by Ray Yungen
The term New Age is based on astrology. Those who believe in astrology believe in cosmic cycles called Astrological Ages, in which earth passes through a cycle or time period when it is under the influence of a certain sign of the zodiac. These Ages last approximately 2,000 years, with a cusp or transitory period between each.
Those who embrace astrology say that for the last 2,000 years we have been in the sign of “Pisces” the fish. Now they say we are moving into the sign of “Aquarius” or the Age of Aquarius, hence the New Age.
The Aquarian Age is supposed to signify that the human race is now entering a Golden Age. Many occultists have long heralded the Aquarian Age as an event that would be significant to humanity. That is why one New Age writer states:
[A] basic knowledge of Astrological Ages is of enormous importance in occult work.1
They believe that during these transitions certain cosmic influences begin to flow into the mass consciousness of mankind and cause changes to occur in accordance with the spiritual keynote or theme of that particular Age. This phenomenon is known as planetary transformation—an event they believe will bring universal oneness to all mankind. The view is that as more and more members of the human race attune themselves to Aquarian energies, the dynamics of the old age will begin to fade out.
To just what energies are we supposed to attune ourselves? New Age thought teaches that everything that exists, seen or unseen, is made up of energy—tiny particles of vibrating energy, atoms, molecules, protons, etc. All is energy. That energy, they believe, is God, and therefore, all is God. They believe that since we are all part of this God-energy, then we, too, are God. God is not seen as a Being that dwells in heaven, but as the universe itself. According to one writer, “Simply put, God functions in you, through you, and as you.”2
The Age of Aquarius is when we are all supposed to come to the understanding that man is God. As one New Age writer put it:
A major theme of Aquarius is that God is within. The goal in the Age of Aquarius will be how to bring this idea into meaningful reality. 3
To fully comprehend the above concept, one has to understand its essence, which is built on a belief system commonly referred to as metaphysics. The word translates as meta—above or beyond, and physical—the seen or material world. So metaphysics relates to that which exists or is real, but is unseen. In the book, Metaphysics: The Science of Life, one practitioner describes metaphysics as the existence of “forces and principles that are hidden from the five senses, … thus requiring an altered state of consciousness, and consequently, ‘known to very few.’”4
Although the word metaphysics is also used in non-New Age connotations, it is used in reference to the occult arts so often that the two have become interchangeable. From now on, when I use the term metaphysics, I am referring to New Age metaphysics.
Metaphysics concerns itself with the spiritual evolution of the human soul. This is called the law of rebirth, more commonly known as reincarnation.
Metaphysical proponents teach there is the seen world known as the physical or material plane and the unseen world with its many different planes. They teach the astral plane is where people go after death to await their next incarnation or bodily state.
Metaphysical thought holds the view that we are constantly caught up in a cycle of coming from the astral plane, being born, living, dying, and returning to the astral existence. They believe that the reason for repeating this cycle is to learn lessons that are necessary for our evolutionary training.
The earth plane is supposed to be the ultimate school. If a person flunks one incarnation, he must make up for it in the next cycle. This is called the law of karma. Reincarnation and karma are always linked together as there cannot be one without the other. The end result is: there is no evil, only lessons to learn.
What is the main lesson? That you are God. This is the basic tenet of metaphysical thought. The ultimate goal in metaphysics is attuning oneself to higher consciousness thereby gaining an awareness of these higher worlds or realms. How does one go about learning this? How is this perception achieved? According to New Age beliefs, the most direct way to achieve this is through the practice of meditation. Meditation is the basic activity that underlies all metaphysics and is the primary source of spiritual direction for the New Age person. We need only observe the emphasis that is placed on meditation to see the significance of its role in New Age thought:
Meditation is the doorway between worlds … the pathway between dimensions.5
Meditation is the key—the indispensable key—to the highest states of awareness.6
Meditation is a key ingredient to metaphysics, as it is the single most important act in a metaphysicians life.7
What exactly is meditation? The meditation many of us are familiar with involves a deep, continuous thinking about something. But New Age meditation does just the opposite. It involves ridding oneself of all thoughts in order to still the mind by putting it in pause or neutral. An analogy would be turning a fast-moving stream into a still pond by damming the free flow of water. This is the purpose of New Age meditation. It holds back active thought and causes a shift in consciousness. The following explanation makes this process very clear:
One starts by silencing the mind—for many, this is not easy, but when the mind has become silent and still, it is then possible for the Divine Force to descend and enter into the receptive individual. First it trickles in, and later, in it comes in waves. It is both transforming and cleansing; and it is through this force that divine transformation will be achieved.8
This condition is not to be confused with daydreaming, where the mind dwells on a particular subject. New Age meditation works differently in that an object acts as a holding mechanism until the mind becomes thoughtless, empty—silent.
