagination.

Does this mean there is no value to logic, the intellect, the rational self?

Not at all!

If you wish to use that to distance yourself from experience, go right ahead -- this is your choice, after all.

If, instead, you would apply it after actually learning some effective technique, "New Age" or not, this would be quite different.

(In other words, I'm speaking about adding necessary data to your conscious mental processor -- "food for thought" -- quite in addition to loosening up the barriers between conscious self and what resides in the so called sub or unconscious.)

I suggest that if you make that choice you will come to view an unknown portion of alleged "New Age" material -- the wheat -- with different eyes (beliefs, really).

Regards

Bill I.

Excellent post.

I hate it when those New Age hippies get media attention. Skeptics will debunk their stories and normal people will think that all paranormal phenomena are just ridiculous fantasy.

For example there was article on reincarnation on the Finnish skeptic site. It dealt only with hypnotic regression, karma etc. Their conclusion was that reincarnation does not happen.

If they had studied Stevenson's research, they would have known that regression is not reliable way to get information and serious researchers don't use it. Also, evidence from reincarnation research and NDE's shows clearly that karma does not exist.

Research on reincarnation gives us best evidence of survival, even better than NDE research. Still by the help of New Age belivers skeptics made all this seem ridiculous in their poor article.

It would be best, if we could get rid of this New Age nonsense completely.

"New Age" thought can be traced backwards to a number of antecedents (the term was actually used just before WWI in one instance, with astrological underpinnings)."

I think most of its roots stem from the Romantics and the Sturm Und Drang. You can really see it in the ideas that pervade the New Age movement (i.e. the idea that "separateness" is an illusion, placing more importance on feeling than on the intellect, etc.).

The boundary between objective and subjective may be less clear than classical thinkers believed. --MP

I wonder if this could ever be clear, Michael. I am reminded of something the philosopher F.H. Bradley said (a man much admired by T.S.Eliot). In 1893 (a long time before the New Age), he wrote in his book, Appearance and Reality:

“My external sensations are no less private to my self than are my thoughts and feelings. In either case, my experience falls within my own circle, a circle closed on the outside; and, with all its elements alike, every sphere is opaque to the others which surround it…In brief, regarded as an existence which appears in a soul, the whole world for each is peculiar and private to that soul.”

Interesting comments here. I assume many of you people, from previous posts, don't buy into any of the major religions and also have an adversity to 'new age' spiritual beliefs.

Which leaves us with...hmmm. A lot of ideas are dismissed as sort of flaky in this thread. Of course, we're all searching for answers, and if people feel they've found a truth for themselves that is beneficial to them and the people around them, good luck to them. When money exchanges hands, then yes, there may be problems.

I'm just surprised at some of the comments here. Art's post would make James Randi proud- way to dismiss the whole concept of UFO phenomena (of which I have no opinion one way or the other).

The placebo theory, research into the power of prayer, Dean Radin's intention chocolate... yet the power of thought seems to be doubted by many here.

Art's post would make James Randi proud- way to dismiss the whole concept of UFO phenomena (of which I have no opinion one way or the other). - The Major
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I didn't say they weren't "real!" I said I think they are holographic projections. According to the holographic paradigm our whole Universe is a hologram. I believe the reason UFO's can defy the laws of physics is because they are some kind of strange holographic projections; as to where they are from? I don't have a clue. I believe they are "real" only that they are made of something that is different in kind from what we call normal matter. Perhaps made of pure photons? I think the same thing may be true of Marian visions. I think they are real, perhaps imprinted into the minds of those that see them, and that some of their messages may be true, but it's a different kind of physics than what we are used to. I am nothing like James Randi. He dismisses everything out of hand that doesn't fit his narrow view of the physical Universe. I just think that our Universe may be so weird and bizarre that UFO's are not made out matter as we've commonly come to know and understand it. Perhaps even inter-dimensional spacecraft. I don't believe UFO's are made out of typical normal ordinary matter or that they are spacecraft from another planet in the Universe - from a physical species that evolved from lower animals like we did. Whoever made UFO's are so different in kind from us that we may not even be able to interact with them.

“I don't believe UFO's are made out of typical normal ordinary matter or that they are spacecraft from another planet in the Universe”

I suspect but don’t know that they are from both. I.e. other planets and from other dimensions.

It makes perfect sense to me that some planets are so advanced they would want to visit other planets. We do already with our limited knowledge. It also makes sense to me that there is no such thing as space as we in our limited consciousness see only a small part of reality.

