Walter Berlin ... who would have otherwise gone un-noticed
seems to be trying to expunge bad news of himself off the internet. He's going to be pretty busy considering there are a wealth of very credible newspaper articles
about him. There's also a damning 60 Minutes report
Walter Bellin is credited
with creating the Turning Point course. You can read plenty about this course here: [www.culteducation.com
In particular, he considers this minor page of an article
at the CAIC to be defamatory.
Here's the full article so that it can all be read in context. I hereby invoke the Streisand effect
New Age - Or Armageddon?
A major misconception about the "New Age" movement is that it revolved solely around psychic phenomena and religious ideas borrowed from Hinduism and elsewhere. Exotic activities like channeling, crystal therapy or rebirthing, get most publicity and there is a general view that the "New Age" consists largely of the activities of a slightly lunatic minority group.The most important point to appreciate is that these aspects are but a VERY small part of an overall whole.
There are a number of trends in our western societies, which, when taken together with the ideas propounded by leading new age figures such as David Spangler and Marilyn Fergusson, suggest the formation of a "global society". [Which may or may not include Asian countries such as China]. This of course plunges us headlong into biblical theology concerning the "End Times".
These notes are concerned with the trends in RELIGIOUS CONCEPTS. It is only VERY SMALL part of the overall picture concerning just this ONE aspect.What Is The New Age?
David Spangler says "to equate the new age with psychic phenomena is a limited and potentially distorted approach, for new age activities take many manifestations that are not involved with nor reflective of the paranormal ... the new age is more than the latest fad in crystals, the channeled rehashing of human potential psychobabble, or self-centeredness dressed up as cosmic wisdom ...." (Discover, Apr.May 88 p. 7)
So Spangler's view is very different from that presented by the media. But notice he chooses his words very carefully. He says that to view the New Age in terms of ONLY psychic phenomena is a distortion, BUT psychic phenomena (not necessarily the ones the media focus on) still DOES provide one gateway. He criticizes the present media emphasis on sensationalist psychic activities.
Why? - because the New Age is MORE than that. One line of reasoning followed by "New Agers" runs something like this: "The whole world is in a complete mess. Unless we adopt some radical new solutions to the problems that confront us, mankind is doomed to destruction. We have ruined our environment and polluted Mother Earth. The atom bomb could be dropped at any moment. Man's greed, and lust for power, which are manifested through the various institutions he has created, are to blame ... BUT ... there is a way out ..."
And a huge smorgasbord of "ways out" is offered. This is what makes the "New Age" so confusing at first glance. But the proposed solutions always seem ultimately to lead to the conclusion that only "global" approaches will work.Religious Solutions
Let's look at some of the current beliefs and activities of some fringe segments, around which most publicity centres. It is appropriate to classify these as being of a "religious nature" because they involve concepts of "higher" beings and our relationship to them.Channeling
Devotees of this modern variant of spiritualism claim that "discarnate entities" (i.e. spirit beings) speak directly through a human "channel" (medium). Most of us have heard of "Ramtha", a masculine entity who is allegedly channeled through J Z Knight from America. The following extract from Sydney "channeling intensive" by Knight, held at Sydney's Hyatt-Kingsgate Hotel on 7/8th Nov. 1987, is typical of the type of philosophy promoted:
"... there is also another extra-ordinary change occurring ... such an alignment of force directed on your beloved planet, that those who begin to evolved to the truth that lies within ... will be catapulted one million lifetimes in evolution before the end of the century. "(New Age News, Dec 1, 1987, p. 1) The Concept - great planet-wide change; giant leap forward in understanding; truth is within you.Rebirthing
"Rebirthing aims to clear and release the memory of birth and its trauma. (This is done by breathing in a certain way - called conscious connected breathing - which brings up the birth memories so they can be "released". This process needs to be repeated until the effects of the "traumas" of birth are totally dissipated. It is also claimed that rebirthing is a form of spiritual purification, and can be used to release anything out of your body that shouldn't be there e.g. negativity, fear, tension, disease etc.
American Sondra Ray was one of the first to introduce rebirthing to Australia and there are now practitioners in most states. An interview with Ray was recently published in "Simply Living" magazine, and the following extracts give some idea of her basic beliefs.
Quest.: I understand you feel that your books are transmitted to you from another dimension?