English mystic Brother Mandus wrote of his adventure into these realms in his book This Wondrous Way of Life. He spoke of being “fused in Light,” which he described as “the greatest experience in my life” that gave him “Ecstasy transcending anything I could understand or describe.9
In order to grasp what this movement really entails the reader must understand what was happening to Brother Mandus. He wasn’t merely believing something on the intellectual level, he was undergoing a supernatural transformation. In truth, he had created a mental void through meditation, and a spiritual force had filled it.
The two most common methods used to induce this thoughtless state are breathing exercises, in which attention is focused on the breath, and a mantra, which is a repeated word or phrase. The basic process is to focus and maintain concentration without actually thinking about what is being focused on. Repetition on the focused object triggers the blank mind.
Just consider the word mantra. The translation from the Sanskrit is man, meaning “to think” and tra, meaning “to be liberated from.”10 Thus, the word means to be freed from thought. By repeating the mantra, either aloud or silently, the word or phrase begins to lose any meaning it once had. The same is true with rhythmic breathing. One gradually tunes out his conscious thinking process until an altered state of consciousness comes over him.
I recall watching a martial arts class where the instructor clapped his hands once every three seconds as the students sat in meditation. The sound of the clap acted the same as the breath or a mantra would—something to focus their attention on to stop the active mind.
Other methods of meditation involve drumming, dancing, and chanting. This percussion-sound meditation is perhaps the most common form for producing trance states in the African, North/South American Indian, and Brazilian spiritist traditions. In the Islamic world, the Sufi Mystic Brotherhoods have gained a reputation for chanting and ritual dancing. They are known as the Whirling Dervishes. The Indian Guru, Rajneesh, developed a form of active meditation called dynamic meditation, which combines the percussion sound, jumping, and rhythmic breathing. . . .
What we are witnessing is unprecedented in human history. Certain conditions have caused this flowering and brought society to a place where it is now open to the New Age like never before.
(Taken from For Many Shall Come in My Name, chapter 1)
1. Marion Weinstein, Positive Magic: Occult Self-Help (Custer, WA: Phoenix Pub., Inc., 1978), p. 19.
2. Anthony J. Fisichella, Metaphysics: The Science of Life (St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1984), p. 28.
3. Weinstein, Positive Magic, p. 25.
4. Anthony J. Fisichella, Metaphysics: The Science of Life, p. 11.
5. Celeste G. Graham, The Layman’s Guide to Enlightenment (Phoenix, AZ: Illumination Pub., 1980), p. 13.
6. Ananda’s Expanding Light, Program Guide (The Expanding Light retreat center, California, April-December 1991), p. 5.
7. The College of Metaphysical Studies website, “Frequently Asked Questions About Metaphysics, Spirituality and Shamanism” (http://www.cms. edu/faq.html, accessed 03/2007).
8. “Yoga, Meditation, and Healing: A Talk with Joseph Martinez” (Holistic Health Magazine, Winter 1986), p. 9.
9. Brother Mandus, The Wondrous Way of Life (London, UK: L. N. Fowler & Co. LTD, 14th Edition, 1985), p. 28.
10. Swami Rama, Freedom From the Bondage of Karma (Glenview, IL: Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy of U.S.A., 1977), p. 66.