Current Page: 1 of 48
Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: Judy ()
Date: September 30, 2008 11:10PM

Hello everyone!

I've been dealing with health issues for some time now and whilst consulting with regular MDs (who were of no help) and a naturopath (the most helpful, so far), I've also been reading the works of people such as Louise Hay, Doreen Virtue and Wayne Dyer... (And yes, I also read The Secret and started A Course in Miracles, but couldn't get past the first few exercises.) In my ongoing quest to get better, I've also tried using affirmations, visualizations, The Silva Method and self-hypnosis.

I've found that the new age writers were a ridiculous waste of time. In other words, they haven't helped speed up my progress. The books are badly written and superficial, offering simplistic one-size-fits-all "solutions." It seems to always come down to the same message: if something bad happens to you, then you've attracted this into your life and therefore deserve it. It was never my goal in life to make a career out of being sick and yet I persevered, thinking maybe I wasn't persistent enough, or maybe I was doing something incorrectly or perhaps my attitude was keeping me stuck.

The irony is that while I'm realizing more and more what a waste of time those books were, my thinking has been effected. Life has become very surreal as I try to figure out what is and isn't real. It's a very strange place I find myself in. The last thing I need right now is to be blaming myself for my situation; it's very frustrating.

I would welcome helpful feedback, especially from anyone who has had similar experiences -- any suggestions on how I can climb out of this crazy world of feel good, mind numbing cotton candy fluff.

I hope this message makes sense; I'm more tired than usual today.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: Sandman ()
Date: October 01, 2008 05:26AM

I can sympathise with some of what you've posted here.The New Age plays on people's insecurities, also their ambitions. So on the one hand there are healing affirmations and karmic cleansing to rid yourself of attachments to the lower self (as opposed to the "Higher Self") and on the other hand, pseudoscientific techniques to accelerate "spiritual evolution" such as DNA activation to attune to higher vibrational energies. It's all a load of baloney.

The New Age is a social phenomenon that includes a vast range of differnet cults. A lot of them do share this weird idea about creating your own reality. Of course, everyone has the ability to effect creative changes in their life, but there's nothing very earth shattering about that.

It's made into a living-your-dream ideal in New Ageism transported into a metaphysical realm, where every single detail of your experience and perception of reality is actually manifesting itself through and because of your own thoughts and feelings, and you are personally responsible for all of it. So if for example, the postman one day fails to deliver an important letter which was due to have arrived, it is your fault, not the postal service.

But of course, all of this is just a method designed to get you to buy more books, attend more lectures etc on the basis that you can;t be manifesting your reality properly, haven't mastered the techniques, because undesirable things still happen to you.

Reality just is what it is. You can change the way you think about it and that might change one thing or another but no-one is somehow making reality happen. The idea verges on paranoid schizophrenia, it appeals to a mystical sensibility. The reality is, we all share different and similar realities that exist on their own terms, mostly objective and external in relation to the individual.

The Whirled Musings blog is a very good and sometimes very funny and entertaining expose of the New Age scammers: [cosmicconnie.blogspot.com]

I'd suggest reading some science books or maybe some good political writers, checking out some art and cinema. Anything stimulating and interesting that is not New Age mumbo jumbo.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: Judy ()
Date: October 02, 2008 02:11AM

Thanks for your response, Sandman. The idea that people are responsible for everything that happens to them makes no sense and easily results in blame and self-centeredness. The world doesn't revolve around any one person and going back to the mail carrier example, if the mail is lost, is it because of my "faulty" thinking or anyone else involved, including the sender of the mail (who maybe didn't want me to receive it) and everyone working at the post office (especially people who hate their jobs)? This kind of thinking defies logic!

I've many times said that the reason that diet books are so successful is because they're not. Dieters are always looking for the new quick fix after the last one didn't provide the magical, long lasting transformation. The same can be said for New Age books, lectures, etc. They feed on people's insecurities and can lead to doubting one's own intuition and wisdom.

I'll check out the blog you mentioned, and I'm happy to say that since I've started to wean myself off of New Age mumbo jumbo, I have more time to pursue creative projects and to enjoy reading novels, watching films and exploring a new passion for taking photos.

Thanks again and take care.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: Sandman ()
Date: October 02, 2008 05:40AM

As regards dieting, then a nice recipe never goes amiss and if it's green and healthy then why not. Photography is useful, but watch out for any orbs or UFOs.

According to New Ageism, if a letter you were waiting on did not arrive on time, then it could be due to something like that archetypal symbol identified in a dream two nights previously in which you were unable to communicate with a mysterious figure called something indecipherable who was communicating from another galaxy in the guise of another version of someone insignificant you met fourteen years previously. And that is your problem. It's your Karma. Karma, by the way, is an Oriental mode of feudal social control. Just as Buddhistic methods are used now to placate capitalist neuroses.

