Joan: I hear voices telling me what to do. They come from God.
Robert: They come from your imagination.
Joan: Of course. That is how the messages of God come to us.
The Thirteenth principle is known as the sixth sense, through which the Infinite Intelligence may and will communicate voluntarily, without any effort from, or demands by, the individual .
Spiritual But Not “Religious”? Seeking Higher Self…
The New Age movement has impacted everyday society. Meditation has become mainstream. Large metropolitan cities, on the West Coast at least, have nearly as many yoga studios as coffee houses. In the US the “nones”, persons who say they are unaffiliated with any religion, comprise 20% of the population. And although a substantial minority of the unaffiliated consider themselves neither religious nor spiritual (42%), the majority describe themselves either as a religious person (18%) or as spiritual but not religious (37%) .
My earliest religious journey started inside Christianity. I was raised Catholic. During high school, I devoured Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill which is considered a New Age classic (but I didn’t know that at the time). In college, I discovered Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda, a Hindu yogi-mystic who merged East-West spirituality with Christianity. After college I was ordained a monk with Self-Realization Fellowship Monastic Order for 14 years. After leaving the SRF Monastic Order, my first 5 years I experimented in various New Age practices such as: energy healings, auras, psychics, astrology readings, Zen and Tao philosophy, and so on.
My journey into New Age religion was a fairly easy transition. I was able to incorporate, what I thought was the “best of” traditional Western Christianity and Eastern Mysticism, that merged into a holistic and inclusive ideology of the Higher Self . (In another article, we will discuss how New Age includes a Philosophy of Holism, that assimilates science). The table below illustrates how my concepts of the Higher Self easily transitioned through phases of my “spiritual” journey.
“Higher Self”: Christianity To New Age
|Higher Self||Terms||Typical Verses||Typical Methods|
|“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41)
“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.” (Saint Francis)
|Atman (Self-realization)||“That which pervades the entire body is indestructible.” (Bhagavad-Gita 2.17)
“Thy soul is not thy body; not thy eye, ear, nose, tongue, nor is it thy mind.”  (Buddha)
|New Age||Higher Self||“Let your self be one with something beyond it”. (A Course In Miracles)
“Every intention sets energy into motion, whether you are conscious of it or not”. (Gary Zukav, Seat of the Soul)
“Every thought is a tube, a channel through which the divine light is passing”. (Yogananda)
Of course, there are more examples how the concept of Higher Self transitions easily into New Age ideology. We use the term New Age “religion” in this article to mean the overarching philosophy or doctrine that may or may not be formally institutionalized. (Today, the concept of “higher self” seems embedded in and permeated throughout modern culture, art, and spirituality). But, let’s move on and dive in to explore the foundation of New Age religion: channeling or articulated revelations.
Channeling New Age
In Part One of New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought  Hanegraaff says the foundation of New Age religion is channeling, or articulated revelations. He goes on to define these in terms and methods used by New Age religion and followers. The remainder of this article will highlight a few key points from Chapter One of Hanegraaff’s seminal book.
New Age and Western Culture
The foundational ideal of the New Age movement is focus on higher self or channeling of the universal intelligence or power. Every person can act as a channel for information from sources other than their normal selves. These sources could be, but not always, disincarnate beings: including entities such as ascended masters, spirit guides, angels, historical persons such as Jesus, Krishna, Saint Francis, God/The Supreme Source, the collective unconscious or Universal Mind, gods and goddesses of antiquity, spirits, devas, animals, and the channeler’s own “higher self”.
Meditators, channelers, or New Age practitioners say they receive “information” by means other than through their normal consciousness. Sometimes this information contains superior insight, but is not always associated with infallible direction. In all cases, the claim is a kind of higher intelligence, and not the normal mind or ego self, is what’s providing the information or inspiration. In some cases, but not all, the meditator or channeler enters into automatic writing, trance, ecstasy, spirit possession, or mediumship.
Two Types of “Spiritual” Revelations
New Age, like other religions, is primarily a religion of revelation. Personal intuition, insight, inspiration, and imagination may all be regarded as articulated revelations, but not always.
There are two types of revelations, intentional and spontaneous.
- Intentional revelations: Techniques, such as meditation, are meant to awaken natural intuitive abilities, by by-passing the control of rational “ego”, and allowing for the “stream of consciousness”. Some forms of automatic writing and conscious inspirations are examples.
- Spontaneous revelations: Hearing of inner voices and seeing inner visions, spontaneously, without intention or conscious application. Like Joan of Arc.
Typically, revelations come from practice of techniques that develop intuition and minimize rational control with or without the explicit goal of channeling. Through practice of techniques, such as meditation, the normal mind or self, say New Age proponents, can discover what happened to the Biblical Prophets, Muhammad, Buddha, yogis, and saints. Meditation, and other new age religious techniques, are in essence, a do-it-yourself method for accessing your Higher Self. New Age gurus, like Paramahansa Yogananda, claim methods, like yoga meditation, are the key to unlocking the inspiration behind all religion and tapping into your Higher Self.
Coming Of the New Age?
This expose’ suggested that the concept of a “Higher Self” transitions easily from Christianity into New Age religion. Revelations seem to be the foundation of all religions. In Chapter One of Hanegraaff ‘s book, New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular, we highlighted channeling or articulated revelations as the major trend in New Age religions. Emphasis on personal revelation and practical methods, like meditation, seems to appeal to the “nones”, those unaffiliated with formal religion, and those who consider themselves “spiritual but not religious”. Though less structured and not united organizationally, New Age is indeed a growing religion within Western culture.
- Did you convert from a traditional Western religion to New Age religion?
- Do you believe Higher Self and articulated revelation is the foundation for New Age religion? What spiritual practices or methods do you use to access your higher self?
- Does your “spiritual” community consider itself part of the New Age religious movement?
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 G. B. Shaw, Saint Joan
 Think and Grow Rich, Hill, Napoleon. Print.
 Pew Research Survey 2012, “Nones” On The Rise
 Higher Self: Religious Views, Wikipedia.
 Prayer of Saint Francis
 500 BC Buddha, The Gospel. The Bodhisattva’s Search
 A Course In Miracles, p. 361
 Man’s Eternal Quest, Yogananda, Paramahansa. Self-Realization Fellowship. Ch 50
 New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought, Hanegraaff, Wouter J., Brill: Netherlands, 1996. Print.