'Secular spirituality': It's all in the mind

Excerpt from chapter three in: A Catholic Response to the New Age Phenomenon by the Irish Theological Commission in 1994. To see the contents of the whole chapter, click here.

"New Age Movement" is abbreviated as NAM.

For those who do not wish to enter into the new mysticism, there is another, more 'secular' type of New Age 'miracle' available. These people believe they can achieve anything through the controlled use of the energy of the mind and soul on the desired object. They teach that if you use a combination of positive thinking and creative imagination (or imaging) you can visualise and conceptualise the desired object with such intensity that you can objectify it in your life. For example, 1 Randolph Price counsels his readers to contemplate 'Spirit appearing as lavish abundance' if you want money, or as 'restoring Power' if you desire healing. He also shows them how to get a life partner or a job. Whatever the need is 'the Power' out there will supply it.152

In other words, what you think in your mind you can create in the objective world around you! 153 This is an insult to our Creator and a refusal of his divine providential care of our lives. When Job (42:2) received a new vision of God the Creator, he declared: 'I know that you are all-powerful, what you conceive, you can perform. I am the man who has obscured your designs with my empty-headed words'.

This claim to unlimited human potential is a claim to 'divinity'. New Age groups think that they can manipulate the forces in the Universe for their own ends, that through their own power they 'can make things happen'. Since they say that these forces are impersonal, one can use any technique that works to get the desired end. Thus the process is amoral. This is illustrated in the way one is told to use techniques to get a life partner, or to win millions in a lottery.154 J.R. Price teaches us how to work with 'the Energy of the Absolute' and explains the lavish abundance that is there for you to tap when you get in touch with the Universal Energy.155 Such an easy 'relationship' with God, where God's function is seen as supplying all our needs, shows the selfishness at the heart of this New Age.

All of this is a parody of Christian prayer and conversion to God, where we surrender our will to the holy will of God, and work with him to further his Kingdom on earth. It is also a denial of the place of suffering in the Christian life. Suffering and the Cross are seen to have no value, and so the one who is sick or suffering is condemned as having brought the condition upon themselves due to their karmic state. These people want out-of-this-world experiences which have no reference to virtue, truth, morality, nor any commitment to God or one's neighbour.

One needs to realise that a concentration on the self is not prayer, even if some prayer techniques are used in the process. Christian prayer is reaching out to the true and only God in adoration, praise, repentance and petition for ourselves and for the rest of the world and its needs.

 


NOTES

(Full details of the publications referred to in these notes can be found in the Select Bibliography).

152. The Planetary Commission, John Randolph Price, p. 96.

153. The Secret Place, Richard E. McKenzie, and Beyond the Love Game, Robert Scheid.

154. Inside the New Age Nightmare, Randall N. Baer, pp. 115, 135.

155. The Planetary Commission, John Randolph Price, pp. 100103 and p. 117-124.

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