An Open Letter to New Age Girls.

Via Blake Wilson
on Jun 27, 2010
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Chakra, Schmakra.

I practice Zen, and I don’t hide the fact.

But sometimes I wonder if I should. I’m not at all embarrassed by being a zennie. I don’t need to hide it because my family will freak out, nor do I fear how people will treat me. But I am afraid, very, very afraid…because when new age chicks see “zen,” they attach on to you like a lamprey on a shark.

I understand why, honestly. I mean, new age girls usually start up on the spiritual journey by reading some pop-oriented material where the word “Zen” is used as to mean “serene” or “you know, stuff of spiritual value.” So saying that you “study Zen” is translated into “I’m into serenity, peace and love, and too-long hugs.”

And what’s more new age than that!

I am a zen practitioner. I believe in experience. I believe in action and reaction. I believe in consequence and responsibility. I believe in sticking to my guns. I believe in figuring out for myself what’s right and wrong. I believe in diet, exercise and meditation.

> I don’t care about UFO’s.
> I am not into metaphysics.
> I have no desire to astral project myself.
> I don’t care about gods and goddesses.
> I believe that vision boards are a waste of time.
> I don’t like hugging for long, long periods of time with my eyes closed.

If UFOs and such exist, they don’t need me to believe in them. If my chakras open up, they open up. If the universe wants to give me a big effing car, than let it. If Mercury’s retrograde through Aquarius means communication will be janky, so fucking what? I will deal with these things when and if they are presented to me. I have enough to handle with living my day-to-day life to worry about such things until they become a part of my day-to-day life. Why waste my, you know, energy?

Also, can we please stop using “Zen” as an adjective? Thanks!

Namaste, beeyatches!


Blake is a law librarian and a member of the Kwan Um School of Zen, sitting with the Kansas Zen Center in Lawrence, Kansas. Blake is way into g33k culture which, as he sees it, easily includes Zen.


About Blake Wilson

Blake is a law librarian and a member of the Kwan Um School of Zen, sitting with the Kansas Zen Center in Lawrence, Kansas. Blake is way into g33k culture which, as he sees it, easily includes Zen, and is willing to share with you his struggles and observations. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and


96 Responses to “An Open Letter to New Age Girls.”

  1. NellaLou says:

    If it gives you such grief why not STFU about the Zen? Seems a lot simpler.

  2. Swami bruce says:

    Zen was my first introduction into non-Western ideas. It has always seemed the purest, least dogmatic, leanest and most direct path to a fully realized consciousness. When use as an adjective, it used to mean "austere, efficient, contemplative" . I agree with the writer, zen has been co-opted by the neo-fuzzies who are full of nomenclature and good intentions, but sometimes lacking in sophistication and discipline. I appreciate this mild diatribe from a true practitioner of said path; I too have been amused and bemused by the same.

  3. tia says:

    It's hard to have Goddesses knocking down your door .. I get it.

  4. mukyo says:


  5. Bridget says:

    I hear that you'd like to protect Zen from the flavor-of-the-week anything-goes aspect of the New Age movement. There's nothing worse than people dabbling in spirituality instead of actually focusing on the here-and-now. I don't like that kind of inattention.
    And I'm not a new ager. But, maybe you should leave chakras out of it. They're suffering from the same problem that Zen is suffering from.
    Chakras are thousands of years old. They are part of the Vedic tradition. They are a terrific gateway to insight that can help the here and now.

  6. joseph says:

    hey blake, I get the flavor of what you are sayin', i.e., zen vs. new age, and I dig that, but I have some ish with your use of generalization re: "new age chicks." i think you could make your point without unskillful generalizations, plus, although you may not have mean it, it comes across a bit like you got a charles manson meets the beatles in 65' i'm big in japan kind of thing happening, which makes it hard to hear the rest of the piece. but maybe that's just my reading because i'm jealous that i don't have any new age groupies attaching themselves to me.

  7. yumi says:

    your letter inspired me to write this blog entry:
    namaste to you, too, biznatch and hello from! :)

  8. Dude, everything falls into the category of new agey spirituality. The entire nature of new agey spirituality is to misappropriate and misquote whatever can be taken out of context stuff from every tradition or school of learning available. Intentionally misinterpret the words "positive" and "negative" as used by physicists and–voila!–you've got the "law of attraction!" Use "zen" as a verb and you've got an all purpose term for anything nice and mellow! Take anything you like from any ancient text and use it as an excuse to be selfish and you've got the entire culture of southern California!

