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ETpro's avatar

What's so new about New Age?

Asked by ETpro (34550points) May 7th, 2010

I thought man began believing that declaring things he didn’t understand to be a great mystery started with the Dawn of Time. Wasn’t the “It’s a mystery” false explanation in full sway by the Dark Ages? What’s so new about insisting that evidence and knowledge have no bearing on things, that only mystery and magic can possibly hold sway?

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37 Answers

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

The term puzzles me as well.

mrentropy's avatar

I can answer this. Hang on while I consult the Cards…

faye's avatar

New Age seems to be evolving or morphing into something different every few years. And it’s not new anymore!

SeventhSense's avatar

It was a “catchword” for a movement. There seemed to be a time in the 70’s-80’s when there was a large influx of alternative approaches to spirituality and mysticism that were “new” compared to the traditional religions. But you are right. There was nothing particularly new about them and I think now it’s just a general term for anything alternative when it comes to spirituality.

DominicX's avatar

Well, the music uses all those newfangled synthesizer instruments.

I love Enya.

SeventhSense's avatar

@RedPowerLady
Well Enya is synonymous with some easy listening New Age

RedPowerLady's avatar

@SeventhSense So we are talking about music? Or what?

I know what New Age means but the question has me utterly confused.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

The “movement” is a constantly changing grab bag of mostly Asian religious beliefs with a bit of Native American thrown in for seasoning. Nothing really new in that, Madame Blavatsky’s Theosophy movement was doing that in the 19th century.

The music spawns from Brian Eno’s “space music” work in the 70’s, later picked up in the US and Japan. I adore Enya, too,

Coloma's avatar

True, there really is nothing new about new age.

I have a great book that was written around the turn of the last century, ‘As a man thinketh’ by James Allen, 1st edition printed in 1902. A great little ‘new agey’ book thats now 110 years old. lol

I assimilate ‘New Age’ to mean a diverse and esoteric/ecclectic approach to the cosmic mysteries.

I’d call myself ‘new age’ in the sense that I embrace many different facets of spiritual teachings from Buddhism to the Toltec ways to native american philosophies to quantum physics to jesus.

There is NO new news under the sun! ;-)

ETpro's avatar

Thanks, folks. All the discussion gives me more insight. I was quite enthralled by Brian Eno’s music back in the 70s and like Enya as well. I do get amused by the cherry picking New Agers apply to Native American beliefs, though.

For instance there are many who are convinced the Ancient Mayans were possessors of mysterious hidden truth, and that since their long calendar comes to an end in 2012 our world will either end then or go through some sort of total transformation. But do they also believe that all of history repeats itself every 260 years, or that only by spilling human blood and holding up a beating human heart to the Gods will the next year’s crops be assured? If the answer is yes, I hereby withdraw my heart from consideration. I am sure it is far too skeptical to please such mystery-loving Gods. :-)

SeventhSense's avatar

@ETpro
They say the blood ran like rivers down the pyramid steps. That was some assembly line sacrificin’..

RedPowerLady's avatar

I know what new age means. I’m still completely confused. No need to try and explain if I’m getting on your nerves, lol.

ETpro's avatar

@RedPowerLady Certainly I am not annoyed in the least. And since it was my question, I will try to explain it further to clear up any possible confusion. You see, I know you believe you understood what you think I wrote, but I am just not certain that you realize that what you read is not at all what I meant. There. Better?

SeventhSense's avatar

@RedPowerLady
What are you confused about?

RedPowerLady's avatar

@SeventhSense I thought man began believing that declaring things he didn’t understand to be a great mystery started with the Dawn of Time. huh?

Wasn’t the “It’s a mystery” false explanation in full sway by the Dark Ages? huh?

What’s so new about insisting that evidence and knowledge have no bearing on things, that only mystery and magic can possibly hold sway? huh?

And how does any of that relate to New Age?

RedPowerLady's avatar

@ETpro Okay so you are fully intending to yank my chain. Mission accomplished.

ETpro's avatar

@RedPowerLady Alright, a serious response. It is possible only now that I know what your confusion is. Before, I was totally confused about that.

New Age is defined by Wikipedia as “a decentralized Western social and spiritual movement that seeks “Universal Truth” and the attainment of the highest individual human potential. It includes aspects of Occultism, astrology, esotericism, metaphysics, alternative medicine, music, collectivism, sustainability, and nature.”

These are all things that are largely or totally beyond the reach of proofs, and must be accepted on faith. There is absolutely nothing new about asking people to accept proof-less beliefs on faith. That is far older than the notion that things can be tested, and that some evidence of something actually being true is a good start toward accepting it as a guiding principle.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@ETpro Well I suppose I disagree with your fundamental argument then because things such as collectivism, sustainability, nature, alternative medicine, etc.. are based off of a form of scientific nature. They don’t just happen on faith alone.

Having said that I agree that mean “new age” beliefs are really old beliefs. But they have become so contorted and misused for personal gain that I think calling them “new age” is appropriate. That way I can avoid the “new age” crap and follow the old beliefs.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Does that answer your question??

