Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: blue sky ()
Date: November 07, 2008 03:49AM

I'm finding that because New Age thinking is becoming increasingly accepted, it's getting harder to avoid.

It also makes it more difficult to know what is real.

Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: November 25, 2008 11:53PM

A surprising amount of New Age anti intellectualism, especially if one moves around in yoga circles, originated with a movement termed Hindu Renaissance/Hindu Reform.

It sought to reconcile Hinduism with inherant dignity of the human person and tried to revive Hinduism in a way that would break the power of the Brahmin caste holders and support young Indians in thier attempts to gain western educations, then benefit India. Traditional Hinduism was very contemplative and taught self realization through renuciation of worldly affairs, not self realization through service to humanity and nation--which is what the Hindu Renaissance reformers tried to do.

But the reformers had to break the power of the Brahmins by seeming to respect Hindu tradition while devaluing Sanskrit scholarship and Brahmin ritual. So the reformers claimed that the Brahmin scholars corrupted true Hinduism and that the real custodians of Hinduism were the forest sages, the yogis and that scholarship and critical thinking were not only not needed for spiritual attainment but were anti spiritual.

So an ominious anti-intellecutual tinge snuck into the Hindu reform movement.

One of its key exponents was Vivekananda, who spoke, claiming to represent Hinduism at the 1893, World Congress of Religions. It was through Vivekananda and his user friendly English language writings that Westerners thought they were being introduced to Hinduism and to yoga, when in fact Vivekananda had a British college education in Calcutta and had not been trained in traditional Hinduism at all--his preceptor, Ramakrishna had some education but had such bad experiences in his village school that he detested book learning. Vivekandanda was instrumental in forming the Ramakrishna monastic order, which unlike the tradtional advaita orders, emphasized social service, giving it special approval from the Nehru government.

According to Agehananda Bharati virtually all the seemingly Hindu swamis who have successfuly marketed themselves to westerners have done so because they used Hindu Renaissance ideology, which itself derives from Western catagories and reassures Western converts that intellectual attainment is incompatible with spiritual attainment.

Meanwhile a great deal of bad religion and bad science are being produced and this has had some scary political and educational fall out.

Here are some articles to read--it will help you trace why the New Age scene has become what it is: This is an excerpt from a longer article, the first of two parts.



Postmodernism, Hindu nationalism and `Vedic science'


But what concerns us in this article is not the long-distance Hindutva (or "Yankee Hindutva", as some call it), dangerous though it is. This essay is more about the left wing-counterpart of Yankee Hindutva: a set of postmodernist ideas, mostly (but not entirely) exported from the West, which unintentionally ends up supporting Hindutva's propaganda regarding Vedic science. Over the last couple of decades, a set of very fashionable, supposedly "radical" critiques of modern science have dominated the Western universities. These critical theories of science go under the label of "postmodernism" or "social constructivism". These theories see modern science as an essentially Western, masculine and imperialistic way of acquiring knowledge. Intellectuals of Indian origin, many of them living and working in the West, have played a lead role in development of postmodernist critiques of modern science as a source of colonial "violence" against non-Western ways of knowing.

In this two-part essay, I will examine how this postmodernist left has provided philosophical arguments for Hindutva's claim that Vedas are "just another name" for modern science. As we will see, postmodernist attacks on objective and universal knowledge have played straight into Hindu nationalist slogan of all perspectives being equally true - within their own context and at their own level. The result is the loud - but false - claims of finding a tradition of empirical science in the spiritual teachings of the Vedas and Vedanta. Such scientisation of the Vedas does nothing to actually promote an empirical and rational tradition in India, while it does an incalculable harm to the spiritual message of Hinduism's sacred books. The mixing up of the mythos of the Vedas with the logos of science must be of great concern not just to the scientific community, but also to the religious people, for it is a distortion of both science and spirituality.

In what follows, I will examine how postmodernist and social constructivist critiques of science have lent support to both streams of Vedas-as-science literature.

But first, I must clarify what I mean by postmodernism.

