10 Obstacles to Sane Spirituality…

Via on Jun 6, 2011

…or 10 Portals Beyond New Age Delusion.

Pt. 1: The Dance of Psyche

I am passionate about the relationships between three things:

> inquiry-based practices (yoga, meditation, bodywork and ecstatic dance happen to be my favorites)

> critical thinking (also called “viveka” in yogic parlance, or discriminating wisdom)

> and shadow work (after Jung – the psychological idea that we have a “shadow” that is where we hide the emotions, experiences, thoughts and aspects of self that we would rather not face. Shadow work then is the process of courageously turning inward to bring honest awareness and compassionate attention to this place.)

Having been a yoga teacher for the last 18 years, and having spent my adult life swimming in the waters of popular spirituality, my sense is that more often than not these three elements are missing both in theory and practice. My sense is that this comes down to one revelatory observation. You may find it offensive, you may think it is untrue, or too general. My hope is that by the end of this article, perhaps you will agree that not only are these 10 obstacles quite problematic, but that they can also serve as 10 doorways or portals that lead to a more sane, integrated next stage of spiritual growth. This requires curiosity about what lies obscured from view underneath or behind each obstacle.

What is this one incendiary insight? Simply this: the basic tenets of the New Age belief system can be understood as an elaborate psychological defense system that is actually in the way of the work with which a transformative, healing and sane spirituality is concerned.

The laying out of these 10 obstacles is intended to be both humorous and instructive, and with each obstacle I will provide one general suggestion and one suggestion for teachers and healers on how to use it as a portal towards integration and sanity.

This article is broken up into two parts for ease of reading and also because obstacles 1 through 6 are more psychological in nature and 7 through 10 will be more philosophical in nature.

So here goes, Obstacles 1 through 6:

The Dance of Psyche.

1) Dissociation – I am in touch with some other reality that you all don’t see and it is more “real” than this world. I use my yoga and meditation as a way of leaving my body and traveling to other dimensions. Its hard because I am very sensitive to this world, I am not really “from here.”

General Suggestion: If this sounds familiar, practice gradually sensing every area of your body  both in savasana and in meditation, as you feel your breath moving in and out. Remind yourself that you are safe. During your asana practice focus on noticing what is grounding, calming or pleasant in each pose. Take it in.

Teachers/Healers – be aware: Dissociation is almost always a sign of unresolved trauma. This person does not need to be encouraged to be even more “out of body” – they are in need of deep healing and integration in order to really be here and live their lives. This is a common way that spirituality can perpetuate a coping mechanism that was used before the person had access to good tools and support. Knowing it for what it is can help us be effective guides toward healing, grounding and accessing real resources.

More here.

2) Denial – now that I believe this new idea I can see how there is nothing bad ever, anywhere, and everything in my life has always been perfect.

This one is also usually a way of pushing out of awareness anything that is painful or evokes fear, shame, helplessness. Once we have done the awareness and healing work we can have a more grounded and less one sided perspective on reality and our lives.

There is literally a split here that has to make “everything” ok/good by denying that “anything” could be otherwise…

General Suggestion: In your practices, allow space for experiencing whichever sensations or emotions may be present for you – without the overlay of any agenda, belief or spiritual identification of how you are “supposed to feel.” Trust the powerful medicine of open, receptive awareness to your own authentic experience.

Teachers/Healers – be aware: This person needs resources to be able to face and work through all that has been left out/denied here. The greater the denial, the greater the pain being obscured by it! Support them in using their practice and community to cultivate the compassion and courage necessary to face their shadow.

More here.

3) Rationalization – karma explains why poor people suffer and how there really are no victims, my last relationship didn’t work out because my partner was a Pisces with a Leo moon and I think she may have been my jailer in a past life, I lost my job because spirit has other plans for me – I just don’t know what they are yet, but I am trusting that the universe has a perfect plan and  is always taking care of me….

Think about how often we hear such BIG statements about everything and always and never and the whole universe etc – think about the sheer size of what is being asserted – how big therefore must the unconscious perception of the pain/fear be that there is this much overcompensation?