Art I have to give you credit if we on this blog don’t end up seeing a holographic universe it is not for your lack of trying. Ok just poking fun at ya. Hey I have my paradigms. I.e. as does everyone.

The interesting thing about paradigms is that we don’t know we have a particular one. Any information that challenges our paradigm is distracted or filtered and usually not even allowed to enter our consciousness. Interesting species we humans.

Oprah's embrace of New Age is in many cases a reaction to her fundamentalist christian upbringing. One is anti-science (but loves technology) New Age as you've pointed out is pseudo-science. In my book a step up from where she came from. How can you so strongly castigate Oprah for some of her oddball issues while still siding with the Reagan/Bush/Bush light - full frontal assault on science?
I'm not a big fan of Oprah, or any talk show like hers. After Phil Donahue exhausted every major debatable issue they all degenerated into theater of the absurd.
Still I can take them better than the mouthpieces of Corporate America sucking the economic juices of the world dry at Fox, CBS, NBC, and ABC news divisions as well as most newspapers. Add Rush Limbaugh or James Dobson spewing out bile to millions of gullible fools having their money parted from them and if you really want pseudo-science fiction masquerading as serious theology try the Left Behind garbage by Tim LeHaye.

"...spewing out bile to millions of gullible fools having their money parted from them..."

This seems rather a Hobbesian view of mankind.

“After Phil Donahue exhausted every major debatable issue they all degenerated into theater of the absurd.”

As a person whose organization appeared on the Phil Donahue show I can tell you that people were placed in the audience to ask specific questions. I was a witness to that. This is not hearsay. Most of them were dumb questions to create controversy. And maybe worst the older ladies sitting in the front row that loved Phil were replaced by younger attractive ladies.

I never watched his show again. He did not show up until the last minute and knew little about the organization that was being featured on the show. And when he walked into the studio I saw pure arrogance.

I like Oprah because I see the good that she does in the world. examples are for instance she gives some of her fortune to the poor or unfortunates for reward on their accomplishments inspite of the difficulties in their lives in one case a car or the school that she opened in Africa. We need more people such as her to lift us up and make us believe that life isn,t always hopeless if we try to live up to our own ideals. The only thing or luxury she demands for herself for her work is a nice hot bubble bath :-)
Ally

Art Says "Whoever made UFO's are so different in kind from us that we may not even be able to interact with them"

Art poses a good question here, but I'm more interested in the "whoever" part of it, one that I believe is answered in the bible but most here would laugh at the idea or allow their hangups with christianity to prevent them from researching its contents minus the hardened hearts.

If God made us in a systematic order as described in Genesis and the bible prophets were correct including the teachings of Jesus Christ, he made the spirit/astral worlds first before the physical universe and its physical creatures. In it, it states he made angels (Job38 4-7)or you can call them intelligent spirits with one superior to all in his likeness with the ability to be independent/have free will to create own reality, (see Ezekiel 28:12-15 & Isaiah 14:13 &14 speaks of his ambition).Therefore quite capable of creating a holographic reality, yes another heaven/astral world. Who can really say NDE's are a manifestation of the true God and not a superimposed false reality by this other powerful spirit.

Is it really that farfetched from all the other unfounded beliefs swimming around out there, or could this be more the truth that has managed to outsmart most, after all in our limited capacity it wouldnt take much to keep us always guessing and in a constant state of doubt or unbelief.

Here are some of the names he is called in the bible, “the Devil” (Rev. 20:2 — diabolos literally means “slanderer”)
“Satan” (Luke 22:31 — the Greek word satanas comes from the Hebrew satan, which means “adversary”), “Belial” (2 Cor. 6:15 — it means “worthless,” and is used in connection with filthiness and wickedness), “serpent” (Gen. 3:1 — to emphasize his evil craftiness), “dragon” (Rev. 20:2 — to emphasize his evil and power), “tempter” (Matt. 4:3), “accuser” (Rev. 12:10), “evil one” (Matt. 6:13), “god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:4), “prince (John 12:31 — ruler; Greek = arche) of this world,” “prince of demons” (Mark 3:22), and “the ruler of the kingdom of the air” (Eph. 2:2).

Maybe if people could get over the ancients names for this spirit and what it conjures within them stemming from childhood and false teachings, they may gleam something worthwhile from the prophets of the past who many fortold prophecies 100s of years into the future and some 1000s that have become reality.