Postmodernism is a mood, a disposition. The chief characteristic of the postmodernist disposition is that it is opposed to the Enlightenment, which is taken to be the core of modernism. Of course, there is no simple characterisation of the Enlightenment any more than there is of postmodernism. A rough and ready portrayal might go like this: Enlightenment is a general attitude fostered in the 17th and 18th centuries on the heels of the Scientific Revolution; it aims to replace superstition and authority of traditions and established religions with critical reason represented, above all, by the growth of modern science. The Enlightenment project was based upon a hope that improvement in secular scientific knowledge will lead to an improvement of the human condition, not just materially but also ethically and culturally. While the Enlightenment spirit flourished primarily in Europe and North America, intellectual movements in India, China, Japan, Latin America, Egypt and other parts of West Asia were also influenced by it. However, the combined weight of colonialism and cultural nationalism thwarted the Enlightenment spirit in non-Western societies.

Postmodernists are disillusioned with this triumphalist view of science dispelling ignorance and making the world a better place. Their despair leads them to question the possibility of progress toward some universal truth that everyone, everywhere must accept. Against the Enlightenment's faith in such universal "meta-narratives" advancing to truth, postmodernists prefer local traditions which are not entirely led by rational and instrumental criteria but make room for the sacred, the non-instrumental and even the irrational. Social constructivist theories of science nicely complement postmodernists' angst against science. There are many schools of social constructivism, including the "strong programme" of the Edinburgh (Scotland) school, and the "actor network" programme associated with a school in Paris, France. The many convoluted and abstruse arguments of these programmes do not concern us here. Basically, these programmes assert that modern science, which we take to be moving closer to objective truth about nature, is actually just one culture-bound way to look at nature: no better or worse than all other sciences of other cultures. Not just the agenda, but the content of all knowledge is socially constructed: the supposed "facts" of modern science are "Western" constructions, reflecting dominant interests and cultural biases of Western societies.

Following this logic, Indian critics of science, especially those led by the neo-Gandhians such as Ashis Nandy and Vandana Shiva, have argued for developing local science which is grounded in the civilisational ethos of India. Other well-known public intellectuals, including such stalwarts as Rajni Kothari, Veena Das, Claude Alvares and Shiv Vishwanathan, have thrown their considerable weight behind this civilisational view of knowledge. This perspective also has numerous sympathisers among "patriotic science" and the environmentalist and feminist movements. A defence of local knowledges against rationalisation and secularisation also underlies the fashionable theories of post-colonialism and subaltern studies, which have found a worldwide following through the writings of Partha Chatterjee, Gayatri Spivak, Homi Bhabha, Dipesh Chakrabarty and others. All these intellectuals and movements mentioned here have their roots in movements for social justice, environmental protection and women's rights - all traditional left-wing causes.

Social constructivist and postmodernist attacks on science have proven to be a blessing for all religious zealots, in all major faiths, as they no longer feel compelled to revise their metaphysics in the light of progress in our understanding of nature in relevant fields. But Hinduism displays a special resonance with the relativistic and holistic thought that finds favour among postmodernists. In the rest of this two-part paper, I will examine the general overlap between Hindu apologetics and postmodernist view of hybridity (part I) and alternative sciences (part II).

Postmodern "hybridity" and Hindu eclecticism

THE contemporary Hindu propagandists are inheritors of the 19th century neo-Hindu nationalists who started the tradition of dressing up the spirit-centered metaphysics of orthodox Hinduism in modern scientific clothes. The neo-Hindu intellectuals, in turn, were (consciously or unconsciously) displaying the well-known penchant of generations of Sanskrit pundits for drawing resemblances and correspondences between religious rituals, forces of nature and human destiny.

Postmodernist theories of knowledge have rehabilitated this "method" of drawing equivalences between different and contradictory worldviews and allowing them to "hybridise" across traditions. The postmodernist consensus is that since truth about the real world as-it-is cannot be known, all knowledge systems are equivalent to each other in being social constructions. Because they are all equally arbitrary, and none any more objective than other, they can be mixed and matched in order to serve the needs of human beings to live well in their own cultural universes. From the postmodern perspective, the VHP justification of the guna theory in terms of atomic physics is not anything to worry about: it is merely an example of "hybridity" between two different culturally constructed ways of seeing, a fusion between East and West, tradition and modernity. Indeed, by postmodernist standards, it is not this hybridity that we should worry about, but rather we should oppose the "positivist" and "modernist" hubris that demands that non-Western cultures should give up, or alter, elements of their inherited cosmologies in the light of the growth of knowledge in natural sciences. Let us see how this view of hybridity meshes in with the Hindutva construction of Vedic science.

