The Trouble with New Agers
I have not yet read this book by Sandra M. Rushing. I came across it as I googled around looking for "the dark side of New Agers." I was struck by a quote from the book:
"My first encounter with the soft, sweet persona of New Age thinking came when I trained at Jungian events… In these encounters I found an inflated notion of superiority seemed to color the conversations, despite the focus on spirituality and visionary notions of a world where peace would reign supreme. Behind the perfectly closed faces and spoken declarations of “we are all one” was an undertone of moralizing that implies how right New Age thinkers are in comparison to all those other hateful, ignorant folk who haven’t found Jungian theory on New Age thought. Hidden behind the intellectual facades of polite platitudes lurked the very heavy, hidden viscosity of denied shadow.

‘The New Age fundamentalist may substitute a goddess as the object of worship in place of Jesus or God, and a ritual using crystals may take the place of the sacrament of communion. But a system of belief that assumes only the good, the lovely, and the light are worthy of attention is an out-of-balance belief system, whether it is centered in the institutional church or in the contemporary New Age movement... The shame of owning a shadow is the key to its denial."

I have some criticisms of the folks who throng to the New Age. This might come as a strange posting from someone who openly espouses reincarnation and who attended a 4 year hands-on healing school. But I have a foot in two camps: the world of the everyday life of the practical householder, dependent as it is upon science, technology, banking, politics, arts, and letters, and the world of the spiritual quest, which seeks God-realization. I see the failings and foibles of both sides.
Mostly it comes down to the old dilemma between the either/or and the both/and.
Just behind the manifest world of illusion and duality, lies the deeper world of eternal unity. And just in front of the deeper realms of ineluctable truth is maya, a flimsy appearance of form, a play enacted upon a grander stage. The thing is, we are beholden to both realms. We don't get to choose one and ignore the other.
Many householders have lost sight of the greater realm. They ignore or otherwise disavow the unlimited, divine consciousness that permeates everything. I find this is often true of very successful left-brain people. Most aren't openly anti-spiritual, though some are. Most are lovely, decent people. They're just too busy, all those ideas are airy-fairy impractical, and, anyway, aren't those New Agey activities populated with flakes?
Well, yes, they are. Energy healing abounds with Eckhart Tolle, Barbara Brennan, and Roslyn Bruyere wannabes and devotees who spend a lot of time in "healer's mask," the pretense that they live constantly in the blessed unity state. Their rhetoric bristles with catch-phrases designed to impress on everyone how spiritually superior they are and how much they work on themselves.
Unfortunately, none of these people is the Bodhisattva they pretend to be. And they don't see how their reliance on channeled teachings, their refusal to believe in the laws of physics, their denial of human suffering, and their blame-the-victim mentality discredits them in the everyday world.
In the healer's listserve to which I belong, someone quoted a disincarnate entity named Seth as Seth preached about how pain is all manufactured in the mind. Someone else got frustrated with the denial in this kind of New Age crap, how it doesn't bear out in the real world, when we meet other human beings and their authentic suffering. Naturally I chimed in with support for the latter person and with my own 2 cents besides.
I wrote, "There's a kind ostrich-burying-its-head-in-the-sand approach to human suffering that too many "New Agers" take. If they're not burying their heads in the sand, they're taking refuge in seductively spiritual-sounding platitudes that they might be able to pull off they were actually the Buddha--which they aren't. And because they aren't the Buddha, people around them sense the discontinuity between pretension and actuality. People sense the lack of grounding. It's part of the reason that so many successful people working in medicine, banking, scientific research, and law have such scorn for the breed.
A light bulb turns on every time with electricity, and science and medicine work via repeatable experiments that duplicate results, whereas healing sometimes works, and sometimes it doesn't. By "work," I mean "effect a tangible, physical result, eg, a cure." We've all witnessed miracles, yet we can't guarantee them every time. We do not fully understand the mechanics of quantum physics, which is where, I suspect, the physical laws that govern energy healing lie. Einstein himself did not like quantum physics and went to his death bed troubled by it; he called it "spooky action at a distance." However, Newton's clockwork universe works like, well, a clock. We have consistent, tangible, technological results with it, and it is the basis of our modern world.
At some point in the future, we may understand the mechanics of non-Newtonian physics so that we can have repeatable, duplicable results. We aren't there yet, and to deny that is to discredit oneself.
...(It) is a kind of cowardice, a refusal to be here now with what actually is. It is intellectual and moral laziness. Further, just because a disincarnate spirit got channeled and published doesn't mean that everyone should take every word as Gospel Truth. Intelligent readers FILTER.
Just because someone runs a healing school and has published books, or has a cult following, doesn't mean that everything they say is Gospel Truth and everything they do is in integrity. FILTER."
This posting went over like a lead balloon, and attracted quite a lot of wrath. Apparently healers aren't supposed to think for themselves, which I pointed out in another posting. Then I wrote,
"Your contempt for bankers and lawyers is problematic, and contributes to the global chaos. By success I am talking about effective action in the world...
The incoherent, unbacked-up-by-concrete-evidence ramblings of New Agers in denial make them targets of derision for these lawyers, bankers, corporate executives, and politicians who are making all the decisions about how the Earth will be husbanded. They're making bad decisions, by and large. And healers in spiritual denial aren't taken seriously enough to help them make better decisions. You are as accountable for the sorry state of things as any lawyer or politician if you renounce the real world and give up the ability to take effective action in it. I once heard Shirley Maclaine talk about being "stretched thin between heaven and earth." I always liked this. All this... "everything is light and wonderfulness"... it's just heaven. The balance requires being grounded into the earth. And the earth is full of pain, suffering, fear, hunger, war, disease, genocide, earthquakes, tsunamis, greed, avarice, lust for power, corruption. To deny those realities is to abdicate your power to ameliorate them."
I made a few other postings in similar vein. The healers listserve members then went to war to prove what peaceful, loving healers who live in unity they are.
One of the healers posted this quote, which says it better than I can. No one commented on it, but I fell in love with it.
"It may be that our generation will have to repent not only for the diabolical actions and vitriolic words of the children of darkness - but also for the crippling fears and the tragic apathy of the so called children of light." - Martin Luther King Jr.