"Who can really say NDEs are a manifestation of the true God and not a superimposed false reality by this other powerful spirit."...Hope Rivers

The gnostics called this Spirit the Demiurge, and the Manicheans believed the world is as you say, ie a false creation or reality. I imagine this ties in with the Hindu idea of 'maya' too. (And let's not get into "The Matrix".)

What is the "New Age?" How is it different from the "Old Age?"

What do Oprah or Shirley MacLaine or even "Deep Pockets" Chopra have to do with this, if anything?

I don't watch Oprah's show and I pay no heed to Chopra, although I do confess to having read _Out on a Limb_ once, long ago. (I found it mildly entertaining, nothing to harshly criticize or elevate beyond its nature).

I did read David Spangler's _Revelation: The Birth of a New Age_, also long ago. I don't remember much of it, while Spangler's channelling resulted in material not really on my own peculiar wavelength, or that of my amateur medium friends.

All of this material has something in common.

One reason I suspect so many object to it (even while millions enthusiastically endorse or endorsed it) is owing to the perceived "looseness" of it all, this above and beyond the more obvious commercial aspects.

It's just not sufficiently rigorous to suit them; it's too free and easy. When Ms. MacLaine relates her unusual personal experiences, no scientists follow up with laboratory analyses, publishing the results of their findings in peer reviewed journals.

I can relate to her experiences, nevertheless, as every so often I, too, have had unusual experiences.

I have learned to dismiss science's explanations for such things -- most (not all) scientists don't know their asses from their elbows when it comes to such areas; their sacred method, with its various hidden assumptions, is absolutely fine for investigating any number of areas, but completely ineffective when it comes to probing inner realities. The only way to do that is to do that and to do it at firsthand, not at one or two steps removed.

One example of many: I experience telepathic communication so frequently that I don't find it even slightly unusual. Sometimes I record instances, but I have no need to prove or disprove the existence of something I've come to take for granted.

Meanwhile, science offers theories and opinions regarding telepathy (when not dismissing it altogether), as though ignoring the basic reality itself, which is nearly completely subjective. (Not completely, though, as anyone who has ever compared notes with others must surely realize.)

Am I interested in laboratory experiments on this topic? Not really. The phenomenon is very quirky, too; it's nothing I seem able to turn on or off at will. It just happens, frequently.

This quirkiness connects back to the "New Age."

The New Age is about an overall expansion in consciousness, a change in the day-to-day mode of waking consciousness.

Anyone who bothers to carefully observe their own consciousness must become aware of how it fluctuates, all day, every day, in accordance with, likely, a great number of factors, some completely unknown.

At one extreme this is narrowed to a minimal physical perception; I can only guess at the other extreme, but do know that it lies in the direction of greater awareness of such things as telepathy.

Colin Wilson has written extensively about fluctuations in consciousness; it's the major theme of many of his books and it's no wonder that he glommed onto the teachings of "rascal master" George Gurdjieff early in his career, including Gurdjieff as one of his outsiders in _The Outsider: An Inquiry into the Nature of the Sickness of Mankind in the Mid-Twentieth Century_.

This was published in 1956, well before retired RAF officer Caddy established Findhorn with his wife and their friend Dorothy Maclean (no relation to Shirley MacLaine, so far as I'm aware), and well before Spangler arrived there; well before the "New Age" movement of the 70s and 80s arrived.

Comparing the Findhorn Community to the groups established by ardent followers of Gurdjieff is instructive (this would include personalities like John Bennett, the Russian mathematician Peter Uspenskii, and so on).

You have two very different flavors of alternative philosophies here, but even so, there is a connection.

Briefly, that connection can be found by reading Uspenskii's _In Search of the Miraculous_, fathoming the "Watch Yourself and Remember Yourself" exercise in it, then actually doing it.

This exercise is extremely powerful; anyone who has the time and inclination to pursue it will find themselves in a significantly altered and massively widened condition of consciousness.

Findhorn, meanwhile, was created by those engaged in their own version of widened consciousness exploration.

By comparison, the activities of our favorite Victorian psychical researchers are very tame, indeed, although certainly they had their moments of excitement.

Back to Wilson. The "sickness" in the title of his first book can be associated with the "Old" of the "Old Age."

In short, we have already entered a moment in the collective life of mankind in which many partake of a widened every day waking consciousness.

Many participate without even being aware of doing so, as this has been going on for quite some time, such that they simply haven't noticed.