Ray: I feel God works through me, the Holy Spirit or my higher self and my (teachers and it doesn't matter who it is ... Anyone can go within and get the answers ...
... But the whole book came in already. Its already there and I just have to open up another channel to receive that. The affirmation we use is "I am always connected to infinite intelligence." That means ... I AM one with God ... If you think you're separate from God then you're disconnected ...�
Elsewhere in the article, Ray remarks, "... rebirthing is sacred, its like pulling in the Holy Spirit and dropping the ego," and "... Our philosophy is love, truth and simplicity, and service to mankind and how you serve the planet better. This new system is arising, the New Age is really here and the faster we accept it the better ..." (Simply Living, Vol 3 No. 2 Jan 88)
the parallels with the "channelings" of Ramtha are fairly obvious - a new system, go within yourself for answers, serving the PLANET.Astrology
Most of us associate astrology with horoscopes, predictions concerning (future events; and these features are still present. But in common with other areas of what has traditionally been termed the "occult", there has been a subtle shift of emphasis and an introduction of new terminology.
In an article entitled "GODdess WITHIN Astrology" the writer said (capitals added)
"In astrology there is a WAY OF BEING which holds, contains and values each moment for what it inherently is .... staying with this momentary flow connects us to an AWARENESS WHICH NURTURES AND GUIDES ... can lead us to NEW ATTITUDES AND RESPONSES ... using astrology in THIS way is MORE likely to bring about life changes THAN exercises in gaining control and problem solving through the charts ..."
(Nature and Health, Vol 8 No 4)
CONCEPT: Awareness is within, there is a higher consciousness we can connect to (God?), new attitudes and responses can be induced.Note:
The writer of the article is re-defining astrology into something quite different from what it used to be. CRYSTALS - An upsurge of public interest in crystals and their alleged capability to act as transmitters of focal points for healing energies and thoughts, has given rise to specialist retail shops which market a wide array of crystal-related products and literature. However it is the IDEAS associated with the use of crystals, RATHER than the crystals themselves, which are the important point. "Within EVERY life form there is a spark of the Divine MInd, we call the soul. We ALL come from our Father and it is our job to take this spark and ignite within ourselves the flame of our thoughts ... so that our soul is at peace and harmony with the inner purpose for our existence ..." (Crystal Visionary, Issue 5, p. 29)Concepts:
We have a HIGHER CENTRE (God) within ourselves, which can communicate to us; Worldwide planetary changes. Other entities exist which can communicate with us. WHAT'S WHAT It is possible to draw distinctions between the various elements comprising what I term the religious segment of the new age movement.Traditional Occult:
Includes spiritism, tarot, palmistry, traditional witchcraft etc. (Strictly speaking witchcraft is not part of the "new age" but is of interest because of the way in which traditional forms are being modified to incorporate new concepts.Neo-Occult:
Includes channeling, rebirthing, nature attunement, meditation groups etc. Often takes the form of heavily disguised traditional elements which have been through the modification process referred to above. More usage of pseudo-scientific terms. Mysticism is kept "low key" to start off with. Often contains elements of Hinduism. May include cult groups such as "I AM" or Alpha Dynamics. This is the main area the media focuses on.Self Improvement:
Is not so obviously "way out". Includes such activities as transpersonal psychology, neuro-lingiustic programming, subliminal learning, psychotherapy. personal effectiveness courses. Appeals to those seeking to acquire more personal skills so as to improve relationships, but who are not consciously seeking a "religious" solution to their problems. Basically uses pseudo-science to appeal to the rational western mind. Mystical elements are often present in our society and it is here that we usually find overlaps into secular areas e.g. through some management training courses.Cult Groups:
Sometimes operate through the appeal of "self-improvement" type courses to draw people into their area of influence. A selection from the overall menu of new age beliefs is made so as to construct a "mackinaw set" religion, based around a strong leader. Sometimes an existing cult hides behind the respectability of a "new age" self-improvement front and uses this as a means of initial recruiting eg witchcraft and eastern religious groups.World Religions:
There are a number of major world-religions such as Baha'i, Brahma Kumaris which have links to the United Nations and are actively working through peace and environmental groups foster a one-world society. What binds all this together is CONCEPTS and LANGUAGE rather than membership of a group or adherence to the teachings of a particular "guru". And the concepts can be promoted through the use of media - magazines, books, videos etc - so that a far wider audience can be reached. So it is possible for a person to hold new age style "beliefs" without necessarily being a member of any group, and to remain free to readily transfer his associations from one area of interest to another.
