|New Age Practices - Tai-Chi, "Healing" Treatment and Yoga|
Today's post is a continuation from my previous post, The New Age: A Basic Introduction, and like that post, draws from the Vatican document Jesus Christ The Bearer of The Water of Life. This document provides a detailed Christian reflection of the New Age, and is considered one of "the" documents on the subject matter.
In case you have not read my initial post, perhaps it best I state right from the beginning that the New Age is not for Christians. Many of the New Age aspects have no use for, and contradict Christian tradition. Case in point, the New Age's "new era" of Aquarius. This "new era" is much anticipated by New Age devotees because it will replace the previous "era," Pisces which unfortunately from the New Age perspective, was dominated by Christianity.
The New Age is an entire set of alternative ideas, approaches, practices and thinking, many of which are in sharp contrast to Christianity. Not only does the New Age have a very different view of the world, one that it hopes to project to others, but some of the New Age aspects go beyond the alternative, and embrace evil methods and practices.
Language also plays an important part in endeavouring to understand the New Age. The many unfamiliar concepts, unknown philosophies, esoteric traditions and Eastern religious rituals and practices all contribute to a great sense of ambiguity and bewilderment when reading about the New Age.
The aforementioned document does not spare any details, so decoding the New Age aspects will require your undivided time and attention. Many times as soon as you feel you conquered, and successfully made it through the maze of alternative explanations and ideas, an entire new set awaits you on the horizon. At other times the language of the New Age is explicitly a direct contradiction to fundamental aspects of the Catholic faith.
If all this was not enough, one needs to be on guard against the combination of placing the unfamiliar with the familiar. A typical example is to express New Age concepts within an "eco-living" environment that attempts to convince the believer that, it is all necessary to achieve harmony with nature. This can be quite confusing and deceiving for participants because what ever positive feelings of relaxation and calmness are derived from being at such settings, the assumption may be that it is due to the New Age concepts and practices that are mingled in with the experience. Of course, this is all in sharp contrast to Christianity in which our relationship with nature is certainly to be a harmonious one, but also as stewards of God's creation, and not worshiping the earth as some false god.
Another example that illustrates the subtlety of the New Age combining the unfamiliar with the familiar is with respect to certain practices at medical centers. Specific examples such as: reflexology, rolfing, polarity massage and others which I list further on in this post. Also, be weary of rehabilitation centers that offer up New Age practices as part of a recovery program. An example would be the inclusion of yoga for "meditation and relaxation" and reiki promoted as either head or body treatments for "general health" in all the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects.
Proponents of the New Age introduce these practices in what appears to be very positive settings. All you have to do is visit a dedicated yoga shop for example. Bright colours, clean atmosphere, and smiles and happiness abound. One can easily get the sense that these practices are "the way."
Yoga practices are not "the way" because what they lead to is an "altered state of consciousness." This is a "Trojan horse" and just part of yoga spirituality, which can have dire spiritual consequences, including exposure to the demonic. Proponents of yoga claim to separate the spirituality from the so called "exercises," but there is no separation. These movements and practices in yoga have a specific meaning and that can not be negated just because some one wants it to be so.
For Catholics and Christians alike, Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life, no one goes to the Father except through Him. (John 14:6) The remainder of this post below will explain some of New Age aspects to be aware of, and at times place the spot light on the "true way."
New Age "Angels" and Extraordinary Manifestations
A common element of the New Age "spirituality" is a fascination with extraordinary manifestations, and in particular with paranormal entities. You may have heard or read about "mediums," people who claim to have the ability communicate with the spirits of the dead. This ability is known in the New Age phenomenon as "channeling." The manifestations that result from the use of mediums are indeed spiritual, but not from God.
Despite the language of love and light, channeling should be properly understood to be not a form of spirituality, but a form of spiritualism. Spiritualism is a system of beliefs or practices based on supposed communication with the spirits of the dead. The successful communication is always with the demonic. Communicating with the dead is not a Christian tradition, and is considered an evil practice and sinful, a grave offence to God.
Part of the fascination with extraordinary manifestations also includes the acknowledgement of "other friends and counsellors" from the spirit world which they refer to as "angels." These so called "angels" are not angels from Heaven, and are often invoked non-religiously to help in relaxation aimed at better decision making, and control of one's life and career.
In the New Age, some people are considered "mystics," not in the Christian sense, but people chosen by these spirits to teach. In Christianity, a mystic is a person who seeks by contemplation, and self-surrender to obtain unity with God with the understanding that certain spiritual truths are beyond the intellect. This is a gift from God and not some thing one can choose to obtain. To gain a further understanding of Catholic mysticism, below is a definition from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary:
The supernatural state of soul in which God is known in a way that no human effort or exertion could ever succeed in producing. There is an immediate, personal experience of God that is truly extraordinary, not only in intensity and degree, but in kind. It is always the result of a special, totally unmerited grace of God. Christian mysticism differs essentially from the non-Christian mysticism of the Oriental world. It always recognizes that the reality to which it penetrates simply transcends the soul and the cosmos; there is no confusion between I and thou, but always a profound humility before the infinite Majesty of God. And in Christian mysticism all union between the soul and God is a moral union of love, in doing his will even at great sacrifice to self; there is no hint of losing one's being in God or absorption of one's personality into the divine.In the New Age, some nature spirits are described as powerful energies existing in the natural world, and also on the “inner planes”; that is, those which are accessible by the use of rituals, drugs and other techniques for reaching altered states of consciousness. Altered states of consciousness are typically characterized by a significant reduction of logical thought and passivity of will, induced by a variety of techniques. Altered states of consciousness differs from the Christian mystical experience in that in the Christian tradition, such experiences come in the form of visions, ecstasies and prophetic revelations and not as a result of performing some technique. In the Christian tradition, mystical experiences are produced spontaneously and directly by the action of the Holy Spirit.