Those who adhere to some of the tenets of the various alternative philosophies (and many have pointed out how these are actually quite ancient, even if they were somewhat hidden -- "esoteric" -- for long periods; Leibniz referred to them as "the perennial philosophy") suggest that our external mass reality is a symbolic reflection of inner reality.

As such, the very Internet that makes this communication possible indicates the sort of major change "New Age" refers to.

My own views aren't usually as bleak as those of Wilson or Gurdjieff (in some ways, Gurdjieff's views were self serving, too; your only chance of evolution required you to become a follower -- otherwise, you would inevitably "die like a dog").

My own favorite "New Age" author is the channelled Seth, but this is only owing to the experience I relate at

http://www.realitytest.com/resource.htm#link11

-- without that, I would never have touched a Seth book.

Michael followed up on an early suggestion of mine here but instead of _Seth Speaks_, he picked up the earlier _The Seth Material_ and had nothing kind to say about it.

I would suggest that _Seth Speaks_, the later _The Nature of Personal Reality_ and most of the subsequent books address many concerns expressed here, and very well.

As much as I appreciate Seth's words, however, I've used them primarily as a stepping stone to my own inner "New Age authority."

Seth was the first to state "You create your own reality" but this was soon appropriated and turned into a slogan by others, usually without attribution and out of context.

Seth built this up in layers, book after book.

(Jane Roberts, who channelled Seth, was extensively tested for her psychic abilities, btw, at an early point in her Seth odyssey, when she was afraid that it was all a psychoneurotic manifestation.)

Once again, "You create your own reality" is really a modern elaboration of the perennial philosophy. What's interesting is how it can be related, in its full version as dictated throughout several books, to both Hugh Everett's "many worlds" and the more traditional Copenhagen Interpretation of physics -- and this is nothing at all like the preposterous "What the Bleep?," something even I found too "loose," too "New Agey."

Seth is good, but not the last word; there is no such thing, of course, but a good dose of Seth plus do-it-yourself mediumship, meditation, and the resulting "widened consciousness" can, in my opinion, enable anyone interested to begin to fathom where much of this could go, is going (of course a Seth reader must qualify such statements by mentioning probable realities -- for a good mind blowing intro to those, try Exercise 2. found at

http://www.realitytest.com/doors.htm .

Now its time to resume my focus on the wonders of M2M technologies and the business realities associated with them; one of my personal beliefs: "No work, no eat."

Regards

Bill I.

Bill I, thank you for that superb contribution.

"In short, we have already entered a moment in the collective life of mankind in which many partake of a widened every day waking consciousness."

"Many participate without even being aware of doing so, as this has been going on for quite some time, such that they simply haven't noticed."

So consciousness has expanded, but people aren't aware that their consciousness has expanded?

The New Age is characterized mostly by westerners who have lost faith in Christianity, and who are now flailing about trying to find some new ground to stand on; in the process they are taste testing all traditional religions (except Christianity, unless it is a heretical branch, such as Gnosticisim), and devoting themselves to some mishmash from all of them. There is nothing deep or true about the New Age movement. It is undisciplined and vacuous. It is the product of ego, and it reaps what it sows. If you want to be a Buddhist instead of a Christian, then be a Buddhist. But don't be some silly sweat lodge attending whirling dervish crystal healing Buddhist with human alien hybrid children. It's denigrating to the people who live their lives around sweat lodges, whose history and culture is immersed in living that way, and people who deeply try to understand the meaning of the Four Noble Truths. You know, the techniques of Buddhism are deep enough to occupy one's time for decades. I mean, if you are throwing so many different things together, it's a sure sign that you really don't have respect for the depth and time any pursuit of truth requires to be meaningful in a personal way to your life. You are a spiritual materialist, as Trungpa would say. People have been enculturated by the atmosphere of our trivial society to want everything fast and easy, and the New Age is the McDonalds of spiritual philosophy.

“My own favorite "New Age" author is the channelled Seth, but this is only owing to the experience I relate at”

My favorite “new age” is the channeled Emmanuel. It appears that every paragraph in that book is chucked full of wisdom. Very positive outlook on life and its meaning. But then many such as the mystics have a very positive outlook on life.

If you have not read Emmanuel’s book you are in for a treat.

Emmanuel stated in one of those paragraphs.

“You world is in a physical crisis
But what is a crisis
But a learning opportunity.”

Could we also state something to the effect?
America is in an economic crisis
But what is a crisis
But a learning opportunity.

