by Ray Yungen
Although the Social/Political arena may not be overtly New Age in nature, it has served as a magnet for bringing together transformed New Agers and the socially concerned. Like the human potential movement, this segment grew out of the tumult of the 1960s when various civil rights movements sprang up from the counterculture. Never before had so many people demonstrated concern over such issues as the environment or the treatment of various minority groups.
In the 1970s and 1980s, many who had sought purely political means for world betterment in the 1960s became disillusioned with that route and endeavored to link planetary betterment with spiritual transformation. They saw simple protest was not accomplishing their goal. They were convinced that in order to perfect the world, they had to perfect the people first. Getting in tune with one’s inner divinity was seen as the key to effecting that change on a wide scale. Meditation also seemed like an easier commitment than marches and resistance. They believed that any effort to save the world and end social evil would fail without the element of higher consciousness.
It would surprise many Americans to know that they actually voted for a New Age sympathizer for president of the United States in the 2000 election. In a Time magazine article in 2003 called “Just Say Om,” former presidential candidate, Al Gore, said the following about meditation:
We both [he and his wife] believe in regular prayer, and we often pray together. But meditation–as distinguished from prayer–I highly recommend it.1
One might argue that perhaps Gore was not referring to mystical type meditation and that he didn’t have any such proclivities, but this notion would be put to rest by his endorsement of a book (Marriage of Sense and Soul) by Ken Wilber, a leading figure in the New Age. On the back cover of the book, Gore proudly proclaimed Wilber’s book is “one of my new favorites.”2 New Ager Neale Donald Walsch publicly revealed Gore’s spiritual sympathies in the following comments he made at the Humanity’s Team Leadership Gathering in 2003:
You know Al Gore. I know Al well and he says to me, “Hey Neale, I used to be the next president of the United States.” Al has read my books and loves them, but he can’t possibly say that publicly…. He should be able to, and in the society we’re going to recreate he will be able to, but right now he can’t.3
For those not familiar with Walsch’s work, this may not seem that significant. But Walsch is the author of the Conversations with God books, in which millions of copies have been sold. His books are the supposed conversations between Walsch and “God.” Walsch’s “God” proclaims:
The twenty-first century will be the time of awakening, of meeting The Creator Within. Many beings will experience Oneness with God…. There are many such people in the world now–teachers and messengers, Masters and visionaries–who are placing this vision before humankind and offering tools with which to create it. These messengers and visionaries are the heralds of a New Age.4
There is only one message that can change the course of human history forever, end the torture, and bring you back to God. That message is The New Gospel: WE ARE ALL ONE.5
The “tools” Walsch is speaking of is meditation. The fact that someone who promotes and practices New Age meditation could have (and still may) become the president of United States, shows clearly that this mindset plays an integral role in today’s world. This assessment can be backed up by New Age teacher Marianne Williamson. Williamson became popular, largely through the Oprah show. Williamson wrote a book, A Return to Love, (based on the channeled New Age classic A Course in Miracles). When Oprah brought Williamson onto her show–the book became an overnight success.
A Course in Miracles could be referred to as the New Ager’s bible. One former New Ager explains Williamson’s interest in the political field:
Over the past decade, Williamson has continued to champion A Course in Miracles in the media and in her public appearances around the country. A more recent book, Healing the Soul of America, has enabled Williamson and the Course to make a subtle transition into the political arena. Hoping to inspire a “new gospel” approach to national and world problems, Williamson, along with bestselling Conversations with God author Neale Donald Walsch, cofounded The Global Renaissance Alliance.6
When we comprehend Williamson’s propensity towards the New Age and meditation (as a vehicle for world peace), it is astounding to know that Williamson is working closely with Walter Cronkite, a former CBS news anchor and public icon, once referred to as “the most trusted man in America.”7 Williamson and Cronkite, along with Congressman Dennis Kucinich, are trying to convince the US government to start a cabinet–level Department of Peace within the executive branch via House bill HR808. The fact that someone as mainstream as Walter Cronkite would align himself with the openly metaphysical Williamson bespeaks of the current spiritual climate of our society. Incidentally, the campaign to start the Department of Peace is gaining momentum and currently has the support of over 60 U.S. Representatives and Senators and has local grassroot chapters in over 200 congressional districts.8
Williamson embodies, as few others do, the marriage between political/social idealism and the embracing of metaphysical perception. As the tone of modern spirituality changes so will the various institutions that comprise society.
This is an excerpt from Ray Yungen’s book, For Many Shall Come in My Name, 2007, Lighthouse Trails edition.
1. Joel Stein, “Just Say Om” (Time magazine, July 27, 2003).
2. Ken Wilber, The Marriage of Sense and Soul (New York, NY: Random House, First Broadway Books paperback edition, 1999), back cover.
3. Warren Smith, Reinventing Jesus Christ (Magalia, CA: Mountain Stream Press, updated, online edition, chapter 3 at http://www.reinventingjesuschrist.com/updates/3.html, accessed 03/2007), citing the Humanity’s Team Leadership Gathering, Portland, Oregon, June 27-July 1, 2003: “The Care and Feeding of the Press.” Transcribed from audiotape.
4. Neale Donald Walsch, Friendship with God (New York, NY: The Berkeley Publishing Group, Berkeley’s trade paperback edition, 2002), pp. 295, 296.
5. Ibid., p. 373.
6. Warren Smith, Reinventing Jesus Christ (Ravenna, OH: Conscience Press, printed edition, 2002) p. 11.
7. Laura Tuma, “Walter Cronkite, ‘The most trusted man in America'” (University of Texas at Austin, Utopia, Texas Tribute, Spring 1997, http://utopia.utexas.edu/articles/tribute/cronkite.html, accessed 03/2007).
8. See the Campaign to Establish a U.S. Department of Peace website: http://www.thepeacealliance.org.