Archive for the ‘The Role of Meditation’ Category

Are Humans on the Verge of an Evolutionary Leap?

By Roger Oakland
Understand the Times International

Is mankind on the verge of an evolutionary leap that will produce a super race? There are some who believe man is in the process of this happening right now. What does the Bible teach? Is man on the way up, or is he on the way down? Will this super race of humans become a reality? Or could the idea of evolution be a great delusion that Satan has used to blind the minds of countless people all over the world into believing that man can become God?

The basic assumption behind Darwinian evolution leads to the idea that mankind is at the top of the evolutionary pile. Check out the Darwinian tree of life – humans are at the top of the tree and a single cell is at the bottom. If evolution is true, then it stands to reason that the next stage of development will be for humans to evolve to become superhuman.

Evolution theory also promotes the idea that man is capable of playing a role in advancing and directing the evolutionary process in the future. This could be through genetically engineering life or by finding ways and means through technology to human development.

An article titled “Superhumans: Chips Inserted in Brains will give us Mind-blowing Abilities Within Years” [1] provides interesting insights from various individuals who say that mankind is on the verge of taking a giant step of evolution and soon will be elevated to a higher dimension of consciousness never before seen on planet Earth. Linking the human brain with electronic chips and computer technology, they say, is the key to the development of a super race. Click here to continue reading.

(Photo from bigstock photo; used with permission.)

To see the connection between evolutionary thinking, the New Age, and the last days, read The Evolution Conspiracy by Roger Oakland and Caryl Matrisciana.

Christian University Graduate Agrees—Celebration of Discipline/Richard Foster Bypass the Cross—As CoD Soon Celebrates 40-Year Anniversary!

40th Anniversary edition of Celebration of Discipline to be released in 2018, which is the 40th anniversary of CoD.

Just as Lighthouse Trails was about to issue a post this week about Celebration of Discipline’s (by Richard Foster) 40-year anniversary announcement (that we received by e-mail this month), we received the following e-mail from a Christian university graduate:

Three years ago this past September, I began my studies at Tyndale University in Toronto, Ontario. Right away, for one class, we were asked to study one author in particular whom I had never heard of, Richard Foster and his book Celebration of Discipline. I went online to do research and came across your website, and found your analysis of Foster to be spot on. As I read Foster, I realized he had completely bypassed the role of the Cross in bringing man into relationship with God, and instead substituted what he calls the “spiritual disciplines.” This is of course heresy.

For nearly sixteen years, Lighthouse Trails has tirelessly tried to warn the church about contemplative spirituality and how it entered the church in the first place largely through Richard Foster’s book Celebration of Discipline.

The following is a repost of a prior article we wrote about Celebration of Discipline. It would be a good idea to ask your own pastor if he has ever read Celebration of Discipline and if he has, what does he think. And if he has not read the refutation A Time of Departing and is willing to do so, Lighthouse Trails will gladly send him a complimentary copy of it.

First published in 1978, Celebration of Discipline has had a massive influence on today’s Christianity. Unfortunately, the influence has helped to saturate the church with mystical contemplative prayer and the New Age. Most likely, your pastor has a copy of this book sitting on his library shelves. He may even have it sitting on his desk for easy reach and reference. Richard Foster, a Quaker and the founder of an organization called Renovare (meaning renewal), wrote the book, and even he may have had no idea the impact this book would have. But decades later, it is still being read, and in fact, Christian leaders and organizations continue promoting the book.

Foster said in the book, that we “should all without shame enroll as apprentices in the school of contemplative prayer” (p. 13, 1978 ed.). In other books and writings of Foster’s, he makes it very clear that this “contemplative prayer” is the eastern-style mantra meditation to which mystic monk Thomas Merton adhered. In fact, Richard Foster once told Ray Yungen (author of A Time of Departing) that “Thomas Merton tried to awaken God’s people” (at a conference in Salem, OR in the 90s).

