Is New Age a Religion?
By Terje Ellingsen
The new age movement is well known to most of us and many of the ideas this movement has have been adopted by millions of people. Is new age a religion or just a spiritual inspiration movement? The American Heritage®Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition gives the following definition of religion:
"Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe. A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship."
According to this definition new age is definitely a religion as well as a spiritual enlightenment that has the power of inspiring all of us.
New Age followers believe that as the Age of Aquarius (that started at 2000 millennium change) unfolds, a New Age will develop. This new age will
- Replace each national government with a world government
- People's allegiance to their tribe or nation will be replaced by a concern for the entire world and its people
- Disease, hunger, poverty. pollution and wars will end
- All forms of discrimination whether it is gender, racial, religious or other forms will cease.
The new age movement also believes in the necessity of preserving the health of the earth, which they look upon as a living entity (Gaia or 'Mother Earth'). They also believe in karma. This spiritual or religious idea is linked to that of reincarnation and derived from Hinduism. Our karma is our accumulated record of good and bad deeds, which at the end of our life, will reward or punished according to whether our karma resonates with good or bad deeds.
Another belief is that all that exists is derived from one single source of divine energy. God is all that exists and God is at once the entire universe, and transcends the universe as well. The new age followers do not seek God as revealed in a sacred text or as existing in a remote heaven; but within the self and throughout the entire universe.
New age people believe that
- Guided imagery
- and even use of hallucinogenic drugs in some situations
provide a transformation of individuals so that they can develop new potentials within themselves including
- a new understanding of the workings of the universe
- the ability to heal oneself and others
- psychic powers
New age people say that when a sufficient number of people have achieved these powers, a major spiritual, physical, psychological and cultural planet-wide transformation is expected.
The New age movement looks upon different religions as different paths to the ultimate reality of God. Since all is God, then only one reality exists. No religion or spiritual paths are the correct ones, because all paths eventually reach God. Thus the new age followers expect that a new universal religion which contains elements of all current faiths and religions will evolve and become generally accepted worldwide.
This is only a view of some of the most important beliefs of the new age movement and is not meant to be a comprehensive description of new age as a whole. There are loads of new age literature out there as well as websites where you can search for more information about this interesting movement.