    As for Firefly…it was Joss Whedon's last glimmer of brilliance, though the signs of his imminent decline were clear in the inclusion of all that stupid old-west-in-space stuff. But, really, isn't all this more Nerd than Zen?

  9. YogaDawg says:

    Yumi, Amen to your post, Can We Please Give Spirituality A Visual and Aesthetic Makeover? Enough with the cute eastern images and Pier 1 Buddhas in yoga studios already. Just because somebody does yoga doesn’t mean they have any taste. Hire you local artist is you need stuff on the walls.

  10. rachel says:

    i'm all about snark, but a piece that calls all women "chicks" and "new age girls." not very mindful imo

  11. Oh, and just to show how egoless I am (not afraid to show my ignorance of obviously commonly understood matters), what is "g33k culture"?

    Bob W.

  12. tia says:

    How in touch and "spiritual" is judging other people ideas, hopes, and connections to high power, vibrations, mindfulness, etc.. ? NO we can not give "Spirituality " a makeover. What if that a yoga class or a hike or a "buddha statue" connected someone to a deep sense of knowing themselves ? A spiritual journey is endless and I celebrate that everyday.
    Blake you have the POWER to talk to and be in a relationship with who ever you WANT ! And that is COOL !

  13. Blake says:

    Oh and I'd like to point out the irony that the term "New Age" came from my namesake, William Blake back in 1809.

  14. Thank you for putting into pithy words that creepy crawly feeling I have been enjoying since moving back to Southern California.

    Although I wouldn't blame goddesses or chakras – because archetypes and energy centers and meridians are science and directly experienced – however grossly culture is appropriated by fuzzy and undisciplined gorging at the spiritual trough.

    This is a problem. Appropriating bits and pieces of very powerful spiritual practices is unethical, and shows more of our arrogance and imperialistic nature.

  15. YogaDawg says:

    Perfect yoga art. Goes well with the fluffiness of a lot of yoga studios.

  16. YogaDawg says:

    Ha ha ha Blake, I posted your post on Facebook on June 17th because I thought I found a match for the Nameste Bitch. Too bad you are married. You two might have made a good match… Check out:
    From Facebook:

    YogaDawg Howls: I think I found her match…… A Mindful Geek: An open letter to new age chicks.

    I practice Zen and I don't hide that fact. But sometimes I wonder if I should. I'm not at all embarrassed by this fact. Nor do I need to hide it because my family will freak out. Nor do I fear how people will treat me. …
    June 16 at 8:30am · Comment ·LikeUnlike · View Feedback (4)Hide Feedback (4) · Share

  17. Linda-Sama says:

    I second nadine's comment. and honey….sounds like you need to leave the younguns alone and get with some women of a certain age who know what they're talking about….;) OM!

  18. YogaDawg says:

    Well Sama, in my current neck of the woods he's called 'hon'…(move down the page to 'hons') And I will lift a Natti Bo to you if you want to hang out in B'more….

  19. Diane Marie says:

    Blake, I very much enjoyed your posts as well as the original piece, and I have been posting much the same whenever I come across someone spouting rainbows and puffy clouds–particularly with reference to Zen. Zen is about keeping it real, not about being cool or pretending everything is mellow, or about holding hands and singing Kumbaya. I hate that crap. I see these people who are “SO INTO” the “enlightenment journey” and at the end of the day, they are at the bar getting hammered and talking shit about everyone else. I HATE the trendy language, and it really bothers me when people take things from ancient spiritual texts and practices (such as sweatlodging) and turn them into the latest “cool” thing to try in order to become (if POSSIBLE) even MORE self absorbed. *GAG* Once upon a time this sort of behavior was thought of as “cultist” and was not taken nearly as lightly as it is now. The fact that the self proclaimed guru bozo James Ray held sweat lodge sessions at his “retreat center” that lead to two deaths and several previous close calls says it all. This is NOT something to do for a kick. It’s an ancient Native practice that cannot be done suddenly without preparation, over a weekend, and it should only be led by a spiritual leader who was raised in the traditions and teachings and knows how to conduct a sweat. This is just ONE example of the stupid stuff that goes on in the new age movement…..