General Suggestion: In your practices, stay present with the specific details of your own life, while recognizing that everyone experiences loss, disappointment, and uncertainty. Cultivate a compassionate, accepting attitude that can be present with this reality without having to tell yourself a metaphysical story about it.

Teachers/Healers – be aware: A lot of rationalizing explanations for why things happen and how absolutely everything is part of a big metaphysical plan is usually covering over a sense of helplessness or panic – an inability to tolerate uncertainty or guilt/shame about mistakes and failures.

All of us can learn to courageously tolerate the unpredictable nature of life and the risks we  take again and again when putting ourselves out there. In the words of contemporary poet David Whyte, “Human life is so magnificent precisely because you can fail at it…”

Being supported in owning how we really feel and seeing events without a rationalizing overlay actually helps us be more effective in relating our inner and outer worlds and taking the necessary risks in life while accepting that things may not always turn out as we’d hoped, and exploring what that does and does not mean from a grounded place. It also allows us to access a deeper sense of compassion for the reality of suffering, victimization, unfairness and injustice that is part of the world we live in and of the lives of so many people.

More here.

4) Grandiose Inflation – Because I am such a powerful manifestor I can have anything I want simply by focusing my mind. We are all kings and queens and our power will magnify as we approach 2012. Doing more yoga puts me more in the flow of what the universe is asking me to channel for the benefit of all humanity. On my vision board, I have a photoshopped picture of me with barack obama in a helicopter with big smiles on our faces and money spilling out of our pockets.

General Suggestion: In your practices invite a sense of genuine humility and calm. Be where you are. When setting goals, ask yourself what steps you can take today that will build toward making your life more enjoyable, rewarding and satisfying. Practice lovingkindness meditation for the part of you that might feel uncertain and afraid of failure.

Teachers/Healers – be aware: What is there to be said? Grounding, grounding, grounding – encourage  goal setting and a positive attitude without becoming completely caught up in an almost manic and fantastical grandiose inflation that overlooks vulnerability and a little thing called “reality” itself.. When positivity becomes grandiose magical thinking, there’s a problem. Ever hear of the tragic case of teacher from “The Secret” James Arthur Ray? Also: the bigger the inflation, the deeper the insecurity and unworthiness. Hold a compassionate space for the vulnerability that is underneath the grandiose posturing.

‎5) OCD – I pay close attention to the signs from the universe. All my apartments have had the number 7 in the address and amazing synchronicities happen every day – like when the song we are champions came on as I was driving to my job interview and i didn’t make it to the job because I had this car “accident” – but get this, the woman was driving a Mercury, and queen’s lead singer is Freddy Mercury and when I checked my astrology it turned out Mercury is retrograde for another 3 days! So the car crash was really a way to avoid starting a job during that inauspicious phase. I muscle tested myself to see whether I should even tell you that and it turned out on the 7th test i got three yes-es in a row, so here we are!

My sense is that a fair number of people drawn to New Age ideas have mild tendencies toward conditions like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This is then amplified by these kinds of swirling, free-associative beliefs that rabidly assign symbolic meaning and detect synchronistic signs of the pattern that connects all things in every event and detail of our daily lives. This becomes a big obstacle to genuine spiritual depth and maintains a kind of manic wheel-spinning on the surface of life, often driven by whatever we are afraid we might have to feel if we just park the car for a minute. When we do not make distinctions between what is random and what is meaningful, life becomes a flatland of tangential, speculative attempts to squeeze self-affirming significance out of nonsense. The BIG shadow side of this is also a kind of superstitious prison in which the negative/paranoid metaphysical interpretation of events can dominate.

General Suggestion: Slow down your mind. Meditate on the movement of your breath. Don’t count breaths, the numbers don’t “mean” anything – just feel the breath rising and falling as it is. Practice accepting change, uncertainty and randomness – ask yourself if there might be meaning in life that has more to do with love, work and creativity, without the hyperactive attempt to make it fit some mental pattern of numbers, signs and symbols.

Teachers/Healers – be aware: if you observe this going into hyper drive you could be dealing with a real psychiatric disorder, be it true OCD or perhaps bipolar mania. Pay attention, this person may need you to intervene and suggest they get real help. For most of us though, this kind of thinking is more of an expression of a general anxiety about what is beyond our control. Encourage acceptance. The serenity prayer is a good meditation aid.