Thomas Merton, who said he was “impregnated with Sufism” (Merton and Sufism, p. 69) and wanted to “become as good a Buddhist” as he could be (David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West”), believed that “God’s people” lacked one thing—mysticism, and this is to what they needed “awakening.” Of Merton, Foster says: “Thomas Merton has perhaps done more than any other twentieth-century figure to make the life of prayer widely known and understood.” (Spiritual Classics, p. 17) And yet, Thomas Merton once told New Age Episcopal priest Matthew Fox that he felt sorry for the hippies in the 60s who were dropping LSD because all they had to do was practice the mystical (contemplative) stream to achieve the same results. (Interview) We couldn’t agree with him more. Both altered states are the same, but we differ from Merton and Foster in conclusions outcome—we know neither leads to God.

Listed under “excellent books on spirituality,” in some editions of Celebration of Discipline, Foster says of panentheist Tilden Edwards’ book Spiritual Friend that it helps “clear away the confusion and invites us to see that we do not have to live the spiritual life in isolation.” And yet, Tilden Edwards, founder of the “Christian”/Buddhist Shalem Institute in Washington, DC, said that contemplative spirituality was the “Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality”(Spiritual Friend, p. 18). On the Shalem Institute website you can find numerous quotes, references, articles, and recommendations to panentheism, universalism, interspirituality, New Age, and Eastern thought.

In Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster tells us “we must be willing to go down into the recreating silences, into the inner world of contemplation” (COD, p.13.) He goes on to say that the “masters of meditation beckon us.” Just prior to that remark, he quotes Carl Jung and Thomas Merton.

Celebration of Discipline has helped to pave the way for Thomas Merton’s panentheistic belief system. It has opened the door for other Christian authors, speakers, and pastors to bring contemplative spirituality into the lives of millions of people. The late Henri Nouwen, a popular contemplative who also followed the teachings of Thomas Merton, made a telling statement towards the end of his life:

I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God (emphasis added – Sabbatical Journey, p. 51).

Essentially, the fruit of years of practicing mysticism by Nouwen was a departure from believing the Cross was the only way to salvation. This is the fruit of contemplative spirituality.

Today, countless ministers and ministries are promoting and endorsing Celebration of Discipline. If they really knew what Foster’s “celebration” was all about, we think many of them would race away from the teachings of Thomas Merton and Richard Foster and back to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Note: If your pastor or someone you know has a copy of Celebration of Discipline or quotes Richard Foster, be sure and give him a copy of Ray Yungen’s new booklet A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer. Also, want to know what Spiritual Formation is (and its dangers), read this: Is Your Church Doing Spiritual Formation? (Important Reasons Why They Shouldn’t

Quotes by Richard Foster:

“Spend some time this week listening to contemplative music designed to quiet you, settle you, deepen you. (Compact discs and tapes from the Taize community, John Michael Talbot, and the Monks of Weston Priory are especially helpful).” Renovare’s Perspective Newsletter

“We now come to the ultimate stage of Christian experience. Divine Union…. Contemplatives sometimes speak of their union with God by the analogy of a log in a fire: the glowing log is so united with the fire that it is fire.” (Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, p. 159)

“Christians . . .  have developed two fundamental expressions of Unceasing Prayer. The first . . .  is usually called aspiratory prayer or breath prayer. The most famous of the breath prayers is the Jesus Prayer. It is also possible to discover your own individual breath prayer. . . . Begin praying your breath prayer as often as possible.” (Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, p. 122) [LT Note: Remember, Rick Warren promoted breath prayers in The Purpose Driven Life.]

What You Need to Tell Your Local Public School Officials About Children and Mindfulness Meditation

Today we received a call from a concerned woman who found out that a local public school was about to introduce mindfulness meditation to children at the school. She called the school and has been granted a 5-minute time slot at an upcoming school meeting to explain why the school should not teach mindfulness meditation to children. During our phone conversation with the concerned woman, we developed a short outline of how to address this issue with school officials. Meditation (and Yoga) will soon be practiced in most public schools in America. Whether you have children at a public school or not, do what you can to help prevent your own local public school from incorporating meditation into the lives of the children. And keep in mind, it’s just a matter of time before Christian schools will be introducing mindfulness meditation and Yoga as well. We know this because the condition of today’s North American Christianity is of such a nature that Christians are being persuaded to go along with the culture; and, of course, with contemplative meditation so prevalent in the church, Christians are being conditioned to accept all forms of New Age meditation.