It is a well-known fact that Hinduism uses its eclectic mantra - "Truth is one, the wise call it by different names" - as an instrument for self-aggrandisement. Abrahamic religions go about converting the Other through persuasion and through the use of physical force. Hinduism, in contrast, absorbs the alien Other by proclaiming its doctrines to be only "different names for the One Truth" contained in Hinduism's own Perennial Wisdom. The teachings of the outsider, the dissenter or the innovator are simply declared to be merely nominally different, a minor and inferior variation of the Absolute and Universal Truth known to Vedic Hindus from time immemorial.

(One way Hinduism played dodgeball was to claim Buddha was an incarnation of Vishnu. Its like trying to punch a pillow--or grab smoke, the thing just assumes whatever shape you poke it into . Agehanada Bharati noted that another dodge was if you trapped someone in a logical error or caught them in a factual error, the person would instantly say that in spiritual matters logic and truth are irrelevant--which is like a losing football team claiming they are not losers because, all along the game was really baseball and you were too stupid to see it.C)

Christianity and Islam at least acknowledge the radical otherness and difference of other faiths, even as they attempt to convert them, even at the cost of great violence and mayhem. Hinduism refuses to grant other faiths their distinctiveness and difference, even as it proclaims its great "tolerance". Hinduism's "tolerance" is a mere disguise for its narcissistic obsession with its own greatness. (this from an Indian journalist!)

Whereas classical Hinduism limited this passive-aggressive form of conquest to matters of religious doctrine, neo-Hindu intellectuals have extended this mode of conquest to secular knowledge of modern science as well. The tradition of claiming modern science as "just another name" for the spiritual truths of the Vedas started with the Bengal Renaissance. The contemporary Hindutva follows in the footsteps of this tradition.

The Vedic science movement began in 1893 when Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) addressed the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago. In that famous address, he sought to present Hinduism not just as a fulfilment of all other religions, but also as a fulfilment of all of science. Vivekananda claimed that only the spiritual monism of Advaita Vedanta could fulfil the ultimate goal of natural science, which he saw as the search for the ultimate source of the energy that creates and sustains the world.

Vivekananda was followed by another Bengali nationalist-turned-spiritualist, Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950). Aurobindo proposed a divine theory of evolution that treats evolution as the adventures of the World-Spirit finding its own fulfilment through progressively higher levels of consciousness, from matter to man to the yet-to-come harmonious "supermind" of a socialistic collective. Newer theories of Vedic creationism, which propose to replace Darwinian evolution with "devolution" from the original one-ness with Brahman, are now being proposed with utmost seriousness by the Hare Krishnas who, for all their scandals and idiosyncrasies, remain faithful to the spirit of Vaishnava Hinduism.

Vivekananda and Aurobindo lit the spark that has continued to fire the nationalist imagination, right to the present time. The Neo-Hindu literature of the 19th and early 20th centuries, especially the writings of Dayanand Saraswati, S. Radhakrishnan and the many followers of Vivekananda, is replete with celebration of Hinduism as a "scientific" religion. Even secularists like Jawaharlal Nehru remained captive of this idea that the original teachings of Vedic Hinduism were consonant with modern science, but only corrupted later by the gradual deposits of superstition. Countless gurus and swamis began to teach that the Vedas are simply "another name for science" and that all of science only affirms what the Vedas have taught. This scientistic version of Hinduism has found its way to the West through the numerous ashrams and yoga retreats set up, most prominently, by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his many clones.

ALL these numerous celebrations of "Vedas as science" follow a similar intellectual strategy of finding analogies and equivalences. All invoke extremely speculative theories from modern cosmology, quantum mechanics, vitalistic theories of biology and parapsychology, and other fringe sciences. They read back these sciences into Sanskrit texts chosen at will, and their meaning decided by the whim of the interpreter, and claim that the entities and processes mentioned in Sanskrit texts are "like", "the same thing as", or "another word for" the ideas expressed in modern cosmology, quantum physics or biology.

(eg the cinematic product of this was that film, What the Bleep do we Know?)C

*Thus there is a bit of a Brahman here and a bit of quantum mechanics there*, the two treated as interchangeable; there are references to "energy", a scientific term with a definite mathematical formulation in physics, which gets to mean "consciousness"; references to Newton's laws of action and reaction are made to stand for the laws of karma and reincarnation; completely discredited "evidence" from parapsychology and "secret life of plants" are upheld as proofs of the presence of different degrees of soul in all matter; "evolution" is taught as the self-manifestation of Brahman and so on. The terms are scientific, but the content is religious.

