It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
A Religion of Self
In her autobiographical film Out on a Limb, famous actress and New Age author Shirley MacLaine stands on a windswept beach with her arms outstretched and exclaims: “I am God! I am God!” Like her, many New Agers promote the search for a higher self and the idea of a god within. They teach that humans need only raise their consciousness to find their divinity.
Once this is accomplished, they claim, the reality of a universal interconnectedness becomes clear—everything is god, and god is everything. This is by no means a new idea. Ancient religions of Mesopotamia and Egypt believed in the deity of animals, water, the wind, and the sky. More recently, Adolf Hitler allegedly encouraged others to embrace the “strong, heroic belief in God in Nature, God in our own people, in our destiny, in our blood.”
New Age culture is saturated with literature, seminars, and training programs dealing with self-potential and self-improvement. “Getting in touch with my inner self” is a popular logo. People are encouraged to try anything and everything that can help them unleash their own possibilities. As one writer put it in the magazine Wilson Quarterly, the “movement’s central teaching is ‘that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as it works for you.’”
Margot Adler, a New Age guru, explains that many of the women who join women’s New Age movements do it “for reasons that are very personal. . . . They hate their bodies, they hate themselves. They come into these groups which basically say to you, ‘You’re the Goddess, you’re wonderful.’”
New York magazine describes one group’s quest for the higher self: “A woman intones, ‘We are the teachers of the New Dawn. We are the Ones.’ Other participants, wearing horned headdresses, feathered masks, and wispy gowns, dance through the forest, grunting and gesticulating, keening and moaning.”
“Another Drug in a Drug-Ridden Society”?
“THE New Age movement—the latest contribution to our long history of bizarre spiritual fads and panaceas—invites a mixture of ridicule and indignant alarm. Not just the degradation of piety but its blatant commercialization prompts the suspicion of large-scale religious fraud. . . .
“The New Age movement tries to combine meditation, positive thinking, faith healing, . . . mysticism, yoga, water cures, acupuncture, incense, astrology, Jungian psychology, biofeedback, extrasensory perception, spiritualism, . . . the theory of evolution, Reichian sex therapy, ancient mythologies, . . . hypnosis, and any number of other techniques designed to heighten awareness, including elements borrowed from the major religious traditions. . . .
“The New Age replacements for religion soothe the conscience instead of rubbing it the wrong way. Their central teaching is that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as it works for you. ‘It’s true if you believe it’: slogan of the New Age. . . .
“The question is not whether New Age therapies really work but whether religion ought to be reduced to therapy. If it offers nothing more than a spiritual high, religion becomes another drug in a drug-ridden society.”—“The New Age Movement: No Effort, No Truth, No Solutions, Notes on Gnosticism—Part V,” by Christopher Lasch, Watson Professor of History at the University of Rochester, New York, U.S.A.