New Ageism is no more than a literary genre. It is about immediate communication with the spiritual fantasies of the reader. I saw a woman on a train last night reading a book called "You Were Born Rich". You can prolly luke it up on amazon. She was poverty-stricken. It was prosperity she was after, prosperity consciousness they call it in New Ageism, another way of obessessing over the idea of money. If you don't have enough money, then your attitude is faulty. You need to spiritually reorientate yourself to being wealthy.

Let's not get too fancy about how cults and religion are any different here, shall we. Sikhism or Zoroastrianism are fairly obscure religions compared to say Buddhism or Judaism. Yet in New Ageism they are all One and equally "true". Please forgive me, I'm on a rant here, but I will continue.

I'd be interested to know what anyone thinks is the difference between a genuine religion and a cult?

Otherwise, we'll never recover from New Age mumbo jumbo. Because the way New Ageism would have it, all religions are just a superficial reflection of the ultimate truth.

If you can write a book about food or money and why people should think more "positively" (instead of "negatively") as to how they can "think" money into their lives, or a new appetite from their hunger, then you could be on to a best-seller, but there are more interesting things to write about. Some people are just natural born snake oil salesmen and women. Their preferred mode of communication is BS.

"Self-help" might be New Agey, but New Ageism is beyond self help. It's not a cult, it's an umbrella term for a variety of cults. All of which should be discontinued.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 02, 2008 05:09PM

Cultic Milieu--a Possibly Helpful Concept?

'The concept of 'cultural milieu', as developed by sociologist Bryan Wilson,is very helpful in understanding this conglomeration of alternatives. According to Wilson, there is exists in Western societies, a milieu, which he terms 'cultic' where much that is rejected by the dominent cultureaccumulates.(Corboy's italics) -- alternative therapies, alternative beliefs, and to some extent, alternative lifestyles.

'Both ideas and persons usually belong more to the milieu than to any specific group within it. Individuals easily shift their allegiences from group to group and idea to idea, and ideas and groups are themselves linked to each other by a shared network of publications and venues. ('Venues' meaning places where people socialize and meet face to face C)

From Bryan R. Wilson, The Social Dimensions of Sectarianism: Sects and New Religious Movements in Contemporary Society, (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1990)

Quoted in a book by Mark Sedgwick, page 48-49 'Against the Modern World: Traditionislm and the Secret Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century: Oxford University Press, 2004

All this is very interesting and might offer us a way to understand the New Age.

First, some of the alternative ideas and therapies are later found to be effective and become part of mainstream culture. I am thinking of the use of traditional Chinese medicine and acupunture. This was considered fringe and goofy forty years ago. But...what mattered was that some TCM
practitioners had the ability to learn how to do well designed scientific research and were able to start conversations with medical researchers. Even political factors such as the Nixon Administration's willingness to enlarge political and economic exchange with Red China, played a role.

Now we are at a point where tai chi is taught as part of patient education programs at hospitals after studies have shown that it preserves agility and reduces the incidence of disabling falls and injuries.

What is of concern is when portions of the cultic milieu devalue scientific research and write off critical thinking as negative, and make claims and demand personal allegiance or conceal information needed for informed consent.

The concept of cultic milieu is interesting as well because many persons are recruited into Liftonian cults by gurus and outreach workers who know how to use marketing and publicity that are geared precisely to the cultural milieu.

The sad thing is, those in the cultic milieu think they have escaped the evils of mainstream culture and have escaped from the forms of marketing and consumerism that plague the mainstream culture.

Those in the cultic milieu dont realize that the milieu is still very much part of mainstream culture, for it remains a valuable niche market and it can be targeted, accessed and exploited by advertising strategies designed in mainstream culture.

In short, the cultic milieu thinks its a sanctuary, but it is easily penetrated and cognitively colonized by those who masquerade as members of the cultic milieu but whose actual agendas, concealed by spiriitual talk and charisma, are no different than an advertising campaign meant to market cigarettes to teenagers.

This also has implications for exit counseling and cult recovery

Many who feel traumatized by abusive gurus and human potential programs may leave the specific abusive group or guru, but when they leave that group, they return to the cultural milieu...and that milieu may
1) devalue critical thinking

2) contain triggers that constantly activate conditioning inculcated by the group, since a lot of NLP speak seems to float arond in the milieu

3) the cultic milieu seems collectively phobic and unconscious about power issues and issues of abuse and power imbalance, and in my opinion, tends
to shame those who try to discuss this and issue harm reports

4) The cultic milieu seems to enable spiritually rationalized power abuse, socializing people to be codependent to gurus before they even meet a guru and at the same time has a rhetoric of shame and invalidation that is readily directed at anyone who tries to warn of guru abuse

5) The cultic milieu has a network of magazines, social events, conventions, and websites easily colonized and appropriated by enterprising entrepreneurs/eneuses who know exactly how to exploit the mindset of the New Age cultic milieu, using marketing and PR techniques that are created by the very mainstream culture that the cultic milieu sees itself as having rejected.