The important point is that anyone becoming involved in any of the popular 'fads' is led very rapidly indeed to a central core of occultism. This can happen almost unknowingly because of the use of language - "focusing your concentration" sounds more respectable that "put yourself in a trance state"; just as "create your own reality" seems more meaningful that "cast a spell and make a wish". And surely anyone being taught how to "how to love yourself and create harmonious interaction with others" couldn't be involved in anything bad could they? What's wrong with "practical tools and strategies to attain your goals without sacrificing important relationships"?
Possibly nothing is wrong. But what do you know about the background of those who offer the myriad of "self-improvement" courses through natural health resorts, weekend seminars, or correspondence courses?A Case Study
This case study involving the Walter Bellin Partnership Ltd has been selected because it demonstrates very graphically some features of the New Age Movement referred to earlier.
1. Operates in the area of "self improvement"
2. Has an eastern religious bias, but also overlaps into secular areas
3. Has significantly influenced other areas
4. Teaches New Age 'skills' and operates as a business enterprise
The Walter Bellin Partnership Ltd was originally established as Self Transformation Seminars in Sydney in 1979 by Walter Bellin, and American and former lecturer in psychology and University of California. He was originally involved in TM as taught by Maharishi Mahesh, and spent time in England organizing follow-up courses to TM students.
After Walter came to Australia, He felt it was time to step outside the constraints of the Eastern approach and begin working with Western methods. In England, he had formed a close relationship with Robert Meredith, who had trained as an actor, after participating at age 16 in a postal psychotherapy course. Robert eventually headed the TM organization in the UK, but was persuaded by Walter to come to Australia. The courses offered "represent a synthesis of everything they have found the most effective in therapy, but with meditation as the cornerstone".
Robert takes body-work sessions involving bio-energetics, chinese tibetan and hatha yoga. Introductory course is called - "The Turning Point" - a life skills training course. They are expanding their personal development courses into the corporate field. They claim over 16,000 course graduates and to have operated for 7 years. The first New Zealand course was held in 1983 and over 4000 New Zealand graduates are claimed.
So, in 7 years, around 20,000 people were associated with courses run by this one organization which originally commenced as a 2 man partnership. If we assume that this business followed the normal business growth pattern it would seem likely that the current annual level of course graduates in both Australia and New Zealand would be around the 5000 per year mark or more. [Remember - this is only ONE organization operating within the self-improvement area.]
One purpose of this case study was to illustrate the overlap that exists between the "religious" and seemingly "secular" elements of the NAM. Remember that we have only discusses ONE group.
There are a number of international groups which ostensibly operate in the "self-improvement" sub-segment which are probably of similar impact here in Australia, to the Walter Bellin organization. Some of these include: Loving Relationships Training - or LRT - describes itself as "the Rolls Royce of the "Transformation movement". This is headed by Sondra Ray and is a major influence in the re-birthing movement. The Forum - a personal effectiveness program run by Werner Erhard. Basically an updated version of EST (Erhard Seminars Training). Insight Transformation - a "front" organization for the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness (MSIA), a cult group headed by John-Roger, based in California. Lifestream Seminars - Originated in eastern USA. Meditation and personal effectiveness course. Lifespring - Closely related to The Forum. Reflects a mystical, perception of reality. While they do not have a defined belief structure, they encourage parapsychology, meditation and "guided fantasies".
And of course we have Scientology, Alpha Dynamics and Silva Mind Control which overlap from the psychological cults to fit into this area. Below these "majors" is a veritably host of "New Age Centres" operating in all Capitol cities and larger country towns. These offer a full ambit of new age courses.
For instance, here in Brisbane the best known is the Relaxation Centre. About 25 courses per MONTH are organized and bookings are essential. Overseas speakers are often featured and well known Political Leaders, both State and Local Government, have been attendees at the "Centre Within" motivational course. Estimates vary, but about 150-200 people per week attend courses. The courses offered tend to, in some cases, be "soft" new age, but local speakers are often connected to other groups such as "Inner Peace" and "A Course in Miracles".