There is no regard for consistency either of scientific concepts, or of religious ideas.

Both wholes are broken apart, random connections and correspondences are established and with great smugness, the two modes of knowing are declared to be equivalent, and even inter-changeable. The only driving force, the only idea that gives this whole mish-mash any coherence, is the great anxiety to preserve and protect Hinduism from a rational critique and demystification. Vedic science is motivated by cultural chauvinism, pure and simple.

Neo-Hinduism and Hindutva are reactionary modernist movements, intent on harnessing a mindless and even dangerous technological modernisation for the advancement of a traditionalist, deeply anti-secular and illiberal social agenda. Nevertheless, they share a postmodernist philosophy of science that celebrates the kind of contradictory mish-mash of science, spirituality, mysticism and pure superstition that that passes as "Vedic science".

For those modernists who share the Enlightenment's hope for overcoming ignorance and superstition, the value of modern science lies in its objectivity and universality. Modernists see modern science as having developed a critical tradition that insists upon subjecting our hypotheses about nature to the strictest, most demanding empirical tests and rigorously rejecting those hypotheses whose predictions fail to be verified. For the modernist, the success of science in explaining the workings of nature mean that sciences in other cultures have a rational obligation to revise their standards of what kind of evidence is admissible as science, what kind of logic is reasonable, and how to distinguish justified knowledge from mere beliefs. For the modernists, furthermore, modern science has provided a way to explain the workings of nature without any need to bring in supernatural and untestable causes such as a creator God, or an immanent Spirit.

For a postmodernist, however, this modernist faith in science is only a sign of Eurocentrism and cultural imperialism. For a postmodernist, other cultures are under no rational obligation to revise their cosmologies, or adopt new procedures for ascertaining facts to bring them in accord with modern science. Far from producing a uniquely objective and universally valid account of nature, the "facts" of modern science are only one among many other ways of constructing other "facts" about nature, which are equally valid for other cultures. Nature-in-itself cannot be known without imposing classifications and meaning on it which are derived from cultural metaphors and models. All ways of seeing nature are at par because all are equally culture-bound. Modern science has no special claims to truth and to our convictions, for it is as much of a cultural construct of the West as other sciences are of their own cultures.

This view of science is derived from a variety of American and European philosophies of science, associated mostly with such well-known philosophers as Thomas Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend, W.O Quine, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Michel Foucault. This view of science has been gaining popularity among Indian scholars of science since the infamous "scientific temper" debates in early 1980s when Ashis Nandy, Vandana Shiva and their sympathisers came out in defence of local knowledges and traditions, including astrology, goddess worship as cure for small-pox, taboos against menstruation and (later on) even sati. Over the next two decades, it became a general practice in Indian scholarly writing to treat modern science as just one way to adjudicate belief, no different from any other tradition of sorting out truth from mere group belief. Rationalism became a dirty word and Enlightenment became a stand-in for "epistemic violence" of colonialism.

According to those who subscribe to this relativist philosophy, the cross-cultural encounter between modern science and traditional sciences is not a confrontation between more and less objective knowledge, respectively. Rather it is a confrontation between two different cultural ways of seeing the world, neither of which can claim to represent reality-in-itself. ..

IN 1996, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) of the United Kingdom (U.K.) produced a slick looking book, with many well-produced pictures of colourfully dressed men and women performing Hindu ceremonies, accompanied with warm, fuzzy and completely sanitised description of the faith. The book, Explaining Hindu Dharma: A Guide for Teachers, offers "teaching suggestions for introducing Hindu ideas and topics in the classroom" at the middle to high school level in the British schools system. The authors and editors are all card-carrying members of the VHP. The book is now in its second edition and, going by the glowing reviews on the back-cover, it seems to have established itself as a much-used educational resource in the British school system.

What "teaching suggestions" does this Guide offer? It advises British teachers to introduce Hindu dharma as "just another name" for "eternal laws of nature" first discovered by Vedic seers, and subsequently confirmed by modern physics and biological sciences. After giving a false but incredibly smug account of mathematics, physics, astronomy, medicine and evolutionary theory contained in the Vedic texts, the Guide instructs the teachers to present the Vedic scriptures as "not just old religious books, but as books which contain many true scientific facts... these ancient scriptures of the Hindus can be treated as scientific texts" (emphasis added). All that modern science teaches us about the workings of nature can be found in the Vedas, and all that the Vedas teach about the nature of matter, god, and human beings is affirmed by modern science. There is no conflict, there are no contradictions. Modern science and the Vedas are simply "different names for the same truth".

