Thursday, March 03, 2011

One man's experience in the New Age

David MacDonald is a friend of mine, and he came to the Church about 20 years ago. On his website he relates his experience with the New Age:

As an actor I had saved up money from movie royalties and shows, but I was going through it quickly by traveling to retreats and seminars. I studied temple style Tai Chi, Chi Kung, and five elements meditations, the Microcosmic Orbit meditation with master Mantak Chia in New York and Boston. I was a regular at the New York Integral Yoga Institute and its Connecticut retreat centre. I did EST with Werner Erhard, the 8 day in San Francisco, and the Forum which later became Landmark. I meditated several hours every day. I became a regular at psychic fares in New York City and Montreal. I visited transmediums and spoke with spirits "on the other side" through seances.

It was all very exciting because I could clearly see that there is a spiritual realm. As a person who had been a nonbeliever this was electrifying. It seemed very good. I was having cool spiritual experiences. Maybe I could live forever. I started to believe that maybe I had lived many lives before and would be here again. I thought reincarnation was a great idea. It was the only way that could get my head around the idea of becoming spiritually perfect before entering Nirvana. (1) Swami Satchidananda, my guru to whom I dedicated 4 years, told me that Jesus was an ascended master who had been through many lives. My guru said I could be as spiritually advanced as Jesus if I followed the Guru's instructions. He never told me to follow Jesus' instructions.

I was told "what is true for me might not be true for you" and that everyone had their own reality and moral compass. No moral law was binding. I felt that every path up the spiritual mountain led to the "summit." I did not realize that many paths lead into avalanches and insurmountable cliffs. My key word was "tolerance." I thought I was practicing religious tolerance because I was drawing from many religions. In trying to take the "best" from every religion, the path I was pursuing left behind many of the spiritual safe guards that were built into the ancient religions from which it drew. It left behind many practices, moral laws, and beliefs from those religions that required true discipline.

I was into the occult when I was a teen.

And one thing I notice about the occult is that it's all about gaining power, not about submitting to God.

The whole point was to get special insight so that you could get the inside edge on this world-- get future knowledge, deeper knowledge of oneself, not for the sake of uniting with some transcendant being, but to help you pursue your worldly interests. So astrology, dream interpretation, numerology, I Ching, it was all about the future, about telling you what you needed to know to make you superior to others. At least this is how I experienced it. It also had a penchant for making you "feel special". It deepened your own narcissism. When it comes to astrology, you're always someone "special" with some kind of "special path" and your life is always very dramatic. Your horoscope never tells you you will have a dreary day where nothing much happens, or that your life will be ho-hum. (Imagine casting a chart for a person who is completely invalid and has little brain function!) That's because in astrology, there's no such thing as "nothing happening". The conjunction of the planets always point to "something" happening, even if nothing happens in your day or your life. You're always falling in love, or out of love, or breaking up, or setting up a good financial deal, a bad financial deal, or your health will decline, etc.

And of course it's so open to interpretation that you can see anything you like in it and adapt it to any circumstance so that, from an epistemological standpoint, it's virtually useless. It's all intuition as to what it means, and a lot of it is wishful thinking.
I gave up astrology in my teens because the Church taught against it, not totally understanding why it was wrong. I had no sense of divine providence, the idea that God made things happen in your life, and that you just needed to rely on him.

Needless to say I was much better off without it. But it's a shame that my spiritual quest led me down that path. It had been so easy to find books on this, and nobody spoke against what I was doing, even good Catholics.