4-5 years old boy meditating outdoor

Our outline on why meditation should not be brought into the schools. 

I. Mindfulness is meditation

a. According to the respected Mayo Clinic, mindfulness is a form of meditation: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/mindfulness-exercises/art-20046356.

II. Mindfulness is therapy

a. According to several professional sources, mindfulness exercises are considered a therapeutic practice. For example, the Journal of Psychosomatic Research and the Clinical Psychology Review associate mindfulness with Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) (https://www.psychologytoday.com/therapy-types/mindfulness-based-cognitive-therapy).

III. Mindfulness is a religious practice.

a. Webster defines the word religion as “a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.”

b. The premise behind mindfulness is that divinity dwells in every human being, and therefore this meditative state that alters one’s mind can be reached by anyone because the divinity within allows for this connection. This belief that everyone has divinity within is a religion within itself but is also the premise of Buddhism and Hinduism (and the New Age).

c. Since public schools in America have made the decision that religion cannot be taught in the public schools, Yoga and meditation have no business being taught in the public schools. This is discriminatory against Christian influence in the schools, which has been banned from American public schools.

IV. Meditation is dangerous, and the schools should not be experimenting on vulnerable children.

a. There are numerous documented reports that meditation can be dangerous, especially for the vulnerable and weak (a category in which children fit). Here are a few articles that discuss this:

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/meditation-is-touted-as-a-cure-for-mental-instability-but-can-it-actually-be-bad-for-you-10268291.html

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/3-hidden-dangers-meditation-you-should-know.html

This is probably the best article on the dangers of mindfulness and meditation. It discusses a study done by researchers at Brown University: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-4538240/The-dangers-meditation.html.

We recommend printing this outline and also the articles that it links to and giving this to your local public school district officials. And Lighthouse Trails is willing to send a free copy of one of our booklets on meditation to any school district official who would like to read it. Just e-mail us at editors@lighthousetrails.com the name and mailing address of any school official who agrees to receive the booklet.

Some of the dangers and effects of meditation according to the sources listed above:

a. insomnia

b. fear

c. hypersensitivity to light and sound

d. anxiety

e. difficulty eating

f. panic and paranoia

g. psychosis

h. seizures

i. mania

j. visual hallucinations

k. unable to function or work

l. a loss of sense of identity

m. psychotic depression

n.  elevated mood and grandiose delusions

o. unrestrained behaviors (sexual and violence)

p. pain

q. confusion and disorientation

r. feelings of emptiness and ennui (listlessness, dissatisfaction)

s. depersonalization

t. impairment of social relationships

u. cognitive, perceptual and sensory aberrations

v. disempowering

w. causes passiveness and compliance (even when those are negative responses to certain situations)

*It is interesting to note that most of these symptoms are similar to symptoms that occur with the use of hallucinogenic drugs. Is this really what children in the public schools should be put at risk of enduring? There is no way for a teacher to know which children will respond negatively to meditation. Also worth noting in reference to mass shootings, some of these men had a history of long-term meditation habits. This is even mentioned in one of the articles above. When you read some of these symptoms – depersonalization, unrestrained behaviors, psychotic depression, a loss of sense of identity –  we must ask the question, will this huge thrust by American public schools to have all school children meditating end up producing violence and psychotic behavior in our society rather than peace?

Related Resources:

Kyle Odom, the Man Who Shot Idaho Pastor, Says Meditation Started it All

How to Protect Your Child from the New Age and Spiritual Deception by Berit Kjos (a handbook with practical and biblical ideas)

Mindfulness! Heard of It? What Does it Mean, and Where is it Showing Up in Christian Circles?

(photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission)

“Why Millennials Are Ditching Religion for Witchcraft and Astrology”

LTRP Note: The following news story is posted for informational and research purposes and not as an endorsement of the source or the content. It is also a reminder that young people today desperately need to hear the true biblical Gospel of Jesus Christ.

By Kari Paul
Marketwatch

When Coco Layne, a Brooklyn-based producer, meets someone new these days, the first question that comes up in conversation isn’t “Where do you live?” or “What do you do?” but “What’s your sign?”

“So many millennials read their horoscopes every day and believe them,” Layne, who is involved in a number of nonreligious spiritual practices, said. “It is a good reference point to identify and place people in the world.”

Interest in spirituality has been booming in recent years while interest in religion plummets, especially among millennials. The majority of Americans now believe it is not necessary to believe in God to have good morals, a study from Pew Research Center released Wednesday found. The percentage of people between the ages of 18 and 29 who “never doubt existence of God” fell from 81% in 2007 to 67% in 2012. Click here to continue reading.

Related Information:

 10 Vital Things Parents Can Do to Help Children Keep Their Faith

“After Yoga, Meditation Breaks Into the Mainstream”

LTRP Note: The following news story is posted for informational and research purposes and not as an endorsement of the content (but rather as a warning):

By Catherine Triomphe
Agence France Presse
(from the Daily Star)

NEW YORK: It is 5 p.m., otherwise known as rush hour in Manhattan. Julia Lyons, 31, finishes work and heads straight for her daily dose of peace and quiet – half an hour at meditation studio “Mndfl.” Since April 2016, when she discovered the studio, the investment bank employee has abandoned yoga and embraced meditation.

“I have been meditating pretty regularly – probably five times a week, 30-minute sessions,” says Lyons, sipping a cup of tea on the studio’s sofa.

“I just need a moment to chill out. This city – you are always running place to place and there are not a lot of quiet spaces,” she explains. “I think it’s made me a lot happier and also just helped me make better decisions, more thoughtful decisions.”

Practiced by millions around the world, meditation promotes mental well-being through concentration, breathing techniques and self-awareness. For a long time, those singing its praises were intellectuals, celebrities or people dedicated to spirituality.  Click here to continue reading.

Related Information:

Mindfulness, Meditation Techniques Being Used in Public School Classrooms Across County on 750,000 Students

 

*Photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission.

Revealing Quotes by Influential Contemplatives

These revealing quotes are from well-known figures who have significantly influenced the religious landscape in today’s culture. Sadly, they have helped to mislead millions with their promotion of contemplative prayer (a mystical, panentheistic-rooted practice).

Shalem Prayer Institute
“This mystical stream [contemplative prayer and other monastic traditions] is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality.”—Tilden Edwards, Spiritual Friend, p. 18.

Gerald May/Brother Lawrence
“. . . a little phrase that Love inspires,” letting a word, phrase or image repeat itself quietly deep inside us as we go through our daily activities.”—Gerald May, quoting Brother Lawrence – “Contemplative Spiritual Formation: Going Deeper”

Rick Warren
“With practice, you can develop the habit of praying silent ‘breath prayers'” – Rick Warren, from his book, The Purpose Driven Life (p. 299)

“[U]se ‘breath prayers’ throughout the day, as many Christians have done for centuries. You choose a brief sentence or a simple phrase that can be repeated to Jesus in one breath.”—Rick Warren,
Purpose Driven Life, p. 89.

Ken Blanchard
“Does Buddha have anything to offer non-Buddhists in the workplace? My answer is a wholehearted, ‘Yes.’—Ken Blanchard, co-author of the One Minute Manager, from the foreword and front cover of What Would Buddha Do in the Workplace?

