Tuesday, November 3, 2015

New Age spirituality; Golden Age predictions; My belief system being anchored in Hindu scripture endorsed by Sathya Sai, and Sai literature

A Facebook correspondent recently shared his thoughts about some famous modern writers on spirituality like Eckhart Tolle suggesting a change of age/shift in humanity. He also referred to healing processes, Ascension process, Crystalline DNA etc. in connection with this change of age/shift in humanity. That has triggered this post.

The wiki page on New Age (spirituality) is fascinating. Here are some longish extracts from it, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Age:

The New Age is a term applied to a range of spiritual or religious beliefs and practices that developed in Western nations during the 1970s. Precise scholarly definitions of the movement differ in their emphasis, largely as a result of its highly eclectic structure. Although analytically often considered to be religious, those involved in it typically prefer the designation of "spiritual" and rarely use the term "New Age" themselves.
Theologically, the movement typically adopts a belief in a holistic form of divinity which imbues all of the universe, including human beings themselves. There is thus a strong emphasis on the spiritual authority of the self. This is accompanied by a common belief in a wide variety of semi-divine non-human entities, such as angels and masters, with whom humans can communicate, particularly through the form of channeling. Typically viewing human history as being divided into a series of distinct ages, a common New Age belief is that whereas once humanity lived in an age of great technological advancement and spiritual wisdom, it has entered a period of spiritual degeneracy, which will be remedied through the establishment of a coming Age of Aquarius, from which the movement gets its name. There is also a strong focus on healing, particularly using forms of alternative medicine, and an emphasis on a "New Age science" which seeks to unite science and spirituality.

Those involved in the New Age movement have been primarily from middle and upper-middle-class backgrounds. The degree to which New Agers are involved in the movement varied considerably, from those who adopted a number of New Age ideas and practices to those who fully embraced and dedicated their lives to it. The movement has generated criticism from established Christian organisations as well as contemporary Pagan and indigenous communities.
From a historical perspective, the New Age phenomenon is rooted in the counterculture of the 1960s. Although not common throughout the counterculture, usage of the terms "New Age" and "Age of Aquarius" – used in reference to a coming era – were found within it, for instance appearing on adverts for the Woodstock festival of 1969, and in the lyrics of "Aquarius", the opening song of the 1967 musical Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical. This decade also witnessed the emergence of a variety of new religious movements and newly established religions in the United States, creating a spiritual milieu from which the New Age drew upon; these included the San Francisco Zen Center, Transcendental Meditation, Soka Gakkai, the Inner Peace Movement, the Church of All Worlds, and the Church of Satan. Although there had been an established interest in Asian religious ideas in the U.S. from at least the eighteenth-century, many of these new developments were variants of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sufism which had been imported to the West from Asia following the U.S. government's decision to rescind the Asian Exclusion Act in 1965. In 1962 the Esalen Institute was established in Big Sur, California. It was from Esalen and other similar personal growth centers which had developed links to humanistic psychology that the human potential movement emerged, which would also come to exert a strong influence on the New Age movement.
Beliefs and practices
Although there is great diversity among the beliefs and practices found within the New Age movement, according to York it is united by a shared "vision of radical mystical transformation on both the personal and collective levels". The movement aims to create "a spirituality without borders or confining dogmas" that is inclusive and pluralistic.

Theology, cosmogony, and cosmology
Hanegraaff noted that the existence of divinity was "mostly an integral and necessary part of New Age ideas". However, he added that within the movement, such ideas regarding the nature of divinity "reflect a marked aversion to rigid, doctrinal definitions", with New Age theology exhibiting an inclusivist and universalistic approach which accepts all personal perspectives on the divine as being equally valid. This intentional vagueness as to the nature of divinity also reflects the New Age idea that divinity cannot be comprehended by the human mind or language. There are nevertheless a number of traits that are repeatedly associated with divinity in New Age literature, the first of which is the idea that it is holistic, thus frequently being described with such terms as an "Ocean of Oneness", "Infinite Spirit", "Primal Stream", "One Essence", and "Universal Principle". A second common trait is the characterisation of divinity as "Mind", "Consciousness", and "Intelligence", while a third is the description of divinity as a form of "energy". A fourth trait is the characterisation of divinity as a "life force", the essence of which is creativity, while a fifth is the concept that divinity consists of love.