Also this: “is there a time when all blends into one,
Yes
But there is never a time when all blends into nothingness”

“All things in life are dedicated to the purpose of expanding awareness”

“And this: there are many levels of truth
And all of them contribute
To your total awareness”

as posted by clegg:

"...spewing out bile to millions of gullible fools having their money parted from them..."

This seems rather a Hobbesian view of mankind.

I was referring to televangelists and others of the moral mafia, a rather lower subspecies of homo sapiens, and the those who assassinate their intelligence by listening and acting on what the moral mafia says. By all accounts 20% of the population, or those who still think Bush is doing a hell of a job. Point is they are a subset of mankind not its entirety.

So consciousness has expanded, but people aren't aware that their consciousness has expanded?

I’ve felt for some time now that the collective consciousness has elevated significantly over the past several generations, dm. As to what degree any given individual’s consciousness has expanded, I think it varies tremendously. I know that I’ve undergone major changes in perspective over the past couple of decades, as have certain numbers of my friends. At the same time, I know plenty of others who seem to have reached a plateau approximately coincident with their junior year in high school.

I do empathize with the balance of your post, though. I get frustrated at what I perceive as narcissistic spirituality as well.

Anyone who bothers to carefully observe their own consciousness must become aware of how it fluctuates, all day, every day, in accordance with, likely, a great number of factors, some completely unknown.

Yep. What's remarkable to me as that so few even notice that it's their own consciousness that's fluctuating. Most identify the fluctuation with externals. External events inevitably influence our state-of-mind, but still, as Ben’s earlier quote stated, "the whole world for each is peculiar and private".

I would suggest that _Seth Speaks_, the later _The Nature of Personal Reality_ and most of the subsequent books address many concerns expressed here, and very well.

As much as I appreciate Seth's words, however, I've used them primarily as a stepping stone to my own inner "New Age authority."

I also find these two Seth books valuable. The value is in what he's pointing to though, not in his particular articulation. We’re back to wheat and chaff. Seth points to truth, though it is not truth itself. Same for Emmanuel. Same for Tolle. Same for Banks. Same for Kingsley. Same for Yogananda. Same for Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. And all the rest.

The wheat is that which resonates within a given individual's private and peculiar world. An example of New Age wisdom that resonates in my peculiar and private world:

(Truth) is not to be investigated as a thing external to us, and so only imperfectly known. It is within us. Here the objects we contemplate and that which contemplates are identical – both are thought. The subject cannot surely know an object different from itself. (Illumination is) absolute knowledge founded on the identity of the mind knowing with the object known.

All that tends to purify and elevate the mind will assist you in this attainment, and facilitate the approach and recurrence of these happy intervals (illumination). There are then, different roads by which this end may be reached. These are the great highways conducting to that height above the actual and the particular, where we stand in the immediate presence of the Infinite, who shines out as from the deeps of our soul.

You ask, how can we know the Infinite? I answer, not by reason. It is the office of reason to distinguish and define. The Infinite, therefore, cannot be ranked among its objects. You can only apprehend the Infinite by a faculty superior to reason, by entering into a state in which you are your finite self no longer – in which the divine essence is communicated to you. This is ecstasy. It is the liberation of your mind from its finite consciousness. Like only can apprehend like; when you thus cease to be finite, you become one with the Infinite.

That was written by the prominent New Ager, Plotinus, almost two thousand years ago. He’s pointing like crazy, but understanding him involves seeing what he’s pointing to, not accepting his statements as truth. It’s a distinction that few in contemporary New Age circles appear to grasp.

"Who can really say NDE's are a manifestation of the true God and not a superimposed false reality by this other powerful spirit".

My mistake this was meant to say "ALL NDE's", Oops..

Moi: "Many participate without even being aware of doing so, as this has been going on for quite some time, such that they simply haven't noticed."

dmduncan: "So consciousness has expanded, but people aren't aware that their consciousness has expanded?"

Correct. This involves a collective quickening. (I suggest this is Nataraja territory, if you're familiar with that aspect of Shiva and its symbolism.)

The impact varies, while the quickening pace -- although easily discernible when comparing the days of horses, buggies, iron horses, and sailing ships to today's world in which residential broadband penetration creeps ever higher -- varies from moment to moment, place to place, group to group, and from one person to another.

Consider the information a 21st Century middle class Westerner might absorb on any given day, and compare that to ten years ago, twenty years ago, and so on.