Bruce Wilkinson
“We have promoted an unbiblical message that becoming born-again is the answer to everything. It’s not. It changes your eternity, but it doesn’t change your sexual behavior, for instance. The gospel does not always have the answer for modern-day dilemmas.” – JOY! magazine, the South African counterpart to Charisma, in April 2004

From Youth Specialties
“I built myself a prayer room—a tiny sanctuary in a basement closet filled with books on spiritual disciplines, contemplative prayer, and Christian mysticism. In that space I lit candles, burned incense, hung rosaries, and listened to tapes of Benedictine monks. I meditated for hours on words, images, and sounds. I reached the point of being able to achieve alpha brain patterns…”—Mike Perschon, Youth Specialties Magazine, December 2004

“Choose a sacred word or phrase. Consistently use the same word throughout the prayer. Begin silently to repeat your sacred word or phrase.” – Mark Yaconelli, Youth Specialties National Pastor’s Convention (source)

Charisma Magazine
“Spiritual ecstasy. The third phase of contemplative prayer … a supernatural trance state …” – Charisma magazine, Oct. 2004

Brennan Manning
“Contemplative prayer is nothing other than coming into consciousness of what is already there.” – Brennan Manning, Signature of Jesus, p. 197

Larry Crabb
“Brennan (Manning) is my friend, walking ahead of me on the path toward home. As I watch him from behind, I am drawn to more closely follow on the path…” – Larry Crabb, endorsement of Abba’s Child (source)

Henri Nouwen
“Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God.” – Sabbatical Journey (the last book Nouwen wrote), p. 51, hardcover edition

“The quiet repetition of a single word can help us to descend with the mind into the heart.” – Way of the Heart, p. 81.

Ruth Haley Barton
“Ask for a simple prayer to express your willingness to meet God in the silence … a simple statement …such as “Here I am.” … Help yourself return to your original intent by repeating the prayer that you have chosen.” – Discipleship Journal, Vol. 113 1999

John Michael Talbot
“I began practicing meditation, specifically breath prayer, once again. I integrated the use of Tai Chi and yoga.” – John Michael Talbot, Interview with Christianity Today 10/22/2001

Shakti Gawain
“Its [visualization] effect is to dissolve our internal barriers to natural harmony and self realization.” – Shakti Gawain, Creative Visualization, p. 6.

Richard Foster
“[Y]ou and I may have strong opinions on double predestination, supralapsarianism, and biblical inerrancy, but these should not be considered evangelical essentials.” – Streams of Living Water, Kindle location 3914

Matthew Fox
“We need to become aware of the Cosmic Christ, which means recognizing that every being has within it the light of Christ.” – Steve Turner interviewing Matthew Fox, “Natural Mystic?” (Nine O Clock Service, March 1995)

“Everyone is born a mystic and a lover who experiences the unity of things and all are called to keep this mystic or lover of life alive.” (source)

Beth Moore
“[I]f we are not still before Him [God], we will never truly know to the depths of the marrow of our bones that He is God. There’s got to be a stillness.” – from the Be Still DVD, an infomercial for contemplative prayer (source)

Jack Canfield, Chicken Soup for the Soul
“What works for me is a combination of disciplines: I do yoga, tai chi which is a Chinese martial art and three kinds of meditation—vipasana, transcendental and mantra (sound) meditation.” – from Choosing to be Happy

Thomas Merton
“Isn’t it a pity that people are going into LSD to have spiritual experiences, when we have a tradition in the Church [contemplative prayer] which no one knows anything about?” (source)

M. Basil Pennington
“When we go to the center of our being and pass through that center into the very center of God we get in immediate touch with this divine creating energy … that the divine energy may have the freedom to forward the evolution of consciousness in us and through us, as a part of the whole, in the whole of the creation.” – An Invitation to Centering Prayer

Thomas Keating
“My acquaintance with eastern methods of meditation has convinced me that … there are ways of calming the mind in the spiritual disciplines of both the east and the west [and] many serious seekers of truth study the eastern religions.” – Open Mind, Open Heart, p. 29

Pope John Paul
“Pick out a word or two. Tell your children to sit quietly and repeat the word in their heads—not thinking about the word, just repeating it.” – Everyday Catholic newsletter, Nov. 2001

The Emerging Church
“The first time I introduced this, the kids came in, and I had a candle going and a little incense burning and some Gregorian chant music on the CD player” – Tony Jones, from interview with editor Jeff Bailey, Cutting Edge magazine, pp. 15-22.