A recent report by California Business of a survey of 500 company owners and presidents found that over half had resorted to some form of "consciousness-raising" technique. This is becoming a trend in all areas of business both in the USA and here in Australia. Many Australian and State Government departments are encouraging their employees to do various motivational courses. Without realizing the hidden dangers, these people are subtly being introduced to new age thinking.The Takeover Of The Natural Health Movement
A trend in recent years has been the establishment of natural health medical centres where a number of practitioners combine to offer a variety of services at the one location. Increasingly the services provided also include the same of new age literature and books, and practitioners from the fringe religious section of the new age are basing their operations in these centres.
One such centre has practicioners of vibrational healing and rebirthing. Crystal seminars are held regularly and the three practitioners are also qualified Reiki channelers. Without realizing what has happened, many natural healers have been lured into new age thinking and practice through the presentation of 'new healing methods'. Healers who once relied on nutritional therapy alone are now promoting new age healing techniques.Some Recent Trends
Until recently you would have probably been correct if you described the 'new age' as merely a sub-culture within our society. That is of course, if you had accepted the view of the new age put forward by the media.
One clear trend is to wards more pure occultism - ie neo-witchcraft - and this coincides with moves by that segment to acquire respectability. And it would be true to say that the fads of crystals, rebirthing etc along with earlier fads such as pyramids, have helped create and environment where society as a whole is more sympathetic to what are now called 'neo-pagans'. This would suggest that in the fairly near future we are going to see more overt occultism. Groups such as 'The Uranian Network' - a Sydney based occult group specifically for male homosexuals - are already cautiously adopting a more visible profile.
Another trend is a continuing infusion of 'mystical religious' concepts into the secular arena. The Conflict Resolution Network demonstrates how this has happened within the secular Peace Movement (and has in fact started to cause division within the movement as not everyone is happy about it.)
The same process is occurring amongst environmentalists, although in not such a clear-cut way, while smaller movements such as Animal Liberation are being similarly influenced. And you will have noted Walter Bellin's intention to move into the corporate area [other organizations have already done this.]Within The Christian Church
There is certainly food for thought in the trend some Christian denominations to substitute a 'social responsibility' gospel for a 'salvation' gospel. There seems to be a segment in Christian circles which is basically dismissive of fundamentalist theology concerning 'end time' events. They imply that Christians should work towards establishing a Christian based political system as the answer to our problems.
But of course, whether or not you accept this argument depends on your theology. In any event, from a practical viewpoint, it would seem impossible for man to legislate for a change in mankinds inherent nature. One only has to look at Israel and the 10 Commandments as an historical example of how well this works.666 And All That
While all this has been going on, some Christians have been worrying about whether they should use their bankcard or not. One could get the impression that at times satan sees Christians following a false trail, so he lays some false treasures for them to find. It has been well said that 'All warfare is deception' and many Christians would save themselves a lot of trouble if they paid more heed to that fact.
There are certainly a number of technological trends which give rise to concerns in the long-term. Our attitude towards these trends should be governed by what scripture actually says, and in that particular, the view we personally take concerning 'end time' theology. There are a number of views, each of which have some degree of scriptural support, and it would seem wisest to 'hope for the best, but prepare for the worst'. At least that way, you're not going to have your faith shaken at a critical time if a view you held with so much certainty turns out to be wrong.Recognizing A New Age Group
The giveaway signal is the language used. Phrases such as 'inner awareness. attunement, higher self, ascended masters, going within, initiation, harmonious relations,' characterize the neo-occultic. The self-improvement segment has adopted a pseudo-scientific jargon designed to appeal to the rational western mind by implying that some scientific basis exists for the teaching propounded.A Decoding Exercise
You might like to decode the following which is in new age language.
"After some bio-energetic analysis, I though I might indulge in a little aroma-therapy while undergoing metamorphosis. Unfortunately the vegan radionics practitioner caused me to be indumed with unbalanced bio-feedback flows while using his EEG on an other client. The impact on my sensory components required some urgent NLP, but I was able to resolve my right outcomes by rolfing instead. It was enough to make me primal scream, but some voice dialogue externalized my inner situation. Next time I'll Mora instead."
Yes, well .........