In short, I contend that what is damaging about the New Age cultic milieu that many of us dislike is not that it is a liberating alternative to mainstream culture, but covertly is an extension of the very worst of mainstream culture.

------------------

This article puts some human flesh and bones on the cultic milieu concept--it was written by someone who entered the milieu in her teens, had a niche in that social setting as a teacher, and then decided to leave it.

The entire article can be read via this URL

[www.csicop.org]

Bridging the Chasm between Two Cultures

Karla McLaren

(abstract)

A former leader in the New Age culture - author of nine titles on auras, chakras, "energy," and so on - chronicles her difficult and painful transition to skepticism. She thanks the skeptical community and agonizes over how the messages of scientific and critical thinking could be made more effective in communicating with her former New Age colleagues.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/02/2008 05:27PM by corboy.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: Sandman ()
Date: October 02, 2008 08:37PM

Excellent comments, corboy. The notion of a Cultic Milieu definitely carries some weight as regards understanding the phenomenon of the New Age.

I have been meaning to read that book, 'Against the Modern World' by Mark Sedgwick, so thanks for drawing my attention to it again. Also, I meant to post the link to that Karla McLaren article earlier but couldn't find it.

By the way, I heard that acupuncture was re-introduced by Chairman Mao in the 60s or thereabouts as a bid to establish a peculiarly Chinese form of medicine in a sense to compete with the West, and in fact it had been out of use in China for a long time before then. I don't know if that is true or not and should probably research it.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 02, 2008 09:48PM

Sedgwick's book is fascinating, but it can be expensive to purchase a copy, unless you get lucky on alibris.com or bookfinder.com

He has a website, www.traditionalists.org, and also a blog.

The comments for Against The Modern World on Amazon.com are interesting---people either appreciated the book, or loathed it. The ones who loathed the book seemed quite irate that traditionalism itself had come under scrutiny, and I think it is high time that it did.

Anyone interested in Sufism needs to read this book, because some noted scholars of Sufism have a traditionalist bias and have NOT been at all candid in mentioning it, making it impossible for uninformed persons to take this bias into account when assessing these scholars' work.

And it appears that some traditionalists tried hard to recruit and co-opt people, such as Thomas Merton. There are even hints that very early in Sedgwick's own investigations, an attempt was made by a pro-Schuonian traditionalist to co-opt Sedwick under the guise of frienship. This 'friend' abruptly dropped Sedgwick with a thud when Sedgwick was given some very radical information about Schuon that the pro-Schuonians wished to keep hidden.

All this and very much more is in the book. Traditionalism lends itself to a rather paranoid take on life. One traditonalist told Sedgwick that if you abandon the belief that modernity means progress and instead become convinced as traditionalists are, that modernity means regression, then 'there are few persons you can usefully talk to.'

And those who convert to Islam or try to learn about Sufism via English language texts are very likely to find these subjects presented through a traditionalist bias that is not candidly stated as such.

The book is great fun...and even the footnotes are fascinating.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: Judy ()
Date: October 02, 2008 09:55PM

Hello again Sandman!

In your first paragraph you say:

"According to New Ageism, if a letter you were waiting on did not arrive on time, then it could be due to something like that archetypal symbol identified in a dream two nights previously in which you were unable to communicate with a mysterious figure called something indecipherable who was communicating from another galaxy in the guise of another version of someone insignificant you met fourteen years previously. And that is your problem. It's your Karma. Karma, by the way, is an Oriental mode of feudal social control. Just as Buddhistic methods are used now to placate capitalist neuroses."

One of my issues with New Ageism is that everything is analyzed to death because everything has to have a deeper hidden meaning. So if I bruise myself by bumping into the same chair for the 425th time, that incident has larger implications and oh wait, better go check out what Louise Hay says about bruises, etc. When in fact it could simply be a case of me being distracted and therefore more klutzy because I'm tired, more stressed than usual or my iron is low. Or maybe the chair should be moved to a different location. So much time spent analyzing, so little time left for dealing with reality.

