The New Age Movement, which is basically contradictory and inimical to the Catholic Faith, has invented and co-opted various kinds of pseudo-scientific, pseudo-medical, and pseudo-religious movements and activities. Some of these might have had a measure of legitimacy, but have been infiltrated in recent times by the doctrines and outlook of the New Age Movement, turning them into humbug. These might include "medical bodywork", such as therapeutic touch, orgonomy, Feldenkrais, reflexology, Rolfing, polarity massage, herbal and crystal healing, and healing with music, colors, metals, and psychic vibrations. The Holy See, in its document of February 3, 2003, about the New Age Movement ("Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian Reflection on the New Age"), warns us Christians among other things about that aspect of the Movement.
The New Age Movement in these areas teaches that the source of all healing is within oneself, and one reaches this by "inner and cosmic energy". This view, the Holy See points out, is based on the blasphemous New Age doctrine that "God is an impersonal energy, a component or extension of the cosmos, and a 'great consciousness'. ("May the Force be with you!") He is not to be sought beyond the universe, but deep inside oneself, or, if He is outside, He is something to be manipulated by various cunning and clever up-to-date techniques. This kind of thought also can be found underlying some of today's self-help groups and programs. On this level the New Age often is populated with strange and exotic beings, masters, adepts, extraterrestrials, etc. It is a place of psychic powers and occult mysteries, of conspiracies, and hidden teachings. The fundamental idea is that God is deep within ourselves and we are gods, and we discover the unlimited power within us by peeling off layers of inauthenticity." Two of the newer Protestant religious inventions, Christian Science and Scientology, seem to be along this line.
The document of the Holy See about the New Age cites several important authors, such as Marilyn Ferguson and Wouter Hanegraaf, who have shown by their research how certain "precursors of the Age of Aquarius have woven the threads of a transforming vision based on the expansion of consciousness and the experience of self-transcendence. Two of these were the American psychologist William James, and the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustave Jung." Their views and opinions, along with those of the Jewish atheist, Sigmund Freud, still have an enormous and baleful influence on psychology and psychiatry today. Catholics should be aware that, while many who are involved in those professions are not spiritually dangerous, many others could constitute a grave danger to one's faith and one's salvation.
James, for instance, believed that religion was merely experience and "he taught that human beings can change their mental attitudes in such a way that they are able to become the architects of their own destiny. Jung emphasized the transcendent character of consciousness and introduced the idea of a collective unconscious, a kind of store for symbols and memories shared with people from various different ages and cultures." The Holy See notes that "both of these men contributed to the 'sacralization of psychology', something that has become an important element of New Age thought and practice. The result was a body of theories which enabled people to talk about God while really meaning their own psyche." Jung's response to "the accusation that he had psychologized Christianity and sacralized psychology was that psychology is the modern myth, and only in terms of the current myth can we understand faith."
Jung taught the false doctrine that "God is really and only the vital energy (the libido) within oneself. The God within is the essential divinity in every human being. The path to the inner universe is through the unconscious. The inner world's correspondence to the outer one is in the collective unconscious." The Holy See remarks that "the tendency to interchange psychology and spirituality became firmly embedded in the human potential movement as it developed toward the end of the 1960's." The two places where this was centered were the Garden Community of Findhorn, Scotland, and, most of all, at the Human Potential Center at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. In those places the doctrines of Jung were combined with those of various Eastern, pagan religions. There "science met mysticism". There the clients were taught "to become the God within themselves" by such things as heathen meditation activity, parapsychological experiences, ingesting hallucinogenic drugs, pounding on mattresses while screaming, frolicking naked with other people in hot tubs, etc. "Those two centers were the initial powerhouses of the New Age." It was there that "the symbol of Aquarius, borrowed from astrological mythology, later came to signify the desire for a radically new world."
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There can be no doubt that the New Age Movement can present a formidable spiritual obstacle to many people. Its complications, its subtileness, and its pseudo-scientific jargon can give it an air of plausibility to some minds. Religious assimilators, who are people usually terrified to seem obscurantist and who are perpetually anxious not to appear to those around them as in any way behind the times, are prime prospects for buying into New Age theories. Some other New Agers are simple and credulous persons, who probably also believe what is found in supermarket tabloids. Then there are New Agers who like to dabble in other religious experiences, forgetting, of course, that Sacred Scripture says that those who love danger will perish in it. There are also New Agers who "graduate from the world of superstition and astrology into the full fledged New Age."
The Holy See notes, "that in the more popular forms of New Age, individuals and groups are living out their own fantasies of adventure and power, usually of an occult and millenarian form. The principal characteristic of this level is attachment to a private world of ego fulfillment and a consequent withdrawal (although not always apparent) from the world." The Holy See reminds us that "Christians need not, indeed must not wait for an invitation to bring the message of the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who are looking for the answers to their questions, making sure that the appeal of Christianity will be felt by New Agers first of all in the witness of the members of the Church, in their trust, their calm, their patience, their cheerfulness, and in their concrete love of neighbor, all as the fruit of their faith nourished in authentic personal prayer."