“Some of the values of the emerging church are an emphasis on emotions, global outlook, a rise in the use of arts, and a rise in mysticism and spirituality.”—Josh Reich, Youth Specialties, “Creating Worship Gatherings for the Emerging Church” 

“We’re rediscovering Christianity as an Eastern religion, as a way of life.”– Rob Bell, “The Emergent Mystique,” Christianity Today, Nov. 1, 2004

The Impact of Practical Mystics versus Cults

By Ray Yungen
(Author of A Time of Departing)

Evangelical scholar David L. Smith correctly assessed the powerful, yet subtle, impact New Age spirituality is having on society when he made the following observations:

Not since Gnosticism at the dawn of the Christian era has there arisen a philosophy as pervasive and threatening to orthodox Christianity as the New Age movement . . . It would be difficult to find any area of life, which has not been touched or redirected to some degree by the concepts of this movement.1

bigstockphoto

Smith recognizes that, rather than just a small segment, the overall social fabric of society is being impacted. This movement has clearly evolved well past the subculture stage into something much more dynamic and sophisticated. This stunning change has been brought about by the rise of a new breed of mystic—one that presents mysticism as a complement to secular goals and one that is adept at easing the public’s natural impulse to reject the strange and unfamiliar. Some examples of this are:

A prominent, influential speaker and seminar leader, Brian Tracy, promotes the use of the “superconscious mind” (i.e., the higher self), “to improve productivity, performance and output” in the corporate world.2

An article in one major Pacific Northwest newspaper features a large color picture of a local university professor in a classic Zen Buddhist meditation pose. He has not joined the Buddhist religion but is trying to reverse his heart condition through Eastern meditation.3

A popular morning talk show entices viewers with the promise of “how to get along with your spouse.” The show then features popular New Age author Wayne Dyer exhorting viewers to “go into the silence for guidance” when they get angry with their mate[s].4

These are just a few examples of what could be called secular mysticism or generic mysticism, meditation practiced not for religious reasons but as a tool to improve life. Many Christians have a difficult time comprehending this concept. They have been trained to think in terms of cults such as the Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) or the Watchtower Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses). But these groups are rather limited in their impact because, even if they become sizable, they remain only isolated islands in society. The advantage practical mystics have is that they only have to piggyback a seemingly benevolent meditation method onto whatever programs they are promoting—in other words, they do not have to proselytize people to a dogma, only a practice.

New Age publisher Jeremy Tarcher spoke of this challenge in an interview. Speaking of practical mystics he explained: “They have to learn to present their perceptions in appropriate language and actions that don’t arouse fear or resistance.”5

Because of their success at this effort, one writer declared that interest in meditation was currently exploding. This explosion in Western culture is unprecedented and very real.

In the West, mysticism had always been restricted to a tiny fraction of the population (i.e., shamans, esoteric brotherhoods, and small spiritually elite groups). Never before has there been a widespread teaching of these methods to everyone. Now, mysticism pervades the Western world. How did this happen?

The first such book to reach a broad audience was Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain. This book could rightfully be called a practical mystic’s bible. Many people can trace their first involvement in metaphysics to this book. Since its publication in 1978, it has sold millions of copies and has influenced the fields of psychology, health, business, and athletics.6

The book became so popular because it addresses such topics as creativity, career goals, relationships, better health, and simple relaxation and peacefulness. Who wouldn’t want to have all this, especially if all it takes is engaging in a simple practice?

Gawain spells out very clearly what that practice entails. She teaches her readers:

Almost any form of meditation will eventually take you to an experience of yourself as source, or your higher self . . . Eventually you will start experiencing certain moments during your meditation when there is a sort of “click” in your consciousness and you feel like things are really working; you may even experience a lot of energy flowing through you or a warm radiant glow in your body. These are signs that you are beginning to channel the energy of your higher self.7

There had been books like hers before, but those appealed to people already in the New Age subculture. This wasn’t true of Creative Visualization. This book had just the right secular slant on something inherently spiritual. Gawain believed that one could stay a Jew, Catholic, or Protestant and still practice the teachings of the book. All you were doing was developing yourself, not changing your religion.