ETpro's avatar

@RedPowerLady Yes, thanks for your answer. And I should note that I do not for a moment include such things as sustainable living, collectivism, and nature in the realm of unprovable concepts that must be accepted on faith alone. They are quite provable and workable. So are naturopathic cures, but far too many of those have never been subjected to rigorous, double blind testing as proof, and in that realm you will find a very large ratio of snake oil mixed in among the things that actually have some benefit beyond the placebo effect.

mattbrowne's avatar

New Age spirituality is a form of superstitious religion.

Coloma's avatar

‘New age’ spirituality is a combo plate of wisdom, philosophy, metapyshics and science.

It’s about as integrated as one can get, understanding that EVERYTHING is interconnected, from our thought frequencies to what we manifest in our lives.

I feel it is the most logical and well integrated pyramid of truth that encompasses the fact that there are many great truths and they all form the totality of what is.

There are many paths, many great teachers, many good works and they all converge in a well roundedness that begs to be paid attention to.

Anytime we automatically reject anything we fall furthur from an ‘enlightend’ state.

The mosy humble of words to be uttered is ‘I don’t know.’ :-)

ETpro's avatar

@Coloma It would appear you embrace philosphical relativism. I do not.

Anytime we automatically reject anything we fall furthur from an ‘enlightend’ state.

If that is so, then anyone who fails to believe that Santa Claus exists, flies with reindeer around the world each Christmas, and magically descends through chimneys to deliver toys—even in homes with no chimney—has let loose of enlightenment. That would even apply to the parent who knows how those toys actually got there. The age of enlightenment began when mankind finally abandoned such thinking. Embracing it again will not lead to a new age of enlightenment, it will lead to a new Dark Ages.

Coloma's avatar

@ETpro

I don’t see how you can incorporate Santa Claus into this discussion of metaphysics…I fail to make that connection.

Dropping mythological legend ( story ) is not on the same continuem as embracing metaphysical truths.

What does Santa Claus have to do with interconnectedness and symbiotic universal relationship?

Your logic escapes me.

ETpro's avatar

@Coloma Something completely unsupported by evidence doesn’t become one whit more true because the person claiming it is true uses a lot of metaphysical mumbo-jumbo that is untestable and often largely unintelligible. Such assertions commit the logical fallacy of an appeal to gibberish or at best, an Argument By Prestigious Jargon.

Would the Santa Claus myth become suddenly true if someone concocted a well crafted metaphysical defense of it?

Coloma's avatar

@ETpro

Fine. Doors closed, dance over.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Coloma – Since when is occultism, astrology, esotericism and homeopathy scientific? Last time I check it wasn’t.

But there are certain forms of non-superstitious New Age movements, for example focusing on sustainability.

Which tells us to really check out what’s behind New Age.

Coloma's avatar

@mattbrowne

Well, perhaps these few words are where the hang ups about metaphysics lie.

I am not speaking of occultism, or astrology, simply universal law and spiritual interconnectedness.

So for future reference when I speak of of anything ‘new agey’ sounding, remember that I am not speaking of sacrificing goats, tossing people into volcanos, running from black cats, not leaving the house because my horoscope and psychic says it’s a bad day or promoting satanism. lol

‘Esoterica’ is another valuable approach to the great mysteries of life, but does not have to include archaic superstions.

ETpro's avatar

@Coloma Thanks for the clarification. New Age paints with a very broad brush. I am sure we could debate it with little chance of changing either of our opinions, but I do not count spiritual interconnectedness as being a scientifically provable thing.

Coloma's avatar

@ETpro

Yeah, well..bottom line, no one knows anything for certain, except that the sun rises, and even the sun will die someday. lol

It’s just tossing around thought and idea. ;-)

ETpro's avatar

@Coloma I agree we do not know things for certain. Science deals in probabilities, not certainties. But the probability that a bullet fired from a rifle tomorrow will follow the trajectory that Newton’s Laws of Physics predict for it are substantially higher than those of a human spirit; which is not detectable, testable, provable or predictive in any verifiable way; operating in any predicted way.

Someone might describe the feeling of watching the sunrise strike Half-dome in Yosemite as spiritually uplifting. Another nature lover who has witnessed that same event might feel a sense of connectedness on hearing her friend’s report of it. But we need no mystical, unseen and undetectable supernatural world to explain that sense of mystery.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Coloma – Terms are sometimes ambiguous andthis is why we got dictionaries and encyclopedias. My views were based on this definition of the term ‘New Age’

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_age

Coloma's avatar

@mattbrowne

I concur..but in my approach, while embracing 99% of that definition I don’t subscribe to the occultism part, nor, to reiterate, rely on astrology, numerology, etc. as an integral part of that definition.

I see ‘New Age’ as a rich recipe of worthy and divergent philosophies to be explored, but…like any recipe subject to modification.

If somethings too salty for ones tastes, drop the salt, but keep the rest of the ingrediants that taste good to the individual. Still plenty of palatable and nutritious soul food IMO.

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