More here and here.

6) Delusions – me and my friends are channelling a group of spirit beings from beyond the Pleidies and they have so much deep wisdom and information they are imparting. I can feel them all around me during the day, guiding me in what to do next. Sometimes I will be about to make a decision and then I feel them and one of their little alien voices says ” dont do it!” it’s amazing!

The pervasive absence of critical thinking and healthy distinctions between metaphorical or archetypal inner experience on the one hand, and literal belief in other worlds and disembodied beings on the other, makes many a newbie spiritual seeker vulnerable to some wildly delusional beliefs.

General Suggestion: During your practices ask yourself what your own inner wisdom has to say. You have emotional, embodied and intuitive wisdom that is all your own and based in your real life – all of us can train ourselves to be more in touch with these beautiful resources, in fact that is the purpose of spiritual practice. It is also important to use our mental intelligence to cultivate discrimination and critical thinking, so as to stay grounded on the path and stay balanced between our perceptions and what is objectively, demonstrably  true.

Teachers/Healers: Encourage critical thinking. Do this with humor and warmth, but model clarity and frankness at the same time. Encourage an owning of the capacity for wisdom that need not come from some far away and fantastical supernatural place. Keep supporting the gradual fluency in embodied open-hearted awareness that is not at odds with reason. Also be aware that in a small percentage of people this kind of language may indicate some kind of psychotic tendencies – very few people literally hear disembodied voices, and most of those that do  have some kind of mental illness. This person may need your help in steering them toward psychiatric support. More here.

That does it for the psychologically-based obstacles.

Part Two: What is Truth – Obstacles 7 – 10, is up now!

About Julian Walker

Julian Walker is the founder of http://www.yogateachergradschool.com/ where he supports new and established yoga teachers in living their dreams through business development. He is a writer who has been teaching yoga since 1994, and co-teaches the Awakened Heart, Embodied Mind Yoga Teacher Training in LA with Hala Khouri.Julian's writing is featured in the book 21st Century Yoga available on Amazon.com. www.julianwalkeryoga.com



69 Responses to “10 Obstacles to Sane Spirituality…”

  1. ilona says:

    Thank you for this sane post. While I don't think that New Age concepts are necessarily BS, they certainly should not be used as spiritual Band-Aids. I look forward to the next installment!

  2. Patheya says:

    Hilarious! Must be sooo weird to come from North America!! A friend of mine just came from a hot basin full of yoga freaks from Thailand's beach scene and said he was talking to someone who said he was channelling aliens and how the stargate was real. Oh sigh. Thanks for writing with compassion and humour!

  3. Hala Khouri says:

    Say it like it is Julian! I love your humor and sincere invitation for us to get real and let go of spiritual pacifiers. I believe that the yoga community is evolving out of some of our immature thinking. I think at first some of these concepts felt like a deviation from mainstream culture and ideals; but now we are seeing that they are very similar to concepts we thought we were rejecting. For example denial and disociation don't just look like being an alcoholic or shopping addict but it can look like someone wearing mala beads believing that they can chant their way to inner peace or just think positive thoughts and "manifest" whatever they want. Unless they are doing some serious shadow work along with the chanting and positive thinking; they are probably perpetuation denial and avoidance just like the addict. Yoga is about being AWAKE. To ALL the parts of us. Our beautiful parts and our ugly parts. I think a dialogue like this is vital amongst yogis, thank you Juian!

  4. Situ says:

    Very well-written post, Julian. Was rather surprised to hear about the James Arthur Ray incident. It is easy to fall prey to any new-sounding breakthroughs in the spiritual community, if one is not cautious enough. I like the way you put it, "be open-minded, but not to the extent that your brains fall out" :)
    Oftentimes, I notice adopting a school of thought happens as a result of ego, to an extent it colours your entire perception and affects critical thinking. And what is the ego? nothing more than the dysfunctional side of ourselves. While we must work towards the goal of becoming more compassionate, empathetic individuals through our spiritual practice, it is equally important to stay grounded in reality. Many, including myself, have used spirituality as a salve to push back issues I don't want to notice, which surface sooner or later. It is easier to step out of myself through talking to a friend, a challenging yoga practice, journaling, or some creative pursuit that involves me totally.It becomes easier come back with a perspective and see the denial, dissassociation playing out like it is.
    It may sound like a naive approach, but seems to help. Your post has been timely. Thank you :)

  5. laura says:

    Oh, Julian, you're so right! I love number 4 especially! If I put it on my "vision board" or "put it out there", it will come true without me having to do anything else!
    I'm looking forward to the rest of the ten!