Gawain was merely the forerunner of what has become a flood of such books. A more recent book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, which is about the “spiritual path to higher creativity,”27 has sold over two million copies.

A good example of this approach was a business in a major West Coast city that sold books, tapes, and videos on stress reduction. The owners were very active in their community. Doctors, therapists, and teachers came to them for help. They gave talks to school faculties, major corporations, and all the major hospitals in their city. Their clientele tended to be affluent, well-educated professionals and business people who were interested in personal growth.

Yet, along with stress reduction and self-improvement, another element was subtly present—spiritual awareness. One of the owners wrote how she attended a powerful workshop with “Lazaris” and discovered that his techniques were “practical and useful.”8 That does not sound too extraordinary at first glance—however, Lazaris is not a person but a spirit guide!

Because of the stereotypes about people who gravitate toward mystical experiences (such as counterculture types), we may tend to assume people associated with these practices have strange personalities or are in other ways offbeat. On the contrary, these individuals are professional, articulate, conservatively dressed, and above all, extremely personable. They are positive and likeable. A newspaper reporter who did an article on one of them told me, “She is one of the most calm, serene persons I have ever met.” The reporter added, “People want what she has!”

The health, self-help, and recovery sections of secular bookstores are now saturated with New Age metaphysical books. Christian columnist Terry Mattingly summed up the situation brilliantly when he observed: “The New Age didn’t crest, it soaked in . . . It is now the dominant theme in commercial bookstores.”9 If the self-help and personal growth sections of most secular commercial bookstores were examined, the only conclusion to come away with would be that New Age mysticism is the prominent spiritual viewpoint of this country.

A case in point: One day while strolling through a shopping mall, I noticed a New Age bookstore and a secular bookstore just around the corner from each other. Upon examination, it was clear the secular bookstore had far more New Age books than the New Age bookstore did—hundreds more. Moreover, the vast majority were not in the New Age section but in the self-help, health, and other sections. Thus, New Age bookstores have almost been rendered obsolete by the explosion of practical mystic books stocked in traditional bookstores.

This is not an understatement or scare-tactic conjecture. Take a look at book sales for some of the major New Age authors around today. Just the top two, Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra, have sold fifty million books between them. James Redfield, the author of The Celestine Prophecy, can boast of a staggering twenty million books sold, and Neale Donald Walsch, the channeler of Conversations with God, a paltry seven million.10
The basic message of these books and hundreds of others like them could be reduced to one simple word, a word that cries out a uniform consistent theme—meditate! That is to say, you’re not going to get anywhere in this life unless you get that “click” that Gawain spoke of earlier and to do it, you must meditate.

If you think the New Age movement is a colorful assortment of strange cults populated by free-spirited aging hippies and assorted oddballs who are being duped by money-hungry charlatans and egocentric frauds, then think again. We are not dealing with fringe religious groups or chanting flower-children anymore but with a broad-based concerted effort to influence and restructure our whole society. (Excerpt from A Time of Departing, chapter 1)

Notes:
1. David L. Smith, A Handbook of Contemporary Theology (Victor Books, 1992), p. 273.
2. Brian Tracy, Maximum Achievement (New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1993), pp. 179, 17.
3. “Change of Heart,” (The Sunday Oregonian, September 19, 1993), p. L1.
4. AM Northwest Morning Talk Show, KATU Channel 2, Portland, OR, Interview with Wayne Dyer, March 27, 1997.
5. Jeremy Tarcher, “Living with Vision” (Science of Mind, April 1, 1992), p. 44.
6. Shakti Gawain, Creative Visualization (Novato, CA: Nataraj Publishing, 2002), back cover.
7. Ibid., 1983, 9th Printing, p. 57.
8. Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way (New York, NY: William Morrow Co., 10th Anniversary Edition), front & back covers.
9. What’s New at Stiles newsletter, 1985.
10. Terry Mattingly, “Marketplace of the Gods” (Christian Research Journal, May/June 1986), p. 6.


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