This is the image of Hinduism that the VHP and other Hindutva propagandists want to project around the world. The British case is not an isolated example. Similar initiatives to portray Vedic-Aryan India as the "cradle" of world civilisation and science have been launched in Canada and the United States as well. Many of these initiatives are beneficiaries of the generous and politically correct policies of multicultural education in these countries. Under the worthy cause of presenting the "community's" own views about its culture, many Western governments are inadvertently funding Hindutva's propaganda.

Postmodernism, Hindu nationalism and `Vedic science'



Two lengthy background articles on Neo Vedantism of Vivekananda



And a tough article but a primary source for the heuristic term Hindu Renaissance and cited by many:

Agehananda Bharati, “The Hindu Renaissance and its Apologetic Patterns,” Journal of Asian Studies 29.2 (1970), 267-287

Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: Ex-NewRager ()
Date: November 28, 2008 07:48AM


I came out of the New Age mire about 3 years ago when I finally had, had enough of living in a depressed nightmare known as my mental state. New Ageism as bestowed upon me by the Angel cult headed by Virtue, led me into a series of irresponsible acts based on the premise that my intuition would "guide me". As I was newly "trained" psychic I would now have clarity about my true lifes purpose etc etc...So now guided by the power of faith and intuition alone I set out on a three year journey that had me working crap jobs, living on the financial edge and saw the destruction of an important personal relationship. Basically abdicating responsibility for my own life in favour of divine guidance didn't work out at all.

I hit rock bottom, life couldn't get any worse and so I headed back to the reality I came from and did much, much better on all accounts. I got some proper counselling from a psychologist, got a real job worthy of my skills and ability, and finally took control of my life again. The worst thing about New Age is that there is no logic to it, it inspires deep self blame and guilt and creates massive levels of confusion. You are taught to see "signs" in every small coincidence in your day which over time leads to an obsession and a blocking out of rational thought. At the worst of it I truly felt I had a total break with reality and would never again be sane.

The terrible band-aid solutions offered by new age are vague and tend to blame the individual for their circumstances, which doesn't help anyone when they are down. Telling someone that their unfortunate circumstance is a "life lesson" is just plain cruel. Your beloved dog was hit by a car? It must be a life lesson about grief....bullshit! We'll all get our chance to grieve in life, God or the universe doesn't need to throw your companion under a truck to teach you it.

The most fraudlent aspect of the whole deal I find lies in the holier-than-thou attitude of it's leaders. Look at me my life is so perfect since I did this and this. Then others tend to think that if their life isn't perfect there is something wrong with them. It's all smoke and mirrors of course, a performance. How many new age gurus ended up with cancer, suffered divorce, went broke etc..? All of them. Not one of them asks you to use your common sense or to question the teachings. Great shades of any religion actually.

Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: Sparky ()
Date: November 29, 2008 09:27AM

I have been "battling" New-Age nonsense for a long time. I have tried to "free" friends from this as well with some small success. As many here post, The New-Age-Crapfest runs deep and affects many facets of life and living.

I had the great "pleasure" of attending a "Channeling event" (sort of like the idiocy of Seth) with friend. The "channeler" (I forget his name, but I will always remember the $25 bucks per person to see this event).

The jackass (male, who speaks with a perfect American North-Eastern accent) goes into his "trance". He immediately comes back with a character accent of east Indian. During his question-and-answer phase of the show (he would turn his closed-eyed head to a part of the room and command "SPEAK!" as if he was attuned to people wanting to ask questions.

One dupe (i.e. believing attendee) asked this cat if they have language on whatever planet he lived on in whatever dimension in whatever time. The Indian-accented "channeled entity" said (paraphrasing) "No! We have no language! We speak in our minds only!"

When he spun him closed-eyed head to me and commanded I "speak" I obliged him. He had told us earlier in the evening that the UFOs everyone sees (I've never seen anything that can't be explained) are spacecraft from "his" planet.

I asked him, "are your craft propelled by rockets or propelers to be able to hover in the sky?" and he told me "your simple Earthman mind believes this to be so, but our craft are ANTI-GRAVITY driven!" Shit, he might just have well said "DiLithium Crystals". Were an anti-gravity "device" to operate on Earth, it would throw our communications satelites and radar off the hook! Instant proof of an "alien" technology and widely available and non-coverup-able (whatever).