  6. anna says:

    can't wait for faux non-dualism!

  7. Julian Walker yogijulian says:

    arrgggh – i just made some edits and must have hit the wrong button – because i lost my view count and it is showing up as a brand new article now with 7 views instead of 500….. can anyone help?!

  8. steven gouws says:

    Interesting post and very many valid points,which i am glad were made, for the new age “escapee’s” from reality, yet the feeling is that a certain linear mindset is still present, with deeper connection to source, the intuitive side is greatly enhanced and the universal divine guiding hand is innately visible in every nuance of your life. Also yoga “is” a path to enlightenment, and has however in the west and esp, in the USA been watered down and turned into an exercise/spiritual health practice, which has validity in itself, and is obviously there in that form for those at that level of their journey. There is no judgement just observation for information sharing. In the end following the way of complete unconditional love is the path i find most fulfilling, and wish you all to experience that connection with source, with much love steven…….

  9. Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  10. Padma Kadag says:

    In reading numerous blogs and hearing opinions on "spirituality" I am not sure what spirituality means anymore. We have begun to equate spirituality with psychology. I am not saying this is bad, just an observation. Implimenting a spiritual life needs to have a motivation to begin on a path. What is it that moves us and what is the goal? Dare we say that enlightenment, in a Buddhist sense or Native American "shamanic" sense, is the goal? Or are we saying now that being spiritual is following a method of psychology to become mentally healthy and has no result of enlightenment? I know of no therapists who have attained enlightenment through psychological method. I agree with your methods of checking one's own mind. I am curious, though, about what you think being "spiritual" means and what should a healthy spiritual life result in? Does it pertain only to ourselves or should it include others? How does it effect us at death and do you think it matters at death? Please consider these questions as sincere and not as some Buddhist debate. Rather, I want to know your views on this.

  11. Julian Walker yogijulian says:

    hi padma

    i like this line of inquiry – thanks!

    my sense is that spirituality has to do with the essence of being human. self -awareness, curiosity about the cosmos, how we form values, how we continue to grow and develop and transform ourselves in response to our actual lives and the real world around us.

    i think there is a stage of spiritual growth wherein we relinquish supernaturalism, narcissistic magical thinking, mind-body dualism and the hope that some mythic construct might be literally true in a way that rescues us from existential dread.

    spiritual practice is essentially about our inner lives and how we relate to our emotions, thoughts, beliefs, bodies, histories, longings etc….

    when we can see that a certain stage of spiritual life is about believing improbable if not impossible notions in order to hide from life's realities – then i think utilizing psychological awareness to deconstruct those defenses is in the service of spiritual growth.

    when we see that a certain aspect of that stage lies also in beliefs that contradict science and reason, then using those tools to try and reconcile spirituality with reality is good medicine too.

    as far as "enlightenment" i think it is a mythic notion amongst mythic notions…. it has perhaps some poetic value, but it also can be seen as another one of what ernest becker calls "immortality projects." it is a fantasy that human beings fill in with their own deepest longings and spiritual fashions…. to the yogi perhaps it is the notion of becoming one with brahman after death and getting off the wheel of rebirth, having burned through karma in this life and become as unattached as possible to the maya of the world. to the buddhist it might represent becoming completely free from the neurotic clinging and aversion that creates suffering. to the guru follower it perhaps is about knowing the "ultimate truth" of the nature of consciousness, the universe and god. to the new ager it is a mish mash of all these things, combined with perhaps developing psychic powers and perfect memory of your past lives….