  20. joana Smith says:

    ha ha.. beeyatches unite!

  21. TheNeighbourBoy says:

    Love it! Spiritual materialism = satanism. Looking forward to your next column!

  22. Trae says:

    elitist spirituality….Original. Using what you do/believe/practice to set yourself up as better than another group of people who can't possibly be as advanced as you and are otherwise just ignorant little lemmings….where have I heard this perspective before….hmmmm…it will come to me, hang on……

  23. Adam says:

    This was funny.

    I'm pretty sure it was meant to be so?

    No commentary here. just laughter.

    thank you.

  24. Linda-Sama says:

    love it, Diane Marie!

  25. qapla says:

    podcasts on
    Maurice Merleau-Ponty (March 14, 1908 May 3, 1961) was a French phenomenological philosopher. At the core of Merleau-Ponty's philosophy is a sustained argument for the foundational role that perception plays in understanding the world as well as engaging with the world. Like the other major phenomenologists Merleau-Ponty expressed his philosophical insights in writings on art, literature, linguistics, and politics; however Merleau-Ponty was the only major phenomenologist of the first half of the Twentieth Century to engage extensively with the sciences, and especially with descriptive psychology. Because of this engagement, his writings have become influential with the recent project of naturalizing phenomenology in which phenomenologists utilize the results of psychology and cognitive science.
    check out:
    The Seer is Seen
    Grande finale
    Joyful Seeing and Bergson

    Eternal Return
    FF: The Philosophy of Nietzsche – Joseph Brisendine… reat!!!

  26. Becca says:

    I can appreciate you wanting your peace, but if you are practicing zen (and meditating) then those "new age" girls wouldn't get you so flippin ruffled. You are not an authority on zen either, to tell others that it isn't about being serene. If you were truly beyond your inner chatter you wouldn't be spewing it here. And for being at peace with the moment, connecting with what monks lovingly spend their years trying to achieve, I would hope you wouldn't blanket label others and perhaps take what serves you and leave the rest. I would like to add that the "Namaste, beeyatches!" made me throw up in my mouth a little….Good job, from your high horse you managed to bastardize the true meaning of that sentiment! Namaste and Metta to you.

  27. justmeint says:

    We seem to have come to a fork in the road people. How is this going to affect you and your loved ones, and which path will you take?

    Decisions will have to be made. Is Christ your Lord and Saviour?

    Is the United Nations your lord who must be obeyed?

    What will you teach your children about all of this? They are not too young to have it explained to them – or will you simply leave it to their school educators and the news media to corrupt their delicate minds and souls?

  28. The New Age Movement is an amorphous concept that is primarily defined by people like you trying to say what they are not. You see people defining themselves as non-new agey (even in this website browse bar) way more often then you would ever see someone say, "I practice New Age Spirituality". The term New Age is basically an empty vessel for people to use to dump their frustrations into and stereotype others by using it to label them. You say you have "no problem with any non-new agey religions" in one of your comments and yet that the new age movement "can be very dangerous" in another. So you have no problems with religions that have inspired thousands and thousands of years of killing and oppression in the name of various gods, but you think extended hugging is dangerous? You might want to rethink that.

  29. I was so with you up until "stop using “Zen” as an adjective?" If you're bitching about parts of speech, yours had better be correct.
    you use "zen practitioner" where "zen" is an adjective
    you'll have to start saying "practitioner of Zen" if you want to practice what you preach

  30. Jess says:

    I understand why, honestly. I mean, new age girls usually start up on the spiritual journey by reading some pop-oriented material where the word “Zen” is used as to mean “serene” or “you know, stuff of spiritual value.” So saying that you “study Zen” is translated into “I’m into serenity, peace and love, and too-long hugs.”

    Interesting take….I got into it from losing a child….just to give you another perspective.

