Deepak Chopra and Intent

Deepak Chopra and Intent

Why the New Age (Still) Matters (by Deepak Chopra)

The New Age still matters because it is the best resort we have to age-old traditions of wisdom. I wanted to say that up front, even though I have never used the phrase “New Age” in any talk or writing. The New Age has become a byword for any cheap shot or automatic sneer directed toward a carnival of spiritual noodles and charlatans. But that’s not the whole story, or even reality. Behind the label is something very different–a loose coalition of people who want to reach beyond organized religion and its many drawbacks.

Ever since Aldous Huxley coined the phrase “perennial philosophy,” people in the West have come to realize that sectarianism is too narrow and religions too orthodox to contain a great body of wisdom that is available to every culture. The New Age is just today’s Americanized version of the perennial philosophy, as Theosophy was the British version at the turn of the century.
In a word, the perennial philosophy is the search for transcendence. It’s a corpus of thought which holds that higher realities are real.
At this moment in time, there is no doubt that organized religion is serving reactionary social forces (not for the first time). This has left a spiritual vacuum in society, and although many right-thinking people deplore the carnival aspects of the New Age, it is far more deplorable to ignore the spiritual yearning that exists in every culture. The New Age may not fill the vacuum perfectly, but it has many virtues
–People feel free to express themselves outside the dogma of the church.
–They feel open to experiences that earlier generations denied or condemned.
–They are aware that spirituality is a broad river running back for centuries.
–They feel included in a magnificent human quest.
–They believe that evolution of consciousness is real.
–They feel included in a magnificent human quest.
–They believe that evolution of consciousness is real.
–They believe they can find a noble vision and begin to live up to it.
The New Age contains a lot of Old Agers, among them various Jungians and other therapists who were brought up in the Fifties, freethinkers and flower children from the Sixties, along with even earlier Theosophists, followers of teachers like J. Krishnamurti and gurus like Paramahansa Yogananda, not to mention readers of Huxley, Gerald Heard, and other expatriates who brought Vedanta to Southern California in the era before World War II. I’m sure I’ve left a lot more out.
The net result of this diverse movement is hard to calculate. Certainly there don’t seem to be many inroads into orthodox political or religious thought, but as a grass-roots movement it is powerful; the New Age stands for the unquenchable idealism of millions of people who either flirt with the perennial philosophy or dive into it more deeply.
I don’t see an alternative, frankly, unless a person wants to mount a rearguard action to revive organized religion, and that seems highly unlikely. The liberal wing of every major Christian denomination has become quiescent in the face of aggressive fundamentalism, and resorting to Buddhism, Islam, or Hinduism lands one in yet another dogma with its own constrictions. So whatever the New Age morphs into thirty years from now, it seems to be the most viable spiritual movement in place, and it deserves to be considered on its own terms, without sneers and thoughtless labels.

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Donny (Psalm 51, me too.)

posted February 5, 2008 at 1:12 pm

Such a beautiful blog.
“The New Age has become a byword for any cheap shot or automatic sneer directed toward a carnival of spiritual noodles and charlatans. But that’s not the whole story, or even reality.”
As the harbinger of opposition that my online persona has become for those of the anti-Christian perspective, I will admit here and now, that I have met and know some of the most beautiful, peaceful and dearest souls that hail from the camp(s) that you mention. Especially Buddhists. I believe in and practice peace in my real life. Non-violence and purity of actions is a spiritual ritual that one can practice in front of others without alarming them. Most New Agers are just plain and simply sweet. I notice with all due respect, that most “New Agers” mean no physical harm to their fellow man, and actually practice individual freedom towards others. Most often, they practice what Jesus preached. Jesus said, “Those who are not against us, are for us.” Many know that Jesus is the transcendant God of Creation. I have never been accosted by a New Age spiritualist, like I have the vociferous and vicious Liberal and Progressives socialist.
As long as person is on the path to the truth, they usually find it.
Though I must react to this: “The liberal wing of every major Christian denomination has become quiescent in the face of aggressive fundamentalism . . .,”
Quite the contrary. The Liberals have attacked quite loudly and with secular/legislative fury, the authenticty of the Gospel in every imagineable and abominable way. They have turned the Grace of Christ in a license to do and promote evil. Quite a different walk from what the “fundamentals of the Faith” teach. The fundamentals of which, many “New Agers” walk with ease of body, mind and spirit. I have come to “realize,” that “New Age” doesn’t have to mean wiping away the truth of the old.

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posted February 5, 2008 at 7:49 pm

Deviating from the orthodoxy of ones belief and choosing whatever you want to believe lies an inherent danger. Being a Christian is not about the church as a building, your pals and pets, but a deep life-long commitment to Christ and his teachings. It’s back to that cafeteria style of living that those who preach this New Age Gospel are so fond of. If you don’t agree with the doctrine, investigate it. Trading it in for Tarot Cards and Horoscopes is not seeking God’s truth but someone else’s. There are reasons why certain dogmas are part of the belief. They have been thought out by theologians and councils for thousands of years. Within these writings are countless views on isues of faith.
I despise these modern bearers of Truth. It’s the Gospel of Prosperity no matter how you package it. It is reworked every 10 years or so, I believe the last one was The Secret. It gives the promise of a new car if one can harness the universe. Try it in the Sub-Saharan Economies.
I’d take Aquinas over Mr. Chopora anyday.