Harmony, Understanding and Good Vibrations
Essential to this aspect of the New Age is being in tune with nature or the cosmos. In New Age thinking, there is no distinction between good and evil. Human actions are considered to be the fruit of either illumination or ignorance. To believe in the existence of evil can only create fear and negativity.
This is in sharp contrast to Christianity in which there is a distinction between good and evil, illustrated by the life of Christ and the existence of the Evil One. In the Gospel of Matthew 4:1-11, the biblical account of the temptations of Christ spot lights the distinction between good and evil. Christ came to redeem and save man, the Evil One has been working to destroy him ever since his fall from heaven.
In the New Age thinking, the answer to negativity is love, but it is not the love that we as Christians understand and know it to be, as deriving from God. In the New Age, love is a set of attitudes in the mind. Love has an energy, a high frequency vibration, and the secret of happiness is to find one's place in the great chain of being. (2.2.2) Some examples of this type of thinking can be found in New Age practices at the Findhorn Garden in Northern Scotland which seeks to unveil a new level of consciousness within an eco-village setting. There is also the Feng Shui approach to harmony, a philosophical system that seeks to harmonize human existence with the surrounding environment.
In keeping with the New Age's alternative approach to traditional thinking, a variety of therapies, treatments, practices and procedures have been developed that rejects traditional medicine and curing of sickness and ailments, in favour of a "total healing." From the New Age perspective, traditional medicine does not provide healing, but only cures isolated ailments that fails to look at the broader picture of a person's health. So the New Age has developed "holistic health" alternatives that look at the whole person, and seeks to heal rather than only cure.
Essential in the New Age approach to healing of the whole person, is the engagement of the mind, and its ability to concentrate and positively impact the healing process. An example of this is the Hindu chakra system, typically used in yoga. This Indian chakra system contains seven different chakras or "energy centers" that can be filled with prana or "divine energy." This so called "divine energy," is attained by yoga techniques, to bring one into an "altered state of consciousness," which can be extremely dangerous from a spiritual sense. An altered state of consciousness is generally characterized by a significant reduction of logical thought and passivity of will. The dangers which may result from altered states of consciousness are: mental illness, demonic influence, spirit possession, and occult bondage. If that was not troubling enough, whether one practices Hatha or Raja yoga, the ultimate purpose of both is the realization of one's own divinity, a concept that is in sharp contrast to Christianity.
Although yoga is probably one of the most familiar, and common New Age practices that attempts to make one realize one's own "divinity," there are several others. The following is an excerpt from Jesus Christ The Bearer of The Water of Life, which lists a variety of New Age holistic approaches:
...Advertising connected with New Age covers a wide range of practices as acupuncture, biofeedback, chiropractic, kinesiology, homeopathy, iridology, massage and various kinds of “bodywork” (such as orgonomy, Feldenkrais, reflexology, Rolfing, polarity massage, therapeutic touch etc.), meditation and visualisation, nutritional therapies, psychic healing, various kinds of herbal medicine, healing by crystals, metals, music or colours, reincarnation therapies and, finally, twelve-step programmes and self-help groups. The source of healing is said to be within ourselves, something we reach when we are in touch with our inner energy or cosmic energy. (2.2.3)The Essential Matrix of New Age Thinking
New Age thinking is said to be found in the esoteric-theosophical tradition. It was a tradition that was widely accepted in the European intellectual circles of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, that also found particularly strong expression in freemasonry, spiritualism, and occultism. The world view of this tradition was one that viewed the visible and invisible universes as linked by a series of correspondences, analogies and influences. Believers of this tradition could contact the "upper and lower worlds" by means of their imagination or through a medium, and rituals as well. (2.3.2)
Certain elements of traditional esotericism, such as alchemy, magic, astrology and others had integrated with aspects of modern culture including the search for causal laws, evolutionism, psychology, and the study of religions. (2.3.2) The clearest expression of this development took the form of the Theosophical Society, established by a Russian medium, Helena Blavatsky and an American, Henry Olcott in New York in 1875. To illustrate its anti-Christian character, Blavatsky's efforts to emancipate women involved her attack on the "male" God of Christianity in an effort to promote the "return" to the mother goddess of Hinduism, and the practice of feminine virtues. (2.3.2) Today this continues in Wicca under the banner of "women's spirituality." Wicca is a neo-pagan witchcraft "religion" that does not worship the one, true, and only God, but instead worships demonic spirits.
I am sure by now you have realized that the Vatican document Jesus Christ The Bearer of The Water of Life, contains a dense amount of information, and is quite thorough in its detailed explanation of the New Age. Certainly, one blog post will not suffice to capture the several sections, and provide clear thinking from a Catholic perspective as to what the New Age is all about. To do justice to this document, I will be publishing additional posts, each dealing with selected sections to help you get through the New Age "maze" of thinking and world view.
I hope that today's post continues to encourage your discovery of the truth about the New Age. May it also strengthen your understanding, and put you on guard against any of those New Age elements that have subtly, and openly entered into your community.