Most New Age groups subscribe to the view that there is an Ultimate Source from which all things originate, which is usually conflated with the divine.
Although not present in every New Age group, a core belief of the movement is in channeling. This is the idea that humans beings, sometimes (although not always) in a state of trance, can act "as a channel of information from sources other than their normal selves". These sources are varyingly described as being God, gods and goddesses, ascended masters, spirit guides, extraterrestrials, angels, devas, historical figures, the collective unconscious, elementals, or nature spirits. Hanegraaff described channeling as a form of "articulated revelation", and identified four forms: trance channeling, automatisms, clairaudient channeling, and open channeling.

Prominent examples of channeling in the New Age movement include Jane Roberts' claims that she was contacted by an entity called Seth, and Helen Schucman's claims to have channeled Jesus Christ. The academic Suzanne Riordan examined a variety of these New Age channeled messages, and noted that they typically "echoed each other in tone and content", offering an analysis of the human condition and giving instructions or advice for how humanity can discover its true destiny.

For many New Agers, these channeled messages rival the scriptures of the main world religions as sources of spiritual authority, although often New Agers describe historical religious revelations as forms of "channeling" as well, thus attempting to legitimate and authenticate their own contemporary practices. Although the concept of channeling from discarnate spirit entities has links to Spiritualism and psychical research, in the New Age movement the Spiritualist emphasis on proving the existence of life after death is absent, as is the psychical research focus of testing mediums for consistency.
A common belief among the New Age movement is that humanity has entered, or is coming to enter, a new age known as the Age of Aquarius, which Melton has characterised as a "New Age of love, joy, peace, abundance, and harmony[...] the Golden Age heretofore only dreamed about". In accepting this belief in a coming new age, the movement has been described as "highly positive, celebratory, [and] utopian", and has also been cited as an apocalyptic movement. Opinions about the nature of the coming New Age differ among New Agers. There are for instance differences in belief about its commencement, with New Age author David Spangler claiming that it began in 1967, while various practitioners placed its beginning with the Harmonic Convergence of 1987, with others claiming that it will not begin until several centuries into the third millennium.

--- end wiki extracts ---

Ravi: In response to a view that the New Age prediction(s), beliefs and practices are scientific, my view is that rationalists including top scientists of the world will STOUTLY REJECT such views of a golden age as they will want scientific evidence for the same. Whatever evidence is put up by New Age mystics and writers in this matter will not be accepted as scientific evidence by the top scientists. I say this on the basis of my study of the contemporary God & science conversation. If readers want to know how these top rationalist-scientists view such matters they may want to read Prof. Richard Dawkins who is one of the leading atheist/non-theist proponents in the world today with his very offensively (to theists like me) titled book, The God Delusion, being a bestseller.

In my considered view, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba (Swami) showed great mystical knowledge about Hindu scripture like the Vedas, Itihasas and Puranas. So I treat words from Swami on these topics, especially if given in public discourses, as DIVINE REVELATIONS. [Mind you, Swami would also joke a lot with students & others. So casual comments to them may also have been a joke. But seriously said words, especially in public discourses, about these matters are DIVINE REVELATIONS to me.]

Swami has referred to Kali Yuga many times in his discourses. But never do I recall him hinting that Kali Yuga is going to end in 21st century. Never! Instead his discourses would always imply that Kali yuga is going to continue for our foreseeable future (hundreds and thousands of years). And that Namasamarna is the appropriate and very easy path for this Kali Yuga.

I prefer going by Hindu scripture that Swami endorsed, and Swami/Sai teachings as my belief system. I am not too much into Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra and other New Age gurus but I do recognize that many people have benefited from them. Hindu scripture endorsed by Swami and Sai literature are the CORNERSTONES of my beliefs, my life and my writings on religion & spirituality.

[Of course, rationalist-scientists like Prof. Richard Dawkins will not accept REVELATIONS of any spiritual master or scripture as truth, only on the basis of belief, like they will not accept New Age guru REVELATIONS as truth. As far as I am concerned they are free to not believe in such REVELATIONS and I am free to believe in DIVINE REVELATIONS made by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.]

P.S. I have been referred to, at times, as a scientific researcher. Well, that is inaccurate. I am NOT a scientist but am aware of principles of scientific research as I have had to look into it for my study of the contemporary God & science conversation over the past few years (especially after Swami Mahasamadhi). And, since I am a Physics graduate and an M.Sc. Physics drop-out (due to money problems primarily; dropped out in early 1984), I could understand the scientific research principles quite easily. By profession I was a software technologist (in software industry from 1984 to 2002) and that too helped in this understanding. However, technology is applied science and so is different from science. I think a more accurate description of me in my current blogger/writer role would be a (truthful) student/researcher of religion and spirituality.

[I thank Wikipedia and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

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