    having tried on each of these different interpretations of the quest for enlightenment in my life, i can honestly say i came to a point where i saw it was just another illusion – just another attempt to find some kind of shangri la, to get away from the messy business of being human, it is pie in the sky and generally leads to unscrupulous individuals running a shell game based on claiming to be enlightened in some mystifying, vague, pretentious way. at some point i started to notice that everyone who claims to be "enlightened" uses various manipulative language tricks to shore up the power that this gives them and keep the acolyte chasing the always just beyond their reach carrot of the ultimate spiritual prize.

    letting this and all other magical, mythic, otherworldly, metaphysical fantasies go has turned out to be the doorway into another stage of spirituality that locates the sacred in our human experience and embraces the limitations, struggles and realities of being human as the only journey we have.

  12. Shyam Dodge shyam dodge says:

    Excellent article! Can’t wait for the next installment.

  13. What a fine discussion you've created here, Julian. Thank you.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

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  14. yogiclarebear says:

    this is hilarious and brilliant! looking forward to the next installment.

  15. Rudra says:

    i enjoyed this,
    really interesting post, be careful though, i often see this "De-mystifying" attitude as very helpful because of Viveka like you said and Krishnamurti was a primary exponent of such a philosophy. remember that we are always creating our own limitations with words, and the very fact that we can speak as "humans" is very mystical and there is alot in question about the nature of life. denial of the mythic life has severed alot in society and i cannot say that the "age of enlightenment" or western skepticism has helped the people grow in a more "human" way. we speak words, myths and spirits are as real as the words you tell yourself are, no matter how well accepted or how rejected they are. Aum

  16. Eric Bagai says:

    Well, -I- am passionate (or at least mildly interested) about the presumptuous misuse of the English language, and thus annoyed by your rip-off of the phrase "evidence-based decisions," which actually means something and distinguishes such from less rigorously analyzed decisions, to create the meaningless "inquiry-based practices." Why bother except to elevate a rather mundane thought? And as opposed to what: habit-based practices? Denial-based practices? Randomly-adopted practices? So, your incendiary insight which, as a 70-year-old I find as hackneyed as Coue's aphorisms, is verified by the rest of your post.

    Other than that, your writing is funny, if not terribly insightful.

    Eighteen years, eh? I'd stick to teaching technique. If any great insights are to be found let the student find them for himself.



  17. Julian Walker yogijulian says:

    the new age spiritual community has created two fallacious constructs:

    1) the straw man of a rational scientific cold oppressive white male colonialism that destroys meaning and wonder and connection to the spirit world.

    2) the idealized romanticization of tribal people as being our lost link to some supernatural intuitive earth-based spirit world of matriarchal embodied, emotionally rich wisdom.

    both of these are patently untrue.

  18. Dana Corby says:

    Your observations of the foibles of yoga practitioners and newagers is not limited just to them. As a long-time Wicca teacher, I cannot tell you how often people come to me not to learn but because they want me to validate their self-delusions of uniqueness. They're 'too spiritual for this world' or 'the reincarnation of (usually someone fictional,) or 'my lover in a previous life' or some other nonsense. (Have you encountered 'otherkin' yet?) They not only believe they're entitled to their personal reality — which they are — they believe it's perceptible by everyone else and that we're all required to accept it as real. And they genuinely believe their delusion entitles them to special treatment. And when I tell them as gently as possible that I'm only interested in sane people they go away hurt and angry, convinced I've been unfair and deliberately hurtful. I'm as fond of a good fantasy as anyone, but I prefer it on paper, not in my face.

  19. yehoshanah says:

    Well done. Earthling spirituality well written :)

  20. matthew says:

    Great project, Julian. I would venture to add to your general notes to teachers that almost all of these psychological obstacles can be traced to various traumas in development, and that basic study of developmental psychology is a gold-mine for a compassionate and therapeutic view. Dissociation, magical thinking, OCD, and grandiosity may be amplified by new-age excitations and covered over by spiritual bypassing, but they are common to everyone who carries the scars of individuation. Cheers.

