So the other day I was asked by a friend “what does a New Ager believe?”. And I gave my usual piss-poor answer of “It’s kind of hard to explain. It’s a mix of a lot different beliefs.” And while this is true, it’s still not a great answer. Not that other religions are easy to explain, they’re not, every religion is complex and difficult to understand…however, those other religions have these useful books or pre-vetted collections of belief or maybe one or two major beliefs. “What does a Buddhist believe?” You have an answer “The teachings of Buddha and reincarnation and the releasing of karma.” “What does a Christian believe?” “The teaching of Christ as reported in the New Testament, love and forgiveness for all.” Now different denominations have variations, but those variations can be summed up in a sentence or two.
I’ve tried explaining my beliefs before to people, but have often come up to immediate challenges. There have been a lot of challenges involved with this before I even answered: If I didn’t believe in the Christian God how did I explain the problem of evil? If you believed in a more active God than eastern traditions why didn’t God just wake us up from this nightmare that is reality? If I wasn’t a Christian how come I still talk about the father, son, and Holy Spirit? How can I believe in any of the things I do since it was all contradictory? As you can see I do not always run into friendly audiences. So, I realize that as very few are going to initially agree with this interpretation, but before you raise
objections, read the whole thing.
So here goes trying to describe my beliefs of what it is to be a New Ager (and I fully acknowledge that other New Agers out there may have different takes on this). Now if you know me I would say the most important distinction of religion is the acts of the its followers, but since in the broad strokes almost all religions advocate for the pretty much the same external actions (with only minimal differences–and I’m excluding the act of fanatics here)–thus the ethical differences between New Age belief and more traditional beliefs is probably not the most efficient way to distinguish New Age belief. So let me go to the more useful metaphysical relationship of God to Mankind.
The first is if you were a parent and your small child was having a nightmare so powerful that they couldn’t wake up, you have two options. Either (1) you can slap your screaming crying child to wake them up or (2) you can hold them, rock them, and speak to them soothingly hoping that your voice will lead them out of their nightmare. Now most parents will probably choose option 2. Option 1 might be faster, but it certainly isn’t all that humane.
The second thing I want you to consider is that in dreams time and identity doesn’t quite work in the traditional sense. I think it’s probably safe to say we’ve all had a dream that seemed to last for days, maybe even weeks, but our perception of time was only part of the dream. A dream that lasts ten minutes in the physical world seemed to drag on in our mind for days. Also we’ve probably all had a dream were there is more than just ourselves in the dream. Our dreams often have a quite large cast, but really all of those people in our dreams are nothing but images of us taking a different form. Some of us may even have had a dream where we perceive the actions of two characters in our dreams at once.
The third idea I would like you to hold in your mind is the Christian relationship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If you live in the Western world you should be familiar with this relationship…and since I don’t think I have too many readers in Outer Mongolia I’m going to just assume you already know this idea.
Now with those three ideas in mind let me tell you a story. God created the Son. You know this story up to this point. But then the Son had this terrible idea…God might not love him. This is a preposterous idea because God is an infinite being contemplating and giving love. But where the Son should have laughed at such a strange idea, the Son instead fell into a deep sleep (or the equivalent on an infinite non material universal scale). Now in this nightmare that the Son slipped into a whole universe was created with the pieces of the this infinite consciousness of the Son splitting apart into billions of pieces. Just as we may perceive more than one role in our own dreams, the infinite mind of the Son was able to perceive from billions of perspectives. The problem was that this fear that God does not love us latched onto each and everyone of those pieces and formed what New Agers call the ego. The ego is an embodiment of that base fear that we are separated from God, and it is attached to each piece of the Son’s consciousness, what we call the soul. This world is nothing but a nightmare in the mind of the Son (kind of like the Hindu belief that this world is a dream of the Brahman).
Now many complain that a loving god would not allow his Son to experience such a nightmare. But remember, as I pointed out in my first idea, a loving parent doesn’t just smack their child until they wake up. They hold them and speak to them, hoping that voice will bring their child out of their nightmare. In this case that voice appears in this nightmare as what is common called the Holy Spirit. Further as I pointed out time can get awfully fuzzy in a nightmare–What appears as thousand of years here is barely a moment in the reality of true existence. From God’s perspective this nightmare lasted barely a moment in eternity.
At this point the I think most people will understand when I say each of these pieces of consciousness, i.e. humans, are trying to free themselves of their egos and fear and reach a level of Enlightenment a la Hinduism or Buddhism. Ideally, of course the ultimate goal is for everyone to shed their ego/fears and return to the level of being an awakened Son of God. This might engender a idea that we must think collectively and put our own well being second to the good of the whole and others as our goal cannot be reached until all beings reach enlightenment…but that’s actually a false line of logic, as you can’t help anyone else until you yourself reach enlightenment. As such New Age belief requires not only the follower to not give into fear (i.e. you absolutely can’t be a “God-fearing” person as other religions might ask of you) nor can you ascetically withdraw from the world and condemn all the world’s pleasures as sin because that is also giving into the ego’s false belief that sin exists. What you say, of course sin exists! Not really, if this world is only an illusion there can’t actually be anything that God condemns us for, because to God doesn’t admit this world exists, thus there is nothing to condemn and nothing for God to forgive. Yes there are terrible things that happen in this world, but it’s acts of violence against ourselves, or actually against illusions we have created, certainly not against God or God’s laws. But the ego uses your guilt to keep your soul tied to it. I could go on, but to cut this short (and give me future blogs to deal with) the New Age belief is that Enlightenment will only be achieved through the full expression of ourselves and realizing that we are the Son of God and have a infinite power and nothing to feel guilty about because God loves us and anything contrary to that though (fear, guilt, uncertainty) is what keeps us in this nightmare.