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posted February 6, 2008 at 10:10 am

Deepak Chopra joins a host of others who want to make an impact in the area of Spirituality without any real definition or a mention of God. It becomes a trademark of the New Age to spend their 500 words without mentioning him/her/ or it. As long as we are in touch with our selves, Mother Earth, and living a holistic lifestyle, we pretty much can do as we please. That is pretty much what he is saying, imo.

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Donny (Psalm 51, me too.)

posted February 6, 2008 at 10:46 am

In the Book of Ester, “God” is never mentioned.
But Godly actions are.
Once again I must re-reiterate. Finding something of value in non-Christians does NOT mean you support them.
New Agers would find Christ Jesus in every orthodox way there is, IF, Christians lived their lives like they talk it.
Same old story.

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Brian Horan

posted February 8, 2008 at 1:50 pm

Brother Jones,
God is your very Self in a big sense. If actions are motivated out of Love instead of the ego, the Self (*with a capital ‘S’ is implied*).
“I am the Oblation, the Sacrifice, and the Worship; Iam the Fuel and the Chant, I am the Butter offered to the fire, I am the Fire itself; and I am the Act of offering.”
Gita, Chapter 9 Verse 16
Unconditional love comes from the Self/God. God/Self is unique in being unconditional because Self/God is the first thing that’s existed in a temporal sense. This also makes God free.
My persona, Brian, is conditioned by everything around me. In fact, my persona would never exist in a vacuum. My persona is dependent on God too, or Original Self.
God says in the Bible, “I am that I am”. I believe that with all my heart.
New Age ideas of miracles and free love are well tempered with the idea of ’cause and effect’. Until we have perfect communion with ourSelf there can be grave and painful experiences sprouting through actions motivated by the illusory ego.
The ego is the idea that our persona is not dependent on anything else.
That’s the best I could tell you Brother how I see the ‘New Age’.
Because Christians have involved themselves so much in secular politics, wearing Jesus on their sleeves while promoting war and preferences for the rich, I no longer consider myself ‘Christian’.
I go by New Ager.

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Brian Horan

posted February 8, 2008 at 1:59 pm

You’re crazy man… But I like you.

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posted February 10, 2008 at 9:00 pm

Oh boy, this is a tough subject. The New Age matters. It is here and alive. It has permeated all aspects of our culture. I get excited every time I recognize that fact.
The New Age has helped people look out of the windows of their spiritual houses to see the similarities in others, the shared values instead of the differences. WE ARE ONE!
I call myself a Presbyterian but I am a committed, unabashed New Ager. The New Age is not about relativism though it DOES have a loving, broad embrace. In fact, I’ve moved through a stage of New Ageism where I found anyone unappealing or unattractive who didn’t accept my views (on complementary medicine, let’s say, or the beauty of Eastern philosophy). I kind of chuckle at my old self, the dogmatically New Age clinger, so desperate to make my points at parties, and so wounded when others disagree with me!
I try today to be a disciplined New Ager, a good thinker, mother, contributor, a person in awe of everything God has handed me. I live in wonder! Rudolf Steiner once wrote that all learning starts with wonder. Life is a precious gift!
This blog is wonderful, Chopra family! It’s exciting to read your thoughts here!

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posted February 13, 2008 at 9:46 am

I understand your concern with following the followers of Christ who have organized religion beyond any spiritual value. The truth of Jesus is not contained in simply deposing Him and following your own inner voice. The biggest problem that I think New Agers face is the lack of redemption, forgiveness, and grace in their message. If everything is good, then nothing is better for you. And I would share with you that worship of Jesus is better than worship of self, the moon, and the stars.

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posted February 20, 2008 at 3:52 pm

I find the term “New Age” to be an oxymoron, there is noting new about it. Instead it is a turning back to the old ways of thought, living and relating to the world around us. The term now is so all-inclusive that it is truly becoming non-valid. Labels being what they are, it is a more palatable label for those with “non traditional” belief systems. So we lump together all the free thinking men and women into this category. That being said, this movement has lead to a new awareness of our purpose here on earth, our connection to our Source, and the way that we interact with our surroundings. If you were informed about this “movement” Brother Jones, you would know that an acceptance of “all as good” is no where near the commonly held beliefs of most of these believers. There is a rejection of the judgmental and shaming tenants of many “mainline” religions. The need for redemption is not a part of the philosophy of the “New Agers”, as humans are products of the Creator, and not fundamentally flawed as the concept of “original sin” claims. There is vast increase in the ability to love one’s self if the shame and guilt of Christianity, Islam and Judaism are removed from one’s consciousness. Those of this persuasion prefer to connect with the inner beauty and joy of their spirit, creation, and a relationship with the Creator free of the burdens put upon them by religions that purport themselves as the ONLY way to reach their definitions of God. This movement to the “old ways” IMO is the only hope we have of abolishing the oppression of man by other men (I am not speaking in terms of gender), the greedy systems that are raping our planet, and the domination of women by the religions of this realm.

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posted March 19, 2008 at 6:06 am

Being in touch with your ‘self’ does not mean being well adjusted and understanding your feelings. It speaks to the larger SELF, or I AM, otherwise known as God.
Most organized religions collect money, try to legislate their particular views into law and force it on the rest of us and what have they done about war, famine, humans rights(slavery-white & other)?
Look at the style in which their leaders live, while millions go hungry and have no health care. You really think Jesus would have approved of this?
Where are the leaders of the world’s largest religions when women are allowed to burn alive in a school in Saudi Arabia, or people are mass murdered in Dar-fur? But, these leaders come together to condemn gay marriages and birth control& abortion. These are just examples of the fact that they have come together to condemn things but not atrocities.
We need something better.

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