  21. Julian Walker yogijulian says:

    fair enough! :)

  22. […] Part One of this article, The Dance of Psyche, we discussed the pervasive presence of psychological obstacles to sane spirituality in the form of […]

  23. […] circulation and releases endorphins. I know for myself, working out even a little just helps put my mind at ease. Try some light cardio or yoga. Since you’re most likely already dehydrated don’t over do it; […]

  24. Kate says:

    Hmmm…I am wondering how many of these "pathologies" you would be able to apply to shaman? The reality
    is that people do experience altered states of consciousness. Some more than others. Who gets the cornerstone on the "real" reality and what is healthy spirituality? I am not sure that the way that psychology is used here is very helpful.

    Individuation is messy and takes people to some dark places. Jung himself heard voices and channeled The seven sermons to the dead. It would be interesting to have this writer have a conversation with Jung telling him to get grounded, breath and get into his body, and to stop overcompensating with his grandiose illusions. More and more I am reading articles that use Jung's concepts, like shadow and synchronicity, in superficial ways, not to mention the DSM.

    I am more interested in what the soul is trying to communicate both individually and in the world.

  25. Modesty Blaise says:

    You have entered a tricky subject and I aplaud you for the courage to do it! (or I aplaud to the little-angry-moment that made you less politically correct and ignited the writing ;). It is very difficult to put it all into words as they are always open to misinterpretations. My personal choice is to quietly bleed and ache from all duality and non-duality based injustices and do allow the "differences" while (wisely?) knowing the dangers of that attitude. But, it seems there are not too many other (sane) choices.Thank you for writing this, something that all people in healing professions, be it NewAge-y or science-based, should read and reflect on! Afterall, isn't religion just another refusal to take charge, be responsible, less lazy and do some research? Oooops, I better stop now. Placebo is recognized as effective, so there again we have that fine line of knowing when to demistify and when not…I hope most healers do know this. I wish!
    p.s. Have you seen Pan Nalin's Samsara?

  26. Julian Walker yogijulian says:

    have not seen it…. recommended?

  27. […] deeply involved in insular communities full of lies and manipulation, and clinging desperately to crazy beliefs that reinforce pathological psychological patterns. It’s all pretty disturbing, really, and nothing to take lightly. The Serpent & the Tree […]

  28. […] 10 Obstacles to Sane Spirituality… […]

  29. […] a recent pair of articles, 10 Obstacles to Sane Spirituality Part One: The Dance of the Psyche and Part Two: What is Truth? I discuss a path out of the delusional, denial-based extreme […]

  30. SueBee says:

    New Age seekers tend to be troubled to begin with and vulnerable to delusional and, too often, unethical teachers. So, thank you for including the suggestions for those at the front of the room. Brilliant!

  31. […] Attempting to be a good yogi, I didn’t react in the moment. Instead I did my best to give my feelings internal space and to let them play out inside myself. I tried not to magnify or attach to the physical sensations or to the thought patterns the pain evoked. I spent most of the night alone, watching it live inside me and waiting for it to go away. Photo: Lisa Yarost […]

  32. downdogandcats says:

    I wonder how many people out there like myself, pragmatics to the core, suffer needlessly because they see the muck and the yuck and refuse " to go to the happy place" because they understand denial is not healthy. They aren't Debbie Downers but aren't Rose Colored Glasses either. Why is this one place where gray area is not considered helpful or healthy?

  33. lotus 62 says:

    brilliant love this grounded no bullshit perspective , just watch UG.Krishnamurti he says much the same thing but with his all bullshit approach, feeling his words shook me into my body and reality

  34. […] within the religious hierarchy. What to speak of how debilitating such memes are on a personal, spiritual, and psychological level. For some reason, anytime you get a bunch of monks held together by an intense body-negative […]

  35. Hey There. I discovered your weblog the usage of msn. That is a very neatly written article. I’ll make sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your helpful information. Thank you for the post. I will definitely comeback.

  36. […] door een artikel van Julian Walker in The Elephant Journal van 6 juni 2011, 10 Obstacles to sane Spirituality , wil ik proberen geheel vanuit mijn eigen perspectief een aantal voorbeelden te geven van wat Ken […]

  37. elenistoryteller says:

    What a great post. I share a similar passion as you mentioned in your opening. And it parallels a series I started on spiritual objectivism.