This is yet another indication. (If you say "but this is merely an acceleration in technology" consider how this technology came about and those who initiated it. Consider too, the inner realities these outer changes symbolize.)

So some of this is too gradual for all to discern. (This is not so during moments of 'psychic acceleration' but even there some participants will forget the intensity after it slowly wanes.)

Compare your own childhood to that of the generation coming after you; compare it to your parents' childhood, their parents' childhood, and so on.

Another indicator is channelling and mediumship, interestingly enough.

This has been discussed here before. Compare Eileen Garrett and Leonora Piper to those who came later -- Edgar Cayce, Jane Roberts, scads of "New Age" channellers who followed her, and possibly hundreds of thousands of amateurs, impressed by these examples.

Today ordinary people routinely slip into light trances and type intriguing items into their computers. They do not have a "control personality" and do not enter a deep Edgar Cayce-style trance condition.

It's as though their subliminal selves have become more accessible, quite mysteriously.

dmduncan continues:

"The New Age is characterized mostly by westerners who have lost faith in Christianity, and who are now flailing about trying to find some new ground to stand on; in the process they are taste testing all traditional religions (except Christianity, unless it is a heretical branch, such as Gnosticisim), and devoting themselves to some mishmash from all of them..."

There's some truth here, but most of what you write is a kind of smear, an expression of your own beliefs and, perhaps, an attempt to retain a sense of self importance, as though your beliefs are correct, those of all "New Agers" wrong.

One thing I definitely like about Seth is his tendency to be irreverent and nonconformist and even to partially live up to one of the myths from which he chose that name. (He mentions both the Seth of the Old Testament and the Set of dark Egyptian fame.)

Who says hoary old Buddhist tradition is necessarily the true path, just because so many have adhered to it over so many centuries?

Who says Buddha necessarily got everything right? (Certainly his followers believe this -- that is the nature of a follower.)

Who says those followers have any inkling as to the actual nature of Buddha?

This is not to say that the man wasn't an innovator, didn't make significant discoveries, or doesn't deserve to have the accolades that accrue to the founder of a major world religion.

A stiff, formal, serious, and scholarly approach is perhaps appropriate for some people, people who prefer tradition; a more free-spirited eclectic approach may appeal to others and indeed be more suitable.

I can be as close-minded as the next person; I tend to defend my own beliefs while automatically raising objections to anything that appears conflicts with them.

Sometimes, however, I have the good sense to reflect on this.

"New Age" covers a huge amount of ground; there's no reason to make false assumptions about the term and to create related generalizations about anyone who might be included in any particular definition of it.

Hmm. I just imagined how Buddha and his early followers might have been perceived by those who weren't at all impressed by the fellow. (Brash upstart?)

Regards

Bill I.

"There's some truth here, but most of what you write is a kind of smear, an expression of your own beliefs..."

Guilty as charged. I tend to express my own beliefs and not someone else's, unless quotation marks are involved.

"...and, perhaps, an attempt to retain a sense of self importance, as though your beliefs are correct, those of all 'New Agers' wrong."

No, that's not fair. I mean, I can understand your reaction if you identify yourself as "New Age," but the words are nebulous, and I use my own understanding of what they mean based on the people I've met, which seems to parallel the contents of the book section at Barnes and Noble. I do not characterize people who have interests in multiple religions automatically as New Age, nor does being adopted by the New Agers make oneself New Age. I think I was pretty clear on what New Age means to me.

I'm not a fan of people who read a book or two on Native American spirituality and then go to the reservation and presume to lecture Indians on proper procedures of running their ceremonies as if these things must be done according to an instruction manual.

And my attack on the New Age isn't an attack on truth, which can come out of the mouth of anyone at any time, and I do not draw borders where truth may and may not come from. The human capacity to detect truth (and BS) isn't "New Age," it's as old as we are.

But there is an underlying question here: Is there one underlying truth? Or is it like Heinlein's "Job: A Comedy Of Justice" where everyone's afterlife takes the form of the religious beliefs he had during life? And if it is one truth, do all ways lead to it equally? Or are some better than others, and if they are, why are they? I ask these questions, and I'm not going to get an answer by reading "The Secret" or by deifying L. Ron Hubbard.

Nevertheless, there are many New Age ideas that are excellent, and have permeated the consciousness of seekers. Gratitude, for example. And the idea that you are more than your ego (can choose to disidentify), so can rise above your everyday concerns.

I think Bill I's point that you can distil truths from reified religions is true.

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