By Clayton Reed
Eastern Religions, such as Hinduism, Bhuddism, Taoism and Transcendentalism, now appear in the Western world under the generic label of “New Age.”
“When I woke up the next morning, I found myself wondering whether my daughter was some other reincarnated adult who might be living in the body of a person I thought of as my daughter?”
- Shirley MacLaine1
“New Age” – What is it? – A new science? – A revival of ancient mystery religions? Is it spiritual reality, or merely mystical fantasy? And is it just a passing fad in America, or a force and movement to be reckoned with?
When we speak of the New Age movement, we are not talking about one organization by any means. The New Age movement is a network of many different people, teachers, authors and meditators who do not all know each other but are linked by several shared things:
- Common beliefs (based on mysticism and monism, i.e. “All is God”).
- Common vision (that the new “Age of Aquarius” is upon us: an age of peace and enlightenment).
- Common concepts (which will shortly be described).
On the pop culture level, New Age has become quite visible in recent years, especially since its “chief evangelist,” Shirley MacLaine, aired her prime time TV specials in 1986-87. Her several books, describing her spiritual pilgrimage from a bored churchgoer as a girl to a New Age enthusiast (as well as her many sexual and adulterous affairs along the way), have sold over 5 million copies.
“You mean I was astrally projecting just then?” I asked. “Sure,” he said, “I was doing that this morning right here while you were off walking. I take trips all over the place. I save on fuel costs,” he grinned.
- Conversation between Shirley MacLaine and her mentor David2
Through her influence and others, we have all received a quick education through objects, such as “crystals” which are purported to be “energy devices,” and “channeling” which is the supposed practice of learning truth and ethics from spiritual entities speaking through otherwise normal human beings.
New Age bookstores now dot the landscape, and New Age book sections appear in most normal bookstores as well. New Age magazines and literature turn up everywhere from grocery stores to health clubs to doctor’s offices. Ads for “Spiritual,” “Wholeness,” and “Awareness” or “Enlightenment” gatherings are commonly seen in newspapers or posted all over.
But is New Age really all that new? Actually, all its core beliefs (as we will see in a moment) are taken from not so new sources: the ancient religion of Hinduism from India; other occult or pagan (non-Christian) religions and traditions common to other ancient cultures (e.g. ancient Egypt, the Mayan civilization and the black magic and witchcraft of the European Middle Ages); and thirdly, since New Age is a Western and American phenomenon, there is the strong flavor of our good old scientific and practical bent mixed in.
Some Central Concepts of New Age
Let’s look now at some of these core concepts, shared by all New Age believers. First, “God” is considered to be everything, to be in everything; everything and everyone are in fact God themselves. This is just the Hindu concept of pantheism – there is no Being “out there” to love and relate to, as taught in Christianity, but rather an impersonal “force” (as in Star Wars: “Use the Force, Luke!”)
Every man is a god, having already attained their divine nature, if only they would become aware of it. But this means that, as gods, we all create our own realities and moralities and beliefs; there is no absolute truth anywhere to be known, because you are absolute truth. Plus, there is no use in praying to God for guidance in New Age, since no one is there; instead, their is a meditation upon your own divine Self.
Morality becomes a highly subjective thing to be determined by each person according to what his inner Self desires. This belief is from Hinduism. The highest god in Hinduism, Brahman, is “beyond good and evil,” and does not require any absolute morality of his followers. Here is an enlightening exchange between a man investigating the world of New Age, and does not require absolute morality of his followers.
Here is a telling exchange between a man investigating the world of New Age, and the channeled entity “Ramtha” (supposedly a 35,000 year old warrior-king who conquered Atlantis):
MAN: My main concern is what my path of service is in my life.
RAMTHA: To you.
MAN: To myself and my fellow man.