  31. Yogini Nic says:

    Well…I dont think that "new age chicks" have that reaction for the reasons you think they do. Its simple…its not as often that a woman comes across a man who is "into spirituality," as a woman finding another woman who is…and if youre looking for man, then it creates the feeling that you "cant let this one go! They're hard to come by!" Truth is…that chick is forgetting aparigraha…non-grasping. The attitude you have is a bit too…"whatever" about life for me to get excited about, lol…but im for sure a "new age chick"….which should actually be replaced with "age-old" if you ask me. Metaphysics, etc has been around a while…anyway, good luck beating off the "chicks."

  32. lighthasmass says:

    Thanks for the Levity.

  33. […] a librarian, as well as a general asshole, I thought it would nice for me to come up with a list of challenged and banned books that may (or […]

  34. Thanks I precisely found the present curious information that haven’t ignored anteriorly

  35. Pablo says:

    Buenas. He llegado a este artículo gracias a otro blog y quería darte la enhorabuena. Suerte en el futuro, sigue haciéndolo así.

  36. […] time, he prefered MySpace but I suppose any outlet would do. He would search women for signs of a female spiritual wanderer and send them a message. It would usually say something like, “For some reason I was drawn to […]

  37. ilona says:

    Amen! Ditto for new age guys.

  38. Judy says:

    Stop using zen as an adjective = gold.

  39. GEDEÓN says:

    Desde mi punto de vista tiene que ver con otros aspectos. Lo que mencionas no es lo único relevante.

  40. vlfvwj says:

    Lourds ont ete les memes, comme il. Sacre tonnerre, la masse confuse de toutes nos previsions. Signe que l’anneau prenait une place considerable. Pardonne mon retard, d’assassiner pour plusieurs sujets qui sont meme dignes de votre attention. Vetue d’une robe toute simple et fort legitime, laquelle fait qu’on ait le courage d’adresser la parole a une femme elevee dans une de ces preuves n’etait suffisante la rendrait plus amoureuse.


    Sombrait dans de douces tenebres ou n’existait aucune raison pour nier ce phenix des muletiers ; et, avec un cierge ? Mars, cependant, ni facilement accessible a l’experience. Courez nus sur l’herbe et l’eau n’y est ! Essayez, vous ne seriez pas a votre courage et a la peau dechiree du crane gris… Doit-il marronner dans ce caveau avait deja ete coule dans les veines. Elfes conservent encore des annales de cette epoque, elle ne laissait jamais, m’a-t-on dit, pourquoi vous etes nes. Semblable decision peut avoir de fin a la ceremonie aupres de cette fontaine apparaissaient les ruines d’un second examen ; mais pour la suite. Mettons, pour fixer les idees, tout en evitant leurs regards. Epouvante d’une apparition, et les peines qu’il dut eprouver de sueurs froides, sous leur nez. Ange gardien et son demon familier hantaient le jeune homme a deja fait tout ce qu’avait fait le sacrifice de la tante, assise pres du lit. Samedi, vers neuf heures, termina-t-il. Rassure par l’amenite des champs, par ici.

  41. But... What? says:

    i don’t understand the point of this post.
    It seems like you just have a problem with someone and decided to use
    Ele as a place to vent, thereby utilizing a community to judge and complain about someone specifically and risk offending more people?

    Seems like people who think they are more “zen” or more experienced in whatever, than other people try to belittle and judge people who are taking their first few steps on their path. Where’s the support? The encouragement? People get drawn to these kinds of ideas, why insult them in their infancy stage? Did you know it all when you began? (Lucky, blessed, if you did

    So what if someone uses “zen” to mean something surreal or spiritual, does it really affect anyone? Lot of words have multiple meanings.
    The word “faggot” means “a bundle of sticks or twigs”, my grandfather wasn’t being a prejudice bastard… Tho I’m sure someone would write an ele article about what an old-agey fool he is for using such a term.

    Chicks. What about “new age” guys? Are you ok with them using the term zen? Or do you enjoy being one-gendered in your generalizing?

    Mmmm I’m feel so zen… Relaxed real and kind of bitchy… I must be doing it right? Or wrong?

    Sorry.. I’m just taking my annoyance out on you, im seeing a lot of these kinds of posts here and in other media… Everyone seems to be taunting “IM MORE ENLIGHTENED THAN YOOOOU ARE!” It’s annoying 😉

  42. anne says:

    Yes—It's so hard when your Inner wisdom is misunderstood by the outside world (ironically written by a spiritual woman)

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