The Problem with New Age Spirituality 

I participated in a training this weekend. I’ll leave it unnamed so as to not get into a discussion about the merit or quality of the particular training. That is not the point of this post. I want to discuss a more general theme that I see in many “new age” communities: lack of responsibility. 

I personally see little difference between the rhetoric of Calvinism and that of many new age spiritual communities. In Calvinist-based belief systems, a person is made to think that they can do anything they put their mind to simply through hard work, great effort and determination. No matter what conditions a person is born into, no matter their current circumstances, they can rise above all struggles to live a prosperous life, which is normally defined by material wealth. 

What I learned this weekend is that everything that happens in my external world is a reflection of my internal disposition. If I am confounded to an inferior consciousness, I wil not be prosperous and my relationships will be negative. I have to elevate myself to a superior consciousness in order to find prosperity and sustained happiness. 

At first glance this makes a lot of sense to many. However, I would hope that, at the very latest, at second glance the neglect and lack of accountability and responsibility in this line of reasoning become clear to everyone. Where are oppression, marginalization, violence and abuse and the people perpetuating these horrors accounted for? They aren’t. Instead, as is the case in so many faulty interpretations, victims are left to blame themselves for abuses against them. 

In the last two weeks I have heard stories of women, who were sexually violated and/or assaulted. And these women were in very different situations yet shared the thought process of blaming themselves for the violation/assault. They wanted so badly to believe in the good of mankind that they concluded it better to blame themselves for their situation. According to what I learned this weekend, these women were sexually assaulted and/or violated because they have yet to reach a superior consciousness. What about their violators?

I enjoyed a walking tour of Cuzco last week, and I learned a lot from a really knowledgable tour guide. He was born in a tiny village in the Peruvian Amazon which can only be reached by small boats. He began working -cleaning shoes – at the early age of eight. He pulled himself up by his bootstraps and now lives in Cuzco, speaks at least five languages and lives a decent life. A classic story that everyone loves to tell. However, every statement he made during that tour was an example of internalized oppression. He pled the case for the Incas. I cannot count how many times he used the word savage while begging the tourists not to believe such false things about a grand Incan empire that was destroyed by the Spanish in the name of greed and desire. 

I really liked this tour guide and I know that he felt a sense of connection with me, the only non-white on the tour that day. Without judging him as a person, I would have to say that he still suffers from a state of inferior consciousness. How so though, if he has been able to change his situation to one of greatly increased material prosperity?

The thing about ideas and definitions of states of consciousness is that they heavily depend on the states of consciousness of the people doing the preaching. 

I do not regret doing the training; I learned a great deal and can find my own truth in the teachings. 

The greatest lesson of all though is that, as a member of traditionally, centuries-long marginalized and oppressed groups, it is my duty to serve those communities so that I can contribute to a positive external experience, allowing them the room to heal internally. 

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