While I did not get into a physics lesson with the ass, I asked him if his culture had no spoken language and communicated strictly by telepathy, why did he suddenly neither sound like his "host" nor speak in an American accent?

He claimed that is how I wished to hear him, but I assured him it was not and I would be happy listening to my native American-English (which in itself is an oxymoron often). Suddenly, the connection grew weak and the sideshow was over. This cat sells audio-cassette tapes of his "channeling" events and they were recording that night as well. I figure that that evenings tape was never mass-produced or sold.

My friend was unimpressed with me. How could I dare to doubt a superior alien intellect? No matter what I said, she was convinced he was the real deal.

A fool and their money are not only parted, but in the New-Age circuit appearently parted with alarming frequesncy.

You, here, all are to thanked by me that you have escaped these logic-shackles.

Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: Ex-NewRager ()
Date: November 29, 2008 07:12PM

There's a whole new level of resistance to coming back to reality from the new age crowd created surprisingly by JK Rowling. Adults are so enthralled with the idea of magic being real and being part of a secret society that new agers actually term those of us in the realms of reality "muggles". Used derogatorily to mean anyone not awakened to these new and special ideas. And so any suggestion that perhaps these ideas are not so great is met with the muggle label.
An instant way to close the door to critical and independant thinking.

My issue with new age isn't whether or not it's real but the fact that 99% of it offers absolutely nothing of value to anyone. People in new age circles are not in general happier than others, they do not have few financial problems, health issues or better relationships. Mostly this material burdens people with self-judgement and blame on top of their existing problems and disempowers them from taking control of their lives. The only part of the new age movement I still adhere to, isn't really very new age at all, but generally accepted as universal truths.

Positive mental states work. Yes I agree with this, it has been proven to work in proper studies and on various topics. At it's most basic level if you are an optimistic person then generally other people like you better and you are more likely to get breaks and assistance from them. At worst you will develop improved resilience to see you through the ups and downs of life. No harm to be had by thinking positively.

You have the power to create your life. I'm not talking about winning the lottery etc. I'm just talking about what any motivational speaker will tell you. And that's how you think shapes your experience by shaping your actions and reactions to circumstances that surround you. If you feel empowered you are more likely to make better choices, take considered risks and learn from your mistakes.

The answer is within. You can certainly ask those who came before you their advice but at the end of the day you are the one that bears responsibility for your life. You must make your own decisions, and no-one is better equipped to understand your personal circumstances than you.

The rest I can happily leave.

Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: mysticjaw ()
Date: November 30, 2008 01:38AM

Personally, I don't think I would be terribly upset at being called a "muggle" just means that I am not living in fantasy world like so many new agers. I was deeply involved with the new age mumbo jumbo for quite some time, and now I know it for the garbage in it and the dammage new age people can do to people lives. I do have to agree with Ex-New Rager that the three principles actually are very sound. I have been through hell and back more times in my life but now thanks to good cricitical thinking skills, optimism, taking calculated risks and listening to my judgement not my intuition, I am more successful and happy in life. Still a lot to overcome, but I am moving forward each day.

Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: xythos ()
Date: December 03, 2008 05:11AM

I full-heartedly agree with NewRager... I had an acquaintance who led a 'Health & Healing' group & who, after I found out that I'd been sold as a toddler for "adoption purposes" had the gall to tell me: "The better to make you stronger!" The cruelty to hear her 'jamming it down my throat' just left me speechless with horror. If anything, this year has really been about shedding all the uselesss mumbo jumbo I've unfortunately listened to & followed for much too long myself.

Come to think of it, I think I was 'hooked' onto it until a very serious crisis hit me like a ton of bricks. Like you Judy, I have had health issues for a number of years as well (interestingly enough, iron deficiency as well) but since that crisis, I have undergone proper psychological treatment (it all started in Sept/Oct last year but went 'deep-tissue' this summer) but it's only after a good few months after my stationary therapy that my health has truly begun to improve, mainly because I've gotten to the roots of a lot of my issues that no new age mumbo jumbo could have solved. You mentioned NLP - maybe it's one of the reasons I can't stand listening to Obama. Not sure to what degree it's true but it's 'rumoured' that he's a complete NLP robot. It wouldn't really surprised me. Somehow, the moment I first saw & heard him, I couldn't watch him much less listen to him. He feels like an empty shell to me & I think Martin Luther King would turn in his grave if he knew that Obama is hailed as some kind of 'change' "saviour".