  38. I disagree with Julian's disdain for new age methods. Some of them do work, and some of them do really help people. Personally, it's my opinion that every tool can be helpful if you know how and when and for how long to use it. I started meditation and Western Zen 28 years ago.

  39. elithia says:

    so much truth here, and yet … still, there is much more in heaven and earth than dreamt of in your philosophy. While we need to beware the extremes of New Age thinking, we also need to avoid throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Miracles abound. However, reality is a trickster. The veil between insanity and reality is thin.

  40. Amy says:

    Absolutely brilliant! I just got out of a relationship with a Pagan. I was brought to them because they asked the universe for me, but now the universe has a different plan, and it just wasn’t meant to be. Well there goes all sense of personal responsibility.

    The OCD was spot on! The clock was especially meaningful, and seeing the clock at 11:11 meant that they were instruments in a spiritual awakening. I tried to explain that it’s just a psychological phenomenon in which you look for evidence that confirms your beliefs and discount everything else. Even I now notice when it’s 11:11! But try to explain this actual phenomena based in evidence to someone who is a “believer” is too challenge their core beliefs, and then you get cognitive dissonance. All I can say is I’m glad to be amongst those with a foot in reality again.

  41. Tera says:

    BRILLIANT :) Bless!!

  42. matastrarium says:

    Interesting article. It evoked powerful reactions from me, which means it was a good article. A lot of it I agreed with and a lot of it made me cringe.

    The main things that made me cringe were his blanket statements and attitude towards "New Age" which reminds me very much of people's attitudes to the terms "Witch" and "Witchcraft" and felt the term is being used unfairly. The second thing that really bothered me about this article was his use of a Jungian concept of the "Shadow" while completely ignoring and contradicting other aspects of Jungian Analytical Psychology which work intrinsically with shadow theory, which Jung came upon through enduing his own disassociation to bring these concepts into "this reality" (The Red Book – Carl Jung) The irony in all of this is that even the "shadow" is considered an important aspect of the New Age and like almost all of Jung's work is considered "Psuedoscience" by acadamia standards, which is ironic due to his stance on "psuedoscience". His comment about shamanic journeying / astral projection as being related to traumatic induced disassociation is absolutely bizarre to me.

    His #9 "Regressive Traditionalism" advice is the basis of what the New Age is, looking to the past traditions for insight without dogmatic views and being spiritually progressive with those concepts.

    "The New Age is really about the old age, taking ancient spiritual principles and making them accessible to the modern world." – Christopher Penczak (Ascension Magick)

    "The New Age involves taking a lot of mysticism from the ancient world and putting it in a modern context." – ibid.

    The author of the article does have a lot of great insight, but everything he's discussing doesn't seem to be a problem with "New Age" – but rather the imbalance of any spiritual path. He is equating "New Age" with "delusional". While there are definitely delusional and imbalanced "New Agers" the same can be said about any path.

    His association with anything non-physical or scientifically validated as a "mental disorder" makes me a bit uneasy as well. However, the biggest cringe with the article however, came from the overall attitude. The author seems to be asking the reader to think critically, question everything and go inside to see how you feel about the information – when really he's telling you what to believe and how to think with definitive blanket statements and authoritative commands.

    While there are a lot of great points throughout his article and some are very important his overall attitude comes across as judgmental instead of discerning and condemning instead of compassionate and helpful. I'm totally fine with different perspectives and beliefs – but I don't find anything spiritual about a teacher who automatically dismisses complex spiritual topics as "mental disorders" while providing a very shallow and limited explanation of those concepts before condemning them and the overall vibe was ironically dogmatic to me.

    I'm far from being a spiritual master or anything of that sort, or having all the answers. But as a seeker, with an ever evolving belief structure, that is my current .02 cents at this time in my path. Perhaps that will change. However, like I said, it's a powerful article since it evoked a lot of emotion from me which may indicate that there's a shadow issue involved for me. I just feel like the term "New Age" is beginning to need some reclamation from the projection of others. A few imbalanced "new agers" does not define "the new age".

  43. Jordan says:

    Great article Julian, thanks for sharing. I love how you provide students and teachers practical suggestions for contending with these obstacles in themselves and others. Bravo! Keep up the good work.

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