RAMTHA: Don’t worry about your fellow man. If you become happy, however they look upon you doesn’t make any difference. The fact that you are happy and in service to Self is quite enough.3
One might wonder what would happen, were this true, if my Self tells me to harm you, while your Self tells you that this would not be a good idea! Who is right? We would quickly find ourselves faced with an issue that the Bible has taught all along – that there are absolute moral standards which God put in place to keep us out of trouble, and to which He is holding every man accountable, no matter what the man’s “Self” desires to do!
“So,” I said, “what you’re saying is that reincarnation is like show business. You just keep doing it until you get it right.”
“Yeah,” he replied, “… something like that. You know.”
- Conversation between Shirley MacLaine and David4
Reincarnation, or the notion that human souls are locked into an endless cycle of life and death in the world, comes directly from Bhuddism and is universally accepted within the New Age. Within those religions, reincarnation has always been seen as a horrible thing, a bondage or punishment that one should try to escape by meditating into the state of nirvana (nothingness).
But the New Age definition is more positive, that it is an upward spiritual evolution of everyone’s divine soul over many life times. Ultimately perhaps, you could become an Ascended Master entity yourself, able to channel through other humans!
Here again, there is a direct contradiction with Biblical truth. The Bible clearly states that “it is appointed for men to die once, and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). The judgment of God allows those who know Him and love Him to live with Him forever in joy (that is, Heaven), and allows all those who rejected His love and disobeyed His laws to live forever apart from Him (that is, in the torment of Hell).
As we are already seeing, either the Bible and the God of the Bible are right and true, or the New Age and Hindu teachings are true. With such glaring differences, they cannot both be true, even though New Age teachers often pay homage to the Bible and claim their teachings agree with it.
What is Channeling?
“You are God. You know you are Divine … and, most importantly, (you must) act accordingly.”
- channeled entity “John”
“Just do what feels right … They (channeled entities) have told me to just trust my feelings.”
- channel medium Kevin Ryerson5
And what about channeling? It is actually a very old phenomenon in the world of religions, known as spiritism: communicating with spirits via human mediums. But the million dollar question is: “Who do you hear when you hear a channeled voice?” Is it assuredly good, or deceptively evil?
Most New Agers who embrace channeling and read channeled books (by “Seth,” “Lazarus” and Edgar Cayce) have assumed that just because something is spiritual and real, it is therefore good and true. But that is a mighty big and weak assumption, considering that the Bible has taught for thousands of years that evil spirits, called the Devil or demons, do exist and will attempt to influence, deceive and harm humans if allowed to do so.
“David,” I said, “umm – did Mayan (a spiritual being/friend/teacher) say exactly where she was from?”
“Sure. The Pleiades (a constellation of stars).”
- a conversation between Shirley MacLaine and David6
In Deuteronomy chapter 18, God specifically calls witchcraft, spiritism and sorcery abominations in His sight, horrible things. Why is this? Is it because He is scared of the competition of mediums and channeled beings (which the Bible identifies as simply lying demons), and the New Age movement?
No, the God of the Bible hates such practices because He loves human beings, and does not want people falling into the trap of “alternative spiritualities” that will bring about confusion, sin, destruction and finally Hell.
Finally, one might wonder why New Age spirituality has become so popular and has spread so rapidly in the West. It has come on like a storm in recent years for probably three basic reasons:
1) New Age offers a spiritual basis for life, filling the void created in our hearts and culture by materialism and humanism.
2) While Christianity also offers the above, it is perceived as being contrary to modern science, while New Age purports to be on the leading edge science in physics and psychology.
3) New Age often tolerates rather than challenges such unbiblical behaviors as sex outside of marriage, adultery (e.g. Shirley MacLaine’s own sexual escapades), homosexuality, and the recreational use of drugs.
New Age offers a way of being “spiritual” to all those who are unwilling to repent or stop such lifestyles, as the God of the Bible commands for our own good.
1. Shirley MacLaine, Out on a Limb (Bantam Books, 1983), p.19.
2. Ibid., p.329.
3. Ramtha with Mahr, Voyage to the New World, p.228
4. Out on a Limb, p.233. 5. Ibid., p.209 and 210. 6. Ibid., p.308.