Talk about mumbo jumbo making it to the big world politics stage!

I've been going through a 'clearing the attic', getting rid of the 'mental & other garbage' that has kept me down rather than done anything to bring me forward. A lot of that had to do with outdated, useless & negatively enhancing my problems new age crap that left me more helpless than anything else. And, like you've pointed out, blaming myself for things I had no real influence over, much less any power or 'spiritual strengthening "training ground". That kind of thinking nearly finished me off for good...

These days I just get a lot more out of a walk in the woods & just being aware of my surroundings, how I feel & what I can do to 'help myself' (i.e., taking responsibility & appropriate action to make sure I don't trip up over my own feet so-to-speak), make conscious choices & take deliberate actions to maintain my balance. As I have said elsewhere & as some have already mentioned here, just even learning to trust yourself is more than any self-help guru will ever be able to teach you... And, last but not least, good doctors, professionally trained but even more importantly ethically bound therapists that have a proven track record & who you feel you can trust, make all the difference & are more hands-on in their help & assistance to your challenges than any 'guru' will ever have time for.

The 'newest fad' in the new age fraudsters circles are Caucasians selling "How to become a shaman" courses. They sit there in their 'put-together native American looking' garb & think that just because they have taken on a weird kinda "shamanic" (native American) sounding name, they think they are 'entitled' to "show you" how to go on a "vision quest" - all in the name of "healing yourself"...exploiting a knowledge that cannot simply be 'appropriated' with a little drum, a feather in your hair, sitting in front of some make-shift 'tipi' (

One can simply learn drumming with all that other 'unnecessary ego-trippin' that a lot of self-acclaimed sham-mans/sha-women try to sell to the gullible. It's a great way to release tension, get into your body & be with other people who enjoy the same thing.

The following link is an example of what authentic shamanism is not. []
(Note: Shamanism is always deeply entrenched within the specific culture of a tribe or homogenous group of people that is intrinsically linked to their heritage, the environment they grew up in & their traditions which may seem 'religious' to the outsiders in as much as it ties in directly into the belief systems & the ritualistic nature of their ceremonies of the tribe - which could be compared to a "church service" in the 'classic religious' movement).

Again, one can use dance simply for what it is (whether it be ballet, jazz, salsa, fusion, merengue, ball room or whatever else strikes your fancy to get moving) without having to 'label it' "shamanic" or whatever else... Dance is a great way to exercise & have fun doing so & one certainly does not need to travel to far-out places costing lots of money to do what Yac'ov Darling Khan (or, as I call him '**ck'off) promotes under the guise of "healing"... That's another new age fraud who looks like he's trying to establish a cult...

There are simpler & less expensive ways. Like, a nice long walk in the forest, taking deep breaths! Watching & listening to nature sounds in real time (not on cd...!), doing voluntary animal shelter work, learning how to sing & train your voice as well as your breathing & enjoying being maybe in a choir or just make your voice more malleable.

Even keeping a diary is helpful & more insightful than a lot of expensive dvds, cds, courses, ad infinitum...

As I have said to one my friends recently (he's on that video mentioned above), less is more... Back to basics & keeping it simple is plenty to find out what you need & what will truly help you.

BTW, I told my friend what I thought of this "Yuck'off" &, surprise! he was pissed at me for telling him that I thought ****'off is a fraud.

Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: December 03, 2008 08:40AM

Do a search on the message board (upper right hand corner) under 'all dates'. Try 'shamanic' and shaman and native american in the search slot and see what you get. Others have posted here on this subject.

Here is a result for some searching:


Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: xythos ()
Date: December 03, 2008 09:06PM


Try 'shamanic' and shaman and native american in the search slot and see what you get. Others have posted here on this subject

Thank you corboy.

Actually (and, apologies if I slightly digress off the topic for a minute), the very reason I brought this up is that I have always felt quite strongly that it is about right mind, right (genuine) intention, attitude as well as preparation in following the 'shamanic' path. I was a member of the ayahuasca forum for quite a while & it is precisely the 'tourism' (exploitation) label that I do not support. The intention of healing is what makes the difference between someone who goes off on a 'kick trip' & completely goes off the rails or someone who is genuinely trying to resolve parts of him-/herself.