Interesting you mentioning Karma and Buddhism. I find that all too often New Agers blame "the victim," So if a woman is raped or a man's business partner gambles away the profits, then somehow the victim deserved what happened because of a past life behaviour. Something that can't be proven but is a convenient way of judging and therefore dismissing someone's pain as being deserved and making it all too easy to walk away guilt free without showing any compassion.

I've been curious about Buddhism and recently started attending lecture/meditation classes with a monk who follows Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. This monk's unquestioning acceptance that reincarnation happens seems odd. Maybe I haven't read enough about the topic, but how can one know for sure what happens after death? It's hard enough to know what's true while dealing with the here and now! I also find it odd that every class he sits next to a photo of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. It's as though this person is being revered as a god.

I recently read something by Karla McLaren where she addresses why she left the New Age movement. She raises many interesting points. I agree when she says that a lot of emphasis in the New Age is placed on prosperity consciousness -- achieving excellent health and becoming materially wealthy. People have to be constantly striving for better and better. The more someone gets sucked into all the possible methods for overcoming and achieving, the less time they have to actually DO something to achieve their goals or to enjoy life. Seriously, who has time for visualizing overflowing bank accounts while mindlessly parroting affirmations several times a day?

Unfortunately, people such as myself with long term health issues are more vulnerable, especially when mainstream medicine doesn't help. I've been questioning stuff all along and what I've come to find is that thinking for one's self/questioning New Age beliefs and practices are discouraged amongst New Agers. People want to sit on their fluffy pink cloud and talk happy talk; they don't want to deal with reality because if you think the right thoughts and feel the right feelings, then miracles will happen without you having to get off your butt. I knew someone who was heavily involved in the occult and if my then partner was being abusive, the answer was always found in astrology or numerology. How I felt was ignored and dismissed. No help offered, no compassion at all. A therapist I was seeing at the time was much the same.

You also write: "I'd be interested to know what anyone thinks is the difference between a genuine religion and a cult?"

I've been asking myself the same question for some time now. I've been leaning towards concluding that so called genuine (or mainstream) religions are accepted forms of cults. All too often independent thinking is discouraged amongst followers of mainstream religions; people who stray are shamed or shunned. Too many pat answers. The same thing that happens within the New Age movement, where I've found many of the followers to be judgmental, evangelical brainwashed robots disguised as human beings. My feelings and conclusions are totally based on my own observations and experiences.

In my former life I was a journalist. It's been years since I left the biz and one of the reasons for my decision was because I was writing more and more self-help. It felt like I was writing the same feel good piece over and over again. Not only was I bored and feeling creatively stifled, but it felt like a huge waste of time for me and my readers.

Sorry this response has morphed into such a long rant. For a long time now I've felt like the only one who saw that the emperor is naked, and it's not a pretty sight! It's also very surreal as I do my best to unload this crap from my own way of thinking. For someone who has always questioned things (even when other people discouraged my doing so), I can't believe how much I've been influenced by this nonsense!!!

Thank you for your response.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: Judy ()
Date: October 02, 2008 10:28PM

corboy, thank you for your response.

What you say about Cultic Milieus makes sense re. New Age. Critical thinking is most definitely discouraged. Anyone who asks questions isn't "getting it" and is dismissed.

You wrote: "The sad thing is, those in the cultic milieu think they have escaped the evils of mainstream culture and have escaped from the forms of marketing and consumerism that plague the mainstream culture."

I totally agree. And as more and more New Age thoughts and practices are being adopted by the mainstream it becomes harder to avoid and more people see it as a way to make money.

It's scary how so many people searching for answers have a black and white perspective -- if it's mainstream and/or science based, then it's "bad" and if it's alternative, it must be "good."

I've heard about NLP but don't know much about it. I didn't have a good feeling about NLP and avoided it.

Karla McLaren's perspective is refreshing and holds a lot of weight because she's been there and can see how even "good intentions" can go very wrong.

Take care.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 02, 2008 10:59PM

Go read Steve Salerno's Shamblog...he has articles on Oprah, Byron Katie, Eckie Tolle, and others. He covers exactly how cultic New age milieu has infiltrated the mainstream.

[shambook.blogspot.com]

[www.selfhelpinc.com]

[www.randomhouse.com]

And I am very sorry to report that psychotherapists who are gullible and are NOT adequately trained on the scientist practitioner model are another gateway through which snake oil gets marketed by charisma driven hucksters and they then pull thier trusting clients into it. Real therapists dont recommend anything that has not been researched and peer reviewed.

The trouble is not nearly enough therapists are trained according to the scientist practitoner model. Lilienthal, Lynn and Lohr discuss this in their book Science and Pseudoscience in Clinical Psychology.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 10/02/2008 11:03PM by corboy.

Options: ReplyQuote
Current Page: 1 of 48


Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.
This forum powered by Phorum.