What I don't 'approve' of (if I may be so 'pretentious' to refer to it as such) is that artsy fartsy blokes from the West try to lay claim to being shamanically 'trained' while at the same exploiting very old & ancient tribes for their own self-aggrandising ends. The Kogis in the above video are one of the only South American tribes that have managed to avoid the conquistadors by way of their shamanic training (no ayahuasca) & had, up to the late 80s, never been in touch with the white man. Until recently, they have been a very homogenous group of people, keeping to themselves.

For a self-acclaimed 'modern' (plastic) shaman to then travel to these places, put it on his website without so much as even touching on who this tribe is just 'quipping' on "what an experience it is!" (ego shouting loud & clear) is a violation as well as exploitation and, a subtle furthering of the colonialisation that so many of these unconscious, selfish-intended individuals continue, utterly blind to the consequences their actions have on such groups, of an ancient people, dishonouring & raping them of their knowledge, wisdom, heritage & naturally honed spirituality developed over centuries all the while 'pretending' to want to "ensure their survival" as long as the gullible, unaware & ignorant are willing & prepared enough to "pay the plastic shaman". I know the people who organise these 'trips' (metaphorically as well as literally!) & it is this abuse that I do not & cannot support with good conscience. I revere the path itself too much to want to besmirch it with a "hippie, groupie-like" energy (as I told one of the key organisers of this 'event') at the expense of this tribe.

I also would like to emphasise here that I am adament to not! make drinking ayahuasca a "habit" because it leads to pyschological (& partially, physical) dependency. Nor is it wise to just go off on such an experience if one is either physically or emotionally not in a good place. There are times where it might be very beneficial & others where it would be the worst possible time to 'tap' into this because it further destabilises an already fragile state of beingness (be that spiritual, emotional, psychological, mental or physical).

I am the first to say that it is a powerful way to learn more about yourself, get insights & a better understanding of the interconnectedness of apparent loose ends of your life provided one goes into the experience with the right intention, the right mindset & the appropriate reverence as well as preparation prior to & after the journey itself. It is, however, not in & of itself 'enough' to complete the healing that one seeks.

That is, as has been mentioned here already, part of the integration process of what one has been 'taught' or has learned during any given experience (I do not primarily focus here on the shamanic experience). Again, it comes back to applying what fits & feels right & as I have said in my previous post, getting back to basics is often a much better path, weeding out the superfluous, an overload of information that leads to more confusion rather than clarity, and retaining that which is solid, applicable & most importantly, making sense in one's way of looking at the world, seeing results that are helpful & contributing to one's well-being on every level - I am very practical-minded & unless I don't feel I actually see a positive outcome of an 'applied technique or belief system' it is better to drop it after a while.

As an English saying goes: There is brilliance in simplicity.

Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: December 03, 2008 11:41PM

Dear Xythos, what you say about ayahuasca is scary. A rather fragile friend said she wanted to go to Peru and do it and I did some background research and was alarmed.

If my sources are accurate, ayahuasca is powerful stuff.

1) It interacts with most and perhaps all antidepressants and psychotropic drugs because one of the herbs used in the ayahuasca preparation is, pharmacologically a Mono Amine Oxidase Inhibitor, which also interacts with common food items that contain tyramine, such as fermented products, red wine, figs, chocolate, blue cheese and red wine.

So anyone taking (say) an antidepressant would have to wean themselves completely before taking ayahuasca otherwise they could risk a catastrophic rise in blood pressure and other problems--a bad deal if you're in the jungle.

2) Ayahuasca makes people vomit and purge, so its physically stressful. Persons in fragile health are well advised to avoid this.

3) If ego structure is fragile the ensuing trip might be way too much to handle.

John Horgan, in his book, Rational Mysticism, has description of an ayahuasca trip he took with some people. At the end, the guide said it was a quiet one had any freakouts thinking they were going crazy or dying.

And...Horgan arranged to do this in the US, in California, not in a foreign country, in a jungle, thousands of miles from home.

And given what xythos said about some persons risking dependency on Ayahuasca, I think Horgan mentioned that a couple of the people he tripped with reported they had become fond of taking the stuff. Once was not enough.

Given that the profit motive is strong, what are the odds that persons into Ayahuasca tourism would have the knowledge and incentive to quiz people about their health and drug histories and know which persons to advise against it?

To say, "You are not at this time in any condition to take a trip to South America and do ayahuasca" would mean turning down a couple thousand bucks.

How many of us are ethical enough to do that...?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/03